Veronica Roth has done it again. Fans of the Divergent series will want to get their hands on Carve the Mark, the first novel in Roth’s new series.

About ‘Carve the Mark’

In a galaxy where some have had their fate foretold, everyone develops a currentgift, a power that’s as unique as their personality. Though some fates are certain, the future is always changing and it’s currentgifts that help form it.

Akos and Cyra both live on the same planet and have currentgifts that make them vulnerable to others, but that’s pretty much where their similarities end. Akos comes from a nation of peaceful people and has a close-knit relationship with his family. Cyra, on the other hand, is from the nation of Shotet where vengeance and violence are essential for survival. Though her currentgift causes her pain every moment she’s awake, it also gives her power over others.

When Akos and his brother are cruelly captured and enslaved by the Shotet (on Cyra’s tyrant brother’s orders, no less), Akos must live and survive among the people who tore his family apart. The only thing that keeps him going is his drive to free both himself and his brother. Until then, he has to aid Cyra by using his currentgift to dampen hers.

But the more Akos and Cyra’s lives intertwine (and the more the tensions between their nations rise), the more they’re confronted with having to decide between banding together for survival or destroying each other.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

‘Carve the Mark’ book review

As she demonstrated in the Divergent series, Veronica Roth is an excellent world builder. Only this time she really outdid herself, creating the world of Carve the Mark (or, well, galaxy) completely from scratch. Because the richness and different aspects of the world unfold as the novel goes along, the world-building can sometimes feel a little slow or incomplete. But all of the pieces, once they’re introduced, fit together perfectly and create a galaxy quite unlike anything you’ve experienced.

The galaxy itself feels a bit like a cross between the vibrant aesthetics of The Guardians of the Galaxy (with bright hues of color, especially blues, dominating the palette) and the cultural and spiritual complexities of Star Wars. Though multiple planets and peoples are introduced, the galaxy somehow feels intimate. Like we’ve somehow visited it before. That sort of familiarity comes from the galaxy dealing with similar issues we’ve experienced in our own world, such as media bias and rising tensions between countries. It’s small details like this that make us feel comfortable with the world she’s built so that we can freely explore the other facets of it.

In terms of plot, Carve the Mark doesn’t disappoint. There are a few juicy mysteries woven in here and there, but the general story arc is pretty straightforward and doesn’t rely on a huge twist to make it compelling. It’s a story of survival and overcoming the odds, of standing up to oppressors and doing what’s right.

Admittedly, the first quarter or so of the novel starts out a bit slow, but, once you read further, it becomes clear that the pace was necessary in order to really set up the stakes for rest of the novel. There are only a few action scenes in the book (which greatly contrasts Divergent), but Carve the Mark is actually better because of it. It’s the interpersonal character moments that really make the novel compelling.

Speaking of characters, the novel wouldn’t be nearly as intriguing without its two main characters, Cyra and Akos. The two balance each other out really well while also sharing quite a few commonalities. Their relationship (friendship and otherwise) is a slow and satisfying build, with a few missteps and backpedals along the way. It’s really great to see this sort of slow burn happen in an atmosphere where the conditions are less than perfect but the characters make the best of what they’re given. By structuring the novel how she did, Veronica Roth allows the reader to get inside both Cyra and Akos’ head and experience the galaxy the way they do. We then not only get to know the characters better, but we also get to know the galaxy better as well.

One of the most interesting aspects of Carve the Mark is the way Veronica Roth has not only swapped gender roles but also subverted the usual gender role “progression.” Normally, males are perceived as fierce and strong while females are kind-hearted and sensitive. However, it becomes immediately clear that this won’t be the case when the novel introduces its two main characters.

Akos is caring and emotional (to the point where he’s sometimes made fun of for it) and Cyra is known for her strength and power (as well as her badass-ness). As the novel moves along, the characters grow and adopt some of each other’s characteristics but they never progress into “normalized” gender roles. Yes, the characters change and evolve over the course of the story, but they never lose these core aspects and strengths that make them who they are.

All in all, Carve the Mark is an engaging sci-fi story and an impressive successor to Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Give it a try and you’ll find it hard to keep yourself from constantly turning the page.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookstore. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” list!

Here are the 2017 Oscars winners and losers

8:25 pm EST, February 26, 2017

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

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The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Related: We asked our parents to describe the 2017 Oscar nominees

Below is a complete list of Oscar winner and losers.

2017 Oscar winner list

Note: The final winner of the night was originally announced to be La La Land, but the announcement was actually an error — Moonlight won Best Picture. Awkward.

Best Picture:
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land

Lion
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Fences – August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Lion – Luke Davies
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay:
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Manchester By the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Original Song:
“Audition” – La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“City of Stars” – La La Land
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Score:
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best Cinematography:
Bradford Young – Arrival
Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Grieg Fraser – Lion
James Laxton – Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto – Silence

Best Live Action Short Film
Timecode
Sing
Silent Nights
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
4.1 Miles
Extremis
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Editing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Best Visual Effects:
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Production Design:
Arrival
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Animated Short:
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

Best Foreign Language Film:
Land of Mine, Denmark
The Salesman, Iran
A Man Called Ove, Sweden
Tanna, Australia
Toni Erdmann, Germany

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By the Sea

Best Sound Mixing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours

Best Sound Editing:
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best Documentary Feature:
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

Best Costume Design:
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Tags: 2017 Oscars

Arrival has been nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars, but it’s Jóhann Jóhannsson’s exceptional score that might earn it a win.

Stepping off from the common trope of ‘aliens arriving on Earth,’ Arrival takes all our human expectations, examines them closely, and then subverts them with remarkable simplicity. Ultimately, it’s a story about choice: the choice to make sacrifices, to trust, to stand united.

It’s an important subject, and a timely one. Amy Adams’ portrayal of Louise Banks, a linguist called to do the ultimate translation job, is breathtaking in its realism and its vulnerability. The cinematography is stunning, and the pacing of the story takes us on a journey that, although walking the much-treaded road of sci-fi, manages to make us feel as if we are exploring entirely new territory.

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Arrival has been nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars, but it’s Jóhann Jóhannsson’s exceptional score that might earn it a win.

Stepping off from the common trope of ‘aliens arriving on Earth,’ Arrival takes all our human expectations, examines them closely, and then subverts them with remarkable simplicity. Ultimately, it’s a story about choice: the choice to make sacrifices, to trust, to stand united.

It’s an important subject, and a timely one. Amy Adams’ portrayal of Louise Banks, a linguist called to do the ultimate translation job, is breathtaking in its realism and its vulnerability. The cinematography is stunning, and the pacing of the story takes us on a journey that, although walking the much-treaded road of sci-fi, manages to make us feel as if we are exploring entirely new territory.

It should come as no surprise that Arrival is being considered for Best Picture in the upcoming Academy Awards. Director Denis Villeneuve has made a name for himself with movies such as Prisoners and Sicario, known for combining raw humanity with breakneck intensity. But although Villeneuve is an extremely talented director, and is accompanied by an excellent cast, it’s Arrival’s score that succeeds in bringing all the delicate pieces of the film together in one cohesive whole… and drawing the audience in.

Jóhann Jóhannsson is an Icelandic composer that has collaborated with Villeneuve repeatedly, and received Academy Award nominations for his work on movies such as The Theory of Everything and Sicario. Unfortunately, Arrival’s score, although arguably his best work yet, is not eligible for nomination this year. In an exclusive report, Variety explained:

“The Academy’s music branch ruled unanimously that voters would be influenced by the use of borrowed material in determining the value of Johann Jóhannsson’s original contributions to Denis Villeneuve’s alien invasion psychodrama.

“Per Rule 15 II E of the Academy’s rules and eligibility guidelines, a score ‘shall not be eligible if it has been diluted by the use of pre-existing music, or it has been diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs or any music not composed specifically for the film by the submitting composer’”

With the director choosing to place Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” in the beginning and ending sequences of the film (a song which was also a part of Shutter Island’s score), Jóhannsson’s work sadly lost its chance at an Oscar nomination. According to Variety, “it was determined that there would be no way for the audience to distinguish those cues, which bookend the film, from Jóhannsson’s score cues.”

In an interview with Slash Film, Jóhannsson said that he initially wrote his own alternative to the track, while knowing that Villaneuve was considering “On the Nature of Daylight” as well, although it was very different, as he didn’t “really want to do a knock-off of the music.” Ultimately, Jóhannsson says that he supports the choice, because it “works beautifully and it supplies a very strong contrast to the rest of the score.” But it’s a pity that artistic decisions like this one can cost an exceptional composer an Oscar.

For Arrival, his ability to grip the listener with only a few sounds and rhythms, gradually building up to something of massive proportions, was perfectly harnessed once again to create something truly new. The composer told the Guardian: “People are hungry for new sounds, and for the experience of listening to unfamiliar music that you don’t hear on commercials and in every TV show.”

Composers for sci-fi movies tend to favor epic soundtracks to draw audiences into the scene and make them feel the full blow of the story’s emotions. Jóhannsson, however, entirely avoided using orchestras and sounds in the way that we’re familiar with. His quiet buildup is much more powerful. The track “First Encounter,” for example, is mysterious, ominous, and ultimately overwhelming when the sound suddenly comes to life.

“In mainstream cinema, there’s usually too much music,” he said. “In Arrival, the use of space and silence is extremely important. When music is needed, it’s really there and it serves a purpose.”

The music fits in so well that it becomes hard to know when you’re listening to the score, and when you’re listening to the scene. Both elements mesh so well together that they become nearly indistinguishable. And the quietness that is the underlying current of most tracks is a marvelous replica of human emotion — in the case of First Encounter, of what a mind in shock feels like when faced with an experience it can’t understand.

To achieve the unfamiliar sounds that surround Arrival’s alien ships and their mysterious passengers, Jóhannsson brought together vocalists and choirs, to experiment with what could be done with voices, and combining them with cellos, horns, and wood sounds. He explained to Slash Film:

“The reason I wanted voices was really motivated by the script and the story. It’s a story about communication. It’s a story about language. It’s a story about communicating with an alien species. How do we communicate with an intelligent species with who we have no common point of reference? It was this anthropological aspect, this linguistic aspect, that really influences my choice of orchestration and instrumentation.”

It makes for a truly fascinating combination of sounds. Jóhannsson somehow manages to make simple vocal exercises into music that can be anywhere between heartbreaking and heart-wrenchingly hopeful, turning vocal harmony into something almost tangible, and shedding a small ray of light into the mystery of achieving unity in diversity.

This isn’t a horror-movie score — it’s something transporting, yet ambiguous; a difficult task to achieve nowadays. With decades of listening to scores with similar patterns, it takes a lot to leave audience members in the dark about what is about to happen. We’ve become used to screeching violins meaning impending terror, to drums meaning action scenes, to lengthy orchestra pieces surrounding the climax of the film.

We’re used to hearing Hans Zimmer and John William’s epic orchestras, and while beloved and immortalized for their loveliness, they are no longer as revolutionary. We know the swelling sound of strings and the beating of drums, and we have learned to associate certain sounds with victory, and other sounds with fear.

With Jóhannsson, on the other hand, we don’t know what to expect — is the thrumming noise and the horns in the distance leading us to a scene of horror and destruction, or are we about to discover something beautiful? The score leads us into the ship itself, into the arrival, and poses the same questions with music that the movie does with words and breathtaking cinematography.

And yet, despite the unfamiliarity and ambiguity, the result is still something that feels inherently personal. It’s an emotional experience, even in the silences — a difficult task to achieve with such a minimalist style as Jóhannsson’s — and it’s marvelously memorable. It manages to do exactly what Arrival did for us as a film: draw us in with the promise of alien appearances on Earth, and then steal our hearts with the uniquely human experience of choice, trust, love and death.

Interstellar has tried to do this before — melding human vulnerability with world-defining stakes — but critics are split on whether or not it was a success. With Arrival, however, there’s no doubt that the balance between the intimate and the epic was perfectly reached; and it was because of Johann Jóhannsson.

Arrival has been nominated for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Mixing – the closest we’ll get to a soundtrack Academy Award — as well as Best Picture, and many others.

Jóhannsson is currently working on the score for Blade Runner 2049 (also directed by Villeneuve), which is expected to premiere this October.

Doctor Who season 10 finally has an air date and not only that, so does its spinoff, Class!

It’s time to celebrate because we finally know when we’ll see Peter Capaldi back in the T.A.R.D.I.S. as the Doctor! BBC America will premiere Doctor Who season 10 on Saturday, April 15 at 9/8c. Check out the brand new trailer promoting the series, narrated by the brand new companion, Bill:

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Doctor Who season 10 finally has an air date and not only that, so does its spinoff, Class!

It’s time to celebrate because we finally know when we’ll see Peter Capaldi back in the T.A.R.D.I.S. as the Doctor! BBC America will premiere Doctor Who season 10 on Saturday, April 15 at 9/8c. Check out the brand new trailer promoting the series, narrated by the brand new companion, Bill:

No word on if the U.K. will be seeing the same air date but it’s more than likely they will since it’s been like that in years past.

This will be Peter Capaldi’s last season as the Doctor, along with Steven Moffat’s last season running the show. After this we’ll be seeing Chris Chibnall taking the reins with a clean slate, and we’re so curious about how the series will go. How will the Doctor regenerate? Will this be Bill’s first and last season on the show as well? Who’s going to be the next Doctor? We’ve got so many questions! But they’ll all be answered in due time… we hope.

And that’s not all! Fans in the U.K. have already had the chance to enjoy the brand new spinoff series, Class, and after Doctor Who premieres on April 15 Americans will finally witness it as well.

Set to air directly after Doctor Who at 10/9c, Class is helmed by award-winning YA writer and executive producer, Patrick Ness. The series follows a group of students at Coal Hill School as they deal aliens, invasions and awkward social dilemmas.

Having seen Class in its entirety we can tell you that it’s got the perfect Doctor Who vibe and should fit in perfectly after you watch the season 10 premiere. Although not everyone loved the premiere, the series as whole definitely grows on you. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself!

Are you excited for ‘Doctor Who’ season 10?