Dystopian Review: Divergent Series & Movies

I write dystopian fiction.

That being said, it would make sense that I read and review dystopian fiction. So, on the last Wednesday of every month, I’m going to review a dystopian book or movie — both in the non-Christian and Christian market. This Wednesday, in light of the release of the Insurgent movie, I’m reviewing the Divergent series, by Veronica Roth and the movie series. Please not this is not a comparison between the books and movies. There are plenty of other fans out there making a list of the heinous crimes the directors have committed. 😉 I have a weird ability to separate book from movie in my mind. That’s my superpower.

So without further ado…here are my thought son the Divergent books and movies: (tweet this)

Divergent Book Series Reviews



Divergent was the first dystopian book I picked up after The Hunger Games. I found the concept of five character-trait factions (selflessness, peace, honesty, knowledge, and bravery) absolutely fascinating. Tris Prior was compelling and developed, but a little “typical she-man” as is common in dystopians. She had a harsher personality than I could relate to. Overall, four solid stars. (Here’s my full Goodreads review of Divergent.)


Insurgent (book 2) was less gripping than Divergent, but brought along a very powerful sequel. I connected with the characters less and less (they got a bit too angsty for me) and the plot got pretty wild, sometimes losing me. However, we discover more about the five factions and how the cultures of each faction differ so drastically. I liked it, even though I got annoyed with the characters. Overall, four shaky stars. 😉 (Here’s my full Goodreads review of Insurgent.)


Allegiant (book 3), I’m sad to say, was simply…boring. It took me ages to push my way through that book and the action finally picked up by the end. My boredom arose from dragged out scenes, alternating points-of-view that were too similar to differentiate, too much information on things I didn’t care about, and…the repeat of a plot. Each book is basically a recycled plot and, by the end of the series, it feels a little overdone. However, it certainly wrapped up all the loose ends and provided a lot of answers. Sadly, though, by the end of the series I didn’t care about Four one bit which is quite a thing to say about a main character you’ve been with for three books. Overall, three stars. (Here’s my full Goodreads review of Allegiant.)

Keep in mind, these are my very subjective opinions. I’m not a “professional reviewer” (whatever that means) and I just don’t have the patience to break down every aspect of writing craft in each book I read (not that people want to read long detailed reviews like that, anyway.)

Overall, if you like dystopian fiction, the Divergent Series is for you. (Tweet this.) Its uniqueness makes it worth the read and, aside from some violence and some major teen-kissing, it’s pretty clean.

Divergent Movie Series Reviews

divergent and insurgent movie poster


The first movie, Divergent, blew me away. The music, the depth of the cultures, the growth of Tris’s character…all perfection in my mind. I connected more with the characters in the movie — Tris was more likeable and Four seemed more mature, which I appreciated. While there were some changes to the plot (as there always are in movies, because it’s often necessary), I felt the condensed plot in movie-Divergent actually made more sense. It was clean and appropriately rated PG-13. A new favorite that surpasses my love for even the Hunger Games movies. This brings me to my review of Insurgent, the second movie.


I won’t get into all the details (they switched directors!) or minutia (and got new screenwriters!), but it certainly had pros and cons:


  • divergent_series_insurgent_movie_poster_1The plots were easier to follow. The director and writers ultimately condensed the many floating plotlines into one place and delivered it rather well.
  • Extra simulations. These were trippy, but fun. I enjoyed them a lot more than the ones in the book, mainly because the book hinted at more of them than actually showing them.
  • Captivating through and through. We got about an hour and forty-five minutes into the movie when I felt like I woke up and realized, “Oh…it’s a movie…it has to end soon.” At the end, I felt like I needed to unclip a seatbelt to stand from my chair.
  • Some side characters stole the show. Caleb was hilariously awkward at the start, and then Peter — despite being a bit of a jerk — was one of the most memorable characters by the end of the movie.


  • Less culture. The cultures of Amity and Candor were what brought book two alive, but the movie was delivered as more of an action movie, lacking in the richness of the setting.
  • Missing character depth. While Tris and Four grew a bit in their characters, I connected with them less. As I said above, there was more action and less depth to the characters. Many aspects of the story suffered because of this and I fear it will weaken the third movie.
  • Unneeded sex scene. Blah. Sorry, this is totally personal preference but, I figured that since there wasn’t one in the book (and since the characters were very intentional about not having one)…then there wouldn’t be one in the movie. Alas. It’s mild (from what I actually saw of it) but it hinders me from recommending it to friends.


Overall, I’m more likely to watch the movies than I am to re-read the books. (gasp!) But they are all quite fascinating, from my dystopian-geek point of view. How about you? What did you think of the Insurgent movie? (Tweet this!)

Have you read any of the Divergent books?

How do you compare books to movies?



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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Keeping in mind that the target audience for this book is not a dad in his forties, here’s what I thought about Divergent:

    I felt the pacing was too slow, the plot was a bit too predictable, and many characters lacked depth outside of Tris and Four. It’s OK. A weak 3 stars for me.

    My complete Goodreads review:


    • Way to be a good dad. 😉
      I think one reason Divergent got so popular was because it came out about the same time as Hunger Games (just a little later) and everyone “wanted more dystopian” and hers was the strongest one out there aside from Hunger Games (which is saying a lot about the OTHER dystopian books that then came out. *cringe*)

  2. I’ve never watched or read any of the Divergent books. It’s on my to-do list, but I have other books I’d rather be reading. But with both the Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, I could relate to the movie characters better than I could the book characters, and I’d probably have the same thing with Divergent. I usually don’t have that with books/movies.

  3. Good thoughts. I felt like Divergent was just recycled on the whole. I can’t even tell the difference between Tris and Katniss any more. Yes, completely unlovable character, I thought.
    And then I couldn’t make it through the first movie.

    Have you read The Host?

  4. I agree completely with your book reviews-although one thing I’d add is that even though I did not enjoy or engage well with Allegiant I still bawled the whole last 50 pages.

    I’m usually good about separating book and movie–but I haven’t really liked anything about the movie versions so far. I’m encouraged, I guess, that people seem to think the movies make sense, because I didn’t think they made sense. They felt more contrived than even the books. Peter was the only thing in movie two that felt natural to me. But, given the liberties they are taking with the characters and story, I’m sort of hoping that Allegiant the Movie will be more compelling than its source material.

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