Movie Review: The Martian

Despite my bookish nature, I decided to watch the movie The Martian without having read the book. Thus, this review will be about the movie as a movie, not as an adaptation of the book.

the-martian

After a mission goes south and it’s believed he’s been impaled to death, Mark Watney is left behind by his crew – on Mars. Once the reality of the situation sinks in for Mark, he puts his mind to work. How can he contact Earth? How long would it take for a rescue mission to reach him? How can he make his food supply last that long?

I really liked Mark’s character. He’s extremely competent, but he does have to try things by trial and error at times. He’s also very funny, which helps him get through and is entertaining for the movie as well, especially since there’s also a lot of science and math babble.

In addition to Mark being stranded on the planet, we get to see some of his mission crew, making the long journey back home, as well as that of several NASA employees on Earth. I really liked seeing all these different facets of the situation. When NASA finds out Mark’s alive, we see them struggle with the PR situation, if and when to tell the rest of his crew, how they are going to attempt a rescue, etc.

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I really enjoyed every aspect of the movie, from the writing to the acting to the directing. Since I didn’t know the story and how everything would play out, I was intrigued the whole time and on the edge of my seat towards the end. The only complaint I have is small, and that is I wish I could have gotten to know some of the other astronauts a little better, but I know that wouldn’t have been feasible in the movie’s time length, and it didn’t need to be any longer.

The Martian isn’t a new favorite, but it was definitely very enjoyable. If funny, realistic sci-fi appeals to you, I’d definitely recommend The Martian.

4-5stars-edit

Have you seen The Martian? What are your thoughts? Have you read the book?

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Mini Reviews: The Body Electric and All Fall Down

The Body Electric by Beth Revis

gr-thebodyelectric– The world building was really interesting. I especially loved all the technology featured. I found out after reading that this is actually the same universe as the Across the Universe trilogy, just what’s happening on Earth, so I thought that was neat.

– The characters were pretty bland, but I did like Ella better than Amy from Across the Universe. Both Ella and Jack have personalities, so they’re not completely cardboard, but nothing about them really stands out from the pages. After I finished reading, I saw where Revis said that Ella was actually based somewhat on Rick Deckard from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which I thought was an interesting concept. I definitely would have liked to have seen that played out more.

– The conspiracies got to be a little too much for me after a while. When you start being annoyed by how many weird plot twists there are, that’s not a good thing.

– Editing wise: This book repeated itself a lot. I felt like Revis wasn’t counting on us remembering things we read 50 pages before. Sometimes when I read long books that take a while I forget things from 200 pages ago, but I didn’t need to be reminded of certain events or certain relations with people over and over again in this 300-something page book. Also, I got to sick of every reference to bees. Everything goes back to bees. By the time I read All Fall Down (which, I had read The Deathly Hallows between these two books) there was just one reference to a bee I was like, No, not bees again! 

Overall, the story this one was pretty interesting, but I would have like to have seen more dynamic characters and a plot that maybe felt a little less dystopian/conspiracist and more just straight-up sci-fi.

Content Advisory: Moderate language (I don’t think there were any f-words), mild sexual content (there is kissing and a non-graphic memory of sex), and some violence. 

3stars2All Fall Down by Ally Carter

gr-allfalldownThis was my first Ally Carter book and I will definitely be coming back for more. I could tell that her tone was light, even when dealing with serious issues, which I think some people might not like, but it doesn’t bother me as long as I feel like she’s still dealing with the serious issues, which I feel she did. There were ZERO swear words in this book, which I really appreciated, and there was also ZERO romance (though I think there will be some in future books for this series).

Through most of the book, I was really finding no fault with it, though it wasn’t exactly blowing me away in a 5 star manner, but then the plot thickened and really picked up my interest, but then towards the end I was left confused by a couple of things. (Highlight for spoilers) I don’t understand what exactly happened that made Grace accidentally kill her mom. So she saw her mom’s death being staged (Why was she around? That was really poor planning, guys.), and so I guess she reacted emotionally (which is a tendency of hers) and sought to take care of the man who she felt killed her mother. But where did she get the gun? How did she end up shooting her mom? Is she THAT bad of a shot? Did her mom run out in front of the gun? I just don’t understand logistically how it all went down, and Ms. Chancellor only half explains it. 

Also, it really, really PO’s me to no end when adults in stories will lie, lie, lie to teens in order to “protect” them from the truth. I’m sorry, but just stop it. Just tell the truth. You made this girl believe she was crazy and screwed her up for 3 really essential years of her adolescence. Way to go, guys. 

And lastly, how did they expect Grace to trust Dominic enough to go off to another country with him if they weren’t going to play it straight with her? Again, Dumb Adult Syndrome really irritates me, and these adults seemed so competent and not like idiots until all this stuff came out at the end. 

Grace was a good character though. I liked how she was flawed but still sympathetic, even though she was not always likable. I think Carter did a really good job of finding that balance with her. I loved the secondary characters: Alexi, Noah, Megan, and Rosie, and I just love that she had people who really cared about her and supported her. I look forward to seeing more of them.

This book ends with the almost-revelation of a secret that will definitely be featured in the next book, and I look forward to reading more.

Content advisory: Some violence and traumatic memories, no language or sexual content. 

4stars2If you’ve read either of these books, what are your thoughts?

I Read Shadow Scale and I Was Disappointed

I adored Seraphina when I read it last year. I even reread it before Shadow Scale‘s release because I wanted to be prepped for being back in the world. I couldn’t wait to get back in the world. But as the title of this blog post clearly states, I was not entirely happy with the result. It wasn’t dull or safe, if only it was, instead I just flat out did not understand the point of a lot of what happened in the story; and the ending left me feeling so hollow, especially when things did not play out the way I wanted them to, with nothing better or at least hopeful to counterbalance these things.

I will say one more thing before I get into the spoilery part of this. As someone who hopes to be published one day, I don’t ever want to make it appear like I’m bad-mouthing an author. Because of this, I have considered lately not posting negative reviews, since I feel I’m getting closer to hopefully becoming an author myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed all my books so far this year until now. I disagree with choices Hartman made in this book, but ultimately it’s her story and creation and I respect that, even I don’t care for the result. I want to make that clear because I might get ranty, but it’s only because I love Seraphina’s character so much and I felt so invested, only to be let down. I wouldn’t post this review if it had not been a highly a highly anticipated sequel for me.

(And if you haven’t read it I wouldn’t scroll down at all due to GIFs at the bottom, though I know I will get less comments that way, but I just really want to warn you!)

*** SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT ***

gr-shadow-scaleThe pacing of this book was quite strange in my opinion, kind of like Mockingjay. It starts off in Godderd, and I feel like I read that part so long ago I don’t even remember much of what happened other than Abdo and Lars experimenting with mind-fire. Then Seraphina sets off on her journey to find the other half-dragons. At first it was kind of interesting; she has varied success with those she comes in contact with the others of her kind. I was along for the ride because I love Seraphina, and Abdo too, though it was sad once he had his accident and was so much less himself.

Anyhow, I was going along with the story, not loving the pace but tolerating it, but then everything between Porphyry and going back to Godderd just felt sort of odd. I don’t know how to explain it. I was just really, really ready to move on at that point. The Porphyry part sort of dragged for me with not much happening (though I thought the setting was interesting), and then all the flying and walking and hanging out in caves was just boring.

The big bright spot of Porphyry was finally getting Kiggs back in the story. He has a new beard and Seraphina loves it! Ah it’s so cute! They do their best to maintain appearances though, but seriously, there seems to be no backing down, nothing to indicate the future heartache.

Now, in case you’re thinking I’m dense because of the prologue, I will say it worried me. I did know that them not being together in the end was a possibility, but I had hoped if that was the case, it would have been handled much differently. Mostly I was hoping I misinterpreted what I thought I was reading between Seraphina’s words to the historian.

And then what’s worse about how everything went down is that Glisselda doesn’t even love Kiggs that way because she loves Serpahina. It would have been more manageable if she loved Kiggs, because at least one of them could love the other in their marriage. Instead it’s entirely political, which might be realistic, but this is a book and I want my happy ending, dangit. But my ships have been sunk before, Louisa May Alcott did it without making me hate Little Women. So what’s the difference?

Well, where is Seraphina’s happiness? Or Kiggs’? I love them both dearly and want them to be happy. But I don’t feel we good closure for Seraphina AT ALL. She says she’s OK but I don’t see any development to indicate this or feel it from her. Orma doesn’t know who she is, so that sucks. If she absolutely could not be with Kiggs in Hartman’s mind, could we at least be able to go through Serpahina’s thought process and end up OK in the end with her? Maybe Josquin could come back in her life and we can see a hint of a possible romance there? (By the way what happened to him after that accident? I was expecting follow-up but we never got it!) Not that it has to be about romance, but I just want the girl to be happy, and being back home with her music and peace without her uncle or Kiggs or even Abdo is not enough for me.

And now seems just a good as time as any to bring up Orma. There was so little Orma in this sequel it was ridiculous. I understand why in the context of this particular story, but quite frankly I don’t think we needed this story. I think this could have played out differently. I loved Orma in the first book, and I wanted more of him and his snark.

So Pandowdy takes Jannoula to live in the cave with him for the next millennium? Why? What’s the point? Does he actually know he will be able to withstand her? It just feels like that leaves the door open for her to come back. I guess Hartman was trying to be humane, but honestly someone should have killed that woman. I’m sorry she had a crappy life but she was evil.

And The actual war is so glossed over it doesn’t even feel like it happened. I thought the book was going to be much more focused on the actual war, not the politics of its impendent.

There is so much detail about what Seraphina is able to do at the end with the fire and is she a Saint and all this stuff and I don’t like it really tied in well with the story overall and I especially don’t think it really did anything for the ending. I mean, the whole thing about half-dragon Saints and their abilities was really interesting. but everything felt so empty at the end anyway it was just like eh, what was the point?

But most of all, I’m furious about the Kiggs thing. There are few romances I have shipped harder than Seraphina and Kiggs, and she kept building it up in this book only to cut it off abruptly with lame reasoning that is reduced to a few sentences. If you’re going to burn my ship down, at least let there be gut-wrenching conversations, thorough thinking-it-out sessions, and one last goodbye kiss with all the feels. (I mean seriously, that scene early in the book when Kiggs is holding the book between him and Seraphina and he kisses it because he cannot kiss her I about lost it! It was the sweetest thing ever and then what?! UGH.) otp-feelsAt least sink my ship in a blaze of glory.

go-down-with-shipI hate for anyone else to feel the way I do, but I would also love to know if I’m not alone! Was anyone else disappointed by the ending of Seraphina’s story in Shadow Scale?

Mini Book & Movie Reviews: Fairest, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Theory of Everything

The Books

minireviews-fairesthpFairest

This backstory on Queen Levena was certainly illuminating. You can understand why, with the family that she has, that she would turn out so twisted, but that certainly does not excuse what she does. What she did to Evret Hayle made me extremely uncomfortable, and I was so sad for him and Winter and everyone else who was really involved. It was also really interesting though to see how everything tied in, and I think that helped me enjoy this book a little more. I think this is definitely an interesting addition to The Lunar Chronicles and have to hand it to Marissa Meyer for not pulling any punches with Levena’s character.

Rating: 4 stars

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

So I rated this one 4.5 stars on Goodreads, and I stand by that rating, but this has been one of the more forgettable books for me so far I think. I mean, what happens? Going to class, SNOGGING (I hate that word so much, especially since it sounds make up, but I guess it’s British?), Harry trying to spy on Malfoy, more snogging, Dumbledore sessions, and then SADNESS. Yeah, I had not been spoiled on that so I did not see that coming.

Ron was ridiculous in this book. I mean, I know he’s a teenage boy but wow, I wanted to rattle him. And then Ginny. I thought I was supposed to like Ginny? Actually, I did like her in the end and what she says to Harry, but I don’t like the Ginny who makes out in public and yells at Ron about it and just acts annoying. I was thinking what the heck does Harry see in her? And not only that, but I don’t feel Harry having feeling for her, I’m just told that he does. I’m not buying into the Harry-Ginny or the Ron-Hermione romances the way I hoped I would.

But I adore Luna. And I did like this book, overall, it just mostly feels like another stepping stone to the grand finale.

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Movies

minireviews-hptheoryHarry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

This is definitely my second favorite movie of the series so far now, as I felt it did a much better job of sticking with the highlights and not making too many unnecessary changes, except for a couple of glaring exceptions. First, what the heck was with them burning the Weasleys’ house?! And then that’s it, no follow up?! Maybe it will make sense to me later, but right now I’m just perplexed. That’s a big thing to just add in there! And then of course there’s Ginny…

I’ve seen where a lot of people complain about movie Ginny, which at first I wasn’t understanding, because, as I mentioned before, I found her kind of annoying in the book, and she seemed sweet in the movies, including this one… UNTIL IT GOT WEIRD. What was with her in the Room of Requirement when she’s like, “Close your eyes,” and kissing Harry and “I can stay if you’d like me to.” I mean, really?! That was the weirdest crap ever.

But I loved that scene with Harry and Hermione when she asks Harry how it feels to see Ginny with Dean, and he responds to her crying, “Like this.” So sweet. And I liked Luna saving Harry in the beginning, not that I had a problem with Tonks doing it in the book, but this way we got less Snape and more Luna. (I HATE THAT MAN.)

Rating: 4 stars

The Theory of Everything

This movie was not what I expected. No doubt that Eddie Redmayne did a phenomenal job playing Stephen Hawking, but I felt very hollow at the end. I didn’t feel I really got the “point” of the movie, and all the triumph in Hawking outliving his life expectancy is overshadowed by the brokenness of his family. If you’re expecting this movie to simply be a feel-good love story of Stephen and Jane and how they deal with Stephen’s conditions, then you’ll find yourself as disappointed as I was. This story ends with the deterioration of their marriage, which made me just feel sad for them, even more so than the diagnosis had.

Rating: 3.5 stars

What are your thoughts on any of these books and/or movies?

Review: Magnolia

As unlikely as it seems, amidst Harry Potter and my other fantasy reads, I actually picked up a YA contemporary, Magnolia by Kristi Cook.

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What I liked:

– This book it set in the South! I was born in Mississippi and while I did not live there long, I have family who lives there and I have gone back many times throughout my life. I understood several of their local references, and I also liked the nods to other places in the South that I could relate to, especially when they talked about Houston and things that they did there.

– There were Star Trek references! If you know me, you know that’s a complete win right there. Of course, knowing about said references ahead of time helped me move this contemporary up my TBR list. I was amused that the cats’ names were Spock, Kirk, and Sulu. Though the latter really should have been McCoy, but oh well.

– I mostly liked the story and romance and got caught up in it, but there were issues with it that I will delve into further…

What I didn’t like:

– How the romance ended up. I was all aboard for these two getting together, but I didn’t like how they hid everything from their parents, and were making out and probably more in each others’ rooms for who knows how long without their parents even knowing. I understood why they wanted to keep it a secret at first, like those first few days or a week, but six weeks later and it’s still a secret! When are you going to announce it? When you’re engaged, you’ve eloped, when you kids? When does it end?! Just fess up and let them have their happy dance, and let them be involved in your relationship. I know that sounds weird and old-fashioned of me, and I’m not talking some Duggar-style courtship here, but I think it’s good, at that age, to have some parental involvement, especially under their circumstances where they are already all friends. Also…

– Are their parents that dumb?! Six weeks of hiding their relationship and none of these four intelligent, grown-up people haven’t figured it out? I don’t buy that for two seconds.

– The pacing of their story. So, Jemma has hated Ryder since 8th grade. Senior year, she finally admits when it started, and it felt strangely unnatural, like this would have come up in conversation before. I mean, what have they been talking about for five years when her hatred of him comes up? When she talks about what happened at the dance, it honestly feels to me like this was something that happened 6 months ago, a year tops, not like it happened five years ago.

– In my opinion, there’s too much swearing, and let me explain myself on this because I know I’m more sensitive to this than most. Ryder is portrayed as being such a good guy (he doesn’t drink… but apparently he drops the f-bomb?) and he and Jemma are both raised by well-behaved Southern ladies. I’m not saying they wouldn’t swear at all… I live among people from these kinds of families and I know they do, but I think about a quarter of the swearing would have felt more appropriate. Some of it felt forced, like it was just thrown-in there just to prove these are red-blooded American teenagers.

– There are not enough Star Trek reference or of Jemma’s dad (who is where the Star Trek references really come from anyway)! OK, I admit, this probably would not be a complaint if Debby’s review of this book talking about this aspect of the novel had not sold me on bumping it up my TBR. But I wanted more! And I loved what little we got with Jemma’s dad; he seemed really cool.

– Seriously, two kids from Mississippi are going to go to schools in New York that they haven’t even visited? I appreciated all the sentiment about following your dreams and all that jazz, but this felt like too much of a stretch to me. We never even got resolution that Jemma’s parents could afford NYU. I think these kids are in for a rude wake-up call. (Man I sound so old right now, ha ha.) Jemma’s mom has not even researched NYU enough to know that the campus is sprawled out rather than traditionally more enclosed. Really?

– The Romeo & Juliet parallels felt pointless and really didn’t work for me. There’s the basic premise about the families, except it’s opposite from Romeo & Juliet because the families love each other and want to be united in marriage. But we have Ryder, who has an R name, and Jemma, who has a J name. There’s a character named Rosie (think Rosaline), and I think there might be someone with the last name Montague? There were probably more I missed, but anyway, it didn’t do anything for me.

Final Thoughts

This was pretty much a 4 star book until the ending kind of made it feel a little weak overall to me. Final rating: 3.5 stars.

3.5stars

mccoy-halfsmileWhat are your thoughts on Magnolia? Also, be on the lookout because I plan to do a Bookish Wedding Inspiration post based on Magnolia in the next couple of weeks! 

Double Book & Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Book

gr-orderofthephoenixSo I had heard a couple of people mention this isn’t exactly their favorite of the series, one stating there was something that actually made her upset enough that she didn’t read the last two books until years later. On the flip side, I knew someone else say this book was their favorite of the series. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly, but I was a little nervous.

Most of the book felt pretty typical of Harry Potter, but not in quite the same blase way The Chamber of Secrets did. Harry has a terrible time at the Dursley’s and has no clue what’s going on in the wizard world. Harry nearly gets in trouble but Dumbledore saves him. We meet a new professor, Umbridge, who is awful and I hate her. We meet Luna Lovegood (finally, I’ve been oddly fascinated about meeting her), and we get some more of Cho and Ginny and Neville and Fred and George and others.

Then there’s the point before the climax where things aren’t looking good, our characters take a journey, are thrust into the climax which is pretty dramatic, but for some reason I didn’t quite feel it as much as I would have expected. I think I can blame this at least partially on the time I was reading these scenes, particularly that I didn’t get to read this part all at once, so that probably hurt more than any of the actual writing. And then, that thing that made me nervous even though I didn’t know what it would be until it happened HAPPENED and that kind of shocked me and then once it sunk in for me the way it did for Harry I was just so incredibly sad. Especially when Harry opens that package at the end and you realize so much could have been avoided and it sort of bothers me he doesn’t even acknowledge that himself, but then again maybe it’s for the better he doesn’t think of it? But it bothered me.

And then what is up with Dumbledore? I can’t decide if it’s a character flaw or an author flaw that he didn’t tell Harry ALL THE THINGS at the end of book 3. That really would have been the time. How much of this did Rowling have planned out in advance? I have no idea. I almost felt like Dumbledore was like, “Please excuse my dumbness, but two books ago I honestly had no idea the story was going to turn out this way.” But I don’t know, maybe she really wanted Dumbledore to mess up that badly. I mean, people do that. It just stinks, especially when you think they’re so wise.

Anyhow, I did enjoy it overall, but so far it is my second least favorite. Based on what I hear, that’s probably where it will stay. I’ve been trying to decide between a 4 and a 4.5… and I think I’ve finally settled on 4 stars.

4stars2

The Movie

orderofthephoenixI didn’t enjoy this movie as much as The Goblet of Fire, but I did enjoy it more than the first three. The changes are still there, but I think I’ve become a bit more forgiving of them. And again, the direction in this one was mostly pretty good, though I didn’t love the beginning scene with Dudley and Harry. This one was also shorter than the others, so it almost felt too short, even though I don’t think it actually was.

The only specific thing I really wanted to mention about the movie was that I think the actress who played Luna did a great job. And I love that added scene of her and Harry in the forest.

4stars2What are your thoughts on Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix (book and/or movie)?

Book Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar is kind of a hard book, to both read and review. Going in, I had heard a lot of praise for it. I had gathered that it was about a girl struggling from depression. And when I started reading it, I found the narrator witty. She was witty. But then I kept reading and was floored by how unprepared I was for the rest of it.

gr-the-bell-jar2If you think this book is simply about a girl who becomes depressed, then you’re going to be in for a major surprise like I was. This book is a raw account of a girl just completely spiraling out of control, and I dare not say depression is the issue, or at least not the only issue. This girl is suffering from an extreme nervous breakdown and even exhibits some symptoms of schizophrenia, and her treatment is not simply a few sessions with a counselor and a few pills, but inhabiting mental institutions (in the 1950’s I might add, when they didn’t have a clue about mental illness) where they would sometimes use electroshock therapy.

While I was reading, I remember thinking, the author has to have had some of these experiences. And sure enough, I ended up reading that this fictional book is practically an autobiographical account with a few changed details. It shows. I don’t know if you can fake being in the mind of someone who’s up is down, and down is sideways, and sideways in up, and is too overwhelmed with life and just wants to end it. Maybe someone could to an extent, but it just felt too real for it to be fiction, so I felt either this woman was a genius writer or she had lived it.

I’m glad I read this book. I felt it was an important read for me. But I am very glad I did not try to read this book 10 or so years ago. Being in my 20’s was a good time to read this, and it’s the time I would recommend others to read this. There is a lot in the story that many of us can relate to, about the uncertainty of the future when we thought we had it all figured out, and then you see how not everyone handles it the same way. I don’t mean that to say that our protagonist Esther, or the author, Sylvia, are weak, and those who don’t have these mental breakdowns are strong, because that’s not it. There are biological reasons why some people face mental illnesses and others don’t, and it’s no one’s fault. But we all process information differently, live out our lives differently, and this is a good reminder of that. We all feel a little lost at times, even if we don’t all experience it in the same ways.

I didn’t love how open the end of the book was, but I’m sure other people would like it fine. I can understand feelings on it either  way, but it did not really resonate with me. I wanted to know Esther would be OK, but since Sylvia Plath wasn’t so sure if she would be OK I can see why she would end it that way. There were parts of this book I didn’t care for, and I don’t just mean uncomfortable moments, but I do think it was a story worth telling.

4stars2While reading this book I also could not help but compare it to a favorite book of mine, Finding Alice, about a girl struggling with schizophrenia. It is Christian fiction, but I don’t think it’s too overbearing in its message. In fact, Alice is from a home where religion sort of sucked the life out of her, and it’s only through her illness and the people she meets that she learns that it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, that way. I’d definitely recommend it if it sounds interesting to you. I do find it’s ending a lot more satisfying, though I understand it ends a little rosier than The Bell Jar, which some people may dispute isn’t as realistic. It just resonates with me personally a little more.

If you’ve read The Bell Jar, what are your thoughts? 

Double Movie Review: The Giver & The Maze Runner

The Giver

the-giver-movieMaybe I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, especially since I had heard mostly positive things, but I was surprised by how much the movie adaptation of The Giver worked for me. I knew going in that there were quite a few changes, that was obvious just from the previews, but I felt all the changes worked and made sense. I liked how Jonas seemed more connected to his friends. I liked the added dramatic tension. I liked that the ending provided a little more closure.

At the end, I was kind of taken aback because for a moment I felt I might have actually liked the movie better than the book. Now, before you stone me, let me explain how I actually sorted it out in my head…

The book made a bigger impact on me when I read it than this movie did when I watched it, but in hindsight the book’s impact on me has lessened over time. It is a very good book but it has not stood the test of time for me as an absolute favorite. The movie provided a sort of instant gratification to experience what I liked about the book, but included the added bonus of seeing the memories, which is something I liked a lot because I’m pretty visual, and then was changed up in the right ways to keep it fresh and new to me. In reality, as a movie The Giver is not as good as The Giver is as a book, but I could see myself rewatching this movie more than rereading the book.

In terms of casting, I felt most of it was spot-on. Fiona felt off a couple of times (and then when I found out how much younger the actress who played her was than the guy playing Jonas that felt a little… ewww…), but I did usually like her. And I liked everyone else; even Taylor Swift was decent. There were a couple of small things that bothered me, but I felt overall it was a very good adaptation, even with its changes, and Lois Lowry agrees and that’s all that really matters.

4stars2The Maze Runner

maze-runner-movieI read The Maze Runner trilogy (and prequel) before I started blogging, and I never got around to reviewing it the way I meant to, but I know I’ve mentioned fleeting thoughts on the blog before, and I’ve definitely left comments on other people’s blogs along the lines of: “The ending is so disappointing and not worth it.” I liked the first book the best out of the series though, and thought I might want to see the movie when I saw a lot of positive comments about it, some people even saying it was better than the book.

Is this a better movie than it was a book? I would say no. Is this a good enough adaptation where I feel you aren’t missing a lot if you didn’t read the book? To that I would say yes. There are some missing details of course, but seriously, not a ton happened in the book, so it was well-suited to be adapted to a movie. I especially appreciated that Theresa woke up earlier in the movie and got more screen time (even if she wasn’t quite as interesting in the movie as she was in the book).

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting though. I think I hoped to get some sort of satisfaction at the end of the movie that I couldn’t get from the entire freaking book series, and I don’t know why. No, the ending isn’t satisfying because it ends like the book did and leaves you all set up for the second book, where you’ll only get more questions than answers, and then will then leave you hanging for book three where again, the answers are not satisfying and the ending is just completely hollow.

(Not that I’m bitter or anything.)

I can’t find anything in this movie to complain about, except it being based off the book. I thought the Glade looked perfect, the Grievers were well-done, and the actors were pretty spot-on. But I don’t think I’ll be able to continue watching the movies because I’ll just frustrated all over again.

3stars2What are you thoughts on the movie adaptations of The Giver and The Maze Runner?

Review: The Young Elites

It’s been a long time since I have felt so engrossed in a story as I did with my recent reading of The Young Elites. I went into the story expecting a slow beginning, a very dark tone, and unlikable main character, but not all those things turned out to be entirely true.

xmenfirstclass-readyIs it dark? Yes, very. But not unnecessarily so. I actually found the MC sympathetic, despite her dark nature and her flaws. And in terms of story, I was engaged right at the beginning, and I did not feel the story was slow or lagging at any point.

The best way I know to describe The Young Elites would be to imagine X-Men set in a fantasy world. There is a group of malfettos, as they are called, those who survived the blood fever, who have distinctive physical marks as well as otherworldly powers.

The story focuses on Adelina, who accidentally discovers her power in the heat of a moment, with deadly consequences. Just as she is about to be executed, she is rescued and brought into The Daggers (one of the subgroups of The Young Elites, another name for the malfettos), a group fighting for their right to life.

gr-youngelitesWhile with the Daggers, Adelina befriends Ralfaelle, a consort at Court Fortuna, where the Daggers hide. He starts training her on how to hone her powers, but later she ends up training more with Enzo, the leader of the group. I feel like I can’t say much more about either of these characters without spoiling what happens, but I did like both characters for the most part, though there were some things with both, particularly Ralfaelle, that kept me from really loving them. I also want to learn more about another of the Daggers, Gemma, who I found interesting. The epilogue introduces us to a new character who I imagine will be the MC of the sequel, The Rose Society, and I am definitely interested in seeing her role in this story and in this world.

After I finished the book I could not think of a real, single complaint that I had for this book. I felt that when I wrote my review, I would enthusiastically proclaim, “What did I love about this book?!” And then respond with…

xavier-everythingBut as I have allowed time to pass, the book hasn’t stayed strong in my mind. When I did think of it, I worried about how I would review it or what I would say about it in my book club meeting. “I loved this book… except now I barely care about it anymore!” I wanted it to be a true and shining 5 star-star rating to end my 2014 reading year with a bang, but the amount of indifference I developed in a short period of time, and with the unfortunate (for The Young Elites, not for me personally) happenstance of me currently reading Mistborn, which is similar in a couple of regards but much better, I feel less inclined to give it that initial, excitable rating I had in mind when I clicked “completed” on Goodreads.

But if that’s my biggest complaint (which it is), that’s still pretty good. So it still deserves a 4.5 in my book. I am still interested in this world, looking forward to the sequel, and hoping that Adelina will find some hope.

4-5stars-editContent Advisory: Lots of violence. Only one swear word. Mentions of prostitution and other off-screen sex but no scenes/descriptions. 

See also: Nikki’s review of The Young Elites

If you’ve read The Young Elites, what are your thoughts?

Review: The Infinite Sea

After reading and enjoying The 5th Wave early in the summer, I was anticipating The Infinite Sea.

sfm_banner_02b (1)The start was slow for me. And confusing, because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on POV-wise, but I finally figured it out (I also remembered after a while that The 5th Wave had been in similar at first in these regards). What also often confused me were the action sequences. I would get lost with who was where and what exactly what was happening, but this happens to me frequently when I read action in books, so I don’t necessarily blame Rick Yancey so much for this.

Again, my favorite parts of The Infinite Sea, like The 5th Wave, were the psychological parts. There’s a really big plot reveal late in the novel that is a big game-changer for everything that happened and it really made my mind race with all the psychologicalness of it (yeah, I totally just made that word up). I think this is also the reason why my favorite part of the book ended up being the large section of the book that was from Ringer’s POV. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, but she is mentally processing a lot and trying to figure out the mind games, and after a while I really got into it.gr-the-infinite-seaThe 5th Wave is a pretty dark and gritty book, but I think this one is even darker and grittier. I definitely would not recommend it for young teenagers. It’s not solely for reasons of language or violence (though both are present), but because it just feels so hopeless and hard.

From a science fiction perspective… while this book continues the plot about aliens, it is so much more about humanity. But really, I think that’s really common in science fiction and why so many of us love and enjoy the genre. This book will definitely make you ask questions about ourselves.

Between the beginning and the fact that it was SO dark, I ended up not enjoying this one as much as the first installment, but I am definitely still really curious about how it will conclude and excited about the movies.

4stars2Content Advisory: Language (including strong language), violence, and off-screen sex. 

What are your thoughts on The Infinite Sea?