Movie Adaptations…Some Thoughts

I have been sitting on the movie version of Ender’s Game for over a month. I want to watch it, but there’s that fear. It’s a fear I never knew when I was less bookly. I don’t even think that’s a word, but for lack of a better, we’ll go with it. Let me get some things off my chest.

The problem with loving books is the fact (and it’s an actual fact in my world) that the theatrical versions of books just don’t cut it for those of us who loved the book. Some are more disappointing than others and some are even enjoyable if you can set aside the fact that “in the book it happened like this”. Then there are the others that make you want to scream and if you really loved the book you may start crying at the blatant bastardization of something you loved so dearly.

I think we can mostly agree that the Harry Potter movies fall under the enjoyable if not 100% to the book to watch even if some of that most exciting parts of the  wonderful wizarding world is left out or altered. I also enjoyed the Lord Of The Rings trilogy on the big screen, though don’t even get me started on what they should have done differently to make it even more exciting. The Hobbit…just…no. Even Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch couldn’t save that one. Sherlock and Watson for god’s sake!

Then there are the movies that ruin it all for every book that announces it’s coming to theaters. I have a couple, but the one that really sticks out in my mind is a Nicholas Sparks adaptation that had Julianne Hough in the lead actress role. I think it was called Safe Haven. I really liked the book. It shouldn’t be too hard to fuck up a Nicholas Sparks adaptation as they have a pretty cut and dry formula…

  • Pretty girl or attractive guy wronged, more than likely by death or domestic.
  • Pretty girl or attractive guy meet.
  • Girl in skimpy bikini, guy shirtless (insert ripped abs)
  • Epic misunderstanding.
  • Happily ever after sleeping together.

Still, even with so little chance to go wrong this movie left me and a fellow reader physically upset…for hours. It wasn’t even a book we were horribly invested in!! (You know who you are, Heather.)

The reason was that the director or Satan or whoever holds the power in the movie industry reached out and ripped the very heart out of this story. What made it come alive for me was no longer there.

I guess the reason that I’ve been so stuck on this topic or at least the reason it’s been nagging at me is I have been reading some books that have recently gone to the big screen and I’m torn. I have watched the trailers out of that undying hope that some director out there will capture on screen what I saw in my head as I flipped the pages (Ron Howard has come closest in his Dan Brown adaptations for me, but that seems more like one of Bob Ross’s happy accidents than Ron Howard reading my mind). I have come away from YouTube and these trailers a bit horrified and deflated. Hope lost.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on the subject, my expectations are unbelievably high. Maybe the best way for me to enjoy the movie versions is to skip them altogether. Maybe I will eventually break down and watch them anyway just to bitch.

So here’s looking at you (maybe) The Girl On The Train, Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children and Ender’s Game.

What are your thoughts on the whole book to movie topic? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Book Review: The Girl On The Train By Paula Hawkins

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When I first heard about this book, it was on a list of things worth reading by my beloved Stephen King. A friend of mine read it based on the same list and she wasn’t impressed, but for some reason (the original cover art to be honest) made me want to read it anyway. I didn’t know much about the plot or any of that, but I saw it was going to be hitting movie theaters soon. That pushed me into grabbing it as soon as possible. Do not misunderstand…I didn’t want to read it first so I could then see the movie. I am an avid believer that in 95% of cases, you should run as far as you can from movie adaptations.

I didn’t know much about the plot or any of that, but I saw it was going to be hitting movie theaters soon. That pushed me into grabbing it as soon as possible. Do not misunderstand…I didn’t want to read it first so I could then see the movie. I am an avid supporter that in 95% of cases, you should run as far as you can from movie adaptations.

Anywho, I got the book (with the damned movie cover) and read the whole thing in a day. I freaking loved it.

Going to start by saying that this book has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I disagree. I hated that book with the fires I save primarily for the Twilight series…that particular hatred I don’t often like to share with any other books.

The Girl On The Train starts with the girl on the train, literally, called Rachel. She has some issues. She’s a drunk, she’s heartbroken, she lives somewhat in a fantasy world of her own. This is a mystery and I absolutely do not want to give anything away, so I’ll be vague here. Rachel needs a purpose in her life and in trying to find that purpose, or create it, she puts herself in the middle of not only her fantasy world, but into police matters and worse as the story unfolds.

There was so much of Rachel that resonated with me. If you’ve read this, you’re probably thinking that I’m an alcoholic neurotic, but that’s not what I mean. Again I will be vague, but I have lived most of her heartbreak…ok, all of it and though I’m not an alcoholic (I developed acute anxiety problems and became further obsessive compulsive), I can see how someone would turn toward substance abuse to escape. Faults and all, I really loved Rachel.

The story is told from the point of view of three women in a kind of mental diary sort of fashion where they account for the goings on of their morning and evening of given days. These snippets into these women’s lives and thoughts are what carries the reader along and I think it worked beautifully. You get to see the “character flaws” if you will of these women that you wouldn’t see if the author had chosen another approach. The self-criticism made these characters relatable to me even though I don’t share all their feelings and experiences.

Some reviews I have seen have said this back and forth between characters is what made the development weak and the characters feel distant. Only the reader can decide and no two readers are alike in their appreciation to reading, so all due respect to all differing opinions. I, however, thought it worked and the style kept me turning the pages till one o’clock in the morning.

Have you read this book yet? Thoughts? Did the author’s style work for you and why or why not? I am always fascinated to hear others opinions on books I have enjoyed or didn’t enjoy so much.

Book Review: The Book Of Speculation By Erika Swyler

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I had never heard of this book until my sister grabbed it off the shelf at Target. She finished the book in less than a month, which with her busy schedule means she really liked it.

I was glad when she finished it and passed it along saying she wanted me to give it a go so we could discuss it. I dragged my feet for a day or two rereading some old favorites as I usually do when transitioning on to the next book on my TBR, but she kept nagging me, so I decided to dive right in (pardon the pun…if you’ve read this already, you’ll get the pun).

Right off I was surprised when I realized this wasn’t a YA book. The characters are closer to my age (I’m 35) and the subject matter isn’t childish either, what surprised me was that I had read it was about a circus and mermaids and old books. All the makings of something for Young Adults.

Let’s begin where it feels most fitting to begin…the beginning (sort of…)

On Long Island Sound, Simon Watson, a librarian receives a book in the mail. It’s old. It’s full of sketches and appears to be a diary/log of sorts that followed around a carnival type operation in around the 1700’s.  He is unsure why someone he doesn’t know would send him such an odd book, but he soon finds out.

His mother once worked the carnival circuit as a “mermaid” and had drowned herself on July 24th, which is only a week away. Turns out this may not have been an isolated suicide. There is a history in the book, Simons history, his families history and he won’t stop piecing it together till it all makes sense.

Simon begins to become overwhelmingly worried about his sister who left to join the circus some years earlier. Hoping she won’t find the same fate as the other unfortunate women in their family lineage. The old book brings to light secrets and curses. Love and symbolism. Family and betrayal. Birth and death.

The story is told in a dual narrative. Each chapter switches between Simon in 2013 and an array of characters working in a traveling act in the 1700’s. I enjoyed this so much. The story actually unfolds from two points of view and each one is as exciting as the other.

What stuck out most for me, was the character development. I came to love them all, but also to understand them without the author having to spell out every aspect of their lives. She was vague when she needed to be and specific without cramming backstory down my throat.

I seriously could not put this book down. I finished it just before bed and spent quite a few hours thinking about the world I had just left. To me, that’s the ultimate in good books. I wanted to know more, what happened next, yet I am confident that I know all I needed to know by the books end. I hope that makes sense….

Highly, highly recommend. When I posted a picture of this book on Instagram, I had quite a few people asking me what it was all about and I hope it got some of them interested to read it themselves. I hope this gets you interested if you haven’t read this already.

If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear what others thought of this as it has quickly become one of my favorite books.

 

Book Review: Ender’s Game By Orson Scott Card

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I haven’t read many sci-fi books, though I am a large fan of  all other things sci-fi. Not for any specific reason, just that I haven’t picked any up. Recently, I decided the time was now. Perhaps because I was having trouble with the book I was reading and wanted to step off in a completely different direction.

I found this book at the Goodwill a while back after hearing a bunch of BookTubers talking about it a year or so ago. Wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it or if I would ever even pick it up…but I have a book buying problem so…

Anywho, onto the review. As usual, I don’t want to spoil this, so I’m keeping that in mind when I talk about this. Lot’s of opinions and a little synopsis.

Ender’s game starts on an Earth quite a bit different from ours. Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggins is a six-year-old boy when we first meet him and immediately, the reader can tell he’s not your typical kid. He has a monitor in his head for one, also, the way he thinks when we hear his thoughts (one of the most amazing things about books in my opinion) is far from what I was thinking as a six-year-old and I thinks I can safely say most people at that age.

It’s not long before we, the reader realizes that at some point aliens have attacked the Earth and almost wiped out humanity…and so the humans are pretty adamant on not letting these aliens win the next time they decided to attack. Also, that the government is breeding some little militarily geniuses to train for battle.

Ender is a genius. One above all the rest and so we follow this young boy as he is geared up by the government and military to either save the planet or fail on an epic scale.

The story isn’t as cut and dry as that or even as linear as the synopsis on the back of the book. That’s what I liked best about this story. There is so much that seems so wrong and unfair to this little boy and he is just a little boy, genius or not. Then there is so much that felt to me as sadly realistic to an adult life and made me turn to very cynical thoughts.

I felt so sad for Ender. All the way to the end. So sad at how everything went for him personally, for the state of humanity, for the decisions that nations have to make and then scared at how fragile governments can be and how the influence of media can have profound effects on the lives of people. What scared me the most out of this whole journey was the cunning of the truly evil.

Some of this may not make much sense unless you’ve already read the book. That’s ok. If you haven’t, I hope this sparked your interest in reading it.

I loved this book. All of it. The good, the bad and the hopeless. There was no character I could dislike because each was so nicely developed that it felt like I had known them forever by the end. That’s not to say I didn’t hate some of them for who they were. The writing was such that it carried me along and delivered me to the end, yet left me with plenty of room to do my own thinking.

I fully recommend this book and hope you will love it as much as I do.

Giving Up On Books? Bookish Musings

 

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Photo via the internet

 

This is a topic I don’t encounter often, but when I do…

Seems like the decision to continue or simply give up on a book, for me, is like choosing to live or die. Dramatic? Yes, but never the less, I hate coming across those to read or not to read situations.

First of all, I feel I owe it to every author to give their book a fair chance to the end and if I genuinely hated it, at least it was an informed decision. After all, I hope others give me a fair shake when reading my writing. Not that I have written anything of substance since Mrs. March’s Writing For College class back in ’98, but even this here blog.

But what to do when the book is so…not working for me that I keep finding excuses to do and read anything except said book?

That’s where I am currently. I started a Peter Straub book called Floating Dragon and if you follow my blog on Facebook or Instagram, you know my love/hate relationship with Straub. I find it difficult that someone who my beloved Stephen King chooses to write with wouldn’t appeal to me. He doesn’t always disappoint,  just sometimes there is so much backstory and…I digress.

Since starting this book a week or two ago I have read Animal Farm by George Orwell, reread Blockade Billy by Stephen King, found a new sci-fi love in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and also started to reread Stephen King’s Dolores Claiborne. Do you see my desperate attempt to not pick up Floating Dragon? Thing is, the book isn’t even horrible. Just so…very…slow……………soooo…………sloooooooooow.

So the question still stands. Do I give up or stick it out? Maybe put the book away for a later date when perhaps I can give it a better chance?

To date, I have only ever stopped a book in the first two chapters and actually threw it in the trash one time (normally out of character for me). I don’t remember the name of that book, but it sucked the big one so badly I just couldn’t…

What do you do in this situation? Let me know.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.