When I first saw this book, my first thought was that it was just another Hunger Games ripoff. It's Young Adult dystopian fiction that involves a 16-year old girl, with action and romance. But as it turns out, that's as far as the similarity goes. This book takes place in a future Chicago, in which people are sorted into one of five "factions" of government based on their personality and abilities. People choose their factions at age 16.
Character development is handled very well, especially in the main character. What's unfortunate is that she turns into a jerk as the story goes on. Tris starts out as a pleasant, timid youth, but by the end she's a Jerk Ass
. This can be seen when one of her fellow initiates, Albert, joins in the attempt to have her killed. Later, he regrets it. He explains that he felt the only way he could prove himself would be to get rid of her. That's why he felt pressured to help the other kids try to kill her. But instead of forgiving him, she gives him the most heartless and vicious rejection that you can imagine.
There are two things about the book that bothered me. The first thing is the present-tense narration. Perhaps I'm just not used to it, but when a book is narrated in the present tense, especially in first person, it just doesn't sound right to me. It almost sounds like a younger child is narrating it.
The second thing that bugged me was the romance in the story. The main character, Tris, falls in love with an older guy who is tough, blunt and jaded on the outside, but has a sweet and tender side, who also happens to come from an abusive background. I'm sure that this sounds familiar to you. This romance scenario is very common in teen literature, and I found it disappointing that the author chose to take this path rather than pair the main character up with a more original and interesting character.
What I love the most about this story is the underlying theme of diversity. Tris lives in a world where people are categorized and classified into five generalizations, like inanimate objects. Being a Divergent, Tris does not fit into any one generalization of character. The theme here is that people are not things that you can objectively classify and categorize. They are living, breathing individuals with minds of their own.