These rebooted Divergent book covers are cool.

These rebooted Divergent book covers are cool.

©Victo Ngai

It’s been 10 damn years since the first book of the Divergent trilogy came out in 2011, I can’t believe it.

While Hunger Games will always have my heart as the best YA dystopian series of all time, I still really liked Divergent.

And I especially love that it’s set in Chicago! I’ve lived in Chicago over ten years, and it’s fun to see my city used as the backdrop in such a popular series. NYC and LA get all the love, but Chicago deserves just as much.

©Victo Ngai

These new 10th anniversary paperback covers put the Chicago setting front and center, and I love that we get more of a zoomed-in visual of the city described in the books.

Chicago has beautiful architecture (among many wonderful things the city has to offer), and in the dystopian world of Divergent, we see that the architecture of Chicago is about the only part of the city we know today that’s lasted. It’s both lovely and melancholic to think that these grand structures will outlive us all.

©Victo Ngai

Chicago landmarks shown on the new covers:

  • THE EL TRAIN: Short for “elevated.” It’s been around since 1892 and goes all over the city and its neighborhoods, even to some suburbs.
  • O’HARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Chicago’s main airport (Midway is the other one) located west of the city. All the road signs on the Allegiant cover are spot-on: O’Hare is one of the largest and most confusing airports in the US.
  • Not a landmark per se, but ILLINOIS FARMLANDS: Chicago is a big city in a sea of farmland and cornfields. It doesn’t take long to go from skyscrapers to cows. This is where the Amity live and work in Insurgent.
  • THE FERRIS WHEEL AT NAVY PIER: Navy Pier is a tourist spot with shops, food, and shows, and its iconic Ferris Wheel called the Centennial Wheel, which is nearly 200 ft high. One of the best parts of the first book is when Tris and Four climb it on a dare 🤘
©Navy Pier

Other Chicago landmarks referenced in the books that aren’t shown on these covers:

  • THE MERCHANDISE MART: This downtown building is so huge it used to have its own zip code. It serves as the court and judicial hall in Divergent with the Candor faction living there, though they darkly refer to it as the Merciless Mart.

Side note: I worked in this building for a couple years, it’s really cool. It has its own el stop, a food court and a bar, showrooms for luxury home fixtures & furniture on the first floor, lots of other shops, a gym, offices—I also get my hair done here! It has everything.

©Britannica
  • THE JOHN HANCOCK BUILDING: Technically the “John Hancock Center.” This is my favorite of the super-tall Chicago skyscrapers because of its unique steel beam design, though it’s actually only the fifth-tallest in the city. At one point in the series, Tris and the Dauntless go zip-lining off the ROOF OF THE JOHN HANCOCK JUST LOOK AT IT NO THANKS I’m an Amity.
©Chicago Architecture Center
©WendyCity

BTW, these are what the original covers look like:

They have a subtle Chicago skyline (and I like that they show the marshy Lake Michigan on the first one), but the city is much more the focus of the new covers 💙

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