Books in the Media Week 2: “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Genre: YA Fiction
Paperback, 318 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Speak (an imprint of Penguin Group)
First published January 1st 2012
My Rating: B     
 


The Fault In Our Stars Film Adaptation 
2h06m
Released 6 June 2014
Directed by Josh Boone
Starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort
My Rating: B+
 
Oh, where to begin…
 
I started this books in the hope that I wouldn’t like it. That may seem like a silly thing to say, but let’s back up a little. This book is a worldwide sensation. People are figuratively losing their minds over it! The intensity of the fandom left me with the desire to not become one of those people. I wanted this book to be stupid and pretentious so I could set myself apart. Honestly, I think I was the one being a little stupid and pretentious. 
 
Although this wasn’t my favourite book ever, and there were definitely parts that had my eyes rolling, I enjoyed the book overall. I read it in just two days, and found myself laughing along with Hazel and Augustus (although, what kind of names are those for teenagers?). However, even though I really did enjoy it, and the writing is insanely quotable, it did seem at times that it was trying too hard. That it was going out of its way to be philosophical yet funny, in a way that wasn’t completely natural. I realize that there is a group of hipstery, angsty, literate teenagers that do go on like Gus and Hazel do. I also realize that sitting on the precipice of “oblivion” likely causes one to be more philosophical and “existentially fraught” than others. But I also have never met a teenager whose every word was so eloquently put. 
 
I’ve read some reviews by critics of the book who don’t seem to recognize that it is a young adult novel. Or at least they don’t recognize that means the target audience is teenagers and therefore it probably shouldn’t be held up to the same standards as, say, Pulitzer prize winners. No, maybe it’s not always completely realistic, and no, maybe it’s stupid to say that “V for Vendetta” is a boy movie. But It’s not meant to be a literary classic. It’s meant to draw teenagers back to the earth they actually live on and out of the Twilight-y clouds. It’s a bridge between kids books and adult books, just like the teenage years are a bridge between childhood and adulthood. Even though today there are many, many adults reading YA novels, I think it’s foolish to overlook the fact that they are teenager-oriented. They may have elements that adults can read and enjoy, but that doesn’t mean they should be read or critiqued in the same way that adult-oriented novels are. That’s almost as silly as reading a Franklin book and complaining that in no way would a turtle ever be best friends with a bear. 
 
I don’t think that this novel is to be praised quite as highly as it is (that’s usually the way it is with most things), but I don’t think it should be disregarded either. For what it is, it’s a great read. 
 
The highly anticipated film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort was released June 6th of this year. The many fans of the book were both pumped out of their minds, and nervous that, like so many adaptations, it wouldn’t live up to their expectations. While there will always be something that gets left on the cutting room floor, this adaptation was remarkably true to the novel. Even a good chunk of Green’s narration made it into the film. There were a few departures from the book that hardcore fans might be disappointed about, however none of them were deal breakers. They were only minor things that, let’s be honest, would have only served to lengthen the already lengthy (ish) film. 
 
The movie was well cast and well acted, not only staying true to the content of the book, but also its essence. I could feel John Green all throughout the movie. 
 
When I went into the theatre, I expected to be the oldest person in the room. For the most part I was, but there were also a couple of old ladies sitting down front. I could hear people laughing and crying along with Hazel and Gus. And when it got closer to the end, lots of sniffling. When the movie was over, I was the first to get up and leave. Everyone else was still too distraught, bawling their eyes out. I’m not suggesting that I am heartless or made of stone. There were a few tears that snuck out without my permission. But I didn’t lose my mind. I didn’t when I read the book either. I guess it speaks well of the movie that it provoked the same reaction in me that the book did. 
 


As far as adaptations go, this one was top notch; I think it’s possibly the most true to the source material that I have ever seen. If you enjoyed the book, you’ve obviously already seen the movie (probably—If not, you should). If you’re trying to decide whether either of them are worth your time, I can’t tell you. It seems that people feel very strongly about this book either way. I’d say that if you like YA fiction, then you will most likely enjoy this book. You’ll probably definitely enjoy the movie, though (IMDB gives it 8.5/10 and RottenTomatoes gives it 80%). I quite enjoyed both!
 
Happy reading and watching! 

The “Should Adults Read YA?” Debacle

Article by Ruth Graham called “Against YA” sparked a lot of uproar in YA fans across North America. A hashtag even cropped up #NoShameYA. Graham claims that adults should be “embarrassed”  to read books that were meant for children.

I think that saying that YA is worse for adults than adult fiction is hard to agree with. She calls Divergent trash, but doesn’t mention the adult “trash” that is out there (ex. 50 Shades of Grey). I personally would much rather be caught reading the “trashy” YA novel Divergent than 50 Shades, that’s for sure. Many adult genres could be described just as well in the same way Graham describes YA fiction.

Sure there are many YA books that are more about “escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia” than a solid literary experience, but it would be a shame to paint them all with the same brush. This can be seen in the multitude of books that could be considered YA that have become classics, still read and studied today, even at the graduate level: The Outsiders by SE Hinton, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, to name a few. 

Graham also claims that, “Most importantly, [YA] books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple.” This is not confined to YA fiction. Many, many adult novels end in much the same way. Is she really arguing against YA specifically, or is she arguing that adults should actually be reading more complex literary fiction, no matter the intended audience? 

She also states that “the YA and ‘new adult’ boom may mean fewer teens aspire to grown-up reading, because the grown-ups they know are reading their books.” Honestly, if this kind of fiction is what gets people reading, than so be it. If fiction was confined to only the literary, honestly most people I know wouldn’t be reading at all. It’s not that they are too “simple,” it’s just that they get enough of life by living it. When they seek entertainment, they don’t always want the complex pain of real life. I don’t see what’s so wrong with escapism that ends satisfyingly, with a few nuggets of wisdom tucked in there for good measure. And really, reading, for most, is about entertainment. There’s not getting around that. Literary fiction is not for everyone.

I am going to have to go with CS Lewis on this one, Ms. Graham:
“No book is worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” 
And, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” 


Listen to CBC Mainstreet’s discussion here (Should grownups read YA books?)
Read Graham’s article here


What are your thoughts? 

xo

The Bibliophile Next Door

Books in the Media Update

Hey Folks,

As you may have noticed, my first post in the Books in the Media series was Philomena and not The Returned. I had to move things around a bit because it has taken me longer than expected to watch the eight episodes of Resurrection. I hope this unexpected twist does not disappoint! You can find my review of the book Philomena here or by scrolling down to the post below. 


Happy Reading!


Love,

The Bibliophile Next Door
xo

Books in the Media Week 1: “Philomena…” by Martin Sixsmith

Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give awayPhilomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away by Martin Sixsmith

Paperback, Film Tie-In, 452 pages
Published October 10th 2013 by Pan (first published 2009)

My rating: C+

Philomena Film Adaption 

Released 27 November 2013
1h38m
Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan
My rating: A+

This title might seem familiar to most because it was recently made into a Oscar nominated film starring Dame Judi Dench. The film was a heartwarming yet heart wrenching take on the real life story of Philomena Lee. This film focuses on Philomena’s search for her lost son, aided by the sardonic reporter Martin Sixsmith. 

 
This was a great, moving, and poignant movie, with excellent performances by both Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. It’s no wonder it was nominated for so many awards. After watching and loving the movie, I went in search for the book it was based on. Interested in this poor woman’s struggle, I wanted to know more. I found a copy of the movie tie-in edition, and purchased it, excited to delve deeper.
 
The first part of the book did not disappoint. It told the harrowing story of a girl in the care of corrupt institution in 1950s Ireland, forced to give up the child she loved. The film stayed quite true to this part of the story. 
 
However, the similarities ended around there (and picked back up again in the last few pages of the book).  Although I did rather enjoy the book, I’ve taken a star off my rating due to the egregious misrepresentation of the content in this book. In the movie tie-in edition, the reader is led to believe that the pages therein will contain the story of Philomena Lee. However, more than 95% of the book is about the life of her long lost son, Michael Hess (né Anthony Lee). Although his story was indeed interesting and moving, it was not what I was led to expect. 
 
Curious about this inconsistency, I looked up the original edition of the book. This brought about an “aha” moment. The original title is not Philomena but the more apt, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. Clearly in the movie tie-in version, they were looking to draw in the audience, like me, who enjoyed the film. However, the book itself goes significantly more into depth about the life of her son.  Therefore, it is not so much the story of Philomena as it is the fruits of her search. It’s the touching story of Michael’s search for identity, as he struggles to come to terms with his adoption and his sexuality.
 
I take another star off my rating due to the ambiguity surrounding much of this work of “non-fiction.” It purports to be a true story (and largely it is) but there is a lot of creative liberty taken. Sixsmith clearly uses his imagination when filling in some of the blanks. I would dub this as more a of work of creative non-fiction. Not only so, but, allegedly, one of Sixsmith’s sources complains about the book on Goodreads. This may leave one scratching one’s head.
 
That being said, I did quite enjoy this story once I got over my confusion. If you enjoy narrative non-fiction and don’t find any of these afore mentioned qualms too troubling, I would recommend you give this book a shot. However, if you don’t think this book is for you, you should definitely at least see the movie. The movie is truly very good (I have watched it more than once!!).
 
Just for fun, here is the original synopsis for the book (it’s quite a bit more accurate than that of tie-in edition!): 

“When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea, Co. Limerick, to be looked after as a ‘fallen woman’ and at the age of three her baby was whisked away and ‘sold’ to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising ‘Never to Seek to Know’ what the Church did with him, she never saw him again. She would spend the next fifty years searching for her son, unaware that he spent his life searching for her.

Philomena’s son, renamed Michael Hess, grew up to be a top lawyer and then a Republican politician in the first Bush administration. But he was also gay and in 1980s Washington being out and proud was not an option. He not only had to conceal not only his sexuality, but, eventually, the fact that he had AIDs. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent in which he was born to plead with the nuns to tell him who his mother was, so that he might see her before he died. They refused.


The Lost Child of Philomena Lee is the story of a mother and a son, whose lives were blighted by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. A compelling narrative of human love and loss, Martin Sixsmith’s moving account is both heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive.”



Happy Reading (and watching)!


Introducing Books in the Media Series!

Hey guys,

My new series on books in the media officially starts next week with my review of The Returned by Jason Mott and the TV series Resurrection! However, I thought I would kick off the series with a bonus review! Check it out in the post below (or by clicking here)! 


I thought I would also give you a sneak peak of what else you can look forward to in the series.


The week after next you can look forward to reading about Philomena: the true story of a woman and the son she had to give away  and theAcademy Award nominated adaption Philomena (2013) starring Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench. 


Later in the series you might see:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayedand The Maze Runner by James Dashner! 

Keep checking back for more reviews and updates! 


Also, if there are any good books with upcoming or recent film/TV adaptations that you would like to read about here, let me know!


Happy Reading (and watching)!


love,

Your friendly neighbourhood bibliophile 

xo

“Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line” by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham 
Genre: Mystery&Suspense

This story continues where the recent Veronica Mars movie left off. It is ten years after the end of the TV series, and Veronica has returned to Neptune to help her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls beat murder charges.


Now, after she found the real killer, she has been sticking around Neptune to help her father get back on his feet after his attack. She, with the help of Wallace and Mac, have been keeping up with his cases at Mars Investigations, trying to keep the business afloat.


It’s Spring break season, and hoards of college students have descended upon the hotels, bars, and beaches of Neptune. The scene is rife with alcohol-infused debauchery…and thus the perfect breeding ground for foul play.


When a young co-ed goes missing, Neptune makes the headlines. Some may say no publicity is bad publicity, but when a second girl goes missing as well, suddenly the hotels, bars, and beaches of Neptune have cleared out. Businesses are losing money because Neptune has been deemed unsafe. As the corrupt sheriff’s department scrambles to find the girls, not all in Neptune are satisfied with their efforts. Soon, Veronica Mars is enlisted, and she will follow every lead to find those girls. No matter how dangerous or how close to home it hits.

Fans of Veronica Mars will (likely) enjoy this book! It has all Veronica’s trademark sass and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was very excited to find out that it was going to be the first in a two book series.

With Veronica Mars creator, Rob Thomas, in the byline, it shows that the books are officially accepted as a continuance of the Veronica Mars universe after the movie. Although I really enjoyed this book, Veronica Mars enthusiasts might have a few complaints.


First of all, unlike the TV series and the movie, the narrator of the book is not Veronica herself. The story is told in a third-person narrative that I found did not detract from the quality of the story. However, like I said, enthusiasts might take issue with this because Veronica’s narration is a trademark element of the show. It provides a window into the sassy and complex mind of our heroine. Without it, some might find that the novel is lacking.


Second, a certain brooding love interest is surprisingly absent throughout the novel.

Many Marshmallows (fans) are members of team LoVe (Logan and Veronica) and will likely be very disappointed by this. While Veronica and Logan are indeed together in this story, Logan spends the entirety of the book off being a navy pilot. I didn’t find this a huge issue because I was a) just glad they were together, b) glad that Logan got his life together, and c) appreciative of the realism that exists in this distance.

Third, the characters that played such an important role in Veronica’s life—Mac, Wallace, and, most notably, Keith Mars—experience very little character development and/or very little actual attention in the novel. While the novel does a decent job bringing Veronica to life, it falls short where these other characters are concerned.


All that being said, if you’re not a nit-picky enthusiast, and are just looking for the same kind of entertainment the series brought you, this book should do the trick. I absolutely loved it. I wish the book series was going to involve more than two novels, but I am really glad they’re happening at all! If you are not a V. Mars fan, I’m not sure you will like this book. A lot of its appeal lies in its attention to V. Mars loyalists. There will be many things others might not understand or pick up on. However, if you’re not a V. Mars fan, I’m not sure why you would be interested in this book anyway. Also, I’m pretty sure this goes without saying, but if you haven’t seen the movie, you should not read this book. The book continues where the movie left off. So, watch the movie first.


All in all, this is a solid read and I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed the TV series and movie.

The Returned…

Okay guys…

So… I was looking into the TV series The Returned for my upcoming post about the book by the same title. I recently posted a confused rant about it (refer to said rant here). However, I got things a little mixed up. The French TV series The Returned is based on a French film, called They Came Back, and it (the French show) premiered in 2012. It just came to the US last year, and an American adaptation is currently in the works. It is the French show that is critically acclaimed.

This is all very interesting (and confusing) but doesn’t really have much bearing on my upcoming series. Although the book and this show share the same name, the show based on the book is called something else (this is discussed in my previous post). My first entry in the series of Books in the Media is going to be on the book The Returned and the show Resurrection. 

Love,
Your friendly neighbourhood bibliophile

NEW!

Hey guys!

I am trying to up the ante on my blog, if you know what I mean. I am trying to post more interesting content and get more readers to my page. I have just added a new feature! To the right of the posts there is now an option to subscribe to my blog via RSS and via email! Please do so and up my reader count ! 🙂 


Also, my first post in the Books in the Media series should be out next week! Look forward to hearing about the book The Returned by Jason Mott, and the show Resurrection that’s based on it! Keep checking back for more info!


Happy Reading


Love,

Your friendly neighbourhood bibliophile 

XO

The False Start

When it comes to starting a new book, I am often plagued by false starts. This is because, you see, for me reading is often a mood thing. Not the act of reading—my goodness, no. I am always in the mood to read. The question is, what book am I in the mood for? 

If you’re like me, you have two or three bookshelves filled to overflowing. Many of the shelves’ inhabitants are as yet unread. You know that this is a shame—you really do mean to read them. And sometime you will. Is now the time? I mean, you just finished a book. It is time to start a new one after all. Oh look, that one has good reviews. You pick it up and read the first few pages. Nah, that’s not the one for today. You pick up another. Then another. This happens a few times before you throw your hands up in exasperation. You need to pick a book. You can’t not pick a book. 

Finally, like the toy in a cereal box, you find the book for you. You read the first few pages. And then continue on to the next few. And then the next few. You don’t feel antsy or uninterested. This is the one.

Then, when you finish that book, you go through the process again.

Lather
Rinse
Repeat


xo

The Returned? The Resurrection? What?

Hey guys…

I just recently read the book The Returned by Jason Mott. I knew it had been made into a TV show because the back of the book jacket said so, and because I had seen ads for it on TV. However, upon looking into it, I got a little confused. I looked up “the returned tv series” and found two different options. One was a French TV series, and the other was an American remake of that TV series. However, the American remake is onto season two, and premiered in 2012. This was especially confusing for two reasons: 1) the whole remake of a French TV series thing, and 2) the book The Returned didn’t come out until August 2013. 


Upon looking into it, I thought that it just had to be something different. Maybe they called the TV series based on the book a different thing. But it was strange because the synopsis for the TV series titled The Returned was strikingly similar to that premise of the book (with differences in character and specifics).  It’s very weird because this TV show is apparently quite popular and an Emmy award winner. It turns out the new TV series based upon the book by Jason Mott is called Resurrection and first aired in March. 


I am startled by the similarities in premise. However, the actual plot does have its differences (which it must, otherwise that would be straight up plagiarism, would it not?). I had planned on adding this book to my upcoming series of reviews on books coming to the screen. Now, however, it has been given a new twist. I am going to have to watch both of these shows and compare! The review of the book itself will be coming soon, with commentary on the shows to follow. 


Have any of you guys watched either show? What do you think? 


Happy reading (and watching)


xx