With the success of "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games," it’s no surprise that Hollywood will continue to churn out adaptations of the most popular Young Adult novels on the planet. But with the crash and burn of so many others ("Mortal Instruments," Beautiful Creatures" "I Am Number Four" "The Host") whether or not audiences will take to them is another thing.
Which is why I’m happy to say that "Divergent" is the best YA adaptation to date.
Based on the popular trilogy by Veronica Roth, this dystopian thriller is certainly an amalgamation of other work. There’s a bit of "Harry Potter," a large dose of "The Hunger Games" and a smattering of a of other vaguely futuristic stories. But it works.
The film is about a future where - after a war, of course - people are divided into five factions to help keep order to the world. There is Abnegation (the helpers), Amity (the good-hearted farmers), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the peacekeepers), and Erudite (the smart ones.) You are born into a faction, but at a certain age you are given a psychological test to see which faction you truly fall into. You are still able to choose your faction if you so desire, but you have to stay in that faction forever. This also means if you choose a faction outside of your family, you will never see them again.
For Beatrice (Shailene Woodley of "The Spectacular Now"), this test proves to be a rarity. Once it’s administered, she is found to have no clear faction. This makes her Divergent, which is something that is feared because a Divergent can’t be controlled. She is warned to go home and keep it quiet. When it comes time to choose her faction however, she makes the choice to be "Dauntless," much to her parents’ disappointment. It doesn’t help that her twin brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite - also outside of his family’s Abegnation faction.
Once she becomes a part of Dauntless (and changes her name to "Tris") she meets the ruthless leader Eric (Jai Courtney) and the tough instructor Four (Theo James). Along with new friends, she is put through a rigorous training that will determine if she truly has what it takes to be "dauntless." If she doesn’t, she is basically sent to live with the Factionless (read: homeless).
Amidst the training she not only has to hide her true results as a Divergent, but also starts to understand that something malevolent is going on between the factions, with the leader of the Erudite Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) a big part of it.