Review first publised 22/02/12
In a dystopian version of Chicago, a once united society has become divided in the aftermath of war in an aim to protect itself. It’s citizens are divided into five factions by a choice through psychological traits at the age of sixteen – Candor (Honesty), Abnegation (Selflessness), Dauntless (Bravery), Amity (Peace) and Erudite (Intelligence).
Beatrice Prior is now at the age where she must choose a faction. A choice which either keeps her with her family or be true to her own personality. However, Beatrice has a secret – one that she must keep for if it is revealed, it could lead to her death.
This is another book that’s been getting a lot of good press and like my previous YA read, “The Fault In Their Stars”, I can see why it’s getting good press.
Veronica Roth has crafted a novel which combines elements of a teenage based coming of age drama, a psychologically based thriller, a solid action story and a modern day parable.
The novel is seen from the first person point of view of lead character Beatrice, who becomes known as Tris once she decides which faction she wishes to belong to. Tris, for the majority of the novel, is a reactive character and it is interesting to see how her behaviour changes and the way that she physically changes, thanks to Roth’s descriptive prose, throughout the book from the character she starts off as to what she eventually becomes.
She has to undertake a “hero’s journey” which tests her mettle and opens up areas where she has to find courage in the face of self doubt, strength in the face of attacks on her personality and her physicality and resources within herself to push herself into areas where she has not been previously. In addition to this, she also has the additional layer to her character of the secret which she has to investigate without drawing attention to herself at the risk of her life.
Roth also doesn’t stint on providing well written character in each of the supporting roles. As much as Tris has layers of character to go through, the other initiates have a likewise similar story arc. It’s in plain sight that although the other “transfers” (characters who have transferred from one faction to another). Whilst all of them have made the choice to change, they retain elements of their previous factions – for example, the Candor borns maintain that they can’t tell the truth but they aren’t for holding back when the truth has to be told.
The reader also has to keep there wits about them as there are clues to the way the plot of the novel progresses through the behaviours of the characters within it.
Roth doesn’t hold back with the brutality of the world that Tris lives in, whether it be in the tests that Tris must undertake, the treatment that is meted out to her, the secret she has to keep, the clash of ideologies which could be seen as an analogy to incidents in our contemporary world where there is a lack of tolerance for whatever reason, or the events that span the book’s last third.
Considering that this is her debut novel, Veronica Roth has made a book that is not only on profile for the YA audience, but can be read by people who would like to read an intelligently written story.
I hope that the momentum of this novel follows into the second novel of the series, “Insurgent” (released in May 2012), and that she avoids the literary version of the “second album syndrome”.
My apologies if this review is a little cryptic and lacking in detail, but if you haven’t read this book and want to, you should find out about Tris’ world yourself.
If you want to know more about Veronica Roth and her books, please go to her site at http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/