Category Archives: Fandoms

Three and a half reasons I am NOT worried about The Giver

Image credit: parade.com

Image credit: parade.com

When I found out a couple months ago that The Giver was being made into a movie, I was beside myself with excitement. I’ve explained here before that The Giver is the book that turned me into an insatiable reader. It sparked my imagination in a way that stories about smelly buses and little brothers never did. Without a doubt, it is the reason that I am so drawn to dystopian stories even as an adult.

The trailer was released recently and has been receiving a fair amount of negative feedback. Comment sections everywhere blew up with, “How dare they ruin this book!?” I’m not going to lie. When I watched the trailer the first time, I thought it felt very Hunger Games and Divergent-esque. That’s not at all how I remember the book feeling.

But that’s not fair. It’s been almost 20 years since I read The Giver, surely there are things I’ve forgotten. Not to mention, I was 9 when I read it the first time. Being 29 is sure to alter the reading experience just a bit. So I re-read it last night. These are my conclusions.

SPOILERS, obviously.

Common criticism: “It’s not in black and white.”
To be fair, this was also my first thought. The scene where the apple “changes” is my most vivid memory of this book even 20 years later. Granted, it’s a 1 minute 30 second trailer for a 2 hour movie. There’s a chance they only included the color scenes. But even if the whole movie is in color, it’s okay. Jonas being able to see color in a black and white world was a device used to show the reader that Jonas was changing. And honestly, it’s a device that really only has an impact when it’s written. When the Giver revealed that the “change” Jonas was experiencing was “the color red,” the reader has a “WTF?” moment. You were DYING to know how the apple changed. It was suspenseful. It was mysterious. And when it was revealed, it blew you away and forced to you look at Jonas’s world in another way. There’s no way this scene is nearly as dramatic on screen because the viewer lives in a world that has red. It doesn’t pull the rug out from under you the way it does when you read it. I’m sure the movie has other tricks up its sleeve to reveal that Jonas is different from the others.

Common criticism: “It looks too much like The Hunger Games. It’s supposed to be a utopia, not a dystopia.”
Oh, how our child minds remember things. I, too, felt like the trailer was way too heavy for what I remembered. Upon my re-read, I realized The Giver is very dark. There was a lot lost on me the first time around. Citizens take daily pills to suppress sexual feelings. Citizens are assigned spouses and those “units” are assigned children. Professions are assigned. Birth mothers? They’re lower than than low. Citizens get “released” when they’re too old, too sick,  or don’t follow the rules. Released, of course, means euthanized. If you don’t remember the scene where Jonas’s father “releases” a newborn because it was an identical twin, maybe you should read it again. Then you’ll realize that the trailer isn’t dark enough.

Common criticism: “What is <insert scene>? That’s not in the book.” 
Yeah, it looks like they’re taking some liberties with the source material, and they absolutely should. There’s a reason that the trailer feels too dark for most. It’s because you’re remembering the story from the viewpoint of a 12-year-old boy who didn’t know any better. How did society get there? Who started it? Were there revolts? Does anyone question the status quo? Are the elders really “good?” What’s outside of the society? Has anyone tried to go there? There are so many things that Jonas isn’t privy to. There are so many things Jonas doesn’t even question. But the movie will. I think the movie will show the dark underbelly of “utopia,” and I’m excited for it.

Bonus reason… The Dude abides.
Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, ya’ll. Get hype.

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Filed under Books, Fandoms, Movies, The Giver

“Day one, Greenie. Rise and Shine.”

Image credit: themazerunnermovie.com

Image credit: themazerunnermovie.com

I’ve been off my blog game so this isn’t new, but better late than never, right?

The first official trailer for The Maze Runner was released a couple weeks ago and I’m diggin’ it. As I mentioned in my review of the book trilogy, I really think this is going to be one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book.

Reasons that I’m hopeful: 

  • Dylan O’Brien as Thomas. Dylan’s acting on Teen Wolf has been ON POINT lately. Like, chills-inducing amazing. He can carry this movie and then some.
  • Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt. Thomas currently plays Jojen on Game of Thrones. Needless to say, they don’t cast hacks on Game of Thrones. 
  • Better decision  making in general. At the 1:10 mark of the trailer below, Teresa shows up conscious and immediately recognizes Thomas–which immediately raises the suspicions of everyone else. This is so much more impactful than the way it’s handled in the book. I’m usually a stickler for source material, but I’m hopeful the movie can fill the gaps the book leaves behind.

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A tale of three novellas

Dunk and Egg

Dunk and Egg artwork by Marc Simonetti

I feel like I’ve been all Game of Thrones all the time around here lately. But, since my Dance with Dragons hangover hasn’t fully subsided yet and the next season is so close , I suppose that’s to be expected.

To fill the dragon shaped hole in my life, I dove into the Tales of Dunk and Egg. They are the first three in a series of novellas that take place in the ASOIAF universe approximately 90 years before the events of Game of Thrones. The stories follow the adventures of Sir Duncan the Tall, aka Dunk, and his squire, Aegon V Targaryen, aka Egg.

In a word, these novellas were FUN. I often joke that I know more about Westerosi history than I do American history, but it’s probably true. I study the ASOIAF genealogies, particularly Targaryen, to the point of obsession, so these were kind of like mini history lessons for our favorite dragon wielding family.

Dunk and Egg are both mentioned several times throughout ASOIAF:

  • Remember in Clash of Kings, Maester Aemon explains to Jon Snow that he was offered the throne after his two eldest brothers died–Daeron from the pox and Aerion from drinking dragonfire while in exile. Aemon refused and took the black, leaving Aegon V to rule. That’s Egg! Aegon the Unlikely.
  • In Storm of Swords, Jaime reads the White Book to learn more about Ser Barriston Selmy. We learn the Dunk is listed among the notable Commanders of the Kingsgaurd. Of course he’d be the Lord Commander of his bestie’s Kingsgaurd! We also learn that it was Egg who knighted Ser Barriston.
  • Most recently, in A Dance with Dragons, Ser Barriston explains that Egg married for love and allowed his children to do so as well, leading to much resentment among the the high lords of the realm. We don’t know who Egg married yet… that piece is conveniently missing from the Targaryen family tree… but I have theories about that. A story for another day.

Maybe my geek is showing by nerding out over little details like this, but it’s one of the things that I love so much about Martin’s work. Everything is dynamic. The pieces are all moving and fit together perfectly. Even without looking for the connections, it’s fun to read light and easy stories that take place in the universe we’ve all come to know and love. If you can’t get enough of this story or this universe, I highly recommend these novellas.

The Hedge Knight
In the first novella, we see how Dunk and Egg begin their friendship at the Tourney at Ashford. We meet several Targaryen notables, including Prince Baelor, Prince Maekar, Prince Daeron, and Prince Aerion. Most importantly, we learn why Aerion is sent into exile… and it has everything to do with Dunk.

The Sworn Sword
The second novella gives us a closer look at the Blackfyre Rebellion through the recounting of Ser Eustace Osgrey to whom Dunk is sworn. We get to  understand the conflict from both sides– Ser Eustace’s as a rebel and Egg’s as a Targaryen. Over the course of the story, Dunk and Egg manage to mend the rift between House Osgrey and House Webber. Dunk even gets a little love from the ladies.

The Mystery Knight
Dunk and Egg make their way to a wedding tourney that puts them in the wrong place and the way wrong time. This novella digs further into aftermath of the Blackfyre Rebellion. Most notably, we meet the Hand of the King, Brynden Rivers, aka Bloodraven. This is really exciting if you believe, as I do, that Bloodraven is Bran’s three eyed crow.

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Filed under A Song of Ice and Fire, Book Review, Books, Fandoms, Game of Thrones

Valar morghulis

Directly translates to… March is going to be SUCH A LONG MONTH. Or “all men must die.” One or the other.

Good Guy HBO is doing everything it can to fill the Game of Thrones shaped hole in all of our hearts. They’ve released three more teasers for the upcoming 4th season. They’re pretty exciting… even if they also serve to remind us how far away April is.

DRAGONS
“They’re dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed. Not even by their mother.”

 

Tyrion in the Dungeon
“Come for a last look?”

 

Stark children (minus Rickon)
“The first time I saw you, you were just a child. A girl from the North come to the capital for the first time. You’re not a child anymore.”

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I am the watcher on the walls…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for good marketing and advertising, and HBO has always done a fantastic job when it comes to getting people extra excited about Game of Thrones. Remember the dragon shadows for Season 3?

Now, HBO has commissioned 3D street art of The Wall in London and it’s AMAZING. The artwork is intended to promote the release of Season 3 on DVD and Blu-ray, but it’s also just in time for Season 4 so it’s a win, win, win.

Photos from winteriscoming.net

GOT Street Art 2

GOT Street Art 3

GOT Street Art

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Filed under A Song of Ice and Fire, Books, Fandoms, Game of Thrones, Marketing, Television

Welcome to The Glade, ya shanks

Image credit: themazerunnermovie.com

Image credit: themazerunnermovie.com

Okay! So! I was not thrilled with The Maze Runner as a trilogy, BUT (!) that does not mean that all is lost. As I mentioned in my review, The Maze Runner is the best of the three, and I think this is going to be one of those rare cases in which the movie is better than the book. A trailer hasn’t been released yet, but there are publicity stills  floating around the interwebs. I have to say, the casting on this movie is FLAWLESS, at least in terms of how I personally imagined each character.

Take a look. I think you’ll find there’s a little something for the fangirl in everyone. 

Thomas, played by Dylan O'Brien, who you know as Stiles MTV's Teen Wolf.

Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien, who you know as Stiles MTV’s Teen Wolf.

Newt, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who you know as Jojen Reed from HBO's Game of Thrones.

Newt, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who you know as Jojen Reed from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Teresa, played by Kaya Scodelario, who you know as Effy from Skins (UK)

Teresa, played by Kaya Scodelario, who you know as Effy from Skins (UK)

Gally, played by Will Poulter, who you know as Eustace Scrubb from The Chronicles of Narnia. (And he was hilarious in We're the Millers.)

Gally, played by Will Poulter, who you know as Eustace Scrubb from The Chronicles of Narnia. (And he was hilarious in We’re the Millers.)

Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee. I don't know him from anything yet, but he's one of my favorites so I had to include him.

Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee. I don’t know him from anything yet, but he’s one of my favorites so I had to include him.

All images are from themazerunnermovie.com

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Filed under Books, Fandoms, Movies, The Maze Runner

Book Review: The Maze Runner trilogy

Image credit: goodreads.com

Image credit: goodreads.com

In light of The Maze Runner movie coming out later this year, I thought I’d get a jump on the story by reading The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner over the weekend. It was probably the most frustrating reading experience I’ve ever had in my life.

Brief Synopsis: Thomas wakes up alone in a lift with no memories other than his own first name. When the lift opens, he finds that it has delivered him to “The Glade,” an open arena surrounded by giant stone walls that form the maze. He and the 50 other boys (and eventually one girl) who live in the Glade, have to solve the maze, but they don’t know how or why. Throughout the trilogy, we learn that the outside world has been ravaged by sun flares that reached the earth and threw the planet into chaos. In addition, a deadly virus, dubbed “The Flare,” was inadvertently released and is killing the remaining population. Thomas and the other “Gladers” are immune to the virus, so their brains are the key to discovering the cure. Horrible things happen to them inside and eventually outside of the maze, all in the name of science and studying their reactions to said events inside their brains. If the scientists, aka the WICKED organization, can create a blueprint for an immune brain, they feel they can find a cure. But who can actually be trusted? Who is actually the good guy? How far is too far?

Trilogy Rating: Based on my star average for the three separate books, the whole trilogy gets a 3/5. If you’re the type that likes to read books before seeing the movie, then by all means, read The Maze Runner. It was a very enjoyable and unique read. In my opinion, you can skip the final two books and not miss anything. Also, I’m predicting that this will be one of those rare cases in which the movie is better than the book.

Book #1: The Maze Runner 
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Overall Impression: Without a doubt, this book is the strongest of the trilogy. The concept of the story is pretty unique and has so much potential to be something very cool. I liked the characters. It asked and answered questions at a good pace. I teetered between 3 stars and 4 stars because I felt the writing was a little juvenile and repetitive, but ultimately, I decided the book is intended for a much younger audience than me so I went with four. (Not everything can be The Hunger Games, right?)

Book #2: The Scorch Trials 
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Overall Impression: Honestly, not much stands out for me in this book because it felt like pure filler. The Gladers set out to complete Phase 2. They’ve left the maze and are now trying to navigate the Scorch, the completely destroyed and barren desert remains of the areas around the Earth’s equator. More horrible things happen, but we aren’t given any answers in terms of why or how they are happening. Also, there is zero character development. I didn’t enjoy this read very much. It’s a hopeful 2 stars, in that I’m hoping it’ll pick up after to the dreaded Second Book Slump.

Book #3: The Death Cure
Rating: 1/5
Overall Impression: So mind numbingly FRUSTRATING. I’ll discuss specifics below, but overall, I kind of hated every second of this book. I saw another review that referred to this last book as the “written version of a Michael Bay movie” and that assessment is so spot on. We jump from one fight to the next, one explosion to the next, one problem to the next, all the while having no character development whatsoever. The third book in a nutshell: Problem arises. Make a plan. Plan fails. Succeed anyway. Repeat. Over and over and over again. It’s overkill. And I won’t even touch the completely out of left field, cop out of an ending. Just ugh.

Spoilery Rant WARNING:
So, right in the beginning of book 3, Thomas has the opportunity to have his memory restored. Finally. FINALLY! All that the readers need for all of our questions to be answered is for Thomas to get his memory back. AND HE REFUSES. Other characters get their memories back, but we aren’t in their heads so that’s useless. Thomas gets the same opportunity mid-story and refuses AGAIN. Seriously, WTF? You set up all of these questions and scenarios but readers are supposed to accept “variables” as the answer to everything? I’m sorry, I don’t care that I’m not  the intended demographic for this story, that’s lame no matter what age you are.

Frankly, it makes me think that the author had no idea where to take the story once the Gladers left the maze. He didn’t know how to answer the questions and instead of coming up with satisfying answers, he tried to hide them with explosions and and hand-to-hand combat. I like a good fight scene as much as the next person, but when there’s a blow out confrontation in every chapter, it gets boring.

The lack of character development in the last two books also made it very hard to care about important deaths, including the death of my favorite character from book 1. I wanted to care, but all the characters devolved into bland, boring and predictable shells of themselves.

All in all, if you like answered questions and closure with your reading experiences, avoid this series at all cost. You will get neither here.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fandoms, The Maze Runner