A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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What's the story?
Divergent fans unhappy with the end of the trilogy and hoping for more of Four don't have to wait for hunky Theo James to appear in Insurgent next year. FOUR: A DIVERGENT COLLECTION compiles previously released ebooks and three new ones that Veronica Roth wrote specifically from the perspective of her beloved male lead. The Transfer details how and why introverted 16-year-old Four (then called by his birth name) selected Dauntless as his Faction on Choosing Day; The Initiate explores Four's time as a transfer initiate dealing with letting go of his Abnegation ways and ruthless Erudite transfer and rival Eric. The Son follows Four's early time as an initiate instructor and control room technician who believes there's something foul afoot between Erudite and Dauntless leadership, and The Traitor chronicles key moments from Divergent told from Four's point of view.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the increasing popularity of companion novellas and short stories in young adult series. Do you think these are fun to read or unnecessary if you've read the original books?
Do you need to read Divergent to understand what's going on in these stories? If you haven't read Divergent, do these short stories make you interested in the trilogy?
Is violence in books different from that in other media, such as movies or television shows? How did the violence in the short stories compare with the violence in the other books?
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