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Discovering the Secrets of the Universe

9 Jun

It has been approximately 30 minutes since I finished reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Santo. Since then, I have teared up, wiggled around in my bed, paced my house in the middle of the night, and felt the urge to write a blog post. I guess you can see how I ended up here in my basement at 1 am.

I guess you could say this book isn’t that remarkable. It’s pretty clear-cut and simple, but there’s a raw kind of beauty to it that makes you know that it isn’t something you can just pass by easily. The dialogue cuts into you as you read, the emotions are laid bare for you to soak up, and it just makes you feel. The message of loving someone wholly, on an emotional level before even considering a physical level, sneaks up on you enough that the ending is surprising but pleasing (The ending may also seem like a bit of a jump, but Ari isn’t that great at sharing his emotions, so maybe he wasn’t telling us about everything going on in that head of his). Ari’s tale of growing up as a teenager is laughingly dramatic at times (he’s perfect at being an angst-filled teen) but also so relatable and perfect at capturing emotions and experiences we’ve all gone through at some point, or will go through eventually.

When I first started reading the book, I texted my friend that this is such a great book to get into the mood for summer. Boy, what an understatement. This book is such a great book to get into the mood for growing up. I have the urge to do more things, to start living properly. The moment I finished, I thought that I wanted to write a review for it. I thought that I wanted to write a review for every book I ever read.

‘So in essence, become more like Thomas?’ I thought to myself. (I have some friends who you know, perhaps like me. They are all very intelligent and wonderful. Thomas obsessively reads, writes reviews, and then catalogs those reviews.)

Actually, what a strange and accurate thought that was.

Write more reviews? Check

Read more? Check

Write more in general? Check

Spend less time online and on television? Check

Workout more? Check

Think more, care more deeply about everything? Check

But even if I copy my friends actions, I wouldn’t be copying their personalities. I wouldn’t lose any part of myself or imitate any part of themselves through certain actions. I would still have my own unique and lovely personality. And I think that’s wonderful.

Okay, it’s still 1 a.m. and the thoughts this book has inspired may have turned a bit weird. Time to go to sleep and not try to find Aristotle and Dante fanfiction. Ante? Daristotle?

Alright, alright. Goodnight.

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Struck By Lightning Book Review

3 Jan
Image

Image via goodreads.com

3.5 stars

So, as a huge fan of Chris Colfer, I forced myself to read the book very objectively. And hooray, because I did! In all honesty, I thought the book was…okay. It was nice. Not stupendous. Just a good read.

Struck By Lightning is a book where the character, Carson Phillips, is a senior at a very conservative town Clover in California, and he desperately wants to escape to the college of his dreams, Northwestern. He is the head of a dead school newspaper and writer’s club, and when his counselor tells him his college application needs more sparkle, he decides to start a literary magazine. But the only way he’ll get submissions from his unwilling peers is to blackmail them-and that’s just what he does.

Schematically, the book was extremely short. Its girth may look decently novel-sized, but the font is very large, and it can be easily read in about 2 hours, if that. The main thing I noticed is that it lacked a middle, probably because of the short length. There was a very lengthy build-up of the exposition (the blackmailing didn’t begin until half-way through the book, which was the whole premise) and a lengthy end. What I desperately wanted was a middle-a growth.

Carson as a character didn’t really change until the end. There was some attempt at the whole ‘hey, maybe I don’t actually hate all these people!’ but it was never explored. In fact, nothing really was explored; the book was very tell, not show. Obviously it’s supposed to be a journal so that’s kind of expected, but the development was lacking. The whole emotional journey where perhaps the blackmailed students and Carson could get along occurred through perhaps four conversations and then a simple statement that hinted at change within Carson. Even at the end, Carson’s personal growth takes place over two pages and is just a whole lot of “I’m never gonna let any situation be a bad one, I will always fight for success and happiness”.

Chris Colfer, the author, is an extremely busy guy. And this book was hurriedly written AFTER the movie was created, and it was based on the screenplay. And it shows. It reads rather like a script, with the bare minimum in regards to fleshing out emotions and other character’s depth. And I think that’s where the movie comes in. The book is the supplement, not a stand-alone. The movie is the real star. Normally I stand on the opposite side, saying the book is usually better then the movie. But in this case, since the movie was in fact the original, it is sure to have a lot more to offer than the book; even based on the commercials, it gives us the emotions the book lacks, where small facial cues make up for words. And the ending will work much better with a movie perspective-not to give anything away, however.

All in all, the book was the bare minimum of what I’m sure is a spectacular story. I can’t wait to see it really shine in the movie version, where it can really come to life.

The Hunger Games

1 Feb

I read the Hunger Games (the first book at least) about two years ago. It’s hard to not fall in love; the tragic story-lines, pulling suspense, and bittersweet romance are all blended perfectly in this dramatic book. And now there’s a movie coming out in a couple of months! Many fans are concerned with whether the movie will live up to the fans expectations; Hollywood seems to have a tendency to ruin things. But does it really? The magical thing about books is that the words the author gives you are the tools for your imagination. There’s no way a movie can live up to your expectations because every reader has created, and essentially read, a different story. The best a movie can do is to simply try to create a general “blanket” of a movie that covers as many peoples visions as possible.

Despite what you’ve imagined for the appearance or the mannerisms of each character, the cast has been chosen and can’t please everyone. It’s best to take what they give us and accept that whatever you see on the screen will not change the book in any way. Treat the movie as an enhancement to the book; the best it can do is deliver the same emotions experienced by the readers in a visually and audibly tangible way. Speaking of audio, who else has already experienced numerous emotions  just by listening to Taylor Swift’s new song “Safe and Sound”? It’s so haunting and soft and tragic! This song can give me chills and tears. I may have already listened to it 15 times…

I know that the movie won’t be perfect because that would be impossible. And yet I am filled with excitement and anxiousness as I await the release of the movie. I simply cannot wait! Even the trailer gave me goosebumps, which gives me hope for the movie. Just thinking about all the ways they can pair anguishing scenes with powerful music moves me. For lack of a better term, I hope the movie is ‘epic’.

The Problem With Fictional Deaths

27 Jul

Via cnbc.com

*WARNING: Spoilers for various books like Mockingjay, Forever, the Iron King, and Death Note*

I’ve always had a certain disbelief whenever I read a characters death in a book. Almost half of the time, it was just a close call and the character is suddenly back, arriving right at the height of a big moment. It adds suspense, but books (and movies) have done it so much that it’s ruined my ability to take a death seriously. I’m almost always convinced it was a trick or misunderstanding. In the book Forever (from the Mercy Falls series), I went a full chapter believing with full certainty that Cole St. Clair was not dead. I finally admitted that it could be possible when they went looking for his body; kind of a strange reaction since them not being able to find his body should reinforce the belief that he’s not dead. But I should have held on to my belief; Cole was revealed to be alive. I responded with relief AND excitement; perhaps a weird reaction for someone who’d known it all along.

The same happened in The Iron King; the Winter Prince Ash sacrificed himself for his love, Meghan. Except no one sees him die, since he tells Meghan to run while he fights back their enemies. Sure enough, Ash ends up being a prisoner to the enemy but fully alive. You can see why it’s hard to take any death seriously anymore. Which is a big problem, since now it hurts so much more when it isn’t a ploy. Instead of feeling the pain and grieving with the main character immediately after, we fill ourselves with disbelief and float through the next few chapters waiting to see when they will reveal themselves to be fine. When we slowly realize they’re actually dead, we have to cope with it during a random part of the story, after the other characters have already moved on.

A prime example of this is in Mockingjay, when Prim dies. That was more believable but still, there’s always a hope that she wasn’t caught in the bomb blast. We had to slowly realize that she was gone. And death note? I was COMPLETELY convinced that L was alive, he was just pulling a move on Light. I mean L, the greatest detective in the world, killed just like that? I had to ask my friend “Wait, he’s not really dead, right?” before I could even begin to believe it.

This just goes to show that “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is right; authors have used this manipulative writing technique too many times for me.

Downloading Music/Books

4 Apr

From dl4all.com

Some people find it wrong and immoral to download music. First of all, it’s illegal. Second, the artist worked hard on the song and spent a lot of money on it, which thousands of people can now get for free. But really, hasn’t music gotten unreasonable lately? I have an iPod with about 550 songs; if someone has that many songs and spends $1.29 on EACH, imagine how much that would build up. The songs would cost more than the actual iPod! Plus some songs are so popular that the artists are already cashing in millions for them; do CD and song revenue really add a significant amount?

Granted, they probably do help a ton for smaller and less popular artists. But now that the world is digitizing everything, these things can’t be helped. Consider this: once a song is made into a digital form, it is virtually cost free to duplicate that file as many times as you want. There really is no way to prevent it from spreading; people can’t be forced to buy something from you that can be reproduced at no cost. And think about the effect this will have on the world now that so many things are being digitalized! Did you know that books are next? They are going to start selling them online (or so I believe) and then the same thing will happen. People aren’t going to pay $9.99 for a free copy. I think they should stop turning things into files; music should be the last thing they touch. Book stores will become obsolete just like music stores, and many things will become less tangible. I don’t even like e-books or kindles; reading is more fun in an actual book form!

Well, I’ve kind of changed topics in this post; sorry about that. I’m really curious about other people’s opinions on this subject. DO you consider it wrong to download music for free, or is it just so expensive that you can’t force yourself to stop?

Review of Twilight/Confessions of an Ex Twi-Fan

3 Apr

Via deviantart.com, ~fishbizkit

Okay, first off I have to say that I used to like Twilight. It was 8th grade, I was young and the books have a strange magic about them. What I mean is, when you’re reading them, they pull you in. It seems that all romance novels do that, so you’re helpless to the next book, and the next book. I got really into the whole thing, not to an extreme but I was checking out tons of stuff; fan-art, fan-fiction, her new book from Edwards POV, etc. It’s only once the entire things done that you take a step back and go, what the heck did I just read? You start to actually realize how many flaws there are to the mesmerizing story and how weird the whole thing was. (ESPECIALLY the last book. Seriously, what was up with that.)

You realize that the reason it pulls you in is because it’s perfect; TOO perfect. The author used the book to live out her little fantasy, starting with describing Bella to look just like her. It seems that for some unknown reason, all the guys in school just fall in love with her. She’s adorably clumsy, and the ‘perfect’ mature girl. Yet she throws her life away for someone she barely knew, claiming she loved Edward before they had even had a full conversation. The book is like a fan-fiction; it makes you all happy but it’s not a well drawn out story at ALL. So now it’s time to seg-way into the review I wrote for Twilight a little while back; I don’t know what mood I was in then but be warned, it’s harsh. Also, I think I attack my former self a little when I talk about young girls. So don’t take offense to that, I was there at one point too. ^_^;

” ** spoiler alert ** Hm okay, how do I describe this book…Do you know that feeling when you finish a really good series, and you really want to read more so you settle for sucky fan fictions made by people who aren’t creative enough to write their own stories? This would be like those fan fictions.

The series is pushed along through each horribly slow moving book living only through teen emotions, which might be why the fan base is mainly young girls who can “empathize” with the emotions displayed.

Now there’s nothing wrong with a book about teen emotions; they can be really good at times. But I doubt that a completely ‘average’ described girl can walk into an isolated town and 3/5’s of the schools male population will throw themselves at her feet. Also it’s even harder to believe that it takes said girl 3 books, or around 1,500 pages, to decide between a sparkly (I say again: SPARKLY) vampire or a Native American werewolf.

Maybe the book would have been more realistic if it were written by a young author, instead of a 36 year old woman. Who, in fact, admits that she at first wrote this book for her own entertainment; not to publish it. Thats right, this book is literally just some story she wrote to feed her own romantic need, or perhaps make her feel all warm and breathless. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t know Stephanie Meyer. I’m not judging HER; I’m judging her stories 🙂 These are all guesses towards her.

The plot is a mess. Every single thing the characters want changes rapidly, with no reasoning. First Edward decides he can get past his ‘thirst’ to be with his love. Then he decides it’s too dangerous, and leaves. Then he changes his mind again and comes back, when he can’t live without her. This takes 2 books. I’m not kidding. Then after all that, she realizes she loves two people at once. She eventually picks Edward. One more book. Seriously. All three of these books have been hopelessly tied at the end with some vampire situation, which ends cleanly with all the characters alive and hunky-dory. Then Edward wants to leave her again because he wants to give her a chance at a normal life, and not turn her into a vampire, while she tries to convince him thats what she wants. So basically he tries to leave her yet AGAIN; as if the second book never happened. He later decides to change her; what a surprise.
And last but not least, the werewolf falls in love with their daughter, who is an infant, and will stay unchanging until she reaches his age. As if we needed more pedophiles in this story. Another vampire fight-oh wait, this one is about preparing for a vampire fight, who then change their minds and the fight never happens. Happily ever after! I swear on my life, I’m not making this up.

Teenage emotion makes good stories; when it’s realistic. Plain-jane girls who can get hoards of guys and then has trouble deciding which hot guy she wants, is not. Same goes for vampires who can’t make up their minds, or are obviously trying to get rid of a girl who can’t take a hint. This series is a perfect example of a mary-sue; when everything goes right, there’s no plot.

I would recommend this to people who are looking for a lot of time to waste, and aren’t interested in good plots or writing.”

So there you are! Reading it over again, I know that it’s all true. Just maybe a little mean, and it has kind of a rant feel to it. Oh well, thanks for reading! What do you think of twilight?

Review of Mockingjay from Hunger Games Series

28 Mar

From Google Images

I have a Goodreads Account and so far, I’ve only reviewed two books. One was Twilight, and the other was Mockingjay. I gave Twilight a complete bashing even though it could pass for 2 and a half stars, and Mockingjay got 5 stars. Here’s my review of it. **BEWARE: SPOILERS***

This book is very powerful.
The third in the Hunger Games Trilogy, it ends the series in a much different way than it started. This ending was not satisfying, yet it did not leave me disappointed. The book ended leaving me with dull, aching pain, but not the same as the fresh pain I felt as I experienced some events in the book. I’m sure none of us were expecting a nice happy ending; I wasn’t, being familiar with the beloved Gregor series and how Collins ended the entire series with a never to be revealed cliffhanger. But this is far from what anyone could have guessed.
I, and I’m guessing many others, felt the tension from romance and politics build up in the last two books. So for this final one, now that we have a balloon full of air near bursting point, shouldn’t we get an ending with a bang? A pop, maybe with confetti hidden inside the balloon? Instead the balloon deflates without us realizing; when Prim dies, the balloon suddenly just goes out and leaves us empty.
I could feel Katniss’s pain alongside her, understand her madness as it came alive. I teared up when Prim died and read the next few pages in a daze, similar to Katniss’s. I was a little disappointed that the defeat of the Capitol was rushed, but since it’s in Katniss’s point of view I can’t argue, because of course she’s grieving. The next chapters were surreal as Katniss slowly lost her mind and later awoke into her new life with Peeta. Katniss has forever changed, and so has Peeta, and so has this series. It’s not an ending to make you angry, but more shocked. Collins has created it with raw emotional power, so unlike the last two paced by adventure. I would use bittersweet to describe it, but it’s not even that sweet. It’s more like, settling. As if the worst has occurred so you just go through life drudgingly and take whatever happiness you can.
Some things others have complained about is Gale and Finnick. I too felt that Finnick was overlooked, and deserved more grieving. Sure, after Prim died how could Katniss think of anything else? But when they were camped out in Tigris’s store right after he and the others died, I wish they could have shown some sadness. And as for Gale, I get that she didn’t end up with him because he had too much of an aggressive nature for her after she had gone through what she had. But I hoped for her to mention them being friends again instead of apparently growing old in separate districts with no mentioned contact.
Ah, this book makes me emotionally drained. But this is the kind of story that inspires me to keep reading and writing.

Okay, that’s it! Let me know what you think. Also, if you want to read said mentioned Twilight review, let me know ^_^