Posted March 31, 2014 by in What's New in YA?

Page to Screen: A Bookkaholic’s Review of the Divergent Movie


I’ve been super excited about all of the YA novels being made into films this year, and Divergent has been one of the most hyped franchises to hit the silver screen. The moment has finally arrived; Divergent hit theaters across the US last week. Did the movie do the book justice and live up to the hype? This is one Bookkaholic’s look at this blockbuster film.

Overall Appeal

You guys, the Divergent movie was filled with adrenaline. Just like the book, the fear and danger kept pulses racing throughout most of the story. In fact, a lot of the most exciting moments were so much more intense when experienced visually. Maybe this is just because I have a fear of heights, but the intensity of the danger the Dauntless willingly put themselves into was crazy. The ferris wheel scene, the train jumping, the Dauntless chasm, the fear landscapes, and the Sears Tower zip line scenes were  incredible to see.

Clocking in at 2 hours 19 minutes, there is a lot for this movie to accomplish in order to set up the sequels. Moviegoers who have not read the novels may not appreciate the many elements in the film that do not seem to be important to this volume’s plot. However, as a reader, I was impressed that everything I was hoping to see was present in the film. The sting of Allegiant is still fresh in my bibliographic memory, so re-meeting these characters in a new medium was also a smidge bittersweet.


I must admit, Shailene Woodley was not my favorite pick for this film. I’m not a fan. However, I did not find her to be completely annoying here. She did manage to pull off the sweet, innocent, Abnegation Tris and the daring, survival-focused Dauntless Tris quite well. I also do not really care for Ansel Elgort, either, but I do believe he played a good Caleb Prior in the film. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but I find it infinitely weird that these two play siblings in Divergent and lovers in The Fault in Our Stars, two huge YA movies coming out within months of each other. To me, it made the chemistry between them weird.

I did, however, notice the author, Veronica Roth’s, cameo in the film. In the famous Sears Tower zip line scene, she plays a Dauntless initiate in the background. A minor moment, but an exciting one to notice if moviegoers pay attention. Apparently this is a trend in YA page to screen adaptations, as I believe John Green will also be making an appearance in the upcoming The Fault In Our Stars movie.

Faithfulness to the Novel

For the most part, the story was fairly faithful to the novel. However, there were a few points that differed. The first was that there were far fewer deaths of initiates in the movie. The novel made it clear that the Dauntless initiates were allowed to kill each other or die during the initiation phase as a way of whittling down the numbers, and I felt that this element was absent from the film. Also, the internal struggle for Dauntless to reconsider the nature of fearlessness was left out of the film. In the books, I liked that some of the leaders acknowledged the arbitrary absurdity of the Dauntless way of life.

Some parts of the ending were also amped up to make it more suitable for an action film. The very end also felt far less like an ending than in the book . There is definitely going to be a sequel, so moviegoers are left with an unresolved story in the final minutes of the film.

Final Verdict

It was definitely worth my $10 and I will be going to see the sequels, but I won’t be purchasing this on DVD. If my point of comparison is The Hunger Games movies, then I must admit that Divergent can’t compete with the glory of those films. Overall, this was an awesome opportunity to watch the gutsy stunts described in the books and experience a great story on the big screen. If you haven’t yet read the book, I highly recommend you start with that. Otherwise, this reviewer recommends you grab a friend and catch this movie in theaters!

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Former middle school teacher and school librarian, current doctoral student in education. Reader of all things young adult. I'm particularly fond of dystopian societies, sassy female protagonists, and clever dialogue. I can often be found asleep with a book on my face. Check out all my articles.