By Anne Jorgenson
With Allegiant releasing in theaters in just a few weeks, now is a good time to talk about the novels in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series.
Set in a post-apocalyptic futuristic time period, this series takes place in a closed-off society built from the remains of Chicago. Divergent’s society consists of five different factions, each with a different purpose and a different focus. There are the Erudite, those that value intelligence above all else, the Amity, those that value peace, Candor, those that value truth, the Abnegation, those that want to give back to others, and the Dauntless, the courageous.
Those that fail to fit the mold of any of these factions are simply the Factionless, doomed to live in the forgotten areas of the city.
Every year, the dystopian society holds a ceremony for those that are of age to choose which faction they want to join. Before this ceremony, the partakers are taken into a room, where they are given an injection that takes them into a simulation. This simulation is supposed to test the participant’s aptitude towards a faction by giving them moral and intellectual dilemmas they have to solve. By the end of the test, they’re supposed to have an understanding of which faction would suit them best.
The novels in the Divergent series center on Beatrice (a.k.a. “Tris”) Prior, a sixteen year-old (although in the movie Shailene Woodley plays a slightly older version) who was born into the Abnegation faction. The first novel begins on the day of the ceremony, when Tris goes in for the test. Though the test is specifically designed to yield one match, Beatrice comes out of the aptitude test as a match for three factions – Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. Tris doesn’t know it yet, but she just got herself in a sticky situation – in Divergent’s society, anybody who isn’t neatly categorized is labeled as, well, divergent. And divergent = bad.
Entering the ceremony with this knowledge, Tris bucks tradition and chooses outside of her faction – she goes Dauntless. As a Dauntless trainee, Tris has to compete with the other Dauntless novices to obtain a place in the faction, all while trying to hide her Divergence from everyone. Since the Dauntless are known as the courageous, they have to be physically and mentally tough. Because of this, the recruits are put through a series of tests, which are similar to the aptitude test that all simulate different scenarios for them to work out of.
During one of these tests, the test proctor realizes that Tris is a divergent when she does things she shouldn’t be able to do. In these simulations, participants are supposed to be in a dream-like state and hold no conscious awareness that they’re in a simulation. But thanks to her divergence, Tris has the rare ability to maintain consciousness while in the simulation and, as a result, manipulate the simulation, a dangerous technique that higher ups don’t appreciate.
Lucky for Tris, this test proctor (who also happens to be one of the trainers) is also divergent. Four, as everybody calls him, quickly becomes her confidant, and unsurprisingly, her love interest.
As Four and Tris try to conceal their divergence and fit in at Dauntless, they realize something big is in the works. Despite the 1000+ pages of challenges Tris faces, she somehow manages to save the day and overthrow the corrupt Erudite-controlled government. Tris isn’t some type of superhuman; she’s just an ordinary girl that is thrust into extraordinary situations. Courageous, passionate, persistent, and selfless, Tris is the perfect role model.