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Friday, June 06, 2014

Comparing The Hunger Games And Divergent

I know this has been done a million times before (and that fans of both stories are getting sick of their preferred favorite being compared to 'the other book'), but everyone has a different opinion, and I'm sure that I'm no different.  I love reading comparisons of things that are similar, but certainly not the same, and The Hunger Games/Divergent certainly falls under that category.  Both are dystopic, both are narrated in first person, present tense by sixteen year old girls, and both contain great characters and world building.  Since I've only read the first book in the Divergent series, I'll be drawing on the first Hunger Games book only to make my comparisons, since I think it's the fair thing to do (I have read the entire HG series now - anyone interested in a series review?).  And now onto the comparisons!

The Heroines
  • The Hunger Games - Katniss Everdeen (how cool is that name?) has provided for her family since her father died when she was eleven.  It was difficult through the years, but eventually she settled into a good routine, even a good life.  Hunting with Gale, caring for Prim, hating Buttercup, and co-existing peacefully (if not affectionately) with her mother.  And then came the Reaping.  Where she volunteered to take Prim's place in the Games.  That was one of the moments I liked her the most.  How could you not like her at that moment???  She goes to the Capitol, has a fake romance with Peeta, cares for Rue, wins the Games and defies the Capitol all in the same breath, and goes back home (that all sounds so quick and emotionless, but I'm trying to keep this post short).  She's not always a likable character, but for the most part, she's an awesome character.  Plus, she has a super-cool weapon.
  • Divergent - Beatrice/Tris Prior is hiding a secret.  She's a Divergent, a dangerous condition that poses a threat to the government (for reasons I never fully understood) and because of that, she lives under the shadow of fear that they will discover who she truly is.  The first time I read Divergent, I had to give my neck a massage, because I was so tense most of the time.  She was worried, I was worried, and it showed.  Now, I never fully connected to Tris.  She's a good character, and I didn't mind her being the narrator, but I never really felt her emotions, except for the tension and fear that goes with every page.  One minute she was angry, then sad, then fearful, get the picture.  She has more mood swings than a roller-coaster has turns.
My Verdict:  This is tough.  I know I said some rather disparaging things about Tris, but Katniss isn't without her faults either.  But whereas Tris is selfish (at least some of the time), Katniss is selfless (although she isn't all the time).  She takes Prim's place, she protects Rue, she risks her life going to the Cornucopia 'feast' to get Peeta his medicine...but still.  I honestly can't decide.  I probably like Katniss a teensy bit better, but, really, neither girl is one of my favorite characters.  So, fine, I'll say Katniss.

The Heroes
  • The Hunger Games - I think Suzanne Collins was the one who really started out the love triangle, dystopian thing, and as is so usually the case, the first person to do it, does it the best.  I like Gale, I really do, even though he hardly got any 'screen time' in the first book (the movie was a bit better, showing his reaction to Katniss kissing Peeta and so on), but when he took Prim and steadied Katniss at the Reaping, I loved him right there.  It was one of his best moments.  I love watching his and Katniss friendship when they're hunting and talking in the woods, as well.  And as for Peeta...well.  He really confused me for a while, even though I knew how THG would end.  I didn't know he joined up with the Careers, so that threw me off.  I think, in a little way, I was like Katniss.  It took me a while to fall for Peeta but when I did, well...he's a pretty awesome.  I can't decide between him and Gale.
  • Divergent - Four/Tobias is one of my favorite modern literary heroes EVER, if not my favorite.  For all the faults that Divergent has, in my mind, Tobias more than makes up for them.  I'd read the book again just for his story, which is why I want to buy the collection of short stories that are all about him.  He's strong and gentle and has a no-nonsense air about him, and he'd protect Tris with his life.  There are so many little things about him that I love, and it would take forever to list them all.  And his casting in the movie is one of the best book-to-movie character casting choices I've ever seen.  Theo James is perfection for Tobias, and I'm not saying that lightly.
My Verdict:  Was there any question?  Tobias wins, hands down.  Even though I really like both Gale and Peeta, there's something about Tobias that I like even more.  Oh, and that question about whether I'm Team Peeta or Team Gale?  I can't decide, so you know what?  I'm going over to Team Finnick.  He deserves more recognition than he currently has.

The Villains
  • The Hunger Games - President Snow isn't in the first book much, but his presence is everywhere, from the Games themselves, to the Capitol's frivolity.  He's a force to be reckoned with, and in the movie, he has a slightly bigger role on screen since there are a few scenes with him talking strategy with Seneca Crane.  Either way, he's a menacing presence.
  • Divergent - Jeanine Matthews.  Her main problem is that people are still alive.  I kid you not.  She goes on and on about human nature being the problem, while she herself is creating the problem by crushing anyone who tries to stand up for themselves.  She's just begging for a revolution (not literally). 
My Verdict:  Both villains are cruel, manipulative, scary, and selfish.  Jeanine and Snow (does anyone know what Snow's first name is?  I know I read it somewhere, but I've forgotten).  And they're both calm and quiet and elegant whilst going about their villainous deeds, which makes them even more scary.  In terms of fear, I'd go with Jeanine.  In terms of powerfulness, I'd go with Snow.  So, they tie.

The Supporting Characters
  • The Hunger Games - Prim. Rue. Thresh. Cato. Clove. Cinna. Effie. Haymitch.  I love all these characters (well, maybe not Cato and Clove, but I do ship those two together and not just because they're both nasty - if you've watched the movie, Cato is actually kind of heartbreaking during the final Cornucopia scene), especially Cinna.  In fact, Cinna might be my favorite character in the whole thing, which is a big thing to say, since there are dozens upon dozens of different characters.  Since many secondary characters are tributes, you instantly feel sympathy for them, because they've been thrust into the arena and, you's pretty bad.  And, yes, I did like Effie.  She can't help who she is. And neither can Haymitch.
  • Divergent - Christina. Will. Al. Caleb. Eric. Peter. Uriah.  I like these secondary characters, especially Al, for some reason.  Of course, Eric and Peter are the exception, but all the others are great.  Some of them are more deep than Tris (though not Tobias), and I would've liked to see Christina's view on certain scenes (like when Eric pushed her over the edge...I might write a fan-fic about that some day) and Uriah was just plain awesome.
My Verdict: THG wins because I felt a deeper, more emotional connection to all the secondary characters.  Even if that emotion was hate.  No character in THG is portrayed in a weak way, all of them are well-rounded individuals, and I love that.  Divergent has some great minor characters, but not in the same way.

The Dystopian World
  • The Hunger Games - 12 districts.  1 Capitol.  24 tributes sent out once a year to fight to the death in the infamous televised Hunger Games.  Only one returns.  The districts are kept poor (with the exception of 1, 2, and 4), while the Capitol acts with revolting luxuriousness.  There are many clever world building techniques used in THG, little things that form together to make a cohesive whole.  The grain/oil in exchange for extra entries in the Reaping.  The ridiculous Capitol fashions.  The hovercrafts.  The Cornucopia.  The anthem.  In my opinion, THG is dystopic world building at its best, and it was incredibly interesting to read about the world of Panem (if a little disturbing).
  • Divergent - 5 factions.  1 Choosing Ceremony.  Countless factionless.  Divergent has a great 'world' as well, though I find the premise a little more far-fetched than THG.  I mean, would people really allow themselves to be slotted neatly into one personality type?  At the beginning, maybe (anything to bring about peace, right?) but after all, wouldn't there be more people with Divergent tendencies?  I could easily fit into more than one faction.  That aside (there needs to be a little suspension of disbelief reading almost any book, right?), Divergent is intriguing.  Like THG, there are many specific details that make the at once familiar and unfamiliar city of Chicago interestingly dystopian.  Zip lines, the Choosing Ceremony, the Dauntless' home, different faction customs...the list could go on.  Divergent has strong, good world building.
My Verdict:  The Hunger Games wins, by a slight margin.  The premise is more believable, and more truly terrifying (in a dystopian way), not only because of the horror of the Hunger Games themselves, but the signs that our world could be wrong, just like Panem.  Perhaps not to the same extremes, but terrible nonetheless.  Divergent is milder, and it's only confined to Chicago.  Still interesting, but not as chilling.


The Hunger Games.
But, really, didn't you already know that?
And do you agree or disagree with my 'verdicts'?


P.S. Today is both the anniversary of D-Day and Barricade Day (for Les Mis fans).  For the first, let me direct you to this amazing picture gallery of 'then & now' D-Day pictures, and for the second, I wrote a post on Feelsy Feels.  Enjoy!


Hayden said...

Such an interesting post! I admit I seem to be one of the few people who like Tris better than Katniss (though, like you, I've only read the first Divergent book). Don't get me wrong- I do like Katniss, but I never really connected to her very well. But she gets a lot of points for being an archer and taking her sister's I like her; I just felt that Tris seemed a bit more "real" and had more emotions. Which is ironic, because as a person I'm probably more like Katniss.

haha. When people ask me if I'm Team Gale of Team Peeta I'm just like, "what are you talking about? I'm team Haymitch..." ;) But I do love Finnick. A lot. At first I thought I was really going to dislike him, but my thoughts on that certainly changed. I will NEVER forgive Suzanne Collins for what she did to him in the last book. NEVER.

But I do *like* Peeta. A lot. Again, I seem to be one of the few people who never warmed up to Gale, even though I've literally come up with a list of reasons why I should like him. The feelings are just not there for some bizarre reason.

Anyway, though I really connected to Divergent, I think The Hunger Games is a better, more epic book- it just seems to have a bigger scope to it, with characters I really remembered. But I do like them both- even though a few years ago I never would have imagined I would actually enjoy a book that was a dystopian, and, on top of that, *popular* I guess I've learned not to judge things before I try them :)

Eva said...

YES. I hated what happened to Finnick. And it wasn't even done properly...just hurried over. If you're going to do that to him, Suzanne, do it RIGHT. No-one seemed to really care, either. Which is why I'm Team Finnick (didn't think I'd like him either, though ;)).

payton marie said...

Loved this, Eva! I really need to read Divergent... Oh, and yes, I would love a series review, by the way. ;)

Katniss is not very likable sometimes, but I appreciate her character nonetheless. I never liked Gale, staunchly take Peeta's side, and adore Finnick to the ends of the earth. But I'm like Hayden; I'm Team Haymitch! :D

Well, obviously, I can't say I agree with your verdict cuz I haven't read Divergent yet. But I definitely *approve* of your verdict. ;) And Hayden, I totally agree with your last paragraph! When I first heard of THG, I was very skeptical, to say the least. Then I ate humble pie. ;)

Jennifer said...

Very well done comparison. This is one comparison I would not want to tackle. You did a great job. I still can't decide. I would pick "Divergent" to live in, but I think I enjoy reading "The Hunger Games" better.

Bethany Morrow said...

I love both of these series/books.
But I have to agree with you I think the hunger games is a better crafted story. That being said I do prefer the Divergent movie over HG.
Beth xxx

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