Divergent is the latest young adult dystopian fiction story that is currently screening in cinemas and despite not-so-good reviews, it appears to be heading towards box office success.
In Divergent, a futuristic Chicago is divided into five factions, where people are segregated based on the one character trait that the person deems is most important. These factions are Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peace), Candor (truthful), Dauntless (bravery) and Erudite (intelligence). At the age of 16, every member of society must choose a faction and live the rest of their lives as a member of this faction.
But the story’s heroine, Beatrice (Tris) Prior, discovers that she is divergent, which means that she fits into more than one faction. As a result of this, her apparently utopic world starts to completely fall apart.
A 16-year-old Female Protagonist
Basically, both Divergent and the Hunger Games have a tough, 16-year-old female character as the story’s protagonist, who is attempting to overthrow the country’s government in some sort of way. Perhaps this may be why so many people are comparing the two, and touting Divergent as the “next Hunger Games.”
However, I think that this is where the similarities end. Veronica Roth has created a completely different world in Divergent, compared to Suzanne Collins’ one, in the Hunger Games. So even though the two stories may be targeting the same market (young adults), they should be allowed to stand on their own.
Utopia versus Dystopia
In the Hunger Games, it is apparent that Katniss lives in a world that is already falling apart. Right from the start of the story, we see Katniss hunting and struggling just to put food on the table.
But in Divergent, the world that Tris lives in starts out as a utopia, that is, a society that appears to be perfect. There is peace in society and the five factions are working very well together to maintain harmony amongst the citizens of Chicago.
No Love Triangle
In the Hunger Games, there is a love triangle between the female protagonist, Katniss, and her two love interests – Gale and Peeta.
But there is certainly no love triangle in Divergent. While there is romance, in the form of Tris falling for her hunky instructor, Four (Tobias), there is no other guy who is vying for her attention and the relationship between Tris and Four develops and grows stronger as the story progresses.
Physical manipulation versus mind games
In the Hunger Games, there is a lot of physical manipulation that comes into play to ensure power, especially enacted through the tributes battling to the death in the arena. Right from the beginning, Katniss has to use physical skills, such as her archery prowess and physical strength, to ensure her survival and fend off starvation.
But in Divergent, it is a very mental, rather than a physical game. The characters use mind games and serums rather than physical actions to get ahead and ensure their control. Different serums, such as fear, truth and even death, are used for injecting into victims – to ensure control of them – and these play a large part in Divergent. Evil dictator Jeanine Matthews also uses mind control and serums to take over the minds of the initiates – to show her authority. And in order for Tris to survive the Dauntless initiate training process (the faction that Tris ends up joining), she has to conquer her worst fears – through the use of a fear serum.
Tris is not a hero at the beginning
At the very start of the Hunger Games franchise, Katniss is already a hero in her own way. Even though she is only 16, she is her family’s breadwinner – hunting to put food on the table and also looking after her mother and sister. Then she sacrifices herself and volunteers as a tribute in the Hunger Games, so that she can save her 12-year-old sister from certain death.
But Tris is no hero at the start of Divergent. She is just an ordinary and shy girl who simply wants to fit into society. When she chooses to join Dauntless, it is only because Tris has always admired this faction and so she wanted to become a member too. In fact, Tris did so for her own selfish reasons, and her decision had nothing to do with a desire to protect a sibling, unlike Katniss. But for Tris, one thing simply led to another for her and she unwittingly found herself in a position to lead a revolution, simply because of her “divergence.”
I recently caught this movie without expecting it to be anything remotely like the Hunger Games, and I found it to be a very entertaining story. Right from the start, I felt that I could identify with Tris, a teenage girl who simply wanted to fit into society and be accepted by her peers.
The action may be a little slow at the beginning, but it gradually builds up into an action-packed climax that leaves you gripping the edge of your seat – literally clamouring for more.
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