Revisiting Roswell

Revisitng Roswell Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Throwback to just over 15 years ago and I had a steady diet of CW television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, and of course Roswell.

I was having a moment (feeling despondent and procrastinating) so I thought I take a trip down memory lane and watch an episode or two – but I ended up binge watching the entire 3 seasons. Oi vey!

Revisitng Roswell Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleWhat alarmed me was how much more discerning over content I am now that I’ve been professionally writing for over 10 years. While I was filled with nostalgia and angst, quietly slobbering at Jason Behr, and wished Liz (played by Shiri Appleby) was me, the construction of the episodes delivered a sting I was not prepared for.

 

Revisitng Roswell Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There were some major issues with plot, continuity and believability. And don’t get me started on complexity.

The construction of each episode was great – they all told an important story, and even the scenes were framed perfectly… but the transition of scene to scene was shaky at times. Rational thought seemed to get tossed out the window. What happened to the path of least resistance and all that? I know it was manufactured the way it was to create drama, but couldn’t we have at least addressed the elephant in the room? I think this aspect was compounded at times by the special effects. Many were executed marvelously, where others resembled cheap, fake looking digital renders. I understand there is a budget for the production of each episode, and I’m subconsciously comparing it to today’s standards, but couldn’t they have filmed it in a different manner to eliminate the nasty look of the spfx? Some episodes were brilliant, where others screamed poor production and plot holes.

I’m still wondering about the whole alien abilities thing – which are supposed to be human abilities – when the human race have evolved to use a higher percentage of their brains. It’s not an unheard of mythology. But their abilities kept getting redefined and the past retconned on a number of occasions. Grrr!

Sometimes the cast were emotional, motivated, and complex; and other times, stereotypes… guest stars and supporting cast were often reduced to a cliché as well. But I think that is more a television thing than a Roswell thing. We are still viewing characters over-stylized into a role for easy identification. That’s the bad guy because he wears black and has a scar… I hate it when things get dumbed down for an audience. Especially in science fiction. You expect it in something like comedy, where you can overact, over-emphasize everything; but in sci-fi, it’s meant to be challenging, though provoking. Even if it is a teen drama. I would have liked to have seen the complexity set up at the beginning and slowly grow as the characters are tested with roadblocks each episode.

Revisitng Roswell Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Again, the issue of spfx let me down with believability – it’s hard to get sucked into an imaginary world when your spitting out your cup of tea laughing at sub-par digital rendering. So to goes for terrible dialogue and poorly constructed scenes. You want your characters to explore and find themselves in a precarious position, not feel like they were placed there by the author and have their options removed by some unseen hand of God… that’s cheating!

I know this is sounding over-critical and ranty. Roswell will continue to remain one of my favourites (faults and all) but I think it’s a great exercise in constructing a scene, and writing a novel for that matter, to actively and critically watch shows. You start to see what works and what doesn’t. What is relying on the actors’ good looks or interpretation of the character, and what is bad screenwriting. Other times elements of production let down the story – the way it’s edited together, the treatment… there are so many aspects to focus on. So many tools you can use to objectify your own writing and potentially improve it.

I love reading books and casting a critical eye over them; but a television episode is usually a story told in 45 minutes, and to that end, you don’t have to invest so much time to flex your critical eye. It’s fun to mix it up in different mediums: movies, plays, short stories, novels, tv shows… keep it interesting.

Nonetheless Roswell is a guilty pleasure, the tween in me still swoons over the love-stories, and the geek in me salivates with the science fiction elements. There are constant nods to other icons in geekdom that felt like they were a personal call out to me as a viewer. I was distraught when the series was rushed to an end. It had so much potential, but seemed squandered in the wrong hands.

Revisitng Roswell Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleI did read the 10 book series that was commissioned to write by Melinda Metz, of which this television show was based off, (and a lot of fanfic after it was cancelled.) At the time, it enabled me to live in that universe just a moment longer, but none of it did the concept of this show any justice. I just had to kiss it goodbye and find something else to obsess over.

Now, when there is a trend to re-boot, re-make, and bring back television shows and movies, I wonder how this would actually happen for Roswell. The Romeo and Juliet vibe mixed in with stranded alien hybrid teen royalty, trying to find home… There would need to be a lot of tweaking of the original series for it to be re-introduced and engaging for today’s viewers, a darker and more sci-fi edge, but a character driven plot. Personally, I’d love to see it lead off with a group of healed humans coming to terms with their growing powers, trying to track down Max and Liz, and the rest of the gang (who are currently on the run.) Sherriff Valenti (also healed by Max, and now having his own alien abilities) could be running an underground alien alliance, grouping the growing number of new-humans-with-alien-powers spread across the globe back in Roswell to create a safe haven. A ‘hide in the least obvious place’ sort of thing. I’d like to see a re-imagined alien threat and a seemingly sympathetic government body looking to identify and help the human/hybrids, but have their own nefarious agenda… still a great concept! It would leave it open for guest spots or inclusion of the original cast, but primarily reinvigorate the original concept with a modern cast and contemporary edge.

I’m such the Dreamer…

Revisitng Roswell Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

You can support the Roswell Revival that is currently gaining traction through social media here: https://www.facebook.com/roswellmovie/

Revisitng Roswell Pic 07 by Casey Carlisle

uppercase-lowercase-banner-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.

Wrap up – The Taking Trilogy by Kimberly Derting

Action packed science fiction for tweens.

the-taking-trilogy-wrap-up-pic-01-by-casey-carlisle

The concept of alien abduction is what first drew me to this series, reminding me of the tv show ‘Roswell’ and the 80’s movie ‘Flight of the Navigator.’ It’s a cute read, more focused on the romance than any alien technology or space travel, but the writing style, especially in the first novel is a little jarring; especially with its usage of text abbreviations in the narrative. (Luckily its only in the first book.)

There is a nostalgic and romantic feel to ‘The Taking,’ I really connected with Kyra and her love interest Tyler. They are all types of awkward teen and angst. With the mystery of what happened to Kyra, filling in the missing years while she was taken, and keeping her abduction a secret’ all adding to a great mix of tension for the series.

I can’t say that any of the concepts, or indeed the content of this series feel original; it was all very high-school-special, and something I’d read/seen before. But they are all easy quick reads and Derting manages to up the ante with each instalment.

the-taking-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleI feel that the series got increasingly messy – with too many points of view and too many characters growing with each book. It’s a trend I’m starting to see in YA which I find disturbing. Most of the time it doesn’t add much to the narrative and loses the connection we have with the main character, which is what draws us to read in the first place. ‘The Countdown’ was definitely all over the place and did not have any of that spark that attracted me from the first novel. It tended more towards conspiracies, alien races on earth and action scenes. The mystery was gone, and so was the fish out of water theme from Kyra navigating her way through the world.

Derting’s writing style got better with each book in the series, but her focus did not.

Looking back, I think I would have like to have seen more ‘sci-fi’ in this series, and had complexity introduced through characters rather than plot. And maybe a new twist on the alien abduction trope – this story line has been beaten to death already.

I’d have to say that it is quite an enjoyable read though – light escapism, nothing all to challenging. It wraps up nicely, though I still had a lot of unanswered questions. If you’re a lover of science fiction, this may not be one for you, I’d only recommend it for younger readers who like a romance with a twist. It is along the same lines as ‘From a Distant Star’ by Karen McQuestion.

Another note: I love the covers! I bought the hardbacks, and the artwork simply glimmers. Typographical headers are so much better than generic models gazing into the lens.

Overall I’d rate the series as a solid three out of five. Not terribly great, but not awful either… a guilty pleasure.

the-taking-trilogy-wrap-up-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

For individual reviews click on the links below:

The Taking’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/book-review-the-taking/

The Replaced’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/book-review-the-replaced-by-kimberly-derting/

The Countdown’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/book-review-the-countdown-by-kimberly-derting/

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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 – Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

An end to alien antics (well, sort of)

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

No. of pages: 352

From Goodreads:

Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can’t believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

 Page border by Casey Carlisle

I was excited to see how this series was going to end and dived into ‘Opposition’ eager for an explosive conclusion… but I ended up not really enjoy it as much as the rest of the series. Even though there is another book due for release in novel due for release on Dec 1st this year (‘Oblivion’ the beginning told from Daemon’s point of view – a ‘Midnight Sun’ of the Lux series. I wonder if it is going to pick up where ‘Shadows’ left off or use that novella as a foreword?) ‘Opposition’ wrapped up Katy and Daemon nicely.

There was too much lovey-dovey-ness, it became so repetitive and at inappropriate times. Daemon was starting to get on my nerves. And Katy to some extent… when did they get so stereotypical? I think it was the rehashing of intimate moments in the series – I was overlooking it in previous novels, but by this, the 5th book, I was hoping Jennifer L Armentrout would have come up with more imaginative ways to create intimacy.

Ooopsition (Lux) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleLoved the epic battle and obstacles overcome with the Arum. But it’s not made too easy and there are some plot twists that had me ‘What tha!?’ My favorite is still the Las Vegas battle scene from ‘Origin.’ We see all aliens (and hybrids) using their powers with reckless abandon. Although I can say I wanted more face-offs, the pacing and action scenes have been so engaging.

Some of the insights from this conclusion have also got me wanting to read ‘Obsession,’ a stand-alone from an Arum’s POV… color me intrigued. I wonder how different the narrative will be from Daemon? Will it shed any more light on the history between the Luxen and the Arum, or is it merely the story of one alien connecting with yet another unsuspecting human?

The ending felt kind of weak. It was great how everything was tied up in a pretty white bow, but I wanted more bang for my buck. I mean, hello, the world was invaded by aliens and we just go back to the way things were before? There should be some sort of remaining tension or disorientation…

On the whole another enjoyable installment, I’m a little glad the series has wrapped up, the bright and shiny feeling I had when beginning had faded. Still highly recommend to those who love drama, action and aliens in a small town high school setting. Still has aspects that remind me of ‘Twilight’ and ‘Roswell,’ and Katy and Daemon will always have a special place in my heart.

Go alien glowy-ness!

Overall feeling: Ordinary but very cute

 Opposition Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Opposition 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 – The Taking

The Taking Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

A flash of white light… and then… nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ‘n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed… yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra ‘s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken… and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I really enjoyed The Taking, I know the story itself is nothing new, but the way Kimberly Derting draws her characters was exciting and relatable. The premise of alien abduction is a major draw card for me in picking up this title, and there is plenty of mystery thrown in here, and I enjoyed how Kimberly wove character development into the story rather than a massive sci-fi fest.

The Taking Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI liked how the protagonist, Kyra, handled her situation, her reactions, her lashing out… it felt very realistic and relatable. I got plenty of feels for her and the people around her: dealing with loss, confusion, and ultimately acceptance.

The love interest – Tyler, definitely made this book for me. He was adorkable and unquestioningly loyal – these traits made him exceptionally attractive in my eyes. Some readers have knocked it for instalove, but if they read the novel properly they would understand that Tyler had been crushing on Kyra since childhood; and now a man, is on a mission to win her heart. He does this by believing and supporting her without question. There was nothing instant about it. He really has to work for Kyra’s affections. And it’s not like Kyra falls for him at once, there’s a graduation from friendship, to security, and to something more. It may be a bit soppy, but I love a romanticised coupling every now and then.

The Taking Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThere was a lot of climbing in and out of bedroom windows, which reminded me of sneaking out so often in my teen years.

Kimberly’s writing style lends The Taking to a fast read, and it is scattered with internet abbreviations (i.e. FML), weird verbs within the narrative: I’m not sure if she was trying to connect with the target audience or not, and while it could annoy some readers, I found it amusing.

The pacing was a little stop-start, as Kyra made discoveries throughout the novel, but it did not distract from my experience and I completed The Taking in one day. Ultimately is was a little clunky, but not unreadable. Maybe with a little more editing/rewriting this could be an outstanding novel. But for now, it falls into the ‘great way to spend a day reading at the beach.’

If you liked the Lux Series by Jenifer L Armentrout, this has a similar feel. And for those of you who remember and loved the television series Roswell on the WB Network – this is in along the same vein.

I am really looking forward to getting the next book in the series, The Replaced in April this year.

The Taking 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 – 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.