What do the following literary characters have in common: Penelope from The Odyssey, Grendel from Beowulf, the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, Bertha Rochester from Jane Eyre, and Tobias Eaton from Divergent? If you said "their uncanny fashion sense" you couldn't be more wrong (although the Wicked Witch's black robes are pretty dang chic). If you said, "all had prequel stories written about them," then ding-ding-ding: you're correct.
The difference is that out of all these, Tobias Eaton is the only one with a prequel story written by his own creator, Veronica Roth. Margaret Atwood checked in on Penelope, John Gardner tackled Grendel, Gregory Maguire shed light on the witch, and Jean Rhys let crazy ol' Bertha out of the attic.
Of course, the creators of all those original stories were dead-dead-dead, leaving their works open for interpretation. Divergent's creator is alive and well, and she has a franchise with a hit movie to capitalize on.
Veronica Roth published Four: A Divergent Collection in 2014. What's it a collection of? It's a collection of longish (fifty pages or so each) short stories about Tobias Eaton a.k.a. Four, the boy with Four fears. Can you guess how many Four stories are in this collection? Three? Five? Nope. There are four (4) stories about Four in Four: "The Transfer," "The Initiate," "The Son," and "The Traitor." Each of these stories was published individually in e-book format from 2013-2014. But when they're collected together not only can you have them and hold them (the next best thing to having and holding Four himself) but you also get three bonus scenes from Divergent told from Four's POV.
These stories show how Tobias Eaton becomes Four. The first three stories precede Divergent, following Four's journey (which is remarkably similar to Tris's in many ways). The fourth story, "The Traitor," shows us things we didn't know in Divergent, because that story is only told from Tris's perspective. Now we get Four's side of the story.
When it was released, Four was the perfect marketing tool alongside the Divergent film, which came out a few months before the book. But don't think of this book as just another marketing ploy—it also joins a grand literary tradition of telling the other side of the story. After all, when you're emulating Jean Rhys, Margaret Atwood and John Gardner, you know you're doing something right. They say that good writers borrow and great writers steal, and Veronica Roth is donning her Catwoman mask and burglarizing this awesomesauce, POV-flipping novelist's tool.
You care because you have posters of Theo James on your wall, and you kiss his chiseled cheek goodnight at the end of every single day. Oh wait, we're the only ones who do that? Ahem.
Even if you're not smooching on the actor who plays Four, or taking What Faction Are You? quizzes or getting faction tattoos on your own back, Four is an interesting experiment in both POV shifting and prequel narratives. Haven't you always wanted to know how a certain character got to be the way he was, or what a fantasy world was like before the first line of your favorite book?
Remember how everyone went wild for Twilight told from Edward's perspective? This is like that, except, you know, actually published. The mere fact that it exists gives you no excuse not to grab a copy today.
Do it for Four. But also do it for yourself, because getting the other side of the story is what great literature is all about: you get to borrow someone else's set of eyeballs for a while and see the world (or the apocalyptic dystopian Chicago, at least) from their perspective.
She may be done writing about Tobias/Four, Tris, and pals, but she's not done promoting the world she created. All the latest Divergent-related news is on her blog.
The Fourth Book
The publisher designed the book's fancy cover to go right alongside the other three books in the series on your shelf.
There are no plans to adapt these stories into film, but you can check out the Insurgent trailer and imagine the possibilities.
Tris: A Divergent Collection?
That's would could have been. Roth reveals that Divergent was originally written from Four's perspective in this interview.
Plotting a Prequel
This is only interview about a young adult book to ever drop a reference to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
One is the Loneliest Number. Four: the Sexiest.
Roth says she de-sexified Four in the prequels. We beg to differ.
Veronica Roth says she "got to know Four in a different way" by writing this. She's going to make Tris jealous!
A Video Four You
Veronica Roth wrote this book just for you! (And you… and you… and you…)
Veronica Roth channels Four and reads his perspective, from one of the scenes at the end of Four.
Four Audio Tracks
Hear Four tell his story in this audiobook sample.
Fans inspired by Roth's writing have created a variety of playlists four your… er… for your listening pleasure.
Four for Four
Released individually, each story has a groovy cover.
Boy with the Faction Tattoo
Not that we need an excuse to drool over a shirtless Four… but here's an excuse to drool over a shirtless Four.