Surprise! It’s time for another young adult book series to be turned into a movie.
Fans of The Hunger Games called the Katniss-infused series the next Harry Potter, and fans of Divergent (the newest young adult book-turned-film) call Divergent the next Hunger Games. How far can this new trail of hit, young adult series continue?
The Harry Potter series was phenomenal, grossing $8 billion worldwide. The Hunger Games series has done excellent for a movie series, but only well in comparison to Harry Potter: making a cool $1.5 billion worldwide on the first two films, with two more to go. Unfortunately for Divergent, a movie that will sadly always be compared to its predecessors, it can only be predicted to do alright when compared to Hunger Games and mediocre when compared to Harry Potter.
Divergent introduces a new dystopian society that forces young adults to take an aptitude test and later choose (either agreeing with their scores or not) which faction they should belong in for the rest of their lives. People in this world only get to be one thing: selfless (Abnegation), intelligent (Erudite), brave (Dauntless), peaceful (Amity), or honest (Candor).
If you do not fit into one of these categories or if you leave your faction, you are “factionless”—essentially homeless and jobless with no chance of ever escaping that situation.
Divergent follows the story of Tris (Shailene Woodley), a teenage girl raised in Abnegation. When she takes her aptitude test, she is told she belongs in three categories: she is selfless, intelligent, and brave. The computer is unable to categorize her making her unique, and, in this case, divergent.
Another story about another very special teenager manages to stay refreshing because Tris is never sure of herself. Unlike Katniss in The Hunger Games or Hermione in Harry Potter, Tris shows fear. She seems to be aware that she is in over her head, and she tries at various moments to back out of her choices, practically begging to be allowed to go back to her old, safe life.
As an audience, we get to watch Tris grow. We get to watch her get knocked out during both of her on-screen, boxing-match practice fights against larger opponents—something Katniss would never have allowed to happen. We cheer her on from the bottom of the pack, watching as she barely manages to scrape through the physical tests she is put through.
Tris’s normality is not the only refreshing part of this film; although romance is present in the film, it seems to take a back-burner to the dystopian plot. Much to the disappointment of anyone who likes looking at the male body, Theo James, (who plays Four, Tris’ love interest) only appears shirtless a few times in the film. While there was definite chemistry between James and Woodley, it was incorporated in small doses, allowing the film to be more than another young adult romance movie—and, God-forbid, another young adult love triangle.
I want to be honest: if you are not a fan of young adult films or if you have not read (and liked) the book Divergent, you will probably not like this film. Unfortunately, it does fit yet another trope, making the movie feel packed with clichés just because so many movies just like it—successes and failures—have come before it in the last few years.
But, if you like hunky guys, powerful female characters who are revered for being special, a constant stream of fight scenes, a bit of shirtless snogging, and an overarching plot that is probably very confusing for anyone unfamiliar with the book, then give Divergent a try.
Photo by Lionsgate