The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: An Awesome Modernization of a Classic Story

Awesome Adaptations is hosted by Picture Me Reading, and is a focus on book-to-movie adaptations that we think are awesome! Today’s topic is an awesome modernization of a classic story. 

This feels a little bit like a cheat since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is not a movie, but it is an adaptation (of Pride and Prejudice for the uninitiated), and it is done in video format. I have to admit, I love some parts of the series more than the rest. Some plot lines seem to drag too long, a few episodes seemed pointless, but a lot of it is just amazingly good. 

The cast is perfect. Lizzie, Jane, and Lydia all seem perfectly suited as modern-day versions of Austen’s characters. Lydia’s the crazy wild child, Jane’s perfectly sweet, and Lizzie is just Lizzie. In fact, I’ve always related to Elizabeth, but I relate even more with Lizzie, down to what she was studying in college. And plus, Star Trek references FTW! 

I loved how The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was able to stay true to Austen’s story while making it relevant for modern-day, and how the character interactions and emotional moments are still spot-on, even though it’s all happening from the limited perspective of Lizzie’s webcam.

If you haven’t seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries yet, take a huge chunk of time from your schedule to watch it and enjoy

lizziebennetHave you seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? What are your thoughts? Or what is a modernized adaptation of a classic that you enjoy?

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My Top 5 Books in a New or Mythological Setting

I really wanted to do this week’s Top 10 Tuesday. But when I first started participating, I decided I would only join in on the weeks that I could come up with 10 items for my list. When I decided to do my Top 10 Non-American settings, I could come up with ten, but I just wasn’t quite feeling it. Then I got excited about doing new or mythological settings, but really only came up with five. I still wanted to share them, so I hope I can get forgiven for only having a Top 5 this week. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

1. For Darkness Shows the Stars

setting1From reading the book, I know that Elliot’s world consists of islands, which are unknown to us. And though she lives in a future version of our world, the fate of what is outside the islands is unknown to her, which I felt provided an ominious undertone for the backstory of The Reduction and all that happened there.

2. The Scorpio Races

setting2I just finished this book, and the fictional island Kate calls home is strange, but the world-building is convincing enough that it feels real, even with mythological, flesh-tearing sea-horses.

3. Cinder

setting3Cinder’s world of New Beijing falls into the category of “new” more so than mythological. It is a reinvented version of a place we know of in our world now, and Meyer does a great job creating a Beijing where new meets old and feels realistic.

5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

setting4Who of us when we were young did not feel at the back of a wardrobe, hoping against hope that Narnia awaited us on  the other side? Lewis creates a world that is fierce yet compelling, and most certainly magical, and was able to carry its story throughout a series of seven books.

5. The Hobbit

setting5I have to admit, my fondness for Middle Earth is based much more in the Lord of the Rings movies than from reading The Hobbit in junior high, but I feel that when I finally get around to reading the trilogy and rereading The Hobbit, I will grow to love it through Tolkien’s words. The places he created from the Shire to Rivendell, they all have a piece of life as we know it mixed in with something else entirely, sometimes life as we wish it or life as we fear it could be. Personally, I think I could live happily in Rivendell for all eternity.

What are your favorite new or mythological settings in books? 

A to Z Reading Survey

If you’re like me, you may have spent your younger years sharing surveys on your Xanga site. As a callback to those times, Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner created a fun A to Z survey all about books and reading!

AtoZsurvey

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Probably Ann M. Martin, the author of The Babysitter’s Club books. What what!

babysitters

Looking for these pictures kind of made me want to read one of them again, just for the memories!

Best Sequel Ever:

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Currently Reading:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Almost finished!

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water. I’m boring like that. I don’t drink much other than water.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I definitely like having a physical book, but e-readers make things easier, and you can get great deals on the e-books sometimes, so it just depends.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

With the disclaimer that the only guy I dated in high school was my husband, and he was the exception to my self-inflicted “no dating in high school because it’s a waste of time right now” rule, there is a small chance I would have given Peeta a shot.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Hunger Games, Cinder, and The Book Thief… I had no idea they would be so good!

Hidden Gem Book:

Finding Alice by Melody Carlson and Anthem by Ayn Rand.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Reading The Hunger Games in 2011 reignited my love for reading, my interest in dystopia, and my interest in young adult, all in one swoop. Impressive, Suzanne Collins.

Just Finished:

1984 and Among the Nameless Stars are the books I finished last. See my mini-reviews for them here.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Anything erotic.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Technically, the Bible. Otherwise, probably Crime and Punishment.

Major book hangover because of:

The Hunger Games trilogy

Number of Bookcases You Own:

We have four in the house that actually have books, but we have others used for other storage purposes.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Finding Alice.

Preferred Place To Read:

At the beach or by the pool. Or outside in general.

DSC_1957

My husband and mine’s beach reads last year. Sadly no beach this year.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

I want to tell him he’s not being fair. That we were strangers. That I did what it took to stay alive, to keep us both alive in that arena. That I can’t explain how things are with Gale because I don’t know myself. That it’s no good loving me because I’m never going to get married anyway and he’d just end up hating me later instead of sooner. That if I do have feelings for him, it doesn’t matter because I’ll never be able to afford the kind of love that leads to a family, to children. And how can he? How can he after what we’ve just been through?
I also want to tell him how much I already miss him. But that wouldn’t be fair on my part.
… Out of the corner of my eye, I see Peeta extend his hand. I look at him, unsure. “One more time?” For the audience?” he says. His voice isn’t angry. It’s hollow, which is worse. Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me.
I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go.

From The Hunger Games. Totally killed me when I read it.

Reading Regret:

Not having read Harry Potter when I was younger, and now I still haven’t gotten to the series…

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

I still want to finish the Left Behind series one day. I should also probably finish the Across the Universe series.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

This is hard… but I’m going to say The Hunger Games, Little Women, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

The Hunger Games, obviously.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Cress by Marissa Meyer, coming next year!

Worst Bookish Habit:

I judge books by their cover.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Captivating by John and Stasti Eldredge

Your latest book purchase:

Pivot Point by Kasie West; got the e-book for $1.99 (plus taxes).

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

I don’t typically stay up too crazy late for books, but I think Catching Fire was the one that kept me the latest.

Join in on the fun and fill out this fun survey on your blog!

1984, Star Trek, and the Psychology of Torture

This sounds like a cheery subject, doesn’t it?

As I mentioned in my mini-review of 1984, about two-thirds of the book did very little for me. In the third part of the book, however, when Winston was arrested and tortured to become indoctrinated to the ways of the Party, I was much more intrigued. And what especially intrigued me was there were some similarities to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation I remembered in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard was being tortured and interrogated by a Cardassian. In case you’re wondering what a Cardassian is…

Just so we’re clear…

The Number Four

I think you’ll soon see the similarities as well. Here’s a conversation from the Star Trek episode Chain of Command, Part II:

“How many lights do you see there?”
“I see four lights.”
“No, there are five.”
“I see four lights.”

And from 1984:

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back toward Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
“How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?”
“Four.”
“And if the Party says that there is not four but five – then how many?”
“Four.”

Madred,_four_lights

But of course, it doesn’t stop there for either Picard or Winston. And just so you can understand the full context of these conversations, both men are starved, naked or near naked, have been beaten or degraded, and both experience pain when they give the “incorrect” answer…

“I know nothing about Minos Korva.”
“But I’ve told you that I believe you. I didn’t ask you about Minos Korva. I asked how many lights you see.”
“There are four lights.”
“I don’t understand how you can be so mistaken.”

“Four.”
The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston’s body. The air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could not stop. O’Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended. He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only slightly eased.
“How many fingers, Winston?”
“Four.”
The needle went up to sixty.
“How many fingers, Winston?”
“Four! Four! What else can I say? Four!”

The Psychology of an Interrogation

In the 21 hours of psychology classes I took in college, I learned a few things about how we as people are influenced, for better or for worse. When it comes to this sort of situation, where someone is trying to bring something out of a person who may be very strong and unwilling to provide such information, certain tactics are used. The idea is to transform you from who you are to someone else.

The Stanford prison experiment was a study conducted by Phillip Zimbardo that took place in 1971, where the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guard proved shocking to all involved. In this experiment, normal college students who volunteered to take part in the study for some money were assigned to either be a prisoner or a prison guard, and to play out their roles in a “jail” that was at Stanford University. Just how quickly the students truly seemed to transform into their roles prisoners and prison guards, and how Zimbardo even got sucked into it himself, was shocking to me personally as a college student when I studied the incident.

Just by playing the role of a prison guard, college students grew power-hungry and beat the prisoners. Just by playing the role of a prisoner, college students grew depressed and rebellious. Things got so bad so quickly that the experiment had to be cut short… after only five days. Tactics that were used included: shock (prisoners were blindfolded and taken to their cells), humiliation (prisoners were stripped naked), and a transfer of identity (they wore prisoner uniforms, shackles on their feet, they were assigned a prisoner number, and their heads were shaved). Some of these elements can be seen in 1984 and Chain of Command. In the latter, Picard is stripped naked and is left suspended by his wrists. He is told:

“From this point on, you will enjoy no privilege of rank, no privileges of person. From now on, I will refer to you only as Human. You have no other identity!”

I saw this pattern when reading Unbroken as well, the true story of a WWII pilot who was taken to several Japanese POW camps. Prisoners were degraded from human to less-than-human, to the status of an animal or even worse. The Japanese culture is high on honor, and to lose one’s honor and dignity is the greatest insult, and that is what they did to their enemies during the war. Laura Hillenbrand wrote:

The Pacific POWs who went home in 1945 were torn-down men. They had an intimate understanding of man’s vast capacity to experience suffering, as well as his equally vast capacity, and hungry willingness, to inflict it. They carried unspeakable memories of torture and humiliation, and an acute sense of vulnerability that attended to knowledge of how readily they could be disarmed and dehumanized. Many felt lonely and isolated, having endured abuses that ordinary people couldn’t understand. Their dignity had been obliterated, replaced with a pervasive sense of shame and worthlessness.

A True Change in Nature

Captain Picard is offered the chance to go… but is told if he does so, his chief medical officer Beverly Crusher will be interrogated. Picard cares for Beverly very much and refuses to let this happen, so he stays. Winston does not immediately say anything to betray his lover Julia, but when he is about to be inflicted with the worst torture he can imagine, he exclaims:

“Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her! Tear her face off, strip her to the bones! Not me! Julia! Not me!”

This is what we are led to believe is the end of Winston’s indoctrination, at least until the very end of the book, which I won’t give away. But his ending is not happy. In fact, at one point after he is released, he finds himself writing:

2 + 2 = 5

…one of the things that his interrogator was trying to tell him was true if the party said so. Picard, on the other hand, as he is being released from his interrogation (as his ship the Enterprise has come to save the day) he shouts out in defiance to his interrogator:

“There… are… FOUR LIGHTS!”

Though Picard’s ending is happier, and I do believe in the end he was a much more noble man, the two are not as different as it might seem. Winston had this experience:

“Just now I held up the fingers of my hand to you. You saw five fingers. Do you remember that?”
“Yes.”
O’Brien held up the fingers of his left hand, with the thumb concealed.
“There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers?”
“Yes.”
And he did see them, for a fleeting instant, before the scenery of his mind changed. He saw five fingers, and there was no deformity.

And at the end of Chain of Command, Picard has this conversation with the Enterprise’s counselor:

“What I didn’t put in the report was that at the end he gave me a choice – between a life of comfort or more torture. All I had to do was to say that I could see five lights when, in fact, there were only four.”
“You didn’t say it?”
“No! No. But I was going to. I would have told him anything. Anything at all! But more than that, I believed that I could see five lights.”

It Doesn’t Just Happen in Fiction

It’s easy to chalk all this up to these stories being fictional, that this would not happen in real life. But the Stanford prison experiment suggests otherwise. The identity of those college students were truly lost in five days’ time. It’s been seen elsewhere as well. Patty Hearst, daughter of publishing giant William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by a guerrilla group and ended up aiding them in theft, not seemingly out of fear of what they would do to her otherwise, but from a conversion to their side. Afterwards she seemed to have a change of heart again and was fully pardoned by President Clinton.

Here’s a brief interview with one of the students involved with the Stanford prison experiment:

Needless to say, I think both 1984 and this particular episode of Star Trek did a great job of portraying how convicted men can become desperate, and how a good interrogator wears them down. It’s not fun to think about but I do find it fascinating. And it again, it makes me think of Unbroken, particularly the title. Louis Zamperini was broken, not just once but many times. But after a time, after it was all over, he was able to overcome the torture and heartache he went through, able to forgive a particular Japanese commander he had hated and had wanted to kill. From Unbroken:

On an October afternoon, Louie stepped out of an army car and stood on the lawn at 2028 Gramercy Avenue, looking at his parents’ house for the first time in more than three years. “This little home,” he said, “was worth all of it.”

To ease the load of this post a bit, here’s a cute picture of hugging kitties:

I have no idea what question to ask, but I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on the subject! I’m also curious as to how you feel about more posts where I incorporate Star Trek and/or psychology into a discussion about a book. 

Little Women: An Awesome Coming of Age Adaptation

Awesome Adaptations is hosted by Picture Me Reading, and is a focus on book-to-movie adaptations that we think are awesome! Today’s topic is an awesome coming-of-age adaptation.
book-movie-littleI think Little Women is all about coming of age. It focuses mostly on Jo, but also on her three sisters, from their youth to their early adult years as they go through separation from their father, simple Christmases, sickness, suitors, adventures, and tragedy. It’s no secret from the title of this blog that I am a big fan of Jo’s story in Little Women, and I think Louisa May Alcott really captured the spirit of growing up quite well. I love that in the end, Jo writes her and her sisters’ story after a tragedy stirs her heart of Professor Bhaer’s words to write from her heart. I think it’s important advice for all writers to heed.

Here’s a scene from the movie that breaks my heart every time I watch it or read it in the book, but I think is a critical turning point for Jo in the story:

What scene from Little Women (book or movie) stands out to you? Or what do you think is an awesome coming-of-age adaptation? 

Round-Up: Emma Approved, True Dystopia, and More

Round-Up is my very occasional feature where I share my favorite story and media related articles from the interwebs with you! 

Emma Approved

I am super excited about this! The same team that brought The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon be tackling Jane Austen’s Emma with Emma Approved! In this version of Emma, the title character is an entrepreneur and, of course, a self-proclaimed match-maker. I watched the first few episodes of Welcome to Sanditon, the Lizzie Bennet spin-off, but it ended up boring me, but I am expecting that Emma Approved will be great! 

Loving YA Books as a Grown-Up Adult

HarperCollins shared a great blog post from a member of the EpicReads team about why, as a grown-up adult, she loves young adult fiction and what she feels it has to offer adults. If you’re a fan of YA (as I know most of my blog readers are), then check it out!

Cress Cover

cress

Speaking of young adult, have you seen the new cover for the next installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Cress? The long hair! The red ribbon! (It seems red is a theme on these covers… hmmm…) Can’t wait! I haven’t read the first chapter yet, but it’s posted out there on the web. Google for it if you’re less lazy than me! I’ve heard great things about it!

The Abuse and True Meaning of Dystopia

As I mentioned in a recent post, the word dystopia gets tossed around a lot for stories that aren’t truly dystopic. And I understand, I’m guilty of it too, but I do think it’s important to recognize the true meaning of the word. Shanelle at The Tracery of Ink elaborated on the matter further, and I would encourage you to check her post out!

Blogging News

I mentioned in my mini-review of 1984 that I would be elaborating more on the final act of the book, where the main character is tortured, in a future post. Tentatively scheduled for Friday, I will be posting a comparison of the torture scenes in 1984 with the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Chain of Command, Part II. It was only a matter of time before I did a post like this where I compared something in a book I read to Star Trek! But I’ll be bringing in some psychology as well, and yes it will be nerdy, but I am so excited and hope you guys will enjoy reading it.

Book Aquistions

leftofme-pivotpoint

I finally took advantage of the sale at Epic Reads for the Pivot Point e-book for $1.99, and will be buying What’s Left of Me pretty soon (as in, once it’s out in paperback later this month). I was going to pre-order it on Amazon yesterday but… long story. I’ve heard some good things about Pivot Point, and since parallel universes are on my mind thanks to a certain TV show I have been watching, I thought it was worth checking out. I’m going to be discussing What’s Left of Me with some fellow blogging friends online and am looking forward to reading a book about clones.

And I was excited a few weeks ago to find out I won four autographed books by one of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff! I already had two of the books (though one of them just as an e-book), but not the other two, and plus to have them autographed was exciting! I won them by filling out a survey on his blog, and was hoping to win the grand prize of a ticket to his upcoming conference, but I’m pretty happy with my “consolation prize.”

Looking forward to reading the two books I haven’t read yet! Stuff Christians Like looks absolutely hilarious.

Who else is excited about Emma Approved and Cress? What are your favorite true dystopia reads? What books have you acquired recently? 

Mini-Reviews: 1984 and Among The Nameless Stars

1984

1984 is the classic dystopia by George Orwell that is set in a world where facts and history are constantly being changed by the Party, and with the help of telescreens and the Thought Police, Big Brother is always watching.

Winston is the main character of this story, and he’s not a fan of Big Brother. He commits smalls acts of rebellion, hoping they will go unnoticed but also fearing they may not. Then one day, a woman approaches him with a note, saying that she loves him, and the two arrange secret meetings to carry out an affair. After a time, however, they are arrested by the Thought Police and brought in to be tortured and indoctrinated to love Big Brother.

 This book is divided into three parts, and basically, I could have done without most of the first two parts. A lot of it was extremely dull and I cared very little for Winston or Julia. I also thought some of the writing was sort of sloppy, or at least it would be considered that way now. There is at least a chapter, maybe more, where Winston is reading the book of the Brotherhood (the rumored resistance movement), and we are literally reading it with him. This was really boring and I thought it could have been written in a much better way.

That being said, the ideas in this book are provocative, especially for the time period it was written, and the third part of the book is much more interesting (I plan to go into more detail in a future post), though it is hard to read due to the content and the ending is not happy. When taking a look at the rating scale, nothing seemed right. I felt just OK about the book overall, but I didn’t feel that a two star rating was fair for the merit of the book. However, I think it’s far from five or even four star material, as I found that only the ideas were interesting and found the story absolutely boring and uninteresting when it could have been wildly fascinating. So I give it three stars.

84-starsAmong the Nameless Stars

Among the Nameless Stars is a novella prequel to Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars. The story focuses on Kai after he escapes the North estate and sets out for a new life on his own. I enjoyed the book as a supplement, but it was not much of a story on its own (which I suppose is fine for what it is), and I was hoping for more. The story ends with Kai leaving with Felicia Innovation, and I would have liked more about his time with the Innovations. Still, it was really nice to get Kai’s perspective and understand why he felt the way he did, as well as see the letters he wrote to Elliot but never sent. Though I enjoyed this story much more than 1984, I also give it a three star rating since it was good but not amazing.

Both books:

3stars2

Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts on them? 

Names in Fiction vs. Real Life

I mentioned recently that my husband and I have been watching the TV show Fringe on DVD. I have noticed that in the last couple of weeks, I have found myself growing more fond of the names Peter and Olivia, both of which are names of main characters on the show. I never really disliked these names before, but I didn’t particularly love them either. They were just fine for me. But now I find myself liking them more as I come to like the characters.

But I think I have to be predisposed to like the name somewhat first in order for this phenomena to happen. When I read The Hunger Games, I found myself liking the name Peeta as I liked the character. I have never known a Peeta in my life, but of course it does resemble Peter. But on the other hand, I didn’t find myself growing to like the name Katniss. I think it’s the right fit for Katniss and I went from thinking it was a stupid name at first to an appropriate name for a character, but let’s just say it didn’t hold quite the same charm for me. And it wasn’t like I was going to name a baby Peeta but…  let’s just say there was a period of time where if someone else decided to do it, I wouldn’t have judged them too harshly for it.

peeta-katniss

It’s interesting to me how our perceptions of names can change due to fictional characters with these names. There are some names that seem type-casted to fit a certain kind of character. I remember my senior year of high school when my yearbook/journalism teacher, whose first name was Chip, lamented that characters named Chip are always some lame sidekick. I have found with my name, Amy, the character is generally pretty self-centered and weak-willed, which makes me sad.

amy-littlewomen

I’m going to throw your writing in the fire and then steal the guy you should have ended up with… (OK, I don’t actually hate Amy in Little Women, but she’s no Jo.)

As someone who is constantly creating new characters in my head, I think about names fairly frequently. Sometimes the idea of a story hits me first, and then I seek out the characters and the names of the characters that seem to fit best. But sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, a character name just pops into my head that won’t go away and I know I have to write out that character. Their name is sometimes something I might have considered strange just yesterday, but today it is perfect for my character. Sometimes I think of traditional names (Catherine), trendier names (Harper), and sometimes names that I just have no idea where they came from (Noa, for a girl, like Noah without a H… this one happened recently). When I think of the name of a character first, it always feels like a perfect fit when I base everything else around that, even if it’s something I would never name a real-life baby. But I also can’t help but wonder how people reading the story will respond to it. I know I have read books where I felt the character never fit their name. But I suppose we all look at names differently… there’s no way to really control how someone feels about a name.

All this to say… what’s in a name? Does your perception of a name change if you read/watch about a fictional character with that name? Has a fictional character made you like a name more or less than you did before?