Movie Review: Divergent

14 Apr 2014

I don't usually write movie reviews since for me movies are simply 'good', 'bad' or 'average' and there's nothing further to elaborate. However, after watching Divergent I was overcome with so many FEELS that I needed to write them down. This review will probably be all over the place so my apologies! :D

Book to Film:
I've realised that when a book is adapted into a movie, most hardcore fans of the book(s) prefer the movie to stay faithful to the book(s). I, on the other hand don't particularly mind. I believe that since it's an independent film, the directors/producers can add/delete scenes as long as it suits the movie. As long as the plot doesn't change significantly and there are no plot holes, I'm completely fine with it. Also, as long as the more important scenes/fans' favourite scenes and the scenes that drive the plot forward are brought to life then I'm content. The rest aren't important.

Having said that, I felt that Divergent remained quite faithful to the book. I mean, the last time I read Divergent was probably early last year (my book's been in my friend’s possession for a good part of last year) so I'm a little fuzzy over specific scenes. However, 90% of the ‘memorable scenes’ were included in the movie and if any scenes that didn’t appear in the book were added, or certain scenes were altered then I applaud the director for adding/changing those scenes because I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE MOVIE. J

(I actually wrote an entire paragraph on my phone but when I opened up the file the next day, for some reason the paragraph wasn’t there. *sigh* I must’ve accidentally deleted it on the bus =.=’).
Anyway, back to the review!

Tris: Holy Moly Tris’s actually was superb! To be honest, when the cast was first announced last year, I was 100% skeptical of Shailene. Back then, she looked nothing like the Tris I’d conjured up in my head, and no offense, I didn’t find her very good-looking. After doing some googling/research/stalking, I discovered that she was generally perceived as an extremely talented actress and so my doubts began to fade. Fast-forward a year later, I’m sitting here wondering how the heck I ever doubted her ability to bring Tris to life. Shai was perfect as Tris. I mean, no, she still doesn’t fit the original image of Tris but after watching Divergent, that ‘original’ Tris doesn’t exist anymore. Shai is Tris and Tris is Shai. Every time there was an emotionally demanding scene or a scene that required screaming/yelling/anger, I legit felt goose bumps on my arms because her acting was just so damn good. I can’t wait for Insurgent now! Bring on more Tris/Shay <3

Oh, and one more thing. I believe Tris is described as small in the book, but obviously in the movie Shai is quite tall. Once upon a time, this was a contributing factor to my dislike of Shay as Tris, but now? I LOVE HER HEIGHT BECAUSE WHEN SHE STANDS NEXT TO THEO, THEY LOOK PERFECT TOGETHER.

Four: HDAUHDSUIHDSAUIHDIASU FOUR WHY ARE YOU SO HOT AND SEXY AND GORGEOUS AND PERFECT?!?! I remember as soon as Four appeared on screen – the scene where Tris jumped off the roof, landed on a net and Four helped her down- all the girls in the cinema (me included) started swooning/screaming/giggling. Honestly, I don’t know how Tris was able to answer him after he helped her down…I mean, I would’ve just melted into a puddle of goo.
Four is unapproachable, a demanding, no-nonsense instructor who could frighten anyone into silence with one piercing look. Theo did a fantastic job executing all of Four’s identifying traits. While I fell in love at first sight with Theo’s looks, I must admit he also didn’t fit with my image of Four. The ‘original’ Four was leaner…and I felt a little more sensitive but like Shai/Tris, Theo James is now the one and only Four for me!

Other Characters:
  •  Throughout the movie I was slightly confused. Was Edward ever introduced to us? I remember seeing his name on the rankings but were we ever introduced to him as a character?
  •  Also, I didn’t realize this until someone mentioned on Twitter (sorry, forgot who!) Was Uriah introduced to us? I think he was on screen for less than 5 seconds before he disappeared. And we never got to see him again. Uriah was one of my favourite characters in Divergent and it’s a pity Uriah didn’t play a bigger role in the movie.
  •  -I had no complaints regarding Christina and Will’s characters. I can’t remember any specific lines, but I do remember many of their lines were snarky, hilarious and definitely appreciated!
  •    OOOHHHH HAVE I MENTIONED HOW JAI’S ACTING WAS IMPECCABLE?!?! Well it was! Now, he was exactly how I imagined Eric! Those piercings, tattoos, expressionless face and unforgiving personality truly brought Eric to life.
  •    Every time Caleb and Tris spoke or walked next to each other, my mind would immediately jump to Augustus and Hazel’s scenes together in The Fault in Our Stars. Did this happen to anyone else?
There were some laugh-out-loud moments, which were a fantastic bonus! The books weren’t intended to be comical so I’m glad the scriptwriters decided add in some humorous dialogue and lines J

If you couldn’t be bothered to read the my 900+ words review, no worries, just read this paragraph. I have three words for everyone – GO WATCH DIVERGENT!! So far it’s one of my  favourite book-to-movie adaptations, the others being The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & a few of the Harry Potter films.



*Image credits go to Weheartit

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

6 Apr 2014

by Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins  
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Format: eARC, 300 pages

 What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

 When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

 Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

 Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

*WARNING*: I swear a fair bit in this review. I don't usually swear in reviews, but the main character pushed me over the edge. Apologies for the profanities! 

I’m currently torn over what to rate Side Effects May Vary. On one hand, I despise the two main characters so much that my overall enjoyment of the book equates to only 2 stars. However, upon reflection, I’m rather relieved the author decided to take on a different approach to the cancer-related stories, which deserves at least 4 stars from me. Having said that, I’ll leave my rating at 3 stars since I suppose my ratings reflect my enjoyment of the book rather than the quality of it, though be warned: there will be massive rants and hate-filled paragraphs in this review, aimed mainly at our vile, despicable and completely infuriating main character, Alice. 

I honestly can’t remember the last character I hated as much as I do Alice. Gosh, just thinking of her completely selfish, obnoxious and patronising personality makes me want to pelt cartons of rotten eggs at her. I absolutely loathed how she never treated anyone the way they deserved. She took advantage of Harvey’s love for her and fucking used him because guess what? She won’t be punished, nor be faced with any form of comeuppance because she’s dying, and no one dares to be anything but kind and considerate towards a dying girl. I hated how she would manipulate Harvey, and convince him to commit atrocious acts of revenge with her without first fucking telling him what she intended to do. He was like a slave her. One call, and he would be by her side, obeying her every demand. And more than once, when she felt Harvey becoming a tiny bit distant, she would lightly touch his arm, or give him a warm smile, or peck him on the cheek and she knew he would immediately soften and obey her every wish. AGAIN. Unfortunately, I found no redeeming qualities in her that could counteract all those negative aspects of her personality. Honestly, I fucking HATED HER. 

Just like every other contemporary YA fiction, there was a character who would constantly mock/ “bully” our protagonist. While I usually disliked those characters, in this case, it was the other way around. I applauded Celeste and Luke for threatening Alice. I was overjoyed when Celeste insulted her. The girl deserved it and needed to be put in her place since Harvey sure wasn’t going to do it anytime soon. As for Luke and Celeste’s combined act of revenge at the end? I didn’t feel and ounce of pity for Alice. All I thought was “You had it coming. IT’S FUCKING KARMA.” Someone who is low enough to mock someone’s size DOES NOT DESERVE MY PITY. 

Also I've lost all respect for Harvey. The ending is a little ambiguous but obviously we know what will happen in the future and I can never see Harvey in the same light again. He's no longer the guy I respected, admired and pitied. I can't see him as the type of noble person to sacrifice everything for love. Because he's just plain stupid. He doesn't fucking 'love' her. He's obsessed with her. He has no fucking pride, dignity nor respect for himself and those around him either. He's essentially brainwashed and living on la-la land. It's unhealthy, it's dysfunctional and I don't give a shit about him and his supposed all-consuming LUUUURRRRVVVEEEEE for Alice anymore. Go do what you want. You want to be led on and cast aside mercilessly without warning? Go ahead. You want to be used and disposed? FINE. But don't go crying to everyone when she decides she has commitment issues again. Oh and Alice isn't 'mean'. She's rotten. Evil. Disgusting. But I suppose if you won't 'love' her no one ever will because most people will not be able to accept that black heart of hers.

Okayokay, so I probably went overboard with my hate-filled rants but that’s exactly what I felt when I read the book. (Also, there are major past/present tense issues since I wrote the paragraphs at different points in time.) Basically, I didn't love this book but the author is undoubtedly spectacularly talented if her character can evoke so much hatred, anger, annoyance, and impatience in me. I can’t say whether I would recommend this to y’all, but I guess if I try to consider everything objectively, the book itself isn’t bad, just the main character ruined it. 

A massive thank you to HarperCollins for providing a copy of Side Effects May Vary for review!

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

1 Apr 2014

by Rainbow Rowell 
Publisher: Pan Macmillan  
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Format: Paperback, 300 pages

 Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. 

 Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

 Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

Fangirl was possibly my most anticipated book of the year (after I discovered it would be published in Australia – PAN MACMILLAN, YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!) and I’m thrilled to announce Fangirl was extraordinarily awesome! I have to admit it was different from what I had expected, but I loved it all the same :) Fangirl was cute, relaxing and relatable, and it was exactly the kind of book I needed to keep me sane while I studied for exams.

When we were first introduced to Cath and Wren, I was completely nonplussed as to how they were ever friends, let alone attached at the hip. Even though they’re twins, they’re polar opposites. One's the shy, nerdy, fan-fic writer who barricades herself in her room and is scared of meeting new people while the other is outgoing, energetic and the life of the party. Basically Cath and Wren did everything together from the day they were born, all the way till right before college. When they entered college, Wren wanted to experience the whole package that college has to offer – partying, drinking, developing friendships with a new network of people, but Cath only wanted to continue to continue writing fanfiction about Simon Snow and pretty much continue the life she led before.

I felt I could easily relate to both Cath and Wren (although I did become annoyed at both of them several times throughout the book). I could relate to how Cath was intimidated by the size of the college, and the huge mass of people everywhere. She’s the type of person who would mind her own business, keep her head down wherever she goes and avoid eye contact with everyone. That’s kind of like me so I was able to understand how she felt. On the other hand, I could also understand Wren’s desire to live the college life. You know the saying “You only live once” (YOLO)? Yeah, well that’s exactly the kind of mindset many first years have when they decide to experience the social side of Uni.  Partying, drinking, stumbling home at 6 in the morning and rocking up disheveled to a 9am class while nursing a hangover happens. While I disliked how Wren treated Cath during her ‘transition-to-Uni-phase” (mocking Cath and her fan fiction, ignoring her sometimes) it did feel like normal behaviour to me. At times Wren’s indifference to Cath’s life, and her reluctance to share her thoughts and feelings to Cath irked me. I mean, they were still best friends….right? Likewise, Cath’s adamant refusal to participate in any social activity got on my nerves after a while.

Now, at first I thought ‘Fangirl’ was a book about me as I tend to fangirl over everything. (Yes, just ask my friends. I’m pretty sure they’re sick of me fangirling over hot celebrities. ) However, after reading Fangirl I can safely say that compared to Cath, I’m no where near deserving of the title ‘Fangirl’. This girl is literally nuts. (In a good way!) She’s so obsessed with the series Simon Snow to the point her room is covered from floor to ceiling with posters of Simon Snow; she’s the most popular/famous author of the fanfiction Carry On, dedicated to Simon Snow; she wears T-shirts with the words ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ AND she can write 10 000 words – if memory serves- of Carry On in one day on top of her Uni workload. This girl is freaking insane! But she’s so insane I love her to smithereens. I mean, I love certain books, movies, TV Shows and actors but I could never devote half as much time as her to these favourites of mine.

The only downfall was a lack of resolution for some of the subplots. I felt that even though there was an attempt to wrap up each of the subplots, it could benefit from a more solid resolution. There are still so many ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and ‘will this ever happen’ circling in my head and I guess I’d be much more content if these questions were answered. Nevertheless, I’m happy with how everything turned out in the end!

Also, special mentions to:

  • o   Cath and Wren’s father for being the COOLEST father on the planet. He seemed so chill about everything; even when Cath brought home a guy for the first time, he didn’t even bat an eyelid. Plus he’s very lenient about everything!
  • o   Levi for being the SWEETEST boyfriend ever<3 Also, he needs to stop being a ‘nice guy’. Levi is the reason girls friendzone so many of their guy friends. You’re too nice mate, wayyyy too nice!
  • o   Reagan for being the most UNUSUAL best friend<3  Reagan isn’t your usual sidekick. Hell, with her fiery personality, she’ll never be the sidekick. I love how she took Cath under her wing and looked after her! Reagan deserves a massive gold medal J

As you can tell, I genuinely adored Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell is an incredibly talented author and I shall be hunting down all her books now! Guys, you HAVE TO READ THIS. I recommend buying/reading this ASAP.

A massive thank you to Pan Macmillan for providing a copy of Fangirl for review!

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

25 Feb 2014

by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Random House 
Release Date: January 10th, 2013
Format: Paperback, 369 pages

 When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

*** This is a long overdue review. I wrote this around mid-2013 and I remember this book had a huge impact on me as I could relate to the main character perfectly. I think if I'd read this any sooner or any later, it *might* not have impacted me on such a personal level. Basically, all I have to say is; life is unpredictable :) ***

Gayle Forman never fails to impress. Her books are automatically placed on my “will-buy-for-sure” list as soon as the announcement for the publication is made, and honestly, her books will always be worth my money. I thought Just One Day was entirely different from If I Stay and Where She Went, at least in respect to how they affected me. While Forman’s first duology was heart shattering, poignant and left me bawling my eyes out every time I read them, Just One Day was less of a tearjerker, but I related to it on a personal level.

 Allyson ‘Lulu’ Healey is reminiscent of the typical, lost YA/New Adult main character we’re so familiar with. What makes her stand out, however, is how the readers are privy to all aspects of her life- her transition from the girl she’s always been, and the girl she wants to be and the journey she embarks on in order to truly find herself. She’s always been a 'good' girl, the sort of girl my Asian parents (and her Jewish parents) want as a daughter; she’s taking subjects her parents want her to study in college, no objections raised because well…it’s what she thinks she should be doing. Her mother controls her life; she chooses the subjects, tells her what she should be doing. Hell, her mother even picks out her outfits. While my parents are by no means like that, I do understand what it feels like to have someone else control my life, while I sit quietly and dutifully on the sidelines listening to lectures of how what has been planned out for me is for my own good and how ‘it doesn’t matter if I don’t like what I study, as long as it gets me somewhere in life’.

 It’s obvious in the first few chapters Allyson has no idea what she truly wants in life, and it’s something I understand. At home, her mother takes charge, and outside of home, her best friend Melanie takes charge. Allyson is the ‘sidekick’, the ‘shadow’ when she’s with Melanie. They’ve been best friends for almost/over a decade and while it's realistic how the two began to grow apart as they left for different Unis, it's also regrettable and heartbreaking. This, I can also relate to. While most of my friends/close friends are either in the same Uni as me, or is studying at a nearby Uni (we’re all in the same city), I can feel the distance developing between all of us.  It seems surreal for a 10 year friendship to just fade away into an awkward ‘hello’ during unexpected encounters, but it’s reality. It happens. The memories will stay with you, but like in Just One Day, both Melanie and Allyson changed throughout the year, and sometimes, it just becomes too tiring to make an effort for two completely different people to ‘make things work’. I liked seeing Allyson become closer with her new friends from college (thought honestly, I have yet to meet a potential gay best friend from my own Uni!!). NOTE: I HAVE MET A GAY GUY FRIEND! YAYYYYY<33333

It is debatable whether love plays a major role in the book or not; I personally wouldn’t say it does. Sure, Allyson spends the majority of the year pining over what may have happened between them, but I think that while her relationship with Willem contributed to her change, she wasn’t so much mourning him so much as mourning herself. Being with Willem brought out the side of her she always wished she had the courage to show everyone; it’s not necessarily the real her, but it’s who she wants to be. And she was this person for one day. This story is ultimately Allyson’s journey to find that person who was lost the morning she woke up to find herself abandoned by Willem. I don't know about other people, but this feels like me minus the boyfriend part. I have this side that I show to most people, that people recognise as 'Shirley', but there's also this other side of me that is only brought out when I'm around certain people. Like Allyson, it's the side I want to show the world and it's the side I mourn when I'm not with these certain people. We all interpret books differently, but this is how I pictured Allyson's life. 

Some people will read this merely for the enjoyment of it, but for me, this was more than just an entertaining read. Half the time I felt like the author had thoroughly analysed my life, wrote it as a novel  with a few alterations here and there. Obviously I loved it, and the only reason I didn't rate it 5 stars is because my emotions didn't run wild here. If I'd had a tumultuous relationship with the book, eliciting all these different emotions in me at different stages then it would have been perfect<3 Nevertheless, this is something EVERYONE should read!

Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

17 Feb 2014

by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: 26th February 2014
Format: Paperback, 416 pages

 With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn't know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won't keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world ... but that's not all he wants with her.

*sobs* The Juliette Chronicles has officially come to an end. No more sometimes-seemingly-psychotic-sometimes-affectionate-and-vulnerable-Warner who captured my heart and made me change teams from a firm Team Adam to a devoted Team Warner. No more self-pitying Juliette who initially annoyed the hell out of me, but later grew on me as she finally decided to take control of her life. No more bipolar Adam whose character did a full 180 and I was left wondering if this ‘Adam’ was the same swoon-worthy, kind and gentle Adam readers fell in love with in Shatter Me. No more sarcastic and eternally entertaining jokester Kenji, who never failed to put an enormous grin on my face. I know that I’ll definitely miss these endearing characters, but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I own all three books in the trilogy and can plan a re-read anytime I want J

I was extremely pleased with the Juliette’s growth in Ignite Me. The Juliette who wallowed in self-pity; who was perpetually relying on everyone around her to orbit her like planets around a sun, and who only wanted to be protected, has finally matured. She’s ready to learn to harness her powers. She’s ready to fight for her future. She’s ready to become a leader and lead an army into battle. She’s ready to take on the supreme commander, the most powerful person alive. The whole time I was like “YESYESYES JULIETTE ABOUT TIME YOU LEFT THE LAND OF FAIRYTALES AND ENTERED THE LAND OF REALITY.” I wrote this ‘letter’ to Juliette in my ‘Unravel Me’ review, and after reading said letter, I’m delighted to announce that none of the points I addressed apply to her anymore. YAYYYYY!

Unfortunately, I was incredibly disappointed with Adam. The Adam who I described as “caring, loving” and “the only person who stood by her (Juliette), protected her and treated her like a human being”, just…suddenly vaporised into thin air. The Adam in Ignite Me was malicious, overbearing and consistently bitter about Every. Goddamn. Thing. WHAT HAPPENED? What happened to the once compassionate and caring guy? Who’s this fraud who would throw around phrases like “I’d rather you were dead”? And since when were guys so emotional all the time? Even though I'm Team Warner and honestly at the start of the book I semi-wanted Adam to just disappear so Juliette could embrace her true feelings and ride off into the sunset with Warner, I still wanted the 'competition' to be fair. Adam's character was so inconsistent compared to what he was like in Shatter Me; I was like "Is this really the guy Juliette (and us fans) fell in love with, because he's a completely and absurdly different person here."

Warner and Kenji were once again my favourite characters in the book, and if it weren’t for them I don’t think I would’ve continued past Unravel Me. Warner’s once ice cold and stoic demeanour was stripped away, layer by layer as the story progressed. We once again witnessed the vulnerable side of him and I JUST WANTED TO JUMP INSIDE AND PROTECT HIM FROM HIS PSYCHOPATH OF A FATHER AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO HATED HIM. Kenji was also back with his snark and never-ending jokes. Since Kenji and I are both single…I think it’s only fair we spend Valentines together :DDD hehehehee  (NOTE: YES I DID SPEND VALENTINES DAY WITH KENJI)

The last few chapters of Ignite Me were packed with fast-paced action. My only problem was that too much time was spent preparing for the inevitable battle – almost 85% of the book lead up to the climax- while the actual fight was over too soon . The climax wasn’t bad or anything, but I felt the ending was too rushed. Yes, I’m a girl and yes, I do love drama, but some of those very melodramatic lovers’ quarrel scenes could’ve been cut out and replaced at the end with a more fleshed out ending.

Apart from the rushed ending, Ignite Me was fantabulous<3 I already miss all of the wonderful characters Mafi first introduced to us all those years ago. If you haven’t read Ignite Me yet, GO GRAB YOURSELF A COPY!! THIS IS NOT TO BE MISSED.
A massive thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a copy of Ignite Me for review!