Book Review – ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ (#2 The Girl With all the Gifts) by M.R. Carey

A great companion piece for fans of ‘The Girl With All The Gifts.’

Genre: Y/A, science Fiction, Dystopian, Horror

No. of pages: 400

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

This was a romantic conclusion to the duology. ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ loosely mirrors the debut in the series. An intelligent teen taken under the wing of a scientist and educated as what is left of this dystopian world eagerly scrambles to find a cure for the Hungry plague.

I feel more accurately ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ is a companion novel rather than a sequel as the timelines overlap. ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ takes place a little before ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ but also manages to pick up after so that you can conclude characters journeys from both novels. The writing style here is excellent, I really envy M.R. Carey’s wordcraft. However, I did not feel as driven with my reading experience. The narrative jumps perspectives with every chapter and the pacing was slow. We do get plot points in each chapter, but there was an element of intrigue or desperation that was missing for me. It did not get interesting until after the half way point, and even then the pacing was only at a clipped pace. There was no cinematic culmination.

Having said that, though, ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ pays off on fan service. It has all the elements from the first novel. I was hoping for some new insights regarding the Cordyceps fungus infecting the world and zombie-fying all of humanity, but alas, no maas. What we get is another road trip comprising of military and scientific personnel, and a wayward teen who is emotionally stunted. I feel awful saying that because the teen Stephen ‘The Robot’ Greaves is on the autism spectrum and somewhat of a savant. I only say it in that manner to illustrate strong parallels to that of Melanie from ‘The Girl With All The Gifts.’ It stopped me from forging a strong emotional connection to the protagonists – that continual switching of points of view and the emotional unavailability of the main character – it was too distant. So when something shocking did happen, I just rolled with the punches, not even an inkling of a sigh, gasp, or tear.

I really like this duology, its desolate tone, a world evolving and scratching for survival. I appreciated Carey’s writing and look forward to tackling another of his titles.

Overall feeling: Damn girl, that’s pretty good.

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 Girl With All The Gifts

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-film-vs-novel-pic-01-by-casey-carlisle

The novel by M. R. Carey got a lot of press on its release, surprisingly the film adaptation entered the market with a murmur. Which is surprising considering the big named actors in starring roles. I was wondering if the film wasn’t going to be all that good since the distributors hadn’t put a lot of funds behind promoting the movie. But it turned out to be more satisfying that I had expected.

The novel starts with Melanie’s point of view. A child in chains and strapped down, locked away in a high-security facility. We get more background and explanation of who Melanie is, and her scope of intelligence in the novel – some of it a little long winded – but both screen and written version project her innocence and curiosity while hinting at some dark danger hiding underneath. I will say that Melanie, and the other children like her, residing in the facility looked healthier than described in the novel. I didn’t get that cute-creepy-fragile-dangerous image from the actor (Sennia Nanua) portrayal of Melanie.

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-film-vs-novel-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

We also get a large helping of scientific and biological background in the novel about the epidemic and about Melanie and her class through the narrative, where in the film we get small info-dumps along the way. I think I preferred the way the movie unveiled the plot, though I felt we needed more of an introduction to Melanie and her cognitive abilities. Who knows, maybe it was there and ended up on the cutting room floor during the editing process.

One major element that annoyed the heck out of me from the film: the music was distracting and off-putting. It didn’t add to the ambiance or add feeling and tension where it was meant to. In my opinion, Cristobal Tapia de Veer did a massive disservice to the film with her soundtrack.

Glen Close added dimension to the scientist (Dr. Caroline Caldwell,) subtle hues that made her character more realistic. I felt the written version of her was too single minded at times, dangerously coming near to reading like a caricature. Gemma Arterton captured Helen Justineau perfectly, her performance depicted everything I’d seen in my head when reading the novel.

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-film-vs-novel-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

There was a certain ‘campness,’ like a B-grade horror film to the book at times, but thankfully I didn’t get any of that when watching the film. Though I will say the soldiers felt more like secondary characters in the film, where they provided over-stylized machismo in the novel that actually had me laughing.

The ‘Hungries’ seemed more zombie-like in the film because of the onmipresent viewer, where in the novel from Melanie’s POV I got more of a rabid dog/monster vibe. I would have liked to see the epidemic steered further away visually from zombies. It was getting there, but didn’t quite match what I thought was being described in the novel.

The film is definitely visually brutal. Maybe because of the changing POV’s and lengthy description in the novel, I didn’t get so much of the gore as I did from the film – the impact lessened by the amount of words in between key events. Additionally, I had a different vision in my head of the fungal ‘trees,’ nowhere near as megolithic as shown in the film. Maybe a little more like something you’d have seen on classic Star Trek episodes on some alien planet.

There were some small plot points in the film that had me going ‘huh?’ I had to flip through the book again to see if I was remembering them correctly… I won’t discuss them here though. I can see how they were included for the tone of the film and while they won’t spoil the ending, they would remove certain surprises. So I’ll say that the overall story of the film is similar to the novel, it just has a few tiny tweaks. And I put that down to M.R. Carey also having written the screenplay.

I liked the tone and perspective of the novel, and how it was based (mostly) in a youngsters mind analysing scientific data; but found the movie more entertaining (minus the weird soundtrack) and paced much better. There is definitely a stronger tie in to the Pandora metaphor in the film – but doesn’t have the speculative ending like in the novel.

On a side note, I’m glad they kept with the original name of the novel for the film adaptation, I know they were tossing around ‘She Who Brings Gifts’ for a while.

It’s a close battle to which I prefer, but I’d say the film only just scrapes in above the novel, based on more realistic depictions of the cast, pacing of the story, and the symbolism throughout – all keeping in the same tone for the film throughout. The novel, while wordy, suffered pacing in parts, and some of the scenes felt forced or unrealistic, though much more creepy than the film.

Go check out the film.

Go M.R. Carey!

 critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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.

 

Book Review – The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Fear evolves through the eyes of a child.

 The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Horror

No. of pages: 416

From Goodreads:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I purchased ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ back when it first came out with only vague idea of what it was about – someone had told me it was X-Men like, young children in a school for the gifted… well that is not really what it was about, but still, this title grabbed my attention.

The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleMore and more bibliophiles are calling this a zombie book, and while it’s not technically true, best describes overall genre. ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ starts off so interesting, like a puzzle that needed solving. Especially through Melanie’s POV, where she has such a limited perspective. It all sucked me in – I really wanted to find out what was going on, and why Melanie was so dangerous, when on the surface, she was an innocent little girl.

With changes in the narrative to other main characters, like the teacher, the scientist, the soldier, the plot slowly unravels to reveal a horrible truth, and one I did not see coming. But when realisation struck, it made sense.

Some parts had me cringing – reminding me of B-grade horror movie plots (and acting) but it was kind of camp – the way you laugh at said B-grade horrors. Other parts were truly creepy. So I’m torn between marvelling at its story telling goodness, and dismissing it with a top lip curl.

There are some fantastical moments from both characters and plot, and maybe it was the narrative style that stopped them from being pulled off as truly terrifying. But I really enjoyed all the concepts used in this story. Pacing is slow in the beginning, great lengths are taken to set up each of the cast and the world in which they are struggling to survive.

All in all a creepy little book.

And there’s a movie coming out next year staring Gemma Arterton and Glen Close, except it’s called ‘She Who Brings Gifts’ so I can’t wait to see where they take this story.

Overall feeling: ick factor 8/10

The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Girl With All the Gifts 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.

Book Review – Origin by Jessica Khoury

Test-tube baby with bite!

Origin Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure, Romance

No. of pages: 394

From Goodreads:

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home―and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin―a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

The cover and blurb had me picking up this book and flicking through. The quest for immortality through science, all wrapped up in the existence of a teenage girl – yes please!

Pia is inquisitive and intelligent (a combination which is asking for trouble while kept in captivity if you ask me) and though I found it easy to relate to her, sometimes I felt she was too well adjusted. I wanted to see her test the boundaries a lot more – I think it would have illustrated the need for the extreme measures of her containment better other than secrecy.

Origin Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleEio was fascinating. Jessica Khoury managed to capture that innocence and naivety that isolated aboriginals have – even though they are fiercely intelligent in other ways (as Eio is). But I felt he also was a little too well adjusted (or domesticated) to having a camp – and Pia – close to his village. I had difficulty marrying the two cultures together properly with Pia’s narrative. Eio is that mix of a daring little boy and a courageous man, unafraid of the world outside, despite the rainforest having been his only home. I know it’s not related, but I kept getting flashes of Tim Allen’s movie ‘Jungle 2 Jungle’ while reading this.

Khoury has a decadent narrative style, she paints beautiful scenes of the jungle and night sky, which I felt suited this novel as it was all Pia knew; and she was finding the beauty in her surrounds (and being slowly introduced to new wonders around the camp). Even with that said, the first half of the book dragged on. In my opinion it was because it had a lot of scientific lexicon or Pia’s mental musings that contributed to weighing down the progression of the story… but I still really enjoyed it.

The story itself if intriguing, and the cast of scientists’ complex enough, but the pace, combined unsubstantiated actions or events left this feeling like a first draft.

Origin Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

I have since discovered another two novels in the Corpus universe (though not sequels) which I am keen to add to my collection.

Overall feeling: yeah, but…

Origin Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Origin 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.

Book Review – Rip Tide by Kat Falls

Oceans of adventure and action.

Rip Tide Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 320

From Goodreads:

With time running out for his parents, Ty’s desperation leads the two teenagers to the underwater underworld…and into an alliance with the outlaws of the Seablite Gang. But one mystery soon leads to another. How has an entire township disappered? Why is the local sealife suddenly so aggressive? And can the Seablite Gang be trusted…or are Ty and Gemma in deeper water than they realize? 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

A fantastic follow-up from the debut ‘Dark Life’ that left me praying that Kat Falls writes more for this franchise.

Action, mystery and the stakes for Ty and Gemma – as well as the benthic community – are all increased with ‘Rip Tide’ told in that same narrative style woven with oceanic slang and deep-sea organisms traits. We get a bigger taste of the creatures that lurk in the depths as Ty and Gemma face their own separate challenges in addition to fighting a new threat.

Completely obsessed with all things marine biological, this sci-fi fantasy added a level of excitement for me, personally, that had me eager page after page. Kat Falls’ writing style speaks to my soul – a level of innocence interspersed with sub-aquatic essence.

Rip Tide Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleTy is pushed to his limits, as are the rest of his family, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. There is something about Falls’ story lines that always has me guessing. Which is probably why I love this series so much.

Gemma’s story arc was an interesting one, although I felt a little melodramatic and had a bit of difficulty swallowing it, but I still loved her strength and tenacity. Additionally, Zoe (Ty’s little sister) still has her spunk that injects a different tone into the scene and is still one of my favourite of the cast.

Where ‘Dark Life’ was more about Ty keeping his gift a secret and connecting with Gemma in amongst the challenges they faced, ‘Rip Tide’ is about the pair facing bureaucracy amongst several gigantic threats.

The pacing steadily grows as circumstances become more and more complex, which had me completing the book in one sitting. It does have a young adult tone, so there is a small lack of sophistication to meet its target audience. I was totally sucked into the world, swimming the depths along with Ty and Gemma… a book I’d readily recommend to any with the spirit for adventure and a love of the ocean.

Overall feeling: O_O

Rip Tide Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Rip Tide Book Review Pic 03 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 – Dark Life by Kat Falls

A future Underwater world I want to be a part of!

Dark Life Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

A thrilling futuristic adventure set deep undersea, Dark Life follows the settlers of the world’s first subsea settlement as they defend their homesteads against a brazen band of outlaws.

Set in an apocalyptic future where rising oceans have swallowed up entire regions and people live packed like sardines on the dry land left, DARK LIFE is the harrowing tale of underwater pioneers who have carved out a life for themselves in the harsh deep-sea environment, farming the seafloor in exchange for the land deed.

The story follows Ty, who has lived his whole life on his family’s homestead and has dreams of claiming his own stake when he turns eighteen. But when outlaws’ attacks on government supply ships and settlements… 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I went into this novel with no idea what it was about other that it being science fiction and set in the ocean, and what I got was so much more.

A futuristic adventure that weaves elements of ocean life into every facet of the story line tickled my girlish heart. I love, love, love marine biology and was delighted with language, slang and snippets of underwater organism characteristics throughout this original tale.

Told through Ty’s POV we experience how the human race has adapted to live in the oceans depths – living quarters and sea floor farms… with all the dangers that come from the undersurface habitat. Things that bite, shock and sting, not to mention drowning or being crushed by pressure. And if that wasn’t fascinating enough, politics, a missing person investigation and family life are thrown into the mix. Ty is a confident character with an adventurous spirit which kept me enthralled.

Dark Life Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Additionally, his younger sister Zoe and newcomer Gemma (from the mainland topside) add strong female characters to help him along his journey. I particularly enjoyed the portrayals of females in this sense, each adding valuable support to our protagonist, but to be reckoned with in their own right.

Kat Falls has a writing style that draws you along – the tension keeps building to culmination. She also weaves in scientific terms and observations effortlessly in a way of easy understanding so you don’t feel like a dope. And the story line…. I seriously did not know what to expect from one moment to the next, Kat kept me guessing right to the end.

I immediately jumped online and ordered the second book in this series, Rip Tide, upon finishing this book (and maybe some of her other titles too). Highly recommend if you love adventure, action and anything to do with the denizens under the oceans surface… Escapist fantasy at it’s finest.

Overall feeling: Hot Damn that was great – give me the sequel RIGHT NOW!

Dark Life Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Dark Life 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.