I’m going to let you know one of my secret guilty pleasures – The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I discovered it by accident one day when I was sick home from work. I fell in love with the characters and the idea of showing what a teenager would go through if they became a parent while still in high school. How would it affect her relationship with others? Would she be forced to grow up early or would her parents take responsibility?
The more I watched the more I fell in love with Shailene Woodley, who plays Amy Juergens, a high school girl who got pregnant right before her freshman year of high school. In 2011 I saw her breakout movie appear in The Descendants staring George Clooney. She was great, but the role was limiting.
When I found out that Woodley was taking on the role of Tris Prior in the film adaptation of Divergent by Veronica Roth, I knew I wanted to see the movie. It’s coming this March so I decided to go ahead and start reading the books. That’s when I fell in love with 16 year old Tris Prior.
The U.S. is in post-civil war. But this isn’t the 1800’s. It’s the future. In the aftermath, the city of Chicago is in ruins and the people come together to try and decide what happens and what can be done to prevents. In discussions there 5 decided reasons that caused the war – dishonesty, fear, malice, greed and ignorance. The people who believe one reason outweighs the others are split into 5 factions in which they work to eliminate that reason from surfacing. For instance the Abnegation faction values charity and gives of themselves selflessly to anyone they come across.
Beatrice Prior was born in Abnegation, but today is the day she gets formally tested to see if she may be a better match for one of the other factions. The problem, Beatrice has placed in more than one faction, making her “Divergent,” which is unusual.
Ultimately, Beatrice decides to switch her faction to Dauntless, those who try to eliminate fear. She’s seen the kids riding the overhead trains and jumping from them and she finds a certain thrill to trying to overcome her fears. But the initiation process to Dauntless is full of danger, and only the ruthless will survive. She relies on the help of her instructor, Four, to make it to the end where she faces inner most fears in front of the Dauntless leaders to determine whether she is brave enough to become a member of the faction.
If Beatrice thought her initiation into Dauntless was going to be her biggest challenge, she’s mistaken. Something is brewing in the Dauntless and Erudite (those who value knowledge) camps and when they get together the trouble brewing behind the faction system comes out in full as the factions are divided and another war is on the precipice.
This is a fantastic book. It reads easily and the story is so engaging I literally finished the book in three days. The characters are so vibrant and the plot line is futuristic and yet not totally inconceivable. I also liked the subtle religious undertones (Abnegation are Christian and are being persecuted by the Erudites who seek knowledge and understanding above all). Veronica Roth did a very good job leaving us with a huge cliffhanger so it wouldn’t be long before we move to the next book. I’m looking forward to seeing how well Shailene Woodley fits the role of Beatrice when the movie comes out in March of this year.
Do you think Tris is really trying to find her identity or is she just trying to reinvent herself into someone she wants to be?
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