Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Book Review)

13 Reasons Why is a new young adult TV series being released on Netflix this Friday (March 31st). There will be 13 episodes (all available on Friday) and the show is based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, in which a teenage boy receives a package containing audiotapes recorded by a classmate who has recently committed suicide. The show was directed by Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy & produced by Selena Gomez. I read the book recently so figured I should review it before the show airs. Here’s my review…

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

What It’s About: (via Goodreads)
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this book. I’ll say it was very “readable”. I usually take a good few weeks to read a book (due to lack of free time) but this was a quick & easy read plus I found that I really didn’t want to put it down as I was truly curious to see how it would end (I read it over a weekend). It’s an uncomfortable subject matter, however, and I still don’t know if I feel right about how it was handled. Plus, the below trailer for the TV show makes it look almost like an “exciting mystery”, which I don’t think is necessarily a responsible way to market the story. I guess we’ll see how the show unfolds. This IS a book about suicide. The only “mystery” is why the girl did it, which she explains in her audiotapes. The trailer’s mood just feels a bit off to me.

I’ll say this is very much a teen book but it didn’t feel immature or like the author had dumbed it down for its target audience. My teenage years are far far (far!) behind me but this book feels like it was written in a way that would seem genuine & relevant to a modern teen. I know nothing of the book’s success but I would imagine that current teens can relate to it whereas I feel that certain other young adult books are too obviously written by authors whose teen years are far far (far!) behind them. Okay, yeah – I’ve just looked up the author (Jay Asher) and he’s my sort of age. I also think that he did a good job with the character of Hannah Baker, the girl who commits suicide. It can’t be easy for a middle-aged man to capture the feelings of a teenage girl but I think he did well with her character (probably even better than with the main male character, Clay Jensen).

I’ll of course avoid major spoilers but the main moral of this story is to treat people with kindness and to be aware of the signs to watch for that may indicate that someone is suicidal. I of course agree with this message and would love to think that this book could save some lives but, well, I don’t think the world works that way. If anything, it worries me that this story could play into the rather typical teenage thoughts about suicide: that whole “this will make people notice me & understand what I was going through” thing. No. The bullies, etc? They didn’t care beforehand & they wouldn’t care afterwards. I hope no one thinks that because of this book. However, from the other point of view, who knows? Maybe it would help some teens to notice the warning signs & perhaps offer someone some help. Maybe. The nice ones. (Is it obvious that I thought a lot of the people in my high school were uncaring assholes?!)

I admit that Thirteen Reasons Why was a bit of a page-turner, even if the subject matter left me feeling uncomfortable. Clay listens to several cassette tapes from Hannah, each focusing on a different classmate & the role each person played in her final decision. This meant we were told several stories as Clay listened to each tape, which was an interesting way to set up this novel. Hannah Baker was a well fleshed-out character though, interestingly, kind of hard to like. Maybe that was partly the point… Due to various incidents, she turned inward so I suppose she was kind of ignored. Clay Jensen comes across as a little less genuine but I think this is due to his seeming so simple in comparison to Hannah’s complexity. Overall I’d probably recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult fiction and who is emotionally stable. But I wouldn’t necessarily want anyone who is anything like Hannah Baker’s character to read it…

My Rating: 3/5

Here’s the trailer for the Netflix series, starring Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen & Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker:

The Death Cure by James Dashner (Book Review)

I’ve finished reading the Maze Runner trilogy so I’ll do a short review of the final book: The Death Cure. I did a full-length double review of the first two books, The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials, HERE. To be honest, I’ll only really be saying the exact same things again so I’ll keep this post brief. Let’s talk about The Death Cure

The Death Cure by James Dashner

What It’s About: (via The Maze Runner Wiki)
It’s the end of the line. WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. Will anyone survive? What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. The truth will be terrifying. Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over.

My Thoughts:

I love apocalyptic and/or dystopian books and I’ll happily read any YA books as long as they’re halfway decent. I’m very “must read the book before seeing the film!” but did it the other way around this time after seeing & really liking the first The Maze Runner movie. I then ended up quite disappointed with the first book. Yep – this is one time where I’ll say the movie was much better than the book! It managed to flesh out the characters & make them far more likable. Then I read The Scorch Trials & liked it a fraction more than the first book (until it totally went to shit at the end). Then I read The Death Cure. Then I watched The Scorch Trials movie (I’m all ass-backwards!). Oh. My. God. What in the HELL was up with The Scorch Trials film “adaptation”??? Did they read the book at all?!? (I’ll review/bitch about that movie tomorrow).

What am I even talking about? I’m so confused. Oh! The Death Cure. The final book. Well, except for a prequel, I think? Which I won’t be bothering to read. All I can say is that the third book is like the others in the trilogy, written in the same weird style and feeling like it’s being made up as it goes along. Looking at my reviews of the others, I see I threatened to throw this book out the window if it didn’t give answers & come to a satisfying conclusion. I’m happy to say that this book does come to a proper conclusion. There’s no cliffhanger or teasers of more to be added to the story. Hallelujah! I was worried that I was being strung along this whole time.

Am I happy with the ending? Meh – it was okay. I think I’m mainly annoyed that YA books of this genre all feel the need to be an entire series of books. I suppose it’s to milk as much money as possible out of its young audience but it’s getting old & tired now (like me!). Weird writing style aside, this was an enjoyable enough story overall that I think I’d have appreciated far more if it had been edited down into one book. I stand by my opinion that the first film is quite good and the story was intriguing enough to make me seek out the books but the second film is so awful that I have zero desire to see the final one(s?). As for the books, The Death Cure was my least favorite of the three but that’s not saying much – they’re all really the same thing. I feel bad saying this as I do respect anyone who is able to write a successful book and I believe in always reading the book before watching the film but, if you’re interested in this setup, I actually recommend going straight to the movies with these. It’s even possible I’d have liked the second film more if I hadn’t known that it doesn’t. follow. the. book. in. any. way. what. so. ever. What the hell…..?!

My Rating: 2.5/5 (same rating I gave the other two books)

Sweet Valley High Covers Artist Takes Commissions

OMG I was obsessed with Sweet Valley High as a pre-teen in the Eighties!

I saw this the other day & just had to share it here too. James L Mathewuse, the artist who did over 250 Sweet Valley High covers, takes commissions! I want to be painted like one of the Wakefield twins!!!!

Seriously, though – you can view the artist’s site HERE and a good article about it all HERE. But now I need to reminisce…

Yeah, I read the above three books. I think I stopped at book number thirty-something (I did outgrow them eventually). I wrote to Francine Pascal, the creator of the series, when I was about 12. This was for a school project, okay?? I wasn’t quite nerdy enough to write fan letters in my spare time. 😉 I thought it was really cool when I got sent an audio tape of the first book, though.

I’ve had a lot of fun just now Googling images of the original cover art. It’s shocking how they all came back to me as I looked at the covers! I can remember my favorites based on the artwork. Double Love, Playing With Fire, Power Play, Kidnapped! Those were awesome. How embarrassing… I was briefly very girly.

After Sweet Valley High, I moved onto YA “horror” instead. Christopher Pike’s books were my favorites. Remember Me, Chain Letter, Spellbound… This kind of thing was way more “me” (and my gateway to Stephen King). I really wish I still had those books with their original artwork – I’d love to be able to pass those on. Hell, I’d probably read all the Christopher Pike books again to see if I still thought they were great or if they can only truly be enjoyed by Young Adults.

I’ll shut up now. But I’d love to hear from other Sweet Valley High or Christopher Pike lovers! Jessica was such a bitch, though. I always identified more with Elizabeth. 😉

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) Review

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

My Opinion:

Well, I was attempting to take a week off from blogging but I just watched the final Hunger Games film so figured I should say something about it before the weekend (I also watched Steve Jobs this week but a review for that can wait until next week). Hmmmmmmmm……. Mockingjay – Part 2………….. What can I say? I want to stay very spoiler-free, even for those who’ve read the books as I’m sure the readers will be very curious to know if certain things get changed. But I’m not going to tell you! I can say that I’ve read the books and was a very big fan (of the first two, at least. like most people). I also think the first two films are very good. These final two, though? Well… I’ll get to that more in a bit.

What’s interesting is that my husband, who hasn’t read the books, had quite a different reaction to this film than I did. He thought the first two were good but did NOT like these final two. He had a lot to say about it but I’m not going to go into any of that – I just find it interesting that he disliked these final two so much & wonder if others who haven’t read the books will have the same reaction that he did. I think they probably will. I think they’ll feel exactly the same way about the final two films as us book readers felt about the final book.

I think The Hunger Games book trilogy is fantastic. I know it’s “YA”, which puts some people off. But it’s nothing like things such as Twilight – Collins is a great writer and the first two books are two of my very favorites that I’ve read in the past decade or so. Yeah – the first two. Not the final book. I think most readers felt the same way about that one.

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this movie as, for me, it’s impossible to review it on its own & not compare it to the book. No, I didn’t like the final book. So… I was never going to love the final two movies (not helped by the fact that splitting one book into two movies pisses me the hell off). As a whole, though, these movies are quite faithful adaptations & that’s always very important to me. It’s been a long time since I read these but Mockingjay – Part 2 is very faithful from what I remember (without giving away to the books’ readers whether or not anything big was changed). So, I can’t fault the two Mockingjay films. They did what they could with them and remained pretty loyal to the source material. Which is great! It’s just unfortunate that the source material isn’t so great.

I haven’t reviewed the first film as I wasn’t blogging yet but I reviewed Catching Fire (HERE) and Mockingjay – Part 1 (HERE). Catching Fire was really good (I gave it 8/10) but Mockingjay – Part 1 felt pointless as there was no need to turn it into two films (I gave it 7/10). Part 2 is at least a bit better than Part 1 since you finally get a conclusion instead of being left hanging halfway through a story. I once again enjoyed re-visiting these characters & stand by my opinion that Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice to play Katniss (although the hubby thought she seemed bored in these last two films, which I don’t totally agree with but do admit that it did feel that way a little at times).

Elizabeth Banks & Woody Harrelson have very small roles in this final film, which is a shame as they’re two great characters. The character of Peeta is once again a bit of a bore (sorry if you like him! but his character is a bit bland). One big complaint I’ve had all along & still have is that I don’t think they developed the character of Primrose (sister of Katniss) enough. Well, the books were kind of guilty of this as well if I remember correctly but they should have given more screen time to the two sisters and slightly less to the somewhat annoying love triangle. I don’t think the films fully gave you the sense of love that Katniss has for her sister and also felt they didn’t fully explain some important plot points to a movie audience that hasn’t read the books. I think I’d have been slightly lost during the two Mockingjay films if I hadn’t read the books.

Summary:

I really want to hear from you guys what you all thought of this one & whether or not you’ve read the books. I’ve not yet read any other reviews so don’t know what kind of reaction this movie is getting but I’d guess that those who haven’t read the books will feel the way that my hubby did & won’t really like this film. As I said, I can’t really fault this movie as it’s a good adaptation and I think they’ve done a pretty great job in choosing the cast for this entire series (especially Lawrence). Mockingjay – Part 2 is a good film but I kind of lost interest in it in the same way I did with the final book. Obviously you’ll want to see it if you’ve watched all the others but don’t expect it to be much different than Part 1. However you felt about Part 1, you’ll probably feel the same about Part 2

Sorry for that rather uninformative review! It’s a very hard one to talk about without spoiling things so feel free to discuss it with me further in the comments. 🙂 Just try to put a spoiler warning at the start.

My Rating: 7/10

The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Book Reviews)

Well, these books weren’t very good at all. So let’s get my crappy reviews out of the way while the Americans are off work & won’t be reading this! Plus, The Scorch Trials movie is due out in the UK this Thursday so, yeah – let’s just do this…

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Book 1)

What It’s About: (from the book’s back cover)
When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the center of a terrible maze. The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happened to the world outside. And following the arrival of a girl with a message, they must find a way out – or die.

My Thoughts:

First of all, I’ll say that I try to always read the book before seeing its movie (if it’s a book I’m interested in, at least). But I saw The Maze Runner last year (my review is HERE) and liked it enough that I decided it would be the next Young Adult series that I would tackle. Dammit! Well, I remember it was partly because I thought the book would explain what happened in the movie a bit more and that it would flesh out the characters (especially the girl, who seemed a bit pointless). Oh, hell no! It does none of those things! The movie is actually much better in this case (I still quite like it & do plan to see The Scorch Trials). Honestly, the story itself is decent enough that, if it interests you, just skip the books & go straight to the movies.

James Dashner has… I don’t know – an odd writing style?? It’s hard to explain. It’s like he says the same unimportant things over & over & over (it’s like one of my reviews!). The books would be a quarter of the length if he didn’t treat the readers like idiots. We’re paying attention – stop repeating everything! And, especially in this first book, it got super annoying how no one would tell Thomas a thing about the Glade & what was going on. It was always “We’ll tell you later” and this went on for the whole damn book and just got so freaking boring after a while. I mean, I’ve never written a book – I wish I had the talent to be a writer! I give the guy credit for an original story, which I did like, and he came up with some great “killer robots”, the eerie maze, etc etc. The story itself is okay but the only way I can describe it is that it feels like you’re reading something written by an 11-year-old instead of reading what an adult wrote FOR an 11-year-old…

I didn’t care about any of the characters, other than  Thomas a tiny bit. Two books in & I still don’t really care about their fate – they’re all so poorly developed. At least Thomas is the only somewhat likeable one – I was surprised at the difference in how the characters are treated in the book & in the movie (don’t expect to like Alby – he’s nothing like in the movie). I do actually want to like the characters in a story – luckily they realized this when making the film adaptation & did a far better job on character development.

Sorry – it’s impossible to not compare this to the movie! As I wanted to get through The Scorch Trials before this next movie, I read the first book really quickly. The movie is actually quite faithful to the book other than it changing some of the characters a bit to make us care about them. I feel bad trashing a book that someone put their heart into – I suppose, as it’s YA, it’s written in a style meant more for that 11-year-old age group but, considering it’s just as violent as The Hunger Games & that series is very well-written, it just feels a little odd & unsure of its target market. I still like the story and thought the mystery of the maze was really cool. Considering that I’ve picked up the final book (The Death Cure), I obviously like it enough to keep going.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Book 2)

What It’s About: (from the book’s back cover)
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to…

Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, its people driven mad by an infection known as the Flare.

Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the Scorch to once again save himself and his friends…

My Thoughts:

I guess I’ll have to talk about the actual book this time! This book has the same writing style issues as the first book but they’re so similar, just in a different setting, that you should like it fine if you liked the first one.

I thought The Scorch Trials started out pretty good & I was kind of enjoying it more than the first book. This could partly be due to the fact that the story was new to me as I hadn’t seen the movie first but I preferred the diseased, post-apocalyptic desert setting to the Glade in the first book. I’m a sucker for all things post-apocalyptic and the desert setting is how I expect my post-apocalyptic stories to look (Mad Max: Fury Road! Hardware!). What it reminded me of, really, was the first book in the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey. I reviewed that (HERE) and enjoyed it but for some reason never continued. I should be reading that series instead of this one! (I know why I went with this one – they’re short & quick to read while the Wool books are thick. Long books are exhausting).

So, things look good for our surving Gladers. At first. Then it all goes to shit! Of course. These kids never get a damn break, do they?! I did enjoy the book at first but hated whatever the hell it is Dashner is doing with Teresa (the girl from the first book). Speaking of girls, there are more of them in this story! But they don’t really show up until a little over halfway through & only one new female addition really has anything to do.

What started out okay & slightly more promising than the first book totally fell apart by the end. The situations got more & more ridiculous & one character’s unexplained behavior just got on my nerves. But I’m sure it’ll be explained in the next book. Of course! So if you’re looking for answers to what’s happening in this world, don’t expect any in The Scorch Trials! Seriously – if The Death Cure doesn’t come to a saisfying conclusion, I’m gonna throw the book out of the damn window. I feel that a lot of the dystopian YA books that are around these days kind of feel like the author is making it all up as he/she goes along but The Maze Runner series is the WORST for this (so far)!

Like with the first book, the story in The Scorch Trials is decent & I really liked the creepy instruments of death used toward the beginning (trying to avoid spoilers) but, overall, it’s becoming a bit of a convoluted mess & the “mystery” is starting to just piss me off. I’m off to read the final book now – wish me luck! I’ll try to not hit anyone if I end up chucking it out of the window.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Book Review) 

I mentioned this book HERE when I ranked & did mini-reviews of the books I’d read in 2013. It was a super mini-review for this one as I planned to do a longer review of it at some point. So, here you go! It only took me two years!

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The book tells the tale of a boy who, following a horrific family tragedy, follows clues that take him to an abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island. The story is told through a combination of narrative and vernacular photographs from the personal archives of collectors listed by the author.

My Thoughts:

I fully admit that the eerie photographs used throughout this book are what drew me to it. It’s yet another Young Adult book, a genre which has become so popular with every age these days, but at least it’s quite “different” from the rest. I still think the idea behind this book is genius! I love that the author collects weird old photographs & ended up writing a story around them. I think that’s very creative. Unfortunately, I didn’t really love the story.

(Is this one of the creepiest photos you’ve ever seen or what?!)

As I say, I read this in 2013 (possibly even 2012) so I’m not going to get into any specifics at this point. I did think the story was clever, about a group of “peculiar” children at an orphanage who seem to each have strange & mysterious talents or “powers”. It’s a very odd book & I’m usually a fan of odd. But, for whatever reason that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, it didn’t really work for me although it seemed like the type of thing that would be right up my alley. As with most books I don’t fully enjoy, I think I just didn’t buy into the characters that much (including the main boy, Jacob, who has to unravel the mystery of his grandfather’s strange photographs).

I do think a big part of my problem, which probably isn’t fair to this book, is that I had NO idea that it was the first book in a series when I read it. I think the second book wasn’t yet out and, although I do enjoy YA books such as The Hunger Games trilogy, I’d been reading a lot of series books at that point & was looking for a stand-alone book to read. Imagine my disappointment when I got to the end and there wasn’t a satisfying conclusion! It’s very much a “to be continued” ending. As long as you know that before reading it, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed like I was.

I’m choosing to finally “review” this now as, obviously, this is mainly a movie blog & I’ve been wanting to write a little something about the book before Tim Burton’s film comes out early next year. I do love to read but struggle with book reviews – I find it far easier to talk about movies. But I still enjoy discussing books with all of you in the comments so I’ll do my best to give you a few more of my crappy book reviews by the end of this year – I’ve read A LOT! 😉

Anyway, I remember saying to my husband while reading this how it would make an excellent Tim Burton movie. Am I good or what?! Clearly someone read my mind! I was very happy when Burton was later chosen to make the film as, although I didn’t totally love it, the book is very original and had a “look” in my mind that perfectly fits Tim Burton’s gothic style. I know his films have been disappointing in recent years but, if he gets this one right, I think it could be very good. And if it’s good, it’ll probably interest me in continuing with the story. Eva Green, although too “young & pretty” for how I pictured Miss Peregrine, does feel like a perfect choice to match the book’s style as does Asa Butterfield as Jacob. I’m actually really looking forward to this film adaptation! I was probably too harsh on the book but, perhaps if I read the next book, I’ll start to like it a little more. As long as there’s some sort of conclusion? Has anyone read the second book, Hollow City??

My Rating: 3/5

Oh god! It’s those creepy kids again! This photo is the stuff of nightmares!!!!

The Maze Runner (2014) Review

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The Maze Runner (2014)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Starring:
Dylan O’Brien
Kaya Scodelario
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Will Poulter
Ki Hong Lee

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Maze Runner is a science fiction dystopian action thriller film. The story follows sixteen-year-old Thomas, portrayed by O’Brien, who awakens in a rusty elevator with no memory of who he is, only to learn he’s been delivered to the middle of an intricate maze, along with a slew of other boys, who have been trying to find their way out of the ever-changing labyrinth — all while establishing a functioning society in what they call the Glade.

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My Opinion:

I actually quite liked this movie. As I said in my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I, I do love my “YA post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi books” but I’ve not read The Maze Runner or Divergent. Of those two movies, I definitely enjoyed The Maze Runner more than Divergent and will possibly read the books now. So, obviously, this review won’t be comparing the movie to the book (which will be a relief as I can get pretty picky if I’ve read the book first, as you can see in my review of The Giver. Not too happy with that adaptation!).

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I liked that this was some sort of sci-fi Lord Of The Flies. I liked the mystery of the maze & not knowing who had put these kids there and why. If I had any complaints, they’d probably be that I’d liked to have seen even more of the maze and its mysteries (I’m assuming it’s even more complex in the book?) and that I’d have liked more character development of the girl, who doesn’t seem to have much to do in this film. Other than that, I liked the relationships that formed between the characters and that they each had very distinct personalities. There’s a pretty generic “bad guy” but that’s to be expected as you need two different groups wanting to deal with their predicament in different ways. It just seemed to work as a movie much more than Divergent but I’m not sure why.

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Summary:

I actually enjoyed The Maze Runner a bit more than Mockingjay even though I think Mockingjay is the superior film. I assume the following books & films will suffer from the same problems as The Hunger Games in that the first book has a great and original idea that you can’t exactly repeat in book 2 (well, except for The Hunger Games having yet another Hunger Games in book 2…). 😉 I mean, I’d assume there’s not a second maze, which is the cool thing about this first movie. But instead it’ll turn into this big fight against the evil powers in control and blah blah blah. Right?? Well, it’s the only direction these sort of stories can ever really take so I’m not really complaining – I’m just hoping it’s a more satisfying conclusion than in Mockingjay. I’m at least intrigued enough to probably read this series.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Review

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Julianne Moore
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jeffrey Wright
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

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My Opinion:

I love YA fiction (especially of the post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi variety!) and have read The Hunger Games books. It was before this blog started but I did review the Catching Fire movie (HERE if you’re bothered). The first two books are possibly my favorite of the YA stuff I’ve read in recent years and I think the first two films were very faithful, especially the second, and I’ve been happy with them and with the choice of actors (other than maybe Josh Hutcherson). I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of the final book so I’m naturally unlikely to like these last two movies as much as the first two. However, from what I can remember of the final book now all these years later, I think this film again stayed pretty faithful. It’s a solid movie and everyone again does a good job with their roles but I still can’t help but feel a bit “meh, so what?”. It especially doesn’t help that they’ve done that thoroughly annoying thing again of splitting the final book of a series into TWO movies. Why why why?! It’s not as annoying as the whole Hobbit bullshit but, seriously – they’re doing it to get more money out of us as opposed to making sure to make the best piece of “art” they can and it gets on my nerves.

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Now that I got that little rant off my chest: Is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Freaking 1 any good? Yes, it’s fine. I enjoy the story and seeing the characters again and still think Jennifer Lawrence is perfect for the role of Katniss (even though we’re starting to see her in too many movies and I’m afraid she could someday be on my annoying list instead of my favorites list). They have some very famous actors in these movies and it feels like they take their roles seriously as opposed to just “phoning it in”, which it feels like famous actors do in some other YA films. I think it makes The Hunger Games movies feel a bit more “grown up” than others (which I see as a good thing). The final book is the darkest and the movies have been good at getting the tone right but, hopefully, no parents are letting anyone see these if they’re TOO young…

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Summary:

I don’t think I need to go into this film much. If you liked the first two, you’ll like this one even though you may be annoyed at again not getting any sort of “conclusion”. If you like the books, you’ll be happy enough with this adaptation. The acting is really good, especially for a “YA” film, and Lawrence is still the perfect Katniss. I understand that the story needed to take this direction in the final book and couldn’t just do the same thing once again but it just didn’t work as well for me and I don’t expect to like the final two films as much as the first two. Speaking of YA stuff, I saw The Maze Runner a couple weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to review it yet. Maybe Wednesday…. Yes! I’ll make this a “movies based on novels” week here at CPD since I also just watched Odd Thomas! Anyway, although I think Mockingjay is the superior film, I kind of enjoyed The Maze Runner more as I haven’t read the books and liked watching a story unfold without already knowing what would happen. I’ve watched Mockingjay as I want to see how they handle the books but I really wish they’d just made this into one film. But I’ll of course shell out money once again this time next year to see Part 2. And I’m sure I’ll complain about that once again. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

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First Look: Shailene Woodley Is Sick, Lovesick in The Fault In Our Stars

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Link to full article here: SlashFilm

It’s going to be a big year for Shailene Woodley! I’m looking forward to The Fault In Our Stars (I’ve not read Divergent). I really enjoyed the book (my review is HERE). I do love all the great young adult fiction that’s around these days. Here’s hoping this movie can be even half as good as The Perks Of Being A Wallflower film (which I loved as much as and probably even more than the book). 🙂 Now if only they’d release The Spectacular Now in the UK so I could finally see it…

Warm Bodies

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When I first heard there was going to be a zombie love story movie I was like “Whaaaaat….??” I LOVE zombie movies. Is that weird for a girl?! Forget wussy sexy vampires and all that – give me a good zombie movie! It started years ago when I watched Night of the Living Dead and then Dawn of the Dead, which I now consider one of my all-time favorite movies. So, anyway – even being a big-time zombie fan I did think the idea of a zombie love story sounded ridiculous. I like the comedy ones, such as Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead, but… Love story? Puh-lease!

Well, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Warm Bodies! I suppose it helped that I went into it with fairly low expectations. I do like a lot of the young adult fiction these days but I didn’t know about this book so I’ve not read it and I went to the movie really knowing nothing about it.

I liked that this movie had a sense of humor about the whole zombie thing and had some funny moments. It wasn’t taking itself too seriously, which actually meant that you could sort of buy into the whole crazy idea of a zombie romance and the even crazier ending a bit more than if it had tried to be all serious & dramatic (like Twilight. Gag!).

The movie is kind of a strange mix of trying to be a little bit indie/quirky and trying to be a little bit mainstream (think somewhere in the middle of The Perks of Being a Wallflower & Twilight). If I’d made the film I think I would have gone much more “indie” with it but I think the way they’ve done it did work. It’s still not mainstream enough to get the entire Twilight crowd going to it, though (thank god!). To be honest, I’m not entirely sure who WILL go to this… It’s an odd one and the people at the cinema were an odd assortment – there were mothers with children way too young for it (8ish – WTF? I know it’s a 12A in the UK but this movie is too old for them!) through to one quite old couple in front of me. It’s not going to get all the young adult girls who want a dramatic love story with a pretty boy but, being a 12A, it’s certainly not going to get hardcore horror movie fans going to it either. I’m surprised it has quite a healthy IMDB rating of 7.4 at the moment, to be honest. Although I really enjoyed it I have to say this is one movie that people are gonna like or they’re gonna REALLY hate. I’ve told my co-workers that I really liked it but know I shouldn’t have because I KNOW that every single one of them would hate it. But they all suck when it comes to movies anyway, which is why I blog to people who are proper movie fans instead of talking to the people I work with about movies! 😉

In conclusion…. Hmmm… Not sure where to go with this now. Would I recommend this movie? No, not to EVERYONE. It’s not for everyone and it’s one of those rare ones where I can’t really predict who would like it and who wouldn’t (if I know a person well enough, I’m usually very good at recommending movies they’d like). Honestly, I have NO idea who will like this and who will hate it. If you go to it, go to it with an open mind and knowing that the premise is ridiculous and just have a bit of fun with it. Remember that it’s a 12A romance if you’re a horror movie fan and expecting lots of gore and remember that it’s a zombie movie if you’re thinking you’re going to get some lovely girly romance.

Oh yeah – the romance! Did I believe that a girl could actually fall in love with a zombie? Er… No. It’s a rotting zombie, FFS! Gross! Lol! But I did actually find the relationship in the movie very sweet and FAR less annoying than the one between Bella and vampire-boy. It was good that it was told from the zombie’s point of view so you could understand how he’s feeling and I have to admit that I really liked the WAY he gains his feelings (I won’t give that away but I liked that it felt like an original idea – there aren’t many original ideas in the tons of zombie movies these days. If you don’t like your zombie lore messed with, though, you might want to skip this one!). I was fine with them breaking a lot of zombie rules as I think you really HAVE to if you’re going to turn it into a romance. I didn’t go to it for the romance side of things to be honest, though – I went for the zombies! And I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 7/10 (but don’t get mad if you see it & hate it because I’ve warned you that it’s not for everyone!) 🙂

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