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‘Divergent’ is a solid adaptation

March 26, 2014 - Pam Rodgers

Books that are turned into movies are fascinating to me. I love movies, and I love to read. So anytime these two habits align is an excellent experience. Well assuming the movie makers don’t ruin a perfectly good book.

I don’t have as much time to read as I like, so often times I am forced to read the book after the movie comes out. I try my best to stay ahead of the curve, so when I heard they were making “Divergent” into a movie, the book moved to the top of my reading list.

The setup of the world is an interesting one. It’s similar to “Hunger Games.” It’s set in Chicago in a dystopian society after some major incident occurred that destroyed life as we know it. It’s also written in first person from the lead female character’s point of view. Hmm, sounds like another book I read recently.

The comparison isn’t a bad thing. I love the “Hunger Games” trilogy. I read all three novels in a week. I was hoping to do the same with the “Divergent” series. However, the odds were not in my favor. Every time I would get started on the book, something else in my life would pop up and distract me. Usually, I’m good at blocking out the “noise” if I’m really into something, but I couldn’t in this case.

I liked the book well enough, but maybe because it was so similar to “Hunger Games” I didn’t allow myself to fall completely into the world. Although there has to be more to it than that. As similar as it is to “Hunger Games,” the story in "Divergent" has a uniqueness to it that was fascinating. There is a lot of material that requires thought and reflection. This is perhaps the biggest reason I didn’t dive in the world as completely.

Regardless of the reasons why I didn’t finish the book as quickly as originally planned, I set a goal to read the book before the movie hit theaters in March. I accomplished the goal and then some. I finished book one and I’m five chapters away from the end of book two.

So, last weekend I was all geared up to watch the film version. Overall, I thought the movie was very well done. Shailene Woodley did an excellent job in her portrayal of Tris. She isn't supposed to be an "action" hero. I thought Woodley did a good job of showing her vulnerability in her new surroundings. Theo James was perfect as Four. He has such a complicated history, and he did a good job portraying that. He isn't bad to look at either. Five points to Dauntless (I may be mixing too many YA novels here).

The world in "Divergent" is a much darker one than we live in. In order to bring that across, the movie is very bleak at times. No one is ever "safe" in this world. Especially as you get to the end of movie and major plot line begins to surface. Tris is in over her head and she knows it. But you still root for her to find a way to overcome her challenges and bring a little triumph to the divided society.

The movie stayed fairly true to the book. There are always cuts, but I felt the movie story line accomplished the same things as the book’s plot. I was glad that it did well at the box office ensuring that “Insurgent” will be filmed.

I went to the movie with my sister, who has not read the book, and she really liked the movie (which is exactly what she did with the "Hunger Games" series). Now she wants to read the book and find out what she’s “missing out on.”

So whether you’ve read the book or not, give the movie a try. It raises a lot of questions about human society. It sets up the diverse and complicated world that drives the rest of the series. You at least need to go and see Shailene Woodley knock this performance out of the park. The whole story rides on her, and she was perfect!



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