I just finished reading the fantastic final book in the Divergent trilogy; Allegiant. Thus it’s probably a great time to talk about the series as a whole and the recently released movie adaptation of the first book. There will be spoilers.
First the book series. Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant form the trilogy published between 2011 and 2013 by the (quite young) Veronica Roth. The series follows our young heroine Beatrice Prior, known mostly as Tris, as she navigates a slightly dystopian Chicago in our future.
I found this series one of the best I’ve read in a long time, Veronica Roth is definitely very talented, especially considering her age (she’s only 25). The first book centres around Tris’ coming of age story. She leaves her conservative home life in Abnegation, a faction of the community devoted to selflessness, for a new life in the thrilling Dauntless compound, a faction based around fearlessness and courage. Perhaps a slightly unsubtle metaphor about young people leaving behind their parents and expectations to follow their own hopes and dreams and carve out their own path, but a valid one nonetheless.
The descriptions of life in the Dauntless compound are vivid and exciting. I almost want to go there, except that I’d probably be too scared to. As part of her new life she meets the mysterious and handsome “Four” (yep, that’s his name). They fall in love and I become extremely happy because, guess what? There is no love triangle. Tris loves Four and Four loves Tris. Thank the heavens and the seven Gods and or other chosen deities, we have a young adult novel with no love triangle! This is pleasing for a number of reasons, the first being we have successfully avoided the first pitfall of YA cliches. Secondly, drama is not moved forward by our protagonist’s angst about who to be with and so it doesn’t become a central issue. This novel focuses on Tris’ various relationships with friends and family, her new life in a dangerous situation, and mysteries surrounding the powers that be. Basically, Tris is a well rounded young woman, and so is the story surrounding her. Also, I adore Tris and Four and if anyone came between that I might have to… well, I’d be very displeased.
The three books also feel distinctive; plot and character development move forward from A to B, and I never felt like we came were flung back to A for some reason. The inevitable comparisons with the other young-adult-dystopian-future-strong-female-heroine book The Hunger Games come in to play here. I love The Hunger Games, no doubt about it, but I did feel a certain amount of boredom with Catching Fire (the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy) due to the repetition of the same storyline. However, if we’re really going to put these two head to head, I might have to give “Better Movie Adaptation” to The Hunger Games. Seeing as we’ve had two Hunger Games movies, and only one Divergent movie as yet, it might be too soon to say. It also might just be because I love seeing the Capitol in full colour. Awesome segue from my discussion of the books to the movie though, right?
Firstly, casting. On the whole I love the casting of Divergent. Shailene Woodley was pretty much perfect as Tris. She’s also pretty much perfect I think. It was slightly awkward casting Ansel Elgort as her brother, seeing as he plays her lover in The Fault in Our Stars. At the screening I went to a trailer for TFiOS played beforehand, which was kinda funny actually. Theo James was great as Four, although he wasn’t quite what I expected. Is it something to do with his eyebrows, do they look too groomed? Does he look too “male model?” He certainly is gorgeous, but I’ve got no problems with that at all! He did do a spot on mix of brooding and puppy dog eyes, so I’m probably being too picky; he was truly wonderful. Kate Winslet does great “ice queen,” so I was very pleased with her casting as the composed yet ruthless Jeanine.
Set design and production were flawless, the only thing I had problems with visually was costume design. Actually, once the story moved to focus on the Dauntless compound it was fairly on the money, so my only real issue was the Abnegation costumes. Whilst they were all grey, as per instruction, I felt they were too decorative. Abnegation are supposed to reject any form of useless decoration, as they’re all about practicality and functionality. I found Tris’ Abnegation dress very pretty actually, but I’ll admit, that’s a small problem so I’ll hush.
I love Divergent, and I love the whole series so if you haven’t given them a shot yet I’d definitely recommend them. I’ll admit to hesitation beforehand, the dystopian YA thing seemed too much. But given its well roundedness, excellent characterisation, and absolutely gripping plot, it’s risen to be one of my favourite book series.
Oh and the ending; I’m still crying.