Sunday, 16 June 2013

Review: The Fault In Our Stars

This review contains spoilers.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

I wish I could have liked this book more. I love the title. I liked Augustus and I really liked Isaac. The overall voice of the novel was one that pulled me in right away, though all the metaphoric talk was a bit tiring and got boring after a while. It felt like the author was trying too hard and got lost in it all. I also felt Hazel sometimes said quite mean things and I guess that's part of what's important about her or something, but it bothered me and came over like she was just being a snot for being a snot's sake. She would not let the girl at the Support Group apologize and explain herself, she just walked off. At least the girl tried, but Hazel was just in my opinion being selfish and snotty. And her thing about how Augustus was going to die and never be what he'd wanted, never leave a mark etc. -- that was rude. She seemed to like beating home the point that oh well we're all dying and it's an ugly business so don't try to make it into anything more. She didn't sympathize or empathize with Augustus as I think she should have; she seemed to just want to be blunt and to the point without caring if it hurt, and if it did hurt then oh well, life can be painful so accept it.

The romance aspect was I think more natural as these days we have so many novels with "twue wove" in them and everyone just falls for everyone else at first sight. My favorite part was when Augustus told Hazel that he loved her the first time. That was done in such a sweet way, and it made sense. It wasn't rushed, it wasn't arbitrary.
“I'm in love with you," he said quietly.

"Augustus," I said.

"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.” 
The author even explains why Augustus stared at Hazel when they first met (I was so relieved to have a reason for it when so many characters just stare at each other for no reason and fall into InstaLove.) I also liked when he called her "Hazel Grace"; it was cute.

It took me about 4 or 5 hours to read this and I started it last night and finished it this morning. Any book that I read that quickly I usually deem a "good book" because I will not last through a book I don't like at all. When it came to choosing a rating on Goodreads though, I wavered between whether I liked it (3 stars) or it was just ok (two stars). I had to choose it was ok because that's honestly how I felt about it. I did cry a couple of times, and I was trying hard NOT to because I thought, "come on, everyone can't possibly be crying over this book!" But then I did. Not like big weepy sobs, but those quiet tears that sneak out as much as you try to hold them back.

It's a bit over the top with the "sage cancer victim spouting philosophy textbook garbola" and that's my main problem with the whole thing and I consider that one of presentation. I feel the author could have conveyed this story a bit better using more accessible language. (I went to college but man, not everyone wants to read this kind of writing outside of a textbook.)

The book that Hazel is obsessed with is garbage to me. I couldn't understand just what was so great about this book. Also, she didn't seem to be affected much by Augustus's gift to her -- his Wish. He basically gave away his Wish so she could find out what happened to a fictional hamster. O_o Then at the end she decides that she doesn't care, anyway. I think the entire Peter van Husen thing was a mess. I don't think he even came across as a grieving father, either. And I don't understand who would have ever published his novel.

The "okay" thing felt very pretentious and manufactured. Isaac has his "always" thing, so they start just using "okay" as if it now Means Something. Now we will have memes all over the net with "okay? okay" on them. *sigh*

I will end the review with a lovely quote from the book, which sums up how one can feel after reading and loving a novel:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal” 
Sadly, this was not that kind of book for me.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Review: Hemlock Grove

This isn't an extremely in-depth review as it probably should be, but I will bring up the basics of what I liked and didn't like about Hemlock Grove so far. That said, I have only watched up to episode 7 and am still in the middle of binge-viewing.

So my preliminary opinion on the series is that it feels a lot like American Horror Story mixed with a dash of something akin to Twilight (pick your favorite vampire/werewolf show and fill in the blank) mixed with a bit of Twin Peaks.

The advertisements and teasers all honed in on the mystery of a girl being murdered in Hemlock Grove, possibly by some kind of supernatural beast. That girl is quickly forgotten as the story moves into other territory; turns out she was nothing more than a pawn in the game rather than a major player. The first few scenes even gave a little hope of showing insight into this girl as a person but nope, still just fodder for the plot.

I was put off in how Roman was introduced; not just that I had to be subjected yet again to female nudity, but that I couldn't figure out who he was or what was going on. The woman he was having sex with in the car -- was that a high school student or a prostitute/call girl? Are there a lot of women who just have sex with any guy in any car in any place, who don't scream for help when said guy starts playing around with BLOOD and who nonchalantly walks off and doesn't seem to care at all about how WEIRD this guy is?

Was this an ongoing relationship? (We may have a hint of this later when we see a similar looking young woman in Roman's classroom wearing a similarly colored dress. Too bad we aren't given the benefit of a name or even a face to see if that was the same person. Also, these two encounters were the only ones and I didn't feel it sufficiently set them up as "friends with benefits" or even "client/customer." What high school girl whores herself out in the women's bathroom at said school? Please tell me women have a little more self respect than that.)

Interestingly enough, I also disapproved of Peter's semi-introduction through his meeting with Christina. She just shows up out of nowhere and the whole exchange is awkward. I'm not even sure what the point of her character is. Red shirt perhaps?

All of that said, there are two things that really bother me about the show:

The Vomit
The Nudity

First, the vomit. Lots of vomiting. Vomiting isn't scary (unless you're Craig T. Nelson in Poltergeist II), it's just nauseating. Making me feel sick to my stomach and making me feel scared aren't the same thing. Vomiting is NOT horror (previous exception noted). Neither is eating creamy, bulging worms who have just feasted on a dead person's intestines.

The Nudity is extremely unbalanced between the genders. There's way too much female nudity and not enough male. As usual. kind of reminds me of Dexter, where we were treated to Trinity's naked butt not once, not twice but three times while being shown countless female breasts. FFS!

As Depeche Mode once labeled an album, "get the balance right."

The good things about the show: Lily Taylor, who isn't used nearly enough; Dr. Chausseur (Dr Shoe, lol) who is just beautiful and kicks ass; the hotness of the two male leads; Shelley who is pretty frickin awesome all around and the most intriguing of all the characters (sort of like Adelaide in American Horror Story season 1); the "Romani" culture which is shrouded in mystery.

A few other things that don't quite work: Olivia and her fake accent. Boring. Letha. Boring. And her name sounds like a lisp of "Lisa". "You're tearing me apart, Letha!"

I have taken a break in my binge-viewing of Hemlock Grove and will return with further insight into the second half of the first season.

EDIT: No, I probably won't. I lost interest in the show and never finished watching it. Oh well. I noticed that it has taken forever for Netflix to produce a second season, anyway. You snooze, you lose.