Saturday, December 3, 2011


This review will contain no less than four different subjects. All for the price of one!

If you couldn't tell this one is gonna be about Bioshock!

Personally, I think these are the best games ever. The story, the detail, the characters that were put into it, the atmosphere. Everything is so tied together. I know some have complained that the sequel didn't add anything new to the game playing wise, but I think they are neglecting that it really does add to the story.

When you play the two games along with reading the prequel book that recently came out you get even more of the story. While the book did put a slight damper on my theories that Bioshock and Fall Out take place in the same universe, Fall Out being the future of the world outside of Rapture, it didn't crush my theories completely. I was fascinated watching Rapture rise and fall as Andrew Ryan (get it? Andrew Ryan, Ayn Rand? His nemesis calls himself Atlas as in Atlas Shrugged) grew more paranoid and further from his own espoused ideals because others were encroaching on his success.

The first two games are based on the writings of Ayn Rand and her ilk. Capitalism being truly allowed to run free and no restraints on innovation, business, or technology no matter the human cost.While I am not exactly certain of what the third Bioshock will bring. From the trailers and clips it would appear that the premise is based on extreme patriotism and xenophobia but only time will tell.

If you can't play these games, definitely look up clips on youtube. It is not one that dissapoints.

At one point in time there were talks of a movie, but sadly, the movie seems to have been shelved indefinitely.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Words have an impact, a point that is illustrated beautifully in Kathryn Otoshi's One.

One isn't the loneliest number anymore!

You might be thinking to yourself, "Girl, why you reviewing a children's book?" and I might answer you, "I liked it." At this point I might also stick my tongue out, completely invalidating the message of standing up to bullies and doing so without being a completely rude canoodle that the book actually makes.

I really did love this book, though. I used to teach 4 and 5 year olds and this was one of the books that we used. It captured the message in a simple way that didn't bog the kids down with the superfluous.

Even at their young age they could relate to the story of Blue and Red. They really took the message to heart that it 'only takes one to stand up'. After we did (you don't read to children, you do books with them. Let them guess about what happens next, let them re-enact portions of it, they need to interact with it) the book once we saw the kids in our class try to be more inclusive. They wanted to play with other children that they normally wouldn't play with and stood up for students that were being left out.

Without going into specifics (spoiler free and all) this book has a great anti-bullying message that can be told not just through the words on the page, but through the artwork that shares the story.

As well as the anti-bullying, this book can be used to teach colors, including the hard to learn color grey, and numbers. Each number needs to stand up and 'count'. It can also be used to help a child learn sequencing and to determine which situation will come next.

I even started the book by going through each color/character and asking the students what each color made them feel. The book gives each color their own characteristic as well so after reading it I asked each student which color they felt the most like. This helps each student learn to empathize a little bit with their peers.

Such a simple book, but so many different lessons it can teach. It is definitely one that  I am going to get for my future children one day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

21 Jump Street

This one might not be so spoiler-y because this review is coming to you from the future. Waaahhhhhooooooooo.

Not really. But I am going to attempt a review of a movie that hasn't come out yet just based on it's trailer and the source material. If this review makes it so that I eat crow later on, well, I'll eat it, but I somehow don't think I'm going to have to.

This is the red band trailer, so it's probably a bit more risque, though I watched it and saw nothing too terrible. 

This movie is based on the 80's era tv series of the same name helmed by the late Stephen J Cannell. Running from 1987 to 1991 it starred Holly Robinson, Steven Williams, Peter Deluise, Dustin Nguyen, and Johnny Depp. It revolved around a group of officers that looked young enough to pass as high school students in order to break up crimes. The show gave us a variety of different plots that were topical at the time. In the first season there was an episode that dealt with AIDS; they had plots that dealt with rape, hate crimes based not only on race but on sexuality, prostitution, gangs, and of course, drugs. Those are just a few that I can remember off the top of my head. This was a show, marketed to teens and young adults, where kids died. They got shot, they died from drug overdoses, they were prostitutes.

Some of the episodes were a little silly (they had their moments), kind of melodramatic as most shows of the time were. But I think the show tried to treat the subject matters as things that were serious and to handle them as respectfully as possible.

I must stress that I was actually kind of excited about this movie when I first heard it was being made. I thought, how awesome would it be to see them update the story to deal with things that are more contemporary. This is kind of what they might be doing, but from what I can see in the trailer for the new movie "based on the 21 Jump Street series" helmed by Jonah Hill and starring the same this serious cop drama has been turned into a comedy. It seemed like, if the writers and producers watched the original, they could not get passed the melodrama of an 80's and thought that it was supposed to be funny. Let's update it, but we're gonna make it all funny.

One of the biggest things in the trailer shows two of the officers deciding to throw a party so they can figure out who is selling drugs in the school. Not only do they buy alcohol for underage students, they also take the drugs themselves because they need to prove that they aren't narcs. This is something that would never have happened in the original show; in the original they delved into the ethical gray areas that these officers would have to face as they were undercover as minors participating with minors that might be drinking or doing drugs. It wasn't treated as a joke.

To me, it seems like Jonah Hill is trying to re-do Superbad but realizes that he's not an entirely believable high school aged teen anymore.

I hope that I am proven wrong. Even though I was much to young to watch this show when it first aired I did get into it during my own teen years (and I still enjoy it, not being that far out of my teen years). I got into it for the Johnny Depp, but I stayed for the rest of the cast, even watching the last seasons when Johnny Depp was doing anything he could to get out of his contract and when he finally wasn't even on it anymore. It was never a comedy. It had light-hearted moments, but first and foremost it was a cop drama.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ju-On 2 (this review might be spoiler-y)

 If you know that sound, you might have some idea about what this article is about. But I bet, at this moment in time, you won't have any idea of the amount of crazy and supposition that is going to happen in this "review". Be warned.

This afternoon I decided to sit down and watch Takashi Shimizu's Ju-On 2, 2003's sequel to the 2000 Ju-On. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, these are the movies that were re-made in the US starring Sarah Michelle Gellar under the name of The Grudge.

Pictured: Not the movie I watched. 
Now, here comes the section of the review where I try to compare the two series somewhat. Keeping in mind that I saw the re-make of the original in theaters, but only saw part of the original on tv one night; and the reverse is true for the sequels. I have seen the original Ju-On 2 all the way, but not all of the re-make. This gives me lots of speculation room as to how the two series are not similar. For starters I kind of think Kayako (the Grudge ghost) probably does not come raging out of Sarah Michelle Gellar's vagina at any time in the US re-makes. Just saying.

I am also thinking that, aside from horrible Grudge birth, the plots aren't going to be that much similar between the two sequels. Ju-On 2 is about a film crew, and an actress specifically. Which is not what SMG character was in the first re-make. I also tend to think that, theme wise, the movies are not really that similar. While both feature the aspect of Kayako cursing anyone who meets her as she is a grudge the overall feeling I got from Ju-On 2 and what I've seen of Ju-On was that it is presented more like a disease. The re-makes had more of an outsider living in a completely different culture vibe. I can go further here and say that the grudge infection in the re-makes seems to be focused more on a foreigner trying to resist being assimilated into the different culture.

There, I was a good reviewer and even tried to go a little deep for a minute there! Now it's time to get back to doing what I do best... not really reviewing things!

So, Ju-On 2. I enjoyed it. There was some really good, unsettling filmography going on. Rather than being in your face about everything, much of the ghost stuff seemed to be really subtle. Things that you wouldn't notice right away. This is the trend my mother complains about the most in US horror, everything is so in your face.

The movie is not presented in a linear format (that one took me a minute to figure out) and each character that comes into contact with Kayako has their story shown. One of these characters seemed tacked in for extra padding; her story was presented differently than the other characters and I had no idea who she was when they first started her segment because she had appeared for less than a minute in an early scene. I'm not sure why she was there, really. Well, I know why she was in the earlier scene, but I'm not sure what made her special and singled out.

Most of the rest of the characters are dealt with in the same format. They go into Kayako's house, and then they die. The main character, Kyoko, lasts a little longer and has some different stuff happen to her. This is expected, she's the heroine. The other girl, not so much.

Anyway. Rather than just being killed, Kyoko survives a car accident with her boyfriend who is put into a coma and sent to the hospital of death. That's probably not it's real name, but that's what I like to call it. I would not be visiting that hospital anytime soon. Really inept staff, we'll get to them.

Kyoko has a few bumps and bruises, but begins to suspect that something is wrong with her baby/fetus after the accident. Protip spoiler: it's an evil grudge baby and you are going to name it Kayako.

People start dying, and Kyoko has some really weird stuff happen to her. Like an evil stain appearing in her house. The same evil stain that was in Kayako's house and is probably, most likely, Kayako's blood. Of course, even though Kyoko knows the stain is evil and gives her a weird feeling she sleeps in the same room as it. She really should have called someone to take care of the stain before taking a nap with it, but whatever.

The director who featured Kyoko in National Examiner type news show at the grudge house is putting all the dead/missing people pieces together and contacts Kyoko while she's at the death hospital with her, up until now comatose boyfriend to tell her of all the creepy missing people.

Now, at this point I became a little mixed up on the time frame because; Kyoko was up on the hospital roof with her boyfriend, the director contacts her, she goes to speak with him and leaves the hospital. Que scenes of more weirdness happening to the director and Kyoko, then we were interrupted by the superfluous extra who is also killed by the grudge. For some reason this girl is in the grudge house, but not, she's really only there in her mind (?) but Kyoko gets to see all this because, for some reason she is also at the grudge house (but maybe not, it could be her own house?) where the director stumbles in and finds her passed out on the floor.

He takes Kyoko to the death hospital where doctors are shocked to discover that, women go into labor when their water breaks! Seriously, all three of them stood in amazement and watched. Of course, once the lights started to flicker and evilness started to happen....

Meanwhile, Kyoko's boyfriend who happens to still be on oxygen and in a wheelchair is still on the roof by himself where he goes into convulsions. What sort of a hospital is this?

I will leave the rest up to your imagination, or for you to see for yourself. It wasn't a bad movie, I did enjoy it. There were just some absurdities that had me pausing to go...wait...really? I do think that I might have to sit down and watch the original Ju-On and The Grudge 2 so that I can get a better picture of what it is that I was watching. Right now I think I've got two puzzles that have some clear differences, but not really, and am trying to put them together.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is full to bursting with atmosphere and really expresses a strength of the first time novelist's writing that she can actually place you in the circus with her colorful of characters.

While the characters are colorful, the circus is not.

The descriptions of the circus contained inside are what made the book for me. This was everything I have always wanted a circus to be. Feats of amazing magic contained in everything from the smallest act to the largest. The images of the tents and rides so perfectly captured in prose that I found myself wondering if anyone had thought about making this book into a movie yet. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a studio that has already bought the rights and now can just sit back and wait to see if they do these beautiful black and white acts the justice they so truly deserve.

Aside from the circus and descriptions of acts, there is a plot to the book. But don't fool yourselves, I would have read about nothing but the circus itself, the different acts and rides and performances. To the plot though.

The actual plot and setup of the book was also something that I found refreshing. It involves two magicians that are pitted against each other in a game devised by their teachers. For the game to end, one of the magicians needs to die.

There are many places where this novel borrows from Shakespeare, but no so heavy a place as this. The two magicians, a man and a woman, have been trained their entire lives for this game. They know that they are going to be competing. They aren't sure right away who their opponents are, but when they found out they happen to fall in love. Romeo and Juliet anyone?

Even with this common plot, the author has done such an astounding job of making the romance and subsequent tragedy believable in more ways than even Shakespeare did. No, I was not a fan of Romeo and Juliet and by telling you that this is what the plot reminds me of does not actually give anything away. See, I'm still spoiler free!

Earlier I said that the magic aspect was also refreshing. Witches and wizards seem to be the most popular magic humans, so it was nice to see magicians! Actual magicians being called magicians or illusionists. Not that they are a separate breed of humans, but that magic is a talent and can be learned and cultivated. I am sure that this is not the only book to look at magic like this, but it is, in my opinion, one of the better ones.

While I did enjoy this book overall, there were a few things about it that made it a little difficult for me to get into right away. The biggest is that the book skips around in time. A lot. And it can be very hard to tell when you are supposed to be as the characters, aside from a special few, never change. Superficially at least, there is some character growth and what not. The other thing I found myself getting frustrated with was how slow it took some of the characters to step into their actual parts in the book. Mentions of these characters would come and go, chapters would be spent looking at them, and it wouldn't be until chapters later that the reader would figure out where the pieces fit together. These things don't detract too much from my enjoyment, but they did keep me from finishing the book as quickly as would normally have done so. 

I would recommend this book to people who like beautiful imagery, Victorian times, circuses, and magic. Even people who are afraid of clowns can read this book.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ernest Scard Stupid

If you couldn't tell, this blog is updated kind of randomly! I tend to update when I feel like it, if I've seen something that I think needs to be reviewed or whatever.

This time around, I'll be reviewing a classic that I have loved since I was a wee little child only so high. Of course I am talking about the troll-tastic Ernest Scared Stupid!

How can you not watch this at Halloween? Even Christmas, I mean, it's got the spirit of Christmas to it. Gifts to the town come from a tree, etc. 

This show made my Halloween when I was younger. I loved every minute of Ernest's slapstick and most everything about this movie. It wasn't until later, as I grew older, that I thought how weird it is that the people in this town let their children hang around Ernest. But that's my jaded era showing through. On a recent re-watch, though, I didn't find the movie too dated (other than thinking about how a movie where an adult hung around a bunch of little kids would not be treated so lightheartedly in our current cultural climate) which is not something I can say for other movies made around the same time. I'm not sure if it's because this movie wasn't too focused on looking at "hip kid culture" and was more looking at a man who is not the brightest crayon in the box, but has a good heart.

Movies like this just aren't made anymore, it was like watching a live action cartoon. Reality didn't matter. There was a Jack Russel that was fully capable of driving a dump truck, so nitpicking about the physics of some of the "troll traps" and what have you was kind of pointless.

The entire premise of the movie revolves around a troll that left a curse on the town. Part of the curse ended up being Ernest himself, while the other part was that Ernest would bring the troll back to life. Ernest is the town idiot so no one believes him (or the children that hang out with him) about the trolls. Trolls which Ernest brought back while pointing out how stupid the curse was and how it would never happen.

Anyone who has seen another of my favorite cheesy/"scary" movies, Killer Klowns From Outer Space (if you have not seen that one, go, now... I'll wait) might recognize the trolls as they repainted the Klown costumes to use in this one.
Also with some adjustments to hair....and pies...

I am aware that some of my friends feel themselves to be too cool to watch movies like this, but you know what I say? I say that much like Ernest you need to keep your childlike heart with you and you should never know when to quit (things like this).

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Wow. For the second time this summer I have been proven wrong in my assumptions about the current state of Young Adult fiction with a book that I genuinely found both equal parts wanting to throw the book away but having to read it all in one sitting (which I basically did).

Warning: This review might be a little more spoiler-y than I normally like to do. 

This book is Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

I don't have many things to say about the cover. Except that the tagline is reminiscent of the old Goosebumps book which this one blows out of the water. 
The entire premise of this story is, in the future, after the second civil war in the United States is fought over abortion a kind of joke compromise was reached. It's a joke in that the government never thought it would be taken seriously, but were backed into a corner when both sides said it was acceptable. This new law is called The Bill of Life and makes abortion illegal. Instead, if a parent so chooses, once his or her child reaches the age of reason (13) until the child becomes a legal adult (18) the parent can have the child retroactively aborted, or, unwound.

This appeased both sides of the fight as when a child is unwound they are technically not killed. Every part of the child's body is divided up and given to people who need it. Did I forget to mention that unwinding is code for organ harvesting? Because this is the future, even pieces of the brain can be assimilated into someone else. Parents who, for various reasons, no longer want their children can have them unwound but not have to worry about having killed their child.

There are, apparently, many reasons to unwind a child. For the religious you have children tithed, specifically if you have ten children, then by unwinding one child that you raise and brainwash just for this purpose you are giving your ten percent. For those parents that have out of control children, unwinding is a way to not have to deal with the problems. There is a quote from the book where one child has bought into the reasoning behind why he was being unwound; he wasn't particularly good at anything and he'd rather that part of him go on and be successful instead of all of him being worthless. Unwinding also allows an overburdened foster care system the ability to downsize the population they are dealing with if and when budget cuts come along.

Some of you might be thinking, well, it still doesn't really help the pro-choice movement because the mom is forced to keep the kid until they are 13 at least. Well, that's not the case. This law also includes a "storking" clause where a mother can drop off an infant on any doorstep and so long as they are not caught in the act, the family or person that lives there has to legally take the child. This might sound okay, not great, but okay until you realize that storking allows for the shuffling of infants around a neighborhood. So long as no one sees anyone drop the infant on a doorstep, it can be storked indefinitely. That's not the way the law is supposed to work, but if no one sees, no one knows the law was broken.

Because of the high incidence of children being unwound, the medical practice has gotten a little iffy. Why should they fix a problem when they can just replace the organ or limb with something brand new? Even brains can be replaced, which leads to some issues as the brain is never killed off (all children that are unwound are done so completely conscious as it is believed that the child should have the "right to know what is happening to his or her body". One of the most disturbing scenes in the book takes place from the point of view of a teen that is being unwound.) The child's consciousness never actually leaves and sometimes they continue to exist inside the person who received the organ.

Besides exploring some major ethical grey area, this book also looked at some philosophical and biological philosophy of where the soul/consciousness is kept and what it means to be dead. Is muscle memory another manifestation of the consciousness or personality of the unwound?

What I liked about this book is that we are given several different characters to explore these themes through. One of them is an ultra religious tithe who then loses his religion while other characters have no religious affiliation at all. So it's not like the reader is being bombarded by a large amount of religion or anti-religion.

I had a very hard time putting this book down, and after every new revelation found myself mostly disgusted by the people I saw buying into these laws. But then, when I stopped and thought about it, I did not see the main premise of this book as being that far fetched which can be a problem with dystopic futures. Sometimes these books tend to go for the highly disturbing, but go too far overboard and it ends up unrealistic.

The characters were fairly well rounded, the changes that they went through over the course of the book were natural enough with only a few rough spots where a character appeared too cliche or did something solely as a plot device. The ending was fairly surprising as well, considering, and while it does not end on an entirely happy note, it is not entirely hopeless either.

I would recommend this book to people who like: Dystopias, ethical/moral grey areas, and really, REALLY tense moments.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

I love movies, I consider movies and tv shows to also fall under the storytelling category, same with comics and video games. All of them are just using different mediums to arrive at the same point. Telling stories.

Movies have words in them, so I feel I'm allowed to review them in my blog. It's my blog anyways so there's nothing you can do to stop me!

This time around I'll be looking at an overlooked little gem called Dylan Dog: Dead of Night directed by Kevin Munroe and adapted from the comics Dylan Dog (that's the English translation, the comics are in Italian) by Tiziano Sclavi. I haven't had the opportunity to read the comics just yet, but I do plan to. Not having read the comics is probably why I didn't mind the movie so much, actually. I was able to appreciate the movie for what it was (of course I am probably one of the worst sticklers when it comes to comparing original source to new adaptation and decrying the injustice of it all. I'm looking at you Harry Potter).

While this poster might lead you to believe that Tom Cruise was in this movie, he was not.
The movie, though, I thought was quite entertaining. One of the biggest complaints I've heard is about Dylan's sidekick, Marcus, who is a character created just for the movie. You see, in the comics, Dylan's sidekick is a Groucho Marx impression which meant that there was no way he could have appeared in a low budget US adaptation of the comics as Groucho Marx's estate charges a ton of money to anyone in the United States who wants to use his likeness. They simply could not afford to put him in, so they replaced him with a new character.

Coming from the perspective of not having read the comics I cannot tell you how the new character Marcus stands up against the sidekick from the comics, but, I am not sure I would have enjoyed the movie as much without Marcus in there.

Sam Huntington who plays Marcus- a very reluctant zombie- made the movie for me. Marcus provided a nice counterpoint to the stoic Dylan (played by Brandon Routh of the attempted Superman Reboot fame). The film is shot in the film noir style (something else that got a lot of complaints because apparently people didn't like that Dylan narrated the entire film) which does not allow for the main actor to really spread their acting chops. They don't need to show things, they are, literally, telling you what happens. That is what goes on in film noir.

This doesn't mean that Routh is bad and a wooden block for the entire movie, he has some great one liners. I just think he got outshone by this. 

From what I understand, this movie is not very close to the comics at all. For one, Dylan in the movie is retired from supernaturally P I'ing and doesn't much want to keep the peace between non-livings and livings. that is until some "GRAND CONFLICT" comes along to bring him back into the game. There's also the settings, the movie is in New Orleans and the comics are in London. 
Dylan also shares some blatant characteristics with the Dresden Files and some of the costumes seem recycled from old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Taking it for what it is, though, I enjoyed it and feel it is a decent enough movie to watch and possibly share with friends. Friends who think zombies are funny.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Lately, I have been terribly impressed by the caliber of writing coming from the young adult genre as of late. I had been of the opinion that it was full of nothing but fluff and romance and the occasional boy wizard story that devolves into a romance. Stories like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children written by Ransom Riggs gives me hope that our youngsters won't have to slugg through the mush and brainlessness that had so frequently plagued the young adult section of book stores.

This book was more than a good read, it inspired me to dig through old moldy photography books and find really creepy pictures too!

Speaking of Miss Peregrine's Home, this story had a little bit of everything in it: ghosts (but not really), abandoned buildings, the sea, submarines, Nazis, potential I'm my own grandpa moments (but not really), monsters, children, orphans, teens, a better take on the X-Men than the movies ever managed, time travel, old guys who are obsessed with guns, sheep, islands, not so abandoned buildings, a Welsh pub and most importantly not American accents (though it had those too). Also, there was a kid who called himself a dandy and that is worth the entire book in my opinion!

This is a coming of age tale, Jacob Portman thought he was normal and then gets pulled on a fantastical adventure as young adults/children often are. Don't you remember when you went on your first life changing adventure? You don't? Well then, this book is the perfect one to fill that void in your life.

What I find the most interesting about this book are the photographs. Apparently they are all real photos that the author collected himself or borrowed from friends and they are integral to telling the story. Some of these photos were downright disturbing. One I think of in particular features two little girls on a reindeer and a terrifying Santa Claus sneaking up on them. Others, some of them just simple portraits, seemed disturbing in ways that were hard to put the finger on, probably due to the descriptions of them.

I first began this book expecting a ghost story, but that wasn't what I got at all. I got much more, and am pleased about it. Behind all of the glamor, this story is about a kid who is finally able to make his own choices and find himself. There were questions about what happens to people if they are forced to live the same day over and over and over again. The reader was shown what might happen to people that were born with superpowers.

The ending is left open for a sequel, and I hope Ransom Riggs is able to deliver.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Sisters Brothers

I just finished The Sister's Brothers by Patrick deWitt and thought I should put down a few words about it.

My first impression seems to be along the lines of, "For a book about gunslingers in the "wild west" during the Gold Rush in California there's not a ton of in your face action."

My second thought is about how when you don't have your contacts in, this cover looks like an evil cat...
Taking place in 1850 this tale follows the Sisters Brothers, Eli and Charlie. Charlie, being the eldest is the leader, but Eli (the character from whose point of view the book is told) has some problems with their way of life.

As expected for a western the reader gets to meet many colorful characters: catty whores, big man bosses and little man bosses, drunkards, gentlemen dandies and the two (or really one) brave steed the brothers ride. You see, Charlie, being the lead man, got the better horse, Nimble, while Eli was stuck with Tub, a horse that proves his spirit several times over. When Eli talks about the horses, Tub stands in his and Eli's relationship in the same place that Eli stands in his and Charlie's. In fact, most of the animals that we meet in this book serve as significant symbols and omens to future events. They are often noted when Eli is having some kind of epiphany or when something is being brought to his attention.

As I said before, there isn't a whole lot of in your face action in the book. Eli and his brother are professional killers so when guns are drawn it is treated as an everyday occurrence. There was some true, sinister horror contained in the book too. I think the worst character out of a book full of killers and deranged people is an eight year old girl. Seriously.

Mostly, though, the book is about Eli finally becoming his own person and the journey it takes to actually get him there. I closed the book feeling that, even though at the end, Eli was his own man he was still cheated out of coming to it on his own. 

This book managed to capture my attention almost immediately and I ended up reading more than half of the book in one sitting. For a book that tops 300 pages that is some impressive writing skill.

I would recommend this book to people who like human studies, westerns, or, oddly enough, horror. There is a pretty disturbing thread running through the entire book. Some magic, but it is subtle and it is never known if the magic is real, or if it is the result of a superstitious mind.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Stranger Tides

...or how Disney made fanfiction acceptable to a wide audience. Sort of.

This week I am looking at the book On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, a romping pirate tale that involves Caribbean islands, magic, zombies, the Fountain of Youth and Blackbeard the Pirate. There are also some Daddy daughter issues that involve Mommy's mummified head (this is one of the spots that Disney's latest entry into the Pirates franchise deviates from the source material).

I had never heard of this book before and only picked it up after I saw the latest Pirates movie. While sitting through the credits I noticed that there was one for this book. My interest was piqued so I decided to pick the book up. I like to think it was a good decision on my part. Of course, my views on the book were flavored and it took my until part two to finally stop wondering when Jack Sparrow was going to show up and when I was going to see some of the things, and by things I mean huge plot points, that also appeared in the movie.

After I finished the book, I came to the conclusions that Disney was probably just covering their bases when they said that their movie was based on this book. I could see somewhat where the movie might have been slightly inspired by, and obviously the title was taken directly from this book, but there aren't many similarities aside from what I mentioned in that opening paragraph.

This book is much darker than the Disney movie, there are some pretty dark, adult themes. One character, a main character, only wants to use his magic so that he can rape women in mind and body which is something that Disney appears to have dropped. Blackbeard/Ed Thatch is much fiercer in this book and is not the man with the Daddy daughter issues. As far as we know, he doesn't have any daughters, just a string of dead or insane wives.

Oh! But both main characters are named Jack. Granted, Jack Shandy in the book is not even a pirate technically speaking and he's not very funny. He's your typical hero that turns into a drunkard 3/4's of the way through that then redeems himself in the end.

I really did enjoy this book. It was a great read. Lots of action, magic and New World exploration; even some legal maneuvering, there's an entire subplot about forged inheritances. I also liked that the author did not really gloss over or try to pretty up the race relations of the time. Not all of the language fell into the patios of the time and was contemporary, but it worked. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys pirates, or voudoun. It is not for younger readers, though. Mature themes and all that.