Four Letter Nerd

Category - Books

Divergent – The 4LN Review

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Megan Merrick.)


For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’ll give you a brief rundown of Veronica Roth’s Divergent. The story takes place in future post-war Chicago that is surrounded by a large fence. The city itself is hardly recognizable as Chicago with its dilapidated buildings and the large sprawling marshland that used to be Lake Michigan. In this closed-off world, the people are organized into five factions: Candor, who value honesty above all things and run the city’s judicial system; Amity are free-spirit farmers who provide food for the city and dress in bright colors (hard-working hippies); Erudite devote their lives to research and science and are always seen wearing dark shades of blue; Abnegation are selfless and giving and run the city’s government because of their devotion to selflessness; Dauntless are the fearless soldiers who protect the city and often sport facial piercings, tattoos, and wild hair styles. The factions for each person are determined at age sixteen, at which point the teenagers take a test that reveals their true values. After their test, each person must choose his or her faction publicly at a ceremony. ”Faction before blood” is the motto that they live by. Once a faction is chosen, it is chosen for life.

The protagonist of the story is Beatrice Prior, the daughter of two prominent Abnegation leaders. She confesses that unlike her brother and her parents, who live out the selfless abnegation lifestyle to near perfection, she has always had to fight her selfish nature. She watches the Dauntless jumping off trains and living without restriction and secretly longs for a life of excitement. When Beatrice takes her faction test, her results reveal that she is divergent, having aptitude for more than one faction. She is quickly informed by her test administrator, Tori, that being divergent is dangerous, and that she must never reveal her test results for her own safety. Beatrice is left with more questions than answers. On Choosing Day, in a decision that stuns many people in abnegation, Beatrice follows her instincts and publicly joins the dauntless faction.

For the rest of the book, Beatrice, now known as “Tris”, struggles earn a place in her new faction, while also trying to convince herself that she is, in fact, dauntless. When she hears of suspicious activity among the erudite leaders, it isn’t long before the erudite wage war on the abnegation faction using an army of dauntless soldiers who act under a powerful mind-control serum. In her fight to save her family and her faction, she discovers that her status as divergent puts her in more danger than she thought, as Jeanine Matthews, leader of the erudite, is out to find and destroy all divergent living in the city.

Now for my thoughts on the movie…

I went into it with fairly low expectations. After finishing the trilogy and not feeling that the third book sufficiently wrapped up the story, I had a feeling that the movie would come off as a rushed project with many holes in the story-line. But my curiosity was greater than my trepidation, so I forked over the cash and spent a Friday night with countless giggly teenage girls in a movie theater to see the much-anticipated film.
My first thought was that the visuals were stunning. I have to admit that one of the main reasons I wanted to see the film adaptation was because many of the settings described in the book were a little hard for me to imagine. I was curious to see how this dystopian Chicago surrounded by a marsh looked, and if the reckless antics of the dauntless were really as heart pounding as they were in my imagination (they were). I was very impressed with the portrayal of the city, with its half destroyed buildings and the abandoned ship in the middle of the open marsh. And seeing the dauntless ride a zip-line head-first through the city was as thrilling to watch as the book describes.

The cast itself was another draw for me. I was unsure about the choice of Shailene Woodley as Tris, but I was sure that Theo James and Kate Winslet would be perfection in their roles. As it turns out, I highly underestimated Shailene as an actress. I was impressed with her performance from start to finish, but I have to say that the moment when her mother (Ashley Judd) was fatally shot by a dauntless soldier was one of most heart-wrenching scenes I have witnessed. At that point, I knew that Woodley had the chops to portray the conflicted and often heartbroken Tris for the rest of her journey.

I have heard people complain about plot holes in the movie, but I would remind those who have read the books that the absence of your favorite scene does not equate to a hole in the plot. However, there was one glaring hole with which I couldn’t contend. The character Edward was mentioned briefly in the film (like, someone said his name), but they completely left out the part of the story when Peter and the other dauntless initiate bullies attack him in his sleep and stab him in the eye with a butter knife, resulting in Edward’s departure from the faction, and Peter moving to the top of the initiate rankings. While this might seem like a legitimate scene to leave out, I found it distracting because I know that he makes an appearance later in the story. So for the second half of the movie, nearly all I could think about was “how are they going to have _________ without Edward? Are they going to have him mysteriously show up with one eye?” To be fair, the fact that his character shows up again later in the story isn’t exactly a major event in the plot, but it’s of enough importance that those who read the books will be irritated by his absence.

All in all, I thought it was a very solid film adaptation. As a reader of the books, I didn’t feel disappointed, as I often am with beloved books-turned-popular-movies. The visuals served to enhance my interpretation of the books rather than hurt it, and the cast was well suited to each of their roles. For those who haven’t read Divergent, the movie shouldn’t be hard to follow. They did a good job providing the background necessary to understand the story without spending too much time on it. It may even be in your best interest to see the movie before reading the book because the visuals will likely enhance your reading experience. The one “hole” that I saw was one that could be worked around in the next films, but I did find it a bit distracting. If you have read the book, go see the movie! Unless you’re extremely nit-picky and don’t understand the concept of editing for the sake of time, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend seeing the movie first, as you will be better able to visualize the setting while enjoying the details of the book that you missed from the film.

Star Wars Team Looking to Create a Cohesive Canon

For a while now I have been planning on writing an article titled, “Does the Star Wars Expanded Universe Hurt the Franchise?”  Don’t get me wrong, I have read several of the books (some of them great, and some…. less so), and have really enjoyed getting to see the universe get more fleshed out.  The thing is there are hundreds of stories over THOUSANDS of years.  Almost every conceivable time period in the Star Wars universe has been thoroughly explored.

(If you don’t believe me, this website lists where every story from the films, books, TV shows, comics, etc. and where it falls in the current timeline.)

When I heard that Disney had purchased the Lucas Empire and was planning a new trilogy I was excited, but wondered how the sequels would fit in with current continuity.  Would the movies pull rank on the maybe/maybe not canon stories that already existed like they have in the past; would they still try to maintain the EU on some level, or would they try to establish a new continuity?

Before I was able to get to the idea Disney announced the Lucasfilm Story Group.

One of the members of the Lucasfilm Story group is Leland Chee, who has been working in the same capacity since before the Disny deal.  Chee’s unofficial title at Lucasfilm is the “Keeper of the Holocron,” which has to be the coolest freaking job title on the planet.  (Attention Disney: please hire me as a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, and give me the title of “Padawan Keeper of the Holocron.”).  He oversees a massive database of every technology, planet, character, vehicle, and creature ever mentioned in the Star Wars universe in order to help keep new stories within the continuity.

This is what I want to be when I grow up

This is what I want to be when I grow up

According the Chee, “the Story Group has a hand in all facets of Star Wars storytelling, including movies, TV, games, and publishing. More so than ever, the canon field will serve us internally simply for classification rather than setting hierarchy.”  He went on to say that one of the primary goals is to have one cohesive canon.  This worked out really well for Disney’s Marvel revamp.  The Avengers movies have all been part of the same continuity and it has been awesome seeing each film tie in to the rest.

Another member of the group, Pablo Hidalgo, explained that one of the purposes of the group “is to serve as a bridge behind all new storytelling going forward. We’ve all been working together on various projects far more than in the past that publishing and production and video games have connected. Now it’s a lot stronger bond along all those media fronts.”  He added, “One way to look at it is we want to make sure that all these kinds of story points, all these forms of story going forward…each one of them can become an entry point for someone just new to ‘Star Wars.’ We want each of those things to be kind of meaningful. If someone’s first exposure to ‘Star Wars’ is a game, book or comic it will mean something to everything that’s coming up in the future.”

With the power of canon in this group’s hands, many are worried that some of their favorite stories will no longer be part of the story.  Some feel like they wasted money and time becoming invested in these characters that might not exist in any official capacity if the group decides they don’t make the cut.  While it’s true that they are no longer an integral part of the story, it doesn’t have to be true that it was a waste of time and money.  If you enjoy the story then you enjoyed the story – canonization has nothing to do with that.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea to try to get a handle on the continuity of the universe.  It will make whatever comes next in the franchise feel cohesive, which will end up making the universe that much more enjoyable.  There are a lot of inconsistencies throughout the hundreds of books, movies, TV Shows, Comics, Games, etc. so it would be good to find what works and keep it, while opening the door for new stories that fit with the direction they want to go (if only they could go back and digitally erase the “midi-chlorians” from Phantom Menace).  Sure, there are some fun stories that will probably get cut from canon (Shadows of the Empire and Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader are great), but it’s not as if Disney will be holding a book burning for all books deemed unworthy.  You can still read whatever you want and enjoy it, while still allowing the franchise to move forward with one enormous, but cohesive, story.


P.S. If anyone at Disney will allow me to become a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, contact me.  I’m not saying I would trade my first-born for the job, but I am also not saying that’s off the table if it comes to that (just kidding, buddy.  You can’t read yet, but this is what we call a “joke”).

Game of Thrones Season 4 Trailers!

Well, after last nights True Detective finale, I think it’s safe to say we’re all ready to jump headfirst into some good old fashion beheadings and castrations. Check out these awesome trailers for the upcoming fourth season of Game of Thrones!


GOT Paragraph Preview


You know the saying “Good things come to those who wait”? Well for as long as all the Game of Thrones fans have been waiting (since July of 2011!) I sure hope George R.R. Martin’s sixth installment of  A Song of Fire and Ice is electrifying genius. While no one is sure when the next book will be out, Mr. Martin gratuitously released a small paragraph to quench out thirst for the next book.


Somewhere off in the far distance, a dying man was screaming for his mother. “To horse!” a man was yelling in Ghiscari, in the next camp to the north of the Second Sons. “To horse! To horse!” High and shrill, his voice carried a long way in the morning air, far beyond his own encampment. Tyrion knew just enough Ghiscari to understand the words, but the fear in his voice would have been plain in any tongue. I know how he feels.

Do you feel better or more frustrated now that you’ve read that? Well, take solace in knowing that next month Random House is planning on launching a huge update to the World of Fire and Ice app where you will be able to read the entire chapter named The Winds of Winter which features our beloved Tyrion. What does this mean as far as the new book coming out? We don’t really know. It could mean that it’s taken George R.R. Martin nearly 3 years to write a single chapter.  If you’re not the type to pay for apps, and still want to read the new chapter, you can do so on the free version. Along with the update will come new character and location information. The app is available on both Iphone and Android.

If you’re keeping up with the show, what are you most looking forward to in this coming season? Don’t say winter.