With the recent release of the first film of the Divergent series and the winter 2014 release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, the third film in the Hunger Games series, much has been made of their similarities and differences, in their book and movie formats. Both series are set in a dystopian future of America, after a devastating war. Those who remained after the wars formed societies meant to prevent future devastation. Of course, these “perfect” societies rely on the complete control of a strong governing body, which will only lead to eventual revolution and war. Now that Divergent is in theaters, and The Hunger Games is available to watch at home through streaming services or your satellite TV provider, let’s take a look at how the two books, and films, stack up against each other.
Both series feature a teenage girl as the protagonist who is the center a growing dissatisfaction with the current system. These series have strong moments, mostly surrounding their protagonists, who are powerful but vulnerable, intelligent, and have love interests who are their support system. However, the series have numerous weak moments. Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth each write in the first person point of view from their protagonist. This means everything we see is through Katniss’ and Tris’ eyes.
This limits how well the reader can become immersed in the world. It also limits character development, as the supporting and even most of the major characters can only be understood through what Katniss or Tris sees of their actions. While Katniss’s personality makes her an unreliable narrator, Tris is a bit more reliable because she’s more grounded and was raised in a wholesome loving family, so she is much less jaded against trusting people. Katniss, on the other hand, has been independent since her father died, and she has difficulty trusting anyone or understanding feelings, be them hers or others.
With either narrator, it’s impossible to get a complete picture of their worlds (though this weakness hasn’t stopped The Hunger Games series from outselling even the Harry Potter books on Amazon). Luckily for moviegoers, the point of view is much easier to follow, since you’re given the situation presented right in front of you, not told to you.
The films also allow viewers to better understand the situations and surroundings of the girls, which should allow them a bit more insight into why they make the choices that they do. In the books, both girls can come across as a bit selfish in their behavior, but in the film you’re given the context in which these choices take place, making the behavior a bit more understandable. Of course, a bonus of the films are the incredible visuals that they each have. Computer Generated Images play a huge part in both of the films, but Divergent may have the edge when it comes to incorporating real life places into it’s plot.
The film is based in Chicago, and much of the movie was filmed on the streets of Chicago during the summer of 2013, including at such landmarks as Michigan Avenue, the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, and Hancock Tower. Many of the action scenes take place in some of the busiest downtown streets, which were shut down for filming (something Chicago has been known to do for big productions filming there like The Dark Knight and Transformers). For those of you who aren’t into either series, but like the idea of the dystopian genre, fret not. Lois Lowry’s famous YA book The Giver has been adapted into a film, and will be hitting theaters this August. The star studded cast includes newcomer Brenton Thwaites as Jonas who stars alongside Jeff Bridges as the Giver and Meryl Streep as Chief Elder. Rounding out the cast are Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard as Jonas’ parents and Taylor Swift as the mysterious Rosemary.
Author Bio: Elizabeth Eckhart is a freelance entertainment and film blogger who considers Chicago her hometown. She is an avid reader that enjoys adult fiction, as well as YA, and loves watching her favorite books be transformed into film! You can follow her on Twitter at @elizeckhart