Students reflect on NU alumna Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series ahead of 10th anniversary


Graphic by Carly Schulman

Author and alumna Veronica Roth wrote the internationally bestselling “Divergent” novel during winter break her senior year at NU. She’s now celebrating its 10th anniversary by rereleasing the series as a special edition.

Diego Ramos-Bechara, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

Communication freshman Lucy Basile was amazed to discover that Veronica Roth (Weinberg ‘10), author of the internationally bestselling “Divergent” series, wrote the first book during Winter Break of her senior year at Northwestern.

“That must have been such a girlboss moment,” Basile said. “Just thinking about the fact that a college student was capable of writing books that I cried over is absolutely insane.”

Roth will celebrate the series’ 10th anniversary by releasing special editions of the trilogy and accompanying short story collection featuring rebranded covers, personal essays, a Q&A section, deleted scenes and short stories with the same characters.

After Roth wrote “Divergent,” HarperCollins Publishers offered her a three-book contract and she sold the rights for the high-grossing film soon after –– all before walking across the stage at Ryan Field in her cap and gown.

Roth shared the news of the anniversary and special editions with fans in her monthly newsletter before making another announcement on Instagram.

“There has been a lot of special Divergent content spread across a few versions of these books over the last ten years,” Roth said in the post. “My mission with these editions was to get as much of it as possible in one place. It doesn’t hurt to see the series with fresh covers, either.”

Basile reminisced about reading the series in middle school. She said she loved reading young adult dystopian novels like “The Hunger Games” and “The Maze Runner” but listed “Divergent” as her favorite in the genre.

Though it’s been 10 years, Basile praised the books for painting a “chilling” version of a dystopian Chicago that’s “eerily similar” to the contemporary world. She pointed out that the genetic engineering in the novels has surged in popularity in the 21st century, used to control disease carrying mosquitoes and genetically modifying crops.

“It’s interesting to look at dystopian books that were written a while ago because it’s like you’re looking at the visions that people from that time had of the future,” Basile said. “It’s nice to compare where society is now and how some of the problems they pointed out have either changed for the better or worse.”

Weinberg freshman Dylan Jost, who also read the series in middle school, remembers anxiously awaiting the release of each book.

Jost read “Allegiant,” the final book in the series, the night it came out, all in one sitting. He recalled how he and his friends whispered about the series’ ending between classes, trying not to spoil the finale for those who had not yet read it.

“We need to talk about it kind of secretly, like when you see an ‘Avengers’ movie before everyone else and you whisper spoilers to those that already saw it,” Jost said. “You don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but you still want to talk about it.”

Since graduating from NU, Roth has published a total of seven best-selling young adult novels and recently released her debut adult novel, “Chosen Ones,” which will soon be adapted to the screen.

Jost said Roth’s quick rise in popularity over the past decade is indicative of her skills as a writer. Though not all NU alumni may have the same postgraduate story to tell, he said Roth’s journey is indicative of NU’s ability to prepare alumni for success in all kinds of fields.

“Her story really just demonstrates that the students here are very capable, very intelligent and skilled in what they do,” Jost said. “Everyone here is prepared for, and is ready for, success in whatever form it takes.”

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