It’s a feeling that’s familiar to anyone who has ever been a fan of a preexisting property that gets the adaptation route – this isn’t how I pictured it. Hollywood’s current love affair with turning bestselling books into feature films, crafting beloved productions into “reimagined” versions, and generally just mining other material to make “new” films means that such a particular feeling is one experienced with startling regularity. The next big project on the adaptation track – a big screen take on Veronica Roth’s bestselling “Divergent” book series – will kick off early next year with the Shailene Woodley-starring Divergent. As marketing for the feature ramps up, we wondered – but what do the fans of the original material think?
Over at GoodReads, a site that fosters bonds amongst book readers while also giving them a place to post reviews of their reading material, the “Divergent” community is a thriving one. The first book is a hit with many GoodReads readers, and of a current 761,152 reviews of the book, 354,106 of them are either five- or four-star reviews, making it the second-best reviewed book in the very popular YA dystopia novel genre (“The Hunger Games” is number one). It’s also number nine on the Best Young Adult Books, a list that also includes classics like “The Giver” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” alongside newer stuff like “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Twilight.” The book rates higher than both “The Hobbit” and “The Outsiders,” so yes, it’s thought pretty highly of around the GoodReads world.
But what do the GoodReads fans like about “Divergent”? And are those things going to translate to the big screen?
“Divergent” Is Fun
The most liked five-star review for the book (yes, even reviews are subject to their own reviews) places a premium on “fun.” The book’s fan uses the word “fun” no less than twenty times to describe her feelings about the book. She loves “Divergent” because it’s “fun.” Does this first trailer look “fun” to you? (Short answer – no! it looks terrifying!)
Tris Is a Badass
The second most liked five-star review of “Divergent” rests their praise on something else entirely different – their admiration that Tris (Woodley) is “a hardass, cold motherfucker.” While the film’s first trailer doesn’t make Tris look like either a hardass or a cold motherfucker, it does make her look tough and brave in softer ways, and while her more harsh characteristics play a part in the book, this take on Tris is more in line with her overall character.
The Action Is Stacked
The next review likes something else about the book – its action-heavy bent, especially in its final fourth when the “book goes into high gear and the adrenaline rush is loaded with high octane power.” There is certainly plenty of jumping and leaping and fighting and still more jumping and leaping and fighting in this trailer, and while fans might find the book to be “action packed,” this is again, more in line with how things really are in the book. There is action, to be sure, but it’s not the kind we’re used to when it comes to guns-blazing action outings and it’s not exactly “high octane,” and while this trailer tries to make things flash by with fear (guns!), it looks like the actual meat of the film is quite in line with what goes down in the book.
The Factions Are Original
Another sterling review for “Divergent” includes a note that “the idea that there are five factions that determine where you live is just genius.” Here’s a test – if you knew nothing about the factions at the center of the story, would you be able to describe them or the process by which people are divided into them after watching just this trailer? Probably not, and that’s a damn shame, because the factions of “Divergent” really are genius, and Roth does solid world-building work when it comes to explaining their many differences. While that’s hinted at here, the factions deserve much more attention than is present in this first trailer. It’s the basis of the whole story! Give it more love!
The Love Story
Yup, “Divergent” fans love Tris and Four and, as one review puts it, “They were by no means a cutie couple, being as they’re both tough and hard, but they are perfect in their own way.” There’s plenty of doe-eyed looks and slight touching and meaningful glances and then even some heavy making out in the first Divergent trailer, at least enough to convey “HELLO HERE IS THE ROMANCE,” but not in a way that really telegraphs the complexity of the relationship between Tris and Four (Theo James). We’re guessing that this trend will continue in the film itself.
Divergent opens on March 21, 2014.