‘Divergent’ film disappoints

One choice can transform you.
One choice can destroy you.
Once choice will define you.


There are five choices. You only get one. And if you can’t pick, you’re as good as dead.
You take a test to guide your decision. That makes life much easier, doesn’t it?

There are some who don’t fit anywhere, and even fewer who fit everywhere.
They call it “Divergent.”

This dystopian novel was the debut for author Veronica Roth in 2011. Similar to “The Hunger Games,” the setting takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where the civilians have created a new society to prevent wars by segregating five areas of living, called factions, based on the human characteristics of kindness, intelligence, honesty, selflessness, and bravery. Recently, the hit novel found its way into theatres, establishing its popularity among young adults.

The story focuses on 16-year-old Tris, who has never felt like she belonged in her own faction, Abnegation, but always admired the bravery of the Dauntless.
When it’s time for her to take her aptitude test before deciding where she’ll live for the rest of her life, she finds out she’s suitable for three factions instead of one. Uncommon, this is a trait of one called a Divergent.

The Divergent are sought out by the government, because since they can’t be defined by just one disposition, they pose a threat to the “perfect” structure of society that was developed.

Behind the action and romance scenes of the book, there are deeper themes that reflect tendencies in human nature, the struggles within a society, fears, and the searching for one’s identity at a young age.

Tris, who ditches her plain name Beatrice after she leaves Abnegation for Dauntless, is portrayed as an insecure girl who doesn’t know her place in the world yet and needs to find answers, especially when she finds out she’s Divergent.

She has lived her whole life in selflessness, sneaking glances at her reflection in spoons because her faction prohibits acts of vanity.

Though she never felt like she could be completely selfless, she always marveled at the daring acts of the Dauntless.

Sadly, the movie leaves out major scenes, and replaces them with disappointments.
Although the movie brings to life the brutal fights, cool action scenes, and great actors to portray great characters, it was missing key elements that made the story worth the read.

Tris’ insecurities were not made apparent in the film and this important part of the story line was disregarded.

In one scene in the novel, Tris is being abducted by Peter, her rival, Drew, Peter’s friend, and, surprisingly, Al, one of her closest friends. Peter molests her, which heightens Tris’ insecurities, creating her fear of intimacy that appears in her final fear simulation.
The movie completely skips over this part, and without first reading the book, the importance of this theme is not connected.

Many times, these holes in the plot of the movie undermine the depth that the book provides.

In the book, Al suffers from frequent nightmares and Tris is kept up by his sobs. He develops a crush on Tris, and when Tris refuses his apology after his betrayal, his depression worsens. The next day, he’s found in the bottom of a chasm.

While the movie keeps his betrayal, Tris’ refusal, and his suicide, Al’s continuing and worsening depression and his feelings for Tris aren’t made evident.

The purpose of Al’s eventual downfall in the book gives you a glimpse of how horrible Dauntless initiation is and the pressure it puts on the initiates. If you can’t keep up, you’re cut. Once you’re cut, you’re factionless. And as Al’s name dwindled under the red line of initiate ranks, his depression consumed his rationality and amplified his fears.

It’s the typical case for readers everywhere: the book overpowers the movie.

I suggest for future readers to watch the movie first, because reading the book later will provide you with the depth that comes from Tris’ insight and clear up any ambiguities.
If you’ve only seen the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book. You won’t be disappointed.