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More Teen Dystopia

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For some reason dystopia is a genre that captures my imagination. I’m not quite sure exactly what it is that I love about it. It may be the same thing that makes me love shows like Lost and Fringe – something about a world that is recognizable as ours but at the same time is completely wrong and twisted. Even in high school, one of my favorite reads was 1984. My pre-Hunger Games dystopia love is for another post, though. Today it’s about a newer dystopian world that probably owes some of its popularity to the success of Hunger Games trilogy, but is still an amazing story in its own right.

Today’s dystopia du jour is Divergent. I actually first heard of this one from reading a sampler of coming teen dystopia put out by HarperCollins. (If you’re looking for some good dystopia, you should get it. It’s free for Kindle.) Most of the previews sounded interesting, and there are some more that I still want to pick up, but this was the one that really captured my attention.

The book is told in first person by Beatrice, a member of the Abnegation faction by birth. In this world, the city of Chicago is divided into factions, each of which values a particular virtue above all others. Abnegation values selflessness; Amity, kindness; Candor, honesty; Dauntless, courage; and Erudite, intelligence. Then there are the factionless, who live jobless and friendless without a faction, a fate that seems worse than death to most. Every year, all the 16-year-olds in the city must choose which faction they will join permanently. Before the choosing ceremony, they are each given a test to determine where their aptitude lies. Beatrice’s test is inconclusive, suggesting that she has equal aptitude for Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. This means that she is “divergent,” something her tester warns her not to reveal to anyone else. Beatrice makes her choice (and I’m not going to tell you what it is), but she discovers that being divergent is more dangerous than she ever dreamed, particularly in her chosen faction.

The tension in Beatrice’s life and in the city explodes at the end of Divergent and continues in Insurgent, the second book of the planned trilogy. The third book is scheduled for a Fall 2013 release, and no title has been announced. My first thought (and that of many others, apparently) was that the final book would be titled Convergent, but I’ve also seen Emergent suggested, which would fit well with the story arc. The author’s code name for the book, however, is Detergent (see the last question in the article), so I guess we’ll all have to wait a while to find out for sure.

I don’t want you to think that these books end on too much of a cliffhanger, although the story does pick up immediately in the next book. It’s more like the big reveal is made at the end of the book, so you know what the story was building towards, but the aftermath of the reveal is part of the next book. It definitely feels like the author is telling one continuous story in the series, but she does wrap up the sub-story being told in each book. I actually wanted a short break after finishing the first one to process everything that had happened and speculate about what was to come.

So I definitely recommend these books. I actually purchased them to read on my recent trip, but I made the mistake of starting Divergent before we left and just couldn’t stop myself from finishing before we left! Luckily Insurgent had just come out, so I had that one to get me through! These books are definitely keepers and will go in my “rereadable” pile.