Divergent, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

Exciting, violent dystopian thriller is original, addictive.





What parents need to know

Educational value

The author includes historical tidbits about real Chicago landmarks and challenges readers to think about what personal attributes are necessary for a cohesive society to succeed in peace.

Positive messages

The lead characters deal with important issues about    identity and controlling societies. They struggle with what it really means to be selfless, brave, smart, and kind.

Positive role models

Tris doubts herself sometimes but taps into her bravery and ingrained selflessness to protect others even when she doesn't realize it. Calm Four encourages Tris to use her upbringing's focus on selflessness to be even more courageous. Tris and Four are a good role model for a teen relationship; they treat each other as equals, defend each other (not just him defending her), and work through their problems with open, honest conversations. They also take their time with the romance and don't play games with each other.   


Some Dauntless are sadistic and vicious. People routinely have to fight each other -- regardless of size or gender -- and every character is beaten and bloodied at least once. Several characters die: one commits suicide by throwing himself off a ledge into rapids; one falls by accident in the gap between a train and a roof; and others are shot dead during an armed ambush. Two characters are nearly choked to death, and during training, a few characters have to visit the Infirmary due to their injuries. During one physical assault, two guys start groping a girl's chest and make rude comments about her body. In a calculated move, three initiates stab the first-ranked competitor in the eye.


Mostly lingering, intense looks, hand holding, and hugs, but toward the end of the book, there's kissing. Inexperienced Tris has a panic attack about Four's possible expectations for sex. In one scene, they kiss passionately (and in bed) after he removes his shirt. They admit they "want" each other, but vaguely agree to wait for "someday." Slightly disturbing jokes are made about Tris' petite size. A couple of guys ask her if she's 16 or really 12.


Insults like "idiot," "stupid," "loser," "jerk," "shut up," "freak," and the pejorative nickname for Abnegation members, "Stiff."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The Dauntless drink unspecified alcohol at parties, dinner, and in one scene Four is seen looking tipsy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dystopian teen novel is the first of a planned series. It includes the markers of the genre, including fantasy violence, a fractured society, Big Brother-esque monitoring, as well as romance. The 16-year-old protagonist chooses to live in the "brave" faction, where members routinely try to out-do each other physically and recklessly act like daredevils to prove their fearlessness. The initiation process is brutal and bloody, and kills or seriously injures a few characters. Violence escalates as the end of the book approaches, culminating in a blood bath. The romance is sweet and progresses from lingering looks to a few kissing sessions, but there's no sex and characters express fear of going too far, too fast. Like The Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior is a strong, generous, and beautifully flawed female protagonist.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the Chicago of the distant future, society has willingly segregated itself into five "factions:" Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the kind), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). All 16-year-olds take an aptitude test revealing their true faction and then choose one to join -- regardless of which one they were born into. When Abnegation-born Beatrice Prior's results are inconclusive, her tester informs her she's a "divergent" and should never mention her results to anyone. Believing herself too selfish to be any good in Abnegation, she chooses Dauntless, where she rechristens herself Tris. During the dangerous bloody Dauntless initiation process, she develops feelings for her handsome, mysterious instructor Four, who never fails to challenge her to perform her best, even as others grow jealous of her unexpected skills. And Tris beings to realize being a Divergent has both advantages and disadvantages.

Is it any good?


Roth, who wrote the book as a college student, has earned a tremendous amount of first book buzz, and the hype is well-deserved. She uses some devices that fans of dystopian novels will recognize -- a compartmentalized society, a misfit protagonist, dangerous secrets, and a cliffhanger ending -- but still manages to create an unstoppable plot that's remarkably original. Tris is a refreshingly smart and self-possessed 16-year-old protagonist, and readers will fall in love with her leading man right along with her. But the romance, while as swoon-worthy and fluttery as you'd expect from a teen novel, is actually secondary to the book's deep messages about identity and controlling societies. This is an impressive and provoking start to what should be a fascinating series.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why so many books are coming out about teens growing up in dangerous futuristic societies, like Matched or The Hunger Games. Is the dystopian genre becoming overcrowded? What does this book have in common with other books you've read?

  • What did you think of the level of violence here? Does the fantasy setting make it easier to handle -- or are there details that you found disturbing? Is violence in books different than in other media, like movies or television shows? 

Book details

Author:Veronica Roth
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:May 3, 2011
Number of pages:496
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17

This review of Divergent, Book 1 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
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Written byAnonymous July 26, 2011

Loved it!!

Really good!
This book made me smile from ear to ear, and I am in LOVE with Four... :P
The content in nothing that would shock a middle schooler, and the violence wasnt that bad either.
Really super good, please read!!

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written bynoveleater October 25, 2011

Captivating Hunger Games copycat is built on original premise.

Divergent was so good its hard to put in words. The characters are relatable and realistic, each one has there own secrets, but also there own desires, which shine throughout the book. The story tells of a girl named Beatrice Prior who lives in the future of Chicago where the population of people is split into five human virtues, each one contradicting the other. The story tells of Beatrice’s decision and her life in her faction. What follows is a whole collection of choices, which is what the book always seems to get back to; choices rule our lives. This book is expertly crafted with writing that has perfect pace that gets into Beatrice’s mind. She seems so real and headstrong. That being said, the novel is violent. Including suicide, cruel punishments, guns and knives being used, a boy is stabbed in the eye with a knife; there are fight scenes that pair up different sizes, genders, and ages. There is bloodshed and people are killed. The book centers on violence but also settles on the fine idea of peace. There are kisses, and Beatrice almost does it with a boy, but they decide that another time would be more appropriate. The characters are drugged to have fake battles with their mind, which kind of mirrors some drugs. There is minor bad language use. Divergent is hard to put down, but at the end the story sags, dragging on the book a little to long, which left me kind of restless. The end is a cliffhanger and will have readers clamoring for more.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bykitkat3798 June 10, 2011

Great for people 13+, something Hunger Games, Matched and Delirium fans will love!

This is an amazing read. I enjoyed every minute of reading it. It's such an original, amazing piece of writing. It's thought provoking and action packed with a little romance mixed in. There are some references to sex, but nothing ever happens. And in one scene when the main character is attacked by a bunch of teenage guys, one touches her inappropriately, but it doesn't go any farther than that. I think anyone who likes Hunger Games, Matched, Delirium or Wither will really love this book. It's a full dose of dystopian genius!

What other families should know
Too much sex


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