Saturday, March 22, 2014

Divergent: Movie vs. Book

via goodreads
Any time a book is made into a movie, there is the possibility for great disappointment.  On the spectrum of best adaptation ever to worst, Divergent falls easily on the "good" side, but there were some things that I felt were missing.  I'm not going to put spoilers in white font, because that would just be a lot of invisible text.  So you've been warned.  SPOILERS AHEAD!  Don't read my comments until you read the book or see the movie, or both.

Book thoughts:
I read Divergent in August of 2012.  I loved it.  My biggest problem was that I kept imagining Tris as Katniss.  I didn't write a review at the time, and I don't remember many details about what I liked or didn't like.  I did think the Chicago setting was cool, because it was interesting to imagine it in the state of decay Roth describes.  I also liked how the romance was there, but more peripheral to the main story, and no love triangle!

Movie thoughts:
Just as a movie, I thought it was pretty good.  It's definitely a dramatic action movie aimed at the tween/teen crowd, but it kept my attention.  Here are some of my thoughts about the movie in general, and how it compares to the book:

  • Shailene Woodley as Tris was fabulous.  I haven't seen her in anything else, so I had no idea what to expect.  I loved her!  I think she captured the tough/timid combination of Tris perfectly.  I'm really excited to see her in TFIOS!   
  • Theo James as Four was also great.  I mean, look at him.  My only complaint is that he is obviously so much older than Tris.  In the book, she's 16 and he's 18.  Shailene can pass for a teenager, but Theo cannot.  They had great chemistry, but it seemed a little creepy.  While the movie didn't really specify their ages, I read somewhere that he's supposed to be 24.  So a 24yo instructor seduces 16yo student, and that's just fine?  I mean, even in the dystopian future, it doesn't sit well with me!  
  • The plot - despite some changes, I think the movie really captured the point of the book.  Most of the things they added or removed made sense to me - either in the interest of time, or the fact that we can't just read their thoughts.  Just a few examples where I think they messed this up:
    • Peter in the book is super evil.  Like, he stabs another initiate (Edward) in the eye because he's jealous of the first place spot.  He also orchestrates the attack on Tris, and is sexually harassing her throughout the training.  Edward isn't even in the movie (other than his name on the leaderboard), and Peter isn't shown as involved in the attack on Tris.  Movie Peter is devious, but in a more "disney bully" way, if that makes sense.  I didn't hate him like I should.  That's important to their relationship going forward.  
    • Al is also diminished so much in the movie, that I don't know why we are supposed to care that he betrays Tris.  It's obvious that Tris is upset about it, but we'd basically seen them talking a couple times and they didn't seem like particularly close friends. 
    • Also, Will and Christina are very much a couple in the books.  And they are also really close friends with Tris.  I don't think the movie even specified that they were an item, and although Tris is upset with she shoots Will, I'm not sure it made a whole lot of sense (without the book details), why she was more upset about him than about all the other brainwashed Dauntless soldiers she shot. 
    • Jeanine is more involved.  I know, I know - we need more screen time for Kate Winslet.  But it seemed like she was in charge of everything when she ran the choosing ceremony, and then they make a huge deal of how she's taking over.  She already seems like the president of everything - what's the big deal?
    • In both the movie and the book, Tris's mom dies saving her daughter.  In the movie, they are in a firefight and she gets shot.  In the book, Jeanine used the information from Tris's fear landscape and puts her in a tank filling with water.  Then her mom shows up and saves her, and then is killed.  I thought that was an important part of the book, since it shows how Jeanine used the simulation info against everyone.  Same end result, but I think they missed showing that.  
  • Dauntless initiation was a little bit tamer in the movie.  Nobody missed the jump from the train and fell to their death, Edward wasn't there to get attacked and leave for Factionless life, and Tris miraculously recovered from all her injuries immediately (maybe she's a mutant, like Wolverine?).  It was still obviously tough, but not quite as graphic.  Maybe they were trying to keep it in the PG-13 zone? 
  • Abnegation folks are supposed to be completely opposed to vanity.  So the perfectly groomed eyebrows and expertly applied mascara on Tris and her mom - kind of distracting!  How do they pluck their eyebrows without looking in the mirror?  I guess maybe they help each other out?  It seemed like they could have skipped the thick mascara at least!  
  • It was kind of confusing how Tris and her mom had to be very sneaky to chat in the food delivery scene, but then she just hops on the train and waltzes right into the Erudite compound to talk to her brother.  So is it totally fine for factions to meet up?  Or completely illegal/dangerous?  The book gets around this with a family visiting day that makes more sense.  

And just because I'm a nerd, I'll leave you with my results in the "what faction are you?" test. 

I would have guessed that I'd get Erudite, Candor, and Amity pretty evenly.  There's absolutely no way I should have gotten Dauntless.  I mean, if by some miracle, I was able to jump on and off the train appropriately to get to headquarters, I would have just cried when they yelled at me to fight someone.  They'd probably throw me in the pit right away and be done with it.  It's more likely that I'd miss the train in the first place and be factionless.  Who am I kidding - it's more likely that I would refuse to cut my hand or faint at the Choosing Ceremony.  They don't really explain what would happen if you do that.  Probably factionless.  At least I'd get to wear more than one color all the time!

Anyway, have you read the book or seen the movie?  What did you think?


  1. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I read the first book and LOVED IT. I am hoping to see the movie in the next couple of weeks!!