Into the land of great characters, good plots and weak writing

Into the Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Turns out it really helps to have a famous name ’cause I’m not convinced this book would have flown if it weren’t for the popularity of Glee. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s a both thing.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first shall we?

The writing is truly unfortunate. I mean not all the time, every once in a while there’s a-laugh-out-loud-funny moment with the writing, but generally its pretty, well, lame. I mean the number of times when we get one of these delightful scenarios:

Could their grandmother have realized their plan, the twins wondered nervously. “What do you mean grandma?” she asked nervously.

Honestly could we just assume that kids can work things out without being told what the characters are thinking?! The characters are well developed and generally epic, but instead of having faith in the relationship between the characters and the reader we have to have every thought the kids, and sometimes other characters who we only see the perspective of for a single sentence, spelled out for us. It frustrates me as the reader, like I’m not smart enough figure out how my favourite characters feel with a well written sentence and an adjective. Actually I totally am. Ask anyone.

But now on to the good parts! The characters were absolutely adorable. Queen Red was by far my favourite, but Goldilocks as an outlaw, Jack as her lover, Rumpelstiltskin as the misunderstood but generally kind hearted underling, Harper the golden harp, Clawdis the wolf pup, they’re all fantastic. I love them all. Alex and Conner are perfectly acceptable heroes and heroines and even if the story was over all pretty predictable, all the twists and turns with the wacky-yet-wonderful fairy tale tie ins were great.

So, all in all, a good enough read, fun, cheerful and other then a little condescending, good times were had. And the internet told me there might be a movie. I think it’ll make a better movie then it did a book.

Last movie I watched:

Still probably Wolverine? Who knows!

Last TV episode I watched:

This Orphan Black: Cosima!!! And a lot of other OMGs!!!!

Oh, Harry Potter, you’ll always be there for us

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

The first time I read this Harry Potter book it was my least favourite. But every time I read it, I like it more and more and more. The first time around I didn’t like how much extra time was spent outside of Hogwarts, how the mystery stories that required breaking rules and sneaking around was lost in all this other stuff, and the rather sudden introduction of the rest of the world. But now, maybe because I’ve spent a lot more of my life not in school, I don’t mind so much.

Honestly, these books are great. They’re fun and they’re fast and they’re full of great characters in all possible capacities. It’s just fantastic. Loved it.

The thing that makes this one different is the message of global cooperation overcoming evils, which is maybe slightly heavy handed, but seems particularly true the last few weeks if you’ve accidentally stumbled onto the news.

Usually, I get really down on books I feel are trying to teach kids stuff in an overt, annoying manner. I’m pretty anti-fable for that reason. I’m pretty anti-didacticism so Dumbledore’s speech could be over the top (although maybe it just doesn’t feel so bad compared to the Land of the Stories which I’m currently reading). But it isn’t. It just feels nice and  genuine and true.

The kind of the truth that children recognize and speak, and adults over complicated.

Because when you’re an adult, you know there isn’t a Voldemort and a Dumbledore. You know that at least half the bad people and half the good people are really just people doing their best, not for ideology or religion or culture  or anything else.  Really they’re only trying to protect the people they love. And the longer the series goes, the more you get into that.

Which makes it so good.

Last movie I watched:

I’m not sure I even remember. Probably still the Wolverine. Still not that much like an X-men movie.

Last TV show I watched:

Veronica Mars!!!!!! Logan! Veronica! Mr Mars!! This show is so exciting. And emotionally exhausting. And I love it.

One great author + one good story + a lot of ideas = not the Fault in Our Stars

Paper Towns by John Green

I guess it’s just hard when you go from reading Fault In Our Stars to like… anything, but particularly another John Green book. You can see the evolution of his writing pretty clearly I think. Or maybe i’m just being pretentious.

But Paper Towns is really not a story about a shy, anxious, kind of nerdy boy who found the body of a suicide victim when he was ten years old with his neighbour Margo, also the love of his life all the way up until his senior year of high school. It’s actually a huge explorations of identity, detailed Walt Whitman analysis and musings about individuality and personality and life and death and love and pretty much every other heavy topic you’ve ever thought about for an English paper.

Which the Fault In Our Stars kind of does too.

Unlike FinOS though it doesn’t have any of the laughing until you need to pee, crying and not being about to stop. I liked the story, I liked the characters, it was fun, the sidekicks were awesome, the story was  good. It was just lacking in something that I’m starting to feel was emotional drive. I think I found it just a little cold, too intellectually driven, not enough emotional impact.

And it’s hard to say that ’cause I love, love, love, love John Green and I did enjoy it it just didn’t make me feel anything. Other then like “Whoa that was a great metaphor!” and “Hey that’s exactly how I feel too! Epic!” but I guess I don’t read books for self gratification, although it is kind of fun.

So there you have it I guess. Good book. Just not  THAT good.

Sorry John Green.

Last movie I watched:

The Wolverine. Not like an X-men at all. None of the fun stuff about people and tolerance and changing society and whatever. Just fighting. But I guess Hugh Jackman is a plus.

Last TV episode I watched:

This Buffy episode IS SO AWESOME.

Good story. Shame about the writing. Seriously. Brutal.

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

This book was like someone ate the Salmarillion, a dictionary, every single TV trope ever and a philosophy textbook, vomited it all up and is now trying to convince me to eat it, it’s good.

That may be harsh. But it also might not be.

I know that he was like 16 when he wrote this book, and honestly, despite the heavy trope-i-ness of the story, it would be an engaging story, if it had a story at all. Because it was like 600 hundred pages of meandering mythology that has literally nothing to do with the plot, ever, ever, ever and vague musings about the morality of war (and still coming to a simplistic conclusion) and the existence of a higher power. It’s about as compelling as a text book. Maybe a textbook written on an interesting subject, but still a textbook.

Here’s the story: Eragorn and Saphira won an epic battle, but things don’t go well at all. Urgals attack suddenly, kidnap Eragorn’s friend and the evil magicians, and kill the king of the Varden. The next ruler is chosen, politics happen (seriously, there are a lot of them but they lack subtly, intricacy or cleverness), Eragorn leaves to train with the elves, where he philosophizes, crushes on the elf princess inappropriately (and agonizes over that) and then leaves again. Meanwhile, the soldiers come to his village looking for Roran. He refuses to let them take him away, so his whole village gets lit on fire, slaughtered and his fiancee gets taken prisoner. He grows as a person (with no character development, which is a remarkable feat really), takes the whole village on a quest to find the Varden and finally runs into Eragorn, where he over emotes (without actually having a character). The Varden get an army together, funds it on lace and play politics. Epic battle, cliff hanger. Over.

There I just saved you 24 hours.

I don’t understand how they even got published. I know, I know I’m a snob but seriously, it was more like fantasy world porn, and less like a narrative anyone actually wants to get through.

Also the story is basically Star Wars and Lord of the Rings having an illegitimate child.

Yup. I think that’s the only book I’ve ever blogged about that I really didn’t like. Please don’t let that effect your opinion of me. Personally, I think it speaks volumes about the book.

Last movie I watched: ParaNorman today at work. Great movie. Great movie.

Last TV episode I watched: This Xena right now. Pretty sure Gabrielle’s screwed world up by freeing the Titans. Just sayin’.