Audiobook Review – Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica RothAuthor: Veronica Roth

Narrator: Aaron Stanford

Audiobook length: 6 hours and 33 minutes

Genre: Young adult, dystopian, science fiction

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I finished this one early last month and have continued to forget to post a review ever since. I liked it, mostly, but it didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me. Let’s do a one or two sentence mini review for each of the four stories in Four: A Divergent Story Collection and then I’ll talk about the narrator.

The Transfer – very cool to learn about Four when he still lived in Abnegation and the process he went through in deciding to transfer to Dauntless. We learned about his home life with Marcus, and while we already knew most of what was discussed, we actually got to see why Four transferred and why he felt the way he did towards his home and Marcus. I also enjoyed being back in this world.

The Initiate – this one was probably the best of the four stories. We learn more about Four, but also about some of the secondary characters like Shauna and Zeke. I wish we’d gotten to know Amar a bit better as he was supposed to mean so much to Four, but we hardly see him and they don’t get that close. Learning more about Four BEFORE he meets Tris was why I liked this story.

The Son – this is the story in which Four begins to question Dauntless leadership. Other than that, I honestly can’t really remember what happens…seriously, I’m sitting here trying to remember and it obviously just left hardly any impression on me. :/

The Traitor – this was probably my least favorite story. It takes place during the events in Divergent and is basically that story but from Four’s perspective, which could’ve been cool if it had actually added anything to the story. Four and Tris feel like basically the same character, especially when we are reading (or in this case, listening) to scenes with both of them in it. I had to force myself to finish this one because I was bored.

In addition to these four stories, we also get three extra scenes from Four’s perspective, one of which was when Tris was the first jumper. While I didn’t really like the story when Four and Tris were already together, this scene was fun to see from Four’s perspective.

The narrator – Aaron Stanford has a REALLY monotone, even voice. When I first starting listening to Four, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish it. But then his voice started to pull me in and began to really fit Four and his personality. I ended up really liking his voice for the middle part of the audiobook. And then we got to the last story that bored me and added his monotone voice and…yeah, it was hard to get through that last story.

The bottom line: Even though the last two stories weren’t my favorite, I do think any fans of the Divergent trilogy will appreciate learning more about Four and his life before and after Tris.

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Insurgent Teaser Trailer – Reaction

So here I was just working on some blog stuff and writing for WatchPlayRead and then BAM I come across the teaser trailer for Insurgent. I’m probably really behind but I’ve been busy. If you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:

My first reaction was “What the actual F is happening?” We’ve got floating houses and concrete than can apparently catch fire. Wuuuut? Then I realized that this had to be one of Tris’ bad dreams in Insurgent, right? Because her mother is [spoiler] dead, and houses don’t float and concrete can’t catch fire.

I will say that it does look pretty awesome (even if the CGI isn’t super great). However, let me just leave this quote from Theo James here. “You have to honor the material for the first film because you have a fan base, but when you come to the second one, if you you’ve done well with the first movie, you now have the ability to think outside the box,” he said. “And I think as long as you have good character progression—which is essentially Four and Tris, the anchors of the films—if you have that stuff right, then if you lose some kind of threads of different plotlines, it shouldn’t matter.” Ugh.

What about you guys? What did you think of the trailer? First thoughts?

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Boyfriends

toptentuesday

So it’s Top Ten Tuesday again! Yay! This week’s theme as laid out by The Broke and the Bookish is:

Top Ten Characters Who X (you fill in the blank — examples: piss me off, are the popular kids, are bookish, would be my bff, that stole my heart, etc. etc.)

I decided to choose top ten characters who were totally my book boyfriend.

I’d just like to say before I start this list that I am probably seriously screwed up if these are the characters I’d choose to be my boyfriend. But you know what? This is a judgment free zone. So no judging, okay? J I’d also just like to say I’m not really a Mr. Darcy type of girl.


1. Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower (he’s messed up, too, so we’d be one really messed up couple)

Charlie

Logan Lerman is my perfect Charlie.

2. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars (I think everyone will agree on this one)

3. John Rebus from the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin (I’m so screwed up)

4. Fred or George Weasley (I mean, constant laughs)

Just adorable!

Just adorable!

5. Will from Divergent (he’s witty and sweet and brave)

6. Don Tillman from The Rosie Project (imagine dating Sheldon Cooper. I have problems)

7. Finnick from The Hunger Games series (He is gorgeous, strong, sweet. What else do you want?)

I mean, HELLO!

I mean, HELLO!

8. Sherlock Holmes (Of course I’d be interested in someone who’d have absolutely none in me)

9. Wes from The Truth About Forever (No words, guys)

I couldn’t think of a full list, so I asked one of my friends, Noelle Avenmarg, for her book boyfriend. She said:

10. Calvin O’Keefe from the Wrinkle in Time series. (Probably my first book crush).

 

Book to Movie Review: Divergent

Title: Divergent

Author: Evan Daugherty, Vanessa Taylor (screenplay); Veronica Roth

Release: March 21, 2014 by Summit Entertainment

Director: Neil Burger

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

Today I went to see, for the second time, the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s YA dystopian novel Divergent. Book to movie adaptations are often disappointing in one way or another to bookish people like me, so I thought I’d have a go at reviewing this one for anyone who was unsure if they wanted to see it. The marketing campaign for the movie was HUGE, with commercials, posters, social media, sneak peeks (like on the new Catching Fire DVD release), and just a whole lot of hype, and often movies with that much excitement surrounding it disappoint in a major way. But I have to say that this time, Divergent delivered.

Divergent Movie PosterFor anyone unaware of the plot or needing a little refresher, here’s a summary of Divergent:

In a post-apocalyptic Chicago, the citizens are divided into five factions according to their personality, and each faction has their place in the running of the city. Candor, who value honesty, run the court system. The Erudite value knowledge and pursue the advancement of science. The people of Amity are peaceful and work the fields surrounding the city.  The Dauntless are brave and operate as the security for the city. Beatrice, the protagonist, is a member of the Abnegation, who value selflessness, and operate as the government. When the people of Chicago reach the age of 16, they take a test that tells them which faction they have an affinity for, but the citizens are allowed to choose which faction they’d like to join despite which result they get in the test. The test tells Beatrice that she is Divergent – a very rare result that means she is suited for more than one faction. She decides to join Dauntless – and changes her name to Tris – as she’s always loved their bravery. However, her capabilities mean that she does not fit into the social order of the city. The leaders of the world in Divergent believe that by segregating people into factions will ensure that order will continue to hold and war will not break out again. Tris threatens that order by not thinking in a singular fashion, and so, as she finds out, she is being hunted down.

Dauntless initiation is highly competitive, and it forces Tris to figure out who her friends really are. She also begins a sometimes confusing but overall promising romance with her initiation leader, Four. However, Tris’ secret threatens to be discovered while a growing conflict threatens to destroy the supposedly perfect society in which she lives. Tris’ Divergence could help save her friends and family or it could kill her in the process. Let me just quickly say that I REALLY enjoyed the novel. I thought that the world that Roth created was completely believable and perfect for its dystopian genre. The characters were well-rounded, and you really felt for them as they went through initiation and what followed. The romance between Tris and Four was not overpowering and was interwoven into the story in a way that fit well into the rest of the plot. It was pretty well-written, entertaining, and left me wanting to read more. If I’d reviewed it on here, I would have given it an 8 (freaking fantastic). I will say, however, that I was not a big fan of the second book in the trilogy, Insurgent, and had mixed feelings about the last book in the series, Allegiant.

Now on to the movie: First, the actors. I was a little apprehensive when Shailene Woodley was cast as Tris. But she proved herself, at least to me. Her portrayal of Tris felt honest, endearing, fully formed, and well-done. I enjoyed watching her on-screen development and thought she did a fantastic job of getting the audience emotionally involved. There’s one scene in which she practically has a breakdown that had my heart breaking because her performance was so realistic. One of the best parts was her chemistry with Theo James, who plays Four. The two operate well together and their romance was one of the most believable things to me in the movie. Then you’ve got Zoe Kravitz, who plays Tris’ friend Christina, an Erudite transfer. There’s Ashley Judd as Tris’ freaking awesome mom. We’ve got Miles Teller as the hilarious and rude Peter, a Candor transfer. And then we have Jai Courtney as the Dauntless leader Eric, the seriously sadistic bad guy. I thought the performances by all of these actors were completely on point, perfect casting. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but the only performance I thought was a little disappointing was that of Kate Winslet, as Erudite leader and creepy creep, Jeanine Matthews. Her portrayal was a little flat, almost stiff, and while I can appreciate that as potentially part of Jeanine’s character, it just felt odd.

Trisposter

I think this might have something to do with the script, which overall, is good. Just good. It’s even a little cheesy in some parts, like when Jeanine quips that Tris is “a poor blend of impulses and impurities” or when Four has this brilliant revelation that a vial he found HAS to be a simulation inducing serum. Duh. Also, the last 20 minutes or so of the movie were like a competition to see how many times they could include the word Divergent. However, there were several parts of unexpected humor that I quite enjoyed.

I’d say that the main change that hurt the movie was the development of the characters. As much as I enjoyed the performances by the actors, Tris’ best friends in the novel (Al, Will, and Christina) are somewhat pushed to the side in favor of Tris’ and the storyline’s progression. This is completely understandable, but a few of the characters’ were so pushed aside that when one of Tris’ most painful deaths to handle occurs, the audience barely has time to process, let alone actually have many feelings about it. My friend who joined me for the movie hadn’t read the book, and she said she barely felt bad about the death, which saddened me because it felt as if that character didn’t get the appreciation he deserved because he was so badly developed. I wish that a little more time had been spent on the secondary characters from the novel. These changes result in some missing context, and this means confused audiences members, particularly those who hadn’t read the book. Actually, this occasionally means confused audiences members who HAD read the book (e.g. some of the climactic scene had me going “WHAT the heck is going on?)

On a more positive note, the visual effects and cinematography in the movie are wonderful. The use of mirrors in Tris’ faction affinity test is beautiful as well as terrifying, and much of the time while in the simulations is completely awesome. The portrayal of the Dauntless, both before Tris chooses them and after, is brilliant, full of glee, terror, passion, and bravery, and I enjoyed pretty much every minute of seeing them operate as a faction. The movie also creates a believably decaying Chicago, fenced in by a huge, electric fence. One of the first things we see is a giant, grounded ship, rusted, crumbling, and looking to have been there for hundreds of years. I also enjoyed the faction costumes, which impeccably portrayed the way Roth describes the way the factions feel, if that makes sense. The people of Amity look like happy hippies, with long, flowing skirts, loose hair, and tunic-like tops. Candor is clad in pure black and white, the way in which the Candor see the truth.

The bottom line: This movie was highly, HIGHLY entertaining, action-packed, and powerful. Other than some changes with character development, I thought this was a pretty good adaptation. I’d definitely recommend seeing this movie in the theater, as the fear landscapes, fight scenes, and decaying world are super cool on the big scene. I enjoyed this movie so much, I saw it twice.

Rating: 7 – Pretty good

Divergent is rated PG-13 for violence, some obscenity and disturbing thematic material.