Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Recommended Reading: Divergent

October was a whirlwind and as such my poor blog has been sorely neglected. However, I've got a nice long backlog of books to recommend and the motivation to get to back to blogging since I've joined YAtopia's I Love Dark YA Blogfest!

For the post, the participating bloggers are supposed to talk about their favorite dark YA book(s) which is just about all I do here so that's kind of a lucky break for me.

Currently, my favorite dark YA book is Divergent by Veronica Roth.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. 
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

I love every page of this book. I'm not even sure where to start about why it appeals to me, mostly because there are so many twists and turns that everything I could say would be a total spoiler.

On a thematic level, I am always intrigued by self-segregation and the logical extensions thereof when one tries to build a society around that type of thinking. The notion that we can all be confined to small boxes where we are only this or only that has never made any sense to me, yet it pops up again and again in our cultural messages and the way we organize our society. I have no idea if she was looking at that specifically, but that's what it reminds me of.

I've also always been really drawn to YA books that show teenagers having to make high stakes decisions about their lives. I think the opinions and experiences of young people are often unreasonably dismissed even in a lot of contemporary YA, so that may be why I'm more into darker books with teens who are forced to rise to the occasion.

This is my favorite Q&A from Veronica Roth's blog:
What faction would you choose?

Despite my intense fear of heights, bugs, flocks of birds, speed, scaling rickety structures, and ordering meat at the deli counter, I would choose Dauntless, because I think courage, particularly courage that empowers a person to act for the good of others regardless of the consequences, is important. Also, I own a lot of black clothing.

Trigger Warning: There is serious violence in this book including at least one incident of attempted sexual assault.  It is all integral to the plot, but if you're upset by that kind of thing this one isn't for you.

Recommended Reading is a recurring feature on this blog. I'm doing this in an effort to build a list of YA books that I believe are both great stories and treat people's bodies in a sensitive and respectful manner. I will do my best to point out things about books I suggest that might be triggering even if I feel the book as a whole is worthwhile. If you have suggestions for future recommended books or comments/criticisms of books I write about please feel free to leave them in comments.


  1. I loved Divergent. And Veronica Roth is awesomesauce in real life. Great choice.

  2. Just put it on my reader. Can't wait to check it out. Thanks for posting.

  3. Divergent was awesome! I thought it was well- written, and the dark bits and pieces of the book kept me hooked. Good choice!

  4. This has been on my TBR list forever. Maybe it's time I moved it up to the top.

  5. I loved Divergent and can't wait for the sequel.

  6. I have this on my TBR list! I think it has one of the prettiest covers on a YA book this year.

  7. I just finished Divergent a couple of days ago and I agree, it is really good!