So, a while back, after reading the Hunger Games trilogy, I came across a list of books to read that were supposed to be similar. I started reading this book called Divergent, which has actually become quite popular since then. It's actually the first book in a trilogy.
I think the second book, Insurgent, came out not too long after I started reading Divergent. The books are kind of like The Hunger Games in some ways, particularly the fact that they are set in a dystopian society. They take place mostly in what was once Chicago and reference several of the landmarks there. That alone made them interesting to me, since I used to live in Indiana and have visited Chicago quite a few times.
The books start out with an interesting premise. There are five “factions” in the society, and the year each child turns 16, they are tested to determine which faction they best fit into and then get to decide which faction they will become a part of. They can choose to stay with the faction they've been born into, join the faction that they tested into, or they can join another faction completely. The factions themselves are interesting, each with defining characteristics that determine how they behave. There are the Abnegation, which the main character, Beatrice, was born into, who strive to be selfless to a fault. There are also the Dauntless, who value bravery to the point of risking their lives continuously. There are the Amity, who strive for peace, the Erudite, who value intelligence above all else, and then there are the Candor, who most highly regard honesty. You can't read the book without almost subconsciously trying to figure out which faction you would best fit into yourself.
It's always hard for me to review a book without spoiling it, because of course what you want to talk about most are the twists or highlights of it. But I do have to say that I really enjoyed this series a lot. There was so much time in between the second and third book (Allegiant) coming out that I ended up rereading the first two before I started (and finished) the third one this week. And actually, if I remember correctly, when I was first reading the second book, Insurgent, I got a bit bored halfway through it and stopped reading for a while, then picked it back up later. The way things start to play out in the second book does get a bit confusing, and when it becomes hard to follow along, I tend to sometimes lose interest. But, like I said, I did pick it back up again later, and I was curious how the series ended. I actually reread them rather quickly, and manage to get through all three in a matter of just a few days.
A lot of people are not happy with how the series ended. I won't say any more about that, because I don't want to spoil anything, but I disagree with them. I feel like it ended appropriately. I loved the character development in these books, and I felt like the ending was very true to the characters and their struggles throughout the series. They struggle not only with other characters, but probably most of all with themselves and try to figure out who they are in this dystopian world. One of the things I liked about the books was what seemed to be the overall moral to the story–that you can't just label people and discount them for the labels you put on them. We don't see what's inside people, and we never will know everything about them. There's a lot more inside everyone than anyone else will ever see, so we shouldn't discount them for the little pieces we do see.
The titles of the books in the series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) fit very well, and I like the play on words. I won't explain the titles either, that's really something you need to read the novels for to figure out. But, if you like dystopian novels, and you aren't just out for a Chicken Soup for the Soul feel good novel, you should definitely check this series out. I enjoyed it, and would recommend.