Not too long ago, before J-Law and the big movie franchise bucks, The Hunger Games was just the next possible Y.A. sensation. Now, with the Hunger Games phenomenon fully mainstream, there's a bevy of new book-to-film adaptations vying for the title of next big thing at that this year's Comic-Con, which begins in earnest today. So which hopeful will take the crown? Keep your eyes on Divergent. Why? It has the right mix of popular source material, a hot young cast of more-than-just-pretty-faced actors, and a healthy amount of buzz.
Before you even get to the book's content, Divergent has a great story. Author Veronica Roth (who is only 24—jeez) got the deal for the trilogy when she was still a student at Northwestern. So, yes, take a moment to feel bad about yourself. And the actual book? It's fun, if a bit familiar at points. It takes places in a dystopian Chicago where the population is divided into factions. There's Candor, which believes in honesty, Abegnation, which believes in selflessness, Dauntless, which believes in bravery—you get the picture. The smart and gifted heroine is Tris, who chooses to leave her faction, Abegnation, for Dauntless. But really, she belongs in neither because she's—guess what?—Divergent. The Dauntless are mostly jerks (save for a mysterious hot guy called Four) and force their initiates to brutally fight one another and face their greatest fears in dream-like simulations. Tris, of course, excels despite low expectations. The Katniss comparisons are going to be undeniable. Here's another stoic young woman who defies expectations by being both brave and compassionate. The violent deaths of youngsters is also a definite Hunger Games link—though Divergent (at least the first book in the trilogy) is nowhere near as grim.