Book vs Movie: Divergent

This article is a collaborative piece between Sai (G10) and Saloni (G11).

When it was first released Divergent was immensely popular with the YA crowd, until the release of its terrible sequels, Insurgent and Allegiant. Regardless of the direction the series took, there’s no denying the fact that the first book was entertaining. The separation of people into factions was an interesting concept, and the characters were quite compelling. Besides, if Divergent hadn’t had merit, we wouldn’t have had a film in the first place.

But we digress.

In this post, we will be comparing the book to the movie. Warning: major spoilers ahead.

  • TTobias (Four) is twenty-four years old in the movie.
Image from Funky MBTI in Fiction

In the book, Tobias is eighteen years old and Tris is sixteen. However, in an interview at Comic-Con in 2013, Shailene Woodley (who plays Tris) revealed that the filmmakers had upped Tobias’ age to 24/25. This was done because Theo James was 28 years old while filming and looked too old to play an eighteen-year-old. Although it is never mentioned in the film that Tris is sixteen, a romance between a 24-year-old and a 16-year-old is weird (and slightly creepy)!

  • The initiation process
Image from PopFitLife

The movie portrays only the main tasks the transfers have to do and compete in, whereas the book describe the detailed process, almost day by day, and how Tris fits into those events and what her place is in the pack of transfers. We can clearly see the hidden intentions of the characters, especially Four’s. That’s where the romance starts, in the harsh battles for a place in Dauntless.  

  • Tris’ fear landscape
Image from Wikia

In the book, Tris has six fears in the fear landscape: being devoured by crows (her fear of being powerless), drowning, being attacked by black figures, burning alive, being raped and threats to her family. However, in the movie, she is shown as having only five fears.

  • Christina’s height
Image from Hypable

In the book, it is repeatedly mentioned that Christina is taller and more slender than Tris. In the movie, Tris is waaaaay taller than Christina. It’s not super relevant to the plot but it was something we both were strongly annoyed with, especially because at least a quarter of the book has Tris being jealous of Christina’s body shape.

  • Four is less vulnerable in the movie
Image from Frances and Lynne

In the book, Four shows his angsty teenage side along with his vulnerability, but that more emotional side is not as evident in the movie. This vulnerability makes him human (and gives us goooood scenes).

  • Initiation is not that easy
Gif from Buzzfeed

In the book, a transfer died jumping off the train and another became factionless because she couldn’t make the jump. There are fewer transfers in the book compared to Dauntless born and those who pass the first stage are only a few, unlike the movie with more thirty making the leap.

  • The final fear

Tris’s final fear is shown differently in the book than in the movie. In the book, Jeanine tells Tris to kill her family and she counts down. Tris’ family tells her that it is alright for her to do that, but Tris shoots herself to save her family at the end of the countdown. In the movie, she must kill her family to become Dauntless.

We also asked students for comments on Divergent. Here’s what they had to say.

“The Divergent series has a very creative concept that is based off a dystopian society. I liked the way it was written and how it wasn’t just packed with action and intensity, but there was some romance involved as well. For me, that was very much like the cherry on top and it was one of the reasons it appealed to me in the first place. Unfortunately, the first book was the only book that kept me on the hook. After that, I got bored and it went downhill from there.” – Janice G11

“For the book, I like it because it’s written in first person therefore I can actually get into the character’s head and see her thoughts and feelings. The movie was great but it lacked small details.” – Ployrung G10

“Initially, the plot line was confusing to grasp, since the writer was vague with her description of the world that the characters lived in. It was difficult to see why people were living a certain kind of way and did not mix with others, but the introduction of Factions within the book made it clearer. They were the groups that everyone within the book was sorted into, namely, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (caring and peaceful), Candor (truthful, honest), Dauntless (brave, daring) and Erudite (intellectual). The book became more interesting when there was a conflict within the main character, Beatrice’s, mind about choosing to stay with her parents in her origin Faction (Abnegation) or to move on to other, better choices. As Tris (Beatrice’s new name) became a part of Dauntless, there was a spark of romance between her and the group’s instructor, Four. Overall, the book is made more interesting with a lot of additions to the story, such as Tris discovering her mother’s Faction of origin, her family’s conflict with Tris’ older brother Caleb, the reason behind Four being named that way (not spoiling this stuff if you haven’t read it) and more. In conclusion, it’s a good book to read if you’re looking for a mix of dramatic and unexpected plot twists, action, thriller, and a little bit of romance.” – Avi G11

“The first time I read Divergent I absolutely adored it. I’ve always been obsessed with that kind of genre and the pacing was pretty fast and action packed. Though I wouldn’t consider it one of my favourite books ever I definitely had fun reading it and would recommend it if you like YA. But I don’t really recommend the movies – unless you’re watching it for Ansel Elgort or Miles Teller. I totally respect that.” – Petra G11

“Interesting enough concept, but the system has a lot of flaws, and I wasn’t invested in the characters.” – Por (KIS Graduate)

Despite having an insanely good looking cast (*cough* Ansel Elgort and Theo James *cough*), the film didn’t quite do justice to the books. Although, we did point out some minor flaws, such as Christina’s height and “Jealous Four”, factors like Tris’ fears and the initiation process were a huge part of the book which wasn’t executed well in the film. 

So, if you are one of those few people who are not yet familiar with the Divergent series we suggest you decide for yourself which tells the best story, the book or the movie. Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

Featured image from:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s