Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Sunshine: Two Books and a Movie!

I've been dying to get my Hunger Games thoughts down here (I haven't let myself read other people's yet, and I can't wait) but I've been working non-stop since Friday night so I decided to include it in today's post.  It does, for the most part, fall under the category of "sunshine" so I think it's appropriate!  I'll try to warn for anything that might be too spoilery, in case you haven't seen it.

The Characters/The Actors
  • With several of the actors (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson) I had a bit of an adjustment period.   There were a few lines early on for each of them that, I don't know, pulled me out of the story for a second, because they felt too much like the actor and not enough like the character.  But for all three, after the first five minutes or so of watching them, that stopped entirely and I was sucked in. 
  • Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Amandla Stendberg: YES.  Nailed it.  Cinna, Effie, and Rue were 100% spot on for me.  
  •  POTENTIAL SPOILER: I loved getting to know Seneca Crane a bit more.  Wes Bentley was delightfully creepy and cold, but then also in his own way so passionate about the fate of his Games.  And Donald Sutherland as President Snow:  Well done.  Although I think I pictured someone more useless and spoiled-looking, Sutherland was actually pretty believable as someone people might actually choose to follow.  (Total sidenote: Did the way he was written in the movie remind anyone else of like an evil version of The Giver?  Like, "I've seen all the things, and that's why we must KEEP THE PEOPLE DOWN!"  Anyway, I bet Sutherland would be great in that role...just sayin'...)
What was added/What was lost (SPOILERS ABOUND)
  •   Ok, overall, I thought they did a good job of taking the book (one distinct art form) and turning it into a movie (another distinct art form).  These books are a lot more challenging than the Harry Potter books (for example) because so much of what makes me love the books is getting to be in Katniss' head.  I'm glad the movie didn't attempt that with v/o; at the same time, a lot was lost that I loved.  But I understood most of it, and so I'm ok with it.
  • Things that got cut that I realized I was pretty ok with: Madge, Lavinia/the whole concept of Avoxes, watching Katniss nearly die of thirst over the course of like three days.  I mean, here's the thing, really: The whole book is my favorite part.  So I'm sad to see anything go.  But they had to streamline somewhere, and I think we pretty well got that the Capitol is horrific and so is the arena.  I liked the change in provenance of the Mockingjay pin, actually--that it represents the kindness of her district, and the hob in particular, and that Prim is the one who gets her to wear it in the games.  
  • Things that got added that I liked: All the game-making.  I think it really sets up the next movies well (although you lose the total blindsiding when Katniss gets out of the arena--I, like her, was pretty dumbfounded the first time I read the books and she got out only to be told that she was now in even more danger).  The uprising in 11.  And, OMG, the bowl of berries.  That was so well done.  
  • Things I missed:  Well, I wish Katniss had yelled Peeta's name instead of whispering it, after the rule change is announced.  That's really small, but I love that moment of her losing control just for a second.  Actually, I felt like we lost a lot of what made Katniss and Peeta interesting together--her conflicted feelings and strategizing and what makes them grow together.  We lost some of the growing together with Rue too--the day with Rue and the cave were places I wished the movie would have taken just a few more beats.  
Times I cried
  • Every single time anyone did the three-finger salute (my students loved that gesture, by the way--I anticipate seeing it in the halls at school a lot over the next week or so.)
  • The parade of tributes
  • Basically any time Rue or Prim showed up 
Ok--now time for books.  I know this has been a long post, but please, do yourself a favor--even if you don't read my review below, put Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein on your TBR.  Then buy a lot of tissues.  (Canadian friends: Goodreads is doing a giveaway of CNV just for you guys!  Go enter!)

What I Read This Week
  The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-BanksThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went into this looking for a light contemporary to break up a long (and to-be-continued) string of dystopia/sci-fi and historicals. What I found was something more than that. I love, love, love the narrative voice of this book, so much so that I nearly gave it a five-star rating (pretty rare from me; oh Goodreads, why can't I give half stars?) It's kind of old-fashioned sounding, in that it's an older-and-wiser sounding person, but not in a preachy and obnoxious way (although I guess I can't speak from the teen perspective--students? Want to borrow this one and weigh in?) But Frankie is far from old-fashioned. I empathized with her a lot of the time--while I don't have any boarding school or secret society or pranking experience, I was often the youngest person in my group of friends, or at least perceived as the "most innocent", as I went to parochial school through 6th grade. Frankie is the youngest girl in a largely male family, she goes to a boarding school still redolent of whiskey and leather and Old Boys, and she socializes mainly with older kids. She's often marginalized as the sweet, cuddly, innocent "bunny rabbit", and watching her break out of that shell was one of the most satisfying transformations I've read in a while. It's made even better by her occasional ambivalence--because, even when you know you shouldn't like a guy if he only wants you to be cute and docile, it's hard to do something that he won't like when he's adorable and brings you strawberry Mentos. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good contemporary that's not just a big ol' mush-fest (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

Code Name VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**I received an e-galley of this book for free through Netgalley**

I am writing this review at 2:00 am. I had about 20% of the book left when I picked it up at midnight, struck by mild insomnia. Now I am finished and I may not sleep tonight. I can't remember the last book I read that turned me so inside-out. I suppose I should say something more specific, so here goes: Code Name Verity is a completely different sort of WWII novel than I've ever read. There is plenty of hiding and waiting and suspense (all de rigeur) but there is, I think, more hope than I'm used to, and also a different kind of horror. The two main characters, Maddie and Julia, are two of the most memorable, wonderful, real people I've ever met on a page. Maggie Stiefvater blogged about this book recently, and I will echo her advice: make time for this book. Be present and attentive and let it pull you in. You will ache by the end, but you won't regret it.

View all my reviews

Waiting in the Wings

 (As requested by Carrie last week!)



  1. I can't wait to watch this movie! Thanks for the book recs. I'll keep an eye out for them. :)

  2. I loved the movie too, and I think they did a good job of adapting it. I agree that the cave scene could have used a little bit more. I also think the part at the end of the book where Peeta is taken away from Katniss to have his leg dealt with should have been in there. The way she absolutely loses it when she's cut off from him and can see the doctors working on him seemed really important to me. It shows just how much she loves him but doesn't yet realize it. I really think that part should have been included. Ah well. I still think it was REALLY well done :D

    1. Oh yeah! I agree. Also the twin moments when she is surprised on-air: when he reveals his feelings to Caesar and when she finds out about his leg. All of that stuff is what made their relationship interesting--she is genuinely conflicted, and he is really important to her even before the Games begin. I thought it was a weird choice to have her watching from backstage and then just go straight to her attacking him.


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