Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughts On: Book-to-Movie Transitions

With all of the talk about books becoming movies, or books that have recently become movies, I think this is a topic we've all been thinking about a little. There have been pretty poor adaptations in the past (looking at you Eragon and Percy Jackson) some that were alright, but not enough to make my crazy about them (Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and some that I really enjoyed (The Hunger Games). And of course a couple that I adore (Lord of the Rings). As well as a whole bunch that hit different parts of the scale.

With all of the poor adaptations, I think it is pretty reasonable to be apprehensive. I mean, we've all weathered some really poor adaptations. I can be pretty forgiving of some flaws in book-to-movies, but others I just can't stand.

I'm not really a die-hard true-to-the-book sort of person. Changes are going to be made. They have to be made, because books and movies are fundamentally different ways of telling a story. Sometimes something that I love in a book wouldn't translate well on the screen. I understand if actors don't look exactly as they are described in the book. You can only get so close to how someone looks in a reader's head, and I completely understand that. However, I feel like there is a need for actors to fit with there characters. If the characters are twelve, do not make the sixteen (Percy Jackson), since it can have quite an effect on their development arc. I'm of two minds about appearance things. If an aspect of someone's appearance is mentioned frequently, or acts as a distinguishing characteristic, it should stay the same. That said, I think it is more important to stay true to who a character is fundamentally. I think character is also one of the most important aspects in whether or not the film is a good adaptation or not.

I am also of the opinion that setting is something that you should try to stay pretty true to, since characters interact with it on a regular basis, and it is something that makes a movie a visual masterpiece if done right. Especially in the fantasy genre. There are some seriously beautiful fantasy sets out there. Setting and props create an atmosphere, and they can convey how much work was actually put into the film. Unlike with character, which is hugely actor-dependent, props really are a team effort and are a really big contributor to the atmosphere and overall realness of the scene. The amount of effort that can go into designing a set is incredible, really, and like I said before, results in some really beautiful sets.

Also, a shout out to all YA fantasy book-to-movie adapters. Don't decide what the audience wants. You're alienating a lot of people by deciding everything has to be primarily romance and no backstory. If I hadn't read the book for most of the adaptations I've seen recently, I would be really confused as to what is going on, since you haven't given any thought to the world-building, which is kind of important in fantasy, sci-fi, and urban fantasy especially. Some of us are there to watch our main characters save the world, not angst over their pitiful romantic lives for a full two hours. (And yes, I understand that, depending on the book, there may be a great deal of brooding involved, however, this is one of those things that works better in a book where we actually see the thoughts of the character. Watching someone stare moodily at a wall for five minutes doesn't usually mean that much to an audience.) If there is romance in it, keep it, but don't throw away all of the other aspects just so our love interests can stare into each others eyes when they really should be doing something that moves the plot along. You only have two hours. Use them well.

I think that is it for me. I'll just conclude that I am all for adaptations. I love seeing books realised in a visual medium. I just like to see it done well.

Let me know your thoughts on books becoming movies. What is your favourite/ least favourite film based on a book?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: The Selection

The Selection (The Selection, #1)Title: The Selection
Author: Keira Cass
Series: The Selection
Volume: 1
Genre: Romance, Drama, Dystopia

Why I Read It: I actually tried to pick it up soon after it came out, but the first couple of chapters are very weak. I picked it up again because the last book's cover has been released, and it reminded me that I haven't read them. I finished it this time.

A Quick Introduction: 35 girls will be chosen to go to the palace and compete for the prince's hand. For most this is a dream come true, the only way to escape the rigid caste system in place. America Singer doesn't want to be chosen- she doesn't want to have to leave her secret love. But against all odds, her name is chosen. And the more time she spends at the palace, and with the prince, the more she begins to question the future that she's always imagined for herself.

What I Thought: In a lot of ways, this book was exactly what I perceived it to be the first time I picked up the book- melodramatic and shallow. America can be quite an annoying character at times, mostly in that she is not believable character- she seems to cater to a lot of the tropes that the industry thinks readers like. It is the same with a lot of the other characters in the story. I also feel like a lot of the plot points weren't really explained in depth (like the rebel attacks). They weren't given a very good base, so the world isn't as engaging. I feel that there was potential at some points of the story, but I wish that those points had appeared more often. This books was pretty formulaic overall, catering to the tastes of the YA atmosphere recently.

I wouldn't say that I hated the book, but I don't really have much in the way of complex feelings about it one way or the other. It was just another YA book, without too much to stand out in my memory. I also have The Elite, which is the sequel, out of the library, and we will have to see if I end up finishing it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October DNF

Just two this month... I haven't gotten much reading done. Midterms season and all.
The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1)
 I didn't really get into this one. I suppose the world wasn't really something that pulled me in- I think in part because of the way that parts of the world were mentioned and then described didn't really show me the world. It was as though the world was being invented only if an aspect was completely necessary. I think a map would also have been nice. The world didn't really interest me, and I wasn't really very attached to the characters. With midterms on the horizon, just didn't have the inclination to finish this before I had to return the book to the library. 
Out of the Easy
This was one that I picked up more because I wasn't sure what I was going to read next, and I was hoping that I would enjoy it. However, I ended up not being very interested in the plot line of the story, and didn't really have any desire to continue reading. I just didn't really care to know how the story ended.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Horde Contest

Horde (Razorland, #3)
Just a quick update on Horde (click the cover for more information). There's a contest for a copy of the trilogy going on over at as part of Ann Aguirre's blog tour. Be sure to check it out, as well as the rest of the blog tour as it is posted. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Read: Horde by Ann Aguirre

Horde (Razorland, #3)

The final book in Ann Aguirre's Razorland trilogy is coming out two days before Halloween. This is a dystopian trilogy. The Freaks are not zombies, but they do eat humans- and they're getting smarter. This is one release that I'm really looking forward to- I picked up Enclave a while ago, and read Oupost when it came out. I really enjoyed both, and I'm looking forward to knowing how this trilogy ends. If you haven't read these, you still have some time to catch up before Horde is released (October 29, 2013).

Anyone else looking forward to this one? Or do you have another Halloween read in mind?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker & Holmes, #1)Title: The Clockwork Scarab
Author: Colleen Gleason
Series: Stoker and Holmes
Volume: 1
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Steampunk

Why I Read It: I haven't read a lot of mystery novels lately (as in, in several years). The plot sounded somewhat intriguing, so I gave it a go.

A Quick Introduction: Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker hail from great legacies. Mina is the niece of Sherlock Holmes, and Evaline is the younger sister of Bram Stoker. Mina has, like her family, a gift for observation and deductive logic, and Evaline is a vampire hunter. The two are enlisted to help solve a string of murders of high-society girls, all of whose bodies are accompanied by a clockwork scarab.

What I Thought: As I mentioned, this story was an interesting and ambitious concept from the book jacket, and it didn't mention everything. I think that a little too much was undertaken in this novel- there's vampire hunters and detectives and time travel and magic (possibly). I think it was felt like there were a few too many concepts- maybe if the time travel and magic parts were taken out. If the story had been more mystery-focused, rather than jumping from idea to idea to try to pull them all back within reach, I think I might have been more engaged.

It was still an enjoyable read, though. I preferred reading Mina's point of view to Evaline's (she annoyed me a little bit at times). As a team, they struggle in this book- there's a lot of tension between the girls, and I hope that their relationship will improve as time goes on (it was improving toward the end, but I hope they'll work together better in future...).  I do feel with the sort of "Sherlock Scan" that is done by Mina (observation and inductive reasoning from the evidence), could have been spotlighted a little more. (This is more a matter of personal preference, however, it almost feels like there were times when she ought to have caught something and didn't if that makes sense.) I'm curious about Evaline's legacy as a vampire hunter- will we get to see more of that part of her history and her family culture (does that even make sense?). We have a lot of characters that we have yet to get a background (or even a name in Pix's case) on. I'm hoping to see more of Mina's logic and deduction in future, that was one thing that I enjoyed, and as I mentioned would have liked more of.

 I wasn't really expecting that much steampunk in the novel either. The "Clockwork Scarab" should have tipped me off, but I was kind of expecting a slightly more Victorian London feel from it (maybe with some subtle steampunk nods), rather than something that seemed more fantasy-like. As I said before, it feels like there were an awful lot of ideas in the air during this story, and I feel as though it might have been more enjoyable had there been fewer themes being juggled. The multitude of ideas meant that the story never really focused in, and I think it suffered a bit for it.

In spite of the amount of chaos (I know I went on about that,but it really got to me at times), I am curious to see what adventures our heroines find themselves on next, and I probably will still give the next book a try when it comes out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: Unbreakable

Unbreakable (Legion, #1)Title: Unbreakable
Author: Kami Garcia
Series: The Legion
Volume: 1
Genre: Supernatural, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Why I Read It: It is a part of my continuing quest to find books in the paranormal/supernatural genre that I enjoy (I remain convinced that they are out there, and I just have to find them). I figure maybe people who hunt the supernatural creatures might appeal to me more that people angsting about being in love with them/ being them.

A Quick Introduction: Four weeks after Kennedy comes home to find her mother's dead body, she herself is almost killed, only to be saved in the nick of time by a pair of ghost hunters. They tell her that her mother didn't die of a heart attack- a vengeful spirit killed her, and there's more where it came from. Her mother was part of a secret society, and now all of the members are dead, killed in one night by murderous spirits sent by a demon. Now it is up to the teenagers left behind to protect the world, and maybe find a way to destroy the demon for good.

What I Thought: I read Beautiful Creatures a while a go (a really long while ago) but never carried on with the series, so I have only limited experience with Kami Garcia's writing. Overall, this was one of the better paranormal books that I have read (I'm picky). The plot was a little predictable, and sometimes it seemed a little bit convenient (finding the blueprint, for example) if felt almost as if it was written to a formula/design. Aside from that, the story was enjoyable enough. The characters didn't bother me, but I didn't feel all that much attachment to them either. Kennedy was rightfully confused and lost when exposed to the supernatural world, and she wasn't randomly super-good at everything, though she does have some skills (her eidetic memory, and her courage). I feel like we haven't quite gotten to know some of the other characters, and it might be nice to see more of how they see the world, and the constant fight that they've inherited. They all have a skill that they were raised with, but she hasn't been- she didn't have any idea about the supernatural world before it tried to kill her. I feel like there was a little insta-love, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Her father left her mother when she was a child, and she can remember all of it, thanks to her eidetic (photographic) memory. She remembers the letter that he left her mother about how he wanted Kennedy to have a "normal childhood", though we never get a sense of how her childhood was abnormal, though there are hints that her mother may have kept something from her. Was her mother a part of the Legion? Or was she something else?

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, though it I wasn't crazy about this one. There are aspects that I liked, and some that I think could have been better. I probably will read the second one, because I am curious kind of about what will happen next.