Divergent – Novel by Veronica Roth
Anyone who observes my reading habits knows that The Hunger Games left a huge, YA dystopia hole in my heart. This genre has blown up in recent years, dominating both the book shelves and box office, but many competitors in the genre have fallen flat and not lived up to their expectations.
The Divergent series is a nice breath of fresh air in a very crowded genre. While it doesn’t have the ambition and breadth of skill that The Hunger Games does, and at times the love story can seem contrived and silly, I enjoyed it. The first and second installments definitely have a stronger presence than the last (we can discuss my opinions on Allegiant at a later time) but it is an interesting world that Roth created, albeit a little unrealistic.
Tris Prior is a successful heroine and I really found myself rooting for her and connecting with her bravery. She is earnest, smart, and gutsy. She fails and then thrives. She finds herself in very typical, teenage predicaments but holds her own in a war that is far beyond her sixteen years. Personally, I feel that Tris is a great role model and holds her own in this story. There are, of course, very cheesy moments of bubbling love that seems just slightly unbelievable, but then again I am a 25 year old woman reading a novel targeted for teens.
The whole faction system at times did seem a little unrealistic and not very thoroughly explained. It almost seemed like the author had a very surface level idea that she manipulated to seem more complex, without actually creating it from the ground up. But, all in all, I enjoyed Divergent and it definitely sucked my attention in.
“Divergent” – Directed by Neil Burger
For obvious reasons, I was skeptical about this film. There have been so many adaptations of YA novels lately that have completely bombed (“Beautiful Creatures”, “City of Bones”, “Ender’s Game”, etc) and I was worried that “Divergent” would not hold its own, especially in comparison to the widely acclaimed “Hunger Games” movies.
Shailene Woodley is a talented actress, and between her role in both “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars” (which is set to debut a little later this year) she has set herself up for box office success. However, I didn’t feel that her impact as an actor really carried the movie all the way through. There were so many directions the movie could have gone in to make it less cheesy. For starters, Abnegation is a faction that is supposed to be about selflessness and not relying too much on oneself. It really, really bothered me how much makeup both Tris and her mother visibly wore. I wanted the Abnegation to be simple people, and the costuming just didn’t really connect which I think was a huge slip up in the making of this film.
Another big issue for me was the music. Going into this film, I figured that the track listing for “Divergent” was going to be yet-another companion album to the movie (a marketing scheme I totally do not understand; why release an album full of songs by top artists that aren’t even in the film?). When I realized that these songs were actually in “Divergent” I was pleasantly surprised… for about five minutes. It completely took away from the integrity of the film. Again, it was just very cheesy.All of that aside, there were parts of the movie I liked, but not enough to be impressed. I was a little bit let down. I will still hold out hope for other YA adaptation (“The Maze Runner” is my latest obsession and set to release in September, and long-time childhood favorite “The Giver” will release in August) but after another disappointment, I do feel my faith wearing a bit thin.
Mook Rating – ★★