Film vs Novel – Thirteen Reasons Why

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I have a lot of emotions about this novel. One is that I think is it an important topic, that it was valuable to experience life through the eyes of a teen pushed to a point of seriously considering suicide as an option. The other is the total despair and sadness, the loss of life of someone who had their whole life in front of them. That so much value was placed on silly teenage pranks and behaviour. That she couldn’t see that life does get better, that there is help. But the main theme of the novel is not about suicide, but what we can do for each other to stop it. To put an end to apathy. That everything we do impacts on someone else, and even the smallest gesture can turn someone’s life around.

Thirteen Reasons Why’ has been on my radar for a very long time, but I never picked it up. Suicide is such a sensitive, heavy topic, I didn’t want to put myself through the emotional ringer. I don’t like to think about the consequences for such actions. It’s dark and depressing. I did not want to put myself in that headspace. But this novel does not drag you into shadowed corners and lament at how hopeless life is. This is more of a factual account of circumstances that leads Hannah to her decision. Our protagonist Clay his hope. A shining beacon that lets the reader know that all is not lost. This tone is also reflected in the television series throughout the first season that follows the plot of the novel.

Though it is never stated outright, there are hints in the text of how Hannah is suffering depression, which it has been happening for a while. A condition that goes undiagnosed and it compounded by a series of unfortunate events… all narrated by herself on the set of cassettes she addressed to the main people who affected her life and turned her to a path of loneliness.

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The first half of the novel is a little slow, introducing characters slowly as each is discussed until about halfway when we start to get more shocking revelations. After that, I was glued to the page. A sort of morbid fascination. What drove Hannah to do what she did? What is going to be Clay’s reaction? So much more happened than I was expecting. The television show follows suit with flashbacks, but is has the luxury of multiple perspectives, where in the novel it is solely Clay, and Hannah through the tapes. Katherine Langford plays Hannah in the show and exudes that lost child putting up a happy front to disguise all the turmoil underneath. The novel focuses on Clay piecing together a timeline through each tape, where the screen interpretation focuses on events and hypes up the bullying more. We see many of the reveals in the novel much earlier in the screen version to keep an episodic pace.

Clay is a great protagonist. He reacts to the circumstances appropriately – a guide to how you should react to what is happening, as testament to so many characters in the story who lack that compassionate behaviour. He is the litmus test for all of the other characters in the story. The narration treated the events respectfully and lets the reader make pragmatic decisions with compassion. I too loved the depiction of actor Dylan Minnette’s of Clay; he captures the quiet nature and determination that is so strong in this character.

Thank goodness for the screen adaptation, otherwise I may never have read this book. It’s what spurned me to bite the bullet and read the novel before indulging in the series. Because, again, suicide = scary and depressing. I like to read fun, happy, escapist books much of the time.

Definitely thought provoking and I can see it as a great conversation starter for teens (or anyone) who feels they are in the same situation as Hannah. The novel even highlights that there were people who cared, who wanted to help, but she just didn’t give them the chance. So I never got that complete isolation and spiralling pit of despair that this topic generally deals with. We get a balanced view of all parties involved.

The novel ends on a great note too. Hope. Looking forward to see where the tv shows takes these themes beyond the scope of the book… dealing with real issues and hopefully not turning it into another overwritten teen drama.

Highly recommended. It’s not as depressing as it may seem. I didn’t fall into a sopping mess, rather just felt sadness and pity. At this point I have to say both the book and screen adaptation are a solid tie.

Thirteen Reasons Why Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. 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.

Wrap up – Sky Chasers Trilogy by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Not my favourite trilogy, but a great ending.

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This series took me on a bit of a ride. I was kinda liking the debut, ‘Glow’ and then didn’t bother continuing with the series for close to two years because it failed to make an impression on me. Though, my OCD finally kicked in and I needed to complete the trilogy, however ‘Spark’ was underwhelming and my hopes began to sink. But ‘Flame’ ended the trilogy in brilliant fashion and is definitely my favourite of the whole collection.

This trilogy is a bit like ‘Lord of the Flies’ in space. It has a heavy religious aspect to it as two ships travelling to colonise a new planet each have a focus: one on faith, and the other on science and technology. It then further delves into beliefs, violence, vilification, and politics in a fight for survival. While there is certainly a lot packed into these novels – and not for the faint of heart – I did find the religious aspect somewhat preachy. You do get a very real sense of the isolation and insignificant-ness of being a tiny speck of dust – a spaceship – floating in space.

I cringed at the self-congratulation of many of the characters, as I did to the continual ramming down our throats of religious belief, this was so prominent in the second novel I ended up with a stress headache. I was also put off with the amount of violence and abuse of human rights. While a great novel to kick up discussion on many issues around these topics, it verged on unpalatable. But you cannot deny Amy Kathleen Ryan can write a novel wrought with tension and importance.

The final book of the trilogy brings some much needed action over the issues I has with the first two novels. There were a few major plot holes with the science of it all, but it ties up everything in a neat (if somewhat spoony) bow. You can definitely see Ryan’s growth as a writer with each instalment. And I truly think that if ‘Flame’ had not impressed me so much I would have happily torched this trilogy in a fire pit.

But would I recommend it? Probably not. It wasn’t all that entertaining for me. But, if you are up for a science fiction read that poses social issues to discuss, you might get something from it. It is confronting, adventurous and a little bit preachy.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

Glow’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/book-review-glow/

Spark’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/book-review-spark-by-amy-kathleen-ryan/

Flame’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/book-review-flame-by-amy-kathleen-ryan/

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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.

Book Review – ‘Flame’ by Amy Kathleen Ryan

A book in another world to its predecessors.

Flame Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 309

From Goodreads:

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. The mission to rescue their parents didn’t go quite as planned, and now they’re at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Will Seth’s health hold out long enough to help Waverly topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before the final battle? Nothing is certain and every second is a risk in this explosive finale.

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The final book in the Sky Chasers trilogy and another collection down in my Slay That Series year!

Flame’ is so much better than its prequels. The religious aspect was kept to a respectful belief system of those who chose to live by it, and I didn’t feel like it was being crammed down my throat or the crew being oppressed by it.

The political struggle became raw and visceral. It was thrilling. And action – I don’t think I’ve read a book with so many twists and turns. I was thoroughly impressed. Such a departure from my experience so far in this trilogy.

Again, like in ‘Glow’ and ‘Spark,’ I loved the character growth and arcs. People are fallible and it could not be more true about the cast of the Sky Chaser trilogy. Some redeemed themselves, some didn’t. and I loved this aspect of the story. One thing that has stood out about this series is the types of characters, how their beliefs motivate them, how they are changed by their experiences.

I found the long-winded postulation and stream of consciousness were just about gone. The pacing far superior than in ‘Glow’ and ‘Spark.’ I read this in one sitting. I get distracted by long speeches or pages and pages of deliberation – it goes down as well as a fart in a space suit with me. So I was delighted that the lamenting had been replaced with sci-fi action.

A factual thing that is still niggling in the back of my brain is in regard to the gene pool – how many off spring of a couple of girls are there? It was mentioned over 100 embryos were ready… the new generation sounded like it was going to be majorly made up of Waverly’s children. Doesn’t leave much room for them to repopulate the new planet when prospective partners consist mostly of your half brothers and sisters… They’d have to map our genealogy out carefully. I felt like this was an important issue not to be addressed. You go to all this trouble of kidnapping, murder, and essentially raping your girls of their genetic material only to risk the future of the human race to genetic degradation from inbreeding. I mean, c’mon!

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The ending was lovely, if a bit spoony. Having everyone coupled up and all the loose ends tied up neatly can feel cheap in an epic sci-fi; I tend to like it conclude with possibility and wonder, or just a hint at an amazing future. It was a cute ending, and I liked it, but after wading through so much I was hoping for a bit more of a significant event or image for the series to end on.

It has been a bit of a journey for me. I had a low opinion of this series and Amy Kathleen Ryan at the start, but after completing ‘Flame,’ I have to eat my words. She crafted a marvellous story. I still feel the issues I had with the first two books are legitimate, but have seen Amy’s growth as a writer over this series, I now actually look forward to reading more of her catalogue.

Overall feeling: Wow! Where did that come from?

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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.

Book Review – ‘The Revolution of Ivy’ by Amy Engel

A dystopian that packs a punch…

the-reveloution-of-ivy-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 290

From Goodreads:

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.


But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

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An amazing follow up to ‘The Book of Ivy.’

Amy Engel is not afraid to go where she needs to go – to face an ugly reality and do what must be done – that is what wraps this duology up in a nut shell. It is beautiful and terrifying in all its hues, just like life.

Amy has a way of telling a story and developing a character that is ferociously organic. I revelled in our protagonist, Ivy’s growth as a person, her experiences, her feelings… all of it had motive and direction. There is little I can fault in this novel.

Bishop too has his own journey – and he really shines here as a character – there was not a lot of change in the first novel, but in this finale he had no option, but to either put up or shut up. The dystopian world is almost colonial, reminding me of the wild west without the cowboy hats and spurs.

Amy throws ethical dilemmas at the couple, both on a small and large scale. I really love the way her brain works, how Ivy and Bishop learn to adapt to survive in this new world. To help it grow with them and leave behind trappings and prejudices of old.

The Reveloution of Ivy Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgThe introduction of Caleb and Ash give this novel a much needed softer side – that of family, loyalty and security. Even though they have that hard edge essential to survive in this hostile landscape, the couple are everything that is needed to nurture stability and sanity. Forming their own family… it reminded me of something from a GLBT novel (and even RuPaul has been quoted as saying) where they get to choose their family. I really liked that aspect to this novel. How nomads flock together to form communities to benefit the whole. To survive.

The love story aspect of ‘The Revolution of Ivy’ develops further, and I have all the praise in the world to how it is handled. Responsibly, practically, realistically. It’s one of the best romantic story lines I’ve read in a long while.

All of my expectations were met. With that statement, I’d have to say it was fairly predictable, but it was one hell of a journey! So it won’t take a genius to guess the ending.

The pacing is pretty fast, though I think the debut was a little quicker, but there is always something happening, the plot is driven forward with every paragraph. I spread it out over two days. I’ve read many dystopian novels, many of the popular ones in this genre, and I have to say, the Ivy duology has knocked them off their pedestal, it has cemented itself in my top five favourites for this genre.

Highly recommend you give these books a go – it’s a fantastic adventure that really makes you think!

Overall feeling: Took me by surprise!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – ‘Fatal Abduction’ by Julia Crane

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse…

Fatal Abduction Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 262

From Goodreads:

There’s a serial killer at large. His victims just happen to resemble Kaitlyn—dark haired, pale skin and athletic build. Kaitlyn goes undercover, attending a prestigious high school to try to lure the killer into a trap and save the lives of other potential victims. Will she be able to catch the killer before his body count rises? Or will she become the next victim? 

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I’m glad to be done with this series.

When did Kaitlyn turn into a 40 year old noir gumshoe? Seriously, Julia Crane needs to set up her motivations and stop making generic statements which are out of character. This book was one big sarcastic eye-roll for me.

So much flawed reasoning and immature behaviour. Many situations feel like they are half out of context. I was skimming and angry reading. It was frustrating but my OCD had me seeing it right through to the end – I can’t leave something unfinished. And I had to find out what happened.

This final book in the trilogy (hopefully) added yet more perspectives: Madeline, then Kaitlyn, Elliot and Eliza… No one book in this collection is in the same format as another. It is agitating. We also see an Ouija board used as a plot device, which certainly did not match the mythology/history of the series and felt cheap.

Kaitlyn broke character as well – her train of thought bordered on paranoid, which digressed from her established personality in the previous books and did feel not realistic for a girl her age.

Eliza had her head screwed on right and I was starting to enjoy ‘Fatal Abduction’ in parts until just after halfway through, and then I lost all hope. This character would be the books redeeming quality as far as the multiple protagonists go, but the behaviour of her parents added to the books descent into ridiculousness.

The only other good point I can think to mention was that the last five or so chapters had great pacing and action scenes. I was hoping this series would get better, but it became more disjointed and convoluted. I wound not recommend these books to anyone I know. Interesting concepts, but needs to go back to the drawing board, address the basics in storytelling and go through an extensive editing/vetting process.

The print was bad too – askew on the page throughout the entire book. How can a writer get things so consistently wrong in every aspect of the writing-publishing process? Every book in this series has had spelling errors, grammatical errors, formatting issues and low production quality…. I should also lump the publishing team in with this, they are responsible for representing the author and preventing this kind of low quality getting to bookstores. Valknut Press – you need to up your game.

Overall feeling: Don’t bother – seriously!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – ‘Fractured Innocence’ by Julia Crane

Hoped for more…  

Fractured Innocence Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 298

From Goodreads:

Kaitlyn and Erik are sent on a mission to track down Vance Dasvoik, a ruthless monster. His latest thrill—abducting and selling young women.

Vance’s current victim: Aaliyah, a seventeen-year-old who never imagined walking her brother home from school one evening would change her life forever.

The mission quickly turns personal for Kaitlyn when she finds Aaliyah beaten, her mind and soul fractured from abuse of the worst kind. Kaitlyn knows firsthand what it’s like to be haunted by the past and resolves to bring justice to the elusive Dasvoik. 

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I was hoping book two, ‘Fractured Innocence’ would redeem this series after my opinion on ‘Freak of Nature,’ the debut of this series, completely bombed. But unluckily, this was yet another lemon.

The beginning still had that annoying childish tone which did not gel well with Kaitlyn’s robotic nature, or the relationships and situations the novel started with. Not a good sign when I felt tense and squirmy with the first few pages…

Differing from the ‘Freak of Nature,’ this instalment followed the format of a dual P.O.V. between Kaitlyn and Aaliyah. The latter, a new character is the most realistic of all the cast, but still not someone I could readily identify with.

Fractured Innocence Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleKaitlyn is still hard to relate to, and her reactions/behavior is inconsistent with her cyborg condition, and frankly, annoying most of the time. Make up your mid Julia Crane, either she has emotions or she doesn’t, either she obeys commands or not – personality traits were all over the map and added to my confusion. Additionally, it was idiotic with Kaitlyn ignoring her superiors and risking another person’s fragile psyche – professionals are there for a reason, they know what works and what doesn’t. Her blatant disregard left me assuming Kaitlyn is a blunt instrument with little intelligence.

Interactions between Kaitlyn and Lucas (her love interest and overseeing technician) felt very one dimensional. He kept commenting on her looks as if that were the only important thing about her. His objectification, and her wondering if she is an object (being a company asset) left the story flat and superficial. Leading on from this, I did like the conundrum of whether Kaitlyn is alive, has rights, or is owned. But we never get any type of resolution, it’s only pondered.

Aaliyah’s narrative is the one saving grace, it was gritty, raw and heart-breaking. But as her story continued I became less interested. The choices she made, and some handling of the situation by the author left it feeling less and less authentic. But I highly commend the tackling of shocking and confronting material. A huge trigger warning for sensitive types – this book revolves around human trafficking, sexual abuse and rape. I personally found it to be vile and skipped over those parts. It’s not in my taste, but well written to have me feeling so disgusted.

Julia Crane should have done a little more research in maritime jargon to add authenticity as well, some of language was laughable. But ‘Fractured Innocence’ is another quick read, and not for everyone. I had so many problems with this it’s hard to give it a proper review without sounding like I’m completely flaming the book.

My copy had several typos and formatting errors, like it was not proofread properly. I feel embarrassed for Julia, issues like this are a red flag to me as far as quality goes.

Overall, a bit of an inconsistent, hot mess. Definitely great potential, and Julia Crane has the makings of a great writer, but ‘Fractured Innocence’ needs a few more drafts before I’d recommend it to anyone.

Overall feeling: Flatlined

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.