Divergent was a wonderful book. I read a lot of young adult books and many of them as juvenile as their audience. This book however really grabbed my attention and ran with it.
The concept is really what caught my attention. In the future society has collapsed. The survivors in Chicago have restructured themselves to be separated by their belief systems, or factions.
Abnegation – known for their selflessness
Amity – known for their peacefulness and happiness
Candor – known for their pursuit of truth
Dauntless – known for their bravery and perseverance
Erudite – known for their pursuit of knowledge
As you may already be able to guess the super simplification and over purification of human beliefs might cause some issues.
The story follows Beatrice “Tris” Pryor. She is the 16 year old child of an Abnegation couple and finds it difficult to follow Abnegation ways to the letter. We meet her shortly before her choosing day, when she must pick which faction she will be with for the rest of her life. The choice is not without influences however, the day before choosing day an aptitude test is administered. The test is a drug that should create a simulation and show you your own true nature. Our heroine discovers a dark secret in her seemingly perfect society and she finds herself in the middle of the whole conspiracy. The most distressing part is she may end up dead due to the rules of her own society.
The book does a wonderful job fleshing out the concept of this new society and as you progress through the story the explanations are easy to swallow and succinct to the reader. The book does get dark at times and the choices the characters must make are harsh. This adds much of the depth to the story and being with the characters through their dark days is what connects the reader to the book.
The movie was surprisingly good. As a reader of the book I had set myself up to be disappointed. Possibly setting this low bar made the movie seem better in the end but either way I am happy with what I saw. The biggest complaint I have is that many of the darkest moments that really made the book poignant were completely left out. I understand this movie was targeting a younger audience and the darker plots twists would not have made the PG-13 rating possible but it is sad to loose the darker parts just to broaden the scope of prospective customers. For example, in the Hunger Games, which also had many darker themes and events but after reading and then viewing the Hunger Games I did not feel the loss of the more mature events. The creators of the Hunger Games movies found a way to introduce those themes subtly, which the Divergent filmmakers avoided all together.
Other complaints I had were the lack of development between Tris and her friends as well as the over development with Tris and Four. In the book her friends are her support group. This deep bond she should have with them is barely evident in the movie. I am concerned about how this will affect the subsequent two films since these relationships are core to certain plot twists as Tris’ tale continues. The other issue I have is how perfect they make Four out to be. One of the draws to Four are his flaws. The movie did not do a good job explaining this and this may also affect the continuation of the story. Ultimately these issues will not hurt the moviegoers who are book fans but I do believe it makes the movie confusing and odd to new viewers of the story.
All in all I will see a sequel if they produce one. I love this book and story enough to want to see more of Hollywood’s visual representation. I just hope they will be given the opportunity produce the sequel.