Comparison: The Hunger Games vs. Divergent

The first thing that strikes most people (myself included) about these two series is their similarities. Let’s take a look at a couple:

1.) Both series are dystopian literature.

2.) In both, the population is divided into districts/ factions.

3.) Both have a 16 year-old female protagonist.

4.) Both are written from the first-person POV in the present tense. (SIDE NOTE: Not many books are written in the present tense, which makes these stand out in my mind. It does seem to be a new trend though, which as an avid reader, I think could be quite fun.)

Whilst the books have many similarities, in my opinion The Hunger Games stands far ahead in literary quality. Let me explain.

Suzanne Collins is a better writer. She simply  has more experience and a richer understanding of life. And while I am all for cheering on young people, her age and understanding give her a leg up that shows itself immensely.  Collins is way less wordy than Veronica Roth, who distracts from the point she is trying to make by tripping over herself with excessive explanation. Numerous times the character Tris says  “I’m too short to…” and I lost focus from the story because all I could do was internally count how many times she’d already clarified her stature for us.

When it comes to poignant statements about life,  Mrs. Collins is able to deftly say in one sentence what Ms. Roth takes 10 to do.

Also, Tris’ friends don’t make me feel much. I found myself simply not caring about their sorrows, unlike THG characters of Finnick, Effie, Mrs. Everdeen, and even Katniss’ prep team, who really endeared themselves throughout the books.

As for the romance storylines, I found THG’s to be much more powerful that Divergent’s. THG is focused on the relational side of romance. Katniss and Gale are drawn to each other because they have been friends since childhood and have worked side-by-side accomplishing tasks for years.

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Peeta has to work very hard and patiently to become her friend in order to win Katniss’ heart. She is not one to fall for someone merely because of physical appearances.  In the end, her choice about which man to marry has little to do with physical attraction.  Collins does not ignore that aspect completely; Katniss does talk about kissing Peeta a little bit,  but overall  I feel Collins  steered the romance in a much better direction.

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In Divergent, while Four and Tris  made a cute couple, it seemed as though their entire relationship from the beginning was focused on the physical nature of things. To me it feels like one of them walked up to the other and said  “You’re divergent and you’re hot, so obviously we should be together.” NO, that is NOT a good reason to start a relationship. And beyond that, it seemed to be one of the only things that kept them together. There were moments when I in fact skipped over a page here and there because of the way in which their lust was being described. Please Ms. Roth, give me something more substantial.

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And lastly, the dystopian set up of THG is more interesting and believable to me. While the twist in Divergent was fascinating, (although all of the twists with Four/Tobias were fairly obvious)  THG stills wins out, especially when it comes to how the series ended. with THG I felt satisfied. In fact, the epilogue might be my favorite part of the entire thing.

I was fine with how Tris and Four’s stories finished, but I felt extremely cheated and dissatisfied  by the way the political parts of Divergent ended.  (I would say more, but I don’t want to give any spoilers.)

 

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So there you have it, my little rant as to why I think the The Hunger Games  is superior to Divergent.  What is YOUR opinion? Post your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Book Review – Courageous (the novel version)

Book Review – Courageous

DON’T WORRY, there are no spoilers in this review.

Based on the movie “Courageous” by Sherwood Pictures

Written by Randy Alcorn

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I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers since I am part of their blogging group.  Since I’m writing this review, the book was complimentary. A good trade I think. 🙂 Thank you to my friend Angel Navy Wife for telling me about it.

I debated reading this book now or waiting until AFTER I see the movie. My dear friend Cara was going to guard the book for me. (Since I knew that if I wasn’t going to read it, it’d be too tempting not to peek if it was in the house.) But in the end, my Mom over at [Sweetness of Speech], told me to go ahead and read it so that I could write the review before the movie so that people would be encouraged to go see it, which is something I really want to do. Plus, I really did want to read it. 🙂

I’m a big fan of Sherwood Pictures and the work that the Kendrick brothers and Sherwood Baptist Church has done. You can really tell their heart is for the Lord and for His will to be done.
I’ve been following the production of Courageous since they announced it back in the fall of ’09. During the spring and summer of ’10 I watched the production journal videos practically everyday.  I’ve looked at every single behind the scenes photos, and I’ve prayed for the whole team, and, and……you get the picture.

So yeah, I’m a committed fan.

Anyway. The BOOK of Courageous is really good. I finished the 362 pages in a little over 48 hours. It would have been less than that if I didn’t have responsibilities. Of course, if we didn’t have responsibilities we’d never have the opportunity to be courageous. Just a thought.

I’m going to suppose that most of you know the basic synopsis  of the movie.  If not, you can read it here.  It was fun to see the scenes I’d watched in the trailer and music video (click on those words to see them if you haven’t seen them or want to again. I’ve only watched them like 20 times each.)  Actually spelled out. Literally.

Supposedly only 20% of the material in the book is from the movie script that Alex and Steven Kendrick wrote.  The other 80% Randy Alcorn added himself. (Otherwise the book would be extremely short. Movies are faster paced than books).

Warning! Some parts of this story will probably make you cry. It’s sad. And happy. And inspiring. And hopeful. And sad. (Yes, I repeated that on purpose).

This story is aimed at men.  It is about their call to be courageous fathers and husbands. So why am I so excited about it?  Because society has beaten down and ridiculed men for years. As a woman, I do not like that. I what men to be what they were created to be. Godly leaders and protectors.  When men rise up and strong it allows woman to be exactly what they were created to be. Women.  The supporters of men, but not their leaders.  Plus, this movie is not just about men, three out of the five guys in this story are married, and all of their wives help them to be what they find themselves being called to be.  They too, become courageous. One of my favorite lines from the book (and I hope it’s in the movie) is spoken by one of the wives, “If you’re gonna man up, then I’d better woman up!”

So no, it’s not weird at all for a woman to be excited about this film/book.

I would compare Randy Alcorn’s style of writing to that of Jerry Jerkins. Although this book is more plot drive as opposed to Jerry Jenkins’ development of characters. But considering the fact that he didn’t create most of these characters, he did a good job. This was my first of his fictional work. I do own this book by him, which I love.

Another thing I love is how he continues the story of Caleb and Catherine Holt (from Fireproof). They are beautiful weaved into this story, as is Brock Kelly from Facing the Giants. This is an added bonus that I’m positive will not be included in the movie.

Did this book make me less eager to see the movie? Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m looking forward to it even more.

1. I want to see what is in the film and what is only part of the book.
2. I want to see how particular scenes are played out visually. (‘m a detail lover.)
3. Some scenes from the movie were left out of the book. I want to see them.

Do I recommend the book? Definitely yes.  I wouldn’t put it in the hands of a young child due to all the references to gang activities and such, but I certainly enjoyed the story and learned from it.   Now I’m sure that I’ll be hunting down copies of the novel versions of Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof.

BTW, if you think that you had most of the plot figured out (like I did) there are still some twists that will surprise you. (Like they did me.) My siblings keep trying to get information out of me. I will not give it up or die trying.

You can order the book here.

All photos but the poster from the official Courageous website, www.courageousthemovie.com

Day Three – a Favorite Book

I don’t know if I’ll get around to writing a “Character Friday” today, but I will write about day Three in the 30 day challenge – A Favorite Book

That is easy.
And I’m going to sound super spiritual saying it even though I’m not.

The Holy Bible.

I remember when I was younger, and thus, younger in my faith, that I would sometimes only say that the Bible was my favorite book because that is the only answer a Christian should give. I loved the Bible, and I loved God and was thankful for His salvation. But I perhaps hadn’t realized how great this book really is, and how much I need it. As I grew older, and the faith became more and more my own and I was faced with life, I found that this wonderful book actually was my favorite. It beats all others by light years. (And I am a lover of books, there’s no doubt about that. I just checked five out from the library on Wednesday and I’ve already finished two.)

The Bible is like a historical, mystery, suspense, poetry, romance novel all in one, and in all aspects but one.
It is True.
Truer than the blue sky and more faithful than the sunrise.
Because…”the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

It is historical because it tells of the history of the world. This planet we sleep on, and the galaxies spinning around us. And of the creation of man. Of how God breathed life into dust and created you and me. And of how we sacrificed our purity for a piece of fruit. And of the struggle we have had ever since, as we long for our Deliverer. Long to be ransomed by One.

It is a mystery because God has hidden so many “clues” about Himself within it.

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? 
They are higher than the heavens—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.” – Job 11:7-9
“Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—” – Romans 16:24-26

“Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit, 
was seen by angels,was preached among the nations, 
was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” – Proverbs 25:2

God reveals Himself in this marvelous book, and we will discover more about Him if we dive in and search His Word.

It is suspenseful because there are many moments when we are held in suspense. Will Abraham really sacrifices his son? Will Queen Esther die for for going to the king without being summoned? Will Jesus be slain with all the other baby boys in Bethlehem? And many more such moments as these.

It is poetry because it holds some of the most beautiful poems and songs ever written. I’ve been reading in Psalms a lot lately, and feeling very refreshed. In family devotions, my father has been reading the book of Ecclesiastes to us, interesting stuff there. Plus many more poetic and prophetic books, including the beautiful Song of Solomon. (My parents LOVE to study the Song of Solomon, so I know more about it than your average girl.)

And finally it is a romance, not only because it tells many love stories of the various characters, but because it speaks of the greatest love story EVER! The story of the Bride and the Bridegroom, and the magnificent wedding feast that is coming. (Rev. 19:9) If fact, the entire book is about the Bridegroom’s love for us the Bride. (Jesus is the Bridegroom.) How wonderful is that?

And all these themes are tied together in a wonderful thing. Jesus came down and died an excruciating death for us.
For us.
He loves us that much. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” – 1 John 3:16a

All we have to do is repent of our sins, (which we were shown through the law, in the Bible) and believe and trust in Christ, and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, then we shall be saved!!

So there you have it, my favorite book of all time.

There are times when I am bored with it, when I’d rather rush onto other things, when other books seem more exciting. But all in all, this is my favorite book. I am no where near the love for it that I want. Many others enjoy it more and are more dedicated to reading and memorizing it, but I press on, desiring to desire it more, and to immerse myself in the rich promises of my Father.

There is a line in a Wes King song that goes,
“I wanna read my Bible from cover to cover, line by line, over and over.
The more I read the more I find, and I begin to uncover stories just like mine.
I begin to discover that I wanna to read my Bible, that I wanna live my life, from cover to cover.”

That should be the cry of every child of God.

Book Review: The Mission, The Men, and Me

The Mission, The Men, and Me

By Pete Blaber

http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Men-Me-Lessons-Commander/dp/0425223728

I read this book as part of my course on the government, the military and leadership. The more I learn about the different facets of the military, and the many missions that are needed to get the job done, the more grateful I am for those who are willing to do hard things and those who support them.

This book gives you an extremely fascinating look into the mind of a former Delta Force commander who was involved in some very important military missions.  Pete Blaber is a highly trained elite fighter.  This book is about how to think and make good decisions during both the preparation for and in the heat of the battle.  He is a very good writer and presents his ideas effectively and repeats them many times throughout the book so that they are cemented into your mind.

He gives no indication that he is a Christian or that he even believes in God.  Everything he did and thought was based on the power of human beings and their strength.  This is his worldview and we must keep that in mind while reading.  But all that aside, he does present extraordinarily important truths about leadership and the art of war.  These principles were learned by recognizing patterns, especially in the way people behave.  There are only so many patterns out there, but they are everywhere.  Once you can recognize the few basic patterns you can understand almost any situation.  God created our minds with amazing ability to process and use information.

In this book, Pete Blaber tells several true stories about missions he has worked on and how the leadership, whether good or bad, influenced they way they turned out.  His writing is engaging and keeps you reading as he takes you on hunts for Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and other wanted criminals during which he explains the lessons he has learned and how they applied to him and his missions.

  • The mission, the men, and me.
  • When in doubt, develop the situation.
  • Always listen to the guy on the ground.
  • Humor your imagination.
  • It’s not reality unless it’s shared.
  • Don’t get treed by a Chihuahua.
  • And many more…

I won’t go into all of those concepts…that’s what the book is for!  But I will explain the mission, the men, and me.

The three M’s are keys to success.  They stand for the mission, the men, and me.  They are all connected.  Imagine that they are stacked one on top of the other and a line is drawn that links them together.  Your first priority is the mission.  It is what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Make sure that you understand what it is and that it is legal, moral, and ethical.  Let it guide your decisions.

The second M stands for the men.  As a leader, you must look out for your men (meaning the people involved in your mission).  You must care for them and stand with courage by your conviction that you do the right thing by them.

The final M is for me.  In the list of priorities, me comes last.  We must of course take care of ourselves, but not until the mission and the men are taken care of.  Considering others as more important than ourselves is a Biblical concept.  We must not push our personal well-being or advancement ahead of where it should be.

His theories on the art of war are amazingly simple and full of logical common sense.  They can be applied to many situations in life…not just war.  I’ll definitely be using them.

He surmises that what makes a leader great is the willingness to put ego aside and consult those under you who know the context of the situation and find out what they recommend for the execution of the mission.  He points out some drastic flaws in the way our military comes up with and executes plans.  His theory is not to get so hung up on the plan that we forget what we are trying to accomplish, but rather to be flexible so that we can adapt and develop the situation.

He also talks about how vital communication is.  Without communication good plans are not created, plans in general fail, and lives are needlessly put on the line.

I think that we can take his principles and use them with a Christ-centered mindset.  Instead of thinking, There’s always a way! We can say, With God all things are possible!  With the Lord’s guidance we take these principles and fly even higher.

There is some language interspersed throughout the book, but most of it is mild.

I found this book very interesting, informative and useful for self development.