Last night, Antonia and I went to the cinema in Braintree to see ‘Insurgent’, the second film in the ‘Divergent’ series, which is based on Veronica Roth’s trio of sci-fi novels aimed at young adults.
Set in the futuristic dystopian city of Chicago where society has been divided into five factions (Abnegation, Dauntless, Candor, Erudite and Amity) determined by personality type, the Divergent books follow the story of Tris Prior, an Abnegation-born sixteen-year-old who defects from her faction after discovering during an aptitude test that she possesses rogue ‘Divergent’ traits that make her an apparent threat to her closely-controlled civilisation.
I was very excited by the first ‘Divergent’ book. It was my favourite in the trilogy, although part one of the film adaptation was pretty nail-biting stuff and part two (in mine and Antonia’s joint opinion) was even better. Both book and film were fast-paced and slightly furious, and I identified heavily with the feelings of guilt and anxiety that Tris experienced when she was faced with the choice of leaving her family in order to find her true identity or stay with them out of a sense of misplaced loyalty and duty. I know it’s a rite of passage that most people go through during adolescence, but it was particularly poignant for me because even though I left my parents home nearly seven years ago, having a brain injury has meant having to do things much later in life and I only truly left their guardianship eight months ago. We thought Shailene Woodley was particularly brilliant as the somewhat volatile Tris Prior, and I thought Naomi Watts as the leader of the factionless was, well, rather hot… but I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen or read the first installment yet…
Antonia and I have been having a running joke recently about what would happen if we were suddenly transported into the pages of one of Roth’s books. Having read all of them (apart from ‘Four’ which is a recently released companion book of short stories) just weeks previous to our movie outing, we are both well-endowed with the knowledge of customs, beliefs and dietary restrictions of each faction. I personally fancied myself as an Erudite initiate – not because they are the most intelligent but purely so I could spend all my time reading, writing and learning about new things. I’m certainly not noble enough to join Abnegation who value self-sacrifice over any other quality; and as much as I value honesty, I could never deliberately ride roughshod over someone else’s toes just to tell my version of the truth, so Candor wouldn’t be suit me either; Dauntless is out too because their whole idea of jumping off moving trains and buildings just for fun seems like a scary prospect (Antonia said it’s also because I’m what the Dauntless-born call a ‘pansy-cake’). To me, Erudite seemed like the perfect place because I could just sit there and google things on the internet. However I realised that I probably wouldn’t pass the IQ test, and if I did I’d be laughed out of the place for being vegan because the Erudite aren’t particularly compassionate.
In the end, I decided the most appropriate faction for me would be Amity. Being the most peaceful, tolerant and friendly lot I’m sure they’d have no problem with my vegan ethics, and I could be perfectly happy living on their eco-farm ploughing the land and planting seeds… and reading my books. Antonia the bleeding heart said she’d go with Abnegation. This is typical coming from the person who once told me her mission in life was ‘to serve’. But she then went on to say that she thought she’d be a Divergent – of course, in my opinion that’s because she always has to be the best at bloody everything!
I’m looking forward to seeing the third film (‘Allegiant’) even though I wasn’t happy with the ending of the book. I’ve got at least another year before it is released though, so I suppose now I’ll have to go and read Roth’s short stories now – either that or start ‘The Hunger Games’.