This Tuesday's release of "Divergent" is what prompted us to hold Dystopian Week now. Mostly because we don't want novels like this to get lost in the shuffle as just another title in a hot new trend. This is one fast-paced read that sticks in your head for days after you put it down, both because of its video-game-like scenes and its thought-provoking premise. Read our interview with author Veronica Roth for more about the idea behind its creation, and read on to find out if it's the dystopian book for you. (Hint, "Hunger Games" fans: yes.)
Evil Empire: Chicago, which is now divided into five factions, Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity and Candor, whose members all live according to the human trait they value most. Because their selflessness would logically make them more fair to the rest of the people, Abnegation members controls the central government. At 16, children take a virtual-reality test to determine which faction they're best wired for.
Main Form of Oppression: Once the kids choose their factions, they're stuck with them. If they choose one away from their family, they can only see them on visiting days. And if they then fail the initiation of their faction, they risk winding up factionless—forced to live in poverty on the outskirts of town.
Girl Rebel: Beatrice, who grew up never quite fitting in with her Abnegation family, discovers in her test that she displays aptitude for Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. But that "divergent" result is very dangerous, her test proctor tells her, so she has to keep it a secret as she departs from the safety of her selfless family, heads to the crazy, dangerous Dauntless headquarters and changes her name to Tris.
Boy Rebel: Four, the Dauntless member placed in charge of the new would-be Dauntless initiates. As he puts them through grueling, deadly training to overcome their fears, he starts to give Tris a little more attention than the others.
How They Fight Against the Man: Well, this is something I can't reveal without spoiling the story, so let's just say that Tris' brains, bravery and willingness to help others makes her a threat to some power-hungry folks at the top.
Metaphor for the Real World: On their own, morality, smarts, friendliness, honesty and fearlessness aren't what makes a perfect person, or a perfect society.
Who Should Read This: Veronica answered this one for us: "This one's for the girl who doesn't care that much about the romance and is a little more interested in the dangerous and action-packed world. There's a little bit of romance in 'Divergent,' but it's definitely not the focus. And girls who are really into powerful protagonists who are not very nice. That's what you need to appreciate it."
Will you be picking up a copy of "Divergent"? (We hope so!)