Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Number of Pages: 576 (paperback)
Advertised Age Level: Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 16+
Language: no profanity
Drug/Alcohol Use: some characters drink alcohol, characters are injected with a serum that causes hallucinations
Violence: extreme violence, fighting, characters are wounded and/or killed
Social Issues: government conspiracy, dystopian world, death of a parent
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Premise: In a futuristic Chicago, society has divided into five factions, each faction representing and embracing different human virtues and characteristics as a way of life. Beatrice Prior was born into the Abnegation faction, a group that values selflessness and serving. However, when children turn 16, they undergo testing to determine which faction they have an aptitude for, and they select which faction they will devote their lives to, forsaking even their own families if necessary. When Beatrice undergoes her testing, she learns that she is a Divergent, a person who has the ability to function well within three factions. Told only that she must keep her Divergent status secret as it could endanger her life, Beatrice leaves her family and chooses to join the Dauntless, a faction that values bravery and requires its members to face and overcome their deepest fears.
Beatrice – renaming herself Tris – begins the training and initiation program for the Dauntless. She learns to shoot a gun, to fight, and to face her own fears. All the while, she struggles to figure out where she really belongs – with her new friends and the people of the Dauntless faction, including one of her mentors, Four, or if she should have remained in Abnegation where all is familiar and safe. When Tris learns that the Erudite faction plans to use the Dauntless as warriors to make war on Abnegation to gain control of the government, she knows that she must do whatever is necessary to protect those that she loves.
Potential Points of Concern:
Tris learns to fight, and as part of the Dauntless initiation process, she is forced to fight against fellow trainees. She is beaten very badly. Other initiates also suffer severe beatings as part of their training.
Competition amongst the trainees is very high, and one initiate – Peter – is very violent towards those who are ahead of him in rankings. He stabs one competitor in the eye to remove him from the program. Peter and two other trainees kidnap Tris and plan to drop her over a ledge to her death before they are stopped by Four.
The Dauntless are forced to face their fears by going through simulated “fear” landscapes, during which they experience their fears as realistic events that they must overcome. Tris fears being attacked by crows, drowning, being kidnapped, and being forced to kill her family.
The Erudite leaders use a serum to gain control over the Dauntless by putting them in a trance-like state and then make the Dauntless kill Abnegation members. Tris is forced to shoot people in self defense, injuring and killing those who try to kill her.
Both of Tris’s parents are killed during the attack on the Abnegation faction.
Tris and Four share a few kisses.
Age Appropriateness: 13 +