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Divergent (book)

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One Choice Can Transform You
Author Veronica Roth
Cover artist Harper Collins Publishers 2011
Country America
Genre(s) Science fiction/ Dystopian fiction/ Adventure
Publisher Harper Collins Publishers
Publication date April 25, 2011
ISBN 978-0-00-742041-4
Followed by Insurgent

Divergent is the debut novel by author Veronica Roth, and the first installment of the Divergent trilogy. It is followed by Insurgent, which was released on May 1st, 2012.


This story takes place in the city of Chicago in the near future. The city is divided into 5 factions: Abnegation, meant for the selfless; Amity, meant for the peaceful; Candor, meant for the honest; Dauntless, meant for the brave; and Erudite, meant for the knowledgeable. On a given day each year, all sixteen-year-olds take an aptitude test that will tell them for which faction they are best suited. After receiving the results of their test, they must decide whether to remain with their family or transfer to a new faction.


Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior was born into an Abnegation family, but selflessness has never come naturally to her like it does to her brother, Caleb. She feels lonely and constricted by her environment and feels like she does not belong. When the time comes for Beatrice to take her aptitude test, the results are inconclusive: instead of fitting neatly into any one faction, she shows equal aptitude for three: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. This makes her "Divergent" and she is warned never to share this information with anyone for fear of her life. Even for a Divergent, it is very rare to have results with three factions. On her way home from the aptitude test, she encounters a factionless man who grabs her hand and frightens her. This makes her feel very nervous because she does not want to end up like him and is worried about risking her normal lifestyle and failing. She does not want to upset her father, who is certain that she will remain in Abnegation even though she is skeptical. On Choosing Day, much to her and her parents's surprise, Beatrice makes the decision to leave Abnegation and join Dauntless, while her brother Caleb chooses Erudite. She immediately leaves to join her new faction and her new home. Beatrice, who renames herself Tris when she reaches the Dauntless compound, becomes good friends with fellow transfer initiates Christina, Al, and Will. Another transfer initiate, Peter, quickly sets out to antagonize her as he does not believe Tris is good enough to be in Dauntless. Peter also has two friends, Drew and Molly, who back him up as he tortures Tris. She is also introduced to their instructor, Four, who explains that they must pass an initiation process before they are accepted as full-fledged Dauntless members. They must rank in the top ten at the end of initiation, or else they will be dismissed and become factionless. Initiation is broken into three stages. The first involves learning how to handle guns and knives as well as engaging in hand-to-hand combat. Despite being physically weaker than most of her fellow initiates, Tris finishes the stage in sixth place. Peter is jealous and intimidated by the first-place finisher, Edward, and retaliates by stabbing Edward in the eye with a butter knife. Tris is ranked just after Molly, which can be attributed to the time when Tris came into the dormitory with only a towel and Peter pulled it off, exposing and tormenting her. Tris hopes that she can fight Peter, but instead she fights Molly, one of Peter's cronies, quickly trouncing her. Although she nearly beats Molly to death, Tris continues to fight because of her anger towards her tormentors. Meanwhile, the Erudite stirs up dissent among the factions by releasing antagonizing reports about the Abnegation leaders, who run the city government. Peter and his cronies, Molly and Drew, give Tris a hard time because she came from Abnegation. The Erudite's reports called Abnegation's leader, Marcus, abusive because they thought he was abusing his son, Tobias. Tobias was known as a "traitor" to Abnegation because he transferred from Abnegation to Dauntless. The reports also say that Tris and Caleb's mother and father raised them the wrong way because they both switched factions, the Abnegation wasted the city's food by giving it to the factionless, and quoted Molly saying that Tris talks in her sleep, telling her father to stop. Tris begins to befriend the Dauntless-born initiates, including Uriah, Lynn, and Marlene. Stage two puts the initiates into simulations, much like during the aptitude tests, in which they will encounter various fears—or scenarios symbolic of their fears—and are tested by how quickly they are able to calm down. Because Tris is Divergent, she is able to recognize that she is under a simulation while others do not, and she can even manipulate the system. After monitoring Tris's results, Four realizes she is Divergent. Tris is again warned never to allow anyone to know that she is Divergent, because those who are found to be Divergent end up being killed by faction leaders. At the end of the stage, Tris ranks first among the initiates. That evening, out of jealousy and resentment, Peter, Drew, and Al attack Tris and try to throw her into the chasm at Dauntless headquarters. However, Four steps in and rescues her. Al begs Tris's forgiveness, but she rebuffs him, leading him to commit suicide by jumping into the chasm. The initiates prepare for the final stage of their initiation, the fear landscape, a gathering of all of their fears in a single simulation. In the fear landscape, all of them, Divergent or not, will be aware that they are under a simulation and must use the skills they learned in the previous stages to break out of each fear. They will be scored according to how many fears they have and the amount of time it takes them to get through the simulation. Tris's relationship with Four continues to grow, and he lets her into his own fear landscape. Tris learns that Four only has four fears in his landscape, a record, hence his nickname. She also learns his real name, Tobias, and that his father is Marcus, the very Abnegation leader who has been accused of having physically abused him during his childhood. Four later shares with Tris information he has discovered about the Erudite's plans to use the Dauntless to stage an attack on the Abnegation. Tris goes into her fear landscape for her final initiation test, in which she encounters a total of seven fears: getting eaten alive by crows, drowning while trapped in a glass tank, drowning in the ocean, being burned at the stake by Peter, being kidnapped by assailants, having sex with Tobias (thinking that he only wants her because of her body), and being forced to shoot her own family. After her test, Tris, along with all other Dauntless members, is injected with a new serum that supposedly tracks people in case they ever go missing. The final rankings are posted, and Tris is ranked first. In the midst of celebrating, Tris suddenly realizes that the serum is how the Erudite will force the Dauntless to carry out the attack. The plan is carried out that night; the serum induces a simulation and all of the Dauntless become sleep-walking soldiers, hypnotized into marching on an attack of Abnegation. However, the serum does not work on Tris or Tobias (Four) because they are both Divergent. They try to escape but are quickly caught and brought before Jeanine, the Erudite leader, who injects Four with a new serum that affects the Divergent by controlling what subjects see and hear. She sentences Tris to death, while Four is sent back to the control room to oversee the attack. Tris is locked inside the glass tank of her fear landscape, but her mother, a former Dauntless member who is revealed also to be Divergent, saves her. As they escape, Tris's mother is shot and killed, and Tris is subsequently forced to kill Will, who attacks her while he is under the influence of the simulation. She finds her father, Caleb, and Marcus, and the group heads back to Dauntless to stop the simulation. Though her father is also killed along the way, Tris finds the control room and encounters Tobias, under the influence of a simulation that causes him to attack her. Tris cannot overpower Tobias, but she refuses to kill him and surrenders. This breaks through Four's simulation, and the two are able to shut down the Erudite simulation and free the remaining Dauntless from their mind control. They join Caleb and Marcus, as well as Peter, who had helped Tris find the control room in exchange for his safety. The group then boards a train to the Amity sector to find the rest of the Abnegation survivors


  • 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- 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Christina - She is a born Candor who chose Dauntless, She became Tris' bestfriend at the First Day of Initiation. She coupled up with Will, an Erudite transfer to Dauntless. She has a knack for brutal honesty, and tactlessness.
  • 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.
  • 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).

Style and Themes

Divergent is described as having a fast pace by many reviewers. Nolan, from the American Prospect, noted that Divergent follows patterns that are present in both The Hunger Games and Blood Red Road.

The New York Times 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."


Divergent won Favorite book of 2011 in 2011's Goodreads Choice Awards. Also, Divergent was number one in the Teens' Top Ten Vote, sponsored by YALSA. It also won the Sakura Medal Contest.

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.

Film Adaptation

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 scheduled for a release date of 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.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Divergent (book)

  • The year of Divergent

    4 messages
    • It's a utopic book. No definite date given but it's set in the far future with themes like Back To The Future or 1984.
    • Veronica Roth said that she didn't know what year it was set in, just that it was in the far future.
  • Divergent

    3 messages
    • For dauntless they're the only ones who used trains and I think for others they use buses.
    • Some of the abnegation use cars. And Amity use trucks( for transporting food ) And for Candor, im not sure.

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