With fans abuzz with Veronica Roth's Divergent movie news on their lips, all I've been hearing is that this newest of the "new Hunger Games" set is going to take over the box offices upon its release next March (even though that's the same thing they were saying about The Mortal Instruments series, with City of Bones majorly tanking after it was released only a week ago). It's also been the most-often requested source of inspiration on my College Fashion "Looks from Books" series; therefore, I figured, why not just follow the masses, and give the people what they want?
Divergent features a futuristic Chicago, where society is ” each dedicated to an all-encompassing virtue, guided by what they best believe to combat the evil that grows in society: Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful), and Dauntless (the brave). Upon turning sixteen, all citizens of this future lone city - closed off by towering walls, patrolled by the Dauntless - must choose which Faction they will devote their lives to, and when the time comes for , she leaves behind the Abnegation world in which she grew up, to move into the realm of the Dauntless. Her path is a difficult one, and she soon finds that being brave doesn't always mean she’s not afraid. And what she’s most afraid of, is for her new family to find out what she truly is… Divergent.
Like most of the popular YA I've read, it carries a few marks of familiar style: lower reading comprehension level, easily explained "bad guys," familiar plot tropes and popular genre application. Initially, these distracted me a little, because I was so used to what I was seeing that it all read as a game of travel bingo: Young female protagonist in median age? Square. Who isn't as normal as she initially thought? Square. Overcoming adversity to rise in people's esteem based on hard work and help of her friends? Square.
Then, all of a sudden, you start to realize that this thing really pops, sizzles, and spins into an entire new realm of color, instead of just the typical dystopian gray, charred muddle of stakes. To borrow from one of my favorite SNL characters, "This here is real!" Whereas other current dystopian YA might wait a little too long establishing the "normal" of the lead character in an attempt to mask over obvious flaws in the construction of their social structure, Divergent throws itself headfirst into the mess of what makes this society so broken and dangerous, by simultaneously endangering the life of its lead characters numerous times. It was fabulous.
Because of this unforeseen need to put Tris in as much danger as possible, I had no idea what was coming at any given time. The pace frenetically flew by with the speed of a passing train (Divergent fans get it), and sometimes left me with a vertigo rivaling the view from the top of a Ferris wheel (fans get that, too). This plot moved, and fast, and I had no idea what I was speeding toward most of the time.
Veronica Roth did her best to take her readers for as much of a ride as possible, making something new out of a shopworn genre, elevating the stakes to a dizzyingly high point in a very short period, and letting them speed down the tracks as fast as they could. And bonus points: she wrote the first book while finishing up her time as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, which speaks of some seriously impressive time management (or at least some very heinous homework).
Check out my College Fashion article here, and here's a sneak peek of one of my favorite outfits, based off of the Abnegation uniform:
Tell me what you think!