A review site for conservative, libertarian, center-right readers. We'll tell you what's good, what's bad, what's so-so, and what you'll like even if you have to stumble past liberal tropes to get to a good story
By Allie Duzett
Veronica Roth’s novel Divergent (2012) is yet another YA dystopian novel set in a future USA. In the novel, a war left America destroyed, and the survivors decided that future wars could be prevented if only people were more friendly, more honest, more selfless, more educated, more brave. Society thus broke into five separate factions: Amity, Candor, Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless, respectively. The factions decide everything for their people: what they do, when they do it, how they do it. When children turn 16, they are given an aptitude test that tells them which faction they would fit best in. Then they’re given a choice of which faction to embrace.
Divergent stars Beatrice, an Abnegation whose aptitude test goes awry. Instead of testing positive for only one faction, Beatrice tests positive for three. This makes her Divergent.
The rest of the book centers on her choice of factions, her time trying to fit into her new faction, and, eventually, her role in a struggle to keep society from falling apart.
On Amazon, Divergent has earned 800 five-star reviews; however, I personally had some issues with the story. One major plot hole left me confused: all members of Beatrice’s new faction, Dauntless, are forced to face their fears regularly, with the help of a nifty machine that lets other people see what you fear and how you would handle those fears. Early on, it’s established that Beatrice–or Tris, as she is later called–is scared of letting people know she is Divergent. So why didn’t that fear ever come up in her fear tests? I suspect it’s because such an event would have crippled the plot.
But plot hole aside, the story itself was relatively conservative. The bad guys in the story come from the Erudite faction, who are obsessed with knowledge–basically, the faction of college professors. In typical left-wing college professor fashion, Erudite tries to take everything over, thinking that they know better than everyone else how to run society. Obviously, they’re wrong.
Because of that plot point, I would say that Divergent leans conservative. Any story that inculcates a healthy skepticism of academics in the ivory tower is doing conservatism a favor.
The story does deal with some heavy things–suicide, children brutally beating other children, the murder of loved ones–and the main character spends a lot of time getting tattoos. This is probably a story I would recommend for older teens. Overall, I’d give the story a four out of five.
Allie Duzett is a reader and writer of YA fiction. She also plays the piano and guitar.