Tag Archives: dystopian fiction

Book Review: “Four: A Divergent Collection”


dystopian fiction

Before introducing us to the 16-year-old mind of Tobias Eaton in Four: A Divergent Collection, author Veronica Roth reveals that she first began writing the Divergent series from Tobias’s point of view. After finishing Allegiant, chronologically the final book in the Divergent series, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why she didn’t give us more from Four.

But instead, Roth chose to pursue her project through the eyes of Tris Prior.

Fortunately, less than a year after the release of the last book in the Divergent series, Veronica Roth gave us Four: A Divergent Collection. This book is comprised of four short stories and three snippets that precede and overlap Tobias’s time with Tris.

The Transformation of Tobias Eaton

Throughout the short stories in Four: A Divergent Collection, the reader witnesses the transformation of Tobias from his last days as a meek member of the Abnegation faction to his time as an instructor for new Dauntless initiates. In just 285 pages, Roth provides highlights spanning the course of two years of Tobias’s life.

Veronica Roth | Divergent SeriesLet’s face it, Tobias has always had people problems. Who wouldn’t, after spending 16 years trapped in the environment in which he was raised? But the reader watches him slowly crack out of his cocoon at the insistence of Amar.

His transfer to Dauntless sparks Tobias’s thirst for a new identity, which he manages to attach to the alias he earns from his instructor, Amar. Those who have read the Divergent series know of Amar and that he and Tobias had grown close during Tobias’s initiation, and in Four: A Divergent Collection we are granted the privilege of witnessing the growth of that friendship.

However, Tobias soon discovers being Dauntless isn’t what he expected and that the faction certainly doesn’t follow its manifesto, and learning his mother’s true fate only adds to his suspicions about the faction system and factionless alike.

Eric The Erudite

As is briefly mentioned in Divergent, Tobias was in the same initiation class as Eric, an Erudite transfer. In this book, readers get to watch firsthand as the tension between the two is born. The interactions between Tobias and Eric were the most enjoyable for me throughout this collection of short stories. I enjoyed the snarky remarks they toss at one another.

Readers discover the reason Tobias turned down the Dauntless leadership position he’d been offered, as well, through his interactions with Max and Eric. Thanks to Eric, readers also learn why Dauntless initiate training becomes more competitive throughout the Divergent series than the years before Dauntless introduced young blood into their leadership ranks.

With few friends and even fewer allies, Tobias is alone in exploring and uncovering the truth behind his suspicions of a corrupt faction system.


Would I reread this book? Absolutely. It’s still not enough. Perhaps I’m stingy, but I would like more Four, please. On a slightly related note, I’d also like more on Eric.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. But only to those who have already read the Divergent series. I would highly advise against reading Four: A Divergent Collection before starting Divergent. If you enjoy dystopian teen fiction, you’re sure to enjoy the Divergent series as a whole.

What’s next? I’m currently tackling Quidditch Through the Ages, which is quite a short read, by the ever lovely JK Rowling. Also, have you seen her Twitter account lately? She totally shot down the Westboro Baptist Church. I love her.

(I know, I know. I’m a week late. In my defense, I did write the majority of this last weekend. Just didn’t get the pictures together until today. Thanks for bearing with me!)


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Insurgent Film: A Weak Attempt At An Adaptation


Veronica Roth | Divergent series

Amity Faction Symbol

As I reported not long ago, I had stumbled upon an article that suggested the content of the film adaptation of Insurgent is somewhat different and that those changes may affect the production of Allegiant. No truer statement can be made about this movie. The main plot is generally the same, but they tweak it slightly. Of course if the film were to contain everything in the book, as with most book-to-film situations it would be significantly longer than one hour and 58 minutes. But to cut out certain subplots and switch characters’ points of view…that’s just wrong.

And perhaps it’s just me, but I would think an opening weekend 3D showing would have more than ten viewers. Granted, I did attend the 3:25 p.m. showing on Sunday. But ten people, including myself and two friends, in an entire theater of cushy recliners? That’s rather sad.

This post is dedicated to revealing many of the the differences between Veronica Roth’s novel Insurgent and the film adaptation she co-produced that was released Friday, March 20, 2015. Again, this post is packed with spoilers. Turn away now or proceed at your own risk.

Time Lapse

If the producers and directors included everything that occurred in the book within each specified time period, the movie would be too long for its own good. However, events happen so quickly, the viewer is likely to miss them if he/she reaches for a sip of soda.

In the beginning, the spat between Tris and Peter that happens at Amity headquarters happens within the blink of an eye, and in the next scene, Caleb is also in Johanna’s office in addition to Tobias, Tris, and Peter. And the part I was most looking forward to seeing–Tris in the office and around Tobias after she’s injected with too much peace serum–doesn’t happen. In just a few minutes, the Dauntless Traitors arrive and…well…things happen.

All the time the group spends in Candor in the book (at least it feels like a long time)…Tris and Tobias are there for maybe two days in the film.

Jeanine’s Purpose

Jeanine Matthews. In the book, she spent her time trying to determine how the Divergent were able to resist serums and testing the strength of serums on them. However, in the movie, she has a different goal.

In the book, Tris has the disk that holds information people believed to be hidden, information that Abnegation plan to release. In the film adaptation of Insurgent, this “hidden” information is contained in a box that can only be opened by a Divergent who can pass five individual simulations–one for each faction. Jeanine gets hold of this box, and her sole goal becomes discovering its contents.

The book version and film version of Jeanine are similar, however, in that they both are engulfed by a burning curiosity, a true Erudite trait.

(During one scene in particular, Kate Winslet‘s portrayal of Jeanine greatly reminded me of her role in Titanic and I couldn’t help but suppress a smile.)

The Factionless

In both the book and movie adaptation of Insurgent, Evelyn Johnson is head of the factionless. In the movie, there is no community fire, no sitting in circles on the ground passing cans of food to one another. Evelyn has her own home where she feeds her guests a decent meal at a well-set table. Although he says it bitterly, multiple occasions arise during which Tobias calls Evelyn “Mother.” It would be a stronger display of defiance for him to call her by name as opposed to using her biological relation to him as a tag of recognition.

Evelyn and Tobias do not have a private conversation about creating an alliance; it happens at the supper table. Tris watches this conversation unfold, seemingly intrigued by Evelyn’s idea of creating an alliance between the factionless and Dauntless. This is far from the case in Roth’s book. See Tris’s written thoughts below.

I don’t want to admit that I was eavesdropping, but I want to tell him I don’t trust Evelyn, or the factionless, or anyone who speaks casually about demolishing an entire faction (Insurgent, p. 111).

After one of the major events at Candor, they return to the factionless with the rest of the Dauntless who have not betrayed their faction.

The Truth Serum

I believe Shailene Woodley delivers an impeccable performance as Tris Prior during her trial at Candor headquarters. It’s quite possibly her best throughout the entire film. It feels so real, as if the viewer is in the giant room with everyone watching her struggle to fight back the truth that was sure to destroy a friendship. It is a well-done, very emotional scene.

Veronica Roth | Insurgent

(Photo obtained from www.divergentfans.com)

Missing Subplots

Many personal relationship and self-discovery developments within in the book are not included in the film adaptation of Insurgent. Below are just a few examples.

Tris Prior and Tobias Eaton

The lack of proper portrayal of the relationship between Tris and Tobias in the movie is discouraging. Their relationship struggles drastically in the book, because they each keep secrets from one another. Their relationship is crumbling because of lie after lie. Tris is scared to tell Tobias certain things, and Tobias does not include Tris in his situations. This is not an uncommon struggle among couples, and its inclusion in the book is Roth’s way of showing her readers that relationships are not perfect.

In the movie, the two suffer little to no struggles between themselves. Perhaps their hardships were cut not just to save time but to limit distractions from the main plot. Either way, this inevitably destroys the possibility for the existence of the next omitted subplot.

Marcus Eaton

In the film adaptation of Insurgent, Marcus remains at Amity after the events that force Tris and the others to leave; therefore, all subplots involving him are destroyed. How do the filmmakers address this conflict?

  • No conflict of interest is discussed between Marcus and Johanna (p. 23).
  • Evelyn does not suggest Tobias to “become important” (p. 111) and there is no tension between him and the Dauntless that leads to his encounter with Marcus at Candor (p. 240).
  • Tris and Tobias are not destructively divided in their beliefs on how to handle the situation with Jeanine, so there is no need for Tris and Christina to form an alliance with Marcus.

Marcus’s absence contributes to the change of the movie’s ending.

Guns and Self-Sacrifice

Insurgent book to movie comparison

Insurgent Book Cover Back

Throughout the book, Tris struggles with her ability to use any sort of firearm due to the death of her friend in Divergent. In the movie, this struggle is nonexistent, making her appear stronger and more determined.

In addition, self-sacrifice is a recurring theme throughout the Divergent series. She and Tobias argue over the true definition and Tris’s interpretation, but not in the film adaptation of Insurgent. It goes along with the very few disagreements Tris and Tobias have in the movie.

Out of good conscience, I can’t reveal the ending. I believe I’ve already typed too much, yet not enough, and for those who haven’t seen the movie just yet, I don’t want to destroy the entire experience for you. But yes, it is much different from the book. The 3D experience was fantastic, but after returning home and coming across the trailer for Insurgent on IMDb.com, I realized that the color on the big screen seemed rather dull in comparison.


Would I recommend seeing Insurgent? Honestly, I’d say it’s worth the wait for it to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray. And even then, I’d suggest buying it used, because it’s not worth the $14.00 I paid to see it in 3D. (Sellers on Amazon.com have great deals on used movies, and I’ve only ever had scratch issues once.)
Did this film do the book justice? Not at all. The acting is well done, but it lacks multiple subplots that build character development and contain life lessons themselves within the book.

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The Picture of Dorain Gray: Change of Plans

It has come to my attention that the movie adaptation of Insurgent strays from the book. I’m already slightly disappointed, as I was so looking forward to another awesome adaptation.

Wait a minute!

You may be thinking, How is this remotely relevant to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde? Well, friends, I shall tell you how.

Whilst scrolling through my news feed on Facebook this evening, I came across this article* on the movie adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Insurgent. (WARNING: Article may contain spoilers for current and future productions.) The title itself triggered a red flag: “‘Insurgent’ is dramatically different from the book.” Not cool. The brief summary informed readers that parts have been changed to such an extreme that it will conflict with some issues in the final book, Allegiant.

So, what about The Picture of Dorian Gray?

Yes, yes. About Mr. Gray….

Since I’m planning to see Insurgent in theaters opening weekend and with the reports of differences and how they may affect the production/screenplay of the final two installments of the Divergent film series (by the way, they’re splitting Allegiant into two movies…more on that later; that will have its own special rant), I feel as though Allegiant should take precedent over The Picture of Dorain Gray.

Yes, I myself am slightly conflicted with this change, as I despise reading more than one book at a time (college was a killer), but I think it will be for the better. At least, I hope it will.


*Please note that I can neither confirm nor disprove the validity of this article.

(Also, I’m not quite sure why the Goodreads widget to the right of the screen has not updated to include Insurgent. Anybody have any ideas on that?)

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