Thursday, August 29, 2013

THE HOST

For the synopsis of the story, first read my book review here. The film closely resembles the book plot, only changing the smallest of details.  


The book having ultimately left me disappointed, I had no great inkling to see the film version of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host.  That being the case, I didn’t rush to the cinema for a ticket, but finally got around to watching it now. 

Much like the book, the film left me unsatisfied, though for different reasons.  The film improved the final scenes, but also let down in major ways.  Allow me to clarify.

I read (and watched) The Host because of the premise – Melanie’s love for Jared is so strong that she refuses to give up; she refuses to allow Wanderer full access into her mind, and she fights for control of her body.  That is what hooked me – Melanie and Jared.  Two humans who found each other and love each other, and Melanie working even once occupied to return to Jared and to keep him safe.  The problem that I have with the book is that it is written completely from Wanderer’s perspective – I said in my book review that I would have appreciated some Melanie chapters – Melanie was the reason I was emotionally invested in the story, not Wanderer.  Then the book went and ruined the ending for me by implying that everybody was a little bit in love with everybody else.  While Jared and Mel are together, and Ian and Wanda are together, it seems that Mel and Ian are making moon eyes at each other, as are Jared and Wanda.  This ticked me off big time.  Also, the fact that Jared kissed Wanda and meant it – this greatly lessened Jared and Mel’s connection for me. 


Now, the movie thankfully omitted this kiss and Wanda shared a passionate kiss with Ian instead.  However, the movie failed to show Mel and Jared’s reunion; my favourite part of the book (granted, it is a bonus scene)!  After months apart, Jared and Mel are finally back together, Mel is back in possession of her body and they can be together again.  The film simply went to the scene where Wanda wakes up in her new body.  What a let-down!

The major issues I have with the film, however, is that the book is about both Wanda and Mel, about their struggles and their relationship – they become as close as sisters.  The film, however, focuses solely on Wanda.  In the film Mel’s presence isn’t nearly strong enough and for some reason their connection doesn’t translate well on screen.  Also, Jared and Mel’s relationship didn’t come across as powerful as it does in the book.  It seems that the movie is more about  Wanda and Ian’s story, and Mel and Jared are merely secondary characters.


Ian and Wanda

On the positive side Jake Abel did a great job as Ian!  He embodied all the qualities that make Wanda trust Ian and fall in love with him, and I much prefer film Ian to book Ian.  Max Irons also played the part of Jared really well, giving just the right combination of bitterness and vulnerability.  Saoirse Ronin was the perfect choice for Melanie/Wanderer.  She perfectly portrayed Mel’s strength and loyalty as well as Wanda’s innocence and naivety.  I also loved William Hurt as Jeb.  All round the casting was spot on.  The movie, however, fell a little flat – as evidenced by the fact that the movie is widely considered to be a box office flop, having barely grossed its production cost.  That being the case, I doubt the studio will bother making a film version of the sequel Meyer is currently writing (The Seeker), or the third and final book of the planned trilogy (The Soul).  Truthfully, at this stage, I don’t have much interest in either.  If the next book is once again solely written in Wanda’s perspective, I doubt I’ll read it.  I’m just more invested in Melanie than Wanda.

For some reason this is a film that just does not translate well from book to screen; the book manages to tell the story and convey the depth of emotions much better than the film - perhaps the film just did not have enough time to properly lay the foundations and focus on all of the details.  Visually it is beautifully done and does the descriptions in the book justice, but ultimately some stories work better as books than movies, and The Host is one of them. 


Jared and Melanie

Monday, August 26, 2013

DIVERGENT MOVIE TRAILER

The first full trailer for the Divergent movie premiered this weekend at the MTV Video Music Awards.




Thank you @ilfiore for sharing!

Friday, August 23, 2013

REVIEW: PRIDE'S PREJUDICE ~ MISTY DAWN PULSIPHER

Beth Pride really can’t stand William Darcy: he snubbed her at the Hartford College Children’s Benefit Auction; he has an infuriating propensity for pushing her buttons; his actions are frequently at odds with his words; and even his melting chocolate eyes and impressive physique don’t quite make up for his deficient personality.

Beth’s plan to avoid William backfires when her roommate falls for his best friend. As the unlikely duo are thrown together time and again, Beth begins to second guess her earlier assumptions about William.

Will Pride’s prejudice keep her from a happy ending, or will Beth discover that first impressions aren’t always what they seem?



As I am sure you could infer from the synopsis, Pride’s Prejudice by Misty Dawn Pulsipher is a modern day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  There are several adaptations and Austen inspired works, but quite frankly I’ll probably never get enough.  If it involves Jane Austen, chances are I am going to love it – and love it I did. 

Beth and William are wonderfully entertaining characters, and personality wise they are very true to Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.  The verbal sparring between the characters is no less entertaining than the original Lizzie and Darcy, and their interactions are also a pleasure to follow.  Beth and William are like magnets; they constantly find themselves drawn to each other even though they find it difficult to get along.  I appreciate the fact that while William’s personality and actions are very true to Darcy’s character, William is a bit more open than Darcy, and once he realises he likes Beth he makes a move.  I also appreciated that Beth and William get together before the very end of the story and that the author gives the reader the time and opportunity to appreciate them as a unit.  The supporting characters are also interesting and very true to their original counterparts.

While this version sticks closely to the original storyline, there are enough changes to make the book refreshing and interesting to follow, and while lovers of Pride & Prejudice will have a general idea where the story would end up, certain aspects are unpredictable and it is a joy to see where the author will take you next.  I love the many ways the author spun events from Pride & Prejudice to make it realistic in modern times, and she did a wonderful job of portraying the progression of Beth and William’s relationship.  Beth and William have great chemistry… and I can’t help but wonder what Ms Austen would say about the sexual tension!  The author took great care, though, to not overdo anything and she cleverly managed to stay true to Austen’s sense of propriety while keeping a modern romance realistic and giving the readers some passion.

Pride’s Prejudice is a fresh take on a classic that respectfully portrays events in a modern light.  Any Austen fan will enjoy this take on the beloved classic.


Product information:
Title: Pride’s Prejudice
Author: Misty Dawn Pulsipher
Pages: 360
Publisher: Misty Dawn Pulsipher
Year: 2013

ISBN: 1484917847

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BELLA SWAN: THE WORST LITERARY "HEROINE" OF ALL TIME?


After finishing Veronica Roth's Divergent, my best friend, Erika, and I started talking and comparing various young adult heroines, and it really got me thinking.  Let’s compare the literary heroines Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter Series), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Trilogy), Tris Prior (Divergent) and Clary Fray (The Mortal Instruments) to Bella Swan (The Twilight Saga) – and in this case I use the term “heroine” loosely.

Honestly, I’ve never thought Bella Swan was a good role model for girls, but it wasn't until recently, after reading some other young adult series, that I am coming to find just how bad a role model she really is!  This is not the kind of "heroine" you want your young daughter to emulate.  Yes, I admit I read (and enjoyed) the Twilight Saga, but as fluff - something light you read between serious books.  Besides, I am not an impressionable young girl; I am old enough and smart enough to take it all with a grain of salt and not put Bella Swan on a pedestal.  Is Twilight the best series I’ve ever read?  Absolutely not!  Is it my favourite young adult series?  Heck no!  Bella and Edward aren’t even my favourite characters – Alice and Jasper are (their story would have made a much better romance than Twilight).  If we’re being honest, Twilight is not brilliantly written, the characters don’t have much depth and the “epic” conclusion is just a lot of tension leading up to a fight that never happens; but I digress - This is not about the merits of Twilight, but of Bella Swan.


Bella, as a character, doesn’t do much!  She only repeatedly puts herself in mortal danger, needing others (usually Edward) to rescue and/or protect her. Granted, she becomes a bit more pro-active once she is a vampire, but the automatic newborn strength is not something to boast of.  Bella’s biggest talent and contribution to those around her is the fact that she has a very closed off mind?  Not a positive trait in my book…

My biggest issue with Bella, however, is the whole I’ll-die-if-he-leaves-me-complex.  Seriously.  I get that you love the guy, but jeez woman, no man is your be all and end all! Hermione loves Ron, Clary loves Jace, Tris loves Tobias, Katniss loves Peeta (maybe even more than you love your precious Edward) – but when something happens to pull them apart, these girls toughen up and keep on fighting!  They don’t let themselves deteriorate into a comatose state and they don’t let their depression keep them from living. 

Also, may I point out that Bella is the only one of these heroines determined to have sex, and the Twilight Saga is (to the best of my knowledge) the only one of the series containing sexual content of this nature (There is none of that to be found in Harry Potter or The Hunger Games; I am not completely up to date on the Mortal Instruments or the Divergent series just yet, so I don’t know how that progresses).  While the other heroines are obviously attracted to their men and kissing is not uncommon, Bella keeps trying to jump Edward’s bones to the point that he literally has to fight her off, and actually exhaust her in other ways so that she won’t have the energy to try to seduce him! This girl literally only has sex on the brain for quite some time (Granted, she’s married when they actually get that far and Meyer gets some credit for at least not promoting premarital sex, but that’s not my point).  


Let's compare Bella and Edward's romance with Hermione and Ron's.  It takes seven years of building trust and friendship before Ron and Hermione actually kiss.  True, at this point they are roughly the same age as Bella and Edward when they first kiss (not counting his vampire years) and it is natural for teenagers to kiss, but while Ron and Hermione get to know each other first it doesn't take Edward and Bella very long to start locking lips, does it?  I much prefer Rowling's approach in portraying her characters building a strong foundation on friendship before becoming romantic (even though they were very clearly in love from The Goblet of Fire onwards).  Bella and Edward waste no time in getting physical, and for impressionable young girls reading these stories, Hermione's character is a much better role model in this regard (as well as others).


Ron and Hermione's romance vs Edward and Bella's romance

Hermione teaches young girls that education is important and that being smart is okay even if it makes you a social outcast, but that being a good person and a good friend is even more important. She also proves that you can love a guy without being more than friends, and that you don't need to be in a relationship to be complete.  Clary teaches young girls that it is important to embrace who you are even if it scares you.  Tris teaches young girls that it is okay to embrace your destiny even if others don’t understand, and that you don’t have to hurt others to get to the top.  Katniss teaches young girls that people have an obligation to stand up for the weak, that protecting others is more important than self-preservation and that independence and self-sufficiency is more important than romance.  Bella teaches young girls that you can’t be someone without a man and that you need a man to be happy.


Hermione Granger is smart, brave and humble.  Katniss Everdeen is a protector of the weak.  Clary Fray is fearless.  Tris Prior is dauntless.  So we’ve got the girl who helped defeat the dark lord and bring order to the wizarding world, the girl who started the rebellion to empower the oppressed, the girl who embraces her shadowhunter roots and kicks some demon butt, the girl who thwarted a hostile takeover and restored mental freedom… and the girl who got pregnant. 



Literary heroines… I know which ones I would like for my niece to look up to.  
(Hint: not Bella)

Correction: Harry's life would have been very SHORT if Hermione didn't read

Monday, August 19, 2013

REVIEW: BULLY ~ PENELOPE DOUGLAS

My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he'll barely even speak to me.  But he still won't leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I've been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way in hell I'll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back.


Growing up neighbours, Tate and Jared are the best of friends who get each other through the rough patches of life.  They are kindred spirits; they are inseparable.  Then the summer before freshman year Jared visits his father and comes back completely changed.  Gone is the gentle boy who held Tate’s hand and snuck into her room for innocent sleepovers.  He is replaced by a cold, hard, bully.  Suddenly, out of the blue, with no explanation, he hates Tate… with a passion that terrifies her.  Suddenly her best friend turns on her, and Jared makes it his personal mission to make Tate’s life a living hell.

Rumours and pranks follow Tate wherever she goes and suddenly she is a social pariah – no boys will date her, nobody will invite her to parties, and nobody will stick up for her when Jared moves in for the kill.   For over two years Tate is crushed by Jared’s treatment of her, until eventually his bullying makes her physically ill and she convinces her father to let her study abroad for a year.  Jared, of course, ensures that she leaves for France in tears. 

When Tate returns for senior year, she is the changed one.  She’s got spunk, she’s got confidence and is no longer hiding from Jared or cowering from his attacks – she’s fighting fire with fire.  Unsettled by the new Tate, Jared can’t get his kicks from making her cry anymore.  His old tactics don’t have any effect on her, and to get her to crack he must turn the pressure up… way up.  Pulling out all the stops to prove that he can still make the tough girl cry, Jared finally goes too far and Tate realises she can’t do it anymore.  She doesn’t like the person she has become in fighting Jared.  “This is how bullies are made”.  So Tate gives up – she gives up on fighting back, she gives up on trying to figure him out, she accepts the boy she once loved is gone and she just completely gives up on Jared.  It is only then, when he can’t get any reaction out of Tate at all, when she tells him “You are nothing to me” that he realises he has finally lost a hold on the girl he secretly loves. 

Jared finally makes the move to reconcile with Tate – but is it too late?  Tate is fed up with Jared and his treatment of her and it will take a whole lot of explaining to make Tate understand why he turned on her; and even more to convince her that he truly loves her.

Bully by Penelope Douglas is quite different than any young adult novel I’ve read before.  I liked Tate as a character.  She’s independent and brave and refuses to let Jared keep her down.  She’s a well-developed, multi-layered character and gets the reader behind her very early on.  Jared, on the other hand, I had a harder time warming up to.  Even after he explained why he turned on Tate I didn’t really get it.  I can understand why he was hurt and upset, but it doesn’t justify the things he did to Tate.   I get that the author tried to portray him as a misunderstood, wounded guy who lashed out at his best friend because he couldn’t hurt the people who had hurt him, but for me it fell flat.  I get lashing out against your loved ones in a weak moment because you are hurt… but deliberately hurting the one person who loved you unconditionally for three years?!  That’s not lashing out – that’s something else entirely.

There was a total lack of character development in Jared.  It seemed like one day he just flipped a switch, deciding to be the nice guy Tate used to know, and there was a complete lack of development in this regard.  Unfortunately the author never gave me enough reasons to fully like Jared's character, and his reconciliation with Tate left me unaffected.  Because of Jared this was never I couple I found myself rooting for.  I was rooting for Tate all the way, and while I was happy she was finally happy, Jared still left me cold.  I do have sympathy for what he endured, but that does not magically excuse his horrid treatment of the girl he claims to love, for three years.  He literally went out of his way to hurt and humiliate her time and time again.  I'm sorry, but if you truly love someone you will never stoop this low.

I understood Tate’s forgiveness considering the person she is and the depth of love for the boy Jared once was, but I had a hard time dealing with her now being in a relationship with him.  I just don’t understand how a girl can be in a relationship with a guy who emotionally abused her for so long – yes, she understands his reasons now, but can you really just forget three years of torment after one kiss?  It would have been more realistic if Tate had more difficulty with this decision, and if the reader had been privy to her reservations.  I think the author initially went too far in drawing Jared as a villain.  His treatment of Tate was simply too big of a barrier to completely get over, and it was simply not possible to get me, as the reader, to forgive and forget and suddenly trust.  By that point he was too well established as a jerk to endear him to the reader, and the lack of character development made it impossible to like him even after he softens up.  The author failed to humanize him.  Mostly, she sexualizes him... Using his hot body as an excuse for forgiveness doesn’t work, because let’s face it, that's not a good enough reason.

The supporting characters don’t fare much better.  Madoc starts out a total jerk and halfway through the author tries to endear him to the reader.  Same as Jared, the author went to too much trouble early on to make the reader hate him, and then suddenly expects the reader to like them because they do one nice thing – I just couldn’t warm up to him the way the author intended.  Tate’s new best friend, K.C, is just a terrible friend, plain and simple.  I don’t like her at all and I feel Tate was way too forgiving of her actions and what I saw as a complete betrayal.  Also, the fact that Tate never addresses this betrayal with Jared is unrealistic.  *Spoiler alert* If a guy I have feelings for hooks up with my best friend simply to hurt me and to turn her against me, that’s not okay and will definitely be a huge stumbling block in the road to romance.  I just can’t see a best friend worth her salt hooking up with her best friend’s tormentor, and I can’t see Tate not being bothered by Jared and K.C’s fling once she and Jared make up.  She never confronts Jared about it and he never apologises; it’s like the whole Jared/KC fling never happened.

This book also features graphic sexual scenes – surprising to me for a young adult novel.  The sexual content was more adult than young adult.  I enjoy young adult novels because generally while they tend to be passionate, the characters seldom hit the sheets; and if they do the author keeps it clean.  This one was quite graphic, and I don’t quite know what to make of that.  It’s definitely not the kind of thing I would be comfortable having my niece read.

All in all, whichever way it leaves you, Bully is a moving and powerful read.  This book does not sit comfortably with me, and maybe that is a really big compliment to the author. It upset me, it confused me,  it made me reflect and ponder, and - for whatever reason - it will stay with me. 



Product information:
Title: Bully
Author: Penelope Douglas
Pages: 371
Publisher: Penelope Douglas
Year: 2013
ISBN: 1490559175


Friday, August 16, 2013

REVIEW: SURRENDERED HEARTS ~ CARRIE TURANSKY

The Kindle edition of this book is currently free on Amazon and can be downloaded here.

A gas pipeline explosion and fire destroy Jennifer Evan’s apartment and change her life forever. Not only does she lose her home and beloved dog, the scars that cover her arm, neck and shoulder steal her confidence and cause her fiancé to desert her. With her funds depleted and her job on hold, she heads for Vermont where she hopes to reconnect with her brother and find a way to rebuild her shattered life.

Bill Morgan, head naturalist at the Wild River Nature Center and her brother’s roommate, is a strong, quiet man whose faith runs deep.  He and Jenn’s brother determine to help Jenn make a new start in Vermont.  Bill’s stumbling attempts to share his faith with Jenn seem to fall flat and push her farther away, but she can see the difference his faith makes in his life, and her heart is still drawn to him.  Will she hold on to the pain of her past, or will she surrender her heart and finally find the faith and love she longs for?


Surrendered hearts by Carrie Turansky follows Jennifer Evans as she hits rock bottom.  Jennifer lost faith in God many years ago when he failed to answer her prayers and keep her parents alive.  With Jennifer’s older brother, Wes, away at college, Jenn is sent to live with an Aunt and Uncle who resent her presence and cause her to retreat even more into herself.  Years later after Jennifer has finally established independence, she finds herself homeless and penniless after an explosion and subsequent fire destroy all of Jenn’s possessions.  When her injuries from the fire sends her fiancée packing and all of her “friends” suddenly disappears out of her life, Jenn is also more alone and lonely than she’s ever been.  Out of options, Jenn packs a single bag and makes her way to Vermont where her brother is planning his wedding.

Showing up on Bill Morgan’s doorstep, Jenn finds that Wes lives with a friend and that there is no room for her.  The fact that she shows up unannounced doesn’t help matters, and Jenn soon worries that she will be forced to leave.  Jenn needn’t have worried.  Wes, a missionary, has prayed for years that God will help him to lead Jenn back to the Lord, sees this opportunity as the answer to his prayers.  Bill and Wes open their home and their hearts to Jenn in an attempt to help her reconnect with God.

Bill, however, gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself falling for Jenn.  Conflicted, Bill continuously finds himself pulling away from Jenn, despite the fact that she’s capturing his heart fast – he knows what the Bible says about yoking yourself to non-believers.  He lets her go and prays for God to work in her heart, and while he tries to be a friend he knows that getting involved with Jenn before they are on the same religious path would be disastrous.  Hurting her might push her even farther away from the Lord, and Bill knows that it is more important for Jenn to be with God than with him.  Bill’s behaviour confuses Jenn even more and she can’t help but believe that it is her scars that push Bill away every time they come close to being more than friends.  How can she find a way to accept the scars on her skin that seem to banish everyone she cares about from her life?  How can she find a way to face the scars in her heart that seem to stop her from moving forward?  And when will she finally realise that there is only One who can help her deal with both?

This was a very sweet book, I enjoyed it the whole way through.  Jenn and Bill are both wonderful characters and complimented each other very well.  There are what both characters perceive to be romantic rivals, and the question of whether Bill and Jenn will end up together is not predictable at all.  The author makes you care about both of them, what is best for both of them and at times it is not clear whether it is indeed each other.  That’s one of the things I enjoyed about this book – the author makes you worry about the outcome; a happy ever after is not at all a sure thing.

Bill’s struggle with falling for a woman who doesn't share his faith in God was wonderfully portrayed and his concerns are some every believer can relate to.  I only wish that Jenn’s journey to finding the Lord again was given a little more depth, a little more detail.  This aspect is something that Dee Henderson portrayed flawlessly in her O’Malley series, and I would have enjoyed just a bit more of Jenn’s journey to surrendering her heart to God.  It seemed almost as if it just happened – it was wonderful and made me happy, I would just have liked some more detail instead of just being told she'd been reading Wes' fiancé, Lauren's, Bible and thinking a lot.  The reader should have been made privy to more of the process that led Jenn back to God.

Overall, this was a very sweet, very enjoyable read.



Product information:
Title: Surrendered Hearts
Author: Carrie Turansky
Pages: 186
Publisher: Flowing Stream Books
Year: 2011   

ASIN: B004V49FHA 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

REVIEW: DIVERGENT ~ VERONICA ROTH

After a terrible war the dystopic society of what we know today as Chicago divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue they consider the one that could have prevented the war.  Each faction values the opposite trait of that which they blame for causing the war in the first place: 1) Abnegation, the selfless who blame selfishness; 2) Candor, the honest who blame deceit; 3) Amity, the peaceful who blame war and fighting for human nature's faults; 4) Erudite, the intelligent who blame ignorance; and 5) Dauntless, the brave who blame cowardice.


Every year the sixteen year-olds in this society must take an aptitude test determining which faction they are best suited for.  Then they must make the most important decision of their lives: will they remain with their families in the faction they were born into, or will they forsake their families and transfer to another faction?

For Beatrice Prior the decision is more difficult than most.  While she loves her family and respects the way of life of Abnegation, Beatrice has never felt like she truly belonged.  Selflessness had never come naturally to her, like it is supposed to.  She is naturally curious and sarcastic, totally unacceptable in Abnegation.  When Beatrice’s aptitude test is inconclusive and shows that she has equal aptitude for three factions (Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless) Beatrice is labelled “divergent”.  The volunteer destroys Beatrice’s results and warns her to never reveal this information to anyone, not even her family, as being divergent endangers her life.  There is, however, no time for further discussion without raising suspicion and Beatrice is sent home.  Confused instead of reassured, Beatrice has less than 24 hours to make her choice.  Will she remain with her family in Abnegation, or will she transfer; either to Erudite which will embrace her curiosity, or to Dauntless – the thrill seekers whose total freedom and abandonment has always pulled at her?
If you don't want to know what faction Beatrice chooses, stop reading now

A film version of Divergent is currently in the works, and if you have seen any of the released stills it is quite obvious what Beatrice chooses.  My favourite moment in Divergent is during the choosing ceremony when Beatrice has to choose her faction.  Will she perform the ultimate selfless act and prove herself worthy of Abnegation by staying solely to comfort her parents?  “I am selfish.  I am brave”.  Beatrice chooses Dauntless.

Tris' first look at the Dauntless compound

Life in Dauntless is not at all what she expected.  A new life deserves a new name, but unwilling to completely deny her previous life, Beatrice renames herself Tris.  Once inside the compound the new initiates learn a terrifying truth: Only the top ten initiates will ultimately become Dauntless, ten will become factionless, rejected from society and forced to live on the street.  Tris is by far the smallest initiate, physically her chances don’t look good.  Will her bravery be enough to secure a place in the top ten? 


Tris doing fight training during the first phase of initiation 

Tris’ choice to transfer to Dauntless is considered to be quite radical as Abnegation transfers to Dauntless are extremely rare – while not as hostile as the relationship between Abnegation and Erudite, Abnegation and Dauntless can’t seem to see eye to eye.  This complicates Tris’ new life even more.  Members and initiates of other factions are hostile towards Tris, especially the Dauntless born as they have little respect for the peaceful and selfless way of life of the Abnegation, which they interpret as weakness and cowardice.  The Dauntless provides the military defense for all the factions, and the Abnegation in turn do not approve of violence or weapons, as weapons (even when used in self-defense) are self-serving.

While Tris does make some friends among the transfer initiates, she is not secure in these friendships as her new friends alternate between exploiting what they know to be her weakness (her physical strength), and deeply resenting her strength (her mental strength) and progress.  When an unplanned encounter and test of bravery leads to Tris being the only transfer to befriend Dauntless born initiates and members alike, and enters the dining hall among Dauntless born who have obviously accepted her into their ranks, her fellow transfer initiates grow even more resentful and Tris soon finds herself in danger from friends and foes alike. 

Tris also forms an unlikely friendship with the transfer initiates’ instructor, Four, even though he seems to have just as much of a problem with her Abnegation roots as everyone else.  While they seem to have a connection, Four’s behaviour is unpredictable.  When he and Tris are alone he is unguarded, compliments her and gives her advice; in front of the other initiates, though, Four seems to be harder on Tris than any of the others.  Despite this, Tris can't help but react to him.  "Then I realise what it is. It's him.  Something about him makes me feel like I am about to fall.  Or turn to liquid. Or burst into flames".  Having spent her life in Abnegation, where couples don't even hold hands, Tris finds her attraction to Four confusing and unnerving.  Figuring out what exactly is going on between her and Four is, however, the least of Tris’ problems. 

Tris and Four

Abnegation, despite being peaceful, neutral, and calm, have a fierce ongoing rivalry with the Erudite.  Abnegation is the faction in charge of the Government, and the Erudite, who seek power, believe that Abnegation are in fact selfish people who only provide for their own faction.  When Erudite starts releasing reports heavily critising Abnegation, Tris seems to be the only one onto the seriousness of the matter.  She suspects that Erudite is planning to overthrow Government and destroy Abnegation.  But how can one lone, lowly initiate prove it?   And more importantly, how can she stop it?

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the first book in the Divergent Trilogy.  The second book, Insurgent is already available and Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy will be released in October 2013.


The Divergent trilogy has frequently been compared to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy.  Are they similar?  Yes.  Are they on the same level?  Not quite – in my humble opinion.  I enjoyed Divergent, but it doesn’t have the same pull or intensity that I experienced with The Hunger Games trilogy.  While I was reading I enjoyed it, but once I put the book down I never experienced the urge to get back to reading as soon as possible.  Don’t get me wrong, the book is not bad at all, and I look forward to the movie (which will be released in 2014) and I will definitely continue reading the series.  It’s just not the best YA series I’ve ever read.  Yet.  There is a lot of potential for this series and I look forward to continuing the story in Insurgent.  It is very possible that this series could turn out to be exceptional by the end.  

I really like Tris as a character.  While small, she is strong and brave.  Tris is an excellent protagonist for this story and the supporting characters are well drawn and diverse.  Four is also a very interesting character and the progression of their relationship is very natural and a pleasure to follow. 


The film version of Divergent has completed filming and will hit theatres March 2014.  Shailene Woodley has been cast as Tris and Theo James has been cast as Four.  Some big names have jumped on board with this one:  Kate Winslet is playing Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews, and Ashley Judd is playing Tris’ mother, Natalie.  Tris’ father is played by Tony Goldwyn and Tris’ tattoo artist and confidant, Tori, is played by Maggie Q.  An interesting Hunger Games connection is that Zoë Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz who plays Cinna in the film version of The Hunger Games, is playing Tris’ friend, Christina.  I very much look forward to the movie; if the released movie stills are anything to go by it will do the book absolute justice.

I almost loved it, but not quite

Product Information:
Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 487
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2011
ISBN:978-0-00-742042-1



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

FREE ON AMAZON: HARVEST OF RUBIES ~ TESSA AFSHAR

For a limited time the Kindle edition of Tessa Afshar's Harvest of Rubies is free on Amazon.  Hurry up and get it here now!  This is a marvelous book; read my full review here.



The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries.
There is only one problem: she is a woman.

In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth - the measure of her self.

Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums - her very being proves to be a blessing to others particularly the aristocrat, Darius, she was given to in marriage.

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