The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

 

I had high hopes for The Unexpected Everything to be a blissful summer contemporary read. It has an absolutely beautiful cover and is very photogenic.

IMG_8212

Unfortunately, of its 517 pages, 300 of them are boring.  

This is a story about a girl named Andie whose father is a congressman. She lives a very independent and privileged life. Since her mother’s passing, her father has become neglective, paying her little attention and spending quality time with her only when in front of the cameras. She spends most of her time with a tight knit group of friends. When a scandal surrounding her father’s campaign costs her a prestigious summer medical program, Andie falls into a dog-walking gig.

This is where we meet the only interesting character in this book, Clark. He’s a 19-year-old best-selling fantasy writer with a severe case of writers block. I had anxiety just reading about his struggles to write and the pressure of a huge fan base. He falls for Andie pretty quickly, I’m assuming because she’s really pretty, because she doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond that.

Andie is so Mary Sue. She has minimal interests or distinguishing traits. She’s got brown hair, is determined and professional, and doesn’t emotionally connect with boys. She doesn’t like John Wayne and she doesn’t read. And I can’t even think of anything she does like. Even her taste in food is bland, she once comments on how she gets the same thing at restaurants and doesn’t like to venture much. Oh! She does really like her daily fancy iced lattes. What a character.

I couldn’t even distinguish between her three other girl friends, because they are literally the same. Pretty white girls, one like movies, one works at a museum, one has a boyfriend and works at a theatre. Yawwwwwn.

There’s this one part on page 216 where Andie is embarrassed to admit that she didn’t have her first kiss until she was fourteen (14!), because she “wanted it to be special.” Fourteen?! What? *EYEROLL*

Also the chapter lengths in this book are so annoyingly inconsistent. One chapter will be 11 pages long, and the next will be 21 or more. It makes it really hard when you tell yourself you can stop after one more chapter.

About midway through the book, literally everything is going well. Andie’s relationship with her dad is on the mend, she’s happy and open with Clark, and she likes her job. There are no stakes or tension until the last few chapters of the book.

One of her friends, Bri, falls for their friend Wyatt, who Bri’s best friend, Toby, has been obsessed with for years. This is a twist that upsets their entire friend group, and I actually felt the emotional tension and distraught from their fallout. However, I saw this coming from a mile away. No surprises with this book.

There was a massive scavenger hunt in the book that was a really fun read. The event brought out quirky and fun traits and decisions in the characters and its outcome was rather unexpected. This book also uses texting really well and their conversations are realistic and funny at times.

Before some chapters there are snippets from Clark’s fantasy novels, but I don’t know if that was as effective as it was meant to be. I get the feeling it was meant to parallel what was happening with the characters, but seeing as not much was ever really happening… It definitely wasn’t as effective as in the book Fangirl, where Rainbow Rowell did something similar but successfully.

[Okay, random rant. Clark is complaining about his father as a science fiction writer and claims that he doesn’t get what Clark does because he writes fantasy. What? Science fiction and fantasy are totally similar. They act like they’re worlds apart. It’s not like it’s nonfiction and fantasy or memoir or poetry or something. As far as the realms of writing, science fiction and fantasy are both imaginative world-building genres.]

IMG_8194I did enjoy the ending; I like how their friend group evolved and the arc of Andie’s relationship with her father.

Overall, it was too long, a bit dull, but not the worst contemporary I’ve read. It had moments where I was teary eyed, and it made me laugh sometimes. If you’re looking for something light and easy to pass some time, this wouldn’t be the worst book to choose.

 

Advertisements

Adaptations! The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

 

The Book

16101128

This is not your ordinary alien invasion book, at all.

I’m not someone who particularly enjoys alien invasion stories, and I don’t read a lot of science fiction, so I’m not the one to argue for whether or not it ‘fits’ into those genres. However it had elements of those and I actually enjoyed it, so that’s a big deal to me.

It took me a bit to really get into the book. The story starts off relatively familiar. It picks up as it finishes filling in background information and starts switching perspectives. I blasted through the second half in one night.

The first few waves were a lot like other apocalypse stories. They weren’t totally original, but the psychology behind the waves proves that to be intentional.


So basically
there’s an alien invasion and after a few waves of disaster and disease our protagonist, Cassie, leaves her home with her father and brother. Military guys come to their refugee camp and take the kids away, including her brother Sam. Well then they kill her dad, and she’s on her own in a mission to get her brother back. Cassie adopts the idea that only way to stay alive is to stay alone. The fourth wave was alien invasion; they took over the human’s bodies. These agents are picking off survivors and Cassie is shot by one of them. She blacks out and awakens in the cabin of Evan Walker, who heals her up and helps her rescue her brother. Meanwhile, we switch to the POV of Ben Parish, Cassie’s high school crush. He too was taken in by the military and they’re training all the kids in a boot camp. He has his own regiment, Squad 53, and Sam eventually is placed in it. These two plotlines play out and intertwine in the last third of the book.

This is a book that really entrances your emotions. I felt lonely and distraught as Cassie was ripped from her family. I fell in love with lurking hunk, Evan Walker. And I felt strong and inspired as Zombie (Ben Parish) and Squad 53 fought to save humanity. There are also moments of humor and irony in this book that add a level of charm to the characters.

Cassie thinks the military base is actually an alien one, but Zombie and the entire kid army believe they’re human. The whole ‘are they human or are they alien’ lines of cross stories were really complex. Even I wasn’t sure if they were alien for sections of the book. The psychology behind figuring it out was fun.

I really enjoyed Cassie as a character. She’s exactly what I would hope to be in such tragedy. She’s tough and smart, but lonely and conflicted.
Evan Walker is creepy but in an innocent awkward way. He lurks because he’s concerned and he’s protective but recognizes Cassie’s strength and capability. I liked his sense of humor and his character has a huge, badly timed, identity struggle.

Ben Parish/ Zombie takes some warming up to but he too is likeable. He’s motivated by guilt and anger, and quickly excels in boot camp. He’s funny but serious. He’s a strong and caring leader and proves to be more than just the cute jock.

Squad 53 is a fun gang of kids each with delicate backstories and baggage. We’re meant to take Ringer as a lead character, and she has a huge role in the sequel, but she was rather bland to me in the first book.

Side note: Jeez, how many times can a guy mention chess? Rick Yancey is obsessed with referencing chess.

The 5th Wave may not be the best of apocalypse, or the most intricate science fiction, it’s not even wholly original. But it is one of the best combinations of YA and sci-fi I’ve yet to encountered, and it is a great coupling of characters and plot. There were a few moments I foresaw, but that only increased anticipation. There were many threads I couldn’t wait to unravel. The strongest element is the shifting truths and psychology behind these occurrences for the characters.

 

 

The Movie

MV5BMjQwOTc0Mzg3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTg3NjI2NzE@._V1_SX640_SY720_ Dear lord, this was a ball of gouda, please do not bother.
The first scene started off pretty good. Cassie and her crucifix soldier was a powerful moment and an exciting way to kick off the movie. But then que ‘I was a normal teenager scene.’ We were fed this with an awful “I was your average high school girl at a party’ scene, I rolled my eyes. She knew Ben Parish and they flirted, she had a red solo cup and awkwardly swayed. This was nothing like the Cassie from the novel. Cassie is not a normal high schooler and that’s very much the reason she survives for so long. In the movie she didn’t debate and fight with her father, she had no pessimistic realist view on the invasion. I don’t know the Cassie they create in the movie. She was nowhere near as smart, tough, or capable. She wasn’t feisty or calculating but instead impulsive and simple minded. She was rather boring, incompetent and predictable. Chloë Grace Moretz did what she could with the script and dialogue, but her potential wasn’t met at all.

The film rushed through the initial waves. Each time, they only focused on how that wave affected Cassie. I had no perspective or idea about how it was affecting the entire world. I got no sense that Cassie was alone or one of the only people left on Earth. It didn’t feel like tons of people died with each wave. When they get to the refugee camp, people are actually in good spirits. THE WHOLE IS ENDING, but some guy is stick drumming? And there are a ton of people at the camp too, a nice day camp.

Sam, played by Zackary Arthur, had like two lines. He was absolutely precious though, that little boy was so adorable. I’m guessing he didn’t have the acting chops to earn a larger part in the movie.

Ben Parish, played by Nick Robinson, was the best part of this movie. He balanced his quick wit charm with grave authority really well.

I felt like we were expected to bond and understand this gathering of characters in Squad 53, but I couldn’t even tell who was supposed to be who. Boot camp scenes were awkward and inconsistent. Their entire establishment, meant to be cold and soldier forging, is almost laughable.

Evan Walker, Alex Roe, was great acting and appearance wise. Though he spat out lines debating his humanity that we never even had cause to question. Cassie and Evan spent a few days together and then started making out. His betrayal to his people didn’t seem like a tough choice for him. We lose a lot of character and internal conflict from Evan in the film. He wasn’t even the one who shot her leg in this movie! Ugh.

Cassie didn’t figure out that Evan was an alien by being observant and suspicious, instead she was shown his Edward-worthy supernatural strength and speed in an awkward action scene. Cassie questions everything about Evan in the book and in the movie, it takes on an embarrassing teen romance tone, especially as she stares at his rock hard abs while he bathes.

The movie also forgot to address the fact that there were aliens in this movie. I had no idea who these aliens even were or what they wanted, I forgot the enemy even was aliens after a while. There was no Wonderland either, therefore a lot less risk for characters in the camp.

Their finale escape with Sammy felt pretty effortless. They don’t run into any trouble whatsoever. Vosch doesn’t catch them at all instead he shoots at them a little on his own way out. Evan’s infiltration doesn’t even seem necessary.

And the ending scene was painful. Cassie looking up into the stars during the daytime, which thankfully Ben points out, like suddenly, she’s a thoughtful person. They’re all cheering as they clink cans of beans and play mom and dad to Sam.
There likely won’t be an adaptation of the sequel, and I think only those who have read the book will be able to fill in enough gaps to enjoy The 5th Wave on the big screen.

 

Book or Movie First? 

Book, obviously. Just don’t even bother with the movie. Just don’t.

 

Adaptations! The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 

John Green’s most acclaimed novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is about two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and eventually fall in love. That pretty much sums it up.

 

The Book

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsDISCLAIMER: I went into this book with HIGH expectations for a beautifully written, epic love story, with relatable characters I’d fall in love with.

I think this book is an awful love story.

However, it’s an absolutely wonderful novel about cancer and dying. I wanted so bad to fall in love with Hazel and Augustus. Unfortunately, I found both their characters so unrealistically pretentious, that I wasn’t attached to either. I could put it down for a few days and not feel the usual pull to keep reading.

Their intellectual capacity, specifically Hazel’s, in SO unrealistic for a teenager. I understand it’s meant to be a fiction, and sure she could be a prodigy teenager who thinks and speaks like that, but it makes for an unrelatable character.

She does have some amazing insight, but it gets redundant and a bit annoying after awhile.

Their senseless dialogue could be called cute, but then they’d suddenly drop to a deeper level of conversation almost passive aggressively. I feel like they never actually had a serious or decent conversation. It was all playful flirting or morbid confessions. I feel like their love had no stalk because of how easy and quick and simple it was, it was light and like they’re joking. It felt more that they had affection for each other, or an understanding, and then fell in lust, rather than love. And that would have been okay if that were what Green was trying to sell with this. I think he got caught up in making everything meaningful that his characters may have suffered.

I thought the metaphors were overdone and it felt like Mr. Green had a thesaurus on hand. It’s like he didn’t, John Green is very intelligent, but the diction stuck out of the overall prose style and genre. I found it pretentious and pedantic. There are so many metaphorical and deep moments of dialogue clips that it doesn’t make the individual ones special. A lot of the “deep” moments felt flat.

John Green has bits of gold and revelations about life, dying and falling in love but they are used flippantly, without the emphasis and weight that could have made it epic. I expected something much heavier and emotionally raw. The story is quite quotable but I was disappointed when I found the context of those quotes to most often be random ramblings.

And then it became about death and dying and cancer and living. And it was better. This is not a very good love story, however it is a very good story about dying and cancer. It taught me that funerals really are for the living. That the way we treat people who are sick is only condemning them to an identity of ‘sick person’.

Anyways, I’m quite disappointed that I was disappointed.

 


The Movie

MV5BMjA4NzkxNzc5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ3OTMxMTE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_The cast is pretty stellar. I adore Ansel Elgort as Gus, Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Nat Wolff as Isaac. Each brought a certain charm to their characters. The film follows the book very closely. I’d argue too much so. The movie didn’t bring anything new to the story, it’s more translation than adaptation. This wasn’t a time where the production team and director had an inspired vision for the material based on the book. It’s a visual duplication so close to the novel that the film isn’t given it’s own air to breathe. Nearly all the dialogue is word for word and only a few scenes in Amsterdam were visually exceptional. I did not cry at all during the film either. Though the movie clearly tried to tug at my heartstrings, I could easily see those attempts for what they were.

 

 

Book or Movie First?

It really doesn’t matter; they’re practically the same thing. You could see the movie and skip the book. Maybe try to forthcoming Bollywood remake!

 

Adaptations! Paper Towns by John Green

 

The Book:51hgkNew+XL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that made me pause, laugh out loud, and then reread the same lines multiple times. Paper Towns is the first John Green book I’ve read that lives up to his glorified reputation.

Green’s writing in this novel is perfectly witty and very intentional. He doesn’t waste words but instead wields them beautifully. The entire concept of the book is based on a very charming and metaphorically packed idea, a Paper Town.

A Paper Town is a nonexistent town written into maps as a copyright trap. If that town was found on a map made by a different company, they’d know they map had been copied.

This idea of things that don’t quite exist as they appear to, that we project our beliefs of who someone is and who we want them to be, is the central theme and moral from the story.

The story is about a boy named Quentin (Q) who lives next door to this mysteriously vibrant and perfect girl named Margo, whom he is in love with, of course. She’s got a reputation for running away, but when she suddenly disappears just before graduation, Quentin is afraid she might have plans to commit suicide. He also believes he’s her only chance at coming back and so he follows a trail of clues she’s left for him.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD. So stop reading now if you haven’t read the book. I mean it.

 

Margo disappears after chapter 9, out of 40, and Q spends the majority of the book obsessively searching for her, literally and figuratively. It’s almost all that he thinks about and this often involves lengthy analysis’ of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, these sections tend to drag a bit in my humble opinion.

The characterization in this book is easily the best part. Each of Q’s friends are so distinct and constantly consistent without remaining stagnant. Their witty banter and inside jokes were my favorite part of the book.

Ben, for example, refers to all women as hunny bunnies. This at first feels cheesy, but soon becomes endearing and eventually hilarious.

Radar is an editor and obsessor of Omnictionary, basically the fictitious version of Wikipedia, and his family is also the home of the Worlds Largest Collection of Black Santas. This is a great quirk to his character and another layer of theme regarding alternate perceptions of our world.

Lacey is Margo’s best friend, but quickly joins Q’s squad to help find her. At first she appears to be your typical popular pretty girl, and while most of those characteristics remain, she is surprising in the way that she cares for people and feels more deeply than you’d expect her to.

Eventually, Q finds the clue that’ll lead him to Margo’s location, Agloe NY, a Paper Town. The gang embarks on a time crunched road trip that brings them all a little closer. They find Margo, homeless and slightly manic, she refuses to return them, is angry that they even went after her. We learn the lesson, right along with Q, that everything we were told to believe about Margo was just who Q had wanted her to be.

At first you fall in love with, the idea of, the wonder that is Margo Roth Spiegelman right along with Quentin. But just in the way that an idea of a person is often disappointing, Margo Roth Spiegelman is disappointing. Her disappointment allows you to learn more about her character, yourself, and your perception of people.

Green compels his readers to think critically about identity and the way we often don’t see other people as the complex humans we are.

 

The Movie:

MV5BMjE2ODQxODMwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDY5NjY3NDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Movie adaptations should never be exactly the same as the book, they’re completely different ways of storytelling. Paper Towns did well to capture the most important parts of the book: the essence, themes and the characters.

I think they missed the big idea a bit though, that Margo was not this mysteriously wonderful person. In the book, she’s hugely disappointing for everyone when they find her a complete mess, but in the movie, Margo seems just fine. She seems happy and is wondering around the town as if she’s started over perfectly. Q continues to idolize her and doesn’t quite fully get that it was all a charade and that he had created this idea of her and loved that rather than actually knowing anything about her.

I really enjoyed that Quentin went to prom (he’s hugely opposed and doesn’t attend in the book). Angela, Radar’s girlfriend, had much more screen time and definitely added to the group dynamic in scenes she was written into. Q, Ben and Radar’s friendship was perfect and Lacey felt right as well. The scene where they’re all dancing at prom is one of my favorites. I could watch those boys banter all day.

I also liked that they cut back on his time consuming obsession with finding Margo and obsessing over Walt Whitman. The soundtrack was a wonderful companion and reflection of the emotions we felt.

Also I’m so obsessed with Ansel Elgort’s surprise cameo. I do love dragons.

 

Book or Movie First?

The book. If you watch the movie and then read the book you’ll be heavily disappointed, perhaps a bit depressed even, with how we find Margo in the end and with the true length to which Quentin forgoes his life and friends to obsess over her. These are all really important to the book’s theme, but could be disappointing if you have another idea of these characters and the better choices they displayed in the film.