Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Movie vs. The Book: Catching Fire

Having bought my ticket at the beginning of October, I was anxiously anticipating the release of Catching Fire until last Friday. A group of friends and I went to the local theater this year, instead of AMC - not only was it cheaper, but completely stress free (meaning no long lines, no sprinting to get good seats).

All members from the cast of The Hunger Games returned for Catching Fire, but some great additions were also made: Sam Claflin (as Finnick Odair), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (as Plutarch Heavensbee), Jena Malone (as Johanna Mason).

Francis Lawrence, the new director of the film, I felt did a great job in keeping things consistent with the first film. For example, the Capitol looks relatively the same as it did in The Hunger Games, along with the village and woods in District 12.

Note: at this point in the post, I would like to discuss some of the differences between the movie and the book, so please, stop reading now if you have not read Catching Fire. Spoiler alert. Thank you!
  1. Bonnie and Twill, the two District 8 refugees who are on their way to the elusive District 13, do not make and appearance in the movie. At first, I was unsure as to how Katniss would decide she would like to run away, but in the end this omission worked.
  2. During the Victory Tour as the President's mansion, Plutarch does not show Katniss his pocket watch. "But then how does she figure out the arena is layed out like clock?!" I found myself screaming mentally while watching. Instead, Katniss climbs a tree inside the arena, where she gets and aerial view of the Corucopia. This view allows for a ver powerful moment where the expansiveness and complexity of the arena is conveyed. 
  3. President Snow is given a granddaughter in the movie, and she symbolizes how much of an influence Katniss has become. The granddaughter wears her hair in a braid, which she says is how all of the girls at school are wearing their hair.
  4. The scene that I missed the most from the book that did not appear in the movie was the scene in which Katniss and Peeta spend the day atop the Training Center roof. I felt that it was a key point in the development of their relationship that was overlooked in the movie. 
  5. Effie Trinket becomes a more well-developed character in the movie when she shares an emotional goodbye with Katniss and Peeta before the beginning of the Quarter Quell. I loved this addition to the movie, and thought it was extremely effective. 
In the end, I actually like Catching Fire better than I did The Hunger Games! (Let me fangirl for just a moment here) Finnick was even hotter than he was in the book, the elevator scene was even funnier, and the monkeys in the arena were even more frightening than I had imagined. 

The movie ends very abruptly, but like the book, it is effective in creating the suspense needed for the third movie/novel. Mockingjay will be divided into two parts (like every other popular YA franchise it seems), with Part One expected for release on November 21st, 2014 and Part Two on November 20th, 2015. 

It's that time of year again! The following sites from around the Web have already listed their Best Books of 2013. You can expect to find mine posted here on December 21st. (Until then, see my choices for  20112012 ) 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Columbia Scholastic Press Conference 2013

{Standing in front of the Library of Columbia University}
On Monday, I attended Columbia University's Scholastic Fall Press Conference with other staff members of our school's yearbook, newspaper, and literary arts magazine. Although the day started off by sitting in two hours of traffic, the rest of the day was extremely worthwhile.
Attendees were able to tour the campus (which is absolutely beautiful, I might add) and go to several workshops instructed by notable professors and speakers.
Workshops I attended:
  • Nuts and Bolts for Magazines - learn about all of the essential tools needed to create a cohesive and readable literary magazine
  • Writing Song Lyrics/Poetry (Inspiration and Craft) - discover how to search for inspiration for your writing in everyday life
  • "Journalism Students are Destined to be Poor" and Other Stupid Lies, Debunked - learn about what jobs are available for writers and communicators that won't have you living on the street
The rest of the day was spent eating lunch at a café across the street on 115th Street, and wandering around the campus while clutching a warm drink from Starbucks. We were so lucky to have such beautiful weather as well, a little cold, but certainly better than rain!
{Loved the brick pathways leading to each building}
John Hampton, the speaker for the Inspiration and Craft workshop, spoke on a subject I had never really thought about before. To begin, he asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine a color they've never seen. It wasn't possible. He went on to say that the most common piece of criticism  a person will receive about their writing is that it is not "original enough". But then, he said, "with only 26 letters in the alphabet, how original can anything really be?" The goal of the writer, he said, should not be to create something new (because like imagining a color you've never seen, it is nearly impossible) but to recreate something - make the reader experience through your writing an event they were not present to see; take a journey you've traveled, and make it tangible for someone else.
Film directors, he said, have so many tools at their disposal: a cast, soundtrack, camera angles, sets. An artist, he said, has brushes, pencils, colors, paper. A writer, he said, has words. Only words. Even though there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, there are millions of words that can be used to recreate an event, a story, an emotion. To conclude, Hampton said, "years later, a reader might forget the content of your writing, but they will never forget how it made them feel."

{Sitting here, it was easy to forget you were in the middle of New York City}

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Veronica Roth
487 pages

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”  

In a futuristic, dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each valuing a different human characteristic: Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), and Abnegation (the selfless). Upon turning sixteen years old, each teenager must choose the faction to which they belong. For Beatrice Prior, this will mean choosing between her family and the chance to discover who she really is.

Tris Prior (as she later renames herself) is a dynamic female character who possess all of the stereotypical characteristics of a weak individual - blonde, petite and pale-skinned - but as readers will come to learn, she is quite the opposite. Her strength not only increases from the physical initiation she must under go in the faction she chooses, but also from the emotional encounters that she will face.

The themes present in Divergent are not entirely philosophical or distant, but are realistic for the age group they target. The struggle for self-discovery is a common endeavor during the adolescent years, therefore teenagers should easily be able to identify with Tris as she overcomes obstacles that will eventually lead to how she defines herself. Tris, like other teens, also longs for freedom, which she comes to find in the faction she will end up choosing. One of the novel's most unforgettable lines reads "Peace is restrained; this is free", but moments later, Tris will learn that the consequences of that freedom sometimes have haunting impacts.

In Divergent, Veronica Roth has created a world not entirely different fro other popular dystopians. An oppressive authoritarian government can also be found in The Hunger Games, and a destructed landscape is present in Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It. This lack of originality is one of the few drawbacks to Roth's creation.

Since Divergent's publication, Roth has written two sequels: Insurgent, and the third and final installment Allegiant, became available fro purchase on eReaders and at local booksellers on October 22nd, 2013.

Divergent is the kind of novel that has you up reading much past your bedtime, with its dynamic characters, engaging plot, and simple yet reflective meaning. It's small dosages of romance and violence will leave the reader with a desperate need to get their hands on Insurgent just after turning the last page. This young adult thriller has already captured thousands of readers, but is sure to rope in more when the film adaption starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet hits theaters on March 21st, 2014.  Watch the first trailer here!

Story Line - 8/10
Character's Voice - 9/10
Writing Style - 7/10

Overall - 24/30