back. I press into the distance between us until it is gone, crushing the secrets we have kept and the suspicions we have harbored — for good, I hope.

And then I hear a voice.

We pull apart and turn toward the wall, where a woman with short brown hair is projected. She sits at a metal desk with her hands folded, in a location I don’t recognize. The background is too dim.

“Hello,” she says. “My name is Amanda Ritter. In this file I will tell you only what you need to know. I am the leader of an organization fighting for justice and peace. This fight has become increasingly more important — and consequently, nearly impossible — in the past few decades. That is because of this.”

Images flash across the wall, almost too fast for me to see. A man on his knees with a gun pressed to his forehead. The woman pointing it at him, her face emotionless.

From a distance, a small person hanging by the neck from a telephone pole.

A hole in the ground the size of a house, full of bodies.

And there are other images too, but they move faster, so I get only impressions of blood and bone and death and cruelty, empty faces, soulless eyes, terrified eyes.

Just when I have had enough, when I feel like I am going to scream if I see any more, the woman reappears on the screen, behind her desk.

“You do not remember any of that,” she says. “But if you are thinking these are the actions of a terrorist group or a tyrannical government regime, you are only partially correct. Half of the people in those pictures, committing those terrible acts, were your neighbors. Your relatives. Your coworkers. The battle we are fighting is not against a particular group. It is against human nature itself — or at least what it has become.”

This is what Jeanine was willing to enslave minds and murder people for — to keep us all from knowing. To keep us all ignorant and safe and inside the fence.

There is a part of me that understands.

“That is why you are so important,” Amanda says. “Our struggle against violence and cruelty is only treating the symptoms of a disease, not curing it. You are the cure.

“In order to keep you safe, we devised a way for you to be separated from us. From our water supply. From our technology. From our societal structure. We have formed your society in a particular way in the hope that you will rediscover the moral sense most of us have lost. Over time, we hope that you will begin to change as most of us cannot.

“The reason I am leaving this footage for you is so that you will know when it’s time to help us. You will know that it is time when there are many among you whose minds appear to be more flexible than the others. The name you should give those people is Divergent. Once they become abundant among you, your leaders should give the command for Amity to unlock the gate forever, so that you may emerge from your isolation.”

And that is what my parents wanted to do: to take what we had learned and use it to help others. Abnegation to the end.

“The information in this video is to be restricted to those in government only,” Amanda says. “You are to be a clean slate. But do not forget us.”

She smiles a little.

“I am about to join your number,” she says. “Like the rest of you, I will voluntarily forget my name, my family, and my home. I will take on a new identity, with false memories and a false history. But so that you know the information I have provided you with is accurate, I will tell you the name I am about to take as my own.”

Her smile broadens, and for a moment, I feel that I recognize her.

“My name will be Edith Prior,” she says. “And there is much I am happy to forget.”


The video stops. The projector glows blue against the wall. I clutch Tobias’s hand, and there is a moment of silence like a withheld breath.

Then the shouting begins.


Thank you, God, for keeping your promises.

Thank you:

Nelson, beta reader, tireless supporter, photographer, best friend, and most importantly, husband…. I think the Beach Boys said it best: God only knows what I’d be without you.

Joanna Volpe, I could not ask for a better agent or friend. Molly O’Neill, my editor of wonder, for your tireless work on this book in all arenas. Katherine Tegen, for being kind and discerning, and the whole KT Books crew, for your support.

Susan Jeffers, Andrea Curley, and the illustrious Brenna Franzitta, for watching my words; Joel Tippie and Amy Ryan, for making this book so beautiful; and Jean McGinley and Alpha Wong, for extending the reach of these books farther than I ever expected. Jessica Berg, Suzanne Daghlian, Barb Fitzsimmons, Lauren Flower, Kate Jackson, Susan Katz, Alison Lisnow, Casey McIntyre, Diane Naughton, Colleen O’Connell, Aubrey Parks-Fried, Andrea Pappenheimer, Shayna Ramos, Patty Rosati, Sandee Roston, Jenny Sheridan, Megan Sugrue, Molly Thomas, and Allison Verost, as well as everyone in audio, design, finance, international sales, inventory, legal, managing editorial, marketing, online marketing, publicity, production, sales, school and library marketing, special sales, and subrights at HarperCollins, for doing such fantastic work in the world of books as well as my world of books.

All the teachers, librarians, and booksellers who have supported my books with so much enthusiasm. Book bloggers, reviewers, and readers of all ages and varieties and countries of origin. I’m probably biased, but I think I have the best readers ever.

Lara Ehrlich, for much writing wisdom. My writer friends — listing all of the people in the writer community who have been kind to me would take multiple pages, but I could not ask for better peers. Alice, Mary Katherine, Mallory, and Danielle — what fantastic friends I have.

Nancy Coffey, for your eyes and your wisdom. Pouya Shahbazian and Steve Younger, my fantastic film team; and Summit Entertainment, Red Wagon, and Evan Daugherty, for wanting to live in this world I made.

My family: My incredible mother-slash-psychologist-slash-cheerleader, Frank Sr., Karl, Ingrid, Frank Jr., Candice, McCall, and Dave. You are incredible people and I am so glad I have you.

Beth and Darby, who have won me more readers than I can possibly count through charm and sheer determination; and Chase-baci and Sha-neni, who took such good care of us in Romania. Also Roger, Trevor, Tyler, Rachel, Fred, Billie, and Granny, for so effortlessly embracing me as one of you.

Multumesc/Koszonom to Cluj-Napoca/Kolozsvar, for all the inspiration and the dear friends I left there — but not forever.

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