Review of Divergent Movie

Divergent Movie PosterNo spoilers of either the book or movie, I promise.  This is just my opinion.

This weekend, I saw the Divergent movie. Before I tell you what I thought of the movie, I will tell you two things: First, I loved this book. Second, it is very hard for me to like film adaptations of books that I have read and enjoyed.

Have you read Divergent? If you haven’t, you will enjoy this movie. I watched it with an adult male who does not read YA fiction and he said this was a great movie. It is fast paced and action-filled. Hailene Woodley, the actress playing Tris, does an excellent job of relaying emotion without reliance on dialogue which is very important in an adaptation of a book wherein we were privy to the thoughts of the main character. I suppose this is also a positive reflection on the screenwriters and director.

If you have read Divergent, you may not like this movie. At least one of my other YA reading friends is in outrage over it. The book is rich with character development and atmosphere. This film adaptation focuses all character  development on Tris and Four to the detriment of everyone else. Even Peter, violent and unsympathetic oaf that he his, comes across as simple minded in the movie instead of the book’s coldly and calculatingly cruel. I am still somewhat torn over the creative reinterpreting of the conclusion of the climax, there are both good and bad changes there. We can discuss this in the comments below if you have thoughts on the matter. This was neither the best film adaptation of a book I have ever seen, nor was it the worst (by worst, I mean Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). I give it a 6/10, I would have scored it higher if there had been more depth to the other characters.

I am glad that I saw the movie on opening weekend. Watching it in a theater mostly full of teenage girls, I was able to enjoy it on another level. In a scene where Four asks Tris if she would like to see his tattoo (which involves removing his shirt), the audible reaction in the theater was, “YES!”

Review of Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

by Kady Cross

And here we go with the third book in the Steampunk Chronicles, The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross. Not too long ago I read the first two books in this series and reviewed them. This one I received as an advance reader copy from the publisher.

Description from Goodreads:

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What’s left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends’ lives.

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke’s sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him…and for Griffin.

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel’s desolate alleyways to Mayfair’s elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist’s ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she’s to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn’t know she has….

When reading the first two books in this series, I did a lot of ignoring the weird way the characters just seemed to take for granted the unusual things that happened around them and the baseless trust they showed in near strangers. The fast pace of the story and the intriguing plot do a lot to make up for the shallow characters, and the same is true in this book. Cross is an excellent storyteller, knowing just the right time and place to leave suspense and build tension. I might personally have been a little happier with a little less time devoted to the characters’ inner romantic turmoil, but I do see how the romantic developments helped drive the story along. I’m still not completely over the moon about the Steampunk Chronicles, but I will continue to read them just to find out what happens next.

Goodreads – A Review

For my class on Social Media, I was given the assignment to write a review of an emerging social technology and I chose Goodreads.

Goodreads Logo

A home for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, find their next favorite book, form book clubs and much more. – About Goodreads

Goodreads was launched in December 2006 and has grown to over 6.3 Million users who have shared reviews on over 210 Million book titles. It is the number one social media network for readers and book recommendations. Goodreads looks at the titles you have read and the ratings and reviews you have written to create reading recommendations based on those of members with similar tastes.

How to use Goodreads: 

As a Goodreads member, you have the ability to add books to your virtual bookshelves by browsing or searching for title, author, or ISBN. The Goodreads mobile app also allows you to search for books by scanning the barcode on a book using the phone’s camera (for iPhoneand Android). There are three default shelves: Read, To-Read, and Currently Reading. They are mutually exclusive, which means a title can only belong to one of these shelves at a time. However, members are able to build as many additional shelves as they would like, such as “reference” or “never finished”. Books can belong on as many non-exclusive shelves as desired. 

Once you have made 20 ratings, Goodreads will begin to make recommendations for you. The more books you rate, the better your recommendations will be. Recommendations are made according to genre as well as tailored to the contents of your individual shelves. The Goodreads recommendation engine is based on the principle that the best book recommendations come from friends. Unlike Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Goodreads recommendations aren’t based on sales data or skewed towards popular titles, they are instead based on the opinions and reading habits of members who have show similar taste in books (more about the Goodreads recommendation engine on Mashable). Yet another way to find new reading material on Goodreads is to add friends. All of your ratings and reviews will be visible to your friends, and when your friends perform any activity on Goodreads, it will show up on your main page in your Recent Updates feed. You can also link your Goodreads account with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and Blogger.

Goodreads lets people connect, regardless of geographic location, to share common reading experiences. One way to do that is to join one of the Goodreads Groups. Goodreads Groups are generated by members and are similar to traditional book clubs, but instead of meeting exclusively face to face to talk about the book being read, Goodreads hosts the discussion on a board (for example: The FFL’s Meet the Authors Book Club). Goodreads also offers trivia, fun quizzes, challenges, giveaways, and member generated book lists.

The Good:

  • Socially driven.
  • Recommendations based on actual reader opinions.
  • Interactive.
  • Free!
  • Easy to use.

The Bad:

  • More suited to social interaction than maintaining a collection. 
  • Cannot search by genre or topic. 

The Competition:

Librarything is another book-based social network. It has some of the same features as Goodreads such as adding books to a collection, writing reviews, and getting recommendations. Librarything is also sometimes used by libraries and other organizations to keep inventory of a collection. It is more focused on cataloging than social sharing.

Shelfari is the Amazon owned social reading network. It uses your past purchases on Amazon.com as well as your own additions to make recommendations. Because it is owned by Amazon, it makes every possible attempt to get you to purchase the books that are recommended to you. 

My Experience:

I started using Goodreads about two years ago. At first, I just liked keeping track of my to-read list. But then I realized how many other uses there are. I have added some friends whose taste in books I share, and found others who are interested in my recommendations. Right now I am working on developing a collection of board books for a local public library and I’ve been using Goodreads to see ratings and reviews of board books to determine if a title is worth considering. I’m also using Goodreads to keep track of the board books I have chosen to include in the collection so that other people or librarians interested in board books can use the work I put into evaluating titles to begin their own collection.

Conclusion:

With such a large number of members and integration with most popular social media networks, Goodreads will continue to be a fun and useful resource for book recommendations. The mobile app allows members to use all of the functionality of the browser based webpage as well as adding special features such as using your mobile device’s camera to scan barcodes. Goodreads has also recently introduced features to connect your e-reader with your Goodreads account. For example, if you have a Kindle: “It will automate setting your “currently-reading” and “read” shelf books based on what you’ve shared on your Kindle. It will also sync your highlights from the kindle to your Goodreads quotes.” Goodreads was not the first social media network to be built around the reading experience, but it has show such growth and adaptability to make Goodreads a useful and fun platform for reading-related social interaction.