Friday, February 20, 2015

Book to Movie Review: If I Stay

If I Stay
Book by Gayle Forman
Director: R.J. Cutler
Screenplay: Shauna Cross

Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on.

You can read my review of If I Stay (the book) here.  You can read my review of Where She Went here. 

Finally got around to watching this. I was soooo excited- I loved the book with all my heart, and the movie got a lot of pre-release hype. Ugh, the fatal mistake. NEVER go to a book-to-movie adaptation with expectations.

The first half was SO CHEESY. I was miming vomit the whole time. Those first conversations between Mia and Adam were so stupid and cringe-worthy. There was insta-love and insta-kissing and all in all a huge cliche. The only redeeming factor of the beginning of the film were the scenes with her parents- they are by far the best characters and actors in If I Stay the movie.

Speaking of actors, I was not impressed with Chloe or with Jamie (the leads). My first impression of them was that they didn't look the part, but then, that was my first impression of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Therefore, I expected them to surprise me for the better. They did not. I kept seeing them as actors reciting lines and going through motions - I was not feeling the characters at all. In the book I love them as a couple, here I failed to see why they like each other. Likewise regarding Liana Liberato, the actress who played Kim.

The whole film was oddly colorless. True, the story takes place in a hospital, but much of it is flashbacks of her life and even those were nothing special.

Everything started to pick up in the second half. It's hard to put my finger on what exactly made it better - I think I just started to get into it more, because none of the above flaws were rectified as far as I remember. It may also have been the music though.

The music - unquestionably the movie's strong point. As soon as I finished watching I started to download the soundtrack. The lyrics, the melodies, the playing,  the singing. I'm not much of a music critic, but I will say the songs were beautiful.

Adaptation- what WERE they thinking? I see no reason not to call the band Shooting Star like in the book (though I understand that Williamette Stone is the real name of the real band). Also, what was the whole making-Adam-prematurely-tortured for? In the movie one of his parents walked out on him or something like that and therefore he overreacts about Mia considering Julliard. It just made him more pitiful than he needed to be and nothing like the strong character in the book. (By that I mean he has reason enough to be upset and there was no need for this added detail)

And they pulled out the whole part where Adam brings a famous singer to cause a diversion so he can get in! That was the best part of the book!!

And the ending? COME ON. Clearly, someone failed to understand the point of the story. Adam giving up his career to follow Mia to NY takes away the thorn of the book's tearjerker ending and won't satisfy people who parted with loved ones for college. It avoided an important conflict of their story.

(It also basically cancelled out Where She Went which of course enraged me because I love the companion more)

Altogether? I actually managed to enjoy myself watching it, but don't go expecting a good adaptation or the next TFiOs. Rating:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3)
Leigh Bardugo
UNIQUENESS (but ya it's fantasy)

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

You can read my reviews of Seige and Storm and Shadow and Bone here.

As you can see, I regard this series as the most unique out there in fantasy today. I will also remark that the only reason this review is even coherent is because I had an entire week to collect myself. 


Ok, Leigh Bardugo you have guts and heart and I SALUTE YOU. Alina was SO KICK BUTT in this book that I practically wept with pride. And the best part? So many authors try to market their heroine as strong and badass that everytime she does something halfway decent all the other characters are like 'wow omg you're so amazing' and the reader is just like, huh? 

WELL ALINA ACTUALLY IS. And there's no need to make a remark about it every five minutes. It is perfectly accepted and obvious to all involved. I LOVE HER.

I found the whole Darkling-Mal-Nikolai conundrum absolutely THRILLING. I couldn't decide who I loved more and I didn't have to. There was no wounded Jacob to attend to- yeah, Nikolai wanted to marry her, but he wasn't infatuated. And besides that I am still bursting from satisfaction that Alina liked Mal BEFORE Mal realized he liked Alina. HOORAY FOR SENSE AND REFRESHABILITY!!

On that note, WE GET THE DARKLINGS NAME!! *does victory dance whilst melting*

I would also like to note that I have Bronchitis and read this while sick in bed. Picture this: 

Nikolai/Mal/Alina/Pretty Much Everybody: *makes a crack*
Me: *busts up laughing*
Me: *coughs up lung*

Rinse and repeat.

The beginning was a little slow, but it picked up fairly quickly. The end broke me in that it was happily ever after but not quite- just the way I HATE like it. 

What more can I say? It was emotional. I cried for the characters, and for myself because the end of the best series ever was in sight. 

All that's left is to cry that it's over. 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: The Chosen

The Chosen
Chaim Potok
Historical fiction? Hardly.  I'll go with 'Hard to Classify'

"Anyone who finds it is finding a jewel. Its themes are profound and universal."
It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again....

I'm a little bit speechless, to say the least.

This book was thrust in my hands A MILLION TIMES by one of my best friends and I kept saying I'd get to I'd get to it. We sell hundreds of copies of it at the bookstore I work at because everyone studies it in school. I myself almost studied it last year but it was changed last minute to A Separate Peace. My grandparents are friendly with the author.

And yet, my friend's copy sat on my bookshelf for about a year now. 

When someone says, 'it's a book about friendship between a Hasidic boy and a Modern Orthodox one' you're like, Oh, that's nice. I didn't imagine for a second that it would move me the way it did. 

The Chosen was written with EXPERT skill. Whole periods of time were described in two sentences and yet you FEEL the time passing. All the stress and worry that any of the characters go through comes straight to me as if it was I who was living it. 

And the build up. Dear Lord. All throughout the novel, you can FEEL the climax coming. I had no idea what it would be- the conflicts are subtle and at times aren't noticed. The tension grows and grows until you're ten pages away from the end and you know SOMETHING is going to happen but you don't know what or how and then it's upon you and you're shocked and you cry and OH MY GOD. 

I'll tell you right now- there's no dramatic secret or plot twist. But it was the most AMAZING climax I've ever read. 

And the friendship. All I wanted was MORE. Truly one of the most beautiful relationships ever written. Can I get a sequel?? Pretty please?? 

There were so many crazy and genius themes and ideas that I almost wished I HAD learned it in class. The backdrop of the Holocaust made the story even more real to me, watching how the different groups dealt with the trauma of 6 million of their people dead while you were oblivious and the world was silent.

Need I say more? Do yourself and the world a favor and savor this story.