Monthly Archives: October 2013

5 Things You Can Do After Reading Allegiant: A GIF Reaction

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SO, I’ve read Allegiant a week ago and I’ve already posted my review but I am pretty sure there are still many out there who have not read the book yet. Considering that it’s 500+ pages, you wouldn’t really know what to expect (yes, even if the ending has been spoiled for you, you still wouldn’t know how things came to that so better read). Anyway, spoilers aside, here are some things you can do after reading Tris and Tobias’ and dystopian Chicago’s last hurrah.

1. BRING OUT THE ICE CREAM AND CHOCOLATES! COMFORT FOOD IT IS!

After reading the whole book, this is what I told myself:

tina-fey-1

And so, I ran to the nearest 7/11 store to get chocolates and ice cream.

benandjerryscadbury

Well, I didn’t get Ben and Jerry’s because it’s not available but I got a tub of ice cream nonetheless. Yeah, because food is always, ALWAYS better than Xanax.

2. CRY.

IT ISNT FAIR

Yes, yes…life really isn’t fair and you can’t always tell yourself to

stop crying

So, just bring out your stored boxes of Kleenex and let it all out.

let it out

3. LET MUSIC HEAL YOUR SOUL.

Yes, I totally pirated ‘NSYNC and Gloria Stefan there in that line but really, music helps. I already have a mixtape for Allegiant.

music heals

4. TALK IT OUT WITH FRIENDS.

Because you can never contain so much feels to yourself.

friends

Or not. Whatever suits you, just be with friends.

drink

5. OPEN A NEW BOOK. 

And accompany new characters through their adventures.

bellbooks

Book Review: Veronica Roth’s “Allegiant”

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I haven’t been this excited for a series in a long time. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was the last one that did this to me. But I had to do catch up for that. There were already three Harry Potter books when I got sucked in.

I was always sort of late in starting book series. I started reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy when Catching Fire came out. I rushed through Ally Condie’s first two Matched books a few weeks before the last book’s release. That was a bad idea because I had to re-read all three books again since rushing made me miss a lot of the trilogy’s plot points. And, hey,I just started Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy a year after the last book came out.

But it’s different for the Divergent trilogy.  I’ve been on the Divergent train from the very start. Someone gave me an ebook copy, and I immediately got hooked. I fell in love with the whole story; with Veronica Roth’s dystopian Chicago the moment Tris accepted her divergence.

It’s been two years since I’ve first read it and the Divergent fanbase has definitely grown. I have more people to talk about it now. I’ve converted some of my friends, convincing them to read the books and even giving away a few copies. That’s how much I’ve loved this series. Suffice to say, saying good-bye to it is hard. Bittersweet.

After reading Allegiant, though, things are mostly bitter than it is sweet.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant, the last book in Roth’s Divergent trilogy, picks up from where Insurgent ended with the factions collapsed,  the factionless – under Evelyn’s leadership – taking over the city, and the discovery that they were all put inside the fenced-in Chicago by a group of people who may need their help. Buoyed to discover the truth about their city and their existence, the trilogy’s protagonist Tris goes outside the fence with Tobias, Cara, Christina, Uriah, Caleb and Peter. What they discover completely obliterates everything they know and believe in.

Again, I fell in love with the first two books. I still am, actually, and I wanted to love Allegiant as much as Divergent and Insurgent but I just can’t. It’s not even because of the ending, although that made me sad, too.

Allegiant is an ambitous book, and it should be after the success of its predecessors but there’s a fine line between being ambitous enough and outright being bombastically, overly ambitous you lose touch of any realism. Allegiant crossed that line.

My biggest issue with Allegiant was Veronica Roth’s plotting. Instead of tying loose ends from Divergent and Insurgent, she pulled even more strings into the mix. The result? A convoluted mess of a story that’s confusing at best. I feel that the conclusion was rushed and does not offer neither explanation or resolution.

The switching between Tris’ and Tobias’ point of views also didn’t help. I know she said that she needed two characters to narrate her story, to give the readers a multi-faceted view of the world she created but it did not work. Personally, I didn’t get any new information from reading Tobias’ POV. It actually confused me even more to the extent that I have to check every chapter whose POV I’m reading. He started sounding like Tris, and it led me to feel like I didn’t know his character at all. Allegiant’s Tobias is a million miles away from the one I knew from the first two books. Divergent’s and Insurgent’s Tobias is tough, confident, strong and brave. The one in Allegiant is a pale and weak version of him.

Continuing my discourse on character development or lack thereof in Allegiant, let me go to Tris. Tris, stubborn and reckless; Tris, my favorite character in the trilogy. I expected Roth to stabilize her beliefs, make her go forward. That does not happen, though, instead she goes on retrograde – travelling backwards to her demise. It wasn’t so much her death that affected me, it was the way it played out. It was senseless.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with writers deciding to kill off their main characters but it has to make sense and it has to push the narrative forward. Roth did not do Tris, who’s such a great character, justice. Also, the author could have taken that chance to give Caleb the redemption he so deserves.

Allegiant is so full of interesting characters which Roth could’ve explored more. I’ve mentioned Caleb, now add Marcus and Peter into that list. Then there’s also the dynamics between Marcus and Evelyn, the Allegiant and the factionless and, of course, Tris and Tobias but you wouldn’t want me to start on that last one because this review would need 10 more pages.

I know Veronica Roth can write better than this. She’d shown an incredible talent in being able to get her readers’ attention, draw them into the world she created and make themselves immersed in it. She also has the knack for creating really amazing and varied characters. She’d shown that in both Divergent and Insurgent. I gave those books a 4 and a 5 respectively, that’s how good they were.

Allegiant could have been a better book if the author was able to plot more carefully. I’m more sorry for all the lost potential than the unnecessary ending. I will still recommend Divergent and Insurgent to people who haven’t read it yet. Allegiant, however, is a read-at-your-own risk kind of book. There were things I liked about Allegiant – Tris and Tobias finally talking things out like adults 75% into the book, how Tobias’ grief was potrayed and the role of his and Tris’ friends in his handling it – but there were just more things I can’t let pass.

This review doesn’t mean that I hate Veronica Roth. I am still a fan, she, after all created this wonderful, intriguing world and all its amazing, interesting characters. I wouldn’t be this affected if her writing wasn’t effective to begin with. She made me care about this fictional world and all these characters, and that says a lot about her. Allegiant just did not work out for me but that does not invalidate the rest of the trilogy. I will definitely still read Roth’s works in the future. Come to think of it, there are stil three Four short stories.

Please know that giving Allegiant this rating hurts.

Also, I will still watch the Divergent movie and I would still love for the other two books to get the same treatment (ATTENTION: Summit Entertainment). Seeing these books become movies, translated into a different medium, is both exciting and intriguing at the same time.

Rating: 2/5

Book Thoughts: Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” and Rape

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I can no longer count the number of times I’ve read Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak. It’s easily one of the most abused books on my shelves – page corners folded to mark favorite parts, quotes and dialogues highlighted so they’re easier to find, yellowing paper, old book smell – I almost had it memorized but that still doesn’t stop me from re-reading it over and over and over again.

More than being one of the most beaten books, it’s also one of the most important ones I own.

book cover

It was Anderson’s protagonist that got me reading, Melinda Sordino, at first. She’s awkward, a misfit and she just wants to get out of high school alive. It was very easy for me to feel and relate to Melinda because her voice in the story was so clear and also at that time when I first read Speak I was sort of going through the same things she went through. Kids can be mean to their fellow youngsters, if you know what I mean.

Eventually, as I got older and started losing count of the number of re-reads I’ve given the book, I found that more than Melinda  it was Speak’s topic that pushed me to turn the pages. It was a sensitive topic, yes, but sadly it’s a part of all of our reality.

Rape.

It’s sick. It’s a painful truth, a hard pill to swallow. But it happens even if we don’t want to talk about it. It happens more often than we’d like to imagine. All the reports we hear on TV about, that doesn’t even bring the real numbers up, no, not even by a quarter, and it angers me.

I come from a family composed mostly of women – three sisters then my mom – really, my dad is the only guy in our household. Growing up, our parents have greatly been protective of us; we’ve always been reminded that while there are still many good people out there, there’s also a number who carry bad intentions within their hearts and that we’re more at risk because we’re girls. Still, no matter how careful you are, bad things, or in my more normal verbal language, shit happens and happen it did.

A couple of years ago when she was a high school freshman, my youngest sister became a victim of attempted rape. Luckily, there were people passing by the place where the perp brought her and she was rescued. The pervert was caught but her paid bail and is now again free.

What I wouldn’t give to get my hands on him and make sure he won’t ever get another chance to do what he almost did to my sister.

My sister clammed up after that incident. She went through her days doing what she was supposed to but she became unnervingly quiet. It took months before things went back to normal, well, as normal as they could get anyway. Until now there would still be times when she’d be totally quiet.

The bruises, the cuts may heal but the psychological trauma lingers long after the last scabs have flaked off. For many rape victims, it takes a lifetime to deal with what happened to them.

Rape is a highly under-reported crime. According to estimates, for every 4 to 10 rapes, only 1 incidence is reported. This gross under-reporting is largely attributed to the victim’s feelings of shame and guilt, their fear of more injury and the belief that the legal system won’t be able to help them. Victims of rape can be of any age: they can be as young as 15 months old and as old as 82 but the highest incidence rate is in girls and women aged 16 to 24.

And here’s even more disturbing findings about rape. In the recently published United Nations quantitative study titled “Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It?” researchers found out the following: (1) that rape of an intimate partner (girlfriend, wife, common law wife) was more common that non-partner rape in most sites of the study; (2) rape perpetration started early in life: (3) rape was most commonly motivated by a sense of sexual entitlement (with many of the respondents believing that they have the right to sex regardless of consent); and (4) that the majority of rape perpetrators did not experience any legal consequences. The study was conducted in 6 countries from the Asia and the Pacific region. It may not be a worldwide research but it’s the largest of its kind dealing with this particular subject, that is men and their use of violence, and that has to count.

Speak has been in print since 1999. It was relevant then and now, 14 years since its release, it remains to be, maybe even more.

Though its been challenged and banned repeatedly over its whole publication lifetime, it’s books like Speak, books that deal with subjects that are often too difficult to talk about that get to you. These things happen in real life, and these books could save you – tell you you’re not alone, that there are others out there who went through similar stuff and survived, encourage them to stand up and speak out.

There are other Melindas out there, more than we could ever imagine, more than we would ever know. No matter how much we deny it, rape exists and it victimazes millions of men and women out there. It’s plain wrong and it must be stopped.

Now here’s my call for action.

We’re always told to speak out, stand up for what we think is right, and while those are noble and worthy work, we seem to be forgetting something. We’re putting too much emphasis on speaking out but not enough on listening. Let’s all be listeners and speakers; be ears and mouthpieces. Balance things out, I think that’s what we need. We’ll never know when we’ll be helping someone who so desperately needs to be heard.

You’ll never know, it could also work the other way around.

Here are some resources:

Philippine Commission on Women

Women’s Crisis Center Directory

United Nations Development Fund for Women – Philippines

Pretty Pictures: Favorite Book Covers

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The weekly link-up is hosted by The Book Chewers.

So, MV of The Book Chewers posted this linkup, and I just have to put myself out there about the topic. What is it? Book covers of course! Pretty, mysterious, lovely book covers.

We all have times when we don’t know what to read but the itch to get a brand new sparkly book from the bookstore just won’t go away. So you wander around thinking which one to pick up and take home. Sometimes I ask the bookstore people for recommendations but more often I go with my gut instinct. I pick up books by the blurb and, which brings me to the topic finally, book covers.

For me, book covers are more than just lovely pictures fronting books. They mean something, or at least they intended to. The five that I’ve picked mostly lean on to the former but one was just too fun not to include. Here they are:

Reached - Ally Condie

Reached (Matched Trilogy #3) by Ally Condie

I love all of the covers of theI trilogy but somehow this is my favorite among the  three. It’s a picture of a girl breaking out of the glass which encased her which pretty much tells you the gist Reach‘s plot.

Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy #2) by Veronica Roth

Another dystopian read, Insurgent‘s cover features a tree, also the symbol of one of the five factions in the series – Amity. Amity, as described in the book, is one of the essential factions because they sustain the city with food and produce, and that’s exactly what a tree does. It’s a beautiful correlation.

P.S. Plus points if you have the hard cover.

book cover

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Another cover with a tree on it. If you’ve read this novel, then you know that the whole tree allegory – that we can all grow even with all the scars and trauma. If you haven’t read Speak yet, then you better go get it now. It’s not heart-warming or anything but it will make you think.

Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Another cover I like because of the allegory behind it but also because, just like I am partial to covers with trees, I am also partial to covers featuring bodies of water.

Where'd You go, Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

This one I picked because it’s fun. And look at all those different versions!

So, there are my five favorites. How about you? Sound off at The Book Chewers linkup and let the world know.

Book Music: Veronica Roth’s “Allegiant”

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I know, I know all I have been posting about in this blog lately are all Divergent related. What can I do? I fell in love with this series something that hasn’t happened since Harry Potter.

I am currently reading the last book now, Allegiant,  but here’s the thing, I already know how it will end because of the spoilers on Tumblr. I am aware that some people don’t have their copies yet, or aren’t finished reading their copies so I’d stop there. However, this song just kept popping up in my mind while reading.

Be brave, initiates.

Here’s Jimmy Eat World’s Hear You Me (May Angels Lead You In). 

Book Music: Veronica Roth’s “Insurgent” Playlist

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And we’re down to a solitary day.

Allegiant comes out tomorrow, and as part of my Divergent trilogy/Veronica Roth appreciation week, here are the songs that helped her write book # 2, Insurgent.
Insurgent

1. Timshel Mumford & Sons (Sigh No More)

Death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance.

I don’t think anyone could describe Tris as “innocent” after the things she’s done and seen, but I do think of her as a person of substance, so these lyrics struck me.

2. GiantsNow, Now (Neighbors)

There isn’t really a specific part of this song that applies to the book, but I listened to it during quite a few action sequences while writing the book, so the general feeling is right.

3. HysteriaMuse (Absolution)

I’m not breaking down
I’m breaking out
Last chance to lose control

I believe this qualifies as a Dauntless-on-the-verge-of-war song.

4. The CatalystLinkin Park (A Thousan Suns)

God bless us every one,
We’re a broken people living under loaded gun,
And it can’t be outfought,
It can’t be outdone,
It can’t be outmatched,
It can’t be outrun.

This one sort of surprised me, because I heard it randomly one day and just stopped in the middle of what I was doing, because it captured the situation of Insurgent so perfectly—a group of people who Tris calls “creatures of loss,” facing an enemy they don’t feel strong enough to defeat.

5. Under the WavesPendulum (Immersion)

I am deep in a river
Waves above my head
Held with no spirit
We descend
We reach the end.

There are a lot of moments in INSURGENT in which Tris feels overwhelmed. This song is good for that sort of thing.

Personal note: My fave from this one is Now, Now’s Giants though Linkin Park’s The Catalyst is sort of a driving/running song. Anyway, tomorrow, fellow initiates, tomorrow.

And, like what Tobias told Tris before she went to her fear landscape the first time, Be brave!