Okay, I’m not really one for bashing other people’s works, although I will admit that I subscribe to the Cinema Sins channel on YouTube. I don’t like sounding like the cynic, however this is a special case.Oh yeah, there will be spoilers in this for Divergent and Insurgent, if you’re into that kind of thing then avoid this.
As you may know, I spend a lot of time on planes. I am nearly at 300,000km (about a billion Miles) on 106 days out of this year already away from home. And since switching to JAL, the number of movies available to me has decreased. And, as a result, I have watched Divergent and Insurgent.
As I was watching Insurgent the other day (literally the last movie in this month’s JAL line up that I hadn’t seen at that point) I realised that I should at least make sure that I’m not making the same mistakes in Arctic Gale. I mean, let’s face it; there is a female girl who can fight, trapped in a city that is bounded by a wall, and there’s some sinister stuff going on in the HQ part. And, as we find out towards the end, both of these cities was set up as an experiment. I suppose there are also some parallels to be drawn to Maze Runner, but that is not as fresh in my mind.
Anyway, my hope is that by picking apart the things I hate about Divergent and Insurgent that I will not make similar mistakes. So here we go. To avoid spoilers I’m going to put one of those “Read More” breaks in.
#1 – What the actual fuck is going on with the Faction system?
Ok, not a good start. Let’s think about the Faction system for a moment though; people are screened to find out what personality type they are, and then that defines their work from then on in.
That’s not so bad; Emotional Intelligence has been around for a while now, and a lot of jobs will still screen you with some kind of test to make sure you will fit. That part is fine.
And everyone has the freedom to choose a different path based on their feelings at the time. That, too, isn’t so weird. People like to challenge themselves, and if you ask a teenager what they want to be it almost certainly won’t be what their adult selves will think. I am the same; I wanted to be an Air Force pilot, and fought for it to the sake of forsaking pretty much everything that wasn’t going to help me on that path. Being a corporate executive isn’t exactly the same thing…
And this is where it starts breaking down; by having this “unbreakable” faction system, where factions are stronger than family, you are instantly causing issues.
This wasn’t a strong point, but I’ll be circling it a lot. In fact, a numbered list is a bad format for this. My bad.
#2 – The Faction System requires all of its parts in order to function – except when it doesn’t
Now comes my first really big issue here with the series. The Eruidite (? to be honest I’m going to guess the faction names) are supposed to be the smart ones – the guardians of this five-pointed system which holds this “last bastion” of humanity together.
So, instead of subjugating the other factions that they don’t like to take power, they wipe the whole lot out!
So much for a system that needs all of its parts in order to survive. As soon as they did that, they were admitting that you didn’t need the faction system, and thus the whole concept of someone being “Divergent” was moot.
#3 – What the actual fuck is Divergent
As noted above, you can choose your faction when you are a hormone-filled rage-inducing teenager. I change my feelings on much more important things than my career path on an hourly basis, and I would consider myself a balanced person.
I think that this concept is the “Anti-Fight Club” movement in effect. The author has come up with something that will be relevant to 150% of their target audience (teenagers and young adults fretting about their future) and casting it as some unique trait. So the reader will think “Holy Shit, I identify with that so much, that means I can relate to this person, and also this feeling of mine is unique an beautiful.”
I know the above is true first-hand, as I accidentally discovered it with Hanako’s Tile Game.
So anyway, let’s assume that this fretting is actually unique in the world of Divergent.
#4 – Why is being Divergent Dangerous?
To recap; someone who wanted to protect the Faction system and kill Divergents did possibly the most divergent thing ever; she killed off an entire faction to allow her faction to take over.
Also, if everyone is able to choose their own faction, shouldn’t anyone who chooses something other than their test results be labelled Divergent and shot in the head?
In Insurgent we also find that there are different levels of Divergence, and someone with a small of a divergence of 10% gets shot immediately. If we are looking at a spectrum of something, and say that 0% is the only acceptable value, then you can almost guarantee that you are going to have to kill a lot of people. To be 100% or 0% anything, especially when we are talking about things that have overlapping lines like the factions, is impossible.
For example, there is a pacifist faction, which I will call “Fucking Farmers” because they are that unimportant to the story, and also the Dauntless people who are full-on fighters.
So where does that leave the other three factions on the topic of violence? If you’re partially violent then you’re partially Dauntless. If you’re even partially against violence then you’re partially a Fucking Farmer. And there are other traits that are shared amongst the Factions, like honour, intelligence and honesty that all are shared across factions.
In conclusion, the whole concept of being a “Divergent” is flawed from the start, and the one person who gets all murderous in order to stamp it out does so in such a Divergent way that it was a surprise that she passed her own test
#5 – That fucking Box
Actually, no. That box was just too fucking stupid. Fuck you, box.
#6 – Katniss Gets more powerful
What was her name? Who cares. Anyway, we find out in the first movie that Triss is a match for three factions, and this is a big deal, but not big enough to be reported or anything like that. It would also seem that the tester has seen others like her and just kind of lets it slide.
However, the power of lady boners suddenly makes her a match for all 5 factions when her boyfriend is on the line. What the hell? If this is something that can change over time, then why are they so intent on stamping it out? Shouldn’t a few decades in a faction be enough to quell those divergent thoughts?
I’m all ok with main characters having powers. That’s what makes them main characters. But you have to make them consistent, or at least show that there was some “levelling up” involved. If Whats-her-face had spent time training with the other Factions, then I would get it. She could have learned their ways. If she had been hit by lightening then I would be ok wit hit as well. But all she did was go through the basic training of Dauntless, which, apart from being ineffective, should have only made her more Dauntless, not more everything else.
#7 – The Proles will Save Us
Ah yes, 1984, you sprung into my mind when I saw the Factionless.
But let’s think about it for a bit. In 1984 the Proles weren’t party members, but they were a functioning part of society. But in the world of Divergent, the Fucking Farmers are the only ones allowed to make food, which is undeniably the biggest issue in a closed-circuit society (which reminds me – have I put farms in Zemlya? I always meant to…). And yet, the same thing that killed the USSR doesn’t even get a cursory glance here; the Factionless simply eat food that Augustation (?) gave to them before they all got shot.
In Divergent, we find out that anyone that fails their basic training will become factionless. Also, the factionless are going to keep having babies. When you think about it, that means that the “Factioned” part of society need to be making a hell of a lot of babies; much more than the Factionless. But, we know that won’t happen. Idoiocracy taught us that. The Factionless would very quickly swell and consume the food supply that they’re not allowed to help create.
It’s not Divergents that are the biggest risk to the Faction system, it’s the Factoinless (oh yeah, and that crazy bitch. Didn’t she win an Oscar somewhere?).
And where did they get their guns?
#8 – Actually, that fucking box
Ok, the city was an experiment to come up with Divergents. I really don’t know how that could help, or why that would even be put on by a bigger population outside the walls. Actually, what the fuck? It makes no sense. The introduction says that the Faction system was created because of the fighting that was the bane of the “Old World.” And yet, the stated goal of these people, when finally revealed, was to find someone (and not everyone, just a single person) who embodied the same split-personality that they were trying to get rid of. That makes no sense.
Anyway, let’s assume that this was somehow the point; to put a few million people in a city to find a rebellious teenager. Whatever.
But then, how would they know how to test for this?
# 9 – Where is everyone?
During the films we see tribes of maybe a few thousand people at a time. Indigestion faction, when wiped out, took up about one city block. All of the other factions seemed to have one building, maybe capable of a few hundred to a thousand people, but that was it.
Yet, 170-so Dauntless were able to hide in the Lawyer Faction’s building without being detected. They weren’t reported or spotted at all but the “Super-honest” people charged with upholding order in this city? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t compute.
Okay, there are a few things here, but really, I did hate Insurgent and Divergent. They simply don’t make sense, and I guess that cuts home twice as hard because I know that there is only a thin line between the plot and setting of Arctic Gale and Divergent.
I just hope that I am never accused of being a Divergent fan, or have been being inspired by Divergent…