Ah, distopias. The cautionary tales of a future where everything has gone to hell. Or, I find, pretty astute observations of our present.
This week I read Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, another in the recent “female-heroine-torn-from-family-forced-into-societal-oppression-then-revolution” trend. I will be honest, however, these books are addicting. Reading three was not hard (I mean, they’re not difficult either, but there are a lot of pages!).
In future Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Candor and Erudite. Each lives in its own part of the community, divided from the others and valuing different ideals. The factions take their chosen ideal to the extreme: Dauntless are courageous to the point of foolish risk, Abnegation are selfless to the point of not using mirrors, Amity are peaceful to the point of drug-induced calm, Candor are honest to the point of forcefully stripping privacy, Erudite are intelligent to the point of valuing nothing that cannot be defined.
The idea, therefore, is that an individual shows aptitude toward one or two. However, this idea is not perfect and it generates the Factionless and the Divergent – those who do not fit into the prescribed boxes.
As our heroine, Tris, discovers herself as Divergent, she is thrown into a series of events that involve her in a massive war. All while she falls in love (of course).
The books are fun, fast, addicting and deal (as realistically as possible) with how a teenager would act in such an environment. And sprinkled throughout are some aphorisms and thoughts that still resonated with me, and I’m sure would’ve been even more revolutionary as a teen. Most importantly, the second book came with temporary faction tattoos.
“Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it’s so important that we don’t rely on it.”