The Wonders of WordPress

Today Ed and I went to an art and poetry exhibition in my home-town. I’m not usually into poetry, I’m personally more into novels, but this exhibition was one of the few exceptions,as the entire thing was based around Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a collection of stories and poems during the reign of Augustus and it talks about the creation of the Earth and other stories of change and transformation such as Apollo and Daphne, the tale of Hecuba (the Trojan woman who turned into a dog) and much more. I haven’t read the entirety of the work, but I do know the stories through research, so Ed and I chose to check it out.

We were originally planning on making it in time for the poetry reading at two o’ clock in the afternoon but we didn’t make it because we were hungry. It wasn’t too big of a deal though as we could just read the poetry ourselves. We turned up, perhaps around three o’ clock and we were welcomed by a very small exhibition space that comprised of perhaps eight square shaped stands that you could walk around. The panels of the squares each contained one painting and two or three poems (depending on how long they were) based off of stories in Metamorphoses, in chronological order. The first poem I read was on the ‘Age’ system as it talked of the Golden Age and the demise of humanity through to the Iron Age. There was also the stories of Narcissus and Echo, one of my favourite myths, about a girl cursed to repeat the words of whoever spoke and the man who was cursed to fall in love with himself and die, gazing at his reflection, at the bank of a pond where he would wither away and turn into a daffodil. There was poems based on Pyrasmus and Thisbe (the tale said to inspire Romeo and Juliet about forbidden lovers). In the story Pyrasmus and Thisbe are planning to meet but Thisbe is chased away by a mountain Lion. Pyrasmus, thinking she is dead kills himself, but Thisbe is not, and in discovering his stabbed body takes her lovers sword and plunges it into her own heart. There were also poems on the old couple who died together and turned into trees. They were beautiful poems, I have to say, and all of them were well written. My favourite being the one of the old couple as it was a dialogue between the two.

More people were turning up and looking around and we gathered together in the centre where the curator told us that people from my high school had came the day before to see and asked if we were in school. Incidentally all of us were from the same school. One of us was in GCSE studying Classics, Ed is at A-Level studying Classics, and I have left school and am studying Archaeology and Ancient History at university, there were others but the curator was asking us younger generation as her aim was to make works of literature such as ancient works and myths, accessible to younger people and we were her demographic of people that she was aiming to please. Thus it spurred on an impromptu poetry reading by the curator and her mother who read the poems and talked about the art with such passion and enthusiasm for the creativity and the stories and what they all mean, it was lovely.

From thereon I read more poems based on the myth of Medea and Jason, of whom I had seen Euripides play just the week before as a live stream at the local cinema. I read poems on the Trojan War and the damage it caused, the tale of Hecuba. There were poems based on Orpheus, who went into the underworld in an attempt to save his dead wife from the underworld, and there was a hilarious poem about Actaeon who found Diana and her nymphs in the woods as he hunted one day, was caught, and was turned into a stag by the goddess and torn to pieces by his own dogs. The exhibition achieved it’s goal, to say at the least, with excellency and really, it deserved more recognition than it had. It was magnificent.

The woman, after the reading and before we all left, talked to us about how the exhibition was made and how it came to be. She declared, proudly, that it was all done via Twitter and WordPress! I was amazed at the accomplishment that one woman had managed to gather writers and artists from all corners of the World, from Brighton in the United Kingdom, to California in the United States to France and to India and more. It was nothing short of a wonder. I believe you can find them at artipeeps.wordpress.com because they are, at some point, planning an exhibition on Norse myths and obviously would like people to get involved.  Sometimes I forget that the internet can be more powerful than kitten photographs and Facebook statuses and this exhibition was, not only superb, but an amazing example of what we can do simply via a blog. It was inspiring.

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What I’m Reading | ‘Four’ by Veronica Roth

Earlier in the year I read the Divergent series, following the story of the character Tris Prior on an adventure through a divided Chicago as she comes to terms with what, and who she is. My review on the series was a bit mixed, but I have actually came to the conclusion that I do actually really like the books, which is great (because I’d hate to have wasted my money)! It is for this fact that when I walked into Waterstones, the book shop, yesterday and discovered that Veronica Roth has released a new book I was ecstatic and bought it immediately. 

‘Four’ by Veronica Roth is a ‘prequel’ to the Divergent series, set two years in the past, however is not written in the voice of Tris Prior but in the voice of ‘Four’ or Tobias Eaton, a former Abnegation citizen who, on the date of the choosing ceremony, decided to transfer over to the Dauntless faction. The background of the story, as I read in the introduction, is that Veronica Roth started writing Divergent in the voice of Tobias but stopped thirty pages in because she didn’t think it was right, and then chose to write in Tris’ perspective for the most part (apart from half of Allegiant). Tobias is perhaps my favourite character in the series which is why I was excited to read it. I am currently halfway through. 

The story of ‘Four’ is written in four parts, wonderfully enough, as Four in the series only has four fears, hence his name, so it is only fitting to write it in four parts (and I do like a good play on words). After the story of Four, however, there are also three deleted ‘scenes’ which Veronica had changed or omitted and this intrigued me to see how these scenes may have played into the story. Great, my curiosity is held. The names of the four sections are:

The Transfer

The Initiate

The Son and

The Traitor and essentially follow Tobias as he chooses to leave abnegation, go through the initiation stages in Dauntless, settle into his new life and then find his place in Dauntless and become one of the most powerful members of the faction. The final quarter, The Traitor, then documents meeting Tris, though is not the first moment they meet as that is contained in the deleted scenes under the title ‘First Jumper, Tris’. Ah, it seems confusing. 

Reading it I am currently halfway through ‘The Son’ which the name itself intrigues me (I won’t say why that will spoil everything) but judging from the other titles I can only take a guess at the contents on the pages. The story itself is great. As I said, I adore Tobias Eaton and his voice as he is a strong and well developed character which comes across well in these short stories, which may be due to being the earliest developed character that Veronica Created. He almost, almost puts Tris to shame. At points the voice of Tris and the voice of Tobias sort of blend, as they compete with the authors own writing style but they’re still distinguishable enough to see them as separate characters. 

The story itself is a little bit repetitive as the training processes and initiation are just the same as Tris’, only less detailed and in a slightly different order, however that is understandable given the background to the story, it therefore is not quite Hunger Games repetitive with the multiple games. Also, the story sees behind the scenes of Tobias starting a career which is not talked about as much which is where I am at the moment in the book, and this is roughly where the repetitiveness ends and Tobias becomes more his own. I can only assume there will be a little bit more repetition as we here about him meeting Tris, as obviously both of the characters were there at the time, but of course they lead different lives and talk to different people so it won’t be too samey in the end. I would call this book ‘un-put-downable’ but I have been doing other things since I last read this book. 

I can normally testify how good a book is when I choose it over sleep, and last night I was battling with my eyelids into the early hours, just to keep reading, despite the similar early plots. If you are a Divergent fan then I truly recommend this book (but if you are a fan you most likely don’t need my instruction). If you are a fan of Dystopian futures (like me) and have not read the Divergent series yet, but want to, I also recommend it. Four’s character is more dramatic and developed than Tris, and is therefore a good way to introduce yourself to the fandom. You could also play around with the chronology of the stories and read Four before you read Divergent, and so forth, in an almost Star-Wars-esque fashion, or not. Just a suggestion. If, however, you have already read Divergent and was not a huge fan at all then I would not recommend it as the repetition may irritate or bore you a bit. However I personally love it and would solidly rate this book a 7/10. 

What I’m Reading | The ‘Divergent’ Series (Veronica Roth)

I’m very much aware that I am late on this bandwagon. You’d have thought I’d be on it like a moth to a flame given the fact that I am obsessed with books about dystopian futures. But the books were HUGE last year and has been turned into a film that was in cinemas just a couple of months ago, I am reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth (if you couldn’t tell by the title). I admittedly watched the film before I read the books which is sure to earn a horrified gasp from a few people. I didn’t love the film all that much, it was good, but not brilliant, still the movie made me want to read the books to see how they compared, so I did. I read Divergent a couple of weeks ago, Insurgent no less than five days ago and I have started Allegiant today.

Divergent_UK_cover

Divergent, compared to the film, was a lot better in the book. If you’ve seen the film you might share my opinion that it felt like a one and a half run-up to the second one, with the most action happening in the last twenty minutes, but in the book there actually seems to be a point behind riding a zip-wire, eating hamburgers for the first time, and playing capture the flag, more of a point than is made in the film. Instantly the book was better than the film. On it’s own I still like it, it’s genuinely exciting and well written and is fun to read.

INSURGENT

Insurgent was better than the first book, by far, which is surprising, usually the second book is favoured as the worst in a series (see: Catching Fire in the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy and New Moon in the ‘Twilight’ saga) by popular opinion. It started with action and had thrill in just about every chapter and I was genuinely immersed in the story as it all unravelled. It was a lot heavier than the first book also, which made it feel less ‘teenage’ than the first book, which I liked. If I was to go all pretentious-literature-A-level-student-mode I would say it reflected Tris’ maturing in the aftermath of what happened at the end of Divergent, but perhaps it’s just a coincidence.

allegiant

Allegiant is the one I’m unsure of. For a starter I don’t like how it’s a hard-back while the other two are paper-backs, which is a very fussy thing to pick apart, but now it just looks weird. I also saw in the blurb that, unlike the other two, it is written in a dual perspective. For a starters it now ruins the consistency of the series, like Stephanie Meyer did with Breaking Dawn. Personally I dislike different perspectives, I often find that the structure is less fluid, often jaunted, opposed to if there was just one voice, but also they can sometimes be badly written if the author doesn’t manage to create separate the characters personal voices. I’m currently only four chapters into Allegiant, and at the minute am finding the dual-perspective a bit pointless and am finding it really hard to get into, but we’ll see.

Over-all I think the Divergent series is a bit of a tricky one. Divergent was mediocre, Insurgent was great and Allegiant I am really not sure of right now, but the concept is magnificent and if you are also obsessed with the dystopian worlds like I am then I think you definitely should read it once as it makes some particularly good points about human nature and the world as a whole.

***UPDATE***

Having now read over 100 pages I have no gotten into Allegiant  and am enjoying it. I still find the dual-perspective-thing a bit jaunty and at points hard to keep track of who’s talking, and get a little bit irritated when I’m really enjoying reading a perspective but then it suddenly stops and goes to the next person, but I’m getting over it. The storyline is none the less superb.

***

What I’m Reading | More Than This by Patrick Ness

What the popular author John Green said about this book was ‘just read it’ and it is emblazoned on the front cover for all to see. It was the black and yellow that caught my eye when I saw it in the local book-shop and then I saw that I was being ordered to read it. So I turned it over to the blurb and read what it was about, and it seemed curious. I have a system at choosing whether to buy a book. First of all it needs to catch my eye, then the blurb needs to sound interesting, then I read the first page and if I am not drawn in I put it back down. If I am I buy the book…or continue reading propping myself up against the book-shelf until I feel like I’ve been there to long…and then I buy the book. But I didn’t follow my rules for this. I was already captivated. 

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This is where I try to tell you about the plot without giving away any spoilers so that you can read the book and be surprised yourself, so stop reading, if you don’t trust me, and skip to the end.It’s about this boy who drowns one day on a beach (I can tell you this, it says it on the blurb) and then finds himself in a different world and he has to navigate his way around it trying to figure out what it all is and if he is on his own or not and if it is real or a dream he has while he’s dying in the ocean waves. It’s safe for you to read again here.   

I tell you this now, plain and simple: More Than This is perhaps one of the best and most imaginative stories I have read in a long time. It’s everything that I like and, for once, I do not find myself irritated by the protagonist of the story like I have so many times, which is one of the instant plus sides. It’s eloquently written, it connected me so deeply with the protagonist that I had to check it wasn’t written in first person a multitude of times, and while I would find myself rolling my eyes at a flashback if I read it in an average story, they have a paramount significance with the rest of the story and they, while helping you unravel the story yourself, don’t give too much away. But this isn’t an average book, by no means. It is an intricate story that unravels more and more mystery the more you read. The second one question is answered there’s another that needs to be solved, and I think that’s what makes it so good. It makes you curious the more you delve deeper into this insane world that the boy is in, and you want to know these answers that lead onto more… more than this. 

While I was reading it I found myself mesmerised, curious, thrilled, and tense as drama finds its way onto every single page. I could not put this down the book and have only put it down because Ed wanted to sleep and I can’t read with no light (perhaps I should invest some money into a little reading light you attach to books) but if I was on my own I would have easily chosen to stay awake all night to finish it and be utterly mind-blown, I found myself pausing with absolute stun as the events occurred, and had to pause just to gasp and exclaim to Ed that it was “such a good book” So I tell you now exactly what John Green said about it JUST READ IT. Go to your local book shop, pick up a copy and clear your calendar to sit down and be immersed by what is perhaps one of the most captivating reads I have read in a long time.  You will not regret it.