Common sense should tell us that society is not going to function properly if we divide people according to their predominant characteristic, be that peacefulness (Amity), intelligence (Erudite), honesty (Candor), selflessness (Abnegation) or bravery (Dauntless). Surely the wheels of civilisation are only going to turn smoothly if each and every one of us combines a little of each of these humane qualities? But in Veronica Roth’s post-apocalyptic Chicago, being Divergent, not fitting neatly in to a faction, makes one a danger.
‘Insurgent‘ continues the story of Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), an Abnegation-born Divergent. She and her boyfriend Four (Theo James), as well as her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are hiding out in the living quarters of Amity, having escaped from an attempt to obliterate Abnegation. A search of Tris’ mother’s home reveals a small, pentagonal prism which is relayed to the central headquarters of Jeanine, the leader of Erudite. Jeanine knows that this mysterious canister contains a message from the Founders. She is equally certain that its secrets will only be revealed when a Divergent manages to complete the mind simulations of all five factions. The order goes out to hunt down every Divergent; Tris’ life is in danger.
This was a great start to the Easter holidays; we splashed out on a family cinema trip (well, at £30 a time, it feels like a luxury!) and immersed ourselves in the movie. In places the film is emotionally hard-hitting; both my daughter and I cried at a scene between Tris and her departed mother and a love scene between Tris and Four is depicted movingly. There is not much light relief, other than when Tris cuts off her long hair with her mother’s antiquated shears and manages to reveal a strand-perfect, highlighted and elegantly coiffed pixie cut. But hey, it is Hollywood! This is fast-paced and engaging entertainment and I can’t wait for the final part of the story, ‘Allegiant‘.
New York, New York – so good they named it twice.
Divergent, Divergent – so good we watched it twice! Seriously, we viewed it twice in 2 days.
The 2014 film adaptation of the novel features Shailene Woodley as Tris and Ansel Elgort as her brother, Caleb (the pair are also cast opposite one another in The Fault in our Stars). Four is played by Theo James (a local-born lad, went to Aylesbury Grammar) and the movie also stars Ashley Judd (Natalie, Tris’ mother) and Kate Winslet. Directed by Neil Burger, it is a faithful adaptation of the novel, although the book goes into far more detail about the friendships and tensions which develop between the Dauntless initiates. I also found that, somewhat surprisingly, the violence in the written version was more graphic than on-screen. This film has a great soundtrack, with Ellie Goulding, Snow Patrol and Kendrick Lamar.
Even if you have not read the book, this is a great action movie, with plenty of food for thought. When I was younger, I don’t remember watching many films aimed at teenagers which made me think that deeply about anything – there was not much between ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Grease’! Tris’ tests as part of the Dauntless initiation certainly made me reflect upon my own attitudes to fear, whether mental or physical. I’ve never been in a situation where I faced real physical danger (unless you count getting snow-bound in my Ford Fiesta on the A90 in Forfar), mental fears are more my forte. I’m frightened of failing, of exposure, of humiliation, frightened to even try sometimes. Beating our inner demons seems to require far more courage than overcoming more tangible ones.
Dauntless never give up. Tris makes the cut, but I am not sure I would.
‘Divergent‘ was released on DVD on 5 August 2014 and although I’d heard of it, I’ve neither read it nor seen the film. Having said that, quite a few teenage bookworms have raved about it to me, so I wanted to see what the fuss is about. Typically for me, I decided to read the book!
In a dystopian future, society is divided into five factions, the members of which epitomise Selflessness (Abnegation), Bravery (Dauntless), Intelligence (Erudite), Honesty (Candor) and Peacefulness (Amity). Beatrice Prior has been born and raised in Abnegation but, like all teenagers, there comes a point when she has to decide whether to remain in the faction of her upbringing, or forsake her family and join another. The decision is hers, but she is subjected to an aptitude test to identify her natural inclinations and so guide her choice. Beatrice’s test results are inconclusive. She will not fit neatly into any of the pre-defined boxes. This fact marks her as Divergent – unconventional and uncontrollable. A threat to the faction rulers.
Comparisons with ‘The ‘Hunger Games‘ is inevitable and most agree that Katniss and her contemporaries are more inspiring than Beatrice (Tris) and hers. I am not about to disagree, however that may be because the ‘Hunger Games’ came first? I enjoyed ‘Divergent‘. It is a bit gruesome and violent in places, but Tris is a gutsy heroine; there is a bit of love interest as well as a coming-of-age perspective, conspiracy theories and power struggles.
Once I’d finished the book, I felt compelled to take the online aptitude test to discover the faction to which I would belong. My instincts told me I would be dyed-in-the-wool Amity, but was I surprised by my result….