Ever since I read the Hunger Games Trilogy I’ve been devouring dystopian teen novels. Divergent is right up there with quality of world building and character development. Beatrice or Tris, as she’s called later, is 16 years old. In her world (what used to be Chicago) five different types of people exist. You either fit one of these molds or you are an outcast. We meet her the day she takes a simulation to determine where she will best fit in. Even with the test, Tris and her classmates still get a choice which faction they will join. Tris grew up in Abnegation, which is a selfless clan who eat dull foods and wear gray clothes. Dauntless is the brave group who protect the city from what lies beyond. They are known for their daredevil stunts. Amity is the peaceful faction. Erudite is the academic one and Candor are known for their truthfulness. This world is based on the idea that you will fit one mold. If you show a capacity for more than one fraction you are known as divergent, a danger to society. That person becomes factionless or is killed. Tris must keep that she is Divergent a secret. Tris chooses Dauntless because she has a taste for adventure and does not want the quiet, selfless life of Abnegation. What she faces is a dangerous training and initiation that will have you asking what does it really mean to be brave? The factions are starting to crack and Tris must be braver than she ever imagined. I really loved this book and can’t wait for the second installment. Insurgent will be published in May of 2012.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Talk about what the words, Abnegation, Dauntless, Candor, Amity, and Erudite mean. Which word or words do they think describe them?
What does it mean to be brave? How is that different or alike the way Eric or Four from Dauntless feel?
Talk about the word Divergent and how that would be seen as a danger to this type of society?
Talk about Four. Discuss his fear landscapes. What would your fear landscapes look like? Why do you think they had fewer fears than others?
Talk about the stunts Tris performs, like jumping off the building and riding the zip line. Which would you want to do, or not want to do?
Discuss Tris’s mother’s sacrifice and her background. What do you think it all means?
What will happen now?
What do you think it means to factionless? Would it be better or worse?
Compare the Divergent world to other dystopian worlds you’ve read about.
Talk about tattoos and their meanings. Do you know anyone with a tattoo? What would one mean to you?
The abnegation are the ones who rule. What qualities do you think are important in a leader or ruler?