Meeting Veronica Roth: An Ascendio 2012 Highlight

In response to a reader’s question about Veronica Roth at HPEF’s finale last month in Orlando, “Yes, I did meet and speak with the Divergent trilogy author.”

Meeting my second big-name author, Lev Grossman being the first, I was delighted to find that Ms. Roth, like Grossman, is a very pleasant and thoughtful person, nothing like a self-important Gilderoy Lizard. I met her at a cocktail party of sorts for the “names” at this convention. The ‘Merlin’s Circle Reception’ with open bar cost $750 for non-names like me to get in and meet the stars of page and screen — I was only allowed in because my ‘Circle’ registration was paid for by Rosetta Stone in exchange for a talk I gave on magical language.

Anyway, I was enjoying a catch-up conversation with the delicately ribald (and nearly bald) Lev Grossman when Ms. Roth joined us with her agent, Joanna Volpe, and another YA author. The other author actually had heard of me and seemed very excited about our meeting; as I had almost done a prostration before Ms. Roth as they approached, her excitement brought things back into some kind of silly balance.

[Read more…]

The Divergent Trilogy: Twilight, MarySue, and Tris Prior

We are in the third day of ‘Beatrice Prior Week’ here at HogwartsProfessor and it’s the last day of comparisons with the three other popular series we’ve discussed at length here. Yesterday, it was Hunger Games, Sunday it was Harry Potter, and today we come to the neglected corner, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books. What could Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy have to do with the Paranormal Romance in Forks?

Quite a bit! Even some interviewers are talking about it with Ms. Roth, albeit only in terms of her movie deal with Summit, the makers of the Twilight films. From’s interview with Ms. Roth (December 2011):

People inevitably will make comparisons to Stephenie Meyer, since you’re both YA novelists signed to Summit. She’s producing her first film now — are you planning to be Meyer-level involved in the making of “Divergent?”

Not really. At least, I haven’t really been involved with it for very long, so it’s hard to say. But I really just love books and I never really watch movies. I’m more into the slow, sort of meditative process and movies are like bam-bam! Bam-bam-bam! So I don’t know if it’s really the place for me. I don’t know, it’s been really fun to see “Twilight” from the inside, but I’m really just observing, I’m not really involved.

Ah. Ms. Roth… You have won my heart! Time is short, though, so let’s skip right to the five points of congruence with Twilight that I noted on my first trip through Divergent and Insurgent.

[Read more…]

The Divergent Trilogy: Katniss Everdeen, Meet Tris Prior!

Yesterday we discussed the many similarities between Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and the first two books in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. As remarkable as those parallels are, largely,I think, because Ms. Roth has been a serious reader of the Hogwarts Saga for the great majority of her life (remember, she’s only 23 — do the math!), these echoes are not what reviewers are noting in their write-ups of Insurgent this month. It’s the kinship between The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen and Divergent‘s heroine, Tris Prior, that I’m seeing everywhere.

What does the author think? In a USA Today interview she was asked about the comparisons being made:

Do the Hunger Games comparisons bother you?

The Hunger Games is pretty fantastic, so I always get a little scared when people make those comparisons because I think, “Well, I never tried to do that…” And it’s so good that it’s a little daunting to see those comparisons out there. But at the same time, it’s been pretty incredible what it’s done for the genre and for my book’s visibility. Also, if you’re going to be compared to something, it might as well be The Hunger Games because it’s really awesome. At least it’s not something I didn’t like.

Well, all right, then. The author says she’s on board with the comparisons, so let’s make a few of our own… I’ll go first, then you jump in! [Read more…]

The Divergent Trilogy: Harry Potter Meets Beatrice Prior

Last May dear Deborah wrote me and Prof Baird-Hardy to urge us to read and then discuss Veronica Roth’s Divergent here at HogwartsProfessor. Lily the Librarian wrote us the same kind of recommendation not much later with a link to her intriguing review at The Hog’s Head’ and the kind note “I’m betting Roth has read your books, John.” I bought Divergent right away  — but, alas, in the move to Oklahoma and madness of a new job, it sat beneath the dust magnets on my crowded books-that-must-be-read shelf.

I finally read Divergent last week and I enjoyed it so much that I bought the second book of the Divergent trilogy, Insurgent, which was published 1 May, and read it, too. What a fun ride it was! As usual Deborah and Lily were right on in their recommendations.

To get the Divergent ball rolling here, I’ve decided to make next week ‘Beatrice Prior Week‘ at HogwartsProfessor. If you enjoyed Harry Potter, Twilight, and/or The Hunger Games, for reasons I explain below the jump, I’m pretty sure you’ll love these books.

I’m almost positive, as well, that we’ll be discussing them here at some length in anticipation of the series finale (due in 2013, a novel which the author says at her blog will be called Detergent, but I’m guessing will more likely be Convergent). You’re forewarned; the longer you take to buy and read the first two books, the more likely it is I will spoil them for you here.

When Publishers Weekly announced that HarperCollins had signed 21 year old Veronica Roth to a three book Divergent deal, the blurb closed with this from Ms. Roth’s agent: “the dystopian thrillers were pitched as The Hunger Games meets The Matrix.” I see that but let’s review the obvious influences of Harry Potter, Bella Swann, and Katniss Everdeen on this wow Bildungsroman. Today, Harry Potter, tomorrow Katniss, and then Bella. After that? I have some ideas after surfing through a pile of interviews with the author and her blog but I’m open to your suggestions! Fire away! [Read more…]