Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star by Alyssa B. SheinmelWendy Darling’s brothers Michael and John disappeared one day, and her parents have basically decided that they were killed in a surfing accident. Wendy doesn’t believe them and decides to go and look for them herself. What she finds is a hidden cove inhabited by runaways where the waves are always perfect and everyone is always surfing. She becomes torn between two of the runaways–Pete, who has his own band of runaways that he protects, and Jas, Pete’s nemesis and a drug dealer on the other side of the cove.

I was excited to read this because it was the first retelling of Peter Pan that I have come across. Unfortunately, it was also really disappointing. First of all, Wendy is the most blah main character ever. I felt absolutely no connection to her and she made the dumbest decisions and then wondered how she ended up in such bad situations. After months and months she just decides to go out looking for her brothers, who she still believes are alive. This didn’t make sense to me–if she was so sure that they were alive, why would she want to find them after they’ve put she and her parents through hell? Anyway, she goes out on her own and thinks for some reason she can do better than the entirety of the California law enforcement, and when she comes across the hidden cove called Kensington, things begin to get really bad.

She meets Pete, who is obviously the reinvented Peter Pan, and who is nothing like the original. He’s kind of a jerk who keeps secrets from Wendy yet for some reason after knowing her only a few hours can’t bear to have her leave. Wendy of course develops her own insta-love for Pete, even though they have basically no chemistry and barely know each other. Belle, who is obviously the reinvented Tinkerbell, was the only character who seemed to develop a bit throughout the book, but her character was still very cliche–the typical jealous ex-girlfriend who wants to make Wendy’s life miserable.

But it gets even worse: Wendy develops insta-love for another character–Jas, who is basically the Captain Hook of the story yet personality wise is a much better guy than Pete. Wendy goes from being head over heels for Pete to being head over heels for Jas so quick that it is obviously she has no idea what she really feels for anyone. The story then takes a twist near the end that I’m sure was supposed to wow the reader but basically made me angry because it was so ridiculous.

Overall, Second Star was a huge disappointment due to too much insta-love, underdeveloped characters, and a horrible ending.

Second Star will be released on May 13, 2014.

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Book to Film: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent movieI was very excited for this movie release! Divergent is one of my favorite dystopian series, and I couldn’t wait to see it translated onto the big screen. But of course I was also a little bit nervous about how much the filmmakers would change and how that would affect the overall story. I’m happy to say that the film adaptation of Divergent was extremely well done!

I remember a lot of people being very apprehensive about Shailene Woodley being cast as Tris, but I was very pleased with her performance. She has shown herself to be a very versatile actress, and she really brought Tris’s character to life on screen. Same goes for Theo James, who was the perfect Four.

The details that were included from the book were really well done–the different colors of clothes worn by each faction, the zipline, the trains that the Dauntless ride, and the Dauntless headquarters. I was worried about things from the book being cut out, but the few things that were didn’t really impact the story much at all.

My favorite part of the movie was the fear landscapes. Four’s especially was so well done, I literally was cringing in my seat at the part where his fear of small spaces forced him and Tris to be enclosed in a metal box. It was really cool to see these brought to life on screen!

Overall, Divergent was an excellent film and stayed very true to the book! The casting was very well done and Tris and Four especially were excellent on screen. I highly recommend seeing this one if you haven’t yet!

Divergent was released in theaters on March 21, 2014.

Book to Film: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching FireI have been a huge fan of The Hunger Games since before the books even got big and even had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne Collins herself a few years ago so you can imagine how excited I was for the release of the Catching Fire movie. I enjoyed the first movie but I felt like it shied away from the violence a bit, but overall it was a good representation of the novel. Catching Fire, however, was a million times better.

It is very rare that a movie follows extremely close to the book it is based on, which is understandable because it is an entirely different way of presenting the story, but Catching Fire managed to accomplish this task beautifully. It stuck very close to the book while at the same time giving the viewer a new way of seeing the story. There were a few things that they left out–very minor things–but they didn’t really change anything drastically so that made it that much more enjoyable for me since Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy.

The casting for this movie couldn’t have been more perfect. Finnick and Johanna were exactly how I pictured them and Mags was wonderfully heartbreaking. Jennifer Lawrence is a fantastic Katniss and she really makes the movie as good as it is. I felt more sparks between Katniss and Peeta in this movie than in the last, which made it more believable because in this movie Katniss is supposed to be starting to feel something for him, too. The costumes and the arena were incredible and one of my favorites scenes had to be when Katniss’s dress transformed her into a mockingjay.

Overall, Catching Fire was a fantastic movie that stuck very close to the book and the phenomenal cast just added to the excellent directing. I hope they keep the same director for the next film because he really did a wonderful job.

Catching Fire was released in theaters on November 22, 2013.

Book to Film: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR CITY OF BONES

To say that I have been anxiously awaiting this movie would be an understatement. I’m a huge Cassandra Clare fan and I love every book she has written so far. I was really excited when I found out a few years ago that City of Bones was going to be made into a film, and after such a long time of just being “in the works”, the movie is finally here! So, how does it compare to the book?

There is a very small percentage of movies that are better than the books they are based on, at least in my opinion. I definitely was not expecting the movie to be better than the book because things are always changed/cut out for one reason or another. While the movie wasn’t amazing, it was still a pretty good adaptation in my opinion.

I had been very nervous when I heard that Jamie Campbell Bower had been cast as Jace because for some reason I just could not see it at all. However, after seeing the movie, I think he actually did a really good job! He brought Jace’s wry humor and arrogant attitude to the screen very well, and he did a good job of acting more vulnerable and sensitive when he was alone with Clary. Lily Collins did an excellent job as Clary, and there was definitely some great chemistry between Jace and Clary on screen. As for the supporting cast, I would have to say my favorite was Simon–he did a really great job and he was exactly how I had pictured Simon in the books.

There were, of course, some changes from book to film. Now I haven’t read City of Bones in a few years so correct me if I’m wrong here, but I seem to remember the whole Simon becoming a vampire thing happening in the first book. While Simon’s abduction by vampires happened in the movie, it was only hinted at that he would later become one. I could’ve sworn this happened in the first book but I could be wrong. Also, in the book the final scene with Valentine and Jace and Clary occurs at some abandoned house somewhere, while in the movie it happens at the Institute. I would imagine this change served budget purposes–they wouldn’t have to build another set/find another off site place to film–but the only thing that bothered me about this is that the Institute is supposed to be their safe house and suddenly it was so easy for all of these people to break in? Kind of defeats the purpose a bit.

Overall, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was a good film with great casting and really well done action scenes. While it is not the best book to film adaptation, it is most certainly nowhere near the worst. I really enjoyed this one and I look forward to seeing the next film!

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was released in theaters on August 21, 2013 and is based on City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, which was released on March 27, 2007.

Book to Film: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

“There is no ideal world for you to wait around for. The world is always just what it is now, and it’s up to you how you respond to it.”

R is a zombie that doesn’t remember his real name, how he died, or even how the zombie apocalypse began. He lives in an abandoned airplane and wanders an airport filled with fellow zombies on a daily basis. However, he is different from the other zombies–he doesn’t enjoy eating people, even though he knows it’s a necessity. He also dreams about having a better life, one filled with more than just riding the escalators day after day. When he eats a boy named Perry’s brain and receives his memories, he feels the love that Perry had for a girl named Julie. When R realizes Julie is about to be eaten also, he decides to protect her. As he begins to get to know her and develops feelings for her, he realizes that he is changing and becoming more human.

I was really excited to read this one because, aside from the fact that I love anything involving zombies, I had seen the film trailer for Warm Bodies and loved the thought of a story told from the zombie’s perspective. I am a stickler for reading the book before seeing the film, so I got myself a copy of the book ASAP. I loved how R is such an honest character–he tells it like it is and I enjoyed seeing the world through his eyes. Some parts of this book were absolutely hysterical, yet other parts were very heartfelt. I loved seeing R relearn how to speak and read and basically be human again. The writing style was very impressive, and the story itself questions today’s world and what we are doing to it.

So, as soon as I read the book I knew that I had to see the movie. Nicholas Hoult did a fantastic job as R–he really embodied R’s innocent and honest nature. Teresa Palmer was also excellent as Julie, however, film Julie was slightly less troubled and rough around the edges than book Julie. I felt that knowing more of Julie’s background in the book helped me understand her character a lot better, and in the movie she was slightly more one dimensional. Julie’s father was definitely more toned down in the movie, and we didn’t get as much of his background and the history of his relationship with his daughter as we did in the book. The movie also didn’t have as much of Perry’s memories as the book did, but I expect this was just a consequence of time constraints in films.

Overall, Warm Bodies was a beautifully written book that bridges genres, and its film adaptation was funny, entertaining and relatively true to the book. I enjoyed the book and film immensely, and highly recommend both!

Warm Bodies was released October 14, 2010 and while it would be great as a standalone novel, it is actually the first in a series. The second book in the series is currently untitled and is expected to be released in 2014.