Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: "Thirteen Reasons Why"

How would you react if you thought someone you knew was feeling suicidal? Would you try and help them? Attempt to dissuade them? Or would you shrug it off, deeming it as an elegant attempt at attention?

One day after school, Clay Jensen returns home to find a package addressed to him sitting on his doorstep. When he opens it, he finds insides seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker- a girl at his school who committed suicide a few weeks earlier. On the tapes, she explains her decision to take her own life with thirteen reasons, each involving thirteen people. In one night, Clay's life is changed forever as he is sent on a journey traversing Crestmont, California, uncovering the secret suffering of a troubled, lonely girl.

If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would have to be sobering. A major theme of this book is the snowball effect; how every action you take has a reaction, every decision has its consequence. Jay Asher does a very good job on effectively portraying the voice of a young girl spending her final moments telling her story.

I read this book in a matter of two days- not because it was boring, or I wanted to get through it like "Witch and Wizard". The only reason I finished it so quickly was that it was next to impossible to put it down. I do remember putting it down twice in between a few games on Matchmaking (I was downloading several torrents, so naturally it would take longer than usual), but that was it. I feel like a bad person because I can't give it the lengthy, in depth review it deserves.

So if your in the mood for a sobering, realistic story about loss, heartbreak, betrayal, and reconciliation, "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher (his first book, by the way) is the best choice for you.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: "Witch & Wizard"

First of all, I'd like to say I respect James Patterson for being a successful and disciplined author what with all the novels he has published. I have read a few of his Alex Cross novels, and almost all of the "Maximum Ride" books.

"Witch and Wizard" takes place in a reality where America has been taken over by an organization known as the New Order. This totalitarian faction (ruled by some shady guy who calls himself “The One Who Is The One”) has essentially outlawed free speech, habeas corpus, and other “creature comforts” of the Free World. Two siblings, Wisty and Whit Allgood, are woken up in the middle of the night by soldiers and forcibly removed from their parents and their home on charges of being a Witch and Wizard. They are found guilty without a trial, and taken to a jail solely occupied by children. After a short amount of time (literally two chapters) they escape in search of their parents and the means to rebel against the New Order.

The idea of children fighting the government appeals to me, but I found this book extremely uninteresting. I began to skim after I reached the halfway mark just to get it over with, and the only reason I read to the halfway mark was because I was hoping things would heat up later on.

Needless to say, I was disappointed.

This book is loaded with flaws- it’s written on a 5th grade reading level, the characters are annoying and unbelievable, and the themes hang like humidity on an uncomfortable summer day.

Towards the end of the book, there’s this lame-ass prophecy which reads:

“One day soon, kids will run the world...and do a better job than the grown- ups ever did.”

Seriously? You shitting me? This has got to be the worst prophecy I’ve ever heard of! It doesn’t even sound like an omnipotent being predicting the future. More like a child with delusions of grandeur.

When reading the characters talk and interact, it feels as if they’re all basically the same person. I get the impression that Patterson either is extremely out of touch with today’s youth or has forgotten his own childhood and hasn’t realized that even kids today don’t act or talk like they do EXCEPT in his books.

In “The Final Warning”, the fourth Maximum Ride book, the theme of Global Warming stunk like a rotten egg. This time, it’s the idea of people with power end up corrupted. I’m all for literature as a means to get a message across, but when I’m reading about magical children or human beings with bird wings, you can tell I’m not interesting in politics.

“Witch and Wizard” is yet another cookie-cutter novel from Patterson as a means of income as opposed to trying to write a good book. If you honestly feel the need to read it, I advise you fight it with every ounce of your willpower.

Trust me on this one.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Follow Up: Kick Ass

So tonight I saw the movie adaptation with my friends, and I find it fitting for me to say a few words about it.

It started out just as the graphic novel did, and stuck to it for more than half. Then the ending came, and it's as if Hollywood became the annoying friend no one really likes. They listen to their ideas only to shut them up. They included a romance plot and gave the ending lots of blood and explosions. Granted, it was more entertaining than the original, but at times a bit ridiculous.

Let's just say there was a whole jetpack-flying-over-the-city scene that was (let's be honest) gay.

Overall, I think people who haven't read the novel will enjoy the movie more than the people who did. I felt cheated out of the ending scene when Hit Girl didn't say her best line in the story. (Not gonna include it. It's kinda a spoiler.)


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Fever

Spring Break is here, and I hope everyone is having a nice vacation. I'm here just to lay out my plans for the near future.

I want to thank Amy Rains for sending the link to this blog to Dr. Ruth Clark, an expert on Young Adult literature. She had this to say:

"Wow! This teen is incredible. These are the kind of sites/blogs I love to hear about. I plan to add it to my list of teen created review style blogs. :-) Thanks for sharing."

Thank you Dr. Clark. You just made my day :)

Instead of doing a review on "Siddartha" as I previously said I would, I'm in the process of reading "The Film Club" by David Gilmour. A friend of mine who owns Trent River Coffee Co. in Downtown New Bern recommended it to me, and from reading a chapter or two I think this work deserves a spot on my blog better than "Siddartha".

On a personal note, today my very good friend Caron Schaller will be flying in to New Bern from Germany tonight and will be staying ten days to visit friends and enjoy his Spring Break. Caron was the very first to follow Duly Noted, and acts as my intermediate editor and occasional adviser on new ideas for this blog.

So there.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All Because of a Damn Apple

So after an unsuccessful night of searching for potential candidates for my reality show (ie. books for this site), I found my self disappointed and disgruntled. I'm a bit passionate about certain things and this is one of them:

It all started with an apple. A red one. Being held on the cover of an average looking book called Twilight, the bastard offspring of a Mormon mother named Stephenie. This spawn told the tale of a young teenage girl meeting a boy and the two of them falling in love. Typical story right?

Except he’s a vampire.

“Oh, well that’s different,” you say. “I wonder how this relationship will turn out- what with all his handicaps: fear of garlic, acute sunlight allergy, and the insatiable desire to thirst on human blood.”

Guess what. This vampire sparkles in the sunlight instead of writhing in agony.

Poor old Vlad’s rolling over in his grave. Where ever he’s buried.

Something tells me dear old Stephenie wasn’t thinking when she took one of the most scary and feared monsters in the gallery of non-human entities and turned them into toy-boys. I doubt she realized that girls would use her “book” as a sign that no matter what- “love conquers all”.

I blame her for single-handedly changing my pathetic generation’s view on vampires. I blame her for the obsession shared by those who attend the midnight release of her new book or midnight premiers of their movie adaptations. But more importantly, I blame her for the crippling “Twilight Effect” that is currently plaguing the genre of young adult literature.

You’d have to had been living under a rock six feet under for the past three years to not have heard of this “book”. Such popularity hasn’t been experienced since J.K. Rowling and her “Harry Potter” series. With popularity comes book sales, and naturally, books sales means money. Gobs and gobs of it. Book publishing companies get whiff of a sensation like this, they immediately jump on the bandwagon. The Holy Grail of YA Literature nowadays is to replicate such a thing I grudgingly call a phenomenon. With this new agenda, books with true potential get shoved onto the back burner and neglected whilst yet another vampire clone is released to the teeming masses to gobble up.

This is why the average teenager who reads AT ALL can’t bridge out from this genre. This is why when I enter a Books-A-Million or a Barnes and Nobles I find a table stacked with vampire book after vampire book like flies on a rotting corpse. This is why when I look for a decent book to soak in and enjoy it’s nowhere to be found. This is why I blame Stephanie Meyer for destroying young adult books for now, until the “next big thing” hits the pages of another piece of paper.

For the record, I’ve read the first “book”- and thought that there was absolutely nothing special about it. No reason for the hysteria and madness its caused.

In the end, all I can do is pray for the fad to die out and an eventual return to normalcy to occur. I leave you in the words of a very famous man:

“…Forgive [her], for [she] knows not what [she] [did]…”
-Jesus Christ
Self-proclaimed Son of God

NOTE: The following has been a rant. Enjoy the rest of your day.