Review: “Divergent” by Veronica Roth

Apparently I CAN walk and chew gum at the same time.

This weekend I was pleased to not only complete reading a great new book but also complete writing a great new book.

First, the one I read:

51MyTJ6IWPL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I first heard about Divergent by Veronica Roth in Rough Writers, our creative writing group on campus. One of our student writers, I don’t remember which one (Cassandra), told me that not only was it a great book, but that it had Christian overtones. Being both the skeptic and the Christian suspense writer that I am, I had to read it. Rather than buying an ebook, which I am prone to do because of my cheapskate nature, I invested a few more dollars and got a copy of the paperback. I’m glad I did, because it is definitely a book I will want to loan out.

Cassandra was right; it does have Christian overtones, but they are very light. It’s more like the story revisits Christian principles that the main character learned growing up.

To fully understand, you have to hear the basic premise. After a big war, society decided the best way to keep the peace was to divide the population into five factions. Candor is that faction who believes in always telling the truth, no matter what. Amity is the group that believes in peace no matter what. Abnegation believes in self-sacrifice and putting others first. Erudite believes that knowledge is the key to peace, and the Dauntless faction believes that courage is the key to peace. At age 16, young people are tested for aptitude and recommendations are given them as to which faction they belong in. The next day, they participate in a Choosing Ceremony, where they publicly announce which faction they belong to. The term Divergent comes when a person shows an aptitude that qualifies them for several factions at the same time.

The main character, Beatrice Prior, is raised in the Abnegation faction, one that wears only grey, dresses modestly and never draws attention to themselves (sound familiar, Christians?). They live to serve others, always the ones to clean up when there is a mess. Because of their self-denial, they are also the people in power in the government. That causes some jealousy, and some fireworks fly as time goes on (the second book is called Insurgent, so you get an idea of where this goes). Beatrice tests as a Divergent, and so must choose between three factions. Her decision completely changes her life, and like dominoes, affects those around her.

You can probably see the parallels in this story and Hunger Games, and I found myself comparing several times. But there are differences too. At first I thought there was going to be a love triangle, but it ends up being more a matter of unrequited love than a triangle. Also, the story is set in a dystopian future Chicago, and having lived there, that piqued my interest. There’s lot of action as well as romance, although I found it refreshing that the suggestion of sex is there, as well as sexual attraction, without completely going there. I always believe the anticipation is more effective than the actual event, in books at least. That makes is a good young adult book, I think.

I also found it interesting that Veronica Roth wrote this book while she was a college student, which should give some of you students (Tiffany and Cassandra, I mean you) reason to hope.

All it all, I found it a great YA book, one that I know a lot of people are latching onto.

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Infinity coverAnd now, on to my project. I finished the rough draft of Infinity’s Reach yesterday at about noon. The last three chapters went a lot easier than I had anticipated. That always scares me a bit, and I find myself wondering if I have missed anything when that happens. But apparently I didn’t. I will know for sure by the end of this week.

For those of you just coming onboard, Infinity’s Reach is the retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress, set in a dystopian United States after a nuclear attack and invasion by an Asian coalition army. Teenager Infinity Richards is given the challenge of crossing the U.S. to join her father in Camp Zion, which is somewhere in the West.

HotdogsMy biggest challenge was balancing faithfulness to the original Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian themes and a science-fiction story, and I found at the end that I did a pretty good job of that. This week I will focus on plausibility, continuity, and grammar issues before I begin formatting pages.

I am just as eager as you are to finally see this in print, and I was tempted to launch early. But after thinking about it, I am going to stick to my April 1 launch date, just to make sure that everything is ready for the launch.

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Last but not least, I have to include my photo for the contest. This time, Pedro at the local hot dog shop here in Cleburne decided to help me out. As usual, contest rules are here. Make sure you get your entry in for a free paperback copy of Infinity’s Reach. Winners will be announced beginning next Monday!

Have a great Spring Break week!