18/11/2014 14:31 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

What Is Divergent? A Guide For Parents

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What is this Divergent all about, then?

Divergent is smash hit young adult (YA) fiction trilogy which takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where society is strictly divided into factions according to personality types - Amity (peaceful), Abnegation (selfless), Dauntless (brave), Candour (honest) and Erudite (intelligent). The first volume is also called Divergent, with sequels called Insurgent and Allegiant.

Our heroine, 16-year-old Tris, is one of the few 'divergents' - meaning she has aspects of more than one faction. She chooses to join the Dauntless crew - but to get in she must survive their brutal initiation. And that's before we even get to the civil war which threatens to decimate her society...

Hang on, I think I've heard this one before...

Are you thinking of The Hunger Games? That's the other one where a plucky teenage girl has to fight for survival in a dystopian American city sometime in the future where society is divided into rival factions.

And just how big is it?

It's a full-on phenomenon! The three books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide, sure to increase as the film versions of Insurgent and Allegiant are released.

The first film of the trilogy, also called Divergent, was released in March and made $22 million on opening day alone, with a total global box office of over £153 million so far.

Film, eh? Anyone famous in it?

Kate Winslet pops up, but mostly no. Tris is played by Shailene Woodley, who hasn't been in the spotlight until now, but between this and her upcoming role in The Fault In Our Stars (another YA fave), that's all changed. Up-and-coming Brit Theo James stars as Tris's love interest, Tobias.

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Wait, wait. He looks familiar...

Did you by any chance catch him in Downton Abbey? He played the terribly suave Turkish diplomat who rather awkwardly died mid-coitus with Lady Mary way back in the first series.

So, why won't my kid stop banging on about it?


Today's teen readers are wild about post-apocalyptic hellscapes, for some reason. We blame the Batman reboot for inspiring all this passion for gritty urban dystopias. Plus, it has everything! Intrigue, romance, people getting stabbed in the eye with a butter knife...


Anything I should be worried about?

If you're concerned that your child would really be better off reading something from the GCSE set texts list (An Inspector Calls, perhaps), you can put your fears aside - Divergent has been praised for its accomplished writing and gripping plot. It gets pretty dark and violent at times, but nothing worse than the stuff an average teen sees on telly.

Conversation starter:

"How about we sort the whole family into factions?"

Conversation ender:

"A 'feisty heroine', eh? Like Anne of Green Gables?"