Author: Veronica Roth
Title: Divergent
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

Now that the reign of the undead seems to be dying down a little, it's not surprising that a slew of dystopian copycats have now emerged in the young adult market, thanks to the widespread success of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. 

While many of these subsequent novels haven't exactly added anything new or exciting to the genre, Veronica Roth's Divergent is definitely the proverbial exception to the rule. In fact, it's so imaginative and inherently thrilling that it wouldn't be surprising if readers loved it just as much as the adventures of Katniss, Peeta and their literary cohorts in The Hunger Games.

In Divergent, a dystopian Chicago is now divided into five unique factions that are each dedicated to one specific virtue. To wit, in Candor, it's honesty that's perpetually cultivated, while Abnegation celebrates the beauty of selflessness. Meanwhile, bravery is the hallmark of Dauntless, while Amity and Erudite are the centers for peace and intelligence, respectively.

In this new world, when someone turns 16, there's an appointed day where he/she must ultimately choose which community to join. But unlike old-world predecessors who were allowed to change their living situation at will, the faction you're a part of is now your faction for life. So it goes without saying that where you'll end up is a choice that isn't made without some serious consideration.

For the story's main character Beatrice, her coming of age presents a dilemma she never imagined was possible. Now forced to choose between staying with her loving family or embracing who she really is on her own, Roth spins a clever yarn that makes you question what you would do if confronted with a similar situation.

With a slew of clever twists and turns along the way, not to mention secrets that threaten to destroy this seemingly perfect world, Beatrice's journey toward her future inevitably makes for a fascinating story that's practically impossible to put down. And considering I'm way past the age of Divergent's target audience, well, that's really saying something.


*This review first published on July 14, 2011.