In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 Beatrice, 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.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
I'm not completely sure how to even start this review. My fear is that this review will just fall into gushing and nothing else! To put it in the simple form: I LOVED this book. It has been the first book in a long time that I didn't want to put down - where I was pulled completely into the story. I tore through it having to force myself to put it away to sleep! That hasn't happened with a book in a very long time.
Why did I love it? First of all I really liked Tris/Beatrice. She was smart, strong, brave, funny (just because of how she thought about things), loyal. And she was so clueless about things that it made her a complete under-dog. I love cheering for the under-dog, and she was definitely one I could cheer for. What really helped with this was the thoughts that Veronica Roth let us hear inside Tris. They way she tried to work through things - her almost complete inability to admit defeat, her willingness to step in and fight for others, her willingness to question who is she and why she is. I loved it all. Roth made Tris thoughts so clear and such an important part of the story that I felt I truly knew Tris by the end. She became utterly real. And can I let you in on a secret? I like her better than Katniss <insert gasp here>. I just did.
As for the plot - the main focus of this book is really Tris trying to make it through initiation. Can she do this? Does she have it in her? How does she deal with others making fun of her or wanting her gone. This made the plot much more character driven, but that doesn't mean dull! There is action. Fights between the initiates, daring acts - things like that. They definitely add a thrill and tension to the story, but the real conflict is the one inside Tris. It just happens to be played out in a very physical way. There is the whole tension you see brewing between the fractions, and it's very clear that this will play a huge role in the next book, but this book seems to be setting that up more than anything. Towards the end of the book, the conflict does switch to outside of Tris, and you really see the set up for further books.
Ok I have to talk about Four, the trainer working with Tris. He's fantastic. And the relationship between him and Tris is great. For once it wasn't forced or instant! I won't say much more at the risk of giving all things away, but I really did like this part of the story. I also liked Four's back story. It definitely added to his depth and sets up some later events in this book and I'm sure later books.
I do want to comment about the world they now life in. The idea of dividing people into fractions that focus on one part of our personalities, or really what makes us human, is a very unique idea. In the book you can see how this isn't the best idea - that it's very hard to take all our natural tendencies and only let one through. They way I saw it, each aspect of the different fractions should work together in one person. Even from the start of the book, it's hinted at that this system is beginning to fall apart around them. That was once set up on strong ideals have morphed over time into warped beliefs. At one point Tris reads a part of her fractions manifesto and it talks about courage being brave in everyday acts. I really think this idea is at the heart of the book - what is courage. I'm curious to see how it plays out in the rest of the series.
Ok <GUSH ALEART> I love this book. It was thrilling, sweet, strong, daring, funny, scary and nonstop. It is the first book in forever that still has me thinking about it after finishing it. I remember all the character names (ok I'm really bad at that usually), I feel connected to Tris and Four. I
For the Guys? YES!!!!!!! Like Hunger Games it should appeal to the boys just as much.
Final thought: Um, I loved it! :)
Best stick-with-you image: Train jumping
Best for readers who: Like dystopia, strong female characters and cheering for the under-dog
Best for ages: 12+