Dystopian fiction has returned and, quite possibly, may lead YA fiction away from teen paranormal into exciting new post-apocalyptic worlds.
Dystopian fiction is the creation of a futuristic world that is a chaotic, nightmarish reality where the populace is living under a repressive social control system and there’s an absence of individual freedom. The genre explores social and political structures, more specifically characterised by poverty, squalor and oppression and authoritarian or totalitarian forms of government. The central protagonist is not an outsider, but rather, a member of the society who questions its very existence.
The recent resurgence has come largely due to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Although first published in 2008, it’s now, 3 years later (and after the release of all three books in the trilogy), what people are talking about it. Word-of-mouth has spread like wildfire.
Divergent by Veronica Roth is one of the first to be released in 2011. Bloggers have been talking this up since the beginning of the year as one of the most highly anticipated YA books of 2011. Even fellow authors have been raving about Roth’s book, not only about the world she has crafted or the characters that come alive off the page, but also how engagingly she writes. Derek Landy (author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series) blogged that ‘Divergent grabbed me from the first paragraph’ (read the whole blog here: http://dereklandy.blogspot.com/2011/05/divergent.html ). And Melissa Marr (author of Wicked Lovely) praises Divergent as a ‘taut and shiveringly exciting read! … I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.’
So what makes Divergent so unique? Why will it stand out amongst all the upcoming dystopian fiction? I believe the tag line sums it up: ONE CHOICE CAN TRANSFORM YOU. It’s so true. Life is about choices, it’s about making the choice whether you stay or you go, whether you run or you fight, whether you find happiness or not. I think everyone can relate to it – it’s something so universal – which is why readers will be able to relate to the main protagonist, Tris, and the choices she makes.
In Divergent the landscape is a dystopian world set in Chicago, where society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue — Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Tris, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is – she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
As the initiation transforms them all, Tris must discover how things fit into the life she has chosen, but also the secret that she has kept hidden from everyone. When she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what also helps her save those she loves.
Divergent is a perfect example of dystopian fiction, and better yet, a great read. The structure of society is so restrictive, so authoritative that you wish there were more like Tris who could see that there is something wrong within the world they live. The action sequences drive this along, you’re turning page after page to find out what happens next because you genuinely care about the characters that Roth has created.
This is just the beginning. These books will lead to movies – Divergent has already been optioned by Summit and The Hunger Games will be out in 2012 – which will help the genre claim top spot, knocking off those vampires.
Divergent by Veronica Roth is in stores now.
Divergent Trailer- check it out!