Tag: review

Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Wayward Son’: A Hero, After the Fact

A year after Rainbow Rowell released her much beloved novel Carry On, the first book in the Simon Snow series, the second in the series, Wayward Son, has been published. Carry On received stellar reviews from audiences; some even claimed it to be comparable to the Harry Potter series. Last year, fans of the novel were left with a void in their hearts after finishing Carry On, but now that void, which can only be filled by more Simon and Baz interactions, can be filled… but not in the way audiences may expect. Rowell’s Wayward Son tells the story of what happens to the hero after the battle has been fought and the war has been won. What readers will learn is that there are always new battles to fight, and not everything ends in happily ever after.

 

 

*Spoilers Ahead*

 

At the end of Carry On, Simon sacrifices his magic in order to defeat the Insidious Humdrum—who turns out to be sort of a version of himself? I know kind of weird—Baz graduates from Watford at the top of his class, all thanks to Penelope who decided not to return for her last term at Watford; and Agatha runs off to California, attempting to get as far away from magic as she possibly can. Wayward Son fast forwards a year into the future. Simon and Penelope share an apartment in London. Baz and Penelope are both attending university, and Simon is doing relatively nothing. He sits on the couch day after day, needing Penelope to spell his wings and tail if he ever wants to wander the outside world. A complete one-eighty from how we left it, Baz and Simon’s relationship is beginning to suffer. Simon is always cranky, and Baz doesn’t know where they stand as a couple. It’s almost as if stripping the magic from Simon created someone completely different. This is when Penelope has her amazing idea to take a trip to America—something she and Simon had always talked about doing—and what starts out as an innocent idea to help cheer Simon up becomes an even bigger threat to their lives and the magical world.

 

Relationships and identity are major themes throughout this novel. All three main characters struggled with their identities for the duration of Wayward Son—Simon struggled with being stripped of his hero status, Baz contemplated his identity as a vampire, and Penelope attempted to find where she fits in a world outside of Watford. As these three characters struggled with their own identities, their relationships were tested, especially pertaining to Baz and Simon. Baz has felt estranged from Simon ever since they defeated the Humdrum and Simon lost his magic. They don’t do any of the things they did when their relationship first began, they don’t seem as close. Much of this had to do with Simon’s identity crisis. He was always the hero up to this point. Now it seems to him that he’s lost his purpose.

 

 

Rainbow Rowell did a fantastic job portraying hero after-the-fact in Wayward Son­. In most action-adventure novels, the story ends with the hero saving the day and living happily ever after. However, the audience seldom sees the hero after his or her job is done. In this novel, we see exactly that, and in Simon’s case, the future is fairly bleak as he struggles to find a new purpose in life and to convince himself that he is deserving of Baz. Similarly, with Penelope, although she has moved on and is attending university, she is struggling to figure out how she fits into the outside world. At Watford, she was the top of her class and able to fix anything with a snap of her fingers (literally and figuratively). However, as she discovers during their road trip across America, the real world doesn’t work like that. There are mages more powerful and experienced, and obstacles not introduced to her at Watford.

 

Although the book did very well in regard to its themes and its portrayal of a different side of the main character, I found that it moved a bit slower than its predecessor, Carry On. The story moves a lot like a road trip across America might move—long stretches of seeing relatively the same thing. The beginning of the book and the beginning of their trip is a lot of Penelope being cranky and hungry, and Baz being confused about where he and Simon stand. It wasn’t until Nebraska that the story really got going.

 

Another aspect of the novel that was lacking was a resolution between Simon and Baz. Now, I realize that not all stories have a happy ending, and certainly not all relationships do either. However, I would have liked to know which direction they were leaning toward: working it out or letting each other go. Adding this to the novel wouldn’t necessarily have made Wayward Son better or worse, but I would’ve enjoyed it. Although there was no definite consensus about Baz and Simon, Baz does bring up an insightful point that stuck—is Simon acting like the Simon he first started dating because he feels like the hero again? Or is this how it’s going to be even when he’s not being the hero?  As Simon, Baz, and Penelope encounter more obstacles and battles on their trip, Simon starts to cheer up and feel like himself again, most likely because he feels like he’s doing something important again and he has things to protect his loved ones from.

 

All in all, Wayward Son is a fantastic sequel to Carry On. It portrays feelings most all adolescents feel after graduating high school or the equivalent: lost and confused (but with more trees, sky, and magic).

 

 

Revisiting ‘New Moon’ Thirteen Years Later (It’s Still Bad)

This past weekend, I turned 21-years-old. To celebrate I forced several my closest friends to crowd into my apartment, watch me play Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Golden Deer gang squad up), and sit through the movies that I have spent the past year carefully selecting just for this occasion. 

The favorite of the night? Twilight: New Moon

And what turns thirteen-years-old on September 6th? Twilight: New Moon.

 

new moon promo posterImage via Apple TV App

 

Time to party, folks. 

 

 

Now, the movie adaptation of New Moon didn’t come out until November of 2009, but I’m not going to reread one of those cinderblock sized Twilight books just for a ‘heeheehaha’ gag article. 

I did my time, and I ain’t going back in. 

Speaking of my time, it was in middle school. Every November, a new Twilight movie would be released. And, baby, ‘obsessed’ wouldn’t even begin to describe my friends and I. 

We had the neon clip-ins from Hot Topic, knee high converse with zippers down the back, and #TeamEdward shirts that were all black with glittery silver font. 

I wasn’t emo. I was scene. So, obviously, Twilight appealed to me. 

 

Twilight stansSome girls I probably would’ve gotten along with/Image via Cinelinx

 

And though it was a phase that took up about four years of my life, it was still a phase. I’ve seen the first film many times since said phase, college kids today enjoy reliving that vampire laden pre-pubescent nostalgia, but my memories of New Moon had all but faded away.

Until this weekend. 

 

 

New Moon opens on Bella Swan’s 18th birthday. We learn through her Sylvia Plath poem of a nightmare that she is now officially one year older than the age Edward Cullen was when he was turned into a vampire, the age he will remain for the rest of his time on earth. 

Technically, Edward is well over one hundred years old, but Bella worries that once her body ages past the point of Edward’s he won’t be attracted to her anymore. So, she has decided to alter her mortal life state for this guy she met in science class last year, and become a vampire. 

 

Edward and BellaBella and Edward back in the good old days/Image via Twitter

 

Edward’s not into the idea. In fact, (after an incredibly awkward birthday at the Cullen’s) Edward dumps Bella’s dumb ass HARD. 

He claims that his family is moving, because townsfolk are becoming suspicious of the lack of aging going on over in the Cullen house. Which, yeah, they probably would be. 

Bella, however, sees through his very fair reasoning. She knows that Edward is just leaving to protect her from the greatest threat to her life. Him. 

OOOOOOO deep. 

 

 

Anyways, Edward leaves Forks and Bella sits in her room alone for, like, five months. 

 

Bella in bedThe iconic catatonic state scene/Image via Youtube

 

Eventually Bella’s father, Charlie, begs his daughter to end her melodramatic sobfest and go outside. And when she does, she realizes that she can conjure hallucinations of her lost love if she puts herself in dangerous situations.

So she puts herself in more dangerous situations, of course. One of such activities is cliff diving with her new rebound, Jacob. 

However, Alice (Edward’s psychic sister) has a vision of Bella falling into the sea, and assumes the worst. She returns to Forks in order to check on Bella, and while the two are catching up Edward calls the Swan’s landline only for Jacob to pick up the phone. 

Jacob then proceeds to tell Edward that Bella is f–king dead. 

 

 

So Edward decides to go to Rome during what looks like a giant Handmaid’s Tale festival, walk his glittering naked body into the sunlight, revealing his vampire status. This is a crime that in the vampire world is punishable only by death, which is convenient because the vampire police headquarters is stationed right next door. 

How anyone on God’s green earth is #TeamJacob is beyond me. 

 

the festival in romeThe festival that probably isn’t a real festival/Image via Italy Guides

 

Anyways, Bella and Alice fly to Rome via hard-cut, and rent a zippy Italian sports car (when in Rome, amiright ladies?) in order to reach Edward before he can pull a Romeo and off himself in the name of love. Take a shot every time I say ‘rome.’

It’s also worth noting that in the opening sequence of this film Bella wakes up with a copy of Romeo and Juliet in her bed, and the following scene shows Edward reciting a stanza of the famous Shakespeare play from memory. I just don’t want you to think that any of the allusions in New Moon are subtle or nuanced in any way. They aren’t. They beat you over the head with any and all references to outside works in order to prove that, yes, Stephanie Meyer has read a book before. 

 

 

Moving on, Bella is running through this festival trying to save her ex-boyfriend. He’s stripping down, about to walk into the sunlight, and a child is watching him do it for whatever reason, when Bella is able to run in a stop him at the very last moment. 

Then the rest of the film is plot set up for the next book in the series, and it’s all happily ever after or whatever. 

What stuck out to me in these final moments of New Moon, are Edward’s incredibly pale nipples. I get what they were going for, but Jesus Christ. Edward shirtless looks like when they pulled E.T. out of that river, like a dehydrated used napkin. 

 

Edward shirtlessThe nipples in question/Image via Flickr

 

In retrospect, it was a choice.

 

 

 

Featured Image via Netflix

‘IT Chapter 2’ Faces Scathing Reviews From Critics

On September 4th you’re gonna want to avoid your local sewers, because IT Chapter 2 is coming to theaters across the world! The film is set to be a huge blockbuster after IT raked in a total of $700 million worldwide, with a production budget of $35 million.

 

PennywiseBill Skarsgård as Pennywise in IT/image via Horror Freak News

 

However, now that the reviews are rolling in, the sequel might not live up to the hype. Several film critics have taken to twitter after seeing the film early, and there is a shockingly low amount of praise.

 

 

Woof. That’s a rough one. Other reviews echo similar sentiments, though not as harshly.

 

 

 

There are a couple of more positive reviews, though they are very few and far between.

 

 

 

What do you think? Are you still excited to see IT Chapter 2, or have these reviews dampened the hype? Or do you just want Pennywise to crawl down the hole he came from and never return? Let us know!

 

 

 

Featured image via Youtube

I Read ‘Now That I’m a Ghost I’m Gay.’ You’re Welcome.

Recently (an hour ago) I wrote an article for Bookstr titled 10 of the Most… Interesting Book Covers, and on that list was Josh Lark’s Now That I’m a Ghost I’m Gay.

Now That I'm a Ghost I'm GayImage via Wired

This, obviously caused a bit of a stir in our office. What’s this about? Is it about ghost sex? How do you have sex with a ghost? What’s it feel like? Did becoming a ghost make him gay?

And with a title like that what was I supposed to do? Not read it?

So I paid the $2.99 fee, I downloaded it to my Kindle, and now I have all the answers (as well as many, many questions).

Now That I’m a Ghost I’m Gay opens on our main character, Alex, who has just died in an incredibly tragic bike accident. He looks down at his own corpse and realizes he only has one regret; he never came out to his hot and sexy roommate Jason.

And… whoosh! First ghost power revealed! At the thought of Jason, Alex finds himself transported to the men’s room of his dormitory where Jason is exiting the shower, and at the sight of his naked body Alex gets a crazy huge ghost boner. 

But when he tries to reach out to Jason, he can’t. His hand travels right through him. 

The reality of this situation dawns on Alex.

He’ll never be able to touch Jason, or anyone, again. The world that he’s lived in, everything that’s ever mattered to him, he can see but he can no longer interact with. Alex tries to scream, and he can’t. He exists only within his own mind. 

Then Jason’s towel slips and Alex gets distracted by his pubes. 

And that’s sort of how it goes. Alex begins to spiral through an existential crisis, grieving the loss of own life, until Jason does something a lil hot and Alex gets insanely horny.

Now That I’m a Ghost I’m Gay is 11 pages long, and this is what the first six pages are like. So let’s skip to the ghost sex. 

Gay for GhostsImage via Stitcher

After Jason realizes that his dead roommates spirit is in this communal bathroom, he decides to let him bend him over the bathroom sink and ravage his corporeal being with his haunted hands. The former roomies can’t ‘touch’ each other in the traditional sense, though Alex’s touch feels very tingly and exciting on Jason’s skin. Alex knows this because another one of his ghost powers is being able to feel what Jason feels. Which is handy (no pun intended) since Alex is the one doing all the—erm—touching. 

The story ends with Alex writing in the fogged up mirror, his only way to communicate with Jason, and saying how happy he is now that the truth is out. 

All of my problems with Now That I’m a Ghost I’m Gay can be summed up in this one line:

“How do you tell your best friend that you’re dead, that you’re gay, that you want him to be yours? Which one do you even start with?”

Gay BabadookGay Ghost Icon, The Babadook/Image via The Guardian

Alex kills all three birds with one penis by going straight to the bone zone. I understand that the point of novels within this genre are to be short, erotic, and chock-full of supernatural elements, but I think that this is exactly what bothers me about them the most. 

I feel like if I were to die suddenly, I might have a little trouble getting it up for at least a day or two. I’d have too much on my mind to fully enjoy losing my v-card in the middle of a public bathroom. 

But hey, maybe that’s just me. If transcending into the spirit realm is the only way to get your rocks off, more power to you, pal. Whatever floats your ghost ship. 

 

 

 

 

Featured image via Amazon and Mandatory

‘Game of Thrones’ Review: ‘The Long Night’

The latest episode of Game of Thrones was hyped beyond belief. “The Battle for Winterfell” was possibly the most anticipated episode of the season, showcasing the war between the united characters of Westeros (sans Cersei) vs. the White Walkers in what was thought to be a bloodbath of epic proportions, on par with the Red Wedding. But when the episode came roaring onto screens last night, it had some noticeable issues that, in this author’s opinion, prevented it from reaching the heights of true greatness. We’ll delve more deeply into SPOILERS in this review of “The Long Night” but before we do, here’s your chance to turn back now in case you haven’t seen the episode.

So, turn back now! Last warning?

 

Spoilers Ahead!


 

 

Alright, still here. Then let’s take a look at what worked and what didn’t in last night’s epic battle.

 

Danenyrus and Jon Snow stand on the wall of Winterfell, staring at the army of torches in the distance
IMAGE VIA THE ATLANTIC

The opening moments of the battle start off grinding out the tension. The defenders of Winterfell stand assembled. Grey Worm stands before the gates, standing stalwart with his fellow Unsullied. Jamie Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, Tormund Giantsbane, Samwell Tarly, Sandor Clegane, Beric Dondarrion, Jorah Mormont, Davos Seaworth, Ghost, and Lyanna Mormont stand among their ranks. Arya and Sansa Stark stand tall on the walls. Tyrion Lannister and Gilly hide underneath Winterfell in the crypts with the common citizens. The dragons circle overhead. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen finally stand side by side on the highest point of the keep, staring ahead into the darkness beyond. Its so quiet you can hear a pin drop as the tension is ratcheted up beyond belief, as the characters stare off from the sanctuary of Winterfell, unable to see into the darkness beyond, waiting…waiting…for something to happen.

Melisandre arrives presently (nice to see you again!) and although Davos doesn’t trust her, he allows her inside. Melisandre gifts the soldiers of Winterfell with the blessing of the Lord of Light, making their swords alight with flame similar to Beric’s own. The army then charges off to meet the army of the dead and flaming cannonballs are fired off. They strike something ahead, engulfing the battlefield with pockets of light…showcasing a HUGE tide of wights coming out of the darkness. What follows next is one of the episode’s brilliant moments, as the POV switches back to Winterfell, with the sea of torches visible in the distance. One by one, with no sound, the torches go out. The terror at this situation is boldly felt and captures the horror of the White Walkers without them even being seen. A great artistic choice, well done!

 

 

Arya Stark fights wildly for survival as zombies surround her

Image via Vox

But that’s when the episode takes a sharp left turn towards incomprehensibility. As the wights swarm Winterfell en masse, the defenders rush out to meet them. What should be a great/terrifying action scene is unfortunately marred by one fact: you can’t see what’s happening! Between the very dark lighting, the fast paced editing, and the chaotic style of the melee itself, the action is downright incomprehensible. You can’t see what’s happening onscreen, which is problematic to follow the characters who are in real mortal peril fighting for their lives against the surge of the undead. This is a problem that pervades throughout the entire episode and unfortunately, one that brings it down considerably. Its almost impossible to tell what’s happening onscreen throughout the battle through much of its runtime and considering the sheer scale of the battle itself, this is a huge problem. We want to see what’s happening! We want to see who lives and dies! But whether through design or error, you simply can’t throughout ‘The Long Night’.

Some of these moments were obviously intentional, such as when the Night King arrives and his Walkers conjure an enormous blizzard to blind the dragons as Jon and Daenerys pursue him. This scene captures the frantic pursuit very well, being very hard to see as the dragons race around desperately through the blizzard, getting attacked at points by the Night King atop his zombie dragon and only providing brief moments of relief as the two exit the blizzard. But at other points, you simply can’t tell what’s going on, such as when Grey Worm and the Unsullied defend the gate, Jamie and Brienne fighting desperately on the walls against the endless tide, or when Arya is sneaking around inside Winterfell, trying to avoid lurking wights. The episode is unfortunately undercut by the fact that we can’t see any of it.

 

Bedric wields a flaming sword in the crypt of Winterfell
IMAGE VIA WINTER IS COMING

You could argue it is a stylistic choice in order to capture the chaotic pace of medieval warfare. However, previous episodes such as “Battle of the Bastards” embrace this as well and they weren’t nearly as visually hard to follow. You can blend the chaotic style of medieval warfare with comprehensible cinematography without an issue, as previously shown, but this episode just couldn’t do it for whatever reason.

Still, this episode was full of cool moments when we could see them. Lyanna Mormont’s death scene was a tearjerking highlight, as she faces down an undead giant that smashes its way through the gates. The monster begins butchering soldiers and slaps the little girl aside. But Lyanna gets right back up and with a scream of a warrior, charges back in towards the towering monster. The giant grabs her and begins crushing her but Lyanna, with her last breath, stabs the beast with a dragon glass dagger, killing the giant at the cost of her own life. RIP, Lyanna, you went out like a boss!

 

The Night King stands tall in a towering inferno
IMAGE VIA IGN

Other great moments included Sansa and Tyrion’s heart-to-heart scenes in the crypts as the battle raged overhead, bringing their relationship closer as they spoke of how they were nearly married, the dragon fight as Jon Snow took on the Night King’s undead mount in a midair duel to the death, and Jon Snow attempting to kill the Night King himself only to be stopped by a wall of zombies that the Night King raises from the corpses of the battlefield. The last stand of Theon Greyjoy was also a great moment of the character, as Theon faced down dozens of wights to defend Bran, getting a solemn thank you from Bran as his former brother told him he was a good man. Theon then ran at the Night King himself, only to be gutted and died. A great ending of the character and another badass exit.

Still, despite what viewers thought would be a bloodbath of an episode, there really weren’t that many ‘big’ deaths. Theon Greyjoy, of course, has been a pivotal part of the show but his importance has waned with time and he was much more of a side character in the lead up to his demise. Lyanna Mormont’s death of course was heartbreaking, but she was never a main cast member, just a member of the supporting cast to whom viewers grew attached (for good reason). Beric Dondarrion also perished but his status as a cast member is quite similar to Lyanna. Melisandre walked her last at the episode’s end but she too had been dwindling in importance and the fact that was the first time she showed up in a long while undermined her death scene, as it appeared she appeared out of the blue simply to die. Arguably the ‘biggest’ death was Jorah Mormont, who died defending Daenerys from endless waves of zombies, but even he wasn’t a main cast member either. Everyone who was on the A-list came away relatively scott-free, without even any serious injuries to show for it. Even characters who arguably should have died— i.e: Sansa and Tyrion trapped in the crypts with the undead, Samwell buried in an avalanche of wights, and Jamie and Brienne overrun by wights— survived. Honestly, it’s a little disappointing that not a single main cast member perished, especially considering Game of Thrones’s reputation of killing anyone, everyone, no matter who they are. Perhaps we overhyped ourselves but still…its disappointing nonetheless.

 

IMAGE VIA IGN

Of course, the most controversial moment will be the death of the Night King himself. The big guy perished at the hands of Arya, who shanks him with her dagger, causing the Night King to quite suddenly explode, with his entire army of zombies falling apart with his death. It is a sudden, jarring moment, perhaps somewhat anti-climatic, but one that feels more in line with the show’s desire to subvert audience expectations. One hopes we’ll learn a bit more about the White Walkers now that they’re gone, as the Night King and his troops never showed their motivations nor any real personality traits. They were just evil and while that certainly made them threatening, it would be a disappointment if they didn’t have much else going for them.

It seems now Cersei will become the threat for the reminder of the season. We’ll have to wait to see what happens but it be a bit sour to have the supposedly main threat offed and a smaller, more petty threat take his place. Still, we’re sure the showrunners have something up their sleeves.

The Battle for Winterfell proved to be a rather mixed bag. With the lighting issues, lack of character deaths, and the death of the Night King sorted in with a truly epic scale and great moments this one isn’t bad but perhaps fell short of true greatness. We can only hope Cersei proves herself to be just as a threat as the Night King’s forces but we’ll have to see.

What were your thoughts on the episode?

 

 

Featured Image Via Vox