adaptations · Dystopian · review · young adult

Book To Movie Talk | Allegiant

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*not spoiler free*

When I saw the first trailer for Allegiant, my expectations were low. As more trailers and teasers were released my expectations continued to sink. I doubted the film itself would be good let alone accurate. I knew going into the cinema screen that this adaptation would not be the Allegiant I hold close to my heart so of course I was apprehensive.

Here’s a breakdown of the important new characters added to the cast for this part of the series:

David played by Jeff Daniels

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Matthew played by Bill Skarsgard

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Nita played by Nadia Hilker

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Starting off with the existing characters, Theo James failed to impress, yet again, as Four. I’ve always found Four to be a painfully boring character in the books so if Theo intended to transfer that to screen then I guess you can say he was successful. I used to enjoy Shailene Woodley as Tris but in this film she is surprisingly underwhelming. Despite the fact that the existing characters find out in Allegiant that everything they know is a lie and that people have been watching them through cameras their whole lives, they seem content with this in the film, while the book versions go through a massive adjustment period. It just completely threw the tone off in the film, getting rid of any possible tension.

The new characters don’t leave much to be desired either. Remember Nita in the book and the role she played? She might as well not exist in the film. David didn’t seem nearly as desperate and evil, appearing laid-back more than anything else, and Matthew plays a considerably smaller role with the humour and charm that made me appreciate him in the book vanishing into thin air.

The only actor to give a good performance was Miles Teller, returning to the role of Peter, who had screen presence and made the terrible dialogue he was given funny, even eliciting a few laughs from me.

But the lack of emotions from any of the characters led to the events of the film not feeling believable which is key to a story with this kind of concept at its core.

I was already aware from the promotion prior to the film’s release that things would be different; the main factor fans picked up on being the changes to the “world beyond the wall.” That 21st century, modern day Chicago from the book seems like a pleasant dream when you set your eyes on what they have done to the world.

 

Everything beyond the wall is a wasteland. The world is split into 4 places:

Chicago – the city ruled by factions that the characters believed to be the world

  • The bureau – genetic welfare headquarters
  • The province – essentially the government that the bureau has to report to
  • The fringe – a place where those who survived what ravaged the world are living in poverty.

Neither the fringe nor the province exists in the book and I am still trying to understand why they needed to add it. I would have found this slightly bearable if the locations looked real and less like a soft play centre. The source material doesn’t lack the information or action to make this watchable and not seem stagnant so why the creators felt the need to include such massive plot changes just seems redundant to me, unless they were trying to purposely destroy this series, in which case they’re doing a fantastic job.

Natalie’s diary is given to Tris by Matthew to help her understand the important role her mother played and come to terms with her new surroundings. In the film, David gives Tris memory tabs that allow her to relive parts of her mother’s life in the fringe, before she willingly entered the Chicago experiment. Another unnecessary change.

The only part I saw of book Allegiant depicted on screen was the trials.

 

This scene opened the film and showed a sense of madness that had taken over the city as everyone rallied to see the deaths of those that had persecuted them. I will admit, the only moment that elicited any emotion from me other than disappointment was when Caleb was in the cage waiting for his trial and screaming to Tris “please don’t let them kill me.” Even Evelyn with the devastating fear that crippled her in the book fell utterly flat on screen.

There just seemed to be a lack of conviction in all the information given and it felt that none of the cast really wanted to be there, not that they were given much good direction in this script.

I reached a point during the viewing process where I tried to look at the film as if I hadn’t read the book before and even then it just didn’t make sense. Making Tris out to be someone who is a “chosen one”, not fully explaining what makes people genetically damaged or pure. Frankly, it’s just a mess.

But in the end, I am a fan of this series and I will see the final part titled “Ascendant” when it is released next year. I just hope to the book adapting gods that the ending stays the same.
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Dystopian · review · young adult

Blood, Ink And Fire – Ashley Mansour

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Blurb: “Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This book, as mentioned in the blurb, is about the world after books have fallen out of existence. I was nervous going into this because the last book I read about the destruction of books not because the idea of books being harmed in any way is scary to me, but that I read “Fahrenheit 451” and I didn’t enjoy it.

The story follows Noelle who is about to celebrate her seventeenth birthday upon which she will have her immersion. Noelle lives in the UVF (United States of Fell) in one of twenty vales. The four laws of this world are as follows:

  • No valer may leave the UVF without being sanctioned for transfer.
  • Every Valer must absorb Verity’s stream and undergo immersion.
  • Any valer found in possession of the written word, and shares it is considered a traitor.
  • (unstated) Valers don’t discuss treason.

Each home has a stream called “verity” which is a virtual fortress of information. “Verity” prepares those underage for immersion via lessons and generates pictures to the valers of that home.

Noelle likes to play games with her friend John. In these word games, John describes something and Noelle tells him the word for it. John reveals that he is leaving, gives her a map, and tells her to find him before she gets taken for immersion. “Verity” picks up on this and share’s it with Noelle’s family who ban her from seeing John.

Of course, she does what every teen does and runs away, taking her mother’s ID pass to get the train on this little adventure. Noelle meets John’s Grandma who has an actual, physical book and Noelle discovers that she is a reader – the last of a dying breed. Noelle’s actions have devastating consequences. Noelle is forced on the run but determined to fight the people who ruined her life. If only John hadn’t started acting…odd.

This book, from the outside, seemed to have an interesting concept. Given that books pretty much rule my life, it’s terrifying to think about what would happen if they were taken away. It has some current YA tropes running through it that I can see bringing in fans of YA dystopian however, it has a bit of a love interest and some… weird, creepy and irrelevant romance. Things also get very confusing. Even after reflecting on the book when I’d finished (and in fact upon reflection when writing this review) I don’t understand entirely what “Verity” is. And the fact that it wasn’t explained in a way I sort of understood until a good half, maybe even three quarters in, meant I lost my thread and I have to admit, I skim-read the last half.

Noelle was a great character but she was just stuck in the middle of a confusing, not well explained story.
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Dystopian · review · young adult

New World: Rising – Jennifer Wilson

 

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Blurb: “Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.” 

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
When I started reading this book, I was initially struck by the unique and interesting way the groups of people were showcased. Rather than drowning the reader with information in a prologue, or first chapter, the groups were shown through sketches.

 

As shown from the images above, it provides a handy reference guide to go back to if you’re confused by any of the tribes. So let me break them down for you.

Wraiths: “the ghosts of the city”, seen collecting victim’s left hands

Ravagers: Hunt people for sport.

Adroits: smart group, set traps that result in high payout, low physical involvement.

Jaciturns – deceptive, have spies in other tribes

Scavengers: thieves

Colons: filthy STOLE FROM HER PARENTS

See? Not as interesting as the beautiful images is it?

The story follows Phoenix who gets through every day with her mother’s last words echoing in her ears: “be strong, survive.” And that’s what Phoenix intends to do. She holds a deep hatred for the Scavengers, who stole her parent’s last belongings, and the ravagers who took her parents lives. She is alone in this incredible dystopian world that Jennifer Wilson has created.

Through Phoenix, the world is explored as she does everything she can to survive. Science changed the world for better and for worse. The wall was built and The Sanctuary created. Those seeking equality and security were welcomed to The Sanctuary and those who sought power were left to Tartarus (which has Greek Mythology connections as Tartarus was the prison for titans).

One night Phoenix travels to a library. While most steal the books to burn them for warmth, Phoenix actually reads them, until she is interrupted by the sound of ravagers and they can hear her. She manages to escape with damage to her leg, but at least she’s alive. She runs outside to look for a safe place only to hear the hunting call of the ravagers. Then she hears screaming – a child screaming. She tries to save her and is captured.

Phoenix is sure her captors are the ravagers although this turns out not to be the case. They call themselves The Subversive and they want answers.

Phoenix was successful in saving the child but it turns out that she is a mute so cannot give The Subversive what they want. After being probed with questions Phoenix has little interest in answering, The Subversive ask her for her father’s notebook so they can unlock the secrets of how she has managed to survive.

The first thing I am going to say about New World: Rising is that a lot of the content is very mature. I was actually shocked by some of what I read purely because I didn’t expect it. So if you’re quite young, I would probably wait a few years before you pick this one up.

Phoenix is your typical dystopian lead that you would categorise heavily in the “strong female” list however, what I loved about this character was that she was flawed. She wakes up every day from night terrors stemming from witnessing her parents deaths. She just felt raw and real to me.

Another aspect I loved was Mouse (the name given to the girl Phoenix saved). She is at a disadvantage as she cannot speak yet the beautiful thing is that she wasn’t cast aside for it. Phoenix helped develop a way for them to communicate using a sign language book and it was really refreshing to see that kind of dialogue taking place.

In contrast, I did have a few issues with this book. The place The Subversive reside is described as a “military bunker” and a lot of the descriptions of it and the reasoning behind The Subversive hiding reminded me of District 13 from Mockingjay and it just felt a bit samey.

The other issue was the romance. I am just so bored with unnecessary romance lately. If it doesn’t add anything to the story, then it doesn’t need to be there. Personally, if I was going off to a war the last thing I’d do is start smooching someone.

These issues aren’t as much with this particular book itself but with reoccurring themes that a spreading out over this genre. And I’m just getting tired of it.

 

All in all, this book was an enjoyable read and I’d like to give a shoutout to Ben over at OfTomes publishing who sent me a copy!
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Dystopian · review · young adult

Created – Peiri Ann

Blurb: “After a devastating world war, our government has manufactured genetically altered humans. These “creations” are designed to manage and enforce law and order among the citizens. Creations don’t know fear or pain. Their sole function is to fight the enemy and live to battle again. Orphans Kylie and her twin brother, Lukahn were born for this purpose. Dedicating their lives to sharpening their deadly skills and forfeiting the chance of love and freedom. They ready themselves for Separation, the deadly rite of passage where the oldest teens are drafted into the final preparation for war. Humans and creations alike have become lethal foes when a plague of the living dead becomes the number one hazard. Strategies change as the twins discover they may not be the saviours of humankind after all. They may be the real enemy of the people.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I’m not really a big sci-fi fan. I’m just going to put that out there. But every so often a book catches my attention and draws me in. Created is one of them. Just look at the utterly breathtaking cover!

The story follows twin orphans Kylie and Luke (narrated by Kylie) who live in a world made up of “normals” (humans as we know them) and creations. Kylie and Luke are the latter. They train hard, knowing they need to be prepared for a war and eventually they are taken by force in the night to a training camp: “our government holds a training camp every year for us. It’s practically three months of death. They try to kill us and we fight to stay alive.” The duo find themselves among other creations and are placed into groups. Naturally, Kylie and Luke are made leaders of different groups. As the story develops, Luke and Kylie are told in secret what it is they’re going to be fighting.

It’s really hard to review this book without giving away all the twists and turns that make it interesting. Overall, I came out of this reading experience feeling very mixed.

I like reading books about siblings that have a strong bond and there’s an emphasis on that: “You were each born in twos. You each will die in twos. This is not every man for himself. You live for your twin and them for you.” It made a nice change from some sibling relationships I’ve read before. It was refreshing seeing them work together as a team. However, this relationship they had became quite unhealthy and kind of creepy the further you delved into their characters.

The training sequences felt very similar to the way Dauntless train in Divergent so nothing felt particularly exciting or new. I could deal with this though, because there isn’t any really way you can make hands-on fighting original.

What really lost all hope in this book for me was the love triangle. You read that right. Love.Triangle. I hate them with a passion. They just made the arc of the story really tedious and I’m surprised I actually finished reading this book after this development occurred. I understand that the prospect of having affections for another being was new to Kylie but I eye-rolled so many times. I don’t mind if they add something to the story but it felt like this plot device was used to fill up the pages to when the real action happened.

When I finished the book I found a chapter entitled “the beginning” which basically explains how everything came to be. This would have been more useful to have at the start of the book to provide some context into what actually makes the creations different to normals before going into the story.

I just feel a bit let down by this one.

Let me know your thoughts!
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Dystopian · review · young adult

The Scorch Trials – James Dashner

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** This post is not spoiler free**

Blurb: “Solving the maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to… Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, its people driven mad by an infection known as the flare. Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the scorch to once again save himself and his friends…”
So let’s start with a quick recap.
The Maze Runner ended with the surviving gladers getting rescued by rebels and brought to a safe haven after being told that the world has been devastated by an illness called “the flare.” The epilogue revealed that the rebel group may just be another variable in this “experiment” created by WICKED.

If you thought The Maze Runner was intense then buckle up my dear readers, because this one is a rollercoaster. Pretty much every chapter ends with some kind of cliff-hanger which makes you just have to read one… okay maybe six more chapters.

In The Scorch Trials, the gladers discover that they are not the only group WICKED have been experimenting on – there was another maze. They meet the other group (Group B) and quickly realise from tattoos that appear on their necks that they are facing another test. This is confirmed when a WICKED individual tells them they are entering phase two. The Scorch.  Basically the gladers have to go outside, into the scorch and find the safe haven in a certain amount of time. Sounds simple right? But why on earth would they willingly take part?

They don’t. If they stay they die… If they go… they need motivation. And boy does WICKED give it to them. They have been infected with the flare. The safe haven contains the only known cure.

Good things about this book: the second phase taking place outside the maze means that we get to see what little is left of the world. (yay for world building)

Not so good things: everything else.  A lot of serious shit goes down in this book. You thought the grievers were bad? JUST YOU WAIT!

The character that really stood out of me in this book is Minho. He really took on the role of leader and handled the situations better than I would have; I really liked seeing the growth of him and Thomas working together after the events of The Maze Runner. They made a really great team and it was interesting watching that grow throughout this book.

I didn’t expect this book to be as intense as it was but I was hooked.

The movie is out 18th September 2015 in the UK and I don’t know how they filmed this but it will be really interesting to see.

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