Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction of post-apocalyptic Chicago, where people are either in one of the five rigid factions, or are factionless refugees living amongst the rubble of the former city. Most people, at the age of sixteen, take an aptitude test to find which faction they are best suited for, and then choose the faction they would like to join. The vast majority stay with their families, because faction trumps blood and if they leave their family's faction, they loose all contact, or near enough.
When Beatrice goes in for evaluation and is put in the simulation, she learns that she can have control of herself, and therefore to lesser extent, her surroundings. Hence her result isn't conclusive. There are three factions she could join, but there's no way the examiner is putting that in her report. The examiner explains that this means Beatrice is Divergent, and that is a deadly condition. Deadly because such people tend to have a lot of tragic accidents when no one is looking.
The next day, in the choosing ceremony, Beatrice selects Dauntless, the faction dedicated to eradicating fear, and leaves her Abnegation family behind. From the choosing ceremony, she and the other initiates run out of the building and must jump onto a moving train to get to their faction headquarters. Not all of them make it, and thus Beatrice, who renames herself Tris, is thrown headfirst into training regime that breaks the weak, and from which it will be very hard to hide her Divergent condition, even though her life depends on it.
It is absolutely disgusting how young this author is. I don't have a problem with someone landing a book deal when they're 21, or hitting the New York Times Bestseller List when they're 22. What makes me so disgusted is that this woman deserved both. She is *that* good at an age when I was still learning how to format a manuscript, let alone write one worth reading.
But my issues aside, I unreservedly recommend this book. It rides the wave of post-apocalyptic fiction that's big right now, but isn't derivative in any way. This isn't Hunger Games or Uglies or Angelfall. It's a work all its own, and the beginning to what promises to be an exciting trilogy.