I was lucky enough to nab awesome seats at the 8pm November 21st premiere of Catching Fire. As promised, here is my review (I’m going to steer clear of major spoilers).
And the review is……
Pause for suspense…..
You heard me right. That sentence is my response because there are no words good enough for this movie. Honestly, most book to movie transitions have some pretty searing problems that non-fans will tend to steer clear of the franchise. However, Catching Fire shows that it does not have to be the case. There are plenty of nods to Gary Ross’s Hunger Games film through some interesting and gritty cinematography in the districts but high style in the extreme while in the capitol.
There is also PLENTY for the book lovers to enjoy. In fact, there were somethings I was SURE they were going to cut out that they ended up leaving in. Also, there were some quick, subtle nods to themes in the source material (think blood and roses). The movie is not just for book fans though. It flows easily enough that everyone will be able to understand what is going on and be truly influenced by the emotions. I cried about half a dozen times myself (then again that victory tour scene from district 11 always gets to me). The casting of new characters was EXTRAORDINARY. If we’re all going to be truthful here, I could definitely see Jena Malone as Johanna Mason (super angry and boisterous but just a lost little girl). The same goes for Sam Claflin as Finnick–all fun and games until it comes to a certain pair of ladies. As always, Jennifer Lawrence was incredible. Then, Josh Hutcherson has stepped up (I think age might have helped a little) to the point where his character’s inner conflict of loving Katniss but knowing it is mostly an act on her side is truly visible this time around.
Overall, just watch it. Really. Seriously. GO SEE THIS MOVIE!
One of the most popular Hunger Games readalikes over the past few years is Divergent by Veronica Roth. It is set in a dystopian future with several major divisions in society. They are referred to as factions and specifically dictate a person’s role in society and where they live, which is very similar to the idea of the districts. The book is also similar to The Hunger Games in that it has a strong female protagonist. Beatrice (Tris for short) Prior uses her personal strength and courage to completely break from her family and her upbringing to join a new faction when it is time for her to officially become part of society as an adult. This move proves to be even more difficult than she expected when the training she receives puts her body through the ringer. Those who enjoy the fighting and intensity of The Hunger Games will definitely like this portion of the book.
Overall, Divergent is a great look at the life of a strong female protagonist in a dystopian authoritarian future. The book itself is the first story in a trilogy. The second book is Insurgent, and the third book is Allegiant. The third book was only released a few weeks ago on October 22, 2013. ALSO, the Divergent movie will be released in March 2014. The first full trailer was shown just last week (it can be seen here)!
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
Take your own aptitude test. In Divergent, young adults must first take an aptitude test before officially declaring themselves on Choosing Day when they select a faction for their future. There are several aptitude tests online that anyone can take to see where they would find themselves in the world of Divergent—Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), or Erudite (intelligent).
I just wanted to give a heads up on the current blogging plan. It’s reading week and I have a ridiculous amount of work to catch up on. This means that I won’t be posting any blogs this week.
I feel that the other three weeks of this month would be perfect to honor The Hunger Games. Since Catching Fire is being released on November 22nd, the blogs will embrace the predominant topics of the trilogy and will cover read-alikes.
I have tickets for the 8pm premiere of Catching Fire on November 21st! Therefore, I will be doing a review as soon as I get back home to let everyone know how it is.
(I mean come on. The source material is amazing so at the very least it will be good if not GREAT.)
Check back next week for The Hunger Games Celebration!
The Walking Dead has basically become an institution in the zombie literature world. While it is not necessarily a young adult option, many older teens have latched onto the graphic novels. With this idea in mind, I need to point out that some of the themes and scenes can get quite brutal and gory. Therefore, this adult-to-YA crossover should only be reserved for older teens—as in AT LEAST 16 years old.
Ok, with that caveat out of the way, we can really get into it!
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman is actually an ongoing series of graphic novels. The story follows police officer Rick Grimes who wakes from a coma after being shot in the line of duty. Rather than being greeted by his wife Lori and son Carl, he finds his town is overrun by walking corpses. The first part of the series follows Rick trying to be reunited with his family, which happens in a rather unexpected way. Then, they must work to survive in this new, vicious world while trying to still have a life. It truly is amazingly written and has stunning artwork, courtesy of artist Tony Moore.
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
There are actually two awesome ways to bring this graphic novel to life. The most obvious is of course The Walking Dead television show on AMC. The first season is quite short, but it really does a nice job of presenting this new zombie world and introducing Rick and his family as primary characters. Those who are already familiar with the graphic novels might find the second season to be better though since it picks up at the Greene family farm that is a notable setting in the first stories.
The second way to bring the stories to life is to actually zombify yourself! AMC created several ways for users to turn a picture of themselves into a walker. There is a smartphone app, an email service that chooses good pictures to zombify, and a way to upload fan art zombified self portraits to compete in the Zombify Yourself Challenge to have the picture appear during an episode of The Walking Dead! More information can be found at http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead/zombify-yourself-challenge
While there was a little bit of romance in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, it certainly took a back seat. Therefore, I thought I would shake things up with a zombie story where the romance is in the forefront. Obviously, the best example in my opinion is Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.
The book draws multiple parallels to Romeo and Juliet, and it is obvious that integrating the Shakespeare classic was the main original goal. I mean the main guy’s name is R while the main girl is Julie. Yet, despite the foundation in this tragic romance, things move away greatly from there. The basic arrangement is a zombie named R falling in love with a human named Julie. Now, how R falls for Julie (whether it is just the connection between them, the fact that R ate the brains of Julie’s now dead boyfriend Perry, or some combination of the two) is unknown. The story goes deeper than this love though. It investigates what it means to be human, what are innate human desires and needs, and how love can heal. There is action, drama, and plenty of comedy intricately woven into the book in addition to the romance. Honestly, it is definitely worth a read. Even those who are not interested in zombies or those not interested in romance can find something they enjoy about it. It has become one of my top 10 favorite books of all time. It is also a quick and easy read—which means you can’t duck out of reading it due to not having enough time!
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
Watch Warm Bodies!
The novel was converted into a film in 2013. While it did not get a great deal of promotion or widespread notice, the movie is truly amazing. It is actually one of the better book-to-movie conversions. The film holds true to most of the original novel with a few exceptions to make it fit better with the movie format. However, it is incredibly true to the novel. Almost all of the major themes and events are part of it. The only super difference is that the movie decided to enhance and work more with the comedic aspects of Warm Bodies, particularly R’s inner monologue. Despite this shift, I think it makes the film work even better. Get everyone together for a viewing!
I thought we would begin the October zombie-fest with something a little new. I happened to run across The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan when I was in a Montreal bookstore. Obviously, it was the French version so I had by now-husband-then-boyfriend translate the blurb since the cover looked intriguing.
Basically, it follows the story of a young girl named Mary. She lives in a small, enclosed village that is surrounded by a vast forest. While it seems this rather rustic setting is more about isolation and surviving without modern conveniences, it actually is a forced isolation as the forest is filled with “Unconsecrated,” which is their word for zombies. The terms utilized in the book are actually quite interesting unto themselves, such as Unconsecrated, the Resurrection, and the Sisterhood. The religious references are not by accident either since Mary’s village is super religion-orientated with the Sisterhood (basically a ruling class of nuns) using religion to keep the villagers in line and indicating theirs is the last human habitation on earth. This village is thrown into disarray when a young girl from Village XIV randomly shows up though.
A complicated romance is integrated into The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but throughout most of the story it kind of takes a back seat to survival. Therefore, the book is still suitable for those who do not care for reading about romance and young love.
Overall though, it is super amazing. Carrie Ryan followed up with another book called The Dead Tossed Waves, which is another zombie story within the same universe as The Forest of Hands and Teeth but not a direct sequel.
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
Compose a zombie survival kit!
The idea of survival in problematic situations is a strong theme in the book. Therefore, the best way to bring the concept of survival to life is to make your own survival kit. This is actually a fun party game too. Rather than composing a physical kit, a simple list can be made and then compared with friends.
The following is a really awesome survival sheet from LostZombie.com: