Contributed by Alison Kurtzman
One choice can transform you.
Divergent tells the story of Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a sixteen-year-old living in post-apocalyptic Chicago. In this reality, from birth until the age of sixteen, children live with their parents in one of five factions, including Amity – the peaceful; Candor – the honest; Erudite – the knowledgeable; Dauntless – the brave; and Abnegation – the selfless. Both the story and book begin with Tris expressing trepidation about her upcoming Tris’ simulation test, which will decide what faction she belongs to. Tris is placed in Abnegation,with her parents and brother, Caleb, but feels that she is not selfless enough to belong.
Despite her concerns, she arrives at her test and drinks the serum, which brings her into mental scenarios to help place her. Tris wakes up expecting a result that will calm her, but instead is told the test didn’t work on her. She’s Divergent, meaning her mind works differently from others, and that she is in danger. Jeanne, the Erudite leader, is leading a hunt to get rid of all Divergents. In order to help her, her tester manually enters an Abnegation test result, and warns Tris to choose carefully at the choosing ceremony.
Tris chooses to join Dauntless, leaving behind her parents, and brother, who chooses Erudite. In Dauntless, Tris meets Four, the handsome, recruit trainer and a mutual crush develops quickly. Tris becomes friends with three other Dauntless transfers: Christina, Will, and Al, while making enemies with Peter, Molly, and Drew, the other transfers. With the help of Four, Tris must navigate the grueling Dauntless initiation, all while keeping her secret. When Jeanne finds out about Tris’ divergence, she’s forced into a fight to save herself and her loved ones.
The film version of Divergent was well-done. It stayed fairly close to the book’s plot and didn’t change too much. However, I believe they made a few deadly errors. Firstly, Tris’ relationship with her family was not fleshed out as much as it should have been. Her loyalty to her family and regret for leaving isn’t well explained in the movie, and I think that lessens the importance of a major plot point.
Additionally, while it is explained that Peter, Tris’ initiate rival, is mean and threatens her, he is much more evil in the book. There is an important moment in which Peter physically attacks one of the other initiates, forcing him to drop out of initiation due to his injury. This section was not in the film, and needed to be. While it is gruesome, it establishes Peter’s personality and loyalty – something very important both in the end, and, even more importantly, in the next two books.
While there were not many major plot changes in the film, I think the changes that were made, were poor decisions. It may have helped the film’s flow, but it will impact the audience’s understanding and feelings for the characters and plot in the next two parts of the Divergent series. My recommendation would be see the movie, but read the series as well, so you get the full story.