Divergent Movie: First Look

The first look into the movie adaptation of Veronica Roth‘s YA debut “Divergent” premiered earlier this week at the MTV Video Music Awards, and from what I saw, it looks promising. There were obviously some changes since you can’t turn the whole book into a movie word-for-word, scene-by-scene; that’ll be more like a TV series with 16++ hours worth of reel and even then, there’ll be some tweeking because of the new medium.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the video plus another one with cast interviews and *jazz hands* Veronica Roth. The movie is set for a March 21, 2014 release, until then we’ll all have to wait fellow initiates. Here are some more dates you’ll need to mark on your calendars:

September 3: The Transfer

September 24: The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant

October 22: Allegiant

December 17: The Initiate

January 21: The Son

February 11: The Traitor

February 11: Four: A Divergent Story Collection

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Book Review: Libba Bray’s “The Diviners”

The Diviners - Libba Bray

Confession time. For someone trained to see blood and gore, I am one big yellow chicken. And so it goes, I try to avoid watching and/or reading about anything scary and creepy as much as I can. I’m still sane enough to want to sleep, thank you very much.

But a book about the occult written by Libba Bray just sounds too good to pass up. I had to give in.

The Diviners, the first book in a planned series, revolves around a series of mysterious murders to put it simply. It’s set in a bright and bustling 1926 New York City with all its speakeasies, theaters and movie palaces. Evie O’Neill is our main protagonist. After a party stunt that went awry, she gets booted out from her Ohio hometown and shipped to NYC to live with her bachelor uncle Will who’s obsessed with the occult. Evie quickly settles into her new life; everything’s  fun and exciting, and she’s enjoying it, that is before the body of a girl is found with a strange symbol branded upon her and Will is called to help with the investigation. As grisly murder follow one after the other, Evie realizes that her gift can help catch the serial killer but what she discovers when she throws herself deep into the investigation is so much more darker and powerful.

In true twenties fashion, I ab-so-tute-ly enjoyed reading this book. It is rich and vivid. Libba Bray’s engaging writing is the strongest asset of this new novel. She just has this way with words, she draws you in and puts you right there with her characters. This is a long book and with its almost 600 pages. It could look daunting but with the way the author wrote her prose, you nearly won’t realize you’re almost through with the story.

Another thing to love about The Diviners is its diverse set of characters. There’s many of them, and what a variety – immigrants, people of color, LGBT characters –  but Bray managed to give readers a chance to get to know each character by dishing out interesting backstories, and expertly going in and out of their lives throughout the story.

I love Evie. I love her audacity and boldness. She is flawed – self-centered, irrational, tackless, a mess-up – but deep inside she means well and truly cares for her family and friends. There’s so much room for her to grow in the next books.

Every so often, in every book there’s one or two side characters that simply draw you in. For this book, its Theta and Henry. They both present cool facades but their backstories are tragic. Also, I’m not quite sure what Henry’s special gift is, so that’s something I would love to find out in the next installment.

As for the creepy factor, it’s well up there. Not Stephen King scary but frightening enough to make you not want to read it at night for fear of dreaming about it especially if you are the highly-imaginative kind.

Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about The Diviners is its excessive historical background. Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand that Libba Bray‘s setting the mood for the whole series and I appreciate that she took time to thoroughly research about the twenties – she nailed it from the dresses to the language to the sights and scenes of the time period – but I think she could have shortened it to a few pages then got on with her narrative. The characters’ use of twenties slang was also excessive to the point of irritation. But it’s not really that big of a deal. The Diviners is a great read enough for people to get over the minor flaws. I will definitely grab the next book as soon as it’s out.

Rating: 4/5

34th Manila International Book Fair

It is that time of year again when book lovers of all ages from all over the country unite. It is the Manila International Book Fair,

The 34th MIBF will be held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City from September 11 to 15.

Check out MIBF‘s site for more information. See you there!

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Movie news: The Book Thief and Divergent

It has been a gloomy few days from my end of the world (if you didn’t know and if it isn’t obvious yet, I’m from the Philippines) and we’re all just starting to slowly go back to normalcy. Anyway, yesterday I was just surfing the net and found these clips for The Book Thief and Divergent. It’s always happy news when your favorite books are being turned into movies. It’s whole new media form. It brings the words I’ve read into life.

The adaptation of Markus Zusak‘s The Book Thief will hit theaters November 15. The movie, directed by Brian Percival, will star Geoffrey Rush (Hans Huberman), Emily Watson (Rosa Huberman), Ben Schnetzer (Max Vandenburg) and Sophie Nélisse (Liesel Meminger).

Of course, fans have been hearing a lot about the Divergent movie. This Sunday they’ll see more as the first clip for the adaptation of Veronica Roth’s debut novel premieres at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. There is, as if we’re not already excited, a short teaser of some sort on MTV’s site. The Divergent movie directed by Neil Burger will hit theaters March 21st next year.

Book Review: Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette had been on my to-read list for months now since the day I found out that it was short-listed for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction, an award that celebrates women’s writing the world over. I’ve read and immensely enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl sometime late last year, and that novel was part of the same award’s long list so I thought Bernadette would give me the same experience. Besides, I also needed a funny read to cleanse my palate for the next batch of YA novels I am about to read.

Lo and behold, Bernadette went beyond my expectations.

Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette

It’s hard to summarize Bernadette without trivializing the whole storyline. It’s not because it’s a complicated book, which it was not, but more because summarizing it would be compounding the whole novel into just one plot, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette is so much more than “just one simple plot.” I don’t want to betray the story so I’ll borrow the back cover blurb.

“When fifteen-year-old Bee claims a family trip to Antartica as a reward for perfect grades, her fiercely intelligent but agoraphobic mother, Bernadette, throws herself into preparations for the trip. Worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Bernadette is on the brink of a meltdown. As disaster follows disaster, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces.”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a layered narrative but when you zoom into its core, it is a story about a mother and daughter’s love for each other.

Bernadette Fox is an enigma. No one seems to know her fully. For Elgin Branch, Bernadette is his erratic, creative, genius but troubled wife. For the other mothers of Galer Street School, she’s the reclusive, unhelpful and self-righteous queen of Straight Gate. To the design world, she’s a pioneer, a revolutionary architect. But to Bee Branch, she’s simply “Mom” and it seems like the most accurate depiction of Bernadette.

 Maria Semple successfully showed us just how strong and all-encompassing Bernadette’s and Bee’s love for each other was without being dramatic. I’ve read other novels about family relationships and most of them are heavily laden with drama, so this, Bernadette, was a breath of fresh air. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is actually hilarious mainly because of Bee’s and Bernadette’s snarkiness. Semple also managed to poke fun at Seattle, self-help culture and America’s private school system.

Other readers may find the book’s format a bit weird but it’s actually one of the things I like best about this novel. It is unconventional, yes, but it also allowed the characters to fully unfold. Readers got to know Soo-Lin, Audrey, Elgin, Bee and, most especially, Bernadette from all directions through memos, letters, emails and other documents, and that, being able to know the characters, builds this strong connection with readers. At least, that’s true in my case.I love Bernadette and Bee immediately and hated Soo-Lin throughout the book. Elgin and Audrey surprised me at the latter parts of the novel.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is definitely a must read whatever genre you love. It’s funny and heart-warming. I definitely recommend it.

Rating: 5/5

ABC Book Challenge

THIS POST IS INSPIRED BY THE BOOK CHEWERS’S WEEKLY BLOG LINK-UP 

For someone who’s a self-diagnosed OC sufferer, I am not that neat. I am, after all, leaning more towards the compulsive side of OCD (that’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, for those of you who don’t know, but I doubt it!)

Going back, I’m not that neat so when I line up my books on my shelf I usually arrange them by the name of their authors. But making an ABC made up of book titles is interesting so I’ll give it a shot. I’ll list down the first title that comes to mind.

Here goes:

A – A Long Way Down (Nick Hornby)

B – Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)

C – Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)

D – Divergent (Veronica Roth)

E – Every Day (David Levithan)

F – The Fault in our Stars (John Green)

G – Good Omens (Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett)

H – The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

I – The Iliad (Homer)

J – Just Listen (Sarah Dessen)

K – The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)

L –  The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman)

M – Matched (Ally Condie)

N – Number the Stars (Lois Lowry)

O – On The Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta)

P – Prodigy (Marie Lu)

Q – ?!

R – The Realm of Possibility (David Levithan)

S – Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson)

T – The Titan’s Curse (Rick Riordan)

U – Unbelievable (Sara Shepard)

V – Veronika Decides to Die (Paulo Coelho)

W – Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple)

X – ?!

Y – ?!

Z – The Zahir (Paulo Coelho)

Phew! That was kind of hard. I had to go through the list of books I borrowed from the library to complete this. Three letters missing, I think that’s good enough.

Lauren Oliver’s “Before I Fall”, Sam Kingston and Being Imperfectly Perfect

“I know some of you are thinking I deserved it. Maybe I shouldn’t have sent that rose to Juliet or dumped my drink on her at the party. Maybe I shouldn’t have copied off Lauren Lornet’s quiz. Maybe I shouldn’t have said those things to Kent. There are probably some of you who think I deserved it because I was going to let Rob go all the way – because I wasn’t going to save myself.

But before you start pointing fingers, let me ask you: is what I did really so bad? So bad I deserved to die? So bad I deserved to die like that?

Is what I did really so much worse than what anybody else does?

Is it really so much worse than what you do?

Think about it.” 

Says Samantha Kingston, Lauren Oliver’s main protagonist in her 2009 YA debut Before I Fall. Sam is your typical popular girl – pretty, has a hot boyfriend, part of the popular clique, gets away with everything, invited to all the coolest parties – in short, she lives a charmed life. She would have lived the same way, wouldn’t have changed anything until the fatal car crash that took her life and the altering week that came after it where she relived her final day seven more times.

Before I Fall

At first, it’s hard to feel for Sam. She is, after all, the type of girl you’d love to hate. She’s one of the mean girls. She and her friends pick on other people, make fun of them. They blatantly disregard authority and they are reckless to the point of self-destruction. She’s not an easy character to like, not at all.

But then, as the story progresses, Sam bit by bit becomes relatable. She becomes this girl who has been trying to fit in, a girl who only wanted to have friends she can laugh, exchange stories and have fun with. She is a girl trying to go with the flow not wanting to tip things off balance. Sam is every bit just as lost and confused as most of us are, and her quest to know about her death ultimately becomes a way for her to discover herself.

“So many things become beautiful when you really look.”

Sam learned more about herself and the people around her, about her life and her death more than she ever had in her lifetime in that miraculous week. Maybe you could log it as her knowing she’s about to lose all these, everything she’d ever known. You could even say that she came to appreciate her life a little too late but it is that, her realizations which made Sam endearingly real. Maturity, after all, is not something you get by snapping your fingers. Some people grow up and leave their peers behind at quite an early age, while some take time, years even, before they become mature individuals. It doesn’t matter how much time it takes what’s important, in my personal opinion, is that a person does mature and grow into the people they want to be. Sam did that, even if she did trip a lot of times along her way.

“Most of the time – 99 percent of the time – you just don’t know how and why the threads are looped together, and that’s okay. Do a good thing and something bad happens. Do a bad thing and something good happens. Do nothing and everything explodes.

And very, very rarely – by some miracle of chance and coincidence, butterflies beating their wings just so and all the threads hanging together for a minute – you get the chance to do the right thing.”

We can all be judgmental. Admit it, it is always easier to zoom in and magnify everything that’s wrong than it is to praise what is right, especially in people. I know because I’m guilty of it. But at the same time, we all make mistakes and thus there’s always something that we can be judge for.

I believe we’re all just trying to figure out our way around this world. We’re all a series of hits and misses, of trials and errors. But I also believe that at the bottom of all these, all our misguided acts, we just want to do good; we all want to do what we believe is the right thing. We are all imperfect beings striving for perfection. Like everyone else, Samantha Kingston just wanted to do the same thing.

I believe she did.

And now, some really exciting “Allegiant” news

allegiant

Oh, yes! Allegiant is now being printed and Katherine Tegen posted this photo on Tumblr. What’s more, we now have a full back description. Here it goes:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Author Veronica Roth recently announced during the Divergent movie panel at Comic-Con that Allegiant will be told from both Tris and Tobias’s perspective. Allegiant, the last book in the Divergent trilogy, will be released on October 22. Meanwhile, the first of the four “Four” e-shorts titled The Transfer will be out next month on the 24th. Also, also, voting for Four’s voice (Allegiant audio book) will end soon. Harper Audio has something for the voters, so go VOTE.  And if it helps, below is the four auditions for Four’s voice from Soundcloud.

It’s been a good couple of months for Divergentland. Aren’t you guys excited? I know I am.