Round-Up: Suzanne Collins, Justice League?, and Captain Kirk

Suzanne Collins

Good news for Hunger Games fans! Suzanne Collins is going to start writing another young adult series! Hooray! We don’t know what’s is about, but if these characters are as engrossing as those in The Hunger Games, it hardly matters. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she has to offer us next!

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Justice League?

Though my favorite superhero is Batman, I have been really enjoying Marvel’s offering of The Avengers and the various movies for their characters. Justice League? Eh, I mean, it might be good, but I hard time imagining that I would like it as The Avengers. But let’s face it, if you attach Christoper Nolan’s name to it, my interest level will increase by 1000%. Many have wondered if Christopher Nolan would be involved with a Justice League movie should one be made, and/or if Zack Snyder (the director for the upcoming Man of Steel movie) would be involved. And all these questions have been answered! OK, not really, but they both did comment on the matter. And they were both nice and vague about it, saying basically, “Mmmm… maybe…” I won’t even know how much I care until I see Man of Steel and see if I enjoy Zack Snyder’s incarnation of Superman (since I’ve never been interested in Superman before). And then there’s the matter of Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt please. Or Christian Bale. But no one else would be right, not now, not so soon after The Dark Knight Trilogy. What are your thoughts on a possible Justice League movie?

MAN OF STEELNew Kirks Judged by Old Khans

This is an interesting article that compares Star Trek Into Darkness with original Star Trek films, as well as Abrams’ Kirk with the original. Does J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek betray what Star Trek stands for? Believe it or not, similar questions were asked about the second original Star Trek film over 20 years ago. And how is new Kirk learning lessons versus how old Kirk learned his lessons? If you read the article, let me know your thoughts on it!

kirkx2In other news, I finally finished The Book Thief. It is, without a doubt, the most heart-breaking fiction story I have ever read, but so amazing at the same time. The way it is written is beautiful, and just… wow. I don’t know what else to say. I’ll just save it for the review, which I hope to post later this week. My books from Amazon are supposed to come in later this week (finally… I think their shipping has gotten slower… and one of the books is the aforementioned The Book Thief now that I finished my library e-book of it… oops…), so I’m not quite sure what I am reading next yet until then.

Any book or movie news/points of interest been on your radar lately?

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Character Consistency in Stories

I was listening to a podcast review of Star Trek: Into Darkness and I was a little surprised to hear some of the people on the show say they felt some of the characters were inconsistent from who they were in the 2009 film.  Likewise, I have also heard some complain that Tony Stark was inconsistent in Iron Man 3 compared to how he was before.

I disagree with both of these viewpoints, but it did get me to thinking about consistency in characters in stories (primarily from movie to movie). Just when is the character experiencing a natural change in their arc, and when is it just out of character? Personally, I found Elizabeth and Will wildly inconsistent in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies as to who they were in the first one. But I know people who disagree. Why do some of us accept certain character changes and some of us not?

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Bones contemplates this for us…

The Consistency of the Story

I think part of it is how you view the story overall. For instance, I thought the second POTC movie was a ridiculous rehash of jokes from the first and that the third movie got way too serious. The first story was such a fun romp and I felt the next two films deviated from what made the first one so good. Since I did not enjoy the plots of the story and the twists that were happening, I felt that the characters themselves were taking actions that were not consistent with how I viewed them in the first movie.

In the 2009 Star Trek film, Kirk is cocky and confident, much like Tony Stark is in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers. With Tony, I think we start to see him change in The Avengers, when he makes the decision to sacrifice himself (though ultimately he makes it out fine) to save all the others. In Iron Man 3, he is wrestling with what he experienced in that moment: being worried about Pepper, shocked by the fact that aliens are real, etc. I could see the thread of what happened. And he still certainly had plenty of Tony Stark moments.

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With the Star Trek films, I admit it’s not as clear cut. At the end of 2009, Kirk gets the Captain’s chair at an extremely young age and with virtually no experience. In Into Darkness, he appears to be much the same, taking big risks with the belief that it will always work out fine. He gets lectured that it won’t always be fine, but none of that means much until he (SPOILERS for the rest of this paragraph) sees Pike die. Pike is like a father to Kirk, so his death really rocks his world. He wants to hunt down the man responsible, but he also has to learn what risks are necessary and which ones are not. It’s hard to fit so much change in a two hour film without it feeling too forced, but at the end Kirk makes a decision like Tony does. Maybe there could have been better ways to develop these two plot lines, but for me, they were fine. But I also embraced the entirety of their stories.

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If a story is filled with plot holes and weird twists that no one believes, people are not likely to buy into what the character is doing either.

The Consistency of Voice

I was listening to another podcast called “Writing Excuses” (what can I say, I’m a podcast junkie), and in a recent episode they were discussing why the writing in The Avengers worked so well. One of the main things they praised about the movies was the consistent character voice, and for ALL the characters! But they said there were even a couple of times that the voice was not consistent but it was so well-played it didn’t matter. The big example of this was with Thor’s line about Loki being adopted. They said it was OK with them, even though it didn’t sound like something Thor would say, because the joke was perfect, it needed to be shared, and Thor had to be the one to deliver it.

I think this goes with the next point…

The Consistency in Tone

I think the example of Pirates of the Caribbean works well for this. I did not feel the tone of the second and third movies were not consistent with the first. And going back to The Avengers, though Thor’s joke was not consistent with his individual character voice, it was consistent with the tone of the movie and the dialogue in general.

This might be why some struggle with Iron Man 3 or Into Darkness, because both movies are a little dark than their predecessors. I personally do not find them to be such large departures, and I find the overall tones still consistent, but there is some change. I mean, among Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3, there are three different directors at work. But tone can change as the characters grow, it’s just a matter of balancing the change tone, character, and story in a way that is believable and trying to stay consistent in voice and other areas.

The Consistency in Back Story

It is extremely important for writers to remember what they (or other writers working on previous projects before them) have written about a character. Likewise, it’s important for the character to have actions that match up with their personal back story. Sometimes the writer may not know the back story for the character until a lot about the character has been written, but as long as it matches with the character’s behavior, that is fine. Kirk from the J.J.-verse is different from Roddenberry’s Kirk. This Kirk lost his father and thus grew up in a very different household. He had the same mother and he still lived in Iowa, but one major difference completely changed the way he was living his life. So when the 2009 and Into Darkness Kirk is more immature and more reckless than the original Kirk, it makes sense, because he didn’t have the same strong father figure.

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When there’s a disconnect between a character’s past and their present, without a middle that connects the change between the two (which would be more backs story we would need), we find the whole character unbelievable.

But no matter how hard a writer tries to balance all of these things, not everyone is going to agree on what works and what doesn’t work. It is the nature of art.

What do you think? Who are characters that you believe show great consistency throughout their story arc? Who are some characters that you feel do not?

Why Rebecca Needs to be Readapted

For the first time I am participating in Awesome Adaptations hosted by Picture Me Reading. Every week there is a new category to explore great adaptations of books to film. This week’s category is “Another Awesome Novel That Needs To Be Adapted.” After doing a lot of thinking, however, I wanted to focus on a novel that was adapted to the screen several years ago, but that I think could use a re-do, is the classic novel Rebecca.

rebecca-book&movieI read it in high school and probably need to re-read it, but I remember enjoying the suspense of it. Alfred Hitchcock adapted the book to a movie in 1940, and it was pretty good, as Hitchcock’s works typically are, but I think it is one of the few Hitchcock films that would benefit from a makeover by a more modern filmmaker (because I firmly believe that you just can’t duplicate Psycho or Rear Window). Here’s the synopsis from the IMDB movie pageWhen a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, she finds the memory of the first wife maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants. So who would star in this version of Rebecca?

dewinters2Emma Stone and Jude Law, pictured above next to the originals just for comparison’s sake. The age gap between the wealthy widower Mr. and the young, naive Mrs. de Winter is supposed to be noticeable, and I believe the age difference between Jude Law and Emma Stone of 14 years feels about right for the story.

I think a director with a knack for suspense ought to be the one at the head of the project, but I have not decided who I would choose. I mulled over a few possibilities but I’m still not sure, as I don’t know what modern-day film to equate to the likes of Rebecca would be. Who do you think would be a great director for this film? And…

What do you think of a Rebecca re-adaptation? Which book are you most interested in seeing becoming adapted to film? 

My Top 10 Books Featuring Travel

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish), I wanted to break my Top 10 into two Top 5 lists: the top 5 books featuring travel that I have read, and the top 5 books featuring travel that are on my TBR list. There is travel in virtually every book if you want to get technical, but I wanted to feature books where the traveling is essential to the plot (or for the books on my TBR list, they appear to be essential), so this is what I kept in mind as I created my lists. The lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Books Featuring Travel that I Have Read

1. The Hobbit

thehobbitBilbo Baggins was happy living out a quiet life in his hobbit home when Gandalf retrieves him for an adventure. Nearly the whole book features travel as Biblo journeys his way through Middle Earth.

2. Scarlet

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There is a decent amount of travel in Scarlet, Meyer’s follow-up to Cinder, and as a bonus, a lot of it is futuristic methods of travel! It is through travel that Cinder escapes, Scarlet gets to know Wolf, Scarlet finds her grandmother, and Scarlet and Cinder meet. Basically, there is a lot of moving forward in the novel and it’s all important.

3. Ender’s Game

enderEven though this book is set in space, there isn’t as much traveling as you would think. Still, Ender has to leave his home on Earth to attend Battle School to try to save the world, and then later in the book he takes another journey that will have a profound impact on him (but I won’t spoil that). When Ender’s does travel, it’s always important.

4. Rebecca

rebecca-by-daphne-du-maurierIt is while traveling on vacation that the heroine of this story meets the man she marries, then travels home with him where she will be haunted by his past and her life will be changed. This is a great, suspenseful story that I will be talking about again very soon, so stay turned!

5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

lionwitchwardrobeI could really put all of The Chronicles of Narnia here, but I wanted to focus on the book that began it all. The method of travel is simple: a wardrobe. And somehow, some way, this wardrobe transports four children to a whole new world for a great adventure that will define their lives (actually, you can know how the wardrobe is able to do this if you read The Magician’s Nephew). When I was a child, I wished so badly I could transport to Narnia through a wardrobe as well, but sadly, I was never able to find the right portal.

Top 5 Books Featuring Travel on My TBR List

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

hitchhikerArthur Dent isn’t looking for adventure when his friend, who turns out to be an alien, rescues him by taking him from Earth (which is promptly blown up after they leave), and they end up traversing through space. I’ve seen the movie several times but have not read the book yet, but as fun as the movie is, I can only imagine what a ride the book must be! Arthur learns a lot about himself and the universe on this journey, and even the meaning of life. Well, maybe. (And yes, Martin Freeman plays both Arthur AND Bilbo!)

2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

statisticalprobabilityThough I don’t normally gravitate towards contemporary romance, I am interested in reading this one (plus I just received it this weekend after winning a giveaway so I guess I’ll be reading it sometime!). I mean, how can you resist the cover? Travel seems important in this one since the couple meets in an airport as they are going about their separate ways. I find it an interesting concept since I think the airport is the single most fascinating place to people watch.

3. A Million Suns and Shades of Earth

acrosstheuniverseI have already read Across the Universe, and while I only liked it just fine, I still want to read the continuation of the spaceship Godspeed in its sequel books. The whole mission of the Godspeed was to travel from Earth to a new world for a new home, but there lies and secrets that mar the journey along the way.

4. The Scorpio Races

scorpioFrom my understanding, the premise of this book is somewhat like that of the movie Hidalgo, except the horses are much more vicious and are raced in the sea. These horses have played a tragic role in the lives of the two main characters, and yet they both still find themselves compelled to race. I am definitely intrigued by this idea and am curious to see more about how the races impact their lives.

5. The Lord of the Rings

LOTRThe Lord of the Rings, much like The Hobbit, focuses on a journey through Middle Earth. And Frodo’s mission is imperative: to destroy The One Ring. I am so intimidated by the length of these books, but I would love to get an in-depth look at Frodo and Sam’s friendship as they travel through Middle Earth and face so many trials.

What books featuring travel are your favorite? Or what books featuring travel are on your TBR list? 

Review: The Selection

(I am finally getting back to reviewing dystopians I read last year before I started this blog…)

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graphic-synopsis

The Selection is the first of a trilogy that I would classify as young adult “light” dystopia. In it America Singer lives in Illéa (America in the future after Chinese takeover and such), a country where the only hope for a young girl to escape a low caste is a prosperous marriage. While America loves a boy a caste below her, she still enters The Selection, a chance to become the wife of Prince Maxon. It proves to be a competition reminiscent of today’s reality show The Bachelor, but also made me think of the back story we never got of the Biblical story of Esther.  America must confront her past feelings for Aspen, her growing feelings for Maxon, and choose the life she wants to live.

graphic-thoughtsThis book gets a lot of hate, and I will admit, it has its issues. However, while reading, I found myself very caught up in the story. I have even read a decent portion of the book a second time, which is unusual considering the short time period I I’ve owned it.

The plot itself is interesting. I cannot get into most reality shows, especially ones like The Bachelor, but for some reason I still felt drawn to the premise of the story. Perhaps it seemed different because it was the tradition of the country, and also because of the royal element (I mean, who among us was not mesmerized by the royal wedding two years ago?).

I also loved Maxon. I thought he was sweet and such a gentleman, the way a prince should be. (However, after having read Cinder, I do believe I like Kai more, largely because he was more down-to-earth and less oblivious to the world around him.)  I also liked America’s maids that tended to her; I think they may have had more personality than anyone else in the book. Though I am somewhat intrigued by the king and queen, especially the queen, and hope to learn more about them.

I enjoyed America and Maxon’s growing friendship/relationship and especially enjoyed their time together, but I felt it was slightly underdeveloped. At one point America refers to something from a conversation or conversations with Maxon that makes it seem like they have had a conversation or conversations that I completely missed. There was nothing to indicate unrecorded conversations between them, yet this reference felt like there was a missing link.

I don’t love Aspen, the boy from home America calls her first love. He’s OK, but together… he and America are that annoying couple that you never want to be around. I also don’t really love America either. Again, she’s just OK, she has her good qualities and her less favorable qualities, but honestly I found myself caring more about Maxon that her.

The “dystopia” nature of this book feels a bit light to me. There is a caste system in place that doesn’t really make much sense to me (there is a whole caste dedicated to artists, for instance, and they’re one of the lower castes), a history of the country that also sounds somewhat unlikely (but I cannot deny that if you explained someone from 200 years ago what the world would be like now it would be very hard for them to believe), and the threat of the rebels in the book take a backseat to the romance. I suppose I would not mind this latter point so much had the world building had been better developed in general.

I am hoping to see some better story development and character growth in the next two books. I am holding out on reading The Elite for as long as I can because I hear it’s frustrating, and I don’t want too large of a gap between it and the final book, The One. I’m also going to be frustrated if America chooses Aspen, not just because of me, but because I think about 95% of The Selection fans prefer Maxon to Aspen. There doesn’t seem to be much of a competition here.

One last pet peeve is that some of the names bother me. We have the usual future dystopia names mixed in with names like Amy, which just felt off to me. Also, America’s last name is Singer, and she’s a musician. Her first name is America, because she’s a fighter. There’s a girl whose last name is Farmer and she’s… you guessed it. Overall, the choices for the names felt a little shallow, but I do like Marlee and Maxon’s names.

I think The Selection had its flaws, but it was an entertaining read that kept me interested throughout. That’s why I’ve rated it 4 stars out of 5; I really liked it.

4starsContent Advisory

Language: None to mild – Unfortunately I cannot remember if there was any language in The Selection since I read it last year, but it was either sparse and mild or non-existent.

Sexual: Mild – All that happens is passionate kissing, but America desires more with Aspen, explaining to the readers that sex before marriage is forbidden by law. It is also suggested that the girls must do whatever Maxon wants, and America is convinced he is going to be try something sleazy, but he does not.

Violence: Very mild. There is mention of raids on the castle, but the description of the violence is mostly just a description of fear and chaos, and not bloodshed.

If you’ve read The Selection, what were your thoughts on it?