The new dystopic trend is a little disconcerting to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like reading dystopic novels (ie, Uglies, Hunger Games, The Giver, Fahrenheit 451), but if Divergent’s any indicator, there’s not a lot of “dystopia” in dystopic YA.First, the setting: We’re treated to a futuristic, decimated version of Chicago, right down to using the same landmarks, but it never feels like it’s the future. At best, there’s a lot of the city that’s described as being abandoned; however, to someone not as familiar with the city, just name-dropping Navy Pier or Sears Tower doesn’t establish the setting. Also, if it was the future, there’s not much that goes in a futuristic feel of the city. There’s elements of post-apocalypse, but the novel never really gets into those. The faction system is the only clue that alerts the reader to how things have changed from the world that we know. This is the thing that bothered and fascinated me the most. I wanted to know how the faction system worked; how the individual factions work, how the leaders worked together for the city’s sake, how they raised their children, how they all interact with each other, why do people chose one faction over another, how do they react to entering a separate faction. Some of these concepts are touched on, but are never really explained. Which is frustrating when the plot of the book hinges on Tris choosing Dauntless over Abnegation. She’s never really interacted with the members of Dauntless, and finds them fascinating…but there’s nothing to suggest that she feels a kinship with that particular faction. The Dauntless members are presented as thrill-seekers and risk takers, but until her initiation ceremony, Tris doesn’t present any notion to even wanting to take a risk. It feels more like she’s rebelling against her upbringing rather than actually feeling more at home with the Dauntless. Tris, unfortunately, is another cookie-cutter YA heroine. She considers herself normal, but has a super-special ability/plot point which gets shoved aside for the sake of romance. We’re told that she’s “Divergent,” but until someone brings up this particular trait, she promptly ignores it in favor for figuring out the mystery of cute mentor leader Four…which she can’t even figure out until three-fourths of the way through the book. Despite spelling it out in one of the early chapters. The book doesn’t even explain faction and they can manipulate simulations to solve them faster. And the villains have to get rid of the Divergent because they’re omg different. There’s no further explanation beyond that. (I would have thought that manipulating the Divergent citizens into working for the bad guys would have been a better conflict). Also, a special note to the ending, which pissed me off. Tris is forced to kill one of her friends, and watches both of her parents get gunned down, and she saves Four by the POWER OF LOVE. And then they make out. There’s little remorse on Tris’s part, besides thinking, “Oh, well, my other friends will be mad.” If this is supposed to prove how brave and badass she is, no. It makes her self-centered. The fact that she kills her friend Will without a moment’s hesitation (her only excuse is that “Will’s being mind-controlled!”) doesn’t help this portrayal. It would have been a more powerful moment if she did have the moment of hesitation or conflict about what she has to do. There’s some potential here, but the fact that the conflict is shoved aside in favor of the romance killed my interest in it. The reason why stuff like the Hunger Games or the Uglies series worked is that while romance was a large part of the story, it never overshadowed the real conflict that made up the respective plots. (Hell, Hunger Games twists the romance into the main conflict and it still works.) And they have heroines who are badasses and take risks and prove that they’re still human by being forced to make hard choices. Dystopias aren’t supposed to be cheap-n-easy, but it's starting to look that way.