Veronica Roth is 22 years old and recently graduated from Northwestern University. This is her first novel.
The Story: In a future dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each of which reveres a different aspect of the human character. They are Amity (peace), Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (courage). Though every member of the society is born into a faction, a Choosing ceremony conducted when they are teenagers determines whether they will stay in the faction. Beatrice "Tris" Prior, raised in Abnegation, suspects she does not belong there. But when her Choosing ceremony proves more complex than planned, she must face problems even more challenging than those of her peers.
Katherine Tegen Books. 496 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780062024022
"Roth has created a dystopian fantasy that is a wild ride of a novel. ... And just with any great teen novel, there is romance. In this case, it's a romance that may not surprise but builds and matures with grace."
"Veronica Roth's spine-tingling debut, Divergent, is a roller coaster ride of emotions as readers follow Tris's whirlwind decision as well as journey that undoubtedly changed her life forever. ... Roth creates an unforgettable and eerie world that truly stayed with me."
"Divergent is no Hunger Games; it's much flimsier and less nuanced. Still, I'm hooked--and ready for the sequel." Breia Brissey
NY Times Book Review
"[T]hough Roth's Divergent is rich in plot and imaginative details, it suffers by comparison with Collins's opus. The shortcoming would not be so noticeable were there less blatant overlap between the two. ... For a book that explores themes about the right to be individual and the importance of breaking away from the pack, Divergent does not exactly distinguish itself." Susan Dominus
Onion AV Club
"Divergent plays right into the zeitgeist of dystopian young-adult novels, yet it lacks any kind of originality to put it alongside or above any previous series. This debut ultimately contains all the excitement of a checklist." Kevin McFarland
Like many YA novels, Veronica Roth's Divergent faces a seemingly unbeatable older rival. In this case, it's Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (2008) (another dystopian YA book that centers on a spunky female hero's rite of passage); indeed, every reviewer noted the similarities between the two. Some of those comparisons were flattering to Divergent, positioning it as the perfect next book for a fan of The Hunger Games. Other reviewers were less flattering, panning the book as a much less interesting attempt to capture the publishing trend of the moment. The consensus was somewhere in between, suggesting that Divergent will at least keep desperate young readers entertained while waiting for the more famous Hunger Games trilogy's film version, which comes out in 2012.