Film vs Novel – Fallen

Fallen Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Where some angles fear to read.

I read the book over three years ago, and wasn’t overly impressed, but was interested to see if the movie could improve on my opinion.

On the surface, ‘Fallen’ is a thrilling story about forbidden love. And I enjoyed all the supernatural elements in the novel, though its execution was burdened with over-used tropes glutting the YA market. The movie did little to fix this, the characters still felt two dimensional, and it even managed to create a worse insta-love scenario between Luce and Daniel.

The whole age-old mythology of angels vs demons and reincarnation lost its edge.

The story itself is interesting, although nothing new or surprising, and if it hadn’t been such a lumbering read I would have rated it higher. You could predict the plot easily and I was a little disappointed how the climax (battle) of the book took place off screen. There were some unique devices within the novel, like the use of shadows to glimpse a window into the past, I really liked how this was done. But amnesia and flashbacks are two of my pet hates in a novel – they are cliché and overused.  The film watered down the story line so much – dropping out the roles of certain characters that teach and interact with Luce to the point that I just about wanted to puke. The reason/role the school of the Sword and Cross was also omitted. By the end of the film, I felt like I’d only gotten half of the story. The film failed to do a lot of the set up established in the novel, and did a gross disservice to ‘Fallen’ in my opinion.

The SPFX, especially that of angel wings, was pretty impressive though – it was my favourite aspect of the movie. ‘Fallen’ is aesthetically beautiful and melancholy. The visual tone is executed really well. But that old saying about polishing a turd…. with such a problematic story to begin with, there wasn’t a great deal you could do with it and remain true to the original novel. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if it had a much darker, biblical tone, given the characters some depth and attitude that wasn’t steeped in an ancient battle of good and evil.

Fallen Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Having said that, there were some scenes that felt like an ‘80’s music video : lighting effects, camera pulling in and out of focus, hair blowing in the wind… cue the ‘Heart’ soundtrack.

Luce, the main character, was too insipid for me in the novel. She reacted to the circumstances around her, and lacked strength. I can understand what Lauren Kate was trying to convey with this story, but neglected to give her main cast any sort of edge. Similarly Daniel and Cam, fighting for Luce’s affection, were equally two-dimensional. Both had strong chauvinistic attributes and I failed to connect with any of the characters or their love story. The film managed to give Luce an edge I was hoping for – I actually liked Addison Timlin’s portrayal of her. Daniel was played well by Jeremy Irvine (*swoons*), but I still found his character too aloof and brooding to care about. Cam felt much more dynamic on the screen (played by Harrison Gilbertson.) I had mixed feelings in the novel with him being painted as the tempting villain, but in the film, a layer of genuine concern of Luce’s well-bring shone through.

Fallen Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Lauren’s writing is easy to read, and I enjoyed her style – she just kept losing me. I feel if you cut the book down to half its size to ensure the pace pulled you through the story, Luce would have been seen as a survivor rather than someone who simply endures. By the end of the novel I was more interested in the periphery characters: they had powers and attitude that stirred my curiosity. In the film I sat there blinking at the screen when the end credits rolled – I did not know what was going on with the periphery characters at all. And Penn – what happened there? Blink and you miss it, and none of the cast seemed concerned or affected by what went down.

Many of the reveals in the novel are slowly released, where in the film, much of it is dumped on the viewer in the first fifteen minutes and I was left wondering where the story had to go. If it weren’t for the digital effects I would have gotten really angry.

I do know the studio bought the film rights for all the books – and some sequels could help redeem this series, because this movie debut did feel like the first instalment of a series or a tv pilot… so there may be more to come.

Given the movie managed to interest and entice me much more than the books, it definitely surpasses the written version; though I felt it missed out on some important elements of interest from the books – and the pacing was a little off.

But if you love epic love stories, and angels, and don’t mind a passive protagonist then you will love this book or film. I had rated the book two stars on Goodreads, and in comparison, I’d rate the movie 2.5… an improvement, but still, no cigar!

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – Younger

Younger Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI feel uncomfortable making this comparison – mostly because I got such extreme and opposing emotions from both. And that was completely unexpected.

Firstly the storyline in the TV series felt much more realistic. The situation. The motivation of Alice’s character, and the characters of the supporting cast. The show set up Alice as a determined mother trying to piece her life together and regain a foothold in the workforce… even if she had to get creative to do it. The tone set was serious with some light-hearted goodness through and through.

With the novel, I got the distinct impression that a bitter old lady was at the keyboard trying to make her point that getting old was not a bad thing… and it rubbed me the wrong way. The whole way Alice came about her decision to portray a younger version of herself felt unjustified and wishy-washy. It continued for a great length in the book.

You do get some of the funnier moments from the novel translated on to the small screen (well, all of the funnier moments), and I have to admit – the tv show is much, much funnier. I think that was another disappointment after reading the book – I expected so much more.

It’s not that it is a terrible read. In fact I enjoyed the book magnanimously – I did not put it down. The narrative is light and easy to relate to. I had issues with some of Alice’s decisions and behaviour at times, and at others, quietly whispering ‘YES!’

There was some stereotyping in the novel that annoyed the hell out of me – and the ending, although satisfying, it did little to challenge those preconceived personality types. Where in the tv series, you meet these characters, presumably fitting in the box, two-dimensional-types, and then are completely toss all judgements out the window by the end of an episode, because they have completely redeemed themselves and shown you so many more layers… and I think that is what the book lacked most of all.

The screen version of Alice, played by Sutton Foster, added more tension to the tv series than the character in the book – her reason to keep her secret is compelling in every episode, where in the book she was playing pretended and it did not feel like she had a s much to lose.

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The conclusion of the book picked up the pace and I loved the last five – six chapters. But I found the ending of season one of the tv show much more satisfying, even though it resolved a lot less of the storyline… The main reason is because of the growth of the characters and their chemistry between each other. The novel was a little trite, where the show makes them work for it…

So it’s definitely the tv show for the win! But I recommend both.

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Quietly confronting

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlilse

Comparing Chbosky’s novel to the cinema release is a bit like comparing apples and oranges… the book used the adjunct of a sole point of view from an unreliable narrator, where the movie delved more into the development of personal relationships.

Although, I have to admit I appreciated the viewing experience much more than I did reading the novel. It basically came down to two points: 1. Some of my favourite actors playing the lead roles (and it doesn’t hurt that they are complete eye-candy); and 2. The journal/letter writing tone of the book felt somewhat disconnected and distant from the story.

But that is me nit-picking, I definitely enjoyed both versions of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both mediums managed to portray that there is something ‘off’ with our main protagonist/narrator Charlie (played outstandingly by Logan Lerman). He is anxious and told to be suffering from PTSD, but we never get the full story (that comes later).

The movie really let imperfect and damaged characters shine – I did not get that so easily in the novel. Chbosky makes you work to get to learn about the inner workings of the cast; whereas in the film they bask in their quirky individualism, and it’s only later that we learn why they behave that way.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Film vs Novel Pic 07 by Casey Carlilse

I pictured Sam very differently in the novel to how Emma Watson played her on the big screen, however Watson was an outstanding casting choice and certainly captured that elusive air which Sam existed in.

The symbolism in the novel really hit the nail on the head, and I felt it lost a little in translation to the big screen, but definitely visually dynamic. Especially the tunnel/bridge scenes in the back of the truck with the teens.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Film vs Novel Pic 06 by Casey Carlilse

I’d love to do more in-depth discussions over apparent differences, but given the story is all character driven, I’d just be listing spoilers… and I definitely don’t want to detract from anyone’s enjoyment of either.

There is a lot in both the novel and film, it’s quiet and unassuming. But that went to its detriment in my own experience, making it feel a little flat.

Where the film is poignant and idiosyncratic, the novel was deceptively insightful and layered, but both worthy of checking out.

But it’s definitely the film for the win!

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – Now is Good

Now is Good Film vs Novel by Casey CarlisleNovel also published as “Before I Die”

 

You never decide to die – but you must decide to live!

I was recommended this book and film from fellow blogger belleofthelibrary when I happened across her book review. At first I really didn’t want to read another sad and depressing book, considering The Fault in Our Stars sent me into a funk for nearly a week. But, Now is Good is slightly different. It’s gritty and sarcastic. Both film and novel make no apologies for Tessa, our protagonist’s actions. Yes it’s sad, but it’s the most realistic reaction to getting sick with a terminal disease I’ve read so far.

You do go a bit mental. You do feel bipolar and swing to extremes. And you live the time you have left without abandon.

The film suffered as many screen adaptations do – sanitised to fit into a ratings category. The more risqué scenes cut or buffed over. I can’t say I didn’t mind it though, cancer is quite confronting. And so are some or the situations in the novel. The film succeeded with excellent pacing – all of the omissions from the written version, and the reveal of Tessa’s bucket list was much more poignant. The book, I found to be a little long in parts, and I nearly put it down – but believe me the last quarter of the novel is well worth the struggle. It’s raw, graphic, and a true representation what Tessa goes through (believe me, I’ve experienced most of it).

The ending of the film lacked the punch that the novel did – I’d say the film is almost melodic, where the novel is like a car horn – alarming and something you read with wide eyes.

I liked Adam (Tessa’s love interest) in the big screen version the most, he felt substantial and worthy of Tessa given the suffering she bears on strong shoulders. His written counterpart reflected a more realistic picture of teen males: slightly aloof and misunderstood and totally redeems himself towards the end.

With Tessa, however, I preferred the novel version. You really get into her head and experience her life. The movie felt a little choppy in comparison, and at times, I had trouble understanding her motivations. There is also so many more one-liners and witty observations in the book.

Now is Good Film vs Novel Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleDakota Fanning did a brilliant job depicting Tessa, especially given the script. I lost faith towards the end though; but due to production and make-up than Fanning’s performance. After reading the book and comparing, you’ll get what I mean. They opted for ‘pretty’ rather than the realism that plays through the novel. On a side note I kept listening for her British accent to falter… an added dimension to the film. J

The discovery of Jeremy Irvine playing Adam nearly flipped my wig! Talk about delicious! He has serious acting chops too. Irvine added a dreamy quality to Adam, where in the book he’s described as average and goofy (even though Tessa sees him as a love god). I also found out he’s playing Daniel Grigori in the screen adaptation of Lauren Kate’s Fallen, and am really interested to see how that film turns out when it is released later this year.

Now is Good Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

A bonus is the casting of Kaya Scodelario as Zoey… I don’t think they could have chosen anybody more perfect for the role.

I’d say both film and novel are on a fairly even par, but definitely prefer the book for its dark comedy and balls-to-the-wall narrative.

And yes, bring your tissues.

Now is Good Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Losing Hope’ by Colleen Hoover

There are two sides to every story…

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

For a companion novel, I thought it did well – You have to expect some repetition, but Losing Hope also introduced new characters, and revealed an entirely other dimension to  the storyline providing a different perspective to Hopeless.

I think I enjoyed this more than Hopeless. The writing was better, you got a strong masculine sense from the writing style, as opposed to the feminine of Hope in Hopeless. And for that I have to applaud Colleen Hoover.

The book is predictable – we already know the story from the previous installment, but the inclusion of Les’ own narrative really sold me on this novel. And the glimpse of something extra at the end…

It was great to revisit the story again, almost like re-reading your favorite book and finding new things to like. This novel was a little too angsty for my general pallet, but nonetheless an engaging read.

One point that I felt could have been improved upon was thatHolden’s narrative began to sound quite like Hope’s toward the end – and you could either put it down to the fact they were getting close and began to think like one another; or, that Hoover was slipping with her inner voice and Holden morphed into the overly dramatic and sensitive guy all girls swoon over. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just something that jumped out at me at one point… I remember thinking ‘Maybe Holden does have a hairy burger – when did that happen?’ But jokes aside, the guy does have to have some compassion. The issues dealt with in this book are pretty intense.

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

I have experienced loss, and abuse. And while the story is a bit overly dramatic and angsty, Colleen pretty much nailed it! The fear, the numbness, the shock and the repressed memories. Best written representation I’ve come across so far. Bravo!

Overall reaction: pleasantly satisfied

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – The Fault in Our Stars

Strumming heart-chords everywhere.

The Fault in Our Stars Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle

Where the film devastated me, the book completely annihilated me.

I nearly wasn’t going to read or watch anything to do with John Green’s creation, mainly due to the fact I’m easily reduced to a blubbering mess for days in stories like this; and sense-memory of my own battle with the big ‘C.’ But as evident of this review I finally caved – and true to form, was not fit for public appearances for at least two days.

I loved how the book gave the reader glimpses into how undiscriminating cancer is, how it steals your dignity, and how moments of despair and resolve wash over you. The movie interpretation doesn’t do this as successfully though – it was too ‘pretty.’ Sick people really don’t look as pleasing as Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who play Hazel and Gus respectively.) It was a heart-warming love story though, and if the reality of their situations were laid bare in technicolour, I don’t think many would watch it. So, a sanitised version for the big screen is something I’m prepared to overlook.

The Fault in Our Stars Film vs Novel Pic 1 by Casey Carlisle

Going into the book without expectations, and not trying to anticipate the plot let me revel in the beauty of Hazel and Gus. See the determination and will to experience life through their eyes. You also get a sense of this in the film, but it is not as prominent. Where the book has layers about love, life, survival, death, significance/insignificance (and I could list ten more) the movie was essentially a romance. So while I enjoyed both, the delicate undertones and meaning of John Greens’ writing did not translate well to the big screen.

So too did I feel the characters were a less sparkly version for the screen: where Hazel was quiet and strong and Gus was devilishly cheeky and debonair, even though both actors imbued the characters with these traits, they were so much stronger in the novel.

Both are in my top favourites and I urge you to read the book before watching the film – be warned: the story may destroy relationships for you forever. Gus is a hard guy to live up to.

And it’s the novel for the win… okay? Okay!

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Eleanor and Park

Finding out who you are, who you love and how their view of the world is vastly different from your own – it’s called growing up – and it’s magnificent, terrifying and mind-explodingly beautiful.

Book Review Eleanor and Park by Casey CarlisleThis is the second novel by Rainbow Rowell I’ve read, and has become one of my favorites so far this year. Maybe it is due to the fact is is set in an era when I grew up, maybe it’s because Eleanor is a red head too, or the fact the main characters are a little wierd, a little on the periphery of the High School pecking order. Or just because of the slow burn of the growing and undeniable passion they have for each other – whatever the reason, ‘Eleanor and Park’ spoke to me on so many levels that I can’t squee enough.

Rainbow’s writing style is effortless and never pulled me from the narration. I completed the book in one sitting, totally engrossed in the drama of High School life. Miss Rowell has the ability to create beautifully flawed and realistic characters that you have no other option but to embrace in all their glory. She tackles issues like body image and bullying through the eyes of the main characters that ring true to your own experiences.

It’s a love story, so yes the outcome is predictable, but the path the story takes is beautiful. With moments that could have been taken straight out of my childhood diary, I loved how this book travelled the road of innocence, identity and the angst that a teen feels of – let’s be honest – just about everything.

I don’t want to spoil the book by discussing any more, but it is enough to say that this books gets top marks from me and is a must read recommendation.

Eleanor and Park Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Obsidian

A boy annoying the sh!t out of you makes for some out of this world reading.

Obsidian by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbour, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to seal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has lit me up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Obsidian Daemon Black Eyes by Casey Carlisle

Many of my BookTube friends and fellow reviewers raved about this series, so I jumped in with high expectations… and was not disappointed.

Jennifer Armentrout’s style is very easy to read, and she paints some compelling characters, loveable, and ones we love to hate. I also found she wove some great angst and tension between the cast throughout the plot. Although it is not my favourite read so far this year, it certainly rests solidly in my top ten.

The boy-meets-girl, storyline is easily predictable, however the rest of the novel left me guessing up until the last page: mainly due to the volatile nature of most of the main characters. It has been a very long time since I’ve read a character I want to throttle, but compelled to find more about at the same time. Jennifer writes along this tenuous line expertly. I wouldn’t say it was a fast paced read, but there wasn’t a time where I wanted to put the book down for a rest.

picture from fuckyeadluxseries on tumblr

picture from fuckyeadluxseries on tumblr

One of the down sides that stuck out like a sore thumb to me was the ‘bad guys,’ or the race of aliens which were Daemon’s enemy; I found them two-dimensional. Possibly there wasn’t time to develop a back story without killing the flow of the novel, but it left me thinking that their presence in the plot was a little trite and convenient – placed there as a tool to build tension. But really, that is the only aspect of ‘Obsidian’ that urked me.

It was easy to connect with Katy, from whose point of view the story is told, she is sassy, sarcastic and observant. She’s not one to roll with the punches and has a bit of spark. Never content with letting things simply happen around her, Katy challenges situations and people – and unknowingly puts herself in danger – and her engagement makes a gripping read. I especially loved her relationship with Dee (Daemon’s Sister) their bond was instant and unwavering despite their differences. It reminded me of friendships I have with girlfriends in real life.

Daemon was equal parts mysterious, infuriating, gorgeous and arrogant, all the while appearing at opportune moments to save the day. This bi-polar attitude had me salivating at each page (does that say something about me?) because I crave characters who are challenging and aren’t your typical all-round nice guy.

Obsidian Daemon Black Glow by Casey CarlisleI read ‘Obsidian’ quite quickly and definitely recommend it if you are looking for a light science fiction YA read. If you were into the television series ‘Roswell,’ or the recent ‘Star-crossed,’ then this series will captive! I’m definitely looking forward to reading ‘Onyx,’ the next in this series and hope to see the more back story on the enemy aliens and witty banter between Daemon and Katy.

 

Obsidian Book Review by Casey Carlisle

   Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Fallen’ by Lauren Kate … written by Casey Carlisle.

Where some angels fear to read.

ImageThe first book in a YA supernatural series promising something “dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, ‘Fallen’ is a thrilling story about forbidden love.”

                My overall impression of this book was mixed with unrealised potential. I did enjoy to story, but it failed to reach my expectations.

Having been recommended by a number of friends, I finally succumbed and bought the book. The cover and blurb hinted at an angsty romance with plenty of action and drama… well it did play out between the pages, but with a rather lukewarm execution.

The story itself is interesting, although nothing new or surprising, and if it hadn’t been such a lumbering read I would have rated it higher. You could predict the plot easily and I was a little disappointed how the climax (battle) of the book took place off screen. There were some unique and devices within the novel, like the use of shadows to glimpse a window into the past, I really liked how this was done. But amnesia and flashbacks are two of my pet hates in a novel – because they are cliché and overused.

With so many books being turned into movies these days (as this one will be), I’m interested to see what will come of ‘Fallen,’ because it may quite possibly turn out much more entertaining than the book.

Luce, the main character, was too insipid for me. She reacted to the circumstances around her, and lacked strength. I can understand what Lauren Kate was trying to convey with this story, but neglected to give her main cast any sort of edge. Similarly Daniel and Cam, fighting for Luce’s affection, were equally two-dimensional. Both had strong chauvinistic attributes and I failed to connect with any of the characters or their love story. I don’t mind reading this type of genre from time to time; the all or nothing stakes for an indescribable passion between two people. But ‘Fallen’ fell down on this aspect.

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Lauren’s writing is easy to read, and I enjoyed her style – she just kept losing me. I feel if you cut the book down to half its size to ensure the pace pulled you through the story, Luce would have been seen as a survivor rather than someone who simply endures. But the end of the novel I was more interested in the periphery characters: they had powers and attitude that stirred my curiosity.

Another aspect of ‘Fallen’ which didn’t play well with me, only from personal taste, is that I’m not too fond of stories involving angels. It humanises the divine and mixed drama into religious beliefs. Sometimes it can be done really well (as was with Cassandra Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments because the angels were a story telling devise, not a character trait) and sometimes not.

But if you love epic love stories, and angels, and don’t mind a passive protagonist then you will love this book.

 Excited over the premise, disappointed by the execution and it gets 2 out of 5 kisses from me.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell … written by Casey Carlisle.

If you’re scared about change, about leaving home or growing apart from your family, then you’ll relate to the lamenting Cather…

ImageI can understand why people rave about this novel; it strikes at the heart of every bookworm. Cather, the protagonist, is the quintessential introvert, hiding from life behind her twin sister, her father, her guilt and anger from her mother’s abandonment, and most of all, her fanfiction.  The concept of ‘Fangirl’ resonated with me personally, as a writer, because it shows how much creative people retreat into an imaginary world in order to escape or protect ourselves from the harsh realities in the world around us. Rainbow Rowell sketches strong characters that are scared and flawed with beautiful innocence. Although I didn’t fall in love with the book, I certainly rave about what it explores.

Completing the novel in a day, it was definitely an easy yet compelling read. I was a little bored towards the end when Cather’s internal monologue began to get annoying – but that was the worst of my experience. The paring of Cather and her love interest Levi was refreshingly unique from many other YA counterparts in that, even with the drama of their story, an innate calm and steady element underlined this development. It lent a ‘safe’ quality in Levi which readers will find attractive. Personally, I didn’t swoon, it lacked that epic romance feel; instead, like the main character, the pace built gently – understated and ultimately comfortable.

ImageThe best way I can sum up the characters is by posing the question – how do you deal with despair? Because that is basically what happens in various ways and with different outcomes. It was raw and honest without being preachy. Cather starts University with her twin sister Wren; however Wren breaks out on her own forcing Cather to find her own identity. Which is difficult when your are constantly being compared to your prettier, more outgoing sister… who happens to look exactly like you! The problem is: Cather doesn’t want to grow up, doesn’t want to be on her own, doesn’t want to change. She retreats into her room and writing Simon Snow fanfiction (a wave at the Harry Potter craze). Cather is the sensible, responsible one, picking up the pieces of her Fathers manic episodes, while Wren is the rebel who drinks, parties and has boyfriends.

We begin to see how the reclusive Cather is challenged through her roommate, Reagan and Reagan’s ex-boyfriend Levi. She deals with the new obstacles as every writer does – through her fanfiction and withdrawing into her thoughts. Its safe there, familiar, and doesn’t make demands.

ImageIt is about the inevitable journey Cather must go through to find her own voice. – If you missed that the Simon Snow fanfiction is a representation of her childhood and how the Professor encouraging her to write something else is a parallel for Cather stepping out of her sister’s shadow to find her own identity apart from Wren, I’m going to roll my eyes at you.  :p

Elements I loved about the book include the gay theme to Cather’s fandom writing, shedding a light on the GLBT community. Also, the novel deals with the subject of Copyright and Plagiarism, challenging the concept that fanfiction resides in the grey area of intellectual property versus the concept of where ideas come from.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to an alternative to the dystopian or paranormal fiction monopolizing the market at the moment. A great way to spend a weekend snuggled in your favorite chair and a mug of hot chocolate.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.