The Fifth Wave By Rick Yancey – Review

There is so much that goes on, yet it is written so perfectly and with such precision and subtle plot-cues, it makes perfect sense and tries not to fry the brain with information but it is Sci-fi heavy.

Set in the aftermath of an alien invasion, Cassie is alone and scared but she packs a lot of will… and the M16 comes in handy. She goes on a journey to find her younger brother amidst the new world, she has to face fears and come to trust her instincts because she sure as hell can’t trust anyone else but herself.

The story starts off on the dawn of the 5th wave with Cassie reminiscing about the first four waves of attacks from the silent but violent alien visitors in the sky. Whilst keeping your interest keen, it is not much of a page turner at first. The book is separated into sections and the first section is essentially the plot set-up with very little going on in the present world of Cassie. For a ‘young adults’ Sci-fi it is actually very Sci-fi heavy which I like but others may not be likened to at first. After this section of the book however it is all ‘go, go, go’ and the action really kicks in.

Cassie is sullen, sarky, strong willed and very intelligent with no care for trivial things, which provides a breath of fresh air from your usual ‘omg, I’m a whiney plain jane with nothing else going for me’. At times Yancey does fall Cassie into the cliche especially when it comes to the love interest – Ben Parish. At times it became extremely grating that Ben Parish gets mentioned as often as he does by Cassie, I don’t know about many people but I know if my family have died along with more than 90% of the population, my high-school crush wouldn’t exactly be in my thoughts. However these cliches are quite few and far between and it is pretty much bearable.

Whilst the main character is Cassie each section has been written from a different point of view. The other main character being Ben Parish/Zombie whom has been saved by the army and put into a camp to become a soldier, this creates a nice contrast of Ben’s seemingly safe base compared to Cassie’s isolation and survival in the wild. There is also a section in which is in Cassie’s brothers point of view, however I felt it didn’t really add much to the plot or the themes and seemed a bit unnecessary.

The book was been beautifully written and the plot, whilst still borrowing a lot from other alien-invasion stories, still provides an edge of originality that keeps it fresh in the Sci-fi genre. Yancey does not over do it and leaves a lot to the imagination and is constantly questioning who you trust as a reader much like the characters themselves. I definitely recommend it to any sci-fi lover and those who don’t enjoy sci-fi may just appreciate this book if you can handle the first section.

4/5 Rating:

I give it a 4/5 rating, would of got a 5 if it wasn’t for the cliches slipping through and the annoyingly slow-pace start. The rights for the film have been sold and is in-development. Whilst there still is a chance it may not be made, judging by the hype and sales of this book it is seems unlikely. I’d expect to see a film around 2015/early 2016 and it has a lot of potential to be fantastically cinematic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKkEAIs4pJc – Book trailer

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Divergent (By Veronica Roth) Book Review

As it was praised as ‘the next Hunger Games’ and there is now a film out next year starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet I thought I’d give this book ago.

Quick summary: In the dystopian world of Chicago the public are split into five factions based on what virtue they value the most. Amity for the peaceful, Dauntless for the brave, Abnegation for the selfless, Candor for the honest and finally Erudite for the intelligent. Abnegation born Beatrice is turning 16 and she finds she doesn’t fit in, a test soon proves that she doesn’t really fit in anywhere, she is Divergent a secret she must keep. Regardless, to avoid being factionless, she decides to leave her family and join the Dauntless, but over time she soon realises what it means to be Divergent.

Now I love dystopia, I love post-apocalyptic however after finishing this book it made me feel quite deflated. There is a lot of flaws and whilst I believe Roth has a great imagination, she fails to exploit it to choose a safer, more cliche, style of development. For me, there was no real explanation why Chicago is split into factions, to ‘avoid war’ is a bit of a sell out and doesn’t really work for me. What is outside Chicago? I believe it’s partially hinted that there is a world outside Chicago, but again no more clues as to what. Even if it is in the second book, Roth could have set it up a bit more. Why 16? 16 seems a little young to be choosing your place of residence for the rest of your life, and also Tris’ character development over the book suggests she’s much older. I feel that Roth’s choice of making the ‘coming of age’ 16 a little too much of an attempt to engage in Young Adults, when 18 would be perfectly fine and make sense. The factionless? Now these guys are people that failed initiations into Factions and live a world of poverty and are treated badly, segregated from everyone else. Now there seems to be a lot of these people but none of them thought to uprise? Again not entirely explored, do these people have any human rights? Is there a stigma about them? Again not explored, not explained.

You can’t just feed a reader random information with little or no backstory and expect you to just accept it, especially when dealing with Dystopian/Sci-Fi novels. I just couldn’t engage with the world, without these little questions answered as far as I am concerned it’s extremely flawed.

Character development. Dear god Roth! She made a very strong, brave and courageous character and ruined her. Her relationship with her trainer made her extremely pathetic. There was a point where Four (the trainer) explains that he likes her and doesn’t want ‘just sex’. This prompts Tris to well up and get upset because “she’s not pretty enough obviously.” After that I just couldn’t take the character seriously, especially after Roth had built such a great and powerful girl-turning-woman and then boom – From Katniss Everdeen to Bella Swan in one paragraph. No Roth, you naughty author!

However the concept I liked, and I did read the whole thing. Dangling the “why is being Divergent dangerous?” like a carrot was a very good move to keep us wanting more and keep us reading. The book wasn’t terrible, it just could of had a lot more to it that would of made it a 5/5. I’m giving it though a 2/5. I’ll read the second novel and I might go see the film. I sure as hell wont be first in line though.

The Host – Review

The Host Review 3.5/5

As many of you may be put off by this film because it is Stephenie Meyer’s work, I do suggest you give it a chance, you maybe surprised by it’s interesting concept and stunning visuals. (Don’t worry there is no silly girl that finds it clinically depressing to be choosing between a werewolf or a vampire in this film.) 

The Host starts by telling us how perfect the world is and how everyone is equal. However this perfect world is no longer ours and is now run by an alien race called Souls that possess our bodies body snatcher style. When a soul named Wanderer (later nicknamed as Wanda) is inserted into the body of Melanie Stryder, to get information for a very unusually un-soul-like Seeker (souls answer to the police), she is surprised that Melanie still resides in the bodies mind.

Melanie, scared for her brother and lovers life, bombards Wanda with images of compassion to strike a chord in Wanda’s good will. Having developed this love for them, Wanda/Melanie then set out to find them. But they are unknowingly followed obsessively by the Seeker.

This is a great concept that I feel hasn’t had a real chance to be explored in Andrew Niccol’s screenplay much like his work with In Time. His answer to an internal dialogue between Wanda and Melanie is unoriginal, cheesy and at times laughable. I’d imagined whilst reading the book it would be a bit difficult to do, however sticking an echo on Mel’s voice over to me just didn’t work. Their conversations to each other were very unemotional and didn’t feel that they had that bond that they were meant to. With the exception of one scene nearer the end where it was done very well.

The love triangle, or love square is a bit strange on screen however it kind of works. We get top notch performance from Saoirse Ronan, William Hurt, Diane Kruger and that woman that plays the bitch mother in titanic. Lacking was Max Irons as Jared, Mel’s love interest whom comes across as dull, his native english accent kept popping out a few times too.

The visuals were stunning. The desert scenery and the set design was fantastic really upping this films credibility The once human world is now a cheerily eerie place, with futuristic chrome cars and helicopters with a mellow car chase that wasn’t too underplayed or over the top.

I feel that this film was missing something. Whilst I get that the main plot is a romance, I feel that the original work written by Meyer had more thought provoking sci-fi themes that Niccol could of conveyed nicely on film. We don’t get to learn much about the souls apart from they are lovely bunch of people that make our eyes have a beautiful silver rim, what little insight we do get provides the comic relief. Antonio Pinto provides a very atmospheric and strong score in the film that was nicely melancholic.

I was happy enough to watch it and not get bored. It was a mellow sci-fi film with a complicated romance that was more interesting than Meyer’s past films. The film does leave room for a sequel and with the romance plot resolved (and hopefully Niccol gone) I’d imagine the sequel would be promising.

So it gets a 3.5/5

Depression and a Huge-ass Planet – Melancholia Review

Lars Von Trier may have recently upset the Cannes Film Festival board for comments (in my opinion) that were really blown out of proportion, but theres no denying his visual art and unique story telling is one that is compelling and captivating. ‘Melancholia’ his new film has gotten quite the following.


Melancholia is the name of the super-earth planet on a collision course with earth. In the prologue, it’s course and the destruction it causes is shown in a montage of beautifully crafted scenes, little pieces of emotion-provoking visual aesthetics along with the Tristan Und Isolde’s prelude in the bed (a common theme throughout the film). It is known within the first sequence that earth never survives, and instantly recognize this will not end happy. However the film is not about earth, the planet nor is it about humanities end. It’s focused on two sisters, Kirsten Dunst as Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire.

Split into two parts Justine is first as you spend the first hour watching how a clinically depressive bride spends her wedding reception. Kirsten Dunst is absolutely impecable at playing Justine, Trier is known for his pro-improvised techniques and when watching Kirsten it is quite hard to believe that it wasn’t scripted as such. However I found myself getting extremely annoyed and impatient with the character Justine so much that I didn’t know if I could take anymore. That only made me realise that Trier, possibly in one hour gave the best explanation what it is like to handle someone with that amount of depression. You literally mimic her sister, Claire and Claire’s husband John’s (Kiefer Sutherland) reaction towards her.

Part two of course is about Claire. Claire takes in a very sick Justine, that with the added pressure of the rogue planet Melancholia approaching. Claire finds her relationship with John on a rocky patch as John is fearless and has faith that humanity will survive, unlike Claire who fears otherwise. We follow Claire’s erratic behaviour for the rest of the film which has a little more going on. Charlotte Gainsbourg portrays Claire beautifully and seems to really get involved with the character.

Melancholia is literally beautiful in many ways. The message and the comparison of how the two sister react to the impending doom is prominent backed by visuals that are compelling and outstanding that are obviously a projection of Trier himself. The opening and final sequences are completely captivating as well as terrifying, unlike most blockbusters this film seems to make it real and will have you talking about for weeks after you have seen it. The ending was probably the best ending I have ever seen, not because of some morbid feelings but because the whole scene wasn’t some watered-down hollywood fairytale, but a fantastic depiction of reality and the special effects as the Planet collided into Earth’s atmosphere was scary but also very stunning. The film left me with a weird feeling which was “I must talk about this to people.”

Overall the film is definitely up there 9.5/10 – However I must warn, this style of film is not for everyone, it is not a blockbuster. If you are interested in the film, I urge you to at least try it. Currently available on iTunes and limited screenings nationwide.
(In Coventry – Warwick Arts Centre)

Get your stinking paws to the cinema! – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes review

If you are film buff and/or over the age of 60, you may understand the title of this review, if you are not, you will find out if you see the new film “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.” Directed by Rupert Wyatt, based on the story and concept by Pierre Boulle ‘La Planète des Singes.’

After the critically bashed, yet financial success of Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes remake. Fox, instead of funding a sequel, seen fit to keep the money aside for a reboot. The right choice was most definitely made, with it’s all round impressiveness and a concrete plot that’s a fresh continuity reminiscent to the original series in the 60’s where everything takes place on earth, unlike Tim Burton’s version (regardless of it’s hard to handle ending) where the planet of the apes was a distant planet. It would be good to stress again because contrary to popular belief, this film is a reboot and it is not a prequel to Tim Burton’s version.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to engineer a virus that repairs damaged brain cells which would then in turn cure alzheimer’s disease. However it comes with a very special effect, an increased of intelligence proven by a child chimpanzee that Will adopts named Caesar (Andy Serkis). The same virus works on Will’s Dad, Charles (John Lithgow), however his condition soon worsens and finds himself back to square one. After Charles upsets a local neighbour, Caesar comes to a rather forceful rescue which lands him in a local primate captivity. Ill-treated and outcasted by the other apes, Caesar starts planning. It goes without saying then that to everyone remotely familiar with the planet of the apes series, this plot will be very predictable. For the most part it is, but it is done in a way that still keeps your attention without it nagging at you and the ending, although not a twist, is still a big climax.

The most striking part of the film is the CGI that Weta Digital provides. Almost flawless as the apes fit seamlessly into the equilibrium of the film. Andy Serkis, the master of motion capture, performs as Caesar leaving you in complete awe. If you thought Serkis deserved an Oscar for Gollum, you will most definitely be in uproar of the academy’s lack of interest for this role. He brings to life the character that really connects you as the audience, you will find yourself rooting at his every move and maybe shedding a few tears, giving Roddy McDowall (Original Caesar) a run for his money. James Franco gives a great performance as usual, however at times I feel his character hadn’t been fully explored through dialogue, John Lithgow also provides an A* performance as portraying a man suffering from Alzheimer’s. Another notable performance from Tom Felton playing, well, a damn right evil bastard. However lacking was David Oyelowo as Will’s boss, whose script mainly contained disdain towards everything around him, with a ‘I want money and I don’t care how’ kind of attitude, but it just seemed a little unbelievable. Pointless role of the film goes to Freida Pinto‘s character Caroline, who has nothing to do apart from look pretty and give the odd conscience-provoking line.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes will surely be the blockbuster to see at the moment, with the right mix of plot and brilliant performances and great CGI. It contains happy moments, some sad moments and iconic moments, most notably what my title is in reference to. However at times it seems the big people at Fox thought playing it safe was the better way to go, which is not a bad thing and probably the best way to go after Tim Burton’s ‘re-envisioning’. I’m sure and I hope the sequel will be green- lit soon, if not already and we may just have the next big franchise on our hands if it can live up to this one.

Overall 8.5/10

Nintendo 3DS review

Nintendo released a new addition to the DS family with a new selling point, as you may already know unless you’re living under a rock, it has 3D capabilities. That’s not the only addition which many other reviewers seem to forget.

The most obvious is the addition of a circle pad, it comes warmly welcomed making movement and gameplay on the 3DS more fluidly than the D-pad, although compatible to use with older DS games the movement is not so fluid. The feel on the thumb makes it a lot more natural to use and you instantly find yourself using it instead of the D-pad. The homescreen itself is much nicer looking with better graphics, you notice that the unit is much faster than previous models and the homescreen button comes with a much better experience (We all remember the annoying, turning on/turning off just to get back to the homescreen!). Newer 3DS games come with ‘suspended software’ feature allowing you to go back to the homescreen at any point during a game, however to open up another piece of software you will have to close the previous, this is not compatible  with older DS games. The touchscreen is also more sensitive lowing the chances of scratches from the stylus and allowing to use your fingers if you happen to lose your stylus. I can’t say much else about other features such as internet and 3DSware as it is not available yet.

One big annoyance is the headphone jack being in the front-middle of the unit, when playing lying down on your back it can make the headphone lead seem intrusive and distracting. Wireless comes with an on-off slider switch at the side where the power button used to be, very confusing at first but you get used to it quick enough. The volume slider is also somewhat of a problem area, it is placed on the circle/d-pad side which makes accidentally altering the volume a common occurence.

Now to talk about the 3D. At first play it is very impressive and a bit of a shocker to the eye. The 3DS has to be held in a certain position with limitation to be able to get the full 3D effect, after a while the feelings of nausea and headache start to kick in and the depth slider doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference. However in a matter of days I found myself naturally holding the the system in that position without feelings of discomfort. Again for the 3D, I quickly got used to it and the feelings of nausea calmed down. However be aware, everyone is different and for the minority these side effects may take longer or may never disappear. From what I gather if your tolerant of 3D films, then you’re good to go, if not then the depth slider is your best friend. As far as enhancement to gaming, there isn’t much, novelty quickly runs low and you don’t really notice it anymore, neither a good or a bad thing, it is what it is.

It comes already built in with Augmented reality games which are really fun to get you started. Streetpass is also a nice addition if you use it, it allows you to gather information whilst walking around in public about other Mii’s and the possibility of becoming friends in StreetPlaza. 3DS games are starting to support streetpass such as Nintendogs. 3D pictures are quite fun at first but the quality is truly terrible and makes it less of a likable feature, it works best with the focus point being around 30cm away from the two lenses.

I think it is important to say that if you don’t like 3D, don’t shy away too much from the 3DS because it’s other features, such as a faster system,  better graphics and introduction of Mii’s, make it worth the while. The 3DS is the step in the right direction with it’s better wifi and other wireless capabilities. The 3D aspect of the system whilst good, doesn’t need to be the deciding spectacle of the new console and wouldn’t be missed if dropped in the future.

Overall 8/10.

The Turncoats by G.L. Twynham Review

Ever find that most young adult books have a slow lagging story that, may have you hooked until the early hours of the morning, however the climax just had you wishing you never bothered devoting time and money *cough* Twilight *cough*.

Not with ‘The Turncoats’, this book is one of the only books I’ve managed to finish in one sitting, I was warned by a friend that I would not be able to put it down, eight hours later, I was finished.  G.L. Tywnham based in my current University-home county of Lincolnshire is just starting to branch out of that ‘local’ author box, due to the growing popularity of ‘The Thirteenth’. Twynham has done it again with it’s sequel ‘The Turncoats’. The series follows Valerie Saunders as she finds out in ‘The Thirteenth’ she was not quite the normal just-turned-eighteen year old girl she thought she was and has a much bigger destiny.

In The Turncoats she is forced to embrace her destiny further with the help of a few human friends, she goes through painstaking tasks, hits many emotional bricks walls and generally is just a ‘bad-ass’. You will not expect the twists and, if not vigilant enough, the small things scattered around the book will come back at you without a moments warning.

When reading the book you will find that the character depth is very deep, you really start to connect and hear each individual voice clearly throughout the book. Visualising is very clear and, at parts, leaves much up to the minds eye to fill in the gaps without forcing yourself. Although ‘The Thirteenth’ was good, Twynham has improved massively and ‘The Turncoats’ seems more planned out and has a lot more goals with more complicated characters – the traits of a very skilled author considering it’s her second book. One thing ‘The Turncoats’ has that ‘The Thirteenth’ was missing was a bit more humour, especially in these types of books, a character specifically made for humour and relief adds a nice touch. Enter ‘Zac Efron’, no not the actor, an alien who is to guide Val, whom took on the name of Zac Efron. He is a funny character who doesn’t quite grasp humans or human culture, one section of the book where he experiences his first 3D film was especially amusing, I don’t want to give away much of his character, but he does have the best lines in the book.

This is all I’m going to say, I do find it hard to review sequels without giving away too much of the first book. Although this book has a Young Adult’s demographic, I don’t think that it should end there. I’d definitely recommend no matter what age as this series has a lot of depth and a climax that I am certain you will not see coming and myself certainly can not wait for the third book. Overall a 9/10 rating from me.