Book Review || Carve the Mark

Hi folks! Hope y’all have been doing well!

Veronica Roth’s latest novel came out earlier this year so here’s my review for it! Nice to be writing these things again. 🙂

Also, I changed the look of this blog a bit! Goodness knows it needed a change. ❀


Synopsis

In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.

My Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Veronica Roth for a while now so hearing about her new book naturally got me excited, and I’m super happy to say that I was not disappointed with Carve the Mark! That being said, however, I did find a few issues with this book that I’ll also delve into in this review.

Right, so: the worldbuilding. Carve the Mark takes place in a Star Wars-esque universe (or galaxy, rather). I really liked the planets and Shotet culture and just the effort that went into creating this whole world for the characters. You learn so much about the cultures and religions of the societies and the way things are and I absolutely adore that sort of thing because I am a big nerd.

I loved the characters too! They’re all so raw and real and you get to learn a lot about their personal histories and get to know the way they think. Cyra is just so broken and beautiful and you feel so much for her. Akos is also really sympathetic character and really, the entire cast of characters is really intriguing and interesting and 3D which is exactly what I love! Seeing them together and the way their relationship develops was well-written and really good. And the plot, though it dragged at certain points, was winding and mostly fast paced and I found myself consistently excited for whatever was to come next. I mean, it’s set in space for goodness sake! You gotta love some good, exhilarating space action.crav the mark

Okay, now for the problematic part: you can definitely pick out some racist undertones in this book. Hear me out here. Cyra’s people, the Shotet, are portrayed as savages and warriors, whereas Akos and his people–Thuvians–are the kind, peace-loving counterpart. However, if you look closer, you’ll notice that Roth identifies the Shotet to be darker skinned (or mixed-race) and sets up their culture to be galactic indigenous people of sorts. Meanwhile, the Thuvians have paler skin and are basically colonizers of the planet the Shotet have always existed on. Furthermore, the Shotet language is described as “harsh and guttaral” versus the smoother, softer sounds of the Thuvhe language. Keeping this in mind with the way Cyra and Akos’s romance plays out, I couldn’t help but feel that Carve the Mark was playing on the trope of “angry person of color is civilized by kindly white person and they fall in love.” I am sure Roth did not mean for it to come out this way, but it does not change the fact that it still subconsciously plays into racist stereotypes. Big sigh.

All in all: If you can look beyond the whole racism issue, Carve the Mark would be amazing! The lack of YA sci-fi lately is pretty upsetting, and Carve the Mark was a great display of Roth’s skill and just how thrilling stories in space can be. But, yep, there’s that whole racism thing. (I would recommend this book because I genuinely enjoyed it, but be sure to read it keeping in mind that you’ll probably feel a prickle of ://// while reading.)

❀ Yasimone

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Insurgent Movie Review!

I’ve got news…

I have seen Insurgent!

Here are the vital stats of the movie:

  • Release Date: March 20th, 2015
  • Genre: Science fiction film/Thriller (Dystopia)
  • Time: 1 hour 59 minutes
  • Director: Robert Schwentke
  • Prequel: Divergent
  • Main Cast: Shailene Woodley (Tris Prior), Theo James (Tobias Eaton), Ansel Elgort (Caleb Prior), Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews), Miles Teller (Peter), ZoĂ« Kravitz (Christina)

And, here’s the official summary of the movie.

“Now on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the rest of the power-hungry Erudites, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) search for allies and answers in the ruins of Chicago. They must find out what Tris’ family sacrificed their lives to protect and why the Erudites will do anything to stop them. Side by side, Tris and Four face one seemingly insurmountable challenge after another, as they unravel the secrets of the past and — ultimately — the future of their world.”

Now, let me just start things off by saying that this movie was truly awesome. I thought that it was a pretty accurate interpretation of the novel.

Shailene Woodley did great in her role as Tris, who during this movie had an overwhelming guilty conscience. Theo James, playing Four, also was amazing, but he seemed to have a less noticeable part than in Divergent. Ansel Elgort portrayed Tris’s cowardly, traitorous brother quite well, and Miles Teller was very memorable as the sly, funny turncoat Peter who in the end turns out not to be such a bad person. Kate Winslet, of course, dominates the screen in each of her scenes as Jeanine Matthews. I really enjoyed the high-quality acting from a great, star-studded cast.

I also loved the special effects. They were very realistic, and the serum simulations, or sims, that Tris had to go through to open the faction box were perhaps more complex and sophisticated than those in Divergent (the movie, that is). The visual effects were also very prominent in the scenes that took place in the Erudite headquarters. There are quite a few action scenes too, and it’s safe to say that they’re nail-biting, tooth-grinding, fist-clenching exciting.

Insurgent Tattoos!Another thing I was super pumped up about? I got free Insurgent temporary tattoos for watching the movie! >>  There are faction logo tattoos, tattoo wristbands with “FACTIONLESS” written on them, and a couple futuristic design ones. I think my favourite one is the band with all the faction signs on it— very Divergent. 😉 They’re really cool and I can’t wait to put them on!

Overall, I thought that this was a must-see movie! 🙂 Sure, it deviated from the book plot a little bit, but don’t all book-based movies do that? The differences from the book worked to the film’s advantage, and it fully satisfies the expectations as a dystopian sequel. Insurgent ends with an intriguing cliffhanger, much like the book, that leaves the audience eagerly waiting for more.

Book Review || Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

(Before you read, you may want to check out my review of Divergent, which is the first book of the Divergent series.)

Tris and Four, who she now calls by his real name Tobias, are unsure what to do. Erudite has just attacked the peaceful Abnegation members searching for Divergents, whom they are convinced pose a threat to the well-being of the faction system, through controlling Dauntless soldiers with a serum that Erudite developed. Tris’s mother and father have both lost their lives while trying to help and prevent the attack, and Tris has just shot and killed her friend Will, who was under the influence of the control serum and tried to capture. Seeing no other options, Tris and Tobias flee to the Amity faction along with some friends. As Tris fights with her guilt, her fear, her grief, her love, and above all, her Divergence, in the safe haven, the conflict grows between the other factions. Suddenly people who they once considered “good” aren’t sure where there loyalties lie, and human nature takes over through betrayals, deaths, and new, unlikely alliances start to form as old ones shatter.

Five words: This. Is. An. Amazing. Sequel. It’s so much darker and deeper than Divergent, and the characters are no longer confined to the Dauntless initiates. We get to glimpse the lifestyles and beliefs of people form the other factions, and we learn much more about the main characters— how they deal with their emotions, how they react to the violence and loss and discord, how their actions, ration and rational alike, affect them. They are unraveled, layer by layer, so that you can actually get to know them over time; they are not stereotypical, 2D characters. They have depth, they have pasts, they have flaws.

Cruelty does not make a person dishonest, the same way bravery does not make a person kind.

-Insurgent

On another note, I really like Tris and Tobias’s relationship in this novel: they have just enough tension between them to keep it interesting, yet not so much that it frustrates you and/or makes you want to punch Four. (Just kidding, nobody would ever want to punch Four.) 😉 ❀ I found it interesting that Roth proved in this sequel that in the end, both “good” and “bad” people want to survive, and will do whatever it takes, no matter how “Abnegation” they are. And isn’t that true even in real life? I’ve noticed that some second books from trilogies are not very noteworthy. They’re mostly those filler books in the middle, not the opening act or the grand finale. Well, this certainly cannot be said for Insurgent— this must-read is just as fast-paced, suspenseful and tense, and brilliant as Divergent! (By the way, the cliffhanger at the end? It made me go absolutely insane. Why must you do this, Veronica Roth?) 😀

-Yasimone

The Insurgent Movie!

On March 20th, 2015, something very exciting is happening— the Insurgent movie is coming out! 😀 I’m simply thrilled, because there’s less than two weeks left! Here is what Veronica Roth, the author of Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant, says on her blog about seeing her new movie last month:

Guys, Insurgent is great— and fun to watch. It is a tense, action-packed adventure of a movie. At certain points, my muscles were so clenched I felt like I had just done a series of push-ups. When I left, I immediately wanted to go back in and see it again. (I still do!) insurgent

Well, that’s intriguing. (Here is her full post, Insurgent Movie!) Look forward to a review of Insurgent soon, as well as review of the movie as soon as I’ve seen it! Save the date, Initiates! 😉

And here’s a little bit of movie trivia— after Shailene Woodley, who plays the role of Tris, cut her hair for one of her 2014 movies, The Fault in Our Stars, she decided she did not want to wear a wig for Insurgent. Tris does cut her hair in the book, but not as short as seen in the movie.

Are you as excited for the movie as me?

-Yasimone

Book Review || Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Beatrice is just an average 16-year-old Abnegation girl— selfless, kind, quick to forget herself. Or so everyone thinks. Beatrice knows, that in her heart, she doesn’t want this life, doesn’t deserve it, because she is not selfless enough. Aptitude tests are coming up, and they will recommend which faction the new adults, 16-year-olds, should switch to— or stay in. What will Beatrice get? Dauntless, which the brave and courageous pick? Candor, where you cannot ever lie? Erudite, the faction with all the intellectuals and scholarly? Amity, where the people are peaceful and happy? Or Abnegation, her home faction, where she is not sure she fits in? After she takes her test, Beatrice learns that she has equal aptitude for not one, but three factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite. She is Divergent. The test administrator tells her not to mention this to anyone, not even her family… or terrible things could follow. On the day of the Choosing Ceremony, where the teens must pick the faction to live the rest of their lives in, Beatrice is faced with a hard decision: follow her dreams and abandon her family by switching to Dauntless, or stay with her mother, father, and brother but regret the choice for the rest of her life in Abnegation (she has already decided that she most definitely does not want Erudite). At the ceremony, her brother Caleb, much to everyone’s surprise, becomes a member of Erudite. Beatrice is panicked, not wanting to stay yet not wanting to leave her parents all alone in their faction. In a moment of spontaneousness, Beatrice selects Dauntless, shocking everyone including herself. In the extremely harsh, competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris. She struggles, along with her fellow initiates, to survive initiation. They must train to shoot, throw knives, combat, and face their greatest fears through vivid simulations that delve deep into their minds. Tris finds herself making friends and, slowly but surely, falling in love with her instructor, a secretive but fascinating boy named Four. However, she soon realizes that life in her faction may not be what it seems, and that her secret— that she is Divergent— is a dangerous one to keep, one that might destroy both her and her loved ones.

Veronica Roth began writing Divergent when she was in college, and it has turned into the first book of one of the most popular trilogy describing the dystopic, very structured Chicago from Tris’ point of view and emotions. Tris is a head-strong and intelligent girl, observant of her surroundings and easy to relate to— don’t we all feel like we don’t belong sometimes? The writing of this book is fast-paced and highly suspenseful. Behind all the action, however, are meaningful themes. It touches on identity, loss, love, bravery, friendship, and above all, finding your place in society.

-Yasimone