Nothing beats good old-fashioned YA fantasy fiction. Even though I now read a broader scope of genres with gusto, there’s something about YA that seems to bring out a particular type of emotional thread and inventiveness that you just don’t find with books aimed at adults. And as YA is increasingly recognized as having literary worth, the characters, language, and plot development are diversifying and becoming more complex. Three cheers and a welcome to new YA author Veronica Roth, who’s writing thrilling, well-crafted novels that I think any teen would love.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth
Roth’s dystopic society has split into value-based factions: Amity (peace), Candor (honesty), Erudite (intelligence), Abnegation (selflessness), and Dauntless (courage). While this system was intended to improve civilization, value-enforcement has escalated to the point of oppression. Citizens’ every action must fall in line with their faction’s core value, from dress to occupation to transportation. At age sixteen, everyone chooses a permanent faction, based heavily on the results of an aptitude test.
Raised in Abnegation, where she constantly suppressed her fierce independence, Tris learns at her aptitude test that she’s not aligned with a single faction. She’s a rare (and dangerous) Divergent. She chooses Dauntless, and proves herself over and over in physical, mental, and emotional challenges that verge on life-threatening. But the obstacles of initiation fade away as Tris stumbles into a plot that could destroy everything she’s ever known.
I really liked how Roth balanced Tris’s extraordinary talents with realistic teenage vulnerability and flaws. Unlike many books for adolescents, (*cough*TWILIGHT) Roth lets Tris make mistakes without implicitly condoning them, or providing easy wrap-ups that absolve Tris of both her errors and her agency.
It was definitely worth waiting months for this YA novel to make its way out of the library hold list. I devoured it in one night. Read it, yo.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.