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Divergent is the debut novel of American novelist Veronica Roth, published by HarperCollins Children's Books in 2011. It is a young-adult dystopian novel set in the so-called Divergent Universe, that features a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago. The novel follows Beatrice "Tris" Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions. Also driving the novel is a romantic subplot between Tris and one of her trainers in the Dauntless faction, nicknamed Four.
The novel has been compared to other young adult books such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner because of its similar themes and target audience. In particular, the novel explores the themes common to young adult fiction, such as adult authority and the transition from childhood to maturity, as well as broader motifs, such as the place of violence and social structures within a post-apocalyptic society. Its major plot device, the division of society into personality types, is similar to Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel Clans of the Alphane Moon and Rupert Thomson's Divided Kingdom. Beyond its literary context, Roth's open declaration of her religion as a Christian has brought commentary from Christian communities both endorsing and challenging the novel.
Roth wrote Divergent while working on a creative writing degree at Northwestern University, and it was quickly purchased for publication. Divergent is the first book in a trilogy that was completed in October 2013. Roth's first book of short fiction set in the Divergent universe is forthcoming July 2014: Four: A Divergent Collection, edited by Katherine Tegen. Summit Entertainment purchased the media rights to the book, and production on the movie, also titled Divergent, took place in 2013.
The novel is Veronica Roth's first published novel, and was published a little over a year after Roth graduated with a bachelor's degree from the creative writing program at University Northwestern University . Roth wrote the novel while on winter break in her senior year and the movie rights sold before she graduated from college.
The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago. Roth has indicated that she did not originally intend to use Chicago as the setting: "I wrote the rough draft and I felt like it needed a more grounded sense of place, and I looked at the city I had described, which is all these trains constantly moving, and this lake marsh, and these rivers. And I realized that it was Chicago already, and it was just because that's the city I've known and loved the longest."
The main three factions that the novel focuses on is Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite. Due to the fact the three characters that have/might have transferred to the factions from others like Candor and Amity. So here is the list of characters:
- Beatrice Prior/Tris- The series' main protagonist. A born Abnegation who strived to be selfless, but Beatrice grew to have traits that conflicted with her original faction. Though she can be selfish at times, she's more brave when she is motivated by her selflessness and choosing sacrifice over selfishness. She learns of being a Divergent during the Aptitude Tests, who, among other things, are people who can manipulate the simulations. Most Divergent have an aptitude for two factions, but Beatrice has three, Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless. She chooses Dauntless and changes her name to Tris. In the initiation that follows, Tris encounters numerous enemies who seek to break her, while she grapples with feelings for a fellow Dauntless man, and her attempts to discover who she truly is. She's described as not necessarily pretty in the traditional sense, but most certainly striking with her blond hair and girlish figure.
- Tobias Eaton/Four- A born Abnegation turned Dauntless, Tobias, or Four after becoming Dauntless, is the one responsible for his faction's initiation. Four is an eighteen-year old Dauntless who oversees the Dauntless initiates during Divergent, specifically those who have transferred from other factions. He meets Beatrice Prior, training her, befriending her and ultimately becoming her boyfriend. He helps her through initiation and protects her identity as a Divergent. He is called Four by most, Tris is one of few who knows him as Tobias, the nickname stuck as he only has 4 fears in his fear landscape. Tobias, like Tris, was born Abnegation and is also Divergent.
- Peter Hayes- One of the main antagonists of the novel, and a fierce enemy of Tris Prior. Peter is a former Candor who transferred to Dauntless. He is shown to be cruel, sadistic, antagonistic, ill-tempered, and easily jealous. He desires a status of being the top of the initiates, doing anything he can to achieve that standing. His greed for power is Peter's most discernible trait. He uses the slur of "Stiff" towards Tris throughout the novel, and is ruthless towards Tris.
- Christina - She is a born Candor who chose Dauntless. She became Tris' best friend on the first day of Initiation while trying to make it back to the Dauntless compound safely. She coupled up with Will, an Erudite transfer to Dauntless. She has a knack for brutal honesty, and tactlessness.
- Will - Originally from Erudite, Will transferred to Dauntless, along with fellow Erudite members Edward and Maya. He befriended Tris, Christina, and Al during training, as he felt like a third wheel to his fellow Erudite transfers. He is knowledgeable in fact-based information and bares no ill-will toward Tris as a former Abnegation member, unlike his older sister.
- Eric - He is a Dauntless leader who was an Erudite transfer. He's depicted as envious of Four, though he maintains a higher position in the ranks of Dauntless. Eric is the cruel and brutish side of bravery, contrasted by Four's common-place selflessness shade of bravery. He tends to be a bully, while espousing hatred for bullies.
Beatrice from Abnegation to Dauntless
Tobias from Abnegation to Dauntless
Peter from Candor to Dauntless
Christina from Candor to Dauntless
Will from Erudite to Dauntless
Eric from Erudite to Dauntless
- Natalie Prior- Mother of Beatrice and Caleb Prior. She is selfless, always thinking about what's best for everyone else. Natalie was born Dauntless but later turned to Abnegation to try to hide her Divergence from wary eyes. She tells Tris she loves her no matter what, and means it; she has a tattoo from her Dauntless upbringing.
- Andrew Prior- The father of Beatrice and Caleb Prior. He is an epitome of selflessness; always doing what's best for the people around him. Andrew becomes a council member effectively becoming an influential man in the city. He has a period of selfishness when Beatrice and Caleb both choose to leave Abnegation, as Natalie tells Tris on Visiting Day. He tends to spout off tirades on the Erudite and their intentions.
Natalie Prior from Dauntless to Abnegation
Andrew Prior from Erudite to Abnegation
- Caleb Prior- Brother of Beatrice, son of Andrew and Natalie Prior. Caleb always seemed selfless and harbored no selfishness, he loved to read books and seek knowledge, eventually choosing to transfer to Erudite. Despite this, Caleb never forgot about his old faction, and chose to help his family during the rebellion in spite of his apparent betrayal to Abnegation. He becomes a larger part of Tris' story as time passes.
- Jeanine Matthews - The leader of Erudite and the main antagonist of the series. She was chosen to be the leader because of her extremely high IQ scores. Her main goal: to gather the Divergent and find a way to end their control over simulations (either by murder, or science).
Caleb Prior from Abnegation to Erudite
Jeanine Mathews From Erudite to Erudite
Like in other pieces of children's and young adult fiction, the novel probes the place of authority and identity within the youth's relationship to parents and other social forces. Critic Antero Garcia describes the thematic similarity between these dystopian novels to be an interest in the "grasp of power between youth and adult authority" comparing the novel to Unwind by Neal Shusterman. In The New York Times, Susan Dominus stated that Divergent "explores a more common adolescent anxiety--the painful realization that coming into one's own sometimes means leaving family behind, both ideologically and physically". The Voice of Youth Advocates agrees, writing that Divergent shows the pressure of "having to choose between following in your parents' footsteps or doing something new". Similarly, critic Antero Garcia compared the thematic interest in the characters being "forced into limiting constraints of identity and labor associated with their identity" to the similar interest in forced identities and labor in the dystopian children's novels Matched by Allyson Braithwaite Condie and The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
Many reviewers note how the style of writing within the novel offers a distinctive quick prose that creates a reading experience that is fast-paced. For example, writing in The New York Times Susan Dominus described the style as "brisk pacing, lavish flights of imagination and writing that occasionally startles with fine detail". Nolan, from The American Prospect, noted that Divergent follows the structural and stylistic patterns of both The Hunger Games and Blood Red Road.
Divergent has been well received. In a review from the New York Times, Susan Dominus wrote that it was "rich in plot and imaginative details," but also that, compared to other such books in the same genre as the Hunger Games trilogy, it did "not exactly distinguish itself." In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Breia Brissey said that it was "flimsier and less nuanced" than The Hunger Games but was good, giving it a B+ rating. Kirkus Reviews said it was "built with careful details and intriguing scope." Common Sense Media commented on the book's "deep messages about identity and controlling societies" and on the "unstoppable plot that's remarkably original." It was rated 5 out of 5 stars and given an age 12+ rating.
The book debuted at #6 on the New York Times Children's Chapter Books Best Seller list on May 22, 2011, and remained on the list for 11 weeks. It also spent 39 weeks on the Times's Children's Paperback Books Best Seller list in 2012, reaching number one. The Times changed its Children's Best Seller lists in December, 2012, eliminating the Children's Paperback list, and Divergent continued its run on the new Young Adult Best Seller list. It is still on the list as of February, 2013. To date, book sales are now over 5 million copies for both novels combined, and both titles are HarperCollins most successful e-books ever in regards to sales.
- Divergent won Favorite book of 2011 in 2011's Goodreads Choice Awards.
- Divergent won Best Science-Fiction and YA Fantasy of 2011 in 2011's Goodreads Choice Awards
- Divergent was number one in the Teens' Top Ten Vote, sponsored by YALSA.
- It also won the Sakura Medal Contest.
- TEEN CHOICE
- Main article: Divergent (film)
Summit Entertainment bought the rights to film an adaptation of the novel and recruited Neil Burger to direct, with Shailene Woodley starring as Beatrice "Tris" Prior. Lionsgate and its subsidiary Summit Entertainment were slated to distribute the film. The role of Tobias "Four" Eaton eventually went to Theo James after an extensive search that included competition from Alex Pettyfer, Alexander Ludwig, Lucas Till, Jeremy Irvine, Luke Bracey, Brenton Thwaites and Jack Reynor. Lionsgate-Summit's feature adaptation of the dystopian teen tale, with a screenplay adapted by Evan Daugherty from Roth's novels, had gone into production by late November 2013 and was released March 21, 2014. The company also obtained rights to Roth's sequel, Insurgent . Kate Winslet was signed as Jeanine Matthews. Also recruited into the cast were Maggie Q as Tori, Zoe Kravitz as Christina, Ansel Elgort as Caleb, Miles Teller as Peter, Ashley Judd as Natalie Prior, Tony Goldwyn as Andrew Prior, and Jai Courtney as Eric.