Beatrice (or Tris as she becomes known) is a wonderfully strong female character, and this is where the inevitable Hunger Games comparisons come from. She and Katniss would be great friends if their paths ever crossed. (Or they would beat the heck out of each other) She is, like Katniss, very physical and willing to rely on her own instincts when she is in new situations. At the same time, she is not a Katniss clone. She is more physical and less cerebral, although she is by no means stupid. She is definitely a little more level-headed when it comes to love. Tris is also honestly possessing of a little bit of a death wish. I felt like that recklessness propelled her story line almost as much as her conscious decisions about her life. And of course Tris is going through a philosophical coming-of-age, which all teens do, albeit not in the context of a back-and-white ideological framework. Not wanting to give away too much information about the plot, I still think it's safe to point out that a lot of the conflict in the book comes from the friction between philosophies (and the natural friction between groups in any society) and that Tris ends up having to carefully examine everything she was taught and everything she believes, with very real and final consequences to her decisions. There is a lesson about absolutism, and the end of the book (the first in a trilogy) hints at a much wider world opening up in the next book. (My hope is that the second book will begin outside the fences) And, of course, there is a romance (sweet and dramatic) and hints at a much richer family history that Beatrice imagined at the start of the story.
I'm looking forward to the next two books in the series, and highly recommend the first book to any teen lit fans (I'd suggest this one for ages 13 and up because of a few moderately violent scenes and some graphic imagery.)