The Divergent series is amazing, sorry if you are out of the loop and don’t know what it is all about yet cause it’s awesome. In fact, you must seriously begin catching up – as always though; book before movie. Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant are another mega-popular series in the ranks of dystopian future young adult (YA novels) and amongst those that have also been turned into movies.
Why are YA books so popular? – Especially dystopian future novels
I have a theory. Right or wrong, I think many people will agree that, even as adults, many YA books connect with us about trying to figure out who you are as a person, learning to deal with grief, or love, or friendship, or betrayal.
The dystopian future also seems to speak to the distrust of the government and media in todays environment in a more extreme way. It usually begins with the youth who are not being told everything they should – in Divergent, it is that they are sort of forced to live in a faction, made to conform to the expectations of that group, and risk death if their thoughts and actions are not in line with that group, and you find out how much the “bad” guys are trying to control them, but also how much their own people (including Tris’s family) knew and never told. Eventually the kids in the dystopian futures become key figures and leaders in leading social change, alongside adults who support the cause.
Wanting to fit in and being willing to conform to do do because it is a risk to be different is more than a teenaged problem. I think that people of all ages have to struggle with that challenge. The main difference is that adults, in general, tend to be a little more secure in who they are – of course, I say that as an over simplification, because, as humans, I don’t think we ever lose that desire to fit in and be liked, we’re just more willing to do it on our own terms as we become more secure in who we are as individuals. For this reason, I think that this is why so many YA appeal to people of all ages.
In addition, I think that dystopian futures speak to people of all ages in other ways that YA novels from different genres do not. Look at Divergent – it speaks to social inclusion, such as with the factionless (those who don’t fit in), and to being different and non-conformity (such as being Divergent), and to having the courage to take on social change (such as defying the corrupt leaders and fighting selflessly for things to be different). Most of the time, I feel so blessed to live in Canada, it’s not like I live in a perfect country but it is far from the scariest or corrupt place to be in the world, however I feel it is (usually or almost always) very safe to partake in advocacy and social change in this country, while inspiring it in other countries. I feel like book like Divergent inspire people to be willing to expect better from society and engage in it, although maybe not through war as who the hell really wants to have to shoot people all the time.
The Depiction of Mental Health / Stability in the case of Caleb Prior and Peter
I had a discussion with a friend about this recently about how the depiction of Caleb and Peter is contradictory to the way that things really are. I don’t want to be to quick to label Peter as a psychopath or sociopath because I am not a mental health professional, but needless to say, Peter is senselessly cruel and lacks empathy. He hurts others in order to dominate and doesn’t care about the pain he causes.
In constrast, Caleb betrays his sister and his actions lead to many people dying and he thinks it was justified because he was the smart, logical one making the “right” choices. He helped the person who would have had Tris executed and did nothing to stop it.
What’s the difference between Caleb and Peter? I don’t even know, honestly, they’re both cruel in their own way, but Peter is just more open about it. Clearly, Caleb doesn’t really care about others either or else he would have felt bad and remorseful for almost helping his sister to her death (trying to make excuses and trying to be different don’t mean the same). The difference is that Peter doesn’t want to be like that. Peter hates that he likes hurting people and wants to be different. I find it an interesting case for how mental health and stability is shown, where the openly cruel person, who you think doesn’t care, truly hates being that way. You wouldn’t expect Caleb, the one who started as kind and thoughtful, to be the one who truly had no remorse for what he did.
I won’t get into it a lot. I just find how Veronica Roth chose to depict these characters as very interesting because I see their actions as super similar even though how they behave outwardly is so different, and only one of them wants to change (the one who is more obviously cruel).
The translation to a movie
They made Divergent and Insurgent into movies so far. Allegiant is next, which they are yet again splitting into 2 parts. Honestly, I am personally getting sick of these franchises splitting movies into extra parts that never belonged with how many parts the books were in (no one needed to make the Hobbit = 3, although I could have understood it being 2). Any ways, the books were actually translated nicely into a book. They beefed it up, like in Insurgent their is a slight conflict at the Amity community, which escalated much more in the movie. On the trains later, instead of Tobias/Four saying “I am Tobias Eaton” and basically making the tension be over, in the movie there ended up being a massive conflict and people died (oops). However, I am ok with these changes because it still held true to the way that the story was going; it wasn’t like they changed how the story was going to do that or added things that didn’t belong. Long ago, I accepted the kinds of changes that film-makers have to make in order to translate a book to a movie and it doesn’t really bother me as long as they are still faithful to the true messages, themes, characters, and story line. People have to do what they have to do in order to make the movie exciting, get ratings, and bring out what cannot be said the same as it was in writing.
All in all, my assessment of the Divergent series is a little different than normal. These are just a few of the things that I wanted to bring up now that I read the books (again). Hope you enjoyed my few insights.