Divergent intrigues with great story and decent cast

8 May

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I read Divergent by Veronica Roth a while ago, a few months before the movie came out. It is in the same vein as the Hunger Games, but not in the same league. While the premise is almost just as fascinating, unfortunately Roth isn’t the same caliber writer as Collins and therefore her characters aren’t as well rounded. I was extremely frustrated by the end of the book because Roth appeared to be knocking off characters right and left for the sake of her unquenchable blood lust apparently. Uhh spoilers I guess, but you don’t know who soooo….

Divergent takes place in a dystopian future where people live in one of five factions which emphasize one characteristic over all others. The five factions are split into groups which value kindness, honesty, selflessness, knowledge, or fearlessness. Each of these factions working together should create an ideal society, if only human nature could be denied (spoiler: it can’t.) Beatrice is the hero of our story and she is anxious for the day she has to choose which faction she will live with and dedicate the rest of her life to. Luckily there is a test which will guide her decision through hallucinated scenarios in which Beatrice will find which quality she embodies most. The test does not go normally and her results are inconclusive, making her a danger to the authorities which value simplifying people and creating a strict order above all else. Beatrice is forced to make a choice without much guidance and her decision takes her down a dangerous path that challenges and frees her. 

I really enjoyed this movie, which I was a little surprised about because I was not fond of the book. I actually didn’t even read the last couple pages and had no interest in pursuing the two other books in the series. However such an interesting premise, with decent screenwriters, good actors and decent production design was quite satisfying to watch. I’m not overly fond of the new “it” girl Shailene Woodley but she is a competent actress and brings as much to Beatrice as the script will allow. One of the things I liked about this movie is that after Beatrice chooses her faction, she encounters a lot of hardship. She isn’t some genius savant that is immediately good at everything, impressing her new community. She’s actually pretty terrible at her new life but this really made me root for her. Of course she had to be a special little snow flake in some way but at least we get to see her butt kicked around a bit first. 

Some people may say this is the poor man’s Hunger Games, what with the Hunger Games boosting a cast of Oscar winners/nominees, grossing millions and being first to draw mainstream attention in the now wildly popular YA dystopian genre. However Divergent has some great moments and an interesting enough plot for this critic to recommend. I might also add the Ken was excited to note that this book/movie does not have a love triangle. Personally I can never get enough of a good love triangle but it was nice to see that archetype absent for this tale. 

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