My twenty-something daughter came up to me and thrust a book into my hands, saying, “You have to read this and tell your readers about it.”
Unlike me, my daughter reads science fiction only occasionally. She has a full time job and social life…but there are a few authors that have recently caught her attention.
The Hunger Games series opened her up to science fiction. The story of a young girl forced to face and kill others in a post Apocalyptic arena resonated with her. The sequels of Catching Fire and MockingJay also made her reading list.
Now a new writer with a similar storyline is making a big splash, both in a series and on the movie screen. Try over 20,300 Amazon reviews with over a 4.35 average. …amazing!
In Divergent Veronica Roth also writes about post apocalyptic Earth, Chicago in particular, where society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue. These are: Dauntless (courage), Candor (honesty), Erudite (intelligence), Abnegation (selflessness), and Amity (friendship). After testing and study, each new young adult at a given time must step up at their Choosing Ceremony and select which faction they will serve for the rest of their life.
Growing up in the factor of Abnegation, Beatrice Prior’s psychological test is confusing as she discovers that she fits into no one factor, but is “Divergent.” If anyone finds this out, it could be her death for all Divergent are feared by the leaders in her society.
At the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice surprises and dismays her family by choosing Dauntless as her faction. Her brother also switches his allegiance and picks Erudite.
Within the Dauntless faction, Beatrice changes her name to Tris and begins a grueling series of competitions to prove herself worthy. Although physically and psychological she is not strong or ruthless, she is determined and smart, catching the eye of one of the handsome, male leaders named Four. Four offers advice and encouragement as an emotional attachment soon grows between them. But he is held back by their leader, Peter, who is a ruthless sociopath. Peter enjoys the violence of conflict and targets Tris who struggles to win each challenge as she tries to stay within the faction and not become “Factionless.” These are the rejects who roam the streets homeless and alone.
I found the book well written and interesting, but grueling. Once again, a young idealistic woman is pitted against those in control of her crumbling society. The battles Tris has to fight to prove herself left me a bit battered of spirit. And yet, the series is one of the underdog fighting to make her world better. Is it the best ever break through science fiction? Well, no. But it’s well written with believable character and fast paced action.
Interestingly, the series is being turned into three movies. The first, Divergent was a box office success in March 2014 and is available now in DVD. I watched it and enjoyed it.
The next in the series, Insurgent, just came out March 21 and also did well. May still be at your local movie house. The final in the series, Allegiance, is due out in 2016.
Like The Hunger Games, Roth’s series is directed at a young adult audience who supports such media tie-ins. The main character struggles in a broken world, confronting violence and abuse in order to make it better and find her place. If this style of science fiction appeals to you, then my A Dangerous Talent for Time might also find favor. It’s about a group of young adults traveling across an alien planet in search of answers to a riddle that will save their world.
This style of science fiction appears to have struck a chord with the next generation of readers and brought them to our science fiction table. Let’s hope they enjoy the feast and expand their menu as they taste this interesting genre and enjoy this very successful trilogy.