Posts Categorized: Book-To-Film

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

October 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim TharpThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2008
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

‘Another spectacular afternoon. This weather is unbelievable. Of course, that probably means summer is going to be vicious again, but I’m not worried about that now. I was never big on the future. I admire people who are, but it just never was my thing.’

Sutter is spontaneous with a luring personality who lives life solely in the moment. Aimee is plagued by insecurity but has a mind that is saturated with dreams of the future. The two are an unlikely combination but Aimee is mesmerized by the lifestyle Sutter leads and Sutter is convinced he can do Aimee good by giving her the confidence she needs so badly.

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters but the Spectacular Now.”

Oh, Sutter. His character is not portrayed solely as an addict or an alcoholic, instead he’s this extremely fun and charismatic person that everyone really can’t help but love… he just has a serious problem with alcohol. But that’s not his defining feature. There was a complete lack of character development in regards to Sutter; he simply maintained as he was first introduced. I definitely wished I had seen some alteration, even slight, especially since this is highly considered to be a coming of age tale and I require character development in order for that label to be fitting.

Considering this story is told from the point of view of Sutter, everything is glorified because that’s the mentality he projects on the world. Unfortunately, the same goes for his alcoholic tendencies. It’s reflected in such a glamorized and non-gritty light and I can’t help but take issue with that since this book is targeted towards children. Taken at face value I think it would be difficult for children to see past the facade and realize that Sutter has a serious issue. The ending sheds some light on the seriousness but not enough in my opinion. Sutter’s story is truly a tragedy, I can only hope that for those children that do read this have parents that are willing to sit down and discuss with them the ravaging effects of alcohol.

Despite his good intentions towards Aimee, their relationship is truly toxic. The effect Sutter had on her was initially beneficial, however, she ended up turning down the exact road as him as her grades began to slip and she began drinking (almost) as much as him. What astonished me most was the family members of both main characters and their complete absence in their lives. I understand being a parent myself and not being able to see issues all the time before they rear their ugly head but Sutter made the fact that he was on a downward spiral loud and clear.

My opinion is quite the unpopular one regarding this book. This was well written and an honest depiction of alcoholism, I just didn’t agree with the glamorized feel the book lent it, especially when you consider the target audience.

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Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

September 27, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Narrator: Hope Davis
Series: The Time Quintet #1
Published by Listening Library on January 1st 1962
Length: 6 hours and 8 minutes
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

‘Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.’ -Source

‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.’

A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl’s lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg’s younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O’Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.

The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn’t easily categorized. It’s about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.

While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children’s book, it’s heavy with literary allusions that children won’t likely understand completely. Heck, I’m still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can’t be rationalized or made complete sense of.

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Banned Books Week – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

September 26, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Middle Grade, Read in 2013 4 Comments

Banned Books Week – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine PatersonBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Narrator: Robert Sean Leonard
on 1977
Length: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Classics, Contemporary, Middle Grade
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together, they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

Performed by Robert Sean Leonard

“At issue with censors are death being part of the plot, Jess’ use of the word ‘lord’ outside of prayer, offensive language, and claims that the book promotes secular humanism, new age religions, the occult, and Satanism. Some critics also proclaim that Leslie is not a good role model simply because she doesn’t attend church.”
-Source

[Warning: This review contains spoilers. Sorry! It’s incredibly difficult to discuss this story without including them.]

‘He thought later how peculiar it was that here was probably the biggest thing in his life, and he had shrugged it off as nothing.’

Jess Aarons lives in the small town of Lark Creek. He’s spent his summer leading up to the fifth grade practicing on being the fastest runner in the school. With shock and amazement he’s beaten in the first race by the new girl, Leslie Burke. Their friendship happens suddenly and becomes as comforting to each other as if they had been friends for years. In order to escape the normality of the world, they create an imaginary place in the woods called Terabithia.

‘For the first time in his life he got up every morning with something to look forward to. Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self – his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond.’

Jess was a quiet introspective child and Leslie’s introduction into his life not only gave him the courage to do what he loves (drawing, despite his fathers disapproval) but she opened his eyes to the world and changed his outlook on life completely. His world is turned upside down when he comes home after an outing only to be told that Leslie is gone. Jess refused to believe this and he simply couldn’t comprehend with what he was being told. He withdrew from reality and remained convinced that all he had to do was go to Leslie’s house and knock on her door and she would be there, as she always is. This was a moment of pure heartbreak. His bravery in the subsequent days and how he chooses to honor Leslie’s memory was truly admirable.

As you can see, this is another read specifically done for Banned Books Week and yet another one that I fail to agree with. Bridge to Terabithia touches on grief and death and the loss of vital people in your life. Unfortunately it is to be expected that we will all have to deal with this at one point in time, some earlier than others. Considering this is a middle grade novel and is a beautifully written depiction of grief, I see no reason why a child could not read this for better understanding on eventual sadness. Katherine Paterson actually wrote this story after her son lost a childhood friend and she struggled to come up with the proper way of explaining it to him. It teaches them that it’s normal to be sad when you lose someone, that it’s okay to wallow in grief and mostly of the importance of honoring that persons memory.

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Audiobook Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

September 21, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrator: Allan Corduner
Published by Listening Library on September 26th 2006
Length: 13 hrs and 56 mins
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

The Book Thief tells the tale of Liesel Meminger, a girl who loses one family only to gain another. How she becomes dubbed The Book Thief. How she slowly gains an understanding of Germany and the Nazis and the wrongness of it all. How her family comes to hide a Jewish man, Max, in their basement despite all risks. And how Max transformed her life completely and defined her in a whole new light. It’s a tale of sorrow and joy, of friendship and love, of bravery and acceptance.

‘I witness the ones that are left behind, crumbled among the jigsaw puzzles of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.’

The Book Thief’s use of Death as the narrator is not only thoroughly alluring in concept alone but it serves to utilizes dark humor to lighten the saddest of situations. Death is not the cold and emotionless specter you would expect him to be though. He’s unintentionally humorous, and has a fascination for humans despite his awareness of his need to remain impartial. He seeks meaning in his work and becomes mesmerized by the interesting and courageous humans, Liesel being one of them.

“…to prove to myself that you, and your human existence, are worth it.”

The symbolism is rife within these pages. Most importantly is Liesel and her book thieving. She remains blissfully naive of what is truly going on in the world until April 20, 1940 when a book burning was organized in the town square to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. She discovers things that greatly impact her and change her outlook on what has happened in her life up till that point and swiftly regards Hitler as her enemy. She steals a book from the pyre to mark the occasion. The book thieving continued after that but it wasn’t just a bad childish habit, it became a symbol for her resistance to the Nazi regime and specifically to Hitler and all he had done. Each book stolen became a symbol of hope for a better future in the post-Holocaust world.

I’ve only recently become drawn to stories of war, the majority of those I’ve read have been based around WWII, and The Book Thief is absolutely one of the very best. I loved that it was told from the point of view of a German sympathetic to the Jews which made it immediately different than any of the others I had read. Possessing richly drawn characters is what makes this story absolutely unforgettable. Liesel and Rudy, Hans and Rosa, and of course Max…their cumulative story will forever live on in my mind.

The Book Thief is an emotional tale regarding the power of words and how that power can be used for good or bad, depending on how you choose to use them.

Last quick note… It must be said that I initially started reading this in print form and while it’s still a beautiful tale, it really shined through audio. The narrator is fantastic and does an excellent Death. See for yourself in this clip.

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