Film vs Novel – Nerve

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The novel ‘Nerve’ had the distinct tone of a toned-down horror movie – the film, however, was a completely different creature.

I found the book compelling. I giggled at some of the dares the Players of the app are put through, and my pulse raced in others. I also liked the interactivity of the Watchers. The concept of the game gave me that silly high you get when you do something stupid as a teenager. That thrill of breaking the rules and giving into abandonment. Some of the dares are lame, but it is to be expected for building tension. The film highlighted different motivations for the main characters – redemption, money, or breaking out of the box people keep labelling you with. I found the movie much more thrilling, and the complexity between the cast more interesting with tension and jealousy coming in to play. It also added an air of mystery around the origin and reason for the game, and the introduction of the Watchers (and Controllers). Where the book is fun and innocent, the film is intricate, daring, and foreboding.

nerve-film-vs-novel-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleOur protagonist Vee is a cute, bookish and unassuming girl – very much how I was in high school. She has a strong moral compass which is what kept me reading. She was crapping her pants, but stuck to her morals and always found a solution she could live with. She remained true to this impression in both the film and the novel. I loved Emma Roberts portrayal of her. She nailed the shy yet determined aspect of Vee to a tee. You could also see the uncertainty and excitement come through a lot more with Emma Roberts’ interpretation of Vee.

Ian, one of the men in Vee’s life, felt a little stereotypical, and a lot of eye-rolling went with his story, but by the end of the novel I actually thought he was pretty decent and genuine. The same goes for Sydney, Vee’s bestie for the experience I got reading the novel. In the film we get a more possessive Ian and a self-absorbed Sydney. I felt it added a better dynamic and allowed our protagonist Vee to shine. Praise goes to the screenwriters!

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Tommy, the love interest for the book … well I’ll let that one go. He’s a bit of a mixed bag and I think there is still more of his story to tell. This can be said for many of the cast as well. They all have their motivations for joining the game NERVE – to better their lives, to become famous, to have an adrenaline rush… but the snippets into their lives was truly interesting. Like peeking into the lives of strangers, grotesque and fascinating. The movie explored this much more deeply with the interpretation from actor Dave Franco. We get a horrific and tragic backstory for Tommy. Also there is a nefarious element to the game not present in the novel that I felt added something extra – leading up to a more satisfying climax.

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The ending for the book, though I loved the intelligence and strategy of it, did not have the thrill of the beginning dares. It devolved into a clichéd Mexican standoff. But I did like the twist ending. I love a bit of cheesy, in-your-face tone that leave the reader/viewer saying WTF? The movie, though still remaining true to the concept of the book, added a layer of social responsibility.

The pacing is top-notch, I found myself reading three-quarters of the book on one sitting, until my eyes started drooping. The storyline isn’t what is so attention grabbing, it’s more like the anticipation of what comes next… and that’s the whole book in a nutshell. It’s done really well for what it is. It reminds me of those campy cult classics people love, where substance is low, but it connects to something primal that we find impossibly entertaining. The movie did it all better, but the storyline felt flawed to start with, but the big screen version certainly redeemed ‘Nerve’ in my eyes. Still cliché, but entertaining.

The whole book was a wonderful satire on fame, and what it costs you. It was also a sanatised poke at all these ‘Saw’ movies… Surprising to find layers like this in ‘Nerve.’ I’m glad the film departed from this element, instead focusing on the core motivations as to why someone would choose to partake in the game, as either a Player or a Watcher.

Jeanne Ryan, had a wonderful writing style. I felt like I was thinking the words as I read them. No grand descriptions or lengthy inner monologues. It was simple and to the point – which is what you need to build tension and move the pace along. The treatment of the film was as equally thrilling, entertaining and funny, though I am confident in saying it pulled it off with greater finesse than the book.

I would have enjoyed the novel far more if we got to get to know the characters better (like the film), had dares with higher stakes (like the film), and more adrenaline inducing scenarios (like the… well you get the point). Additionally, a bigger conspiracy and a bigger peek behind the curtain – and that is in the film! It’s as if the screenwriters read my mind and added all the little things I felt were lacking from the book. Even though ‘Nerve’ is a standalone, it sets things up enough that it could be considered the start of a series. I liked the open-ended tone that both film and novel conclude on. Enjoyable, silly fun.

Book 3.5 stars, movie 4 stars

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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 – ‘Frigid’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A winter romance that left me cold…

frigid-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 252

From Goodreads:

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love. 

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have. 

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

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I love JLA’s writing, it’s always great smutty escapism, but with ‘Frigid’ I was so annoyed over the first few chapters I was close to DNFing it. The relationship and behaviour of our two main characters was really off-putting. With a narrative told from two differing points of view, that of Sydney and Kyler as they dance around each other in varying degrees of love, like, lust and hate…

Sydney was cute as a button – and I mean that sarcastically. Hopelessly in love with her best friend. Hey we’ve all been there, and I pretty much ignored it too, and fantasized in private. *sigh* But the manhandling and controlling behaviour from Kyler blargh! – and she enabled him. Big time. It was painful to read. But I did have some favourite parts about Sydney: her clumsiness. The head-to-chin-butt had me in stitches.

There also seemed to be some sort of sick fascination about people putting their hands on Sydney’s hips – I think it was mentioned at least three times per chapter.

Kyler is so weak-willed, misogynistic, possessive, and controlling. Stereotypically the tall handsome hunk. It’s okay for a man to sleep around, but somehow, not for Sydney. Everything about this guy rubbed me the wrong way. I really wanted to punch him in the face. Additionally, to top it all off, a pet hate of mine are guys calling you “baby,” I winced every time Kyler said it. Sydney girl, you could do so much better.

I don’t think the dual perspective of Sydney and Kyler did all that much for the narrative, jumping in and out, just to hear how hot they thought the other one was. Other than that, it didn’t reveal anything new for the plot.

With what seems to be a lot of drinking and swearing, (again, unnecessary) it wasn’t setting the mood or the scene, just made the main characters look like potty-mouthed lushes who wanted to hump everything that walked by. Made me feel like I had a dog latched onto my leg. That, and the F-bombs. Drained the romance right out.

There were some intense sex scenes: some of it titillating, some of it not. I also just about gagged when Sydney was described as being “tight and drenched down there”… I mean, ew. There’s got to be some more passionate, creative ways to describe arousal that doesn’t sound like leaky plumbing. Another aspect that had me cringing was the whole sex-while-Sydney-is-asleep-thing. Creeped me out – I know it was meant to be sexy, build the tension and angst between the pair, but it had shades of rape that didn’t sit well with me.

And someone shooting a gun at some point felt like overkill. But, after all the bagging I’ve done, I got into ‘Frigid’ for the last third of the book. It felt like good old JLA again.

There’s just something about this coupling, and the situation that hasn’t sold me. The ending is very cutesy, but didn’t wrap everything up. Very mixed feelings about this book, overall it was okay – I kinda enjoyed it. But don’t think I’d recommend it. She has written so many other good books, this one pales in comparison.

Overall feeling: I shuddered, not shivered…

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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 – ‘Last Sacrifice’ (Vampire Academy Book 6) by Richelle Mead

A sad goodbye to a YA favorite.

Last Sacrifice Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

No. of pages: 608

From Goodreads:

They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

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I’m not sure how I feel about the conclusion to this epic series – on the one hand it was a lovely round-up and concluded in what, to be frank, is the most realistic way. But I wanted and ending that was legendary. After I had put the book down, I was struggling to remember how it all wrapped up… and that’s why I’m so on the fence with the culmination to the Vampire Academy books – I invested a lot of time in these big six books, so I wanted the conclusion to be the ultimate.

Lissa’s position I pretty much pegged in the first book of VA, and that was very satisfying. But Rose… well… she’s a warrior and I wanted a big bang – or promise of more to come. We kind of left her in a way that it trailed off.
But that is about the biggest aspect to ‘Last Sacrifice’ and the VA that bothered me. The rest was damphir goodness! I got the little plot twists that I’ve not come to expect, and that I rarely predict. The overall plot is pretty much easy to guess, but Richelle Mead always makes the journey there so interesting.

I also wanted some more questions answered a little better. More investigation into Spirit users. The fate of the remaining Strigoi. A solid direction for the reign of the new Queen. We get hints, but it felt too uncertain.

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I know their journey is still not over, as the spin-off Bloodlines will delve into more of the VA world, and most likely give me some more answers. But I feel VA deserved an ending that resonated with me.

The writing is easy to read and a pleasure to while away an afternoon as always. And considering that ‘Last Sacrifice’ is 608 pages long, it was still a relatively fast read. It did drag a bit at some points, and the pacing isn’t as good as its predecessors – I think mainly because there was so much going on and Rose was in and out of her head as well as Lissa’s, it was difficult to get into one stream of consciousness where the action was ramping up, before you are yanked into another head space.

I think we also lost some of that mystery that we get throughout VA – it was pushed to the side with all the action in ‘Last Sacrifice.’ I wanted to there be a stronger presence of Spirit and it’s mythology/origins. And a bit more on the origin of the species of Moroi and Strigoi. With the introduction of the rebel group who were Traditionalists, it opened the door for this – but Richelle didn’t do anything with that. As too with the mythology/origins of the Alchemists.

So I’m going to have to read the Bloodlines series now to see if Mead will drop me some more breadcrumbs.

A wonderful book, slightly underwhelming ending, but a sad goodbye to our kick ass heroine Rose (by that I mean an end to the series – not that she dies).

Overall reaction: a sweet and sad goodbye

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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 – Vanity Fierce

Vanity Fierce Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Stephen Spear is everyone’s golden boy (including his own). Blond, blue-eyed, blessed with every talent and advantage, he has the world falling at his feet. And he’s ready to trample all over it. When Stephen falls for Ant, the only gay man he knows who still has chest hair, he is astounded to find his desire unrequited. Or is it? Ant is so inscrutable, it’s impossible to be entirely sure. But Stephen is determined to get his man. And if the wiggle of his cute butt isn’t enough, then scheming, lying and manipulating is second nature to him. He’s too young to realise that love can be tricky enough without adding any extra complications. Vanity Fierce is a love story that’s big on outrageous schemes, dark secrets and firm muscles.

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This was a nice break away from my typical reads, and it was great to see Sydney shine through the text. Getting a glimpse into a life far different from my own, shedding a humorous eye over the darker side of the Kings Cross and Darlinghurst gay scene in the nineties… a truly surprising novel. There were times when it started to drag – especially in excerpts from the novel featured within the story, but on the whole, thoroughly entertaining. I applaud the usage of the inserted manuscript to take a peek into a different view of events (even though both points of view could be considered unreliable) but felt if small chunks were highlighted rather than entire chapters the pacing of the book would have kept its momentum.

Told through Stevens point of view, who is unashamedly self important and self obsessed, neglects to see the big picture in a lot of things: and so begins his rollercoaster ride through love and life… especially when his intentions are spurned by the one guy he wants – Ant (Anthony). Stephen is not used to rejection and this fuels his obsession.

There are plenty of colourful characters, hilarious side stories peppered throughout Aitken’s novel. His turn of phrase is fresh and delightful and even though I’m a massive fan of adventure and action in my YA books; I barely put ‘Vanity Fierce’ down.

In a world of imperfect protagonists, it was refreshing to read of a seemingly perfect one.

This story had the air of a classic novel about it, ranking up with the greats like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen and ‘The Rainbow’ by D.H Lawrence – because it dealt with a very real world, with very real characters. Emotional and epic in its own right. I make the comparison simply because ‘Vanity Fierce’ had the same impact on me as did those timeless reads (and it’s my opinion!)

Graeme Aitken also has an uncanny ability to weave important issues into his narrative without shoving them down your throat, or sensationalising them. Stephen’s journey was delicate, and dealt with the respect it deserves – where it could have turned out to feel like a political statement or after-school special. ‘Vanity Fierce’ has been a wonderful introduction into Aitken’s writing and I am definitely looking forward to adding other titles to my collection (ie: ‘50 Way of Saying Fabulous’)

If you enjoyed the movie ‘The Sum of Us’ starring Russel Crowe – definitely give this a read.

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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.

Grab Life by the Short and Curlies! by Casey Carlisle

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Voyager 01            “You have cancer” are terrifying words nobody wants to hear from a doctor.
I’ve had that dreadful sentence repeated to me twice in this lifetime. And as you can

            Everything I’ve ever dreamed about doing, wanted to accomplish, taste, experience, share, be it large and expensive, or as simple as a smile, went onto the list.guess, this gal has licked it both times! But once getting over the shock, depression and angst, you accept that life is short… and what is important to you in life gets a major re-shuffle! In addition to embracing the all-too-common mantras: ‘no regrets’ and ‘live every day like it’s your last,’ I remained positive and constructed myself a Bucket List.

            It doesn’t end there: I add items as often, if not more, than I cross them off. One of the big ticket items I managed to strike through this year in January with my family… Go on a Cruise!

I’ve only been overseas once – for the briefest of times attending a relatives funeral in New Zealand – nothing that you call a holiday. So, Sydney – New Noumea, New Caledonia – Lautoka, Fiji – Auckland, Taurunga, Wellington, N.Z. and back to Sydney for fifteen days on the high seas! I was beyond excited.

Fully packed with my two outfits for each day (one daytime & one glamorous for dinner) I set off the airport. The flight was extremely quick, although turbulent. I was tempted to pull a “Bridesmaids” and yell out ‘There’s a colonial woman out on the wing churning butter’… pity only I thought that was amusing.

When I finally got on the cruise ship, let me tell you it is far more impressive than I expected. You really feel like a movie star anyplace on the ship. The service is beyond impeccable and the décor is fantastically surprising. I don’t think two weeks is long enough. Oh, and make sure you bring some elasticised pants – The food is delicious!

If I wasn’t writing by the pool, shopping at every port (or in the ships mall), or taking tropical kayak tours, the family would wind down by congregating in a bar for cocktails and swap stories on our various adventures on the island of the day while belting out at music trivia. It was only then I noticed that my skin had slowly been getting pinker and pinker… yes I had gotten sunburn despite my numerous applications of Teflon strength sunscreen many times throughout the day!

 

VOTS Casey 02Boasting an ice skating rink, theatre, cinema and nightclub there isn’t a moment for you to stop and think ‘I’m bored!’  I feel as though I’m boasting about the great time had – but in all honesty – go! Have a blast! Just make sure you can swim and don’t get sea sick.

You don’t need a life threatening illness to prompt you to create your own Bucket List; so get itemising those adventures and must-haves today. Who knows you may be screaming “I’m on top of the world” from the bow of a cruise liner too?

© Casey Carlisle 2013. 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.