“Divergent” by Veronica Roth (And the Library’s Teen Films June 24-30)

DivergentDivergent is a sharply-written first novel by a recent Northwestern Un. Grad. This teen SF novel will be popular with the same readers who liked The Hunger Games series, especially young women looking for a strong heroine breaking away from a limited existence and facing difficult and deadly odds.

In the generations after a war which has destroyed much of Chicago, the residents have divided into 5 “factions”, each based on a philosophical principle. Beatrice, just turned 16, has grown up in the Abnegation faction, which believes that selfishness was the cause of the disasters of the past and that denial of self and focus on others is the key to avoiding future conflicts. The other factions are Dauntless (pro-bravery), Erudite (pro-education and research), Candor (pro-honesty), and Amity (pro-peace). The different factions tend to do different jobs within the community of factions. E.g., Abnegation provides government leaders, Erudite provide teachers and scientists, Dauntless provides security and defense, etc.

Once a year all of the 16 year-olds go through aptitude tests to inform them about which faction matches their personality. They can choose to remain with their families, or choose the faction that matches their aptitude results, or go against both and choose something else. They then become initiates in the faction they choose. If they do not choose or if they fail to fit into their choice, they become “factionless” and have to live outside the norms of this society, driving trucks, doing manual labor, even perhaps being homeless and impoverished (although we see little evidence that the members of the factions have any true understanding of what life outside the factions is like).

Beatrice is told secretly during her aptitude tests that she is “Divergent” and to never tell anyone. It appears to mean someone who doesn’t clearly fit any one faction but who has characteristics of more than one. The real meaning turns out to be much more significant than that. Beatrice chooses “Dauntless” and then discovers that all of the new initiates have to pass a severe series of trials of their physical and mental toughness. Not all will pass. The losers will become factionless.

Beatrice finds her toughness but also finds hints that this society of factions has the potential to come apart violently.

Very exciting, page-turning story with good main characters, although the “villains” are stereotyped. Still, not many flaws for a first novel and the energy of the story and writing style carry the reader over any beginner bumps. There is a level of violence similar to that of The Hunger Games. The second book, Insurgent, was just released. We’ll be eager to read that, too. It will be reviewed next week.

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Here are next week’s teen movies. Click on any title to see where else it is playing this summer.

Real Steel

Pike

Tue., June 26, 5:45 pm pm

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Southport

Wed., Jun 27, 6:00 pm

Stomp the Yard

Decatur

Fri., Jun 29, 3:00 pm

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Spades Park

Fri., June 29, 3:00 pm

Footloose

College Avenue

Sat., Jun 30, 2:00 pm

War Horse

Eagle

Sat., Jun 30, 2:00 pm

Real Steel

Brightwood

Sat., June 30, 2:00 pm

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