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.
Okay, so... it's basically a Hunger Games knock-off. It's VERY Hunger Games. And Beatrice is VERY Katniss. Kinda plain, introverted and conflicted. This is set a little bit closer to our own time, as they still remember our society somewhat and most of the decimated Chicago landmarks are still called by their current names. And the characters act more like modern-day teenagers, sarcasm and all, and some of the factions live in conditions very similar to our own.
It's less violent... well, kinda. There's less killing, but the descriptions of the brutal initiation process are more graphic, so it kinda balances out at about the same level of violence as HG.
It's actually a little more... girlie. Unlike Hunger Games where everyone is out to kill everyone else because only one can survive, there's hope for multiple people to make it through, so Beatrice is able to form friendships, most notably with her sassy black BFF Christina. When is adding a sassy black BFF into a storyline ever a bad idea?! And there's more romance. And more than one "trying on clothes" montage. I've seriously never READ a trying on clothes montage, and here I've read TWO! And the main romantic subplot just had me squealing! I found myself mentally screaming "KISS!!!" several times!
The pacing is slightly different than Hunger Games where the first third of the book is set-up and then they jump RIGHT to the killing. In Divergent, things move a little slower and the shit doesn't hit the fan until the very end. And then it kinda ends in a cliffhanger, but I knew that was coming, so I was okay. There was one thing that happened at the end that upset me, maybe not because it actually happened, but that it was just so quick and tossed aside, like moving on... But, y'know, I don't want to spoil anything. (Let's talk after YOU'VE read it!)
I got about a third of the way into the book, which was well-written, but I was a bit conflicted because the writing style was so similar to Suzanne Collins' (and I wondered if that was deliberate or not) and the character of Beatrice had such a close "voice" to Katniss. It was one of those "I can't tell if I like this or not" things, but then it kept picking up momentum and the story kept getting more and more interesting and the relationships between the characters developed and the romantic angles kicked in and it kept getting harder and harder to put it down every time I had to stop reading! By the end, I just stayed up late and finished it up because I HAD to find out what happened!
So, if you liked The Hunger Games series, give this a shot, but know going in that it's basically a knock off. But if you can get past that (at least it's a knock off of a GREAT series, and not, like Twilight, right?), you may enjoy it just as well. Well, maybe not JUST as well, but I'm definitely on board for the follow-up books! Whenever those arrive...