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: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children seems to be extremely popular these days. Some of that may be due to the fact that Tim Burton’s movie adaptation is hitting theaters soon. I found it on my sisters’ book shelf and she told me it would be a quick read for me, so I jumped right in.

Let’s talk about this story…

I will admit that I was expecting another Asylum when I saw the photo pages and that it was YA. I was wrong on that front.

Jacob, our main character, is ordinary. That is what we start out with. He is ordinary with a crazy grandfather and though quite privileged, seems to be headed nowhere fast in life. Not too much of his life is talked about besides his lack of social life and that he is headed for a boring career in his family owned chain of  drug stores. That’s all we really need to know to know how boring his existence is.

His grandfather, on the other hand, is anything but boring. He has colorful stories of growing up at a children’s home during World War 2. Not just any regular childrens home for refugee children who have become victims of war, but one full of all sorts of peculiar kids and situations.

Naturally, nobody believes the old man since the world likes to thrive on the mundane and Jacob stops believing due to not fitting in at school with other kids due to gramps quirkiness.

As is customary of young people, everyone assumes that Grampa Abe has totally gone berzerk as his older years pass and nobody believes the unbelievable stories he’s telling now. Not to mention they won’t give the supposedly crazy old bat the key to his gun safe.

Then we start to wonder if young Jacob is so ordinary after all…

Here is where I will stop with the details. I think everyone knows a bit more of this story than I have mentioned to this point, but I didn’t and I feel I had a better relationship with this story because of such. Sometimes it’s worth a lot to not read the back of the book.

So, on to my opinions and thoughts…

This book was fantastic. I didn’t want to put it down and when I absolutely had to, I was contemplating what may come next. The characters were so well thought out and the story having such an attachment to historical events really brought it to life for me. The subject matter was far from teenybopperish. At times I had to wonder how old I would want my own kids (though I don’t actually have any of my own) to be to approach some of the deeper matters contained within. Saying that, they were all realistic matters, no matter if they are in a fantastic situation.

Family, love, relationships, war, mortality, loss. All these topics covered in a book made for young adults and done in a way so that anybody can embrace the world and people in it is amazing to me. Had I read this when I was Jacobs age (sixteen), I could have read it again at twenty and then again at thirty and taken away more and something different with each reading.

Books that I want to keep around to reread again and again over time are some of the best books in the world in my opinion. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys great characters and a well thought out backstory that comes across as neither hokey or unbelievable. It simply feels unbelievably believable…if that makes sense. Probably not. Just go read it.

If you have read it, let me know what you liked or disliked about this.

Book Review: Asylum By Madeleine Roux

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I asked my sister for a book of her choice after finishing The Fault In Our Stars and she gave me one she had finished and enjoyed. My sister is a working mom so getting reading time is hard to come by, so if she made it to the end of any book it’s worth a read.

She chose Asylum by Madelein Roux for me. The cover intrigued me quite a bit and I jumped right in.

The story centers around a boy named Dan who, though he is high school age, is attending a summer academic program at a college in New Hampshire, the dormitories of which were once a mental hospital. Many of the residents of the hospital were criminally insane.

Dan is somewhat of a nerd who is pretty socially inept.Still, he meets some people when he gets to the college. There is his roommate Felix , who Dan seems to think of as a boring, pretentious scholarly type. He also meets a girl named Abbey and a boy named Jordan. Good for Dan.

There’s a room in the dorms that the students are discouraged from entering, but when Dan hears about this room from his roommate, in the first conversation they ever have, he must go.

I won’t give anything away and though this was not a terrible read for me, it felt a bit predictable. There were times when I wanted to walk into the pages and bitch slap the three friends as they would argue and offend each other in EVERY dialogue scene they share. I wanted to say, “Either shit or get off the I-wanna-be-your-friend pot”. Dan’s jealousy and need to get with Abbey at times feels a bit Bella/Edward in the way that he will make things worse at the chance to get her attention and affection. His relationship with Jordan is even more cringeworthy. They are called best friends, but they seem to, underneath the facade of best friends seems to be zero actual love for each other.

The story itself is your basic let’s go on a terrifying treasure hunt in an old insane asylum type thing. It neither wowed me or bored me.

As for the authors writing style, I had one major gripe. Whenever Dan is mentioned, he is rarely referred to as he or him…even if he is the only character in the scene. The number of times I read the name Dan on one page made me want to scream at times.

I do know that I may have missed some points in the fact that I’m pretty removed from my youth and perhaps I’m a bit judgemental towards the younger generation putting ‘getting him/her to like me’ mentality before all else. I do remember sacrificing a lot in my teens to get a crushes attention…maybe not creep around a hospital for the criminally insane…then again, I wasn’t presented with said insane asylum.

I’m interested in what others thought of this. My sis loved it and we have been known to have differing opinions on books before. Let me know your thoughts.

Thoughts. Not Quite A Review…The Fault In our Stars By John Green

I have been a Nerfighter for a long time.13687366_888660391265561_563314833_n

I think John Green is a fantastic human being. I also knew he wrote books. Hell, his name on Instagram is johngreenwritesbooks. Until yesterday, I had never read any of his books.

I attribute this to my attempt at not being a book bitch and occasionally falling from grace anyway. I have a bad image of YA literature due to an unfortunate foray with a book called Twilight a few years back…Perhaps everyone and their freaking grandmother has heard of it. I will never get the time back that I lost to this book. Ever. It will continue to haunt me till the day I die. I have since, judged all YA literature as harshly as I wished I had treated this one.

When I would see John Green books on my many bookish travels, I longed for his writing and yet, denied it for fear of the whiny, angst-ridden, brainless adaptation of young america that was Twilight.

I’m 35 years old this year and trying to think like a teenybopper is, to be honest, painful at best. Yet, who am I to judge a whole type of books based on one bad experience? That makes me an asshole. Not all teenagers are brainless, slightly larger versions of toddlers, or the sparkling undead.

So, on a whim, at the Goodwill, I’d picked up The Fault In Our Stars and figured that for a buck, even if it was horrible, not a huge loss.

I started reading yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. and took a few breaks to go to the store and to mini marathon Intervention with my sister. Still, I finished this book at 11:53 p.m. I then spent hours looking at the dark ceiling unable to let the story go.

I won’t bore anyone with an actual review. Everyone knows of this book, through seeing the movie, watching much better reviews than I could write on BookTube or through book blogs who have much more talent than mine. I will say that there are very few books in this life (and I read a lot) that have left me speechless.

I love (present tense) this book so much, I love these characters so much and I love the brilliant mind of John Green more now than I ever have before. That’s saying something.

Everyone should read this book, everyone.

I will from today going forward no longer judge any book based on others of it’s kind.

 

Book Review: Icy Sparks By Gwyn Hyman Rubio

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Icy Sparks is a story about outcasts. About not fitting in, being different.

The story begins with an adult Icy Sparks recounting her life as a young girl in the mountains of Kentucky in the 1950’s. She lives with her grandparents after the  deaths of her parents.

Her mother, we don’t really know too much about besides what her parents (Icy’s grandma and grandpa) tell her. Her father we know had some peculiar mannerisms, namely  his eyes popping and other tics, though Icy nor anyone else in her mountain town knew what actually ailed him.

Icy soon finds herself facing some of these tics herself. Besides the eye popping are jerks (as she calls them) along with outbursts and cursing. With not a single person close to her knowing what this is or how to deal with it, this poor girl goes through the hell of mistreatment at school and being ostracized by her peers as well as the folks in town, eventually landing in a hospital.

This was a hard one to read as much as it was interesting. Icy has her grandparents and her grown friend Miss Emily, who is also an outcast due to her being grossly overweight, but the small town  50’s mentality keeps Icy alone in a position she can’t understand. Yet, she pushes through with a mostly positive attitude. I think her life was harder for me to handle than it was for her. This is a story full of death, secrets, unresolved animosity and so many other very upsetting emotions. A reader would be hard pressed to not relate to some of what Icy goes through on a smaller scale. One also feels for her on a very human level.

I gave this three stars on Goodreads. Here’s why.

The characters were well written and likable, yet it was difficult at times for me to figure out what the author wanted the reader to focus on. There was focus on lying, abuse at the hands of a couple of adults in a place of power, strange friendships, seemingly useless and confusing medical treatment and finally religion. Some of the parts of this telling seemed like they were just fillers to get to the end, but they don’t seem to be necessary to the whole of the story.

Though I did find out what happened to Icy, what the actual cause of her symptoms was, I felt like in the last few pages the answer was quickly thrown together to simply to end the story. Perhaps, I missed something or I’m too thick to see what the author was doing, but I felt the resolution was hasty.

In the end, it was an interesting read and I would be curious to see what others thought about this book.

(Drunken) Book Review: The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle By DavidWroblewski (Spoiler Free)

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I’m going to be honest, this is a bit of a drunk book review. It’s truly the only way I can review it, in my humble opinion (have you seen ‘My So-Called Life’?? Or am I dating myself??).

Anyway, I just finished The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle…it…I just can’t.

I spent the better part of July and August plugging through this book. Judge my slow reading as you may, it was friggen amazing. This book was everything I don’t want in a book, everything I run from when I read a synopsis. My advice…screw the synopsis.

So, here is a story, highly character driven. I freaking love characters. One meets in this story more characters than is even necessary and yet, ask how many f’s do I give?? None, because I’m better for having met these people. The scenery is even a friggen character!

Shut up and strap in for the ride.

This book is long…so damn long. That doesn’t matter. We follow a family, the Sawtelle family, Trudy, Gar, and Edgar, who breed a fictional breed of dog, the “Sawtelle Dog”, read it to find out more. There we also meet, Claud, Ida, Page, Henry and Glen…I can’t even call them secondary characters. They stick in your head and don’t let go. Then the dogs themselves are actually front and center characters in some cases. That shocked me. I worked in a kennel myself and the narrative of a dog still threw me for a loop. It also pulled me in. To see the world from their point of view made life seem hard and careless, but full and exciting at the same time. They gave a fresh perspective this story demanded.

It’s apparently some sort of adaptation of Hamlet by Shakespeare. I don’t like Shakespeare, though I did enjoy The Taming Of The Shrew. I see it, but I don’t give two craps. This story out of this authors mind is just a trip. It makes you love, hate and wish you had some answers that you will never get, then make you glad you never found them.

This is so character driven, you just need to cry. For good, for bad, for the ones you love.

Remember, I’m slightly (totally) intoxicated, but totally honest. I don’t think I will ever get this story out of my head. As you know if you’ve been here from the beginning, I love Stephen King. I Feel Like Teddy here in the movie version of Stand By Me. Then What? What happens next? Maybe I want to know, maybe the actual completion of this book is the best.

Jesus, just read it. Let me know what you thought. Even if you hated it, you still may never forget Edgar Sawtelle and his dogs. I know I won’t.

If David Wroblewski is out there anywhere reading this, write another book, please.

 

The Last Few Pages

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As I finally make my way to the end of my current read, which has taken me an embarrassingly long time to get through. Been about a month, though it’s only 562 pages and it only took me three days to read the 900 or so pages of  Stephen King’s Under The Dome . Yet, I have arrived, if fashionably late, to the last 18 pages…

Of course, this is where my mind started to wander. I started to think about my approach to books that have kept me drawn in for any  period of time. Then, my thoughts go a bit crazy.

I start by mentally preparing and wondering, “Do I really want this to end so fast?” and “HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS IN 18 PAGES???!!!”. So, I put the book down an find a distraction. There is the fear, naturally, of disappointment and the inner irritation at myself for not being able to read the words fast enough regardless of the outcome.

I can speak only for myself, but I’ve noticed my book ending reading habit goes a bit like this…

Sit up if I’m laying down…move the book as close to my face as humanly possible in case my peripheral vision might find a distraction…yell at everyone around me to shut the hell up…then take in every word as though this were the last book ever written and it holds the answer to all of life’s great questions (even if the book sucked).

This usually follows me finding excuses to put the book down to sate a few of the nagging distractions, like wondering if it will all make sense, peeing, did I miss something huge in the story one night while half dozing and dropping the book on my face over and over. DID I GIVE THE BOOK THE ATTENTION IT DESERVED!?

Reading is more than a hobby to me. It’s separate lives I live, good or bad and I like to take the process seriously. That kind of makes me sound mentally ill…but it’s the truth.

Now, with only minor distractions left, those last 18 pages await…

Does anyone else get end of book anxiety or is it just me?