The Dystopian YA Trilogy Trend

Hello! I (finally) finished a series that’s been around and hugely popular for a while. Book #22, book #23, and book #24 are done and were DivergentInsurgent, and Allegiant. Aka Veronica Roth’s Divergent series.

It was an addictive series and each book was a pretty quick read, despite the 500-pages in them. I broke the cardinal rule of books by seeing the first two movies before reading any of the books, but I think in this case it’s forgivable. I had a very similar experience reading Divergent as I did the Hunger Games.

Which makes sense, because this series felt very similar to The Hunger Games: dystopian future setting, unfair and prejudiced divisions among the people reaching a revolutionary breaking point, one girl rising above everyone’s expectations and all adversity to unite said divided people. That’s oversimplification, obviously, and I’m not trying to undermine or insult either series. They’re just comparable; this type of story seems like a YA trend.

With the Hunger Games, I devoured each book – overnight, I remember in one instance, the night before a final. They were substantially smaller than Divergent, but I’ve since forgotten almost everything about. Maybe that comes from reading them so quickly, I wasn’t retaining anything, but I also think it’s just this kind of series.

So far this has been me sounding like I’m insulting this series while at the same time saying I liked it. Which I did. Let me talk about the story.

So, in Divergent, the reader is introduced to the narrator and ultimate hero/cool, badass girl: Beatrice Prior. She later goes by Tris. She’s part of a world divided into 5 factions, and she’s been raised within the Abnegation faction. Her people are humble to a fault, passive, and selfless. There is also Erudite for those who possess intelligence, Candor for those who seek truth, Dauntless for those who are courageous, fearless, and often reckless, and Amity for those who seek peace above all else.

The factions co-exist in relative peace, and the Abnegation oversee them as leaders because they are the only ones with pure, selfless motives. When members of this world turn 16, they take a test to determine which faction is the appropriate fit for them. There’s a ceremony then, where they can decide whether they want to continue in the faction where they’ve been raised or switch to start a new life in another faction without the ability to return to their old way of life or their families again.

That’s the gist. When Tris gets her test results, she realizes that she’s compatible with not just one but three different factions, otherwise known as Divergent, which is a problem for reasons she’s not completely aware of. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but it’s a pretty gripping story.

Roth’s writing is spare, but Tris is something to aspire to in her empathy and bravery. That’s the cool thing about this trend in YA; I obviously love Harry Potter, deeply and completely, but Harry’s a boy (did you know?). He saves the day, and obviously Hermione is queen genius who deserves her own series, but Harry was always the focal point. Which is fine, I don’t know that I’d change anything about that series. But I think that only good can come from people reading this type of story, too, where a girl is at the forefront making hard and sometimes violent decisions, and not only as a girl but as a person.

The series later delves into the faction DNA, which brings to light some interesting nature vs. nurture theories. Are you the way you are from birth, or does your upbringing affect you irrevocably? It’s quick and easy reading but you can take its lessons deeper.

It also made me feel hopeful and sad and happy, which is a mark of a good book (series), so well done Veronica Roth, and love you forever, Tris. ◊

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