What You Need to Know About Divergent Before You See the Movie

Divergent posterWhenever my daughter sees a trailer for the movie Divergent, she says, “I really want to see that.  It looks good.”

I think what she really means is Theo James, who plays one of the main characters, looks good. Alas, Divergent is rated PG-13, so I won’t let her see it yet.  Besides, she hasn’t even read the books, and in my mind, one MUST read the book before watching the movie.

In case you don’t follow that motto, or you’ve read the books and need a refresher, here are some things you should know about Divergent, the book, before you see the movie:

  • It’s dystopian fiction, so expect an oppressive government, a dysfunctional society, and a futuristic/apocalyptic setting.  Throw in a serious threat to survival of the characters.
  • Divergent is set in futuristic Chicago, and the people of the society are divided into five factions based on the virtues of abnegation, amity, candor, erudite, and dauntless.  For a complete definition of each faction, consult my faction vocabulary post.  The quick and dirty synonyms are selfless, peaceful, honest, intelligent, and brave.  Visit IMDB to see a cool factions infographic.
  • Only people from the abnegation (selfless) faction are allowed to hold political office.  (As you can expect, this causes  problems.)
  • Those who fail to assimilate into a faction become “factionless”- the people living on the margins.  (More problems)
  • Some special people show aptitude for more than one faction, and they are labeled divergent and are regarded as dangerous by “authorities.”  (Big problem for some characters.)
  • The story is dark and sometimes brutal.  However, the violence isn’t as disturbing as the sadistic plot of The Hunger Games, in which a corrupt government pits children against each other in a battle to the death.  In Divergent, conflict arises between the factions as different groups struggle for power.   That doesn’t sound much different from our own world, does it?
  • The characters must undergo “simulations” for training and assessment.  This requires being injected IN THE NECK with various serums.   *cringing*

Divergent What I liked about the book

Divergent has lots of action and a compelling lead, named Tris.  She’s small, yet strong, and struggling to understand where she fits in.  The brutality of her society troubles her, and yet she must engage in violence to survive.  Good internal conflict there.

Divergent provokes questions about government and society, the thin line between protection and oppression.  I was especially interested in the idea of factions.   Does a society need people who embrace the five virtues?  Why these five?  Should only selfless people rule?  Which faction I would choose to join if I were Tris?  Definitely NOT dauntless.  No jumping onto trains for me, thanks.

What I didn’t like about the book

Divergent is heavy on action and plot twists and light on character development.  It feels like a lot of other dystopian reads with a female lead enduring a choosing ceremony and then going on to fight for survival and the people she loves.  I also didn’t like the ending.  It’s basically just a page break before the next book begins.

I do plan on seeing the movie, and I’ll tell you about it soon.

Have you read Divergent?  Did you like it?  Did I miss anything?  Do you plan to see the movie?  



Julia Tomiak

I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.


  1. My daughter saw this with her buddies yesterday and they all LOVED it. It sounds very Hunger Games, a protagonist that’s not at all stereotype feminine and can kick butt…long gone are the Little House on the Prairie moments…sigh 🙂 I should have read this yesterday!

    1. I’m taking my son to see Divergent this weekend. I’m liking the new feminine lead we’re seeing in movies- even Disney is joining in! We watched Frozen over the weekend (me once, my 12 year old daughter six times. Literally, six), and I’m impressed that the Elza and Anna weren’t dependent on any knights in shining armor to save them, and that the movie celebrated a love besides romance.

  2. Hi! I’m 13 years old and I went to see the movie Divergent. There really isn’t any adult content that i noticed and no sexual references, like the book. It was kept very classy with a little romance. I think you should let your daughter see it!
    I do recognize that yes, there are guns used but it is not very graphic and I really enjoyed how they put the movie together comparing it to the book!

    1. Thanks for the input! I’m glad to hear that you think they did a good job bringing the book to the screen. My daughter appreciates your recommendation on her behalf, but she’s still gotta read the books first! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I recently read the entire Divergent Series while on a business trip. The books were great reads on long flights. This is a great summary of Divergent, Julia. I liked the book, but I was really disappointed with the final installation. I’m sure I’ll see the movie at some point. Maybe when it comes out on DVD. I still haven’t seen the second movie in Hunger Games trilogy. If I could get my little one to go to bed at a decent hour, maybe we’d rent it!

    1. I haven’t heard great things about the last book in the series- my husband literally grumbled every time he read it! So I haven’t tackled Allegiant yet. I also haven’t seen Catching Fire yet – time has been an issue for us too. I have heard lots of positive things about it though. Maybe once your business schedule settles down?

  4. I have not read Divergent. For whatever reason, the plot does not appeal to me. I have read many descriptions of it — from people who loved it — and I just think: Not for me. I liked The Hunger Games, so I have nothing against dystopians in general. (My favorite book as a teenager was This Perfect Day by Ira Levin.)

    However, I was going to take my daughter to see it, because she is such a big fan. But that’s not happening now. She ditched me and is going to see it with a friend.

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