Monday, November 19, 2012

The Rise of the Dystopian

Ever since The Hunger Games gained popularity, the genre of dystopian literature, especially dystopian romance/love triangles, has become the number one genre everyone's reading.  Just as Harry Potter boosted the fantasy genre and Twilight the vampire genre, The Hunger Games has opened the market for so many new dystopian novels and trilogies, possibly the biggest boost this type of literature has had since 1984 or Brave New World.  And I've discovered that so far, I really like this genre.  Lately, besides fantasy and sci-fi, it's the number one type of book I read.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is both dystopian and sci-fi.  Centered in New Beijing after World War IV, the story tells of Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, who lives with her stepmother and two step-sisters.  But this is not your classic Cinderella tale.  Cinder isn't a helpless maid who needs a fairy godmother to save her; she's the heroine who needs to save the prince.  With awesome descriptions of a world broken down by war and filth, this book feels so real.  And the cliffhanger is just killer too.  I cannot wait for the next book to see what happens next.  Rating:  A-

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien has some similarities to The Hunger Games.  In this dystopian world, there are the wealthy and privileged people living within the Enclave, and then there are the workers, the farmers, the under-privileged living outside its walls and supporting it.  The main character of this story is Gaia, a sixteen-year-old midwife outside the walls, who must hand over a quota of the babies she delivers to the Enclave.  After her parents are taken, Gaia must learn why and how to get them back.  Very adventurous with plenty of unexpected twists, Birthmarked is a great read whether you like dystopian novels or not.  Also the first book of a trilogy, I look forward to the next books, which I'm hoping might also have a little more romance in them.  Rating: A-

Matched by Ally Condie is another first book of a trilogy, and like The Hunger Games features a love triangle.  Cassia lives in a dystopian world, a pretty nice one actually, where the Society does all the thinking for you.  They decide where you live, what you do for an occupation, and most important in Cassia's mind, whom you marry.  On the day of her matching ceremony, instead of one, two matches are presented to her.  The Society tells her it's just a glitch and to ignore the second match, but now Cassia must decide whether she'll just follow the will of the Society or defy them and meet this other match.  Almost entirely a romance, the story also has its exciting moments.  And although the writing isn't amazing, it's definitely still worth reading.  Rating:  B+

The Selection by Kiera Cass is very similar to Matched.  A love triangle, a dystopian world that isn't really all that terrible, and almost entirely a romance.  America (a girl, not the country) enters a competition to be the next queen, not really because she wants to, but because she knows it will make her mother happy and she has no fear of being selected.  However, she is chosen as one of the possible brides and travels to the castle, where she and the prince begin a friendship.  There's a little action and adventure, but for the most part, the book is focusing on the relationship between America and the prince, as well as her feelings for the boyfriend she left behind.  America is also a great character because she's both independent and compassionate, and she's definitely not afraid to pull punches.  Despite having a good concept and a great main character, the story does drag a little at points, but I still really liked the book.  Rating: B+

While I know this isn't a new book, I did read it recently and thought it belonged here with the rest of the dystopian books.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is a very strange read to say the least.  The main character of the story, Rick Deckard, is essentially a bounty hunter, but instead of hunting criminals, he's tracking and destroying androids.  The androids that were created as helpers for the Mars colony are not allowed on Earth, but they often find a way to sneak back there anyway.  While hunting them down, Deckard meets a new kind of android who causes him to question his job and his concept of morality.  The movie version, Blade Runner, tried to give the story a happy ending, but I think if you've read the book, you'd understand why it just wouldn't work.  Like most of Dick's work, the book is strange and sometimes seems very disjointed, but overall it  was a good story and worth reading once.  Rating:  B-

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday #2

It's Top Ten Tuesday time!  Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  This week's topic is the top ten books I'd want on a deserted island.  At first, I thought practically.  Maybe I should choose some survival guides or books having to do with survival, such as Robinson Crusoe or The Swiss Family Robinson.  And then I thought, "Forget that.  If I'm stranded on a deserted island, I'm as good as dead."  So I think the books I'd want to have with me are my favorites - the books that I have read over and over a thousand times without them ever getting old.  Of course I have more than ten books that fit that criteria, but I picked the ones I think are the very best of them all.

Top Ten Books I'd Want on a Deserted Island
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - A gothic novel with just the right amount of romance, suspense and brooding.  I've loved this novel since the first time I read it.
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - Classic romance.  Elizabeth Bennett is one of the best female characters of all time, and Mr. Darcy is pretty amazing too.  Their love story is timeless and never gets old.
  • The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer - Funny, witty, sarcastic.  The banter is just fantastic.  It's a gothic romantic comedy.
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - If I had to, I mean if I was forced, to choose only one book and not ten, this is what I'd pick.  I'd even venture to say it's my all-time favorite book.  Epic fantasy, a reluctant hero, the pure-hearted best friend.  I love it all.
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - Ok, I realize it's cheating to say the whole series, but can you blame me?
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery - I love the Anne of Green Gable series, but this book of Montgomery's is my favorite.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy - Sir Percy Blakeny is the best master-of-disguise ever.  And the suppressed passion between him and his wife gives me goosebumps.
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale - Who hasn't dreamed of being a part of Jane Austen's world and being wooed by your very own Mr. Darcy?
  • Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones - Adventure, magic, humor, romance.  The characters are both infuriating and lovable.  And I wish I had a door like Howl's that could lead me anywhere I wanted with a simple turn of a knob.
  • A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle - L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series is great, but for some reason, I think this one's the best of all.  Perhaps it's because Charles Wallace is a much more minor character (he's great in small doses only).  Maybe it's because the Ecthroi make for a better villain than the brain in Camazotz.  But I think mostly it's because of the awesomeness that is Progo the cherubim.

DVR Dilemma

During the summer, my TV watching lessens considerably, simply because there are fewer good shows on then.  But now that it's fall, my TV schedule is crazy.  And my DVR is filling up fast.  As of right now, almost every night of the week, the DVR is recording something.  Usually I'm able to stay on top of the shows, but lately I've fallen behind and now have weeks worth of episodes to catch up on.

  • 8pm - Once Upon a Time (ABC)
  • 10pm - Revolution (NBC)
  • 10pm - Castle (ABC)
  • 10pm - Vegas (NBC)
  • 10pm - Covert Affairs (USA)
  • 8pm - Arrow (CW)
  • 8pm - The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • 8pm - Last Resort (ABC)
  • 9pm - Person of Interest (CBS)
  • 9pm - Beauty & the Beast (CW)
  • 10pm - Elementary (CBS)

Obviously, Thursday is the craziest TV watching day, and the one day when my DVR is overloaded.  And if that weren't bad enough, it won't be long before Downton Abbey and Psych both start up again.  And of course, my parents record things as well, so the time has come to start deleting things and making room.  But the question is - what do I get rid of?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday #1

I recently discovered something fun called Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  I thought it would be cool to give it a try and see how it goes.  Of course the first week I start is a freebie week, meaning I can write any Top Ten topic of my choosing.  I decided to go with Top Ten Worst Film Adaptations. There are so many books that have been made into movies, often several movies, or mini-series, and rarely are those adaptations able to get it perfect.  But they're not usually terrible, or the changes are understandable.  However, there are some that are just so bad or the changes are so drastic, I don't know what they were thinking.

Top Ten Worst Film Adaptations
  1. Eragon -  I feel like the screenwriters just threw the book out the window when they made this movie.  They could have done so much better.
  2. The Lightning Thief -  I was actually surprised during the first half of the movie at how closely they followed the book.  Sure, the acting was awful, but I could ignore that.  Then towards the end, everything went wrong.  They took a perfectly great ending and changed it horribly.  And now they want to make a sequel?!
  3. The Cat in the Hat/How the Grinch Stole Christmas -  Two beloved children's books by Dr. Seuss and two comedians known for raunchy humor.  Put them together and you get two non-family-friendly films.  Jim Carrey's Grinch doesn't annoy me anywhere near as much as Mike Myer's Cat, but I still won't let my little sister watch either.  Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I really think potty humor and sexual innuendos do not belong in the same category as Dr. Seuss.
  4. Jane Eyre (2011)-  Ok, so this movie wasn't really that bad... until the end.  Throughout the whole thing, I kept thinking, "This is good so far; sure Mia Wasikowska isn't great, but she's not terrible."  And then the final scene, one of the best scenes in literature... they destroyed it!  Instead of that beautiful moment and the following banter, they abruptly end the movie with one line.  I felt cheated.  If you're going to watch a Jane Eyre adaptation, watch the 2005 BBC mini-series.
  5. Twilight -  Somebody please tell Kristen Stewart to give up because she just can't act.  Throughout the movie, she's wooden and monotone.  I'm still not sure if she even realizes that she can't change facial expressions.
  6. Alice in Wonderland -  I'm not sure where to begin here.  Mia Wasikowska as a grown-up (boring) Alice?  Johnny Depp as a very strange Mad Hatter?  Anne Hathaway's eyebrows?  I've seen better adaptations than this, and I think I'll stick with them.
  7. Dune (1984) - Long.  Drawn out.  Weird.  It also doesn't help that I saw the 2000 miniseries first, which was much better.
  8. The Black Cauldron -  I don't know what Disney was thinking when they made this movie.  First off, it's way too dark for a Disney animated movie.  Second, it's based on the second book of the Prydain Chronicles, not the first.  If you're going to adapt a book from a series, it's usually best to start with the first book.
  9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -  I love Freddie Highmore and Johnny Depp, but I really did not love this movie.  The oompa-loompas were creepy; Willie Wonka was creepy; the whole movie just seemed creepy.  Plus the Gene Wilder version was just fantastic, making the newer adaptation entirely unnecessary.
  10. The War of the Worlds (2005) -  Tom Cruise.  Enough said.