As the newly christened Four, Tobias Eaton goes through his Dauntless initiation. Aside from a rivalry with a fellow initiate, things are going pretty well. He engages in a late-night game of Dare with all the other initiates, gets his first tattoo, and begins to build some tentative friendships, although being the loner is still what comes most naturally for him. Four also starts to realize his passion for training others, while coming to recognize that he's different from the other initiates, something that could potentially be dangerous to him if he can't mask his unusual abilities.
The Initiate is the second novella in the Four collection that follows the character of Four during his early days in Dauntless a couple of years before meeting Tris in the main Divergent story. In this novella, we get to see some of his training as a Dauntless initiate. We discover the origins of his rivalry with Eric, and it makes a lot more sense now why these two were always at odds. The initiates engage in a game of Dare, which leads to Four getting his first tattoo and getting drunk for the first time. He also begins to build some tentative friendships with Shauna and Zeke, which is a big step for this loner, and we can start to see how he ended up as a Dauntless trainer. I think the most interesting part of the story, though, is when Four starts to realize there's something different about him because of his ability to be conscious while in fear simulations. This leads him to recall his father's insistent warning that he not do anything strange during his aptitude test. It's also the first time we get an inkling of his understanding of being Divergent although it still hasn't been called that, and he also realizes that he'll need to cover his tracks and not do anything that might "out" himself.
Overall, there's quite a bit going on in The Initiate for such a short novella, so things don't get explored in as much detail as I might have liked. I think the reason it seemed this way is that I still can't help feeling that Four either should have been the narrator of the Divergent series, or better yet, it should have been done in dual narration. I believe I would have felt much more connected to him in the main part of the series if it had been. So far, I've enjoyed getting these little glimpses into his perspective. In this story, I was particularly intrigued by his aversion to the violence that's an everyday part of Dauntless life, which is understandable given his background of abuse. The main reason I knocked off the half-star, though, is that I couldn't help feeling like his character still could have been fleshed out even more. He has such an interesting backstory that, from an emotional perspective, only seems to come into play in bits and pieces, when I really wanted the author to dig deep. It was nice, though, to see some of the supporting characters from the series: Amar, Zeke, Uriah, Shauna, Jeanine, Eric, and how their stories evolved and intertwined with Four's as well. Overall, this was a good read that I still liked a bit more than the Divergent series as a whole, and I look forward to reading more of these stories from Four's POV. The Initiate was originally published as a stand-alone e-book novella, but was later reprinted in the anthology Four, along with its other three companion novellas.
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