16. Rohini N
“I definitely agree. Although I may receive brickbats for what I'm about to say and probably be criticized for my lack of knowledge of Dystopian novels, I actually find them ridiculous and laughable. I can't somehow digest the fact that in a world different from ours, kids who are in their teens jump off trains, fall from buildings and compete with each other in deadly games for the sake of their lives. The division- be it the districts in The Hunger Games or factions in Divergent are preposterous. I liked Divergent. I haven't seen the movie and don't wish to. It's a well-written book but at the end of the day, I don't feel anything for the characters and these days, one does find old ideas recycled under new titles. Is it just a hype? Or not? Maybe I'm just not ready for them...yet.”
For the record, dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres. I've read books, watched movies and episodes in plenty. I've even written two stories, I think, still to be completed though. I find a person's take on what the world will be like after an apocalypse very intriguing. I mean, some of my favourite movies are dystopians: The Matrix, Terminator, Resident Evil (I guess). But all of these have a plausible foundation, which Divergent doesn't have - namely, the concept of the factionless.
I liked the Hunger Games idea, because the history implanted into the story - though brief - is plausible. Each district manages a different resource or product - 12: coal, 11:agriculture, etc. - which is fine. Makes sense. The Capitol (which was one of the names given to Ancient Rome, by the way) is a city full of the aristocratic snobs who have nothing to do all day.
Collins shares her opinion on modern, western society in a very intelligent way by doing this - every other country is supplying our big cities with goods and near-starving, while we're too worried about how slow our Wi-fi is. And lastly, the fights to the death? They reflect Ancient Roman gladiatorial spectacles. That's where the idea is clearly taken from - and all the gladiators were more or less from different parts of the Roman empire - they were trained, celebrated and made to fight each other in grand arenas (like the Coliseum). The victor was duly awarded with riches and fame (just like in the Hunger Games) and were set free from slavery.
The uprising that happens in the HG story is reflective of the gladiator revolt in Roman times led by a Greek gladiator named Spartacus.
The Hunger Games had a solid and plausible historical and political grounding.
Divergent didn't have any of that.
And, since history has a way of repeating itself, the HG parable is at least foreseeable, possible in happening. Divergent isn't.
I suppose you do find old stories circulated and changed under new names (like the similarities between Shakespeare's Hamlet and Disney's the Lion King) - but that's not an excuse. The human mind is a wondrous thing - it was capable of thinking up original ideas back then and it should be just as capable now.
Divergent and the Hunger Games are far too similar for comfort.