Diverting Divergent

Navy Pier Chicago

Chicago’s Navy Pier. Note the Ferris wheel, which is used in an important scene in the movie. Image courtesy of phaewilk, Morguefile.

Here we go again.

Once again, I’m faced with the quandary of watching the movies or reading the books first. I’ve been watching bits of “Divergent” on YouTube, and it looks interesting. I’m aware that Veronica Roth’s books Divergent and Insurgent have already been made into movies. Currently, Allegiant has been split up into two parts and the first part is currently filming.

If you’re not familiar with this dystopian trilogy, the main character is Beatrice Prior (later called “Tris”). She lives in a society where people are separated into different factions: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (learned) and Dauntless (brave). She goes through an aptitude test and discovers that she’s suited to more than one faction, which is dangerous in that society. Eventually, she chooses Dauntless and will have to permanently cut ties with her Abnegation family.

Basically, Tris has to leave her home, grow up and become her society’s version of a Navy SEAL. And that’s where it all starts.

I spotted Divergent: Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Kate Egan on a recent library trip and decided to take a look. I’m always interested in the behind-the-scenes story of how a movie is made: how they find a screenwriter, choose a director, cast the film, choose the locations, pick the actors and get going. Kate Egan’s done a marvelous job explaining it all.

Even more interesting is what inspired the book. At the time, Veronica Roth was a college student studying exposure therapy in a psychology class. She imagined someone jumping off a building as a way of facing their fear, imagined what would motivate that person as part of a group, got the idea for other factions and had a utopian society evolve from that. Originally, her character was a male called Tobias but the story later received a rewrite featuring a young girl named Tris. The book got published, did well on the New York Times Best Sellers list and became a movie filmed in Chicago.

The book has a ton of good photographs and stories, so if you’re a fan, it’s well worth reading. I guess I’m going to have to track down either the movies or the books to get the whole story. Although I’m having problems figuring out which to tackle first….any suggestions, blog readers?

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