This futuristic thriller book by Veronica Roth is the first in the Divergent series and is published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books.
Divergent is written for kids ages 14 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Divergent Plot Summary
Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior lives in post-apocalyptic Chicago where society is divided into five factions: Amity (kind), Erudite (intelligent), Candor (honest), Abnegation (selfless) and Dauntless (brave). Beatrice and her brother, Caleb, must take an aptitude test that will tell them which faction they are best suited for and then choose which they will join. Where they join determines the value they will commit to for the rest of their lives.
During the aptitude test, Beatrice is injected with a serum that simulates several scenarios. She is judged on her reactions to these scenarios. After the test, the administrator tells her the results are inconclusive. Instead of having aptitude for only one faction, Beatrice shows an aptitude for three — Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite — a result the administrator says makes her Divergent. The instructor warns Beatrice to not share the results with anyone because those who are found to be Divergent are killed.
Beatrice’s family belongs to Abnegation, the faction that has run the government since the great peace when the factions were formed. At home, Beatrice’s father tells the family that tension between Abnegation and Erudite is high. Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews has released a report saying that Abnegation leader Marcus’ abusive behavior toward his son Tobias is the reason Tobias left Abnegation two years earlier and chose Dauntless. They all believe the report is a lie. Beatrice has never met Tobias but knows leaving one faction for another is considered a betrayal. Beatrice believes she is too selfish to remain in Abnegation and secretly admires Dauntless, but she knows if she chooses another faction, she will have to leave her family forever.
At the choosing ceremony the next day, Beatrice is shocked when Caleb chooses Erudite. She intends to choose Abnegation so her parents won’t lose both their children, but at the last second, she chooses Dauntless, much to her father’s disappointment.
Beatrice travels to the Dauntless compound with other initiates and renames herself Tris. The initiates are told that only 10 of them will succeed, the others will become factionless or homeless with no place in society. Tris befriends Christina and Al from Candor and Will from Erudite. Peter, Drew and Molly, three others in their group, bully her.
The group’s Dauntless instructor, Four, teaches them how to use guns and knives, and to fight using hand-to-hand combat in the first stage of their initiation. Tris is simultaneously intimidated and attracted to Four.
Tris’ mother comes to the Dauntless compound on visiting day. She warns Tris to stay in the middle of the rankings and to not draw attention to herself because she is Divergent. She also asks Tris to visit Caleb in Erudite and ask him to research the simulation serum. Tris notices that her mother knows her way around the compound and realizes that she is Dauntless-born.
Stage two of Tris’ initiation involves conquering fear. As with the aptitude test, initiates are injected with a serum that simulates a frightening situation and measures the teens’ ability to remain calm or eliminate the threat. Tris performs well during this phase and eventually realizes that she can control the simulation and change the outcome. Four tells Tris that manipulating a simulation proves she is Divergent and warns her that if she does not hide it, the Dauntless leaders will kill her. He deletes the footage of the simulation.
Tris is more careful but still excels at training, getting through her simulations faster than anyone else. By the end of stage two, she is ranked first among the initiates. Other initiates become jealous, and three of them, including her friend Al, kidnap her and try to kill her. Four saves Tris before she is thrown over a ledge.
Tris and Four draw closer together, and Four takes Tris into a simulation of his fears. Tris discovers that Four only has four fears, hence the nickname. Most initiates have an average of 10 to 15. She also discovers that he is actually Tobias, the Abnegation leader’s son and an Abnegation transfer. Four’s greatest fear is of his father beating him and locking him in a small closet. After the simulation, Four takes her to the rapids where he tells her that he likes her, and they kiss.
The next day, Tris is disappointed that Four treats her like everyone else in her group. She fails a simulation, and he scolds her. Tris runs away to the Erudite headquarters in search of her brother. She tells Caleb about their mother’s visit and asks him to research the simulation serum. Caleb is afraid for Tris. He feels something big is going to happen, but he doesn’t know what it is. The Erudite are not happy with the government under Abnegation. As she tries to leave, Tris is arrested and taken to Jeanine, the Erudite leader, who questions her about choosing Dauntless and about her training records. Jeanine developed the serum aptitude tests and simulations, and she is suspicious of Tris’ results. Tris tells her that she transferred to Dauntless because she hates Abnegation and her parents. She is allowed to return to the Dauntless compound.
Four explains to Tris that they must keep their relationship a secret or other initiates will think her rank is based on favoritism and not merit. He also tells her that he got into the Dauntless computer system and found war plans from the Erudite. They realize that the Erudite want to use the Dauntless as soldiers in a war against Abnegation.
Tris passes her final test in the Dauntless initiation, a virtual simulation of all her combined fears, and receives the top rank. Afterward, Eric, the Dauntless leader, injects her with what he says is a tracking serum. He tells her that all the Dauntless are getting it as a precaution.
That night, Tris wakes up to find all the other initiates in her dorm getting out of bed in unison and getting dressed. They are in a trance-like state, and she can’t wake them. She follows them aboard the train to the Abnegation section of the city. She realizes the serum they received contained transmitters, and the transmitters are connected to a mind-control program. The Erudite developed the serum and the simulations, and the Dauntless leaders are working with Erudite. She is not under the mind control like all the other Dauntless because she is Divergent. She finds Four, who is also awake and pretending to be in a trance. He is Divergent as well.
When they get to the Abnegation sector, they see mind-controlled Dauntless shooting Abnegation members in the street. After a confrontation with a Dauntless leader, Tris is shot in the shoulder, and Eric and Dauntless soldiers capture Tris and Four. They are taken to the Erudite leader who tries a new serum on Four, one made especially for the Divergent, and it turns him into a mindless killer as well. Tris is left to drown in a tank rapidly filling with water, but her mother rescues her. She tells Tris where her father and the other Abnegation are hiding. She distracts soldiers so Tris can get away, but in the process, Tris’ mother is killed.
Tris finds her father hiding with her brother and Marcus, Four’s father. They agree to go back to the Dauntless compound to find the computer running the mind-control simulation and destroy it. When they get to Dauntless, they find another initiate, Peter, willingly guarding the facility; he is not under any mind control. Tris shoots him in the arm to get him to tell her the location of the computer. Leaving a wounded Peter with Caleb and Marcus, Tris and her father find the computer room and encounter several guards along the way. Her father shoots them, and in the fight, he is killed. Tris finds Four in the computer room monitoring the simulation. She knows she can’t shoot him or beat him in a fight, so she reasons with him, hoping that because he is Divergent, he will be able to break free of the simulation, and he does. They stop the computer program and remove the data. The Dauntless group, no longer under mind control, realizes what they have done.
Tris reunites with her brother, and Four faces Marcus for the first time in more than two years. Tris warns Marcus to stay away from Four. They take a train to Amity Headquarters to seek refuge.
Divergent PDF Chapter 1
THERE IS ONE mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair. I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind m e with the scissors, trimming. The strands fall on the floor in a dull, blond ring. When she finishes, she pulls my hair away from my face and twists it into a knot. I note how calm she looks and how focused she is. She is well-practiced in the art of losing herself. I can’t say the same of myself. I sneak a look at my reflection when she isn’t paying attention-not for the sake of vanity, but out of curiosity. A lot can happen to a person’s appearance in three months. In my reflection, I see a narrow face, wide, round eyes, and a long, thin nose-I still look like a little girl, though sometime in the last few months I turned sixteen. The other factions celebrate birthdays, but we don’t. It would be self-indulgent. “There,” she says when she pins the knot in place. Her eyes catch mine in the mirror. It is too late to look away, but instead of scolding me, she smiles at our reflection.
I frown a little. Why doesn’t she reprimand me for staring at myself? “So today is the day,” she says. “Yes,” I reply. “Are you nervous?” I stare into my own eyes for a moment. Today is the day of the aptitude test that will show me which of the five factions I belong in. And tomorrow, at the Choosing Ceremony, I will decide on a f action; I will decide the rest of my life; I will decide to stay with my family or abandon them. “No,” I say. “The tests don’t have to change our choices.” “Right.” She smis. “Let’s go eat breakfast.” “Thank you. For cutting my hair.”
She kisses my cheek and slides the panel over the mirror. I think my mother could be beautiful, in a different world. Her body is thin beneath the gray robe. She has high cheekbones and long eyelashes, and when she lets her hair down at night, it hangs in waves over her shoulders. But she must hide that beauty in Abnegation. We walk together to the kitchen. On these mornings when my brother makes breakfast, and my father’s hand skims my hair as he reads the newspaper, and my mother hums as she clears the table-it is on these mornings that I feel guiltiest for wanting to leave them.
The bus stinks of exhaust. Every time it hits a patch of uneven pavement, it jos tles me from side to side, even though I’m gripping the seat to keep myself still.
My older brother, Caleb, stands in the aisle, holding a railing above his head to keep himself steady. We don’t look alike. He has my father’s dark hair and hooked nose and my mother’s green eyes and dimpled cheeks. When he was younger, that colllection of features looked strange, but now it suits him. If he wasn’t Abnegation, I’m sure the girls at school would stare at him. He also inherited my mother’s talent for selflessness. He gave his seat to a surly Candor man on the bus without a second thought. The Candor man wears a black suit with a white tie-Candor standard uniform. Their faction values honesty and sees the truth as black and white, s o that is what they wear. The gaps between the buildings narrow and the roads are smoother as we near the heart of the city. The building that was once called t he Sears Tower-we call it the Hub -emerges from the fog, a black pillar in the skyline. The bus passes under the elevated tracks. I have never been on a train, thou gh they never stop running and there are tracks everywhere. Only the Dauntless ride them. Five years ago, volunteer construction workers from Abnegation repaved some of the roads. They started in the middle of the city and worked their way outward until they ran out of materials. The roads where I live are still cracked and patchy, and it’s not safe to drive on them. We don’t have a car anyway. Caleb’s expression is placid as the bus sways and jolts on the road. The gray robe falls from his arm as he clutches a pole for balance. I can tell by the constant shift of his eyes that he is watching the people around us-striving to see only them and to forget himself. Candor values honesty, but our faction, Abnegation, values selflessness. The bus stops in front of the school and I get up, scooting past the Candor man. I grab Caleb’s arm as I stumble over the man’s shoes. My slacks are too long, and I’ve never been that graceful. The Upper Levels building is the oldest of the three schools in the city: Lower Levels, Mid Levels and Upper Levels.
End of Divergent PDF Chapter 1 Excerpt
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