Never before (we’re assuming) have more teens actively used the word “dystopia.” That’s a grim word for young people with so much life and hope before them, but Hollywood seems committed to delivering large helpings of bad, imaginary places. First it was “The Hunger Games,” franchise and, now it’s “Divergent.”
Perhaps Hollywood sees the hidden promise folded into bleak, fictional settings. After all, the worst places present the best opportunities to rise up and matter. And the chance to matter is empowering.
“Divergent,” like “The Hunger Games,” is based on a series of young-adult novels. It arrives in theaters March 21. If you haven’t read the books or become awash in “Divergent” hyperbole, here’s a quick trailer with plot essentials:
Frequently Asked Questions About “Divergent” From Lots of Unnamed Important People
Q. Does “Divergent” feature archery, since it’s similar in other ways to “The Hunger Games”?
A. No. The movie’s leading lady, Shailene Woodley, told “Entertainment Weekly” that her character, Beatrice “Tris” Prior, is no superhero: “She’s not Katniss. She doesn’t know how to shoot a bow and arrow. She’s not a badass by nature.”
Woodley did reveal, however, that Jennifer Lawrence influenced her decision to commit to the upcoming faction-ridden dystopia. The Oscar-winner emailed Woodley that, “there are some hard things, but there are so many beautiful things that will come from an opportunity like this.”
Q. Were the books well received?
A. Yes, indeed. While the story feels like a “Hunger Games” knockoff plain and simple (right down to the book’s cover art), “Divergent” spent 47 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list for young-adult reading.
Q. Are there similarities between the worlds depicted in “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games”?
A. Oh, yeh. Here are three examples:
- Panem and Near-Future Chicago. Both take place in futuristic versions of the U.S. While Panem, the setting of Jennifer Lawrence’s flicks, spans most of present-day America, “Divergent” takes place in what was once Chicago.
- Districts and Factions. Panem is divided into “districts.” Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into regions known as “factions.”
- Kids Are Snatched From Their Families. Teens are randomly selected to participate in “The Hunger Games,” while those in post-apocalyptic Chicago are selected based on examples of virtues the inhabitants of each faction try to emulate: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent).
Q. Is there one glaring difference between the two films?
A. There are many, but there’s one that stands out. While Katniss Everdeen teeters between Peeta and Gale, there’s no triangle for the chick in “Divergent.” She has eyes for only one, but his name — “Four” — is an odd one, just like the names of District 12’s hotties.