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  • Jennifer Grudziecki 4:49 pm on 2016/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: , divergent, ,   

    Why We Love the Divergent Series, On the Page and Onscreen 

    It’s a good time to be a Divergent fan: the entire series (including Four) is finally out in paperback, and the first half of Allegiant is about to hit theaters, bringing us more of the ever-wonderful Shailene Woodley. There’s really only one problem—the endless debate over that familiar question: which is better, the books or the movies? And the truth is, we can’t decide. There are just too many things to love on both sides; for instance, Four’s on-page character depth and dimensionality, versus Theo James’ onscreen abs. In the spirit of fairness, equality, and peace on earth, here’s why we love Divergent no matter the format.

    1. Characters that are perfectly imperfect.

    Nothing is better than finding characters you can relate to. Whether they’re made up of text or celluloid, it’s their flaws and imperfections that make them seem so real—and Divergent is full of imperfect people. Tris isn’t battle-hardened or super-powered, Caleb doesn’t always make the best decisions, and Peter? Well, Peter is full of flaws. But instead of giving in to their weaknesses and mistakes, they seek growth and redemption.

    2. Four. 

    It’s true that no one in the series is perfect, but Four comes awfully close. He’s strong, he’s brave, he’s a tactical genius, but he’s also surprisingly cuddly and sweet at times. And Theo James’s on-screen portrayal? Yes, please. We’d make the bold claim that Allegiant is Four’s best book, and we have high hopes for his scenes in the film adaptation.

    3. Bad guys that are truly bad. 

    A good series has to have a good villain, and boy, does this one get points for that: the bad guys are smart, tricky, scientific—really just the worst. And therefore the best.

    4.There’s no love triangle.

    Everyone enjoys a love triangle (or quadrangle), but it’s so refreshing to find a series that manages to include romance without going back to the choose-between-two-incredibly-hot-dudes well. Tris and Four may not always be on the same page, and their love isn’t perfect, but at least neither of them is left breaking some poor third party’s heart.

    5. Jokes! 

    All that action and adventure can get a little overwhelming, so it’s nice that Veronica Roth and the movie crew toss in a bit of humor to lighten the mood. Not to mention all the great, groan-worthy puns you can enjoy after you’ve read/watched the series.

    6. All the little changes.

    You may not be able to decide between the books and the movies, but you can over-analyze every little difference between them. And what’s more fun than watching Allegiant three times in a row just to make sure you can accurately debate them on Tumblr later?

    7. We could all use a trip to our fear landscape.

    You know what’s terrifying? Being presented with all of your worst fears in such a concrete way. But you know what’s really satisfying? Identifying all of your worst fears and training yourself to move past them. One of the best parts of the Divergent series is how Veronica Roth shows that being afraid doesn’t stop you from being brave—and honestly, the movie depictions of the fear landscapes are just so cool. (We can’t wait to see how Four’s fear landscape changes in the film version of Allegiant.)

    8. It’s gripping.

    Whether you’re sitting on the edge of your seat or turning the pages as fast as you can, there’s something about this series that makes you want to hold on. And with all the action that occurs in Allegiant, we know we’re going to be absolutely dying for part two to come out in 2017.

    Are you going to see Allegiant in theaters?

  • Jeff Somers 4:33 pm on 2015/06/09 Permalink
    Tags: alternate views, , , divergent, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    5 Fictional Romantic Leads Who Deserve the Grey Treatment 

    It’s no shock that demand for more tales from E.L. James’ Fifty Shades universe remains high. What is a delightful surprise is James’s decision to explore the relationship by going back and telling the story from Christian’s point of view in the forthcoming Grey. It’s an exciting decision, bringing a renewed depth and urgency to the story, and giving readers the opportunity to have their assumptions challenged. Retelling the story from a different point of view is a genius move—and one we wish other authors had made over the years.

    As a matter of fact, James isn’t the first writer to have this idea—Veronica Roth Released Four: A Divergent Collection last year, five short stories from the Divergent universe told from Four’s perspective. Roth originally tried to write Divergent from Four’s point of view, in fact, abandoning that version when she created the character of Tris and fell in love with her voice, but she always felt that Four “has a distinct history and a complex psychology” and wanted to explore his point of view more. With some stories that retell events from Divergent and others that offer up new background information on Four, it’s a fascinating look at events from the books and the relationship between Tris and Four from a whole new perspective, and fans love the opportunity to get to know their favorite characters and stories more deeply. Here are four other famous romantic couples we’d love to see get the Grey/Four alternative perspective treatment.

    Q and Margo from Paper Towns, by John Green
    Part of the point of Green’s great novel (a film version of which drops this summer) is that Q can only see things from his perspective—a perspective that proves to be pretty narrow by the end of the story. After falling in love with the Margo he imagines, and then perceiving clues and intention where none actually exists, he must by the end of the book accept that he wasn’t dealing with reality, but rather with his own desires. Margo is a fantastic character who injects a crazy energy into Q’s life and inspires a life-changing road trip. Seeing the same story from her point of view, and finding out in detail what she’s up to while Q and his friends follow the “clues” and pursue her, would be fascinating.

    Claire and Jamie from Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    It’s true that over the course of her novels, Gabaldon opens up the story to other points of view—she’s even stated in interviews that she tries to add a new POV character in each new novel. And it’s also true we’ve had sequences from Jamie’s point of view. But wouldn’t it be grand if we got to read the whole story from his perspective, from Claire’s arrival from the future through the witch trial? On the one hand, this would be difficult to navigate. On the other hand, it would be tremendously fun to see how Gabaldon would narrate events through a red-blooded 18th century Scot’s point of view.

    Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Gatsby and Daisy’s doomed romance is so burned into our collective consciousness, and has been adapted for the screen so many times, it’s easy to forget the whole story is told from Nick Carraway’s point of view—we never get inside the head of either of the lovers. A book told from Gatsby’s point of view might ruin the mystery that still surrounds one of the greatest characters of all time, but the story told from Daisy’s point of view might shine light on heretofore hidden aspects of the story—most notably why Daisy is such an object of obsession for Gatsby in the first place, as from Nick’s point of view the character never seems to quite deserve such passion.

    Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
    A permanent classic of American novels and American romance, this is one of those stories where both principles in a love affair are equally interesting. While Jane’s voice and personality continue to entrance readers to this day, Mr. Rochester is also a fascinating character filled with surprises, and surprising depths. Hearing the tale of how Jane came into his life and how he developed a passion for her—and hearing Jane’s famous speech admitting her feelings—from his point of view would no doubt be entertaining and revealing, and just a lot of fun.

    If Grey is a smash hit, which it likely will be, maybe one positive effect will be inspiring other authors to offer up alternative takes on their most popular characters.

    Pre-order Grey >
  • Jenny Kawecki 7:33 pm on 2015/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , divergent, , , , , just one day, , , , , ,   

    This Week in Page to Screen: Fifty Shades, the Little Prince, and a Whole Lot of YA 

    You’ve probably heard by now that director Sam Taylor-Wood and screenwriter Kelly Marcel jumped ship after the release of the first Fifty Shades installment, leading to much speculation that there might not be an adaption of the second and third books. But not to worry, fans, because the franchise has already acquired a new writer for Fifty Shades Darker: Niall Leonard, E.L. James’ husband. Meanwhile, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are looking for a pay raise before getting back on board.

    Fifty Shades isn’t the only book-to-film adaptation with a new screenwriter: Universal just hired a screenwriting team for Gayle Forman’s Just One DayIsaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the screenwriting duo who recently adapted Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s The Future of Us, will be handling the project, Forman’s second novel-turned-movie. Just One Day (and it’s accompanying novel, Just One Year) follows the changes that one romantic, adventurous, inspiring day in Paris can bring (especially when said day is spent with a handsome actor named Willem).

    In other YA news, film rights to Kiera Cass’s The Selection have been bought by Warner Bros., which hired Katie Lovejoy to adapt the novel (Lovejoy is the scriptwriting genius behind Black List). The Selection, the first book in Cass’s series, is about America Singer, a regular girl who’s thrown into a competition to marry her prince—despite the fact that she’s in love with someone else. Meanwhile, the fourth book in The Selection series, The Heir, is coming out May 5.

    With the release of Insurgent, the second film in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, rumors about the upcoming Allegiant movies (the final book is getting split into two parts) are circling. While it has yet to be confirmed, all signs point to Aaron Eckhart playing David, Tris’s nemesis in the third and fourth films. In response to fans’ concern that the final films are going to stray from the book’s bittersweet ending, Theo James would like to assure everyone there’s no need to worry—even though Insurgent wandered away from the source material, Allegiant is sticking pretty close to the plot.

    Blake Crouch, however, has no such expectations about the television adaptation of his Wayward Pines books.  The series follows Ethan Burke, a secret service agent on a mission to locate two fellow agents who seem to have gotten lost in a small Idaho town. It was recently transformed into a TV show by M. Night Shyamalan (which Crouch says is “a dream come true”), but Crouch readily admits he hopes the show won’t stick too closely to his novels. Wayward Pines premieres on Fox on May 14.

    And finally, in case you haven’t had enough feelings today, do yourself a favor and watch the second trailer for The Little Prince movie. If you, like me, were a bit skeptical about the computer-animated adaptation of this beautiful classic, there’s a 98% chance this trailer will change your mind. The story-within-a-story setup looks promising, and the animation style is absolutely enchanting—and no, I’m definitely not crying at all. The movie will be premiering at Cannes this May before widespread release in July.

    What page-to-screen adaptations are you excited about?

  • Lauren Passell 8:10 pm on 2015/03/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , divergent, , ,   

    11 Things We Learned at the Veronica Roth #BNAuthor Event 

    There was only one bad thing about the Veronica Roth #BNAuthorEvent, which took place at the Union Square location in Manhattan on Sunday, March 15—it ended. Roth, who is charming and likable, instantly made friends with the audience, sharing surprising facts about herself, interesting anecdotes about her writing, and things about Divergent you probably didn’t know. Here, 11 cool things we learned:

    In her first college writing workshop, her classmates ripped her to shreds. “I went home and I cried. But later I read their notes and realized if I took them to heart I’d get a much stronger story. It’s important to be around people better than you and realize you have room to grow. Accept criticism without anger or criticism. Let critique settle in.”

    She needs to write. “I am driven by the stories of my characters. I need to write them. I’ve done without doing other things, like sleeping and eating, but I need to write. I’ll be doing it whether people read it or not.”

    BN_Roth_161She just finished (and loved) Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, by Caitlin Doughty (A 2014 Barnes & Noble Discover winner!) I’m on a nonfiction kick. I just finished another book about North Korea. And I’m always reading YA.”

    She’s not a whole lot like Tris. “Tris is impulsive, reckless, and kind of mean. I actually like that about her. She’s tougher than I am by a huge margin.”

    But they have one thing in common: “The preoccupation with the goodness of the things she does. If she’s done something wrong it haunts her. Neither of us are as compassionate toward ourselves as we should be.”

    In other words, she’s hard on herself. “You know when you’re in the shower and an embarrassing memory stabs you in the brain? I call those mem-stabs, memory-stabs. I think about something awful I said and want to go on Facebook and send someone from my high school a message that says, ‘I’m so sorry I was mean to you in the cafeteria that one time.'”

    Divergent was originally told from the perspective of Tobias. “The reason it didn’t work is because his actions didn’t seem surprising and there was not that sense of urgency. It’s what young men will do. It’s something we expect them to do. Tris is meek and petite. The choices she makes are fascinating.”

    She takes medication for anxiety. “I think it’s great. It makes life easier.”

    She is a fan of therapists. “Don’t be afraid to go to a therapist or talk to someone who knows more about your brain than you do. Take care of your brain.”

    She loves talking about Caleb and usually nobody asks her about him. “When Tris forgives Caleb it’s her best moment of heroism. She chooses love over bitterness and hate. Whether Caleb deserves the forgiveness or not is irrelevant. I know I love my siblings and I’d like to think that deep inside me is the grace to forgive them for anything.”

    Three books she thinks are underappreciated: The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler; and Proxy, by Alex London.


    Pick up the movie tie-in edition of Insurgent
  • Joel Cunningham 3:30 pm on 2014/08/14 Permalink
    Tags: , beatrice gormley, divergent, , , jonathan livingston seagull, lois lowry, mail-order wings, , mockingjay, patrick j buchanan, paul coelho, , rick perlstein, , the alchemist, , the greatest comeback, the invisible bridge: the fall of nixon andn the rise of reagan, , tripods, , ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked The Invisible Bridge, Allegiant, The Giver, The Alchemist, or Maximum Ride 

    photoThe Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, by Rick Perlstein, is the highly controversial, much discussed account of the end of one iconic political carrer and the liftoff of another. Bookend the experience by going back to happier times for Richard Nixon with The Greatest Comeback, by Patrick J. Buchanan, which chronicles his recovery from a devastating losses in the 1960 presidential election, and a bid for governorship of California in 1962, through a monumental victory in his second attempt at the Oval Office in 1968.

    Allegiant, by Veronica Roth, is the deeply polarizing final installment in the massively popular Divergent trilogy. Upon its release, as many fans embraced the risky final twists as rejected them outright. It was not dissimilar to the reaction that met Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins’ crescendo to The Hunger Games. Reading them both provides enough meat for an academic study in subverting genre tropes and audience expectations. Catch up now, and then see how Hollywood tries to sand down the rough edges when they are collectively adapted into a total of four films over the next few years.

    The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is the grandmother of the current wave of YA fiction featuring oppressive, totalitarian governments and the teens who hate them. For another vintage look at kids fighting against the system, look the the Tripods series by John Christopher (starting with The White Mountains). The books date from the late 1960s, but the storyline, about a group of kids who team up to throw off the yoke of oppression-by-alien-mind-control that has ensnared all earthly society, is as suspenseful as ever. Massive, betentacled machines that can suck the will to resist right out of your brain never go out of style, I guess.

    The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho, is less a novel than an inspirational allegorical fable, one that has inspired millions of people over the last quarter-century years to stop stumbling through their lives and find their true destinies (I’m sure an equal number of cynics were also inspired to roll their eyes, but 65 million copies sold speak for themselves). For a similarly motivating message in much weirder, 1960s-tinged packaging, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach, is the story of a seagull (yup) who becomes obsessed with mastering the beautiful mechanics of flight, and never stops striving for perfection even after he is cast out of his flock, answering in the affirmative the long-debated question: is Ayn Rand really for the birds?

    Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson, has a killer premise for a series of YA novels. I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to read about genetically-altered kids with big giant wings that give them the ability to soar over the heads of taunting bullies (I mean, theoretically that’s what one could have used them for in, say, 1990 when one was in middle school). Personally, though, I can never think about this series without remembering the book that got there first. Don’t be deterred by its scant page-count or 1980s vintage cover: Mail-Order Wings, a middle grade novel by Beatrice Gormley about a nine-year-old girl who sends away for a “make your own wings” kit advertised in a newspaper ad and is shocked to discover they actually work, has haunted me for decades. The more she wears the wings, she the more birdlike and less human she becomes. Eventually they fuse to her back, her feet start turning to talons, and she flies off in search of the creepy old dude who placed the ad. It isn’t every day you get to describe a book written for 5th graders as “a Kafkaesque nightmare.”

    What are you reading?

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