“Divergent” was a series that managed to stay out of my line of vision up until the point where the commercials for the first movie came out, at which point I got very interested. I soon found out from one of my friends that she read all three books and enjoyed the first two but after reading the third was totally crushed and cried about it for days. Naturally this peaked my interest and I decided to give the series a try. Sadly the library waitlist for the books was absolutely ridiculous so the idea had to be put off for a while and settled for watching the movie version instead, which I really loved despite the mixed and mostly negative reviews. But a couple days ago I got the chance to watch the Insurgent movie and that finally made me decide to try getting my hands on the books and giving them a read, mostly because the ratings for the Insurgent movie were even lower than they were for Divergent.
I’m not sure whether it’s because I watched the movie first or not, but I came to a very mixed conclusion/reaction: firstly, the books and movies felt like they were well done but should not be compared to each other as they felt like they were pursuing two rather different goals. Secondly, I liked the book but didn’t love it, and found that I had more issues/saw the shortcomings of the book more readily than I did in the movie. Thirdly, I thought the movie was more successful than the book which, in the end, felt a bit too dry for me. “Divergent” is a book that begs for a movie adaptation of it, much like “The Hunger Games”, but the latter reads much more easily. All three books in The Hunger games trilogy read super-fast and were energetic and engaging through the page, whereas I didn’t feel as excited reading “Divergent” in comparison to watching the movie and to the other series.
There were things I liked more in the book than in the movie and vice-versa. For instance I think Four’s character in the book was perfect, well developed with a good balance of cold and emotional, and I wish the directors hadn’t chopped up his character as much as they did in the movie, for although I loved the movie version as well, the original book version had more depth to it. I also think that to some degree the whole middle section of the book that shows how Tris interacts with other Dauntless initiates is perfect for the story development, something there wasn’t enough of in the movie. However for me, the movie did a better job in explaining the factions than the book did, and the story line felt more whole and well-paced than in the book, where the ending felt too rushed and Jeanine’s character not as developed, although I suspect that won’t be the case in the next book. I can go on and list pros and cons of both – the book explained Tris’ test results whereas the movie didn’t, but in the movie her Divergence seemed more logical than in the book. The trials made more sense in the movie than in the book, for me.
The biggest issue I had though was with Tris’ character, and I’m not sure if I’m being too harsh a critic on this one, but when I started seeing her begin to turn into another mushy main character that pins for the main male counterpart of the story, I felt myself sigh. The movie Tris was strong. I could feel her determination and her balance of fear and strength. The romance in the book was great, but I think it was a little overdone. It downplayed Tris’ character a bit in my opinion and it was a difficult thing to see after loving Tris in the movie.
I understood the faction idea in both versions of the story and can definitely see the argument for the issue. I know some reviewers disliked it, calling it Nazi-like and extreme in a dictator-like proportion, but I think it’s a wonderful concept that makes no attempt in trying to hide the complex and very problematic human nature that we live with daily, and throughout the book I tried placing myself into a faction as well and constantly agreeing with Four’s words: I want to be brave and selfless and intelligent and honest and kind. I agree with the logic and the message of the plot, especially when Four talks about the original Dauntless manifesto and the original goal of the Dauntless, the belief in ordinary acts of bravery that is much more important than the obsession for power and ruthlessness that the current Dauntless faction mistook for bravery.
I enjoyed the book and completely understand why people loved it. To me it was just a nice read that wasn’t up to par with my personal tastes, mostly due to some things I disliked in the book and the string of missing details/loopholes that kept sticking in my mind while I read. I’m a visual person who loves sensorial appeal, which is why I prefer the movie version. It somehow feels more complete to me, and although there are many things that have been cut out or edited in comparison to the original, I felt more moved by it than the book, especially the scene where Tris is on the zip line. The music and the ability to see the scene rather than read it was powerful. I’ll let the diehard fans battle this series out and argue either or. This is one series where I can’t complain or make any assertions. I’m happy to sit on the sidelines and quietly rewatch the movie while still enjoying the book, seeing the validity in both sides of the argument.