The book or the movie? The Martian by Andy Weir or The Martian with Matt Damon?

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir by Andy Weir has a fabulous back story. Initially published chapter by chapter and made available for free on the author’s website, readers soon fell in love with the story. First, they asked him to make it available as an ebook, so they could enjoy it on their e-readers rather than having to read it from his website. Fans then asked Weir to make his novel available as a Kindle ebook on Amazon, and the rest is (as they say) history. The novel took off, and Weir sold the rights in 2013 for more than $100,000US.

The Martian is a science fiction novel inspired by the TV hero MacGyver and the fix-it scene in Apollo 13, and has now been adapted for the big screen in a film starring Matt Damon, directed by Ridley Scott. The movie is in cinemas now and having adored the book, I went to see the movie last week, hardly able to contain my excitement.

Matt Damon plays astronaut Mark Watney in the film The Martian, who is injured and left behind on planet Mars after a dust storm. He must overcome many obstacles in order to survive the harsh conditions and come up with a plan to ensure he doesn’t starve before help or supplies arrive.

The novel by Andy Weir is funny and clever, with complex science somehow made accessible to the average ‘layman’ reader, even for first time readers of science fiction. Sections of the novel are log entries recorded by Watney and are laugh out loud funny. Watney’s ingenuity and character really shine through in the book and Matt Damon did a magnificent job playing the character in the movie.TheMartian film poster

There were some marked differences in the movie adaptation that are worth noting though.
– The book contains quite a bit of scene-appropriate swearing, and without it in the movie, Watney’s character loses a little of his edge.
– One of my favourite scenes (where Watney spells out letters on the surface of mars with rocks) wasn’t included in the film and I couldn’t help but be disappointed.
– The names and nationality of several supporting characters were changed for the movie, and I have no idea why.
– The trip in the rover forms so much of the book (it’s over 3,000 miles) but in the movie, he seems to ‘arrive’ at his location without the audience being aware of the true perils of the journey.
– They changed the ending. I won’t elaborate so I don’t spoil it for anyone, but some of the changes in the movie improved on the original ending and some were a waste of time.

The Martian was one of my favourite books of 2015, and I knew it’d be hard to match on screen, but sadly the movie left me wanting more. At 141 minutes duration, the film is longer than the average block buster, but the time really flies. It was entertaining, and on its own, a very fine movie, I just thought the book was better. Such a cliche right?

So, what’s your opinion, which is better? The Martian movie or The Martian book? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Review: Me And Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

12700353I’m the kind of bookworm that subscribes to “READ THE BOOK FIRST” when it comes to movie adaptions. Do I love movie adaptions? Oh definitely yes. But the original is first priority. So I had to read Me And Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews before the movie hit cinemas (which, actually, was just yesterday).

The thing you most need to know is: THIS BOOK IS EPICALLY HILARIOUSI couldn’t stop laughing. This is the close-your-eyes-because-you’re-giggling-so-hard kind of read. Although the humour does nosedive into crude jokes very often, so do be aware of that.

From watching the trailer though, I have a feeling it’s going to deviate from the storyline a lot. Which is hilarious and ironic because Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about a kid who makes horrific homemade films in the back yard. AND, there’s this golden quote in the book:

When you convert a good book to a film, stupid things happen.

Let’s just laugh, shall we? And sincerely hope the movie does the book justice! (The author did the screenplay, which is comforting!) You can check out the trailer here.

 

 

REASONS THIS BOOK IS SIMPLY AWESOME.

  •  Like I said: HILARIOUS. I’m just so amazed that I was snickering so much. Greg is really self-deprecating, but brutally honest. He has the funniest way of summing things up and he has such an odd little brain.
  • It breaks the 4th wall spectacularly. A lot of books do this these days…just popping out of narration to talk directly to the reader. But this? This does it perfectly. The entire book is filled with quips and jokes and instructions directly to the reader. It’s like a diary, with lists and bullet points and scripts. Greg is also so mortally ashamed of his stupidity at times he makes a lot of comments like this:

If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.

Let me laugh, Greg. You’re adorable.

  • Also, yes, Greg is incredibly realistic. And relatable! He’s the most average of averagest guys. He describes himself as “chubby” and totally lets his mouth get away on him. He’s not stupid, but he doesn’t particularly apply himself in school. He doesn’t have friends, but he’s friendly to everyone. He appears to have Anxiety. I say “appears” because the book doesn’t delve into the topic (I feel like it’s brushed over as “just being a teen”) but his reactions to a lot of circumstances actually make me think he has anxiety. But I digress! I loved Greg for his realism even though he often acts like an idiot. But come now. He is a teenage boy.
  • It’s about cancer, but it’s not. It’s about GREG. So, yes it’s a “cancer book”, but I wouldn’t say it’s an average one. (Definitely not comparable to The Fault In Our Stars.) Greg says right up front that it’s not an inspiring book about “finding peace through trials”. He spoke truth. This is the story of a boy’s senior year in high school, about friendship and growing up and moving on and facing difficult truths.

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There were a few things I’m not the world’s biggest fan of. Like the fact that Rachel, the “Dying Girl” part of the title, didn’t have a very vibrant personality. Also Greg’s apathy bothered me, but that could be his coping mechanism. The humour does also get sexist sometimes, which I do not stand for!

But ultimately? I had a great time reading this! It’s definitely one I recommend (come now! You need to read it before the movie comes out!) for any age. You don’t need to be a teen to be cracking up over this. The voice is just so good and the whole thing is wonderfully quotable. I couldn’t put it down!

 

[PURCHASE HERE]

List of books with the word ‘boy’ in the title

I enjoyed writing the blog post Books with the word ‘Girl’ in the title so much, I thought I’d do one for books that have ‘boy’ in the title. At first glance, I thought this one might be easier, but let’s see how I go.The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The first book that comes to mind for me is The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Now a very well-known motion picture film, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is definitely unforgettable, but did you know it is rumoured that author John Boyne wrote the entire first draft in two and a half days? Amazing!

As you might expect, there are a number of YA titles with ‘boy’ in the title, beginning with Boy – Tales of Childhood by none other than Roald Dahl. Published in 1984, Roald Dahl recounts his days as a child growing up in the public school system in England and the living conditions in the 1920s – 1930s.

Boy Roald DahlMany of us will remember reading Storm Boy by Australian author Colin Thiele at school and might even admit to crying at the end (I think I had something in my eye). It’s a story about a boy and his pelican and was part of the school curriculum when I was growing up.

Another Australian contribution to this list is Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. Set in a mysterious museum, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love and of course, never giving up.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is such a familiar story with a powerful message – we all know it – but when you look up the title in any directory you’ll see a swag of authors and can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. The edition I’ve selected for this collection is The Boy Who Cried Wolf with The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs illustrated by Val Biro, primarily because it’s marketed as Aesop’s Fables for Easy Readers. Perfect right?

For those who enjoy delving into non-fiction, there’s The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog And Other Stories From A Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook – What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing by Bruce Perry and Maia Azalavitz.About a Boy Nick Hornby

Getting back to adult fiction, there’s About A Boy by Nick Hornby, an entertaining read about ladies man Will Freeman (played by Hugh Grant in the 2002 adaptation) who picks up women by attending single parent groups. His life takes a turn though after he meets 12yo Marcus.

So, how many of these books have you read? What have I missed?

Anne Rice and The Vampire Chronicles

I’m a huge fan of Anne Rice, and her novel Interview With The Vampire is one of my favourite books of all time. Published in 1976, Interview With The Vampire stands the test of time, even surviving a film adaptation in 1994 starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas. The book was the first in what would become The Vampire Chronicles, a series of now 12 books, with the latest, Prince Lestat just released.

With this new release, the first in more than 10 years, I thought it was a good time to take a retrospective look at the series and hopefully inspire a few of you to pick up a book by Anne Rice, if you haven’t done so before.Interview With The Vampire book cover Anne Rice

The Vampire Chronicles series of books in order of year published:

Book 1. Interview With The Vampire (1976)
Interview With The Vampire is where it all started, so, what’s it about? The vampire of the title is Louis, and he tells his life story (all 200 immortal years worth) to a young reporter. Made into a vampire by Lestat de Lioncourt for a companion in 1791, Louis’ life takes on many unexpected twists and turns across the decades and themes of love, companionship, loneliness, betrayal, suffering, revenge, horror, value of human life and immortality are all present.

Louis finds that he is tired of being immortal but at the end of the interview, the reporter asks to be made into a vampire, obviously having learned nothing from Louis’ personal story and infuriating Louis beyond belief.

Book 2. The Vampire Lestat (1985)
As the title suggests, the second novel in the series is the story of Lestat de Lioncourt, as he narrates his own life story. He was given the Dark Gift by Magnus. He later meets Armand (see Book 6) who tells Lestat he was made into a vampire by a very old vampire called Marius. Lestat becomes fixated on finding Marius to ask him questions about the history and origins of their kind. He does get answers (no spoilers here) and by the 1980s (time of publishing) Lestat is living life as a rockstar vampire.

Book 3. The Queen of the Damned (1988)
Following on from The Vampire Lestat is The Queen of the Damned, the third in the series (also made into a film). Akasha is the mother of all vampires and the Queen of the Damned and has been ‘woken up’ by Lestat after sleeping for 6,000 years. The reporter, Louis and Lestat are back and find that Akasha has her own agenda. We learn how the mother and father of vampires were created, and Akasha threatens to destroy all vampires.

Book 4. The Tale of the Body Thief (1992)
Lestat is depressed and lonely and takes great risks which almost cost him his immortal life. The body thief of the title is Raglan James who offers to switch bodies with Lestat. Lestat’s relationship with David Talbot (Head of the Talamasca Caste) is explored and he eventually reunites with Louis.

Book 5. Memnoch the Devil (1995)
In one of my favourite novels in the series, Memnoch the Devil, Lestat is approached by the Devil (calling himself Memnoch) and is offered a job of sorts.

Memnoch ‘takes Lestat on a whirlwind tour of Heaven and Hell and retells of the entirety of history from his own point of view in an effort to convince Lestat to join him as God’s adversary. In his journey, Memnoch claims he is not evil, but merely working for God by ushering lost souls into Heaven.’ (Source: WikipediaMemnoch the Devil ‘reinterprets biblical stories to create a complete history of Earth, Heaven and Hell that fit neatly with the history of vampires given in The Queen of the Damned.’ (Source: Wikipedia)

This is a book to make you re-think everything you know, consider life after death and our purpose on the planet and is one of my favourite books by Anne Rice.

Book 6. The Vampire Armand (1998)
In Book 6, we learn more about Armand’s back story, first featured in Interview With The Vampire. Telling his life story to vampire David Talbot, we learn Armand was born 500 years ago and was living and painting in a monastery before being kidnapped by slave traders and later purchased by the vampire Marius. There’s a lot of sex and sexual references in this novel, and when Armand is given the Dark Gift there is a repeat of the theme only to feed on evildoers and the struggle between good and evil.

Book 7. Merrick (2000)
Merrick Mayfair (of the title) is a witch, and features in the Mayfair Witches series also by Anne Rice. Louis, Lestat and David Talbot are back in Book 7 and the novel contains the backstory of Merrick’s relationship with David as well as her yearning for the Dark Gift.

Book 8. Blood and Gold (2001)
Another of my favourite novels of all time by Anne Rice, is Book 8 in The Vampire Chronicles, Blood and Gold. The reason I love it so much is the amount of art and history that is featured. Essentially, it’s the story of Marius.

Book 9. Blackwood Farm (2002)
Book 9 is unusual in that it introduces an entirely new character in Quinn Blackwood, a young boy haunted by a nasty spirit he calls Goblin. Quinn seeks help from Lestat who then contacts Merrick when he can’t rid the boy of the spirit.

Book 10. Blood Canticle (2003)
Quinn is back in Book 10, Blood Canticle, a story narrated by Lestat. Quinn is in love with Mona, a Mayfair Witch and Lestat has a love interest of his own. Mona is dying and Lestat turns her into a vampire to save her.Prince Lestat book cover Anne Rice

Book 11. Prince Lestat (2014)
Fans have been waiting more than a decade, but all the key characters are back in the newly released Prince Lestat, the latest book in The Vampire Chronicles. Apparently the vampire world is in crisis and their only hope of survival is our beloved Prince Lestat. (I can’t wait to read it).

Book 12. Blood Paradise (expected in 2015)
Said to be a sequel to Prince Lestat.

I hope this summary has given you a reading pathway into this series, and I’d love to hear from readers already in love with Anne Rice’s Lestat and other characters. It’s not hard to believe that in November 2008, The Vampire Chronicles had sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, and I’m sure that number will continue to increase with new books 11 and 12.

Enjoy!

We Need To Talk About Kevin. We Also Need To Talk About Where My Book Is.

We Need To Talk About KevinNothing invokes excitement and then indignation like finding out one of your favourite books that you think would make an interesting movie is, indeed, being made into a movie and that said favourite book is, in fact, missing from your bookshelf.

The book in question is Lionel Shriver’s award-winning and eminently controversial We Need To Talk About Kevin, and a film starring Tilda Swinton as the film’s tortured, complex protagonist and narrator is reportedly going to air shortly at Cannes.

Had I been able to, I would have given myself a reading refresher of the book before writing this blog. Given the book’s fraught, finely woven, hair-raising themes (stop reading now if you haven’t read it and don’t want to hear its major premises before reading it or viewing the film), someone reading this blog likely to be up in arms by the mere fact that I said I love it.

Note to those up-in-arms people: Please hold fire on the emails about how Shriver is the anti-Christ and her book will forever burn in hell. I don’t have a direct line to Shriver. Besides, pretty sure she’s heard it all before.

Among the myriad complaints people have about WNTTAK (sorry, but writing it is exhaustapating for my fingers on this cold, wintry eve) is that the book is based around letters a woman is writing to her absent husband about their son Kevin. Simple enough stuff, except that Kevin has perpetrated a Columbine-style massacre at his high school.

Double FaultThe woman/mother/I’d use her name but someone has made off with my copy of the book is both now Public Enemy #2 (after Kevin). As well as copping abuse from the community, which include splattering her house and car with red paint, she’s abusing herself over whether it’s her fault that Kevin did what he did.

The book complaints range from the fact Shriver may or may not be being insensitive to those who’ve experienced Columbine (or any of the other number of the school shootings that have taken place over the years) to the fact that she’s not herself a mother and couldn’t possibly understand.

I don’t think there’s much merit to either of these complaints, and think people are offended simply because Shriver’s written the things we’ve all thought but daren’t say, and because she’s done such a good job of  it that it cuts, er, a little close to some people’s bones.

Shriver is renowned for her extensive research, and it’s clear she was obsessed with the themes underpinning this book and went out of her way to understand, inhabit, and challenge these issues and this tale.

WNTTAK wrestles with such elusive, big-picture questions as whether evil is inherent or acquired throughout our lifetimes, why parents can’t ask for or receive help when they really need it, what warning signs are there before such a massacre, and how responsible parents are for their children’s actions.

They’re worthy, difficult questions and Shriver handles them with gloves-off fierceness and intensity, making the book at-times tough to read but one that simultaneously leaps off the page.

You don’t raise WNTTAK in general conversation or loan it out to someone without knowing its mention or return will be accompanied by a long, passionate, philosophical discussion about the nature of good and evil and life as a whole.

Note to whoever I ‘loaned’ the book out to: Please return it. We can, like, talk (about the book).

While I hadn’t spent hours pondering who best to cast in which role, I have to say I think Swinton is the impossibly perfect choice for the lead. Her ability to play austere, ambitious, intelligent, strong, and simultaneously fragile with a spareness of action and emotion (if you’re still with me—perhaps that description is off the wall) will see her inhabit this ‘bad mother’ character and bring her to life exactly how I’d seen envisaged her in my head.

Because meeting my expectations is clearly all that matters.

But enough confusing rabbiting on from me. You can catch some snippets of Swinton’s efforts and the film’s look and feel via these three trailers. Complain if you will: I’m breathless with anticipation of the film’s release and am hoping to locate my missing copy of the book in the interim.

Final notes:

  • If you want to talk complaints, mine is that WNTTAK is Shriver’s best book. Double Fault is decent too, but the others don’t hit quite the same compelling chord.
  • I’m sorry I used so many ( ). I couldn’t help myself.