In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

The Phoenix’s Perspective

Roth’s idea of a dystopian society is very interesting. Society is broken into 5 factions, each with their own purpose (see above in the overview). Beatrice is born into Abnegation, which the other factions believe is low on the totem pole.  Being Abnegation brings along its own set of rules – full on selflessness.  She cannot really wear color because that is extravagance.  She cannot look at herself in the mirror because that is not selfless to care about yourself versus helping others. There are so many rules that she doesn’t agree with and has a hard time following because Beatrice does not feel like she belongs in Abnegation.\

On Choosing Day, she is given an aptitude test that is supposed to help her determine what faction she actually belongs in. Only there’s a problem – Beatrice’s aptitude test doesn’t show her being dedicated to one particular faction and she’s told to keep these results under wraps. So many questions popped into my head — What does that mean?  Is that even possible?  Are there others like her?  What happens now?

Having the same questions in her head, Beatrice makes her selection. She renames herself Tris in an attempt to begin anew. It was at this point that I found myself understanding the true meaning of the story.  Tris spends most of her life pigeonholed into one version of life.  Even though she has made a change, she is still pigeonholed into to one version of life – it’s just in a new version.  Little by little she keeps pushing boundaries.

I can understand her plight because as a math teacher very few parents believe I can work through anything that doesn’t relate to math.  The biggest difference is that that type of pigeonholing doesn’t follow me home.  The rest of my life’s activities and decisions are not based on the fact that I am a math teacher.

The idea that individuality should be stifled is so disturbing.  The idea that certain people are only good at one thing is absurd.  The question becomes how do we keep society from doing that to us.  If it already has, then how do we break out of it and remind everyone that the one thing that we really have control of in life is choice.  The choice to think whatever we want – to do whatever we want – the choice to be whatever we want.

Would I add it to the library?

Yes.  Normally after a post, I find a book that is not in the same series to provide my readers some variety.  However, this book has caught my attention so much that I am moving to the second one right now.


Genre: Fiction – sci-fi, dystopian
ISBN: 9780062387240
Rating:  good

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