Divergent by Veronica Roth (Movie and Book Review)

Divergent by Veronica Roth is a novel set in post-modern America where as a result of war the city of Chicago and its population has been spilt into 5 factions. The idea is that these factions, which are chosen based on an individual’s personality, live separately but use their talents and gifts for the greater good of society.

The Errudite faction values knowledge and learning so their role is to innovate, teach, study and learn. The Abdegation are a selfless faction and so take the role as public servants by running the government. The Candor faction upholds truth, reason and justice so they serve as law. The Amnity are a kind faction that have the role of caring for the earth and providing the people with food. The Dauntless faction are seen as brave and fearless so they are the protectors of the city.

The main character, Beatrice, discovers that she does not fit into any particular faction and is therefore: Divergent. She chooses dauntless to the dismay of her Abdegation family. She learns quickly after she joins dauntless that everything is not what it seems and life gets dangerous for her, those around her, and her family that she has left behind.

This a novel geared towards young adults. In thinking about what makes something a young adult novel, I think that the most important and obvious identifier is that the book has young adults or teenagers as the main focus of the books. Harry Potter is about teenagers who go to school together so that they can learn to become magicians when they grow up. Twilight is about a teenager who falls in love with another teenager with a bit of a drinking problem (The problem is that he likes to drink blood). The Hunger Games is about a teenage girl who has to fight to the death against other teenagers so she can bring honor and food to her family and neighbors. The Fault in Our Stars is a novel about two teenagers who fall in love (oh, and those teenagers have cancer).

Aside from a young adult book needing to be about teenagers, I think that it is fair to say that a young adult book, a successful one at least, provides a story where those teenagers overcome challenges in an extraordinary way and without the help of adults. Even The Fault in Our Stars, which is a completely realistic novel, involves two kids who find love in the most extraordinary circumstances. Without giving away too much of the story, Divergent is a novel where a teenager overcomes many challenges of varying degrees.

I have not read the other novels in the Divergent trilogy yet so I don’t want to pass too much judgment on the book yet because I don’t know where it is going but so far it is not favorite young adult book that I have read lately. I wouldn’t even put it in my top 3. It’s not that I didn’t like the book so much as I like some of the other books so much more (IMHO, John Green is the best out there right now).

I enjoyed the movie but was not blown away by it nor was I expected to be. Just like I thought that the book was pretty good also I feel the same way about the movie. I was impressed with how closely it stuck to the book with the exception of one major scene. There were some details that were changed or needed to be omitted but no more than I would expect. I enjoyed the cast, especially Ashley Judd as the mother, but I found it funny to see that Shailene Woodley’s brother in the film, Ansel Elgort, also plays her love interest in The Fault In Our Stars, which comes out in June.

I like that in the book and in the movie that Tris is not a super hero but simply a girl, a brave one, who fights for what is important to her: her individuality, her family, her freedom, and her love. While Tris is fortunate that she is born with the natural ability that makes overcoming the challenges easier, I feel that the main message of this book and movie is that courage, strength, and perseverance can take you far.

I learned that Veronica Roth wrote this novel while earning her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. Since she grew up not far from Chicago and attended college in Chicago, it became natural that she chose Chicago as the setting for her novels. Even before she graduated from college, the movie rights for Divergent had been bought by Lionsgate. She is currently 25 and has already had 3 hit books and all three will be made into movies. While the authors of The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga have put out other novels, along with Roth it will be fun to see if they can all repeat the success they have gained from the hugely popular series that they are known for.

I am thrilled with the direction that the young adult genre has taken in the last 10 years. Some books are better than others but any means to get kids, young people, adults even, to enjoy reading is to be celebrated. I would like to see the genre developed even more so that even within the genre there are sub genres that readers can choose from. It seems that fantasy or futuristic themes seem to rule the genre at the moment with novels about teenagers dealing with the tough realities of life as a slowly growing sub-genre thanks to the efforts of John Green, Stephen Chbosky, and Rainbow Rowell.

I recommend this book to anyone whom I know enjoyed The Hunger Games. While I liked The Hunger Games more than this novel, I know that others prefer Divergent. The narrator did a fine job with a performance that did not detract from the story neither did it blow me away. The movie was enjoyable but if it had come out during the summer in the midst of all of the blockbusters like Captain America then it probably would have been overlooked quickly.

Divergent Book Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

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