This book has already received great reviews from those few privileged enough to have read a galley copy. Its average rating on Goodreads, so far, is 4.56, a monumental feat (To Kill a Mockingbird has a 4.19, Harry Potter #1 has 4.21, Twilight has a 3.79 (apparently my one-star review didn't pull it down that much) and Hunger Games had a 4.54). The galley crowd loves it!
The plot is simple, at first glance, but infinitely detailed with a closer look. The reader is led to believe that the society is post-apocalyptic and "perfect" in every way, at least at first. After a large, catastrophic war or some sort, surviving society formed five factions:
- The Abnegation, leaders and organizers of the city. They embody selflessness and caring for others. They believe greed and selfishness were the causes of the war.
- The Erudite, scientists and keepers of knowledge. They embody intelligence and cunning. They believe ignorance caused the war.
- The Dauntless, guards and defenders of the city. They embody fearlessness and bravery. They believe cowardice caused the war.
- The Amity, farmers and producers of the city. They are kind and gentle. They believe meanness caused the war.
- The Candor, which don't seem to serve a purpose in the city. They speak the truth and embody honesty. They believe treachery and deceit caused the war.
Beatrice Prior has always lived in the dystopian Chicago she calls home. Her parents are faithful members of Abnegation, selfless but cold from time to time. She feels like she must carry on her family's sacrifices and herself join Abnegation. At age 16, teenagers in her world must choose one of the five after being psychologically tested and given a suggested faction to join. Her test results are "inconclusive" and she must make her choice of a faction to join.
Lest I give more away, I'll talk about the writing now. There's a predictable romance brewing (of course), but it somehow doesn't bog down the book as much as romances in Harry Potter and Twilight did. Romantic scenes are interspersed with cool action scenes, and this book is most definitely not primarily a romance. It's been compared to the Hunger Games series several times, and I think it's accurate in certain aspects. I'll give it a 4.5 because just a few things could have been better explained (like the history of the society) and some ideas are a bit shallow/vague.