Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

The Extinction Trials: Rebel – S.M.Wilson

“But Lincoln knew that while there might be the chance of fertile land, more space and more food on Piloria, it all came at a cost. A cost he’d witnessed. Could humans and dinosaurs really inhabit the same continent?”

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Blurb: “Storm and Lincoln’s city is burning. The people are starving. The only place left to run is Piloria, the continent of monsters. It’s up to Storm and Lincoln to keep their people alive as they colonize this lethal paradise. But will the biggest threat to their survival be the monsters in the jungle…or the ones inside the encampment with them?”

The Extinction Trials has been a dinosaur filled saga that constantly questions what people are willing to do in order to survive. The final book in this series, The Extinction Trials: Exile, sees the inhabitants of Earthasia face the biggest decision of all: stay here and die, or move to a dinosaur infested island for the chance of a new life.

An interesting aspect to see of this book was the result of people getting a cure for an certain illness. In a world where everything is so heavily restricted I never really thought about the effects fixing a seemingly minor problem would have on the society. The city is even more overcrowded than before and, with the belief dinosaurs are no more, the masses seek to relocate. I thought it was interesting to see this two distinctive continents suddenly be reduced to one and watch the gap continue to grow between those who had been to Piloria before and those who hadn’t. I loved seeing the politics once again start to take over in a new setting as people decided they should remain in charge and essentially just colonise another island when raptors were just having a grand time running around eating people.

One small but unexpected thing I’ve loved consistently throughout this series is the perfect balance between the dual perspectives. Just when I was starting to wonder what Lincoln was doing, I’d turn the page to find his chapters. Also, S.M.Wilson has just a way with visual writing that at times I really felt like I was in Piloria myself.

However, this book really did suffer from “second book syndrome” despite being the finale. At 200 pages in, nothing had really happened and I was starting to wonder if anything ever would. It just didn’t have that push or urgency expected from the last book, and despite loving the first two so much, it was actually a disappointing end. Admittedly, I feel a little cheated.

The Extinction Trials: Exile, fell short of all the promise it had, but overall is a series very worth investing the time into.

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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Eve Of Man – Tom & Giovanna Fletcher

“She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about; their final hope. Eve was the saviour of humanity. I am Eve.”

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Blurb: “All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past. But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate. Until she meets Bram. Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom. But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?”

I’ve been a long-time fan of both Tom and Giovanna Fletcher independently, so when I saw the announcement that they had written a book together, I was both excited but very wary. Tom Fletcher is a children’s book writer, known primarily for The Christmasauras, and Giovanna is a romance writer, known for Billy And Me. So not only were they merging together, but also stepping into a new area of the book world as Eve Of Man is the first in a Young Adult Sci-Fi series.

To start with, I was very anxious because I wanted to love it, and throw aside all my preconceptions as they are new to YA and many adult authors etc. have made a successful transition. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Charlotte Richie and Josh Dylan, and honestly don’t think I would have gotten through this book without it. Because it’s a bad book. A really bad book.

Eve of Man is pitched as an “unconventional love story” and yet with the premise of the story, it does little to surprise the reader. Eve is sixteen, the first girl born in fifty years and now about to be palmed off to any boy who might be capable of ensuring the survival of the human race. Eventually she realises her situation is wrong and starts to rebel. There was a lot of buzz shortly after the release regarding gender sterotypes in the book. It’s, again, predictable but not really surprising that it’s rigid in binary as the point we’re introduced to the characters is when Eve is deemed ready to bear a child. The reader is doused in layer upon layer of information about how the world got to this point, revealing how the woman suddenly stopped carrying girls to full term and methods that were put into place. There are a few hints to other sexualities but these are very much brushed over and I was more concerned that in this Handmaid’s Tale-esque aspect there wasn’t much attention brought to what happened to infertile women.

The story is told in two perspectives: Eve and Bram. It’s first person, meaning the reader gets into the route of their thoughts and to be honest I found Bram infinitely more interesting. Eve lives in this place called “the dome” which is essentially her prison. The regular communication she has is with a hologram called Holly who has to be operated by a pilot in order to interact with Eve. Bram is one of these pilots which was super interesting and destroyed my previous idea that Bram would turn out to be one of the suitors. His perspective was great in showing what was going on outside of Holly’s world from the government interference to the people rallying in the streets, demanding Eve’s freedom. However, the narrator was so bland that it just didn’t make him feel real. There was no real change in voice either for characters so I often had to rewind to work out who was speaking. Eve’s narrative wasn’t necessarily bad but I just didn’t really care for her.

In terms of the writing, what I gathered from the audiobook is that Eve very much has Giovanna’s usual writing style and will be comforting to those familiar with her other works. My main issue was that Eve didn’t’ come across as sixteen. As for Bram, Tom’s writing is quite simply a mess. It’s very clunky and could have done with a lot more buffing around the edges. Both perspectives had the issue of information dumping both in the sense of “telling rather than showing” and the reader is constantly having bits of knowledge thrown at them that isn’t really needed; a lot of it was information that the writer needed to know to form and understand the world, but wasn’t vital for those reading. It always seemed to come at the worst times. For example, there’s a dramatic section in the latter half of the book with Bram and the action is suddenly halted for a few minutes while the reader is given the history of the room. All that build up is suddenly halted and it was hard to get back on board after being steered off track.

To me, Eve of Man  was a book with a lot of potential but completely fell apart in the execution.

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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

The Death Cure – James Dashner

“It’s a very old axiom, but do you believe the end can justify the means? When there’s no choice left?”

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Blurb: “WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.”

Brief Note: I am aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in a blog post. That is the last I will say on it

The Death Cure is, admittedly, a book that I’ve abandoned in the past. So when I came to the decision to revisit this series, I knew that the best way to go about it was to read all of the books back to back (hence why you’re receiving an onslaught of Maze Runner content, sorry).

For the past two books, the questions and tension have continued to grow to an unbearable level and, in this final part, finally explode with epic action and many instances that may cause readers to throw the book across the room in fear. There are a lot of moments where finally getting those well-needed answers left me just wishing I’d never found out the truth.

The question of Wicked being good once again comes to the forefront as the characters continue to learn more about the world and how much power this corporation actually holds. It creates an interesting grey area as more facts about the epidemic begin to emerge and I just love complex aspects that can be unpacked; I guess it’s one of the reasons that I find Teresa interesting and irritating in equal measure.

I found it fascinating seeing more of the world just outside Wicked’s front door and how the group seem to turn a blind eye to all the people needing their help and how the city tossed the infected out to a place full of cranks known as “the crank palace.” (Which is definitely a place I would do my best to avoid!)

I adore the focus on friendships in this series and how close the characters become despite the horrible situation they’ve been forced into. My personal favourites are Minho and Thomas – how they work together to lead the others but never fight to be the one leading – and Thomas and Newt – where you get the real sense of “I would do anything for this person.”

Thomas is unlike most protagonists I’ve come across in YA dystopian because he is flawed: the first time he kills someone really stays with him and every person he loses because of his bad decision continues to weigh him down. He is very much aware that his friends are blindly following him unaware that he has no real plan or idea where he’s taking them. His narrative is heart-breaking to read at times when he reminisces on his choices and looks at what his possible future might be. The reader is really able to feel-and connect to the pain- in a lot of ways that other books in this genre seem to miss the mark with.

Overall, I think I actually prefer the films to the books (I know that I sacrilege as a book blogger). I just feel that the ideas outweigh the execution and that the adaptations – while going very much off course of the source material – take the story in a much better direction.

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Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Scorch Trials

“The flare always wins in the end. You lose any chance of being rational, having common sense, having compassion. You lose your humanity.”

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Blurb: “Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in in my blog post that is all I’m going to say on it.

When I initially started reading this series, on a film adaptation fuelled hype, this was my favourite book of the first two. In fact, it was one of the first reviews I actually did here on Charlottereadsthings and I was interested to revisit it and see what I thought of it this time around.

As to be expected with a series, The Scorch Trials is very much a “transition book.” Thomas and his fellow gladers barely make it through the Maze Trials only to be thrown into a world devastated by a disease called The Flare. They’re no closer to being free and the questions from the previous book only continue to grow in number of the course of this addition to the timeline.

I love this book because the reader starts to see Thomas make that shift from a scared, clueless boy into a sort of leader for the remaining group of boys. I adore watching him team up and work together with Minho and how they bounce off each other while focusing on keeping everyone safe. The introduction of a girl called Brenda in the scorched world really hit me a lot more this time because I was able to see the parallels between her and Thomas: Brenda is a survivor in her own way; forced to live in the “real” world seeing the true effects of the flare at work.

My issue with my reread for The Maze Runner was the attempts at dialogue and, thankfully, they are fare and few between in this book. They flow into the dialogue a lot more and I feel that the shift has a lot to do with the new characters coming in that haven’t been exposed to words like “shank.”

As I mentioned earlier, this is the second book in the series and, almost unsurprisingly, it lags quite a bit in places while the characters explore this new world. While the previous book felt claustrophobic, this one almost feels like there’s too much space. It did reach points when I felt I was forcing myself through long boring segments in the hopes it would pick up.

I like the concept of everyone having a purpose within this world. As the characters learn more about themselves, and try to piece together their lives before the maze with limited memories, they discover that regardless of whether their role is to be the leader, the glue, or the betrayer, they all have a role. And I think that is something we can all apply to real life.

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Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Maze Runner

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

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Blurb: “Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Everything is going to change. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in my blog post and that is all I’m going to say on it.

I first read The Maze Runner when the dystopian genre was at the peak of popularity and, as you’ve probably guessed, I picked it up because of the film adaptation creeping around the corner. Dystopian was always heavily sci-fi based which often put me off – though now the genre has been left for dust I do miss it terribly. Yet, as I delved into this story, I was hooked on every single word.

This post is the start of a few weeks of posts on this series as I reread them after seeing the final film.

The story follows a boy called Thomas who finds himself trapped in a maze with no memories. The only thing he can remember is his name. Some of the people he finds himself coexisting with have been stuck in this place called The Glade for three years and are still yet to find the way out.

What I love about this story is how claustrophobic it feels: the towering walls, the limits of the place they inhabit and the dawning sense that something is definitely not right. Thomas asks question after question, which gets increasingly annoying, only to be met with half-statements from the group. As the plot thickens, it really feels like the reader is confined to this place with the character. The questions continue to build with little in the way of answers and that’s what drives Thomas forward. The amount of questions reach an incredibly annoying level, but I imagine that if I woke up in a place like this, I’d be exactly the same. It’s fascinating how the group of boys have made a civilisation and all have jobs such as farming or being doctors to keep everything running since they resided themselves to never leaving the maze.

The cast of characters is surprisingly diverse from the American protagonist, a British boy named Newt to the POC characters such as Alby – leader of the Glade –  and Frypan -the cook – and an Asian boy called Minho who is in charge of running the maze in order to map it and find a way out.

While I appreciate the attempts at dialect in The Glade, the consistent use of “shuck”, “klunk” and “just slim it” really do make the conversation clunky, especially when there’s no glossary provided to explain the meanings so the reader is forced to try and work out whether the words have positive or negative connotations.

The last time I read this book I was infuriated by some of the gladers actions towards Thomas and how they won’t listen to him and constantly shut him out. Especially the character of Gally who seems to have a personal vendetta against the protagonist. But this time around I understood him: he is partly in charge of this group of boys, he’s helped build this new home for them and suddenly a new boy comes along with a lot of questions and bad things start happening. I know for sure who I’d blame there!

The Maze Runner builds and builds until the reader feels like the tension might finally end only for it to keep dragging them along, scared and helpless to the dramatic conclusion.

Wicked is good… or are they?

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Posted in adult fiction, Dystopian, review, Uncategorized

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

“These three words were always the last thing an Oasis player saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: Ready Player One.”

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Blurb: “In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

Ready Player One has been very much an “on the fence” book for quite a while: I knew it was very popular but I just couldn’t quite bring myself to commit to reading it. Whenever I’ve brought up the prospect of delving into this one, I’ve had quite a few people speak very highly of the audiobook – which is narrated by Will Wheaton – so I decided to go for that format.

The world of The OASIS is equal parts fascinating and terrifying: since  its creation, it has grown into essentially its own kind of universe in which people marry other avatars without knowing where they are or what they look like in the real world and many, like the protagonist Wade, actually transferred from school in the real world to an education institution within this virtual existence. Learning how this way of life had become a way of life for so many people was really interesting but the concept of these characters spending hours upon hours motionless in a unit while they explored a different world with their avatars created this sense of vulnerability; which doesn’t work out well for a few of the characters.

The story gets straight into the crux of the plot, opening with the death of Halliday, the OASIS creator, and the video footage in which he reveals that he is leaving his fortune to whoever finds the hidden easter egg. The protagonist, Wade, goes on to explain how he went about solving the mystery and for me, the storytelling really fell apart. I appreciate the fact that this story takes place over a vast number of years (it takes five years from the Halliday video to the first clue being found) but the narrative went through consistent lull periods throughout and often, for that reason, ended up getting a bit sidetracked with other things. A lot of the plot points were just told in a “then I did this and then I did this” sort of way and I’m not sure how I found such issue with this as that’s basically how stories are told. But it felt like I wasn’t really being shown things. Along with that, I’m not sure if Wade comes across really obnoxious because of the writing style or if it was the way that Will Wheaton acted the part, but it didn’t sit right with me.

A big thing that made me apprehensive about picking up Ready Player One is that I knew it is packed full of eighties references so I felt that I wouldn’t gain full enjoyment given that I was born the decade after and have only see the odd eighties film. Naturally, there are a lot of jokes and sly comparisons that readers more familiar with the era will pick up on but it doesn’t majorly detract from the enjoyment if you’re not as aware of them.

The standout character for me was Artemis. Her frustration really seeps through the story as she always seemed to be just a few steps behind Wade throughout the book’s events.

For me, Ready Player One is a book with a fascinating concept but doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

“I made the sign of the zippered lips, and I silently vowed I would never speak again.”

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Blurb: “In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, victim shaming, assault and drug use.

In a world where words and gestures are trademarked, the reader is introduced to the protagonist – Speth – who is approaching the age in which she is fitted with a cuff and starts being charged for every word she says and every action she makes. The initial concept of All Rights Reserved is terrifying in itself because it’s an ideal that is all too easy to picture in our own world. Right’s holders can charge a pretty penny for adjectives and a shrug higher than 2cm can cost, people are taken to Debt Collectors for copyright violations that happened years ago and involved their ancestors. People can be sued simply for looking like someone else. The word “sorry” will cost $10 and is classed as a legal admission of guilt.

As listed above, there are a few triggers throughout the story as characters feel trapped by their conditions. Please exersize care and make sure you’re in the best space to read this book because it doesn’t hold back.

All Rights Reserved is an interesting twist on the “dystopian rebellion” trope as normally the protagonist is fighting to make their voice heard. Speth chooses on her “last day” to zip her lips and refuse to speak. I’m not sure where I expected the story to go, but as the book is narrated from first person, the reader doesn’t get to see much of the rebellion. Speth becomes quite isolated as refusing to make her speech means that she can’t make purchases, have a job or get into most establishments because she can’t agree to the Terms and Conditions. A lot of what’s going on outside of her home is explained through her siblings calling out her behaviour and alerting her to news reports. Because of this, I feel like the plot slows down an awful lot and becomes quite a slog to get through. It picks up in the last quarter but it’s quite a struggle to get there.

Speth is by no means the first to rebel against the proverbial system: many other teens in her class read their speeches on their last day and haven’t spoken since. What makes Speth different is that she never read her speech; the first words she must say when she has been fitted with her cuff. It’s sort of like signing a contract.

This is a book with a thrilling premise but the execution falls short.

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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

“You may have been perfectly designed but there is always room for improvement.”

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Blurb: “In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.”

Having read Louise O’Neill’s more recent book Asking For It, I sort of knew what to expect when going into her debut. O’Neill has become well known for her activism regarding women’s issues from her weekly columns at the Irish Examiner, to her outspoken manner online, and of course her books; where she tackles topics most would rather avoid.

Only Ever Yours tells the story of a world in which the use of birth control to maintain the “perfect body” has led to women being created rather than born naturally. The girls are put into schools where they are trained to believe that their looks and rankings will dictate their futures. There are three roles available after graduation: companion, concubines and chastities. Of course, everyone wants to be a companion to one of the rich, attractive men – known as Inheritants – who will make their choice at the ceremony.

This is not a pleasant read. To describe it as a “brilliant book that everyone should read” (which it is) almost feels like missing the point of the narrative. From the outset that is something unsettling and if you are struggling with weight issues or an eating disorder it is best to wait until you are in a very good place before reading it – which is what I did. There is overwhelming sense that something bad is going to happen if any of the characters step out of line and there were many occasions where I was holding my breath as if that would help the story in some way. I don’t normally pay attention to quotes from other authors on books as those opinions never tend to sway me towards buying a book, but Jeanette Winterson says that “O’Neill writes with a scalpel” and honestly, that could not be more true.

I did find the world confusing at first as you’re thrown in the deep end to follow Freida who is in her final year, preparing for the ceremony. The characters around her are the embodiment of everything we would deem wrong from society and their views are amplified throughout, creating a sense of disorientation when you see the extreme lengths some girls will go to in order to keep their rankings up. While pitched as a strong relationship between Freida and Isabel, their friendship is fraught for most of the book as Isabel appears to let herself go and doesn’t get punished for her actions; instead she is simply removed from the rankings. The reason for which sets your mind into the worst possible outcomes for her. The chastities in charge refer to the girls by numbers, but the girls themselves call each other by names which made it difficult to understand the intended purpose: they are stripped of their names but seem to retain them at the same time.

An obvious comparison to make is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood because they both deal with government control of women’s bodies, but it’s important to note the very big differences. In Only Ever Yours birth control is seen as a good thing, to stop pregnancy ruining your bodies (meanwhile Handmaid’s sees birth control as a bad thing) and in Handmaid’s there is a sense of hope that things could really change. There is none of that in Only Ever Yours. It is a dark, terrifying insight into what our world could be like if we don’t start tackling important issues.

I can only salute Louise O’Neill for her fantastic efforts… even if she does scare me a bit.

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Posted in 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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Posted in 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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