A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Divergent fans will learn more about Four/Tobias and what he thinks during a few key scenes in the first book but also in the two years before Tris entered his life.
As in Divergent, Four deals with issues of identity, self-discovery, and acceptance. He struggle with what it really means to be selfless, brave, smart, and kind -- but also what it means to be "divergent" in a society that values conformity.
Violence & Scariness
Four bloodies an opponent during initiation sparring in one story, witnesses the "suicide" of a mentor and later a student, and in another beats up a character who was hurting Tris. He has to learn to fight and discusses the freedom in becoming someone who can defend himself. Before joining Dauntless, he's abused by his father.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Four is completely inexperienced when he becomes Dauntless and is surprised by how tolerant of premarital sex, dating, and flirtatious behavior the Faction is, including his friend Zeke who makes out with a girl while on a double date with Four. For the first time, Four notices girls but isn't really interested in anyone until he meets Tris. The last short story includes his first kiss with Tris (from his point of view) and several references to his first feelings of desire for and "wanting" her and not just any girl.
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Insults such as "coward," "loudmouth," "stupid," "stiff" (the slur for the Abnegation), and "idiot."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The Dauntless (as young as initiates, who are 16) drink unspecified alcohol, and in a couple of scenes Four drinks specifically to escape his feelings.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Four: A Divergent Collection is five short stories written from the perspective of Four, a lead character in the Divergent trilogy. Since the first two books in the Divergent series are written from the character Tris' perspective, these stories are bonus material for fans of Veronica Roth's best-selling dystopian books. There's less violence in these than in the original books, but Dauntless fights are still described, and a couple of beatings are particularly bloody. Because most of the short stories take place before Four and Tris are together, there's not much romance, although the one story that does overlap with Divergent includes several references to his feelings of desire and their first kiss.
Is It Any Good?
Four fans will be thrilled to read more (and overlapping!) stories from a favorite character's perspective. Especially since, even in the stories before he meets Tris, readers learn more about his background, his early Dauntless friends, and his state of mind in the two critical years before Tris joins him in the Faction and changes his life. Not much of the plot details or characterizations will be revelations to Divergent readers, but Four's voice is actually sharper here than in Allegiant, where it was sometimes easy to confuse with Tris' POV.
Ultimately, these stories are like the special features on a DVD: fun to experience but slightly unnecessary to the overall appreciation of the work (in this case, the Divergent trilogy). Four's appeal is partially due to his quiet strength, his mysterious background, and his ability to show his vulnerable side to Tris. Roth added his point of view in Allegiant, so there's nothing particularly novel about his voice in these stories. Still, it's fun to revisit secondary characters (Uriah's older brother Zeke, Shauna, and Tori are especially well represented), even if you know what will happen to them. And, of course, it's especially lovely to see some moments from Divergent retold from Four's point of view, because it shows how Tris didn't always know what he was thinking or feeling about her.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.