Book to Film: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent movieI was very excited for this movie release! Divergent is one of my favorite dystopian series, and I couldn’t wait to see it translated onto the big screen. But of course I was also a little bit nervous about how much the filmmakers would change and how that would affect the overall story. I’m happy to say that the film adaptation of Divergent was extremely well done!

I remember a lot of people being very apprehensive about Shailene Woodley being cast as Tris, but I was very pleased with her performance. She has shown herself to be a very versatile actress, and she really brought Tris’s character to life on screen. Same goes for Theo James, who was the perfect Four.

The details that were included from the book were really well done–the different colors of clothes worn by each faction, the zipline, the trains that the Dauntless ride, and the Dauntless headquarters. I was worried about things from the book being cut out, but the few things that were didn’t really impact the story much at all.

My favorite part of the movie was the fear landscapes. Four’s especially was so well done, I literally was cringing in my seat at the part where his fear of small spaces forced him and Tris to be enclosed in a metal box. It was really cool to see these brought to life on screen!

Overall, Divergent was an excellent film and stayed very true to the book! The casting was very well done and Tris and Four especially were excellent on screen. I highly recommend seeing this one if you haven’t yet!

Divergent was released in theaters on March 21, 2014.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi“Ignite, my love. Ignite.”

WARNING: Spoilers for previous books in the Shatter Me series ahead.

Juliette has decided to take down the Reestablishment. In order to do this, she needs help from Warner, someone she never thought she would trust. As she works with him and gets to know him better, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about him was wrong. She has to figure out her feelings for Warner and Adam, and at the same time learn all she can about how to fight because she realizes the only way to win this rebellion is to lead it herself.

This was hands down the best book in the series. So good that I stayed up until all hours of the night reading it. Juliette finally turns into the girl we all knew she could be and decides that she is going on the offensive. After Warner saved her life, she starts to see him in a new light and decides to work with him to bring down his father. Warner begins to let down some of his defenses around Juliette, and she finds that he is much different than she had originally thought.

Warner definitely showed the most growth of anyone in this book. We finally get to see who he really is under that tough exterior, and he begins to show his true self to more than just Juliette. The more he helps her friends and the more he reveals about himself, the more Juliette finds herself drawn to him and the more confused she becomes about her feelings. I loved the moments between the two of them–they were beautifully written and so full of emotion.

But oh man, Adam? After Unravel Me, I was ready to just be done with him. But in this book? He turned into such a jealous, whiny little brat that I had a hard time figuring out why I even liked him back in Shatter Me. Like Warner, in this book Adam’s true colors began to show, but unlike Warner, it put him in a much more negative light. What was great about Juliette though is that she realizes that there is so much going on that is more important than her love life, and she is able to overcome the difficulties she faces emotionally and become a strong leader.

Juliette finally learns to control her ability and she learns the many different dimensions of it. Basically, in this book she becomes a super hero. She has grown so much from the first book and she has definitely become one of my favorite female characters ever. She is able to come up with a plan to not only get rid of Warner’s father for good, but to also take over the Reestablishment and change the world.

Overall, Ignite Me was one of the best final books in a series ever. I could not have imagined a better ending, and I absolutely loved every minute of this book!!

Ignite Me was released on February 4, 2014 and is the final book in the Shatter Me series.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi“Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can remember them.”

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Juliette and Adam have escaped to Omega Point, a rebel headquarters where there are many other people with abilities who are training to fight the Reestablishment. Juliette has to try to integrate herself into life at Omega Point, but is still fearful of her own power. She thought she was finally free from the Reestablishment and their plans for her, but when she finds out that Warner is still searching for her, she realizes that what she thought was over is only just beginning.

This was such a great sequel. I love every character in these books, but I’d have to say Kenji was one of my favorites in this one. Juliette starts off in Unravel Me by being super mopey, upset that people don’t talk to her and that Adam seems to be hiding something from her, and finally Kenji calls her out on it. She begins to realize that only she can make a change in the way people see her, and she starts to grow stronger and learn to use her ability for good rather than fear it.

But seriously, I went from liking Adam in Shatter Me to wanting to throw him across the room in Unravel Me. He became such a whiny baby in this book, and every moment with him was like a soap opera. When Warner finally came back into the picture, I was so happy because even though he had seemed like a bit of a monster, his character was so much stronger and intriguing than Adam, who was just draining.

And speaking of Warner. CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO. Oh my goodness. I was leaning towards “Team Warner” before this but that chapter definitely sold me there. Enough said.

What I really loved most about this book was the growth that Juliette showed from beginning to end. Like I said before, she starts off very emotional and depressed, and when Kenji kind of slaps her in the face with honestly midway through the book, she starts to become stronger both emotionally and physically. By the end of the book, she is such a strong person that it is hard to even remember how depressed and down on herself she was in Shatter Me.

Overall, Unravel Me was an excellent sequel that really solidified my love for this series. Juliette is quickly turning into one of my favorite female protagonists, and I literally had to download the final book thirty seconds after finishing this one because it was just that good.

Unravel Me was released on February 5, 2013 and is the second book in the Shatter Me series.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.”

Juliette is unable to touch anyone without killing them. She has been locked in an insane asylum for 264 days, and has not seen or spoken to anyone in just as long. While she is locked away for possessing an ability that nobody understands, the world is crumbling around her. The Reestablishment has taken over, claiming that they will be able to stop the diseases that are spreading, find food for everyone, and bring the world back to the way it was. When they come to get her from her cell and tell her they are going to train her to become a weapon, Juliette realizes she has to decide between being used or fighting back.

I seriously don’t know why it has taken me so long to read this series. On the one hand I’m mad because I could’ve been enjoying these books for years now, but on the other I’m glad I waited because I was able to read through the entire series in two days now that the final book was just released. Either way, I am so happy I finally picked this series up!

Juliette has basically lived a tortured life. Her own parents thought she was cursed and were only too happy to hand her over to the asylum when she accidentally killed someone with her touch. She hasn’t been touched by anyone or received any kind of affection from anyone ever. She has grown up lonely and depressed, without any real friends. When the Reestablishment comes to get her they expect to find an insane monster, but instead they find a lonely girl with no desire to harm anyone.

Juliette is taken to the headquarters of Sector 45, where she is introduced to Warner, the sector leader who is quite obsessed with her and her ability. He wants to train her to be a weapon, so that the Reestablishment can use her power. Juliette wants anything but this. She has never had any desire to hurt anyone, and the idea of being used as a weapon is the kind of thing she has been trying to stop people from thinking her whole life. Plus, she is distracted by Adam, the soldier Warner put in charge of her, who seems to be on her side.

I really loved the writing style of this book. The writing is beautiful and I felt like I was right in Juliette’s mind along with her. The book has strike outs throughout, as if Juliette is thinking something and then crossing it out and changing her thoughts. It was such a brilliant way to write a story and really gave Juliette a strong and powerful voice.

I was actually really surprised at the pace of this novel. I thought the whole first book would take place in the asylum or even on the military base, but the book progressed much quicker than I expected. I really loved Juliette and I have to say I was definitely intrigued by Warner, even though he seemed like such a monster at times.

Overall, Shatter Me was a fast paced, beautifully written dystopian novel that will leave you anxious to read the next book. I highly recommend reading this one if you haven’t yet!

Shatter Me was released on November 15, 2011 and is the first novel in the Shatter Me series.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner“For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space.”

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are only two of the thousands of passengers aboard the Icarus, a massive spaceship traveling millions of miles through hyperspace. Lilac is untouchable, the daughter of the richest man in the universe–a man who will do anything to ensure his daughter’s safety. Tarver is a war hero, and has worked his way up from a poor life to one where he is allowed to mingle with the rich. He normally would want nothing to do with a girl like Lilac, but when the Icarus is suddenly yanked out of hyperspace, he finds himself in an escape pod, alone with her. When the escape pod crash lands on an unfamiliar planet, Lilac and Tarver must travel for days in order to find help. They are forced to rely on each other, and when they discover the secret behind the whispers following them, they wonder if it may be better to stay on the planet rather than be rescued.

I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and I am so glad I finally gave it a chance. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. The story was very original–there aren’t many YA books that take place in space other than the Across the Universe trilogy, and Kaufman and Spooner did a great job of world building both on the Icarus and on the planet. The Icarus is a huge spaceliner that sort of reminded me how the Titanic was set up–the lower class was only allowed to stay on the lower decks and was basically locked down there while the upper class stayed on the upper levels of the ship and were privileged to all sorts of luxuries. Tarver had spent his whole life as part of the lower class but now that he is considered a war hero he is given upper class status. He has the odd experience of seeing how the other half lives, and finds it hard to fit himself in their world.

I loved both Lilac and Tarver, and I think the fact that the book alternated between their points of view helped the story. Lilac first comes off to Tarver as a spoiled rich girl who treats everyone as though they are beneath her, but when we get Lilac’s point of view it becomes evident that she is terrified of what her father will do to any man she shows interest in, which is what causes her to snub Tarver. Tarver is a true soldier and hero–even though he thinks of Lilac as a brat, he still does whatever he can to save her life and make sure that they are found by her father’s people, even though he knows he may be punished for being alone with her. They are both really strong characters in their own way–Lilac walks for miles in high heels without complaining as Tarver expected she would–and they end up bringing out the best in each other.

This books is a really beautifully written story about survival and trust, and will definitely keep you turning pages. I loved watching Lilac and Tarver’s relationship change and develop, and how they went from being wary of each other to completely trusting in one another. The sci-fi aspect was really well done also–when Lilac and Tarver are traveling across the planet, Lilac begins hearing whispers that follow them. When they finally discover what is causing the whispers, it is something they never could have imagined and completely changes their view on many things.

Overall, These Broken Stars was an incredible, original, and extremely well written story. This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long while, and I highly recommend it!

These Broken Stars was released on December 10, 2013 and is the first book in the Starbound series. The second book, This Shattered World, is a companion novel set to be released this year.

Book to Film: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching FireI have been a huge fan of The Hunger Games since before the books even got big and even had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne Collins herself a few years ago so you can imagine how excited I was for the release of the Catching Fire movie. I enjoyed the first movie but I felt like it shied away from the violence a bit, but overall it was a good representation of the novel. Catching Fire, however, was a million times better.

It is very rare that a movie follows extremely close to the book it is based on, which is understandable because it is an entirely different way of presenting the story, but Catching Fire managed to accomplish this task beautifully. It stuck very close to the book while at the same time giving the viewer a new way of seeing the story. There were a few things that they left out–very minor things–but they didn’t really change anything drastically so that made it that much more enjoyable for me since Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy.

The casting for this movie couldn’t have been more perfect. Finnick and Johanna were exactly how I pictured them and Mags was wonderfully heartbreaking. Jennifer Lawrence is a fantastic Katniss and she really makes the movie as good as it is. I felt more sparks between Katniss and Peeta in this movie than in the last, which made it more believable because in this movie Katniss is supposed to be starting to feel something for him, too. The costumes and the arena were incredible and one of my favorites scenes had to be when Katniss’s dress transformed her into a mockingjay.

Overall, Catching Fire was a fantastic movie that stuck very close to the book and the phenomenal cast just added to the excellent directing. I hope they keep the same director for the next film because he really did a wonderful job.

Catching Fire was released in theaters on November 22, 2013.

Inhuman by Kat Falls

Inhuman by Kat FallsAmerica has been completely changed after a war destroyed the country. A wall was constructed, dividing the west and east sides of the country. The east side is full of people suffering from all kinds of mutations and some people are now more animal than human. Crossing the wall is considered forbidden, but some people sneak out to Fetch artifacts from the east. When Delaney Park’s father is nearly caught doing a Fetch and then disappears, she agrees to complete her father’s job in order to save his life.

This book was fascinating!! The science nerd in me loved all of the talk of mutations and the way they were affecting each person. Lane encounters all sorts of different creatures and half-humans on her journey, each more incredible than the next. I also thought it was really cute how everyone names their children after the places that they miss from the eastern part of the country, for example–Delaney Park, Annapolis, and Orlando.

Lane manages to make a deal with Rafe, a boy her age living in the Savage Zone. He agrees to help her with her father’s job but Lane is not entirely sure that she can trust him. At first I wasn’t crazy about Rafe but halfway through the book, he really grew on me. I really liked his interactions with Lane, especially once she realized that there was more to him than meets the eye. I was a bit surprised by the love triangle and it will definitely be interesting to see how that begins to resolve in book two.

The world building in this book was excellent. I loved reading about the America beyond the wall even though it is extremely treacherous and scary. Little settlements have sprung up full of people with and without mutations, yet some entire cities are run by tyrants. It was interesting to read about life outside the safety of the wall and it was evident how much it really affected Lane to see the truth out there.

Overall, Inhuman was an exciting original story that kept me turning pages. The ending was (of course) a major cliffhanger so I am anxiously awaiting the second book!

Inhuman was released September 24, 2013 and is the first book in the Fetch series.