I admit it. I was late to the party. But honey, when I finally read Divergent I danced all night.
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star
In fact, I spent a weekend popping Pumpkin Spice lattes and flying through this novel and its sequel, Insurgent. I went to bed at night and woke up in the morning in the bleak future world of Beatrice Prior Tris. I hounded Harper Collins for an advance copy of the third and final book, Allegiant. But this book is so wanted and so guarded that they refused to release a single preview copy. They were right to be tight-lipped.
Allegiant holds the top spot on Amazons best-seller list. And it doesnt hit shelves till Tuesday.
No big shock considering Veronica Roths first two books have sold 5 million copies and counting, drawing comparisons to The Hunger Games. Naturally, it too is poised to become a page-to-screen blockbuster. The movie, starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, takes over theaters March 21.
Im usually on top of the young-adult trends. From Harry Potter to Twilight and Beautiful Creatures to Mortal Instruments, I read them. I bought The Fault in Our Stars the week it came out, before the critical acclaim. (It, too, is being made into a movie starring Woodley, due in theaters June 6.)
I am a fan girl, but I was a little burned out on the emotional torture that comes with dystopian books.
When I first heard about Divergent, it reeked of Hunger Games sadness. I love that series, but did I want to read another just like it?
But its different. Roth was inspired to write Divergent after learning about exposure therapy in her college psychology class patients who are afraid of flying, for example, hop on a plane over and over. She was intrigued by the idea of creating fearless people.
Tris, her heroine, lives in a futuristic and unrecognizable Chicago (the authors hometown). The city is gated and divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). At age 16, students are tested and forced to choose a faction.
But what happens if you fit into more than one box? This is the question at the center of this trilogy and its the reason I finally picked up the book.
Roth is masterful at creating characters and pulling you into her world. And yes, its part of the dystopian trend, but it isnt exactly like every other series. One of my favorite differences: Theres no love triangle. Thank God.
Still, why are we so fascinated with these sad other worlds, fictional places that take very realistic societal flaws and exaggerate them? Partly, because they remind us of the ways in which we need to do better. They inspire us to want greatness and to push for a better kind of community. We all want to live in a less judgmental and more peaceful, united place. And Roth says dystopias hold a special weight with young readers because teens save the day.
The characters in these dystopian books tend to have a lot of agency and even though theyre young have an extraordinary, sometimes unbelievable, amount of control and influence in the worlds that they live in, which I think is a powerful thing for a teenager to read, Roth told The Associated Press.
In that way, the books are important for very real reasons. The youth are the ones with the power to create change. They will lead us out of our greedy, hateful state. They are our heroes.