Mook Review: Divergent

Divergent Novel by Veronica Roth

via veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

via veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

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

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

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  

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21 thoughts on “Mook Review: Divergent

  1. I still haven’t read either The Hunger Games or the Divergent trilogy, but I’m getting really curious, even more so after reading your review. I’ve never really read dystopian novels, but it’s starting to feel like a gap in my reading (and book blogging) life. There’s still so much to read, though!

  2. I haven’t watched the film yet but I saw in the trailer how much make up Tris and her mother were wearing and was immediately annoyed! I also can’t wait for the Maze Runner this year.
    Great blog :)

  3. Ahhh, I really have to hurry up and read it. You just made me even more curious than I was before. :) I want to watch the movie as well, but I’d love to read the books first.
    And it is a great review indeed :) What did you like the best about the book?

    Yours
    Smarty

  4. I read and watched The Hunger Games and it is by far the best book I’ve read. And, I’ve heard good things about divergent so I’m looking forward to watch the movie and reading the book .

  5. I agree that The Hunger Games completely changed the way I read books, so unfortunately it is so difficult to live up to it. But I was thoroughly impressed by the movie adaptation of Divergent, and I do disagree with your comment on the music. I thought that it illuminated the scenes and completely captivated me. They used the sound to their advantage. Although I was kind of staring at Four the entire time so I might be wrong ;)

  6. The score for a movie sets up the mood and I feel that pop songs just don’t do that. Who can forget the Demi Lovato during the City of Bones kiss scene? It totally ruined the mood and just made everything seem pointless. I’m looking forward to watching The Maze Runner movie though. Let’s hope they get it right!

  7. Nice review!
    I’ve seen the movie, and I own the trilogy (just haven’t read it as yet), and yes, I agree that the love story was made to appear too cheesy. I saw the attraction between the two, but I think the way they built up to it was a bit forced, but what do I know? I’m just a 26 yo reading YA lol
    Unfortunately I can’t comment on how it goes in the books (as yet). This was a rare occasion for me, having seen the movie before reading the books. But the movie did make me really really want to read the books because there were so many gaps in the storyline, and I just bet the books will give me a clearer picture.
    Oh, and I totally love your blog’s name :D

  8. I agree. I liked the Divergent book, though it pales in comparison to the Hunger Games in terms of its depth and flow, so my expectations for the movie were a little lower than it was when I went to see Catching Fire this past year (ahem, 6 times). It’s interesting how book-to-movie adaptations, regardless of their quality, always reveal so much more about the books. Where I feel the Divergent film failed was in its development of the important supporting characters. Particularly Al and Will. Reading the books I really felt Al’s pain all along and was shocked at what happened with him and Tris and then heart broken when his final crisis occurred (this is my failed attempt at being spoiler free). In the movie I never got any of that, so at the end of the movie I didn’t feel much for either of them, even though I knew I should. On the positive side, I just saw Divergent last night, and I have to say that Shailene Woodley’s portrayal of Tris actually made me like her more then I did in the books. I also thought that Ashley Judd was fantastic. Thanks for your review!

  9. I haven’t seen the the movie yet, but I want and I am also sure it won’t hold up to the book, so a half decent movie would fine for me. But the Abnegation are supposed to be selflessness, yes, so heavy makeup is probably not the best way to show that.

  10. I really enjoyed your analysis of both the movie and the book – they were very insightful and interesting. I have yet to read Divergent, but I am still looking forward to hearing about your review of Allegiant.

  11. Great idea for a blog! So many movies are being made about books these days, there is plenty of room for discussion about how films compare to their book counterparts. Have you ever written how the Game of Thrones series compares to the books?

    Anyway, I’ll come back and check out your blog more. I’m new to book blogging myself, so feel free to check out mine at:

    http://www.bookshelfbattle.com

  12. I just found your blog by chance and I’m almost 30 and love YA fiction. Are you going to do a Maze runner comparison? The book series was AMAZING.

    If you like Dystopian, have you watched ‘The 100’ and read the book? The book – the first one – is horribly written, yet I thought the first couple episodes in the series seemed promising.

    Thanks for sharing your review on Divergent, I’ve been meaning to read this one/Roth’s works.

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