DIVERGENT (Movie VS Book): 4 Pleasant Surprises And 4 Utter Disappointments

With the release of popular book series to film there are always discrepancies. It’s hard to touch on every detail that has been published within roughly a 2 hour film and most literature fanatics have come to expect a slight disappointment when viewing the film for the first time. But when the filmmaker stays true to an author’s vision, the overwhelming excitement and satisfaction felt in theaters is priceless; when they go above and beyond to add things to enhance the story – it’s breathtaking.

Divergent has its fair share of inconsistency between the book and the film, but when the film strays from its previously published concepts they were not “near misses” but rather a total misrepresentation of the story. However, some of the changes included were really interesting and added a whole new dimension to the plot making viewing the film a whole new experience.

Be forewarned that SPOILERS are definitely ahead for both the book and the movie. These are the 4 ways the movie beautifully built on the story in the book, and 4 things that left you seething with rage for being left out.

Let’s start by looking at 4 things that improved the story:

4. Tris Getting Cut

Tris Fight
Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

Peter and Tris battle in hand to hand combat as part of their initiation. The results of the battle decide how the participants will be ranked for future eliminations. Tris’s ass gets kicked and she ends up in the infirmary. Now in the book she eventually gets back on her feet and goes on with the next step of the initiation, which is a playful yet competitive game of capture the flag.

In the movie, when Tris wakes up in the infirmary Christina and Will are there telling her that one of the Dauntless leaders (Eric) cut her from Dauntless after the match with Peter. By getting cut during initiation you become factionless. So just to prove how driven she is Tris says F-that, breaks out of the infirmary and sprints to the train that is taking them to the game location. Eric is puzzled when he sees Tris, but realizes that he probably underestimated her and lets her back in to the competition without question.

Another cool twist was that in the book the ammunition used in the games consisted of relatively harmless paintballs. But in the movie they were darts that would give a victim the feeling of an actual gunshot wound; that’s one badass improvement.

3. Four’s Fear Landscape

Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

In the book, Four takes Tris into his fear landscape so she can learn more about him and finally find out what his real name is. By doing this she learns that he only has four fears; hence the name Four:  1) Heights 2) Tight quarters 3) Killing an innocent 4) His Father. What is even more interesting though is what she learned from his last fear; his real name is Tobias, he is Marcus Eaton’s son, and he transferred from Abnegation.

In the movie, when Four realizes that Tris is Divergent, he takes her into his fear landscape specifically to teach her how to think and act Dauntless. This is a really great change because not only does Tris find out everything about Four, but it really shows how he is looking out for her and trying to protect her. When they are in tight quarters and the walls start closing in, Four embraces the illusion and makes Tris attempt to physically stop the walls instead of just acknowledging that it’s not real.

2. Tris Shooting Her Family

Tris Family
Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

In the book, when Tris is in her fear landscape for the final test, her last fear appears with her parents and brother in front of her. She is holding a gun and someone is holding a gun to her head. She is instructed to shoot her family with the penalty for disobeying being death. The person holding the gun to Tris’s head starts counting down; Tris refuses to pull the trigger, time runs out, and Tris gets shot in the head. This moment showed that Tris would rather die then kill her family.

In the movie, her last fear initially just seems like she woke up and the test is over. She is greeted by Four and the other Dauntless leaders, until her family approaches. Knowing that it wasn’t possible for them to be there, she realizes this is still her fear landscape. Someone gives her a gun and now she has to make a decision. What’s interesting is that before the test, Jeanine (Erudite Leader) has told Tris:

I need to know that I can count on you to enforce the law, even if it’s been broken by someone close to you, someone you care about.”

Shooting her family in front of everyone seemed to be a test of her loyalty to Dauntless. Tris ends up firing the shot. One is to assume it is because she is Divergent and knows it wasn’t real, but nonetheless it was a really interesting twist.

1. The Ending

Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

A “tracking device” is placed into all the dauntless members that allow the Erudite to control their mind and bodies so they can have an instant army that will do whatever they command. This tracker does not work on people that are Divergent, so anyone roaming around wondering why everyone looks like zombies is shot on site. Tris plays along until she finds Four who is also not under the simulation. After eventually being captured, Tris is sentenced to death but Jeanine has other plans for Four. Tris escapes imprisonment with help from her mother and makes her way to the control system at Dauntless headquarters to stop the simulation.

In the book, she finds Four alone under a heavy simulation and he is controlling the army that is eliminating the Abnegation faction. Tris uses Four’s fears and his love for her to snap him out of the simulation. Four stops the whole operation, Dauntless members snap out of it, and Abnegation is saved.

In the movie, Four isn’t alone when Tris arrives at the control system. The Erudite clan is there with Jeanine and they command Four to kill Tris.  Fear and love are used to snap Four out of the simulation and once the trance is broken Tris and Four team up to whoop some Erudite ass. Eventually it is just down to Jeanine and she is scrambling to finish the operation that will have the Dauntless members kill Abnegtation. Tris throws a knife that punctures Jeanine’s hand onto the screen so she can’t move; ultimately making her shut it down. This was one of the best changes the director chose to make, because it really made the conflict between Tris and Jeanine much more personal.

Now let’s take a look at 4 things that were huge disappointments:

4. No Train Scene in Tris’s First Simulation

Train scene
Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

The first simulation that Tris had to go through was to figure out which faction she belongs in. It is a test that every kid at the age of 16 has to take.

Now, the book did this right because it touched on all the factions. In a nutshell, when Tris is in the simulation she uses her knowledge to stop a dog from attacking her, she saves a little girl from a dog attack, she lies to a guy on a train saying she doesn’t know someone when she actually does, and still lies when the guy said that she could save a life if she told the truth. The simulation eliminated honesty & kindness, but showed signs of selflessness, bravery, and intelligence. This is the moment she discovers she’s Divergent.

The movie simulation went like this: she uses her knowledge to stop a dog from attacking her, she saves a little girl from a dog attack, she wakes up. How did they eliminate honesty from that?! What about kindness?! Tris just wakes up and Tori just eliminates those two and calls her Divergent.

Poor choices were made here.

3. Ferris Wheel

Ferris wheel
Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

In the book and the movie, once the game of capture the flag starts, Tris seeks higher ground to get a better view of the area. Four follows her and they end up scaling a ferris wheel to find out where the other team is located.

Now this is where the movie totally flops. In the movie, they just climb down the ferris wheel and go tell the others where the other team is.

In the book the scene is more elaborate. While Tris is climbing down the ferris wheel she slips, grasps a pole and is hanging for dear life by her fingertips. Four turns the Ferris wheel on so Tris doesn’t plummet to her death. As the ferris wheel moves, she finally falls, almost gets crushed by the ferris wheel, rolls out of the way and shares a moment of relief with Four. THEN they walk over to the group to tell them where the other team is.

This was a missed opportunity by the production staff to incorporate a suspenseful and thrilling scene in the movie; total dud.

2. Missing Characters (Edward & Uriah)

Uriah and Edward
Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

Both characters play very important roles in the book, yet they only appear on a digital ranking board maybe once or twice in the movie.

There have been rumors that the reason Uriah wasn’t in the movie was because his role was too “minor” in the first book. This claim seems slightly ridiculous because not only is Uriah both a silly and badass character simultaneously, but he is the first Dauntless born initiate to accept Tris. Uriah wanted to be friends with Tris because he admires her strengths. With Christina and Will being threatened by Tris’s abilities, Uriah served as Tris’s main supporter during Dauntless initiation to keep her motivated.

The movie would have been fine without Edward if only there wasn’t the massive butter knife stabbing in the book. In the beginning of the initiation process, Edward is outperforming everyone and Peter is a little bit more competitive than anyone would think. So to eliminate Edward, Peter stabs him in the eye with a butter knife while he’s asleep; resulting in Edward quitting and becoming factionless. Tris cleaned up the blood from the stabbing and this traumatizing experience affects her interaction with Peter through most of the story. How was this monumental plot twist not considered for the movie?!

1. Tris’s Fears for the Final Test

Tris Fears
Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

Couple major things wrong with how Tris’s final test went down. In the movie they portray their “sex scene” as something innocent gone violent. Ending with Four forcing himself on her muttering something along the lines of – “I thought you were Dauntless?” – while he has her pinned down.

The “sex scene” in the book is loving, erotic, and extremely embarrassing for both parties involved. There is no violence; just Tris kissing him and saying -“It’s not happening in here.” – knowing that she is in her fear landscape. It was portrayed as an adorable moment. Not a rape scene.

Secondly, in the book Tris has 7 fears: 1) Crows 2) Getting burned alive 3) Drowning in a tank 4) Drowning in the ocean 5) Getting taken by faceless men 6) Intimacy 7) Being forced to kill her family. The fact that she has 7 fears is a big deal and shouldn’t be ignored, yet the movie only reveals 5 fears. They leave out drowning in the ocean and getting taken by faceless men.

Taking out those two fears is like saying Four only has 3 fears. If Four’s fears weren’t reflected in his name, would they have changed that as well?!

Honorable Mentions

Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate

Disappointment: Christina Is Too Short

In the book Tris is very tiny and petite. She can barely see herself in a mirror above a sink; that’s how tiny she is. But on-screen, the fact that she towers over Christina in certain parts really makes the movie come up short.

Pleasant Surprise: Tris Gets The Flag

In the book, while playing capture the flag Christina and Tris race together to get the other teams flag. Once they get it, Christina snatches it and takes all the glory for getting the flag even though the whole plan was developed by Tris; lame moment for Christina. In the movie though, Tris grabs the flag, shows it to the crowd, everyone cheers, and then Christina and Tris celebrate victory together. Just lovely.


Both medias were marvelous in there own way and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I would love to hear others opinions of what they loved seeing up on screen or what the book might have portrayed better.


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2 thoughts on “DIVERGENT (Movie VS Book): 4 Pleasant Surprises And 4 Utter Disappointments”

  1. Thank you for your post! I agree with most of it. However Edward WAS in the movie as a credited role. Eric chose him first on the train before capture the flag. He is the tall blond one. There is also the “knife in the eye” scene that was edited out of the movie for the PG-13 rating, but can be viewed as a Deleted Scene on the DVD. We know that Uriah was the one who invited Tris to go zip-lining in the book, but you’re right, we never hear his name beside seeing his name on the board in the movie. I can only assume this was because they didn’t want to commit to any actor yet who would be a major character in Insurgent/Allegiant.

    1. Hey Jillian!
      Thanks for the comment!!
      Once I bought the DVD and I saw all the deleted scenes I was so surprised to see the knife stabbing scene in there!! I still cant believe they didn’t put it into the actual movie. And they also didn’t show him quitting to become factionless, but all in all amazing movie! I keep wondering what was so hard about casting Uriah though? Who knows.

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