Life in the Fast Lane


A Life of Divergence

By 4:12 PM , , , , , , , , ,

I was a latecomer to The Hunger Games series (I actually saw the movie before picking up the books; normally, I would've read the book/s before watching the movie/s) when I realized that I quite liked the dysopian/post-apocalyptic young adult genre. I wondered what I would pick up next.

About three weeks ago, I remembered from reading one of Isa's posts that there was a book called Divergent, written by 23-year-old Veronica Roth. Talk about perfect timing. That same weekend, I was in a bookstore when I came across Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series, which had just been released. I didn't hesitate to buy both (and place their e-book counterparts in my iPhone, just in case I'd need "company"  at any given time).

(Images taken from here.)

When I started Divergent, I found myself comparing its protagonist, as well as its premise, with The Hunger Games. I couldn't help it. There were a number of similarities, at least in the beginning of Divergent.

  • Both had teenage female protagonists: Beatrice Prior in Divergent; Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games
  • Both have ceremonies of sorts that will change the course of the protagonists' lives: The Choosing Ceremony at the age of 16 in the former; the Reaping from the ages of 12-18 in the latter. 
  • Both protagonists didn't have the qualities one would imagine heroines should have; at least not in the beginning. 
  • Both protagonists had to undergo some training (physical, mental, emotional) before they realized what they could actually accomplish.
  • Both had societies that were divided by "factions": in the former, according to attributes (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite); in the latter, by Districts (1st 'til the supposedly obliterated 13th). 
  • Both found love along the way — cheesy as that sounds — under difficult circumstances.
The similarities end after you compare the aforementioned. The books' premises are completely different and what Beatrice (or Tris, as she later renames herself) has to overcome are completely different from what Katniss had to go through.

It's interesting that Veronica Roth imagined a society divided into attributes: Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), Dauntless (the brave), and Abnegation (the selfless). Each "society" strove to commit to the ideals behind their chosen faction and you can't help but wonder how that will ever be possible. How could someone seek a life of intelligence but forego selflessness? How could someone choose bravery without being honest?

Enter Beatrice Prior.

After going through an aptitude test (which gives 16-year-olds a chance to decide on their faction, and the rest of their lives as they know it, before the Choosing Ceremony), she learns that she is not cut out for just one particular faction. Unlike everyone else. She's what society deems "Divergent": taboo in this dystopian world. She must conceal this fact from everyone and we learn later on why.

She chooses to live a Dauntless life, saying goodbye to her parents in Abnegation, as well as her brother who chooses to be an Erudite, and learns the ways of the Dauntless (which, for example, includes jumping into and out of moving trains).

Divergent is fast-paced and you can pretty much connect with Beatrice as she discovers things about herself as a Divergent, her new faction, and the world beyond it.

The second book, Insurgent, starts off slow. Somewhere in the middle, until the last page, things pick up pretty quickly. The different factions turn against each other and Beatrice is one of the few who will make very difficult decisions that will not only affect her, but those around her.

Personally, I'm really excited for the third book. I imagine it will be difficult for Veronica Roth to write as her readers will wonder if she'll tie up all the loose ends in a satisfying way.

Then again, for her to have written these books the way she has (at the age of 23, she already has offers for Divergent to be made into a movie), it's pretty darn amazing. I can't help but look up to her, even if I'm old enough to be her big sister, because of what she has accomplished. Kudos to you, Ms. Roth!

Please don't take too long to write the last book, okay? 

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