Over winter break I read the “Divergent” series. I had heard good things and knew
that a movie was quickly approaching. I found a quiet corner and less than twenty-four hours later I was planning a trip to the bookstore for the sequel. The story line was good, the concept was interesting, and the characters were strong. I quickly devoured the second and third books over the next several days and after that I had nothing to do but wait for the movie to come out three months later.
The series is set in a futuristic and dystopian version of Chicago. Society is divided into five factions, each faction holds one principle (intelligence, kindness, honesty, bravery, or selflessness) above all others. Our female protagonist, Tris (played by Shailene Woodley), is preparing to take a test to tell her which faction she should chose. But Tris’s test tells her she doesn’t fit into any one faction, a rare situation called Divergence. Tris cannot tell anyone, because those who don’t fit into the faction system threaten it. Tris chooses Dauntless, the faction that values bravery, and begins on a course of intense physical and mental training to make her stronger and allow her to face her fears.
Along the way she makes friends as well as enemies, the most formidable of which is Jeanine (played by Kate Winslet) who wants to eliminate all Divergents and cease political power. Tris suddenly finds herself and Four (her trainer and eventual love interest, played by Theo James) in a battle to save her old faction and protect herself and other Divergents from Jeanine’s wrath.
Overall, I felt that Tris’s world was brought to life and Veronica Roth’s book was done justice. Most importantly, the strength of Tris’s character both physically and mentally was not downplayed.
In today’s society, girls want to be beautiful, thin, and well liked, but I would love to see a society where young women revel in feeling strong, both physically and emotionally, where girls feel capable of holding their ground and know that their “no” will be respected, as Tris’s “I don’t want to go too fast” is. Roth wrote a character that I hope more girls will look up to, and Woodley portrayed that same heroine beautifully on the screen.
So was the movie a perfect reproduction of the book? No, of course not – movies never are. The film was, however, fast paced, interesting, and well acted. My recommendation? Go and see it. See it for the action, for the characters, and for the morals, or just because it’s an enjoyable movie. You should also read the book, because movies are never as good.