Book v Film: The Divergent Series – Allegiant

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”

Based on the final book in Veronica Roth‘s young adult dystopian Divergent trilogy, The Divergent Series: Allegiant is the third instalment in The Divergent Series of films and is the first in a two-part adaptation of the final book.

Directed by Robert Schwentke and set in the aftermath of Insurgent after the release of a video that revealed the truth about the faction system, announcing that the Divergent are needed outside the borders of the city. Tired of waiting for the self-appointed leaders of a now factionless city to make a decision, Allegiant sees Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) venture outside of the walls that enclose the only world they know, a futuristic Chicago in ruins, for the first time ever. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Taken into protective custody by a mysterious agency known as the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust, as a ruthless battle ignites. In order to survive, Tris is forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, and sacrifice.


The following post is a review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book. You can read my review of the book on its own here.

The Divergent franchise has been on a downward slope as the adaptations have distinguished themselves from the books more and more as they have gone on, and Allegiant is undoubtedly at the bottom of that pile.

With the release of Divergent in 2012, many of us were quickly hooked on this new young adult franchise, which had similar dystopian themes to the likes of The Hunger Games and a female protagonist to keep us engaged. But after seeing what a mess of an adaptation Insurgent was, my hopes for an epic finale quickly disintegrated as it became painfully apparent that the film adaptations weren’t going to stick closely to Roth’s original story in the slightest.

A decent read, the final book does well to tie up some of the loose ends that the previous instalments have opened up, but there’s so much left to explore and to be resolved by the end that it felt like a whole book had been missed out. The conclusions given were badly thought out and the bigger picture was often avoided, meaning that a science-heavy conclusion lost its potential in its own confusion.

You can buy the series of books here

But what the book didn’t detail well enough, the film adaptation missed out altogether. With complete changes in plot and structure and half of the cast being missed out, Allegiant falls to tiny, irretrievable pieces.

With a dire lack of character development, and of characters altogether, many of the smaller characters aren’t given enough attention, as Tris and Four become more unlikeable the more their egos get in the way.

The book certainly had its flaws, but this adaptation does everything it can to ruin anything that it had going for it and, instead, tries to create a whole new dystopian future where character and backstory don’t matter.

It’s so sad to see the franchise end this way, and with a whole other film to be released, nobody can predict where that’s going to go because there’s very little of the book left to use that they haven’t messed up already.

Differences From The Book:

Because of all the changes, it’s impossible to know where they have split the book for Part One and Part Two of the film, so I may have accidentally included some spoilers in the following list, with scenes that they may still use in Ascendant. For that, I apologise! But you have been warned.

In chronological order, these are the differences from the book to the film, without trying to spoil too much what could still happen:

  • The film starts with a reminder of Edith Prior’s video, as everyone runs towards the wall. In the book, nobody heads toward the wall. Evelyn maintains control straight away, becoming the leader of the city and forcing all faction members to live equally with the factionless.
  • The book starts in Erudite where Tris, Christina (with a wounded leg) and Cara (Will’s sister) are locked up in a cell and are about to be sent to trial for their betrayals at the end of Insurgent. In the film, they aren’t locked up having made no such betrayal in Insurgent. Since Cara wasn’t introduced in Insurgent, either, she has been left out of this third instalment altogether.
  • In the film, we see some of the traitor’s trials, but Tris and Christina are not amongst them. Instead, we see Max’s trial, who is shot dead. Joanna and some of her followers leave at this point but, in the book, she does not start out on her own until later on.
  • In the book, Uriah meets Tris after her trial. He is another character not included in this third instalment, after his role was massively reduced in the previous instalments.
  • In the book, Four has told Evelyn that he and Tris have broken up, but he doesn’t hide his relationship with her in the film.
  • In the book, Tris and Four go on their “first date”. The first scene in the film is of the two climbing a building together and having a conversation about what’s beyond the wall. In the book, they have a blanket and snacks, and the two promise never to lie to each other again, which is a big deal for what’s to come. This progress in their relationship is missed out in the film.
  • In the book, the factionless smash-up the faction bowls. Edward (an initiate with Tris in Divergent) kills an Erudite man and is then shot dead. This scene is missed out of the film.
  • In the book, Uriah and Christina have family that they visit. Zeke, Uriah’s brother, is good friends with Four and they hug when Four leaves. But Zeke is not in any of the films either, and there is no focus on this family bond in this instalment.
  • In the book, Evelyn has curfews and enforces everybody to start learning the jobs of the factionless. The restrictions are obvious in the film, but much of Evelyn’s control isn’t emphasised.
  • In the book, Tris is grabbed in the dark by The Allegiant. Tris, along with Christina, Four and Uriah, then go to meet them. Cara and Johanna are the leaders of the Allegiant. Tori, Zeke, and Peter are already there. This initial scene introducing the Allegiant is not included in the film; we are merely told that there is a rebel group working against Evelyn somewhere. In the film, Cara, Zeke, and Uriah are not included, and Johanna has already left the city.
  • In the film, Caleb has his trial and is sentenced to be executed the next day. In the book, Caleb is only awaiting his trial as no verdict has been given, and Four convinces Tris to rescue him. In the film, she asks Four to rescue him.
  • In the book, Four still tests his fear landscapes. He does not in the film.
  • In the film, they leave by car. In the book, they leave on the train.
  • In the book, Tris, Four, and Caleb meet Peter, Christina, Tori, Cara, Johanna, and Uriah. In the film, it is only Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter, Tori, and Christina. Johanna has already left the factionless, and Uriah and Cara are left out of this instalment altogether.
  • In the film, Peter tells them to let him come or he’ll alert the factionless that they are leaving. In the book, he is asked to join from the beginning since Cara likes him.
  • In the book, there is a small ambush by an unknown group of people as the Allegiant reach the wall. Tori is killed hurriedly and they then drive on through the wall with ease. In the film, the ambush is a big scene, and the factionless chasing them play bigger parts, holding a vendetta against the group throughout the rest of the film.
  • In the film, the team absent over the wall after blowing up the power room for the electronic fence, and they are then followed through by the factionless. In the book, the group drive through the wall pretty easily, and are not followed.
  • In the film, Peter jokes that the Bureau didn’t send out a welcoming committee, but they actually did in the book, where they are promptly met by cars.
  • In the book, the group are met by Zoe and Amar, an old friend of Four’s who was killed for being Divergent, straight away. Tris is then given a picture of her mother to prove that they can trust them. In the film, this picture doesn’t exist, and neither do Zoe and Amar. They then walk for ages and take refuge in an abandoned building. The next morning, the factionless find them before the Bureau appear.
  • In the film, the sky rains blood and the earth is radioactive. There is also an invisible “camo wall” that the Bureau hide behind. None of this is in the book.
  • In the film, the group are picked up by aircrafts with plasma globes and flying bubble things. In the book, they travel by trucks and have never seen a plane before.
  • There is no decontamination process or welcoming video in the book, as there is in the film.
  • There is also no drug called “perfexia” or place called “Providence” in the book, as there is in the film.
  • In the book, the Bureau is an old airport that is maintained and marked with gateways, with a big fountain in the middle. It’s much more futuristic in the film, and the Bureau even say “Welcome to the future”. It’s understandable why the adaptation would do this, but it takes this futuristic approach too far.
  • In the book, they all meet David and have the conversation about being genetically damaged with him straight away. In the film, only Tris is asked to meet David. To meet him, she goes up an elevator and is scanned to make sure that she is pure to gain access. This isn’t in the book.
  • In the book, Chicago was one of many experiments. In the film, it is said to be the only one.
  • In the film, they were black or white clothing to show who is pure and who isn’t. There are no obvious distinctions made in the book.
  • In the book, Caleb asks what an airport is, and they are later taken on an aeroplane ride, where they see how big the world is from up high. This ride is not included in the film, as they are not confused by the aircrafts.
  • In the book, the group has their own bedroom which is an old ballroom. In the film, they sleep with the rest of the Bureau in an army type setting.
  • In the film, the group are told that children in the Bureau grew up watching them. In the book, Chicago has been watched by older members of the Bureau who work to maintain control in the experimented city, but they were not some kind of reality TV programme, and there weren’t any children mentioned in the book.
  • In the book, Four goes for a midnight walk and meets Amar, who tells Four that Marcus’ trial has been set for tomorrow. Nothing to do with Marcus is ever mentioned in the film. Amar also comments that George Wu is looking for his sister, Tori. George is not included in the film, either.
  • In the book, Tris gets up early and walks to the fountain where she is asked to meet Matthew. She and Four both get their genes tested with syringes. In the film, Tris is tested on her own.
  • In the book, Four and Tris are introduced to Nita, who asks Four to meet her later without Tris. She shows him his family trees and hints that there’s trouble in the Bureau, that they have secrets and evidence of crimes. In the film, only Four meets Nita, and she says nothing above trouble in the Bureau and the family trees do not exist.
  • In the book, Caleb shows Tris the record room and they learn more about Amanda Ritter / Edith Prior. Edith is pretty much forgotten about in the film, and Caleb and Tris make no such meeting.
  • In the book, Tris is given her mother’s diary. In the book, she is given memory tabs and it explains very little. In the book, we quickly realise that David had feelings for her.
  • In the film, Four and Christina are assigned to Nita for weapons training. In the book, nobody is assigned to anybody and they are never separated from being a group. There’s no weapons training, and The Bureau actually appreciate that the group can handle a weapon better than them. The weapons are also kept safe in a lab but, in the film, they are easily accessible and Christina and Four are put to combat with the use of headgear and drones. There is no such new technology in the book.
  • In the film, we get to see more of what’s going on in Chicago with the change in perspectives. To show this, Peter and Caleb are also assigned to monitor Chicago in pods. In the book, only members of the Bureau monitor Chicago, but Four keeps an eye on both of his parents and watches as The Allegiant army forms.
  • In the film, Joanna and Evelyn are fighting. This doesn’t happen in the book.
  • In the film, the Bureau rescues children from The Fringe, get them healthy and give them a second chance. They don’t do this in the book and again, there is no mention of children.
  • In the film, the Bureau visits The Fringe often. In the book, no rescue missions happen.
  • In the film, Four persuades Nita to allow him and Christina into The Fringe. In the book, Nita sneaks out to The Fringe and asks Four to join her. They escape in an external tunnel where they meet Rafi, who talks to Four about an ‘uprising’.
  • In the film, Four sees the memory serum being used on the kids in The Fringe. This does not happen in the book.
  • In the book, Tris goes to The Fringe as well, but she doesn’t in the film.
  • The group, in fact, do very little whilst they are at the Bureau in the book. Most of what happens revolves around them being told or finding out the truth about what has happened to them and the rest of Chicago. The film is much more action-filled.
  • In the book, Christina and Uriah are growing close. Again, Uriah is not in the film.
  • In the book, Four and tris have sex but, in the film, they already did this in Insurgent. This is quite an important change, as Tris wanted to wait until the time was right for her in the book but, in the film, she didn’t wait. It’s not until this book that Tris finally takes control and allows Four to take her virginity, which is quite a big deal in the book as Tris is constantly telling Four and herself that she’s not ready, which is great for its young adult premise, so for the Insurgent adaptation to take this away from the story was disappointing.
  • In the film, Four is convinced by Nita to join her and Reggie into breaking into the weapons lab. She says they want to destroy the memory serum but, in fact, she wants to steal the death serum. Tris and Four fall out because of Tris’ jealousy. She then tells Matthew what Four is up to, but it turns out that Matthew is involved. They go to stop Nita, but there’s an explosion. Uriah dies and Four is sent to prison. At this point, Nita puts a gun to David’s head, Tris rescues him but he is shot and ends up in a wheelchair. None of this is in the film.
  • In the film, Four tries to persuade Tris to leave after seeing what the Bureau is doing to the children, but she goes to a council meeting with David to find out more. In the book, she does go to these council meetings but they’re different. In the book, David needs to control Chicago to prove to his superiors. This is where Tris finds out that he is planning on using the memory serum to erase Chicago’s memories. In the film, Tris finds out that David controls Chicago and that it is his decision not to stop the violence, revealing that he has lied to her from the beginning. There is no mention of the memory serum.
  • In the film, Four leaves the Bureau with Matthew after Tris refuses to go with him. Tris leaves a little later with Christina and Caleb. In the book, they all remain at the Bureau and work on the memory serum to use it to expose the leaders’ plans, intending to erase their memories so that they do not do the same to Chicago. Realising that the Bureau is going to turn off Uriah’s life support, the group make a plan for some of them to go back to Chicago to inoculate Uriah’s parents so that they can say goodbye to Uriah, and to inoculate Christina’s own parents. Only Four, Peter, and Christina leave, with the help of George and Amar.
  • In the film, David asks Peter to go to Chicago to give Evelyn the memory serum. In the book, Peter is still on the side of good, and David asks no such thing of him.
  • In the film, David lets Evelyn into the weapons lab in Chicago, but this lab is in the Bureau in the book.
  • In the film, Evelyn uses the serum on Marcus. In the book, Marcus has his trial and she banishes him to leave the city, where he joins with Johanna outside of the wall.
  • In the film, Evelyn keeps Four locked up as Peter persuades her to release the serum on Chicago by saying it only affects the Allegiant. Realising the truth, Evelyn tries to stop the serum, but Peter shoots her. Peter is, again, not involved in any of this in the book, and the serum is not used on Chicago at all.
  • In the film, Tris and Christina break in and rescue Four, stopping the serum from being released. In the book, Tris remains at the Bureau and something very different happens in the weapons lab there.
  • In the book, Four only visits his mum to ask her to make a decision – the war or him. Choosing him, she ends the war with Johanna and they agree to terms to get along. In the film, Tris unites Chicago by revealing the truth about the Bureau.
  • In the book, the group do return to the Bureau to get Tris and Caleb, but if they return in the second part of the film, it will now be on very different terms since they have started a new war. From the looks of things, there will only be one scene from the book in the next film, as they have messed the rest of it up by changing it around too much.

Overall Verdict:

Whilst I have my fair share of criticisms for the book, Allegiant is still an enjoyable read, and, as a final instalment, it’s much better than most books ending a trilogy usually are. However, whilst Allegiant does well to create a decent dystopian world and a revolutionary plot, the film completely goes off on its own tangent.

As an adaptation, it completely tramples over Veronica Roth’s work. The film didn’t need to be split into two, especially since this first instalment includes nearly everything from the book (only with huge changes), so I have no idea what the final instalment will bring. Because Allegiant has used up most of the book’ s source material for the first half of the film, Ascendant will, not only be very different from the book, but have to make up a completely new story to keep it going.

Sadly, fans of the books will have completely lost interest in the film adaptations at this point, which have gone from good to worse. And for watchers who have not read the books, I will be surprised if this film makes any sense to you at all, but you might still be entertained by the filled-out action which takes dominance over concluding a somewhat complex story.

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