It’s a good time to be Shailene Woodley at the moment. With the TV show that helped make her name – Secret Life Of The American Teenager – winding down, she’s free to capitalise on the success of her role in The Descendants. The gears are already shifting for the next stage of her career, as she’s close to nabbing the plum part of Mary Jane Watson in the Amazing Spider-sequel, and may follow that up with a a deal to star in Divergent.
Veronica Roth’s young adult novel is one of those in the pool of books fished by studios on the hunt for the next Twilight / Hunger Games. The merged beast that is Summit / Lionsgate has the rights and Neil Burger is on to direct.
Divergent, which hits shelves in 2011, finds a futuristic society split into factions. Our heroine is Beatrice “Tris” Prior, born in Chicago as part of the Abnegation faction, who are all raised to be selfless. When the teens of this future world reach 16, they decide which of the five factions (Candor – honesty; Erudite – intelligence; Amity – peace; Dauntless – daring and Abnegation – selfless) they will end up joining by means of a test.
Tris discovers that she’s divergent, suited to joining more than one faction, but is sworn to secrecy since this is not exactly encouraged. Since all the factions are, to some extent at least, rivals, those who don't quite fit into any one box are seen as dangerously destabilising elements. There’s even more to it than that, including hidden love affairs, a healthy dose of action and dangerous enemies.
The book, for our money, is not quite as compulsively readable, or as cinematic, as The Hunger Games, but with a decent adaptation it could end up nearly as good - we're interested to see where this one goes. The book is, of course, the first of a series, with follow-up Insurgent published earlier this year.
Before she gets Spider-Man’s attention, or heads to the dystopian future, though, Woodley will be seen in indie rom-com The Spectacular Now and will star in Gregg Araki’s White Bird.