We’re only two days away from the release of Divergent, the story of a young girl who chafes against custom, forced by her government to fight twenty-three other teenagers to emerge from the arena as the victor. No wait, that isn’t right. It’s the tale of a young boy who has to come to terms with the fact that he is the only hope for the wizarding world in their interminable battle against evil and…no, you know what? I did it again. Neither of those is right.
It’s not The Hunger Games and not technically Harry Potter either, but boy is it close. It’s as if someone read both of those extremely successful young adult novels and plucked items out of each like a grab bag, putting them together to form the story of a girl who chafes against custom to lead her society against oppression. Good old
Pots Everdeen! I mean Tris Prior.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but before you get all sassy with me, please just take a look at all the ways these stories overlap each other. It’s a pretty blatant rip-off when you get down to it.
1. Everyone gets divided into groups. In Hunger Games it’s twelve districts, each of which has a different specialty, but the Divergent factions correspond almost exactly to the Hogwarts Houses from Harry Potter.
- Gryffindor = Dauntless
- Ravenclaw = Erudite
- Slytherin = Candor
- Hufflepuff = Amity + Abnegation
2. There’s one that nobody wants to be in. I love me some Hufflepuffs, but try telling your smiliest, kindest friend that that’s the House they’d be in, and watch how quickly it turns into a ScowlFest. And it’s the same thing for Abnegation — what exactly is supposed to be appealing about wearing gray and never getting to do what you want?
3. You get sorted. Whether it’s by pulling a Sorting Hat down over your eyes or taking a shot and going into a dream machine, some greater being basically asks your brain where you want to go and why, then divides you up accordingly.
4. You’re so goddamn special. Everybody else is just a normal old sheep, but you’re Divergent or The Boy Who Lived or The Girl On Fire. Gotta sell those books!
5. You live in a crumbling city. Just like District 12 was falling apart in The Hunger Games, the city of Chicago is basically unrecognizable in the post-apocalyptic world of Divergent.
6. You gotta get all beefed up. What’s a YA movie these days without muscle-building action sequences like Katniss and Tris go through? It’s the new makeover montage.
7. Your parents could never understand you. Perhaps you were raised by your chinless aunt and uncle or your mom is still paralyzed by the death of your father in a mining explosion or your mom and dad are stupid old mindless Abnegation, but regardless — you’re on your own, okay kiddo?
8. You have a sibling to whom you’re fiercely loyal. The whole reason Katniss got into the Games into the first place was because of Prim and her little duck tail. And Tris almost doesn’t even join Dauntless because she’s so worried about letting down her brother, Caleb.
9. Gotta forge some unlikely friendships. It’s really important to end up BFFs with the people you start out hating, ala Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Katniss and Finnick Odair, and Tris and Four.
10. No matter how forced it is, we must include a romance. Even if there’s zero chemistry between two characters, their lips must touch in an awkward way at some point during the film. Looking at you Katniss and Gale, Tris and Four, and especially Hermione and Ron.
See what I mean, you guys? It’s so obvious that it hurts.