Divergent is the first novel in Veronica Roth's debut trilogy of the same name, followed by Insurgent and Allegiant. Since its publication in April 2011, it has won numerous awards, including Favorite Book of 2011 in the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards, the Sakura Medal Contest, and was voted number one in the Teens’ Top Ten sponsored by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). It spent a number of weeks on the New York Times’ Childrens and Young Adult Best Seller lists, and has been widely well-received by critics.
Roth originally started writing Divergent from the perspective of Tobias "Four" Eaton, the main love interest to protagonist Beatrice "Tris" Prior, but forty pages in, she set the story aside in dissatisfaction. Four years later she begin the novel again, writing it this time from Tris's point of view. Roth has stated in many interviews that her motivation behind Divergent's premise varies, but can mostly be attributed to a strong interest in the concept of overcoming fears, bravery, and division into groups based on personality.
The publication of Divergent actually stemmed from Roth’s attempts to publish another of her novels, which she terms “The Manuscript.” After getting in contact with several agents, receiving rejections, and working with one agent on the first 50 pages, she realized that even if "The Manuscript" successfully went to print, it wasn’t the novel she wanted to debut with. So she began to work on Divergent, and once completed, she contacted her agent, who offered to represent the new project. Following editing and revision, HarperCollins made Roth and her agent a publishing offer, which was accepted.
Divergent has been praised for its original, fast-paced plot, its readability, and its powerful message of discovering one's identity in the midst of conformity. Set in futuristic, dystopian Chicago, Divergent tells the story of a society in which citizens live in factions and devote their lives to cultivating one of five virtues: honesty, intelligence, peacemaking, selflessness, or bravery. Because she does not comfortably fit into any on category, Tris leaves her family behind to join a faction different than the one she grew up in, relaying themes about belonging, personal choices, and values.
To date, Divergent has sold millions of copies and is one of HarperCollins’s most successful eBooks of all time, along with its sequel, Insurgent. A film version of the book will be released in March 2014, starring Shailene Woodley.