Much like Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, Veronica Roth’s Divergent is set to debut on the silver screen on March 21, as the first movie installment of her three book series.
Similar to the Hunger Games, Divergent is set in a dystopian United States, where children are born into one of five factions which include; Candor, where honesty is the best policy, Abnegation, meant for the selfless, Dauntless, where the brave reign supreme, Erudite, meant for the knowledgable and Amity, which is the most peaceful of the factions. However, unlike the Hunger Games distribution of Districts, these five factions are all encompassed in the boundaries of the city of Chicago.
While there are some similarities between the characters and storyline of the two series, the differences are greater, and the two are hard to compare.
Divergent is the story of a 16-year-old girl, Beatrice (Tris), who is faced with the most difficult choice of her life.
In the world Roth has created, one day out of the year is dedicated to the 16-year-olds of the city to take an aptitude test that is supposed to determine what faction they most identify with.
Tris and her brother, Caleb, are from an Abnegation family, which means they are instructed to be selfless, which has never really suited Tris. After the tests, the kids must choose the faction they wish to spend the rest of their lives in, this means, if they decide on a different faction from which they were born they will no longer see their parents.
The proctor administering Tris’ test and analyzing the results informs Tris that her test was inconclusive, and tells her she is Divergent, and she should not share that information with anyone.
With her test results not pointing her in a specific direction, Tris makes the choice to leave her family in Abnegation and join Dauntless. Her brother also decides to leave his family as he enters into the Erudite faction.
As the story continues all of the new recruits in each faction must go through an initiation, training period before they are officially accepted into their new faction. If recruits fail to continue, they will be dismissed and become factionless, which is basically becoming homeless.
Tris begins to learn what it means to be Dauntless and fights to make an impression on her Dauntless leaders. As the three stages of initiation continue, dissent among the Erudite faction stirs up allegations against leaders of Abnegation, causing current and former Abnegation residents to be attacked and picked on by all other factions.
Tris begins to assimilate into the Dauntless faction, all while keeping her true identity of Divergence a secret.
Through her journey some people figure her out and try to help her because they are Divergent as well.
Overall, Divergent is a coming of age story where Tris and all the other characters must learn how to work together despite some of their differences.
Roth writes in a way that is extremely easy to read, and is an entertaining read as well. While this series has a fair amount of violence I don’t consider this a mature read. It is a young adult series that I would suggest to ninth grade and up. I think maturity content is equal to that of the Hunger Games, and as the movies suggest, a PG-13 rating, I think that is a fair assessment to follow for these books.
With the success of the Hunger Games films so far I am excited to see how Divergent transfers into theaters. It will be very interesting to see how Chicago is transformed into a new, yet similar landscape. Many of the iconic landmarks of Chicago are kept in the book, for example, the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier plays a role in Divergent as well as the trains throughout the city.
I would give the Divergent series a 3.5/ out of 5-star rating overall, and I would give Divergent as the first installment of the series a 4.25/5 rating. Divergent was my favorite book of the series and kept me engaged the entire time. In my opinion the series seems to slowly drop off and become less and less climactic as the story moves along. While the ultimate climax of the story seems to happen toward the end of book 2, Insurgent, reading the third book, Allegiant, is still a must. These are not difficult reads in any way, and if you have the luxury of free time on your hands to sit down and read for an hour a day you will most likely finish these books within a week or two.
Michelle Meunier Staff Writer