August 10, 2013 § 14 Comments
If you haven’t heard of The Fault in Our Stars (shortened to TFIOS by fans), you really must be living under a rock. John Green has blown away adult and teen readers alike with the equally heart-warming and heart-breaking tale of two teenagers who meet and fall in love at a support group for young cancer-sufferers. TFIOS, like Green’s other novels, is an empowering depiction of teenagers, with intelligent, often hilarious and realistically flawed characters who make adult decisions in the in-between world that is adolescence. Itsnotnatalie and I can’t really speak about TFIOS without at least having a tissue box on hand, but there’s one thing we know for certain – this movie could be bad. We’re dreading the rise of “Team Augustus” supporters that are likely to emerge once TFIOS comes to the silver screen, but most importantly, we want this very special book to be represented well on film.
Although I often recommend Divergent to those who enjoyed The Hunger Games, they are two very different series. In The Hunger Games, Katniss unknowingly incites an active revolution that has been gestating for quite some time. Meanwhile, in Divergent, things are trucking along pretty well until Tris comes along. It’s a small distinction, but Divergent is more about the slow unravelling of a dystopian society than it is about a persistent revolution gaining traction. Because Divergent and The Hunger Games are so often compared, I hope that the film-makers make an effort to establish Divergent’s identity apart from The Hunger Games. Side note: the girl who has been cast as Tris, Shailene Woodley, has also been cast as Hazel in TFIOS. She must have something going for her!
3. Ender’s Game
Ender’s Game is often ranked as one of the best sci-fi books of all time, so it’s odd that it has never been made into a movie before now. I actually hated it the first time I read it, but persisted through a second time. The second time round, I recognised the true depth and power of the story of Ender Wiggin and his peers. Ender is a complex character, but I think they’ve chosen well in casting Asa Butterfield. Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford have been cast in the adult roles, with Abigail Breslin and Hailee Stienfeld in supporting ones. My hope is that with such an accomplished cast, the film will live up to the reputation of the book. The trailer certainly seems to indicate that it will! The enemy’s gate is down…
I’ve mentioned before on The Novelettes that Carrie is one of the books that changed me as a reader and as a person. When I saw that it was being remade, I was really excited. That is, until I saw that Chloe Grace Moretz had been cast as Carrie. In the novel, Carrie is unattractive, often described as bovine, and has enormous difficulty connecting or fitting in with her peers. I find it hard to believe that a girl who looks like Chloe could ever endure the same difficulty that Carrie did. That said, Chloe Grace Moretz is well on the way to establishing herself as a truly talented actress, so I’ll suspend my judgement until I see the film.
Although it was met with mixed critical responses, The Hunger Games lived up to my every expectation. I saw it three times in the cinemas and have watched it countless times since. Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss, and I have faith that she will carry her aptitude for the role for the rest of the Hunger Games journey. That said, Mockingjay has been split into two films, parts one and two. My hope is that it’s not being drawn out simply for extra revenue (I’m looking at YOU, Peter Jackson), and that it’s being divided into two parts to do the final book justice. In Mockingjay, we see Katniss (not to mention Peeta!) suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, and the culmination of the revolution in the districts. Please, filmmakers, don’t screw this up! On the plus side, how great does the Catching Fire trailer look?
July 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
Being more than a little bit obsessed with the end of the world, I often research new post-apocalyptic novels. Trawling Goodreads recently, I came across In the After, debut novel by Demetria Lunetta. It was love at first synopsis.
In the After follows teenager Amy as she finds her feet in what is left of her world, now that They have come and taken everything she’s ever known. Thanks to the respective paranoia and forward thinking of her parents, Amy’s home is fortified against the mindless, flesh-eating creatures that brought the apocalypse with them when they arrived on Earth. They are hideous, unthinking beings that don’t bother killing their prey before the devour it, but they have one weakness that Amy has been able to discern – they are dependent on sound to find their next meal.
Amy comes upon a toddler wandering the wreckage of her neighbourhood and adopts her as a sister in silence. Not being able to speak aloud, she names her Baby, and Baby becomes Amy’s reason for living. They develop a modified sign language, designed to allow them to communicate in the direst of situations, and for a while, they are content.
Amy and Baby’s insular world is shattered all over again when they are forced to leave their home. In the open terrain, they are picked up by members of a covert society which houses the remains of human civilisation, a community optimistically named New Hope.
Re-integrating into a structured society proves more difficult than Amy and Baby ever expected. In a world where 3000 people may be all that remains to repopulate the planet, government is oppressive in entirely new ways. On top of that, New Hope is being run by a psychiatrist who has access to everything about everyone, and absolute discretion. Amy and Baby may have been better off in the wild…
In some places, In the After had me jumping out of my skin. ‘They”, or the Floraes, as they are known later in the book, are quite frightening, and there were several moments of skin-crawling terror as Amy and Baby navigated the wasteland, especially in the first half of the book. One night, I was reading in the quiet in my bedroom. When my boyfriend came into the room, I jumped and nearly fell out of the bed, so engrossed was I in the book’s tension! In the second half of In the After, the use of a flash-forward narrative device made for some hair-raising suspense, so it was an enjoyably uncomfortable read the whole way through.
Not content with the horrific Floraes or the wild gangs roaming the After, Lunetta incorporates scenes of torturous psychotherapy in New Hope’s Ward (a sanitarium of sorts). The psychiatrist Dr Reynolds makes for a formidable foe, and the stronghold he has on New Hope is tyrannical. However, I felt that I should mention that electric shock therapy is NOTHING like its portrayal in this novel. I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt, in that, once the world has ended, there probably aren’t medical standards by which to abide. Of course, creative license plays a huge part in a post-apoc novel, given that we can only imagine conditions after such an event. That said, I didn’t enjoy these scenes, because I felt that they contributed to a negative conception of a form of therapy which has the capacity to genuinely help many people.
Like Angelfall, I respected this book for having very little focus on romance. This makes sense to me. Surely, once the world you knew has collapsed, you are not going to be concerned with whether the cute boy likes you?! I liked how Amy’s priority was Baby, and how the end of the world necessitated a re-assignment of the definition of family. Baby also lent an interesting perspective to the story. It’s fascinating to see her adaptation to her constantly changing surroundings develop and grow.
“Mermaids are just a story, I tell her. She looks up at me, tearful. No they’re not. Mermaids are from Before. Like horses. You said horses could live in the sea.
Seahorses aren’t horses that live in the sea… I start to explain but stop myself. It doesn’t really matter if she has the Before straight in her head. She can believe in mermaids and horses that live in the sea if she wants.”
I feel that if this book had been at least twice its length, I’d have become even more invested in its world. The plot was full of twists and turns which, while exciting, felt a little rushed. That said, it’s an exciting ride, and an end-of-days I’m excited to read more about. Demitria Lunetta is definitely one to watch, and I’ve added In the End to my sequel-countdown!
If you’re interested in what electroconvulsive therapy is genuinely like, check out Caustic Soda’s Psychotherapy episode. Caustic Soda is my favourite podcast, and I listen to it religiously. Be warned, though – it’s not for the faint-hearted (or easily offended)!