Dreamcast: Free to Fall

Hey, remember how I’ve attempted dreamcasting a few times? Today I’m bringing it back with Free to Fall, a book with an awesome plot but unfortunately so-so characters and ending…. but that’s OK, because in this dreamcast version it will also be directed by Christopher Nolan with screenplay by him and his brother Jonathan, and they will cut out the dumb stuff and optimize on the good! Hooray! Now here’s who I see playing these (improved) roles.

Isabelle Fuhrman as Rory

Isabelle-FuhrmanI feel like Isabelle physically matches the description of Rory pretty well, plus she’s about the right age.

Asa Butterfield as Beck

Asa-ButterfieldEven though Asa still really looks like a child to me, he is the right age and I think his look would actually work well for Rory’s quirky, artsy best friend.

Ross Lynch as Liam

ross-lynchIt was extremely hard to find a picture where Ross didn’t look so “rockstar,” but I still think he could pull off preppy Liam.

I don’t have anyone picked out to play Hershey because she’s mostly generic pretty girl and a lot of girls could play her. With North, I don’t even know where to begin. But thankfully in my dream version of the movie the Nolans are rewriting him and he’s super awesome.

Lupita Nyong’o as Taurus

lupitaIf you’ve read the book, I don’t think I have to explain how perfect Lupita’s look is.

Wes Bentley as Robert Griffin

Wes-BentleyI think Wes has about the right age and look, and I believe can carry the role of a big-time tech company CEO well. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also be a good fit for this role, but I was trying to think of someone I haven’t talked about as much before.)

Michael Caine as Dean Atwater

michael-caineBecause it’s not a Christopher Nolan movie without Michael Caine. (What will we do when Michael Caine dies? Cry all the tears.)

I’m sure C. Nolan would find a way to sneak some more or his favorite actors in here. Obviously there has to be a role written in for Christian Bale. ūüôā

Who would you dreamcast (and/or dreamcrew!) for a movie adaptation of Free to Fall?

Book Review: Free to Fall

It seems I have a love-hate relationship with Lauren Miller books, and all reviews of her books require GIFs (this time, Gilmore Girls, in honor of Rory). (See my review of Lauren Miller’s Parallel)

Free to Fall takes place in 2030, in a world where most allow their decisions to be guided by the decision-making app Lux.

gr-free-to-fallFirst off, they seriously make the most boring covers for Lauren Miller books. Just faces of girls who don’t look the way I picture the main character (ESPECIALLY in the case of Free to Fall where she has freckles). And these books have a sci-fi twist so they could do fun things with them! But nope, just faces. OK, this is just a rant that has nothing to do with Lauren Miller’s writing, so let’s move on.

Let’s talk characters first. I liked Rory at first, but she got more annoying throughout the book. For someone so smart, she doesn’t have very much common sense. I figured out things before her (not the answers to the Few’s riddles or anything like that, but plot twists) and then there is the whole her and North thing, which I will elaborate on later. Of course, to be fair, I was looking for plot devices because I was reading a book and she wasn’t, but still.

I wanted to briefly mention Beck, Rory’s best friend who is prominent in the first couple of chapters but not so much after when she leaves for Theden. I loved Beck and thought he was definitely the most interesting character in the book. I would have loved more of¬†him.

Now North. First off, his name is North, like North West (you know, Kim Kardashian and Kayne’s baby), except not really, because it’s Norvin. Who names their kid Norvin? (The same people who name their kid Hershey, I guess.) Just as a side note: the main characters were born 2012-2014, so while names like Liam, Beck, Nora, and Rory (Auora, her true full name, maybe a little less so) make total sense, because according to my Facebook news feed, these are today’s baby names (I don’t actually know any babies named Beck, but it sounds in the right vein. I do know of babies named Liam, Nora, and Rory though). Norvin and Hershey? Mmm, not so much. And yes, I get the whole unique names thing, but I kind of have a thing about too many people with too unique of names together in one place conveniently for a book (unless it’s fantasy or further-out-in-the-future-science-fiction).

Second, North is RIDICULOUSLY PRETENTIOUS. OK, to be fair, he’s actually a pretty nice guy, at least to Rory. But he also breaks the law and he acts like a¬†modern-day hipster except he’s shunning his technology and embracing ours. Oh, and he has a Mohawk, tattoos, is hacker and a barista, doesn’t believe in vaccines, and is a high school dropout because school “isn’t for him.” HELLO, STEREOTYPE.

lorelei-coffee-cynicismAlso, SCHOOL IS FOR YOU UNTIL YOU’RE 18. BECAUSE YOU ARE A CHILD. DEAL WITH IT.

Let me explain my thoughts on the world-building to further explain my feelings about North. The technology feels mostly spot-on, though it probably isn’t actually advanced enough. But the general direction feels real. But the clothing trends, the word “hipster” getting thrown out once, felt so incredibly like TODAY. I understand trends come in cycles, but honestly it did not feel like a resurgence of trends to me, because there would have been a variation of the trends. I didn’t really feel there was though, with talk of Toms and Wayfarers and popped collars it just felt like TODAY.

Which leads me back to North. Other than his love of retro tech being today’s tech, he feels so much like a modern-day hipster (except hipsters don’t generally don Mohawks, but seriously, that is the most stereotypical “Oh look at me I’m different” hairstyle ever). Basically, I felt Miller took a stereotype and made him a nice guy and expected me to like him, despite the fact that he makes money off an illegal career and is a high school dropout and basically is going to have a seriously rude awakening when he is about 25 years old. I honestly don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who make poor decisions, unless it’s part of a greater character arc. Not so much here.

gilmore-girls-ughSo now let’s put Rory and North together. This was one of the worst romances I have read in a while.¬†I guess since Abby and Michael in Parallel, actually. The first time Rory sees North, she doesn’t find him all that attractive or interesting. But then afterwards, she’s intrigued because he concocted this great drink for her. After this second meeting with him SHE CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT NORTH. OK, teenage hormones, whateves, it happens. After meeting three when they hang out she is really into him. And then she ignores him for a while because she’s mad at him and blah blah blah and then after that she just rushes way too fast and never once do I understand why she likes him romantically. Maybe as a friend, but Beck was way cooler and their relationship was always just platonic. Honestly, if North and Rory could have just been friends the story would have been so much better. Or¬†if we got to root for them getting together because North ended up being a guy who would be really good with Rory. Instead, any time they got “romantic” I could care less and sometimes felt a little disgusted.

rory-face-eatingAnd North ends up being a bit creepy. He says things that Rory completely glosses over but I did not find them OK. Once, he mentions “playing Doctor.” I don’t care the intent of the joke, that is an automatic creep alert for me. Second, he hacks¬†into Rory’s Lux profile the day he met her. And last, he gives Rory a necklace embedded with a tracking device and camera in it towards the end of the book. It seemed the intent was for in case something went wrong with the initiation, but seriously? What if she goes¬†to the bathroom? And if your intentions were pure, why didn’t you just tell her about it?¬†Not OK.

rory-creeped-outLet me talk about something I did like, because part of this novel I loved, and that was the whole story line of conspiracies and clues left behind and tech companies trying to take over the world. A lot of it actually felt pretty realistic. The heavy Paradise Lost references got a bit old, but overall, everything with this plot was interesting. I also thought the psychology of fabricating the idea of “The Doubt” was really interesting.

But now that I’ve mentioned The Doubt, I can’t ignore another problem I had with the book. The Doubt felt WAY too mystic for me. It did not feel like a conscience or a gut-feeling (it was implied it could be these things), and really, not even like God. Coming from someone who believes anyone can have a personal relationship with God and believing that I do, it just felt off if the intent was that it was God. Especially¬†since Rory was not even pursuing God, I honestly don’t believe she would hear Him that way. I’m sure there are people who think differently though, including quite possibly, Lauren Miller. But if you want to take away the God factor, then you have Rory following this voice that seems to know exactly what is going to happen and is always assuring her in ways she could not possibly do herself. I don’t know. It was just weird to me no matter what angle I looked at it from.

gilmore-girls-emily-lost-mindAnd now I want to talk about the ending (about the last 15%ish of the book, more specifically), without spoiling anything, I am going to say that it was first of all sloppy, and second off too Disney-esque. A lot of bad stuff happened in the story. PEOPLE DIED. But basically we find absolutely no repercussions of everything that happened.

For spoilers, highlight: So apparently after finding out the truth about her mom, her true father, and Taurus, dealing with the latter two dying, not to mention ¬†Hershey sleeping with an adult man (AND NOT PRESSING CHARGES WHAT THE CRAP), not having yet seen face-to-face the man she grew up believing was her father since she found out he wasn’t, it’s totes normal to shack up with your high school dropout boyfriend (I guess she is one now too?) in his NYC apartment that he conveniently has (for reasons that are NEVER explained) and be happy and not at all worried about ALL THE CRAP THAT JUST HAPPENED. The chick needs therapy after this. She cannot be in a good place. Boys do not fix problems. She needs her dad that she knows. She needs friends. She needs anyone whose name isn’t North. And the dove-shaped aurora? Are you kidding me? What sense did that even make?

This book has an incredible amount of potential. I was very engaged with the actual story. But the characters and sloppy ending left me wanting more. But since the plot was so promising and my enjoyment was on par with Parallel, I give it four stars.

4stars2My thoughts on Lauren Miller’s writing in general: Miller is obviously¬†intelligent, because it’s evident in the way she writes, and I really like that. She also has very compelling ideas for stories. But her characters leave something to be desired for me. The teens she writes do not feel like real teens. I feel like she created these characters (in both her books) and tried to make them sound and act like teens. Just because Rory is a teen girl does that mean she has to be so enamored with North’s kisses or that when she thinks she might die the first thing she wants to do is rip off his pants? It didn’t feel true to her. And just because Abby is a teen girl does that mean she has to drink underage when really that just doesn’t go with the rest of her who is? I wish she would create more characters who felt more independent and are actually different from the norm, instead of pretending they are like North. Like¬†Beck in Free to Fall or Caitlin in Parallel¬†(even though Caitlin wasn’t my favorite character, she was actually one of the most well-rounded and interesting characters).

Content advisory: Moderate language, talk of sex but no sex scenes, mild violence, and underage drinking.

What are your thoughts on Free to Fall?

Review: Parallel

First off, many thanks to Andi for hosting a Twitter giveaway for an e-book of¬†Parallel, which is how it came in my possession sooner rather than later (though honestly, I would have bought if I had not won since it was 1.99 that day!). Oh, and thanks to Nikki for retweeting Andi’s tweet so I would learn about the giveaway. ūüėČ

I’m going to warn you up front that there will be spoilers and a LOT of GIFs (like way too many to be tasteful, but I couldn’t help it…), all from Fringe and Star Trek, because duh, parallel universes. Oh, and a lot of ranting about Abby’s decision making abilities and Michael. You’ve been warned.

gr-parallelFirst, let me talk about Abby. I liked Abby well enough, but sometimes it felt like she had multiple personality disorder. One minute she’s shy about the idea of sex and works hard to make good grades, the ¬†next she’s having “rated R” thoughts about a guy (her words, not mine, BTW) and getting drunk (underage, I might add).

showtime-olivia-fauxI liked Caitlin. She was consistent, interesting, a good friend, and it was completely believable, based on her background, that she would be able to help Abby figure out what was happening to her.

yoda-crapTyler, he was just OK to me. He was kind of fun, but he sounded more deviant than Abby and Caitlin, and I guess that bothered me.

scotty-shrugCharacters are usually a big thing for me in stories, but what kept me reading this book was the plot. It was so intriguing. Abby is living out a life in LA after she chose drama class over astronomy (I felt this was a bit extreme, even with the explanation given, but anyways…), when she suddenly collides with the parallel universe and becomes cosmically entangled with her parallel self who was late to class on the first day of senior year and ended up in astronomy. Or something like that.

ryker-cantThrough Caitlin and Dr. Mann, Abby gets an idea of what’s happening, and tries to live her life the best she can while still retrieving her parallel’s old memories and getting up to speed with what’s happening in her life currently. And to make it more complicated, it changes frequently as her parallel self makes different choices. There was so much changing and this happening and then that and then things would get worse that it seriously stressed me out! Not to mention the choices Abby would make in her present circumstances that she thought were best for whatever reason but, well, hardly ever were.

uhura-noI think this book could have been separated into two parts…

PART ONE: Abby Makes Poor Decisions.

Examples of this are: getting drunk, getting drunk around boys who want sexytime when she doesn’t, hanging out with questionable boys when she’s sober, trying¬†to screw up her parallel’s life by quitting things she (the parallel) likes and doing things she (again, the parallel) doesn’t care about, etc.

dumar-drunkPART TWO: Abby Makes More Poor Decisions: The Relationship Edition

Examples of this include: Lying to her friends, saying stupid things to people she cares about, lying to her family, hanging out with Michael, etc.

nimoy-spock-dontevenOK, let me go ahead and talk about Michael, because I have a lot to say about him.

sisko-disapproves¬†Michael is a complete loser. I don’t even know why Abby spends so much of the story trying to like him or saying that she likes him even though he puts her in uncomfortable positions, does not communicate well or even bother to define a relationship, and acts like a total d-bag to his family with basic zero justification. Even though it seemed really obvious Josh was right for her, I was still terrified she might end up with¬†Michael. And if the book had ended that way, it would have gotten less stars. But what still drove me up the wall was this little number…

Josh is my soulmate and Michael is my parallel’s.¬†

I’m sorry… What the what? No seriously… WHAT?! WHAT?!?!??!?!?!

kirk-khaaaaaanFirst off, what kind of sense does this make? I’m not saying there couldn’t be¬†a parallel Amy out there happily with some other man who is not the husband I know and love, because I think I could be happy with someone else. I don’t intend to find out, but I believe I could be. But in what universe is it acceptable to dump your amazing boyfriend for his d-bag older brother because (paraphrasing what Caitlin said Abby said)…

I knew I was supposed to be with you from the moment I saw you treat your family like crap at Thanksgiving.

bashir-unsureHere’s the deal, I still don’t know what exactly I believe when it comes to free will versus predetermination (or in Christian circles, the latter, in terms of salvation, is known as¬†predestination/Calvinism, which is actually¬†briefly alluded to¬†in this book when Abby reads the John Calvin quote in her philosophy book, but I digress). What I know is that when my husband and I were dating, I felt like he was “the one” for me, and I won’t get into all the exacts of what that looked like for me, but I also unequivocally¬†believe, as I said before, that I could be happy with someone else. I also completely believe love is a choice. I can “fall in love” with someone who’s a total jerk, but I can choose to walk away from someone who isn’t good for me. And I can choose to love someone who is good for me. I’m not talking about forcing yourself with a good guy that you can’t stand personality wise, but if you¬†fall in love with someone, and then one day those warm fuzzy feelings are gone, you can choose to continue loving that person. Parallel Abby, as far as I’m concerned, had a choice, and Michael did not have to be her “soulmate” because of some gut feeling she got at a dinner table. And Not Parallel Abby made her choice, I think for largely the wrong reasons (but at least it was a better choice), to go and find Josh and try to get back with him.

So basically, to sum it up, my feelings about Michael…

olivia-ickyAnd my feelings about Josh…

olivia-happyThank goodness Narrator Abby chose correctly… even if she had to make a million other bad decisions first.

OK, I’m done ranting about Abby’s poor decision making and Michael. Despite all this, I actually really liked the book a lot. The way parallel worlds were presented in this book I think was one of the best interpretations of the idea I’ve seen so far. And it made me think A LOT. It’s nice when a book makes you think so much. The book also made me laugh quite a few times; I tweeted out a few of these quotes, including:

tweet-parallel-startrek

ryker-clapAnd one more thing I want to know… was Parallel Abby living out Narrator Abby’s life for two months in LA? What happened with her and Bret (talk about another potential bad decision right there)?

But ultimately, the good outweighed the bad, even though ABBY DROVE ME CRAZY SOMETIMES. And Michael drove me crazy ALWAYS.

4stars2Also, I hope I never know what my parallel self is up to.

red-v-blue-lincolnWhat are your thoughts on Parallel? Please tell me I’m not the only one who can’t stand Michael!¬†

Content Advisory: Some language (but no f-bombs), talk about sex but no sex scenes, underage drinking. 

janeway-opinion