Category: books



Because my first impressions can be wrong sometimes, mmmkay?

I will be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the series when I first heard of it around a year ago. There’s a not-too-exciting review of both the book and the movie on this very blog. But I went to watch Catching Fire with some friends earlier tonight, and I have to say I changed my mind…about the movies only! My biggest issue with this series is that it’s probably the only one I know of where the movies are actually better than the books. The prose just doesn’t hold my attention, but all that means is I won’t ruin how much I enjoyed this movie by reading the book.

Jennifer Lawrence’s acting truly surprised me – even though she’s won an Oscar, I wasn’t expecting her to be so good! Everything right down to the tears seemed genuine enough that it left me wondering if she was really crying. I’m still in awe of how she can express changing emotions so clearly (or appear so stony, as called for) without moving anything but her face. I LOVE her now and I think she did a fantastic job.

Everyone else played their roles to their best effect too, and the action sequences and special effects made me cringe so hard in my seat a couple of times. Despite the storyline being so similar to Hunger Games, I didn’t find it predictable or stale. But I have to say, the costumes were the best part. The burning wedding gown can be seen as superficial showing off or deeply symbolic depending on individual interpretation, but it is a true artistic accomplishment. Personally, I didn’t even have to read the book to understand the statement it makes – the dress it turns into recalls the simplicity of just before the Reaping in the previous Hunger Games, and the addition of wings represents the liberation Panem is going after. To me, the fire represents the rebellion taking place.

The idea of rebellion in this series is really what gets its target audience hooked. So many teenagers are going through that phase in their everyday lives, and every one of them will feel a certain sense of solidarity when they see it put on screen. That’s why it’s a little disturbing how violent and gory the film is, but on the other hand, our particular generation is pretty much exposed to that all day long as it is. I know a lot of viewers (especially the older ones) have an issue with the seemingly purposeless violence going on, and I won’t pretend that’s not warranted. At the same time, the kids watching this are the same ones who already live in a nation where a mind-blowing number of real-life, well-publicized mass shootings occur within one year, so I don’t think there’s too much more damage to be done.

All in all, Catching Fire was an amazing movie all around – graphics, costumes, acting, the whole package. The storyline hasn’t been particularly meaningful so far, but it’s still definitely worth a watch – maybe even worth an Oscar – for its other merits.

 

Harry Potter Fact #209


Omg…and to think I’ve considered Ron and Hermione a done deal since the 3rd book…


Has anybody else realized that Teddy Lupin contains a small part of each of the Marauders (the real ones, that is – minus Wormtail) in some way? He’s Remus’ son, Sirius’ great-nephew (I think? Because Tonks was Sirius’s niece), and James’ god-grandson (grand-godson?) He’s also half-werewolf and half-Metamorphmagus. All that pretty much makes him the coolest next-generation character I can imagine.

Thinking about what his life would have been like raises a lot of questions in my mind. How is being Harry Potter’s godson and also the son of a werewolf going to work out for him? Does he really inherit Remus’ condition? What effect does he have on Harry? And does winning the second war against Voldemort change the wizarding world’s attitude towards house-elves, goblins, and other mixed-breed and non-human magical creatures at all?

I think Jo intentionally left his character ambiguous. We never actually see him in person, as a baby or as the full-grown adult he is in the epilogue. The most we fans can do is imagine…sigh.

Harry Potter Month is back!


Ok, yes. I’ve been gone for a while (again). But fear not! September was Harry Potter Month last year on my blog, and I’m doing it again. I may intersperse other things in there (being that *ahem* I’m running out of material), but it’s happening. I KNOW there are more fans on WordPress, show yourselves!

Harry Potter Fact #83


🙂 Perfect.

A Harry Potter prequel?!


Oh my god. Oh my god. This exists!!!

Apparently, J.K. Rowling wrote this a while ago for charity. How amazing is that? It’s only 4 pages, and it details an encounter young James and Sirius have with the police one night. Someone else joins the party at the very end. Read it here! And be excited!

 


Late last night…comparatively, that’s eons. It’s not a long book and I’ve finished the last few Harry Potters in less than 24 hours after I got them, but this one was a lot different. The thing where I wrote short posts while reading rather than one long review after is new, and I think it helped this time. I might keep doing that for future books.

My best advice to anyone who picks up this book is this: Try your darnedest to ignore that JK Rowling wrote it, and forget (as you’re reading and for a while after) that you ever knew anybody named Harry. There are definitely some recurring themes and parallels between the characters/places in The Casual Vacancy versus Harry Potter, so if you’re looking for the story of your favorite boy wizard within these pages, it’s not hard to find. But if you put this new story in the context of the series, you will almost certainly destroy every memory of Harry Potter that was once innocent and magical. There are things you actually see and experience with these characters that you only hear about in Potter, and while I’m sure putting them together would be a wonderful project for some Literature student somewhere, I’m not up for it. Certain connections just happened in my head before I realized it; I regret those already and I’m not keen on going farther down that road. 

Also, if you’re new to the adult fiction genre, pick up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or something similar and see if you can get through that first. I found The Casual Vacancy that level of intense. I feel like there’s very little I can say that can ring true for most readers, though. What you think about this book will be all about what’s “real” to you. For me, the majority of Pagford, the Fields, and what festers there was real, and that’s why I might find it more disturbingly chilling than someone else would. That’s less likely to be true for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because that story, while morbidly engaging and fascinating, is a bit more removed from the readers’ lives.

It’s Rowling’s ability to create a world that completely draws you in that does it…it’s a priceless gift I wish I had, but in this book, it’s almost sinister. Like I said, there’s not much I like about most of the characters. My growing dislike of Pagford – it reminds me of a place I’ve lived that I absolutely detested – made me want to slam down this novel and go read some Dr. Seuss instead, and the fact that I physically couldn’t shows that Jo’s writing here is as powerful as it ever was in Harry Potter. At the end of the book, I was so invested that I wanted a few of them (namely Fats, Simon Price, Obbo, and almost all the Mollisons) thrown off a cliff. They’re so damaging and destructive that they probably would’ve turned the sea below into liquid nitrogen.

Instead, the one who pays the price is the only one who is completely without rebuke. The way JK Rowling pulled off that ending is nothing short of poetic. I don’t think I can call her Jo anymore.

This is a brilliantly written book, but whatever humor is there is completely black. Nothing is sacred, no one carefree, no place an escape. She does an expert job at weaving them all together to make sure of that. The whole thing is so unrelentingly grey that I’d rather be back in Snape’s dungeon or in detention with Dolores Umbridge with the relief of an actual enemy to fight. At least they inspired some form of unity in resistance. There’s nothing unifying about Pagford; in fact, to me, it’s a picture of the banality of evil.

Pagford is not the safe haven that Hogwarts was. It’s a place I wouldn’t ever want to go back to, except I’ve already opened the damn Pandora’s box inside my head. I’m not sure what, if anything, is still left in it.

I know the thought of experiencing Rowling’s writing for the first time again is exciting, but trust me, don’t go there until you’re good and ready for it. Or you’ll end up making ignorant-ass comments like Kevin Nance’s comparison of Fats to Ron Weasley in his review for the Chicago Sun Times.

Ron is one of the most relatable and beloved HP characters, you snooty little condescending prick. He jumped in a frozen-over lake to save his best friend, while Fats gave his best friend a peanut inside a marshmallow knowing that Andrew was allergic. Fats is a sadistic, cowardly psychopath among the purest forms of evil in this book, and from your work, you sound like the type of person who would be nodding with an indulgent smile if you were to sit down and discuss his poisonous bullshit about authenticity over mimosas. If anything, Fats is Voldemort. Go back, reread, and in the future, stick to being an architecture critic.

It’s getting better…


Could it be? An actual glimmer of something resembling hope?

It’s not hope, exactly. More something along the lines of defiance. Mmm, that stuff is delicious with a side of rebellion and some superbly awkward dinner conversation drizzled on top.

I’m at page 220 now and for the life of me I don’t understand what Samantha’s deal is…is she just antagonistic for the sake of being so? Is there really anything deeper than disdain for Miles and a desire to live like she doesn’t have a husband and two kids on her mind? I don’t even know.

I’m relieved that Jo hasn’t put in anything too intense yet after what I was talking about in the previous post…although I have to admit that this book is already changing my idea of what “intense” is.


Okay not really but omg it just got unbearable.

Thanks a lot, Jo. I’ll never be able to unread that.

I understand why she would write something like this, of course. I know enough about what she’s said about her life to make sense of it. It’s just completely bewildering that there’s no conventional theme of love or goodness triumphing over evil. There’s no “good guy” at all. It’s just evil in degrees.

That character I mentioned who I liked the most earlier? She just became a racist. At page 149 the one I like best is Barry, the crooked politician who passed away.

God, I hope this ends well.

Actually, scratch that. I just hope it ends soon.


There is so little I like about any of the characters or their situations that I don’t even know if I want to finish it.

These people are awful. In so many different ways. The one who I think is least awful as of page 137 is a teenager who smokes like a chimney, is in near constant trouble at school for everything one might imagine, slapped her mother across the face, and has yet to express her liking for another person in any way other than by stealing things that belong to him/her.

The best part, though, is that this is the kind of book where the characters you hate and…well, hate the least, will change probably every time you read it. I love Jo’s ability to do that. Who says this book doesn’t have any magic in it?

Real talk…not even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gave me this many doubts about finishing it, and that is a terrifying book to read. Especially at night. Alone.

…*Awkward face as I pick The Casual Vacancy up again*…