Divergent by Veronica Roth has never been my favorite YA dystopian series, but it was a breath of fresh air in the YA universe. There was no love triangle. The bulk of the struggle had nothing to do with the love story, and the love story that existed was mostly about them hurting each other by trying to protect each other. And I’ll say it right here: I appreciated how the series ended.
When the Four short stories started rolling out, I was a big nope on that. They were just going to be short stories, and I didn’t feel like paying for each of them. I was also a little tired of the “but here’s the story from someone else’s perspective” trend. EL James who couldn’t fully come up with her own series had even managed to copy Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun by releasing a book from the male perspective. This seemed like another retread.
And then there was a sale, so I said screw it and bought the collection. And it was interesting, if not perfect. You have some overlap with Divergent, but the three short stories were before the series began, though all of the snippets are from Divergent.
For those of you not in the know, Divergent follows the city of Chicago as it’s divided into five factions that interact but live separately and each provide separate functions for their society. The series follows a child of the humanitarian faction as she goes into police/military faction. And then she falls in love and saves the day. This collection follows the perspective of her love interest before he meets here and a little after he meets her.
The first three of the short stories introduce to how Four comes to be. It gives him more weight as a character. Nothing happens that is unexpected, per se, but you get more depth. Sort of like hearing someone tell you that something happened versus hearing someone tell you the story of what happened (you should hear the time I almost got run over by an 18-wheeler on a bridge). You get to see the key events that make him the character we know.
If you’ve read Divergent and liked it, I’d say read the collection. Roth treats the narration differently with a different character, so you have a slightly different way of telling the story (it’s still the same author, so it’s not extreme). And to a certain extent, it felt more nuanced. It may just be that she was further along in her skill set as an author when she wrote this, but Four actually feels more real than Tris does for much of her series.
If you didn’t like Divergent, then you should probably skip this. And if you didn’t read the books but watched the movies, shame on you.