Divergent is one of those stories where I don’t remember which I saw first, the movie or the book. I suspect it was the books, as I was moving between countries that year and I turn to books when I need to escape the stresses of life. What better place to escape to than a world reduced to are area within post-apocalyptic Chicago’s city walls where society has split into five factions? It reminded me how fortunate I am to live in a world where borders exist, but humanity is a tapestry of personalities, characteristics, and beliefs.
At age sixteen, the children of post-apocalyptic Chicago are given a choice, stay with the faction they were born into or to transfer and leave their family behind. Tris, previously Beatrice Prior of Abnegation, transfers to Dauntless as she hides a secret she only found out the day before herself. She does not fit in any of the factions, but is a secret, hunted designation, Divergent.
Tris fights for survival in her new faction while trying to find out what Divergent means and why she is being hunted. As she forms friendships and starts a romantic relationship, Tris uncovers a conspiracy that could tear apart the city she grew up in. The choice they gave her was not a choice at all, but a test. The answers of which will threaten the lives of everyone, including Tris.
The book series is full of action, a little romance, and a lot of learning to trust one’s self. Veronica Roth paints a bleak future where humanity is separated and categorized. Where there is an Us and Them mentality. It is a vivid and scary imagining of what society can fall to if everyone does not learn how to accept each other’s similarities and differences. The expectation that Tris will fall in line and learn to think and act as her new faction decrees rather than using the strengths of Abnegation to improve Dauntless’s teachings, shows the problems in their society. The threat of becoming factionless if she does not conform is a bleak statement of societal expectations.
I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.Albert Einstein, interview with George Sylvester Viereck, Jan. 1931
As my family moves between countries and cultures, I have learned to appreciate the open-mindedness of most individuals. Where they invite us in and let us explore their cultures. We absorb some of their beliefs and celebrations and leave some of ours behind with them. Divergent was a reminder, a scary alternate reality, of how our world could be.
I finished the series, but have not read the collection of short stories yet. Perhaps they will be added to my “To Be Read” list of 2021.