[SPOILERS for Divergent sequels Insurgent and Allegiant]
Exciting news for fans of Veronica Roth’s best-selling YA trilogy: Divergent cleaned up at the box office this weekend, which means that the next two films — with release dates already set for March 2015 and 2016, respectively — are likely a go. Fans will be seeing a lot more of Theo James and Shailene Woodley.
Those who have read the books know Insurgent, the sequel, is more of the same; like its predecessor the novel seems tailor-made to undergo an engaging big-screen adaptation, with plenty of dystopian Chicago, Peter, truth serum revelations, and showdowns at Erudite headquarters. Allegiant, however, takes a left turn and raises some interesting questions.
A brief catchup: The third and final volume of Roth’s trilogy, Allegiant explores life outside the only society Tris has ever known. While plenty of readers enjoyed the final installment, some were put off by what they saw as a meandering, unclear plot with nothing to say, too much focus on confusing genetics work, and an emotionally unsatisfying resolution for many of the characters. The fact that Amazon reviews for the third book are a full star lower than the first two seem to point to general fan dissatisfaction, at least for some.
Of course, a lot of that response could also come from reader anger that — seriously, spoiler alert! — in the end, Tris sacrifices herself rather than let her brother, Caleb, march to his death. For a novel that is closely compared to The Hunger Games, the seemingly out-of-nowhere ending deviates in a way many YA fans weren’t expecting. This isn’t a knock against surprise endings (that actually is usually the goal). But, in this case, some loyal fans — as evidenced by their feelings rants on Goodreads — felt that the ending was too easy, a way out without really concluding anything, and certainly not the ending the Tris character deserved.
On the flip side, Woodley herself loved the ending. “I thought that it was such a badass decision of Veronica Roth, and so incredibly powerful,” she previously told EW. “I love that she didn’t sort of buy into the breakdown of what most young adult books, like, the outline of what’s happened in previous young adult books. Men die all the time in films – heroes do. But a lot of sweet heroines don’t. And so I thought it was a very powerful, profound decision on her part. And I really love that she had the courage and the bravery to do that.”
So with mixed reactions like that, what’s a screenwriter to do? In book-to-film transitions, screenwriters often have to face the Internet mob (ready with
pitchforks Tumblr posts in hand); readers prepared to scream foul at the slightest change from the source material. But what happens when the biggest potential change (Tris’ fate) is one many readers might want to see adjusted? Note: The studio has given no indication they have any plans to mess with the controversial ending; this is strictly hypothetical.
I’m curious what you Allegiant readers think: Are you excited to see Allegiant on the big screen, huge Shailene Woodley death scene and all? Or do you hope the screenwriters refocus some things in the script (i.e.: More Peter, less Nita) — and after that, maybe spare the heroine?