When I turned the last page of Divergent, the first book in the Divergence series, I felt content in an unsatisfied way. Veronica Roth manages to rip up the status quo to the perfect bulls-eye where you, the reader, feel incomplete enough to appreciate the story you’ve just read while still feeling a stinging need to continue.
In her series, Roth has created yet another dystopian futuristic world that resonates plenty of The Hunger Games, but takes life in its own modern way. The world of the Divergence series is divided into four co-dependent factions – Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, and Candor. Each faction’s philosophy depends on what they consider to be the downfall of peace and with this division, the world is kept in order. Or was, rather, because the crumbling conspiracy introduced at the end of Divergent takes the central stage here.
The story recalls the final book of Hunger Games, carrying a similar plot structure and character development. The difference, however, is that Tris Prior is a lot more active than Katniss, and therefore becomes a stronger portrayal of the female hero. While Katniss faints all over the place and misses out on most of the action (in one of the most disappointing endings of all times, but that’s another post), Tris is present where it happens, running her little feet off, playing dead to save her life, and picking up the gun, meeting the senseless violence head-on.
Tris is great because she is that rare kind of heroine that we love to hate. As Tris is forced to face and accept her imminent death, the author has made me care to the extent where I almost cheer in light of her painful death! In this scene, as well, Roth manages to instil that wonderful, fantastic sense of doubt that George R.R Martin has become famous for in his novels: that a main character is never safe.
In a weak moment, I wondered… could Roth be so ruthless and audacious as to kill off her main heroine?
Well, this is YA so the answer was ‘no,’ but the mere presence of the question is a testament to her plotting.
Tris’s relationship with Four (Tobias) is as frustrating as a teenager relationship should be, with petty arguments (if you now can call parents trying to kill their children ‘petty’) and quasi-intentional misunderstandings, surfacing secrets, and childish jealousy blazing bonfires from invisible smoke.
Divergent has been praised by critics for discussing the universal teenager dilemma in growing up, becoming a self, and making tough decisions about who you are and who you want to be. Insurgent is more of a fight-for-your-life/action kind of novel and it branches out from the personal focus of Divergent, to a political sphere where citizens of all ages must face their own stance, political or non-political, and ask themselves what kind of society they want. It shows that personal decisions are part of society as well and that human existence is a lot more complicated than we could ever imagine.
Roth ends Insurgent on a ravishing cliffhanger that opens up a plethora of possibilities for the final instalment, Allegiant, which will be published later this year. I can only cross my fingers that Roth avoids the lurking trapdoors that Collins stumbled and fumbled among in completing the Hunger Games series, and that the ending of the Divergence series will be as dauntless as its beginning.
ps. Whatever you do, don’t miss the up-coming filmatisation of Roth’s novel! Divergent, with Shailene Woodley as Tris and Kate Winslet playing the baddie, is scheduled to be released next year and my expectations are high! This is precisely the kind of squarely shaped novel that is (read: should be) easily transferred onto the screen.
Final note: comparisons to the Hunger Games are inevitable, and shall continue.