Uncategorized · wrap up

April Wrap Up 2017

April was a pretty awesome reading month for me. I think this is the most I’ve read this month than I have in the earlier months of 2017. I DNFed a few things but read 9 books and 2 short stories.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (3/5)

Faulkner has an interesting narrative style. He writes this from several different Image result for as i lay dying bookperspectives but sometimes the character will refer to another character solely by the pronoun, he, and you kind of have to read the next perspective  to confirm who the character was even talking about. While this does increase the fluidity of the story, it also lends to a lot of confusion on my part. This book was both successful and not successful in portraying grief and I think that boils down to certain characters. It seemed like Faulkner liked some characters more than others. For instance, Jewel is probably the most compelling character in the entire cast. His attitudes towards his mother remain ambiguous even till the end and his independence-to-a-fault was really interesting to read. The other interesting character was the father and though he may respect his wife’s dying wish, we all know he is long past caring about her. Faulkner also does a good job portraying the grief of a child, the way they want to transform that grief into something tangible. But the other characters felt disposable. As far as satire goes, the ending was fucking hilarious. But overall, it was quite meh.

By Prudence Ruled by ehmazing (4/5)

I don’t know why I’m including fanfiction in my wrap up but I am because I never read fanfiction, like, ever. This is how you know I’ve really descended into fandom hell. TBH Related imageI’m simultaneously proud and ashamed to be in the Voltron fandom. It’s literally the most toxic fandom I’ve ever been in, there’s like 50 ship wars, ship hate every hour, and just general no-mercy attitude and bashing of the creators and writers. I just hope the VLD staff do not go through the Tumblr tags. But simultaneously I’m proud of the fandom because earlier last week, there was a photo leak from the show from a newly casted voice actor and she accidently posted a photo from the upcoming season and she deleted it from her instagram story but it was way too late. I swear people in fandom actually make the best detectives. ANYWAYS, this fanfiction follows my non-canon (so far) OTP Shiro and Allura. By Prudence Ruled is one of the most well-researched and accurate-to-the-characters fanfiction I’ve ever read in my basically non-existent fanfic history. It just captures the character’s voices so well and it’s inspired by The Bodyguard so I mean that speaks for itself. Also, it’s really well-researched in terms of worldbuilding which I really appreciate.

Related imageThis is My Idea by Teukiewookie (3/5)

Does anyone remember the movie The Swan Princess?

Well this fic is based on the movie except in space and with Voltron characters.  It is so fun and relatively accurate in character voice as far as surface-level character goes but not so different as to disengage me from the story. Plus the chapters are short so..

 

 

These next few books, I will have reviews for.

In my 2017 reading resolutions, I resolved to read more translated fiction and I made my first few steps this month. The first ones I will be doing mini reviews for in my translated fiction spotlight.

Silence by Shusaku Endo, Translated from the Japanese by William Johnston | Before the Feast by Sasa Stanisic, Translated from the German by Anthea Bell

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I also read some translated short stories that will be featured in the mentioned post as well.

Wither and Blossom by Suvi Kauppila translated by Suvi Kauppila (4/5)

Faces and Thoughts by Abdul Wakil Sulamal translated from Pashto by James Caron (3.5/5)

I also finished History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (4/5) which I actually wasn’t planning on reading but ended up loving. I will have a full review on this in May. Just expect a lot of YA contemporary in the upcoming future period.

And then I have reviews for two YA books I read this month in a mini review post.

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

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The Girls by Emma Cline (2/5)

The Girls shines when Cline discusses the intricacies of girlhood. She does it so well and because of that I wish the whole book was solely focused on that. What does it feel 26893819like to come into adolescence wanting to own your body but at the same time wanting to feel desired and be desirable.

 That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

But honestly, everything else was just kind of boring. This is ironic because this book was suppose to be about the mysterious Manson murders. One of the most compelling characters was suppose to be Charles (or whatever his name is) who we are suppose to believe is this really alluring person who persuades these girls to leave everything they have but he turned out to be kind of boring and predictable as were the other characters. I will say that Cline really knows how to write. Her writing is intoxicating and feels like reading through the subconscious. It feels very Gone-Girlesque. But all in all, I would not recommend this one.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (3.5/5)

Ted Chiang has some really cool ideas–both visually and scientifically which translates very well to a movie like The Arrival (based off of Stories of Your Life). But I wish there 31625351was better execution of these ideas. Most of his stories feel unfinished as if he suddenly had a good idea and had to write it down but didn’t know where the thought was going. They also feel like unfinished ideas because he sort of left them to meander on their own so a few of them lacked focus. But nevertheless they were still fascinating to read. My favorite stories were the first one, The Tower of Babylon, which is about people building a tower to reach heaven; Stories of Your Life which visually was better represented by the movie but the story itself was better in the book, and the last story Like What You See: A Documentary which is about a fictional debate about whether or not to undergo a procedure to “unsee” beauty. I still think this collection is definitely worth reading because his stories just raise so many thought provoking questions about religion, technology, mathematics, and linguistics.

Planetfall by Emma Newman (3.5/5)

A mysterious man enters the one and only colony on Planetfall. Renata Ghali is shocked and terrified because the colony she lives in is suppose to be the only home to any living inhabitants on this planet. It turns out that this man is the grandson of Suh-Mi who was 24237785the leader of the first colonization trip to Planetfall. As we get further into the book, we realize there is a lot more to this colony that we initially thought and that Renata is keeping a lot of secrets from the people around her. I will tell you this from the start: nothing will really make sense until the last 20 percent of the book and even the last page leaves off on an ambiguous note which I’m still not sure if I understand but that’s totally ok with me. I often found myself wondering why the author was focusing so much one aspect of this character and other times why the plot seemed to be falling apart and it only made sense to me after finishing the book. I really liked the worldbuilding in this book. There’s lots of mentions of 3D printing and building houses which just reminded me of the Sims. The biggest issue with this book are the characters. They felt so two-dimensional and can be listed off with a few traits. The ending was satisfactory to me but I get the feeling that if it wasn’t it would’ve marred the entire experience of reading this book for me so make your own judgement about that. I will say that I haven’t read a lot of science fiction mysteries/thrillers if any at all so this was refreshing.

DNF

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (2/5)31395274

As you may have noticed by now, I’m really picky when it comes to contemporary romances. I thought the banter between the two characters was kitschy and super tacky and the “hating” part of the haters-to-lovers trope was over a little too quickly. The side characters were overly quirky and purely ornamental to the main characters which is just a recipe for a boring story to be honest. I started skimming this around the 50 page mark and it progressively grew cheesier and cheesier to the point of fanfiction so hard pass on this one.

 

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them and what you plan on reading in May. I hope your May is going well so far and I will see in my next post which will probably be my April Favorites =)

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movie reviews · Uncategorized

Mini Movie Reviews: Coming of Age

Why do I even try calling these “mini” reviews? I can literally write a whole review on each one of these but then I would never catch up on my reviews. If you’ve been following my blog for the past couple of months, you’ll know how much I completely adore the coming-of-age genre. I just love the exploration of identity and just discovering what you want out of life while at the same time, faced with these growing burdens and expectations from the people around you. I think it’s such an interesting dynamic and I’ve been watching a lot of TV and reading books that revolve around this but I haven’t really talked about coming-of-age movies.

Lemonade Mouth

Musical | Directed by Patricia Riggen| Disney Channel | D

To be honest, I only watched this movie because I wanted a point of reference to the other movies. In a sense, comparing a “bad” coming of age movie to a “good” one. Image result for lemonade mouth posterLemonade Mouth tries so hard to portray an authentic high school experience but it doesn’t work. It’s like making someone who has never been to high school make a movie about high school.

And because of this, this entire movie is so unintentionally funny. I’m not kidding you when I tell you there was a part in this movie where the school bully falls in someone’s lap and then for some reason the entire pizzeria starts fighting and everyone starts throwing empty red cups at one another. I’ve never been so painfully aware of a movie’s limited budget. There is no mystery to these characters or the fact they are having inner lives apart from the page. You know exactly what their deal is the minute they are introduced and their subsequent story arc only serves to confirm what you already know. For one, there is Charles whose parents want him to play soccer like his perfect older brother but guess what he doesn’t want to play soccer. Who would have thought? And of course at the end, it’s suddenly revealed that his brother is actually not so perfect (surprise). The dialogue leaves no room for conflict and neither does the story.

The songs aren’t particularly great either. The lyrics are too bright and dare I say it, too inspirational if that makes any sense at all. It’s kind of funny that this movie would be more of an inspiration for little kids or tweens rather than people who are actually in high school. It’s got that unrealistic teen empowerment message–like yeah I can do anything type thing and that cheesiness to go along with it. I will say that I have to give it credit for its diversity. That makes it feel more true to recent times but alas that’s really the only thing it’s got going for it.

The Breakfast Club

Directed by John Hughes | B+

So apparently this is the quintessential coming-of-age film. I can see why from just watching its beginning lines unfold. The most notable of which is in Brian’s monologue Related imagewhere he’s telling Mr. Vernon, “You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” And every single high school coming-of-age film afterwards has tried to answer this statement. To show these kids as more than just their stereotypes. How does someone break into themselves in the pressure pot that is high school? The Breakfast Club is smart is so many ways, instead of tediously showing what life is like for these people, wasting scenes of waking up and showing what their room is like and things like that or following them through a typical school day where we mostly know what’s going to happen to them, Hughes puts them all together in the same room, where these so-called stereotypes would have never have met and forced them to interact in the same playing field–in detention. Slowly their layers are peeled back layer by layer. There is a lot of explosive angst especially from Bender who basically adds fuel to the fire in whatever he says. And there’s a lot of anger in these kids that is just brilliantly acted.

Although what they reveal about themselves isn’t terribly original like Vernon, who is stereotyped as the smart, straight A student is actually failing a class and of course Andrew who is presumably the star of the wrestling team, shocker, does not have the perfect life and has to live to his father’s persistent expectations, the way these secrets are revealed is explosive and surprising. And there’s really nothing better for me than to see a group of unlikely friends become well..friends.

This movie was produced in 1985 so while it feels timeless in some aspects, it also feels dated at the same time. It is sexist and the romances are so off-kilter, and while the cast is supremely more talented than the cast of Lemonade Mouth, the same can’t be said about its diversity. If there could somehow be a good remake of this movie, I’ll be the first one to see it.

Sing Street

Musical | Directed by John Carney | Ireland | A-

This movie is the reason this whole post was started. Sing Street is the most charming movie I have seen in a long time.

It is so inspirational and caught with youthful optimism but never descends into cheesiness because it is so grounded in realism. There are so many ways this premise could have gone wrong. I mean this movie takes Image result for sing street posterplace in Ireland in 1985 and it is about a boy who starts a band to impress this mysterious girl that he likes but doesn’t know anything about. But I was so unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised. It finds this perfect balance between the raw realism of the inner life of Conor as a teen with parents who constantly fight and dealing with kids and staff (who btw are priests) who bully him and the wish fulfillment optimism of of starting a band. The dialogue is so well-written, full of dry one-liners that you almost miss and reactions that never feel over-the-top or dramatic in any way.

 

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Basically, they skip all the unnecessary parts and just get straight to the good stuff. There was this one part where the school bully tells our intrepid main character to dance naked in the bathroom, Conor says no and the bully just leaves. Just unexpected moments like that are what make this movie work. Or like the part when no one questions the unrealistic nature of starting a band. They just do it. It shouldn’t work, there usually is a period of disbelief that the characters go through because they think they can’t actually pull off start a band but the movie skips those parts we expect. I adored each and every song. They were so catchy and nostalgic and inspirational and so feel good. Easily could have fallen into Lemonade Mouth’s trap but it effortlessly avoids the same pitfalls by painting its characters with subtle and nuanced inner lives.

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And let me tell you that the female love interest is not nearly as manic pixie dream girlesque as one would expect.

The Edge of Seventeen

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig | A

The Edge of Seventeen is my favorite out of the bunch and that’s because it’s just got the best ingredients of the coming-of-age genre. Nadine is a character that isn’t “likeable”. Most ofImage result for the edge of seventeen poster the awkward situations she gets into are of her own doing. This is truly someone whom no one understands and even she doesn’t understand herself. She’s self-centered and melodramatic and is always ready to pick a fight. And the one person who did understand her most was her dad who died when she was just going through middle school. The dialogue is crude and unapologetic but the story is so sincere and charming. It’s as if the person who wrote this movie has been Nadine before and is chuckling and shaking their head at their past self. And hey, there is an Asian male love interest who is into drawing and is even more awkward than our main character. It’s so wonderful. Image result for the edge of seventeen gifThis coming-of-age film is not necessarily about finding her own identity so much as finding a way to make the most of her present as shitty as she thinks it is which is honestly how a lot of high school teens feel. This feeling that even though you know this is temporary, this part of your life feels so permanent and you’re just waiting for the day when you can find your way out. This movie is also just funny. I love the wit between Nadine and her history teacher played by Woody Harrelson, the one and only Haymitch, and he was such a great casting choice for this role. Like the Breakfast Club, it’s about the character’s perceptions of other people, just as we try to see past our perceptions of the characters, we see from the very beginning, that Nadine’s “hate” for her older brother is a little misguided. Her brother who appears to be golden boy the one who gets everything he wants and doesn’t give a shit about anyone else. But though many of the things Nadine thinks about her brother may be true, there’s many other things that she doesn’t quite know about her brother.

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I actually watched this movie a 2nd time just so I can write this review and I don’t regret a single moment.

Let me know if you’ve seen any of these movies and if you have any other coming-of-age recommendations.

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mini book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Hyped YA books

Sometimes I read/watch reviews of highly anticipated books and it just makes me want to read them so much even when I know that it probably won’t be as good as reviews make it out to be considering my tastes. I guess that’s kind of the point of glowing reviews. This is the story of how I got sucked into hype once again…do they live up to that hype? Or will they falter??

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett (3/5)

YA Contemporary | Goodreads 

Tis the season for contemporary. And the contemporary buzz book of the season is Alex, Approximately. And let me tell you, the buzz around this book was insane around the booktube community. The hype train always gets me even when I say it doesn’t. And I Image result for alex approximatelywas in the mood for contemporary so why not. And this is a reminder that I should take the hype train with a grain of salt. This is a You’ve Got Mail retelling (which I haven’t seen but really need to). At the beginning of the book, Bailey moves from DC to California to live with her dad. She’s a film buff, so much so that she is a member of an online forum for the film community where she’s been talking back and forth with fellow film buff and Californian, Alex, who she may or may not have feelings for. In fact, moving to California will give her the perfect opportunity to meet Alex in real life. Meanwhile, she lands a summer job at a museum where she meets Porter and it’s hate at first sight until it’s not….

First of all, this book feels like it was written by someone who does not live in SoCal because it feels so stereotypical. It’s basically like the California you see on the Hannah Montana set except with the inclusion of churro carts (I need that in my life) and poke (because we eat poke a lot too apparently) and of course, the surfers.

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But I guess Jenn Bennett must be doing something right because after reading it, I just felt like going to the beach and having a bonfire. And there was something exciting and fun about having adventures in an underground museum. In terms of the romance, what you see is basically what you get. Porter was basically spat out from the formulaic YA boyfriend machine–he’s kind of a nerd but he’s just so cocky and omg if I hear that word one more time, I will sue–but he kind of missed the step where they give him a unique personality and any kind of flaws really. I did like that Bailey got to grow throughout. She’s someone who tends to avoid confrontation and being put on the spot but she learns to be comfortable with herself (even though the character development felt random and sudden; I get the gist). They both have tragic pasts that are discussed throughout and it felt off but maybe that’s just me.

The thing I hate about YA contemporary is that the 1st 10% of the book is spent developing the side characters like the parents and the friends and the backstory and the next 80% of the book is spent developing the relationship and then the last 10% suddenly the author remembers she has other characters so they suddenly have more page time but it feels like too little too late. This happened to Grace who works with Bailey at the museum. She feels kind of like the token diverse best friend considering that the author describes her father’s voice as having an “African sway”. What does that even mean?? There’s also Davy who is Porter’s ex-bestie and is basically there to make Porter look better. Also, he turned out to be a lot worse than I anticipated so the storyline turned out to be really melodramatic (complete with guns and drugs). The dad is there to instill wisdom and curfew times although I did like all the Settlers of Catan references. They all just felt token and bland.

My point is, this is YA contemporary and it doesn’t bring anything original to the genre but it’s fun and cute and actually kind of the perfect beach read literally.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (3.5/5)

YA Fantasy | Goodreads

I think after this series Laini Taylor and I might need to part ways. I enjoyed this book when I was reading it. It is magical and mysterious and as surreal as Laini Taylor’s previous works with mythic worldbuilding. Years ago, the city of Weep was erased from the minds of all the people in this world. Now it is only the stuff of legends, a good story but not real. However, Lazlo remembers Weep, in fact, he’s obsessed with it. He’s a librarian whose head is always in the clouds (“Strange the Dreamer”) and spends his free Image result for strange the dreamertime researching Weep dreaming about the day when he will be able to see Weep for himself. I have to applaud Taylor’s ephemeral writing; as over written and dramatic as it is, it does make you feel as if you were living a legend, a hero epic. There’s no other way to describe her worldbuilding except that it is epic like the libraries of Zosma. It’s completely sweeping and otherworldly, larger than life but is still grounded in what the reader knows which only makes the reader imagine it better.  I loved Lazlo’s dream landscapes of Weep, so imaginative like the fever dream of a child who has only read books about unicorns and rainbows.

But I realize after reading it why I can’t fully love this book. It’s because the payoff to all this buildup is just not satisfying. Lazlo has spent 7 years researching about Weep and it feels to the reader like an unattainable goal but then suddenly the answer comes right in front of him like all that buildup was for nothing. When they arrived at Weep, again the problem seemed insurmountable, but then when the solution arrived it didn’t feel satisfying? There’s also this instalove that annoyed me. It was almost like Laini Taylor was trying too hard to make me believe in their love by coating their instalove with frosting, with copious amounts of descriptions of how beautiful Sarai’s skin is and how mysterious Lazlo’s nose is. Are there really that many ways to describe someone’s crooked nose?? And omg this is the first time, someone has seen me!! The first time someone said I wasn’t disgusting!! Cue the blushing.  I think my eyes rolled straight out of my head. At points, it seemed like Sarai was a manic pixie dream girl and the ending didn’t help that theory either. The other side characters had a lot more potential to be intriguing characters such as Eril-Fane who was involved in the war that occurred before the events of Strange the Dreamer. I liked the concepts and themes that Laini Taylor introduces, about grief after war and guilt over the part you played in a war, how to figure out how to live with yourself after all the devastation. I wish there was more of that instead of the woe-is-me, melodramatic romance. If you liked Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, you will adore this, it’s actually quite eerie how similar the two are if you think about it.  The premise of Taylor’s books always hook me but the execution somehow always falls flat for me though.

Let me know if you’ve read these two books or if you’re planning to (they’re actually quite perfect for spring/summer) and what your thoughts are!

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movie reviews · tv review · Uncategorized

Mini TV/Movie Reviews: Animation

So I’ve noticed I’ve been watching a lot more animation lately. Usually, animation is not something I normally gravitate towards especially animated TV and anime but there are always exceptions (See Voltron: Legendary Defender). I do tend to like animated movies more just because there are studios like Disney and Pixar that are always making really good content but even then I usually they don’t have quite as much emotional impact on me as they seem to on other animated fans but again there are exceptions (See Zootopia). And the ones I’ve seen recently are as expected a hit or miss.

Tangled Before Ever After (TV Movie) & Tangled: The Series

Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi|Disney Channel | Currently 4 episodes released

Image result for tangled the seriesI’ll admit I was pretty excited but also really hesitant about watching these two. I didn’t know how well the 3D CGI would translate to 2D. The movie animation was absolutely stunning and I was worried the TV show would lose a lot of the feel of the original. But I was totally surprised. At first look, the 2D looks juvenile and a little sloppy but after watching it, it is absolutely stunning in its own way. The background and scenery are so bright and vivid but really detailed at the same time. They look like drawings in a picture book. It also helps that the voice actors for Eugene and Rapunzel are the same as in the movie and they do an equally good job in this one. The TV movie and TV series take place after the events of the 1st movie but before the Tangled short film where Eugene and Rapunzel get married. The first few episodes that have been released follow Rapunzel as she learns how to be a princess after being locked up in a tower. The relationship between Rapunzel and Eugene is just as cute and cheesy but there are worse things to show in a relationship than being cheesy. It is very healthy and respectful and I do like that they are getting separate storylines as they each figure what they want to be. There’s also a new character that’s introduced, Cassandra, who is Rapunzel’s lady-in-waiting and she’s awesome. She’s fearless and adventurous and a great foil for Rapunzel. She has an interesting hate relationship with Eugene which is fun. The storylines aren’t terribly original and I can forgive that because the show is very clearly targeted towards very young children (8-12) but they are refreshing in many ways and just solid storytelling. Fun and easily bingeable. I have a feeling shows based on popular Disney movies are going to continue being a thing in the upcoming years. I am particularly excited for the Big Hero 6 show coming out this Fall (again 2D) and the voice actors for most of the original cast will be the same which is exciting.

Trollhunters

Created by Guillermo Del Toro | Season 1: 26 episodes | DNFed: Episode 7 |Netflix

It’s very clear to me from seeing Pacific Rim and now Trollhunters that Guillermo Del Toro has such an imaginative and epic visionary style but I wish he paid as much Image result for trollhuntersattention to his stories. The world of the Trollhunters is riddled with interesting trolls and troll lore. The city that the Trolls reside in is beautifully animated (in the same CGI as Tangled) but as beautiful as the animation is, the story is lacking soooo much. It is overly cliche with by-the-book humor and one-note characters. It has the bare bones of an underdog-turned-hero story. Our hero, Jim Lake, is living in the suburbs with his doctor mom. He is kind of the outcast of the school and is bullied by the blonde-haired jock at school. His best friend, Toby, is the fat and lovable sidekick who is obviously fodder for a bunch of fat jokes. And to add on top of this mountain of cliches, he has a crush on one of the girls at school but of course does not think he is good enough for her attentions. But he’s a special snowflake so he finds this jewel and turns out that he is the savior of the trolls. Do you see where this is going? Much like the Kaijus and the Jaegers, the Trolls are extremely well-designed and varied. I really wanted to like this show because it seems like a show that I would like but 7 episodes in, I just couldn’t get past the bland storytelling. I’ve heard it gets less cliche as it goes on with the side characters getting their own development separate from their association with Jim but I don’t have enough patience to stick around.

Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name)

Directed by Makoto Shinkai | Based on the manga: Your Name by Makoto Shinkai

This is one of those unfortunate instances where I’m wondering if everyone is watching the same Image result for your namemovie as me. I won’t deny that the animation and directing is beyond gorgeous. Much like Hayao Miyazaki’s films, the animation is hyper realistic and detailed especially in its scenery. But the storyline falls so flat for me. I think my biggest problem with the story is the fact that they were trying to insert 3 whole storylines into 1 movie which was too much and each storyline suffered because of it. What I thought I was getting was a body swapping storyline and eventually a romance but then halfway through, that sort of changed and went into more fantastical explanations for why this was happening that felt contrived. And to be honest, I didn’t really need to know why the body swapping was happening. And because of this deviance in plot, the characters never get past the stage of typical high school teens. In fact the things that happen when Mitsuha and Taki switch bodies are completely forgotten the next time they go back to their own bodies which makes me wonder how the fuck they could fall in love. And the parts where the relationship is being developed is filmed in a montage which is just annoying. This might just be me, however, I don’t like “they are bound by fate” storylines but I still felt like these storylines were not integrated well enough and felt like they were totally separate storylines. And then that random plot point at the end??

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And at the end, I just didn’t care about these characters and I was just bored. There are two reviews that explain my thoughts in a more well-written manner, however be warned they both contain spoilers.

Review #1 | Review #2

Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought of them (especially Your Name). And if you have any animated recommendations for me, I’d love to know 🙂

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Uncategorized

Reread Discussion: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & PS I Still Love You

Image result for to all the boys i've loved before          Image result for ps i still love you

Probably no one is going to analyze a YA contemporary series as much as I do but I have a lot to say so let’s pour out my bookish feelings out. MAJOR SPOILERS

I should start off by saying that these two books are two of my favorite YA contemporary books of all time which is not a statement I give lightly. I obviously do not rate YAC the same as I would a modern classic or a hard scifi novel but but I’m still harsh. I find that a lot of fluffy and feel-good YA contemporary like The Boy Next Door, Meant to Be, and Anna and the French Kiss are a) just not memorable, b) unrealistic c) sickly sweet or d) fluffy and cute but unsatisfying.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what makes these two so different from the others. However I do think one of the reasons is its emphasis on family. I love the family dynamics between Lara Jean and her sisters. True to form, she has a different relationship between the one with her older sister Margot and her younger sister Kitty. She looks up to Margot as a role model and has a sort of sibling rivalry with Kitty. I like that Han takes the time to develop Margot and Kitty as people who are integral to Lara Jean’s life. Most YA contemporaries color their families only as side props that have cliche roles only meant to provide some sense of multi dimensionality to the main character but they’re either just really quirky or don’t have enough of a presence for them to really register. They’re also very important to Lara Jean’s development. As we move on into the second book, we see how her sisters have moved on with their lives. Margot has settled into Scotland; Kitty has new friends and we see how resistant Lara Jean is to change; she is comfortable with the way things are and even when the people around her are growing, she doesn’t want to move away from her comfort zone in her sheltered life. I love seeing the pains but also the joys of having two sisters. From borrowing your older sister’s clothes to making up after a fight.

It’s hard to strike that perfect balance of being unrealistic and realistic at the same time in YAC. Because fluffy YAC should be feel-good but at the same time, it shouldn’t abandon all sense of logic.  I like the first romances and endearing friendships and that sense of adventure and uninhibited fun. But I kind of don’t want to hear about how you’re getting grounded by your parents  And I think it’s even harder with a book like To All the Boys because Lara Jean lives a relatively privileged life and her problems probably feel very trivial and mundane to a lot of people. But maybe it’s the fact that she’s worried about whether she can make enough cupcakes for her sister party the next day and that triviality that makes it feel-good. In some ways, her life is unrealistic but it’s the little details of realism that pop through (the fact that  and evens everything out. I like that we can actually see her doing things at home.

Peter Kavinsky and Lara Jean are an interesting pair and one of my favorite aspects of these books. On paper, they are very much a cliche. And not just a cliche but probably one of the oldest cliches in romcoms and YACs. More Disney Channel movie, that sickly sweet, eye roll worthy trope that no one can really take seriously. Even its wish-fulfillment quality is marred by its cringey dialogue. Peter is the popular guy at school, he plays lacrosse, everyone really likes him etc. etc. and while Lara Jean is not necessarily the outcast at school, she definitely doesn’t have the same type of presence that Peter has. She’s really into vintage clothes, baking and being a homebody basically.Image result for snickerdoodles But together I cannot help but love their dynamic. And I think most of that credit belongs to Han’s writing of dialogue. It’s snappy and fun but feels natural and graceful at the same time like something that could actually come out of a teen’s mouth. I loved their banter and their past. It doesn’t feel cringeworthy because Peter is actually a really sweet guy who is oh-so-different than the other popular jocks around him (see Hilary Duff’s Cinderella) but the fact that they both have very realistic flaws that are not even obvious at the start is just written really well. Most of the people who wrote good reviews for the 1st book really liked Peter but then totally did a 360 and ended up supporting John Ambrose in the second book because he was really nice and sweet. And I get it. Peter is honestly kind of a dick in the second book and I felt really betrayed by him sometimes especially the part when he admits that he knew Genevieve sent that video of him and Lara Jean in the hot tub but didn’t tell her out of loyalty to Genevieve. He is loyal to a fault and much like Lara Jean goes back to what he is comfortable with which was Genevieve in this case. He’s also kind of insecure at the same time but hides it behind his I-don’t-care facade. In fact, most of the second book, he acts like he couldn’t give a fuck about what Lara Jean does but then ends up getting really anxious when she appears to be moving on without him.

And much like when he told Lara Jean his mom made those fruitcake cookies when in reality he was the one that made them. He’s constantly trying to impress Lara Jean (again with the poem he “wrote” lol) but he’s also trying to hide it as if he doesn’t really want to get too attached.

In some ways, I think Lara Jean and John Ambrose would have worked really well together and if Kitty actually hadn’t sent those letters,

they might have found their way to each other considering that Peter and Lara Jean weren’t even talking to each other or were even in the same social circles (“So much of love is chance”). But I like that in the second book, we really got to test the boundaries of their relationship to see if they can make that chance work and whether they would even work together. And even in the second book, a lot of the side characters are extremely surprised when they realize that Lara Jean is with Peter (“because he’s not your type”); I thought it was interesting how maybe people had all these preconceptions about how innocent and simple Lara Jean was when there was a lot more to her than that. A lot of YA contemporaries focus on how they’ll get together but they never focus on the aftermath of getting together because YA contemporaries rarely have sequels.

Most of the negative reviews criticize this book for having a protagonist with such a young voice. Lara Jean is 16 but sounds like she’s about 14 or even younger according to the reviews. And to me, that was actually a refreshing change. Not every 16 year old matures at the same rate. In Lara Jean’s case, it kind of makes sense that she would be so naive in a way. She’s been relatively sheltered her entire life, taking tips and advice mostly from her sisters or her one friend Chris. Although I have to admit I kind of laughed when Lara Jean found out Peter cheated; her reaction was hilarious. It’s funny because in Korean dramas if she acted this way, it would be totally fine. I think it kind of speaks to the age that Americans are expected to reach “maturity”. I guess I forgive Lara Jean because she’s in high school but probably not if she was like 30. Or if there is a sense of immaturity, there also has to be a sense of maturity or growth. I really enjoy reading Lara Jean’s development, I think she’s become a little more worldly and sure of what she wants and knows about the world.

You know I actually didn’t mind the love triangle in these books because it was really about who Lara Jean would end up with that was my main concern. My concern was what she would get out of both of these boys. Obviously, John is great and near perfect to what Lara Jean wants out of a boyfriend and yet she chooses Peter again. And the love triangle is all about Lara Jean, she has to choose between the ideal version of what she wants versus trying her hand at a real relationship with a real person with flaws. I think Jenny Han also does such a great job with writing how someone like Lara Jean would act and not explaining to us how she would act or making her this very self-aware person that is going to tell you how they are changing. She changes slowly. She is hung up on comparing herself to Genevieve until the 2nd book. I think one scene that really shows this is the part when Lara Jean wants to play assassins because everyone thinks she is not the type of person to win because she’s so gullible but that just makes her want to play more to prove that she can win. It pretty much sums up who Lara Jean is.

Anyways, my favorite scenes from these books:

Halloween when Lara Jean dresses up as Cho Chang (because otherwise she is just an anime character) and Peter was Spiderman. So damn cute.

Any scenes with Lara Jean and Stormy when Stormy is giving out advice to Lara Jean and it’s just cute.

That scene in the hot tub. Not just because it was cute but because this was Lara Jean finally owning up to what she wants.

Whenever Lara Jean bakes anything or spends time together with her whole family.

I’m excited to see how this series will conclude because when we left off Lara Jean and Peter, they were finally going to go all in and I’m excited to see Lara Jean make decisions about where she wants to go after high school.

This post probably made less than zero sense (I hope my discussion posts can improve over time) but if you have any thoughts on anything I just wrote or about the series in general, don’t hesitate to comment as always. And as always, all the gifs and photosets were found on Tumblr.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

March 2017 Wrap Up

March was long but in this case that means I got to read more! It was a busy month as well and weirdly enough I read more when I’m busy. I think it’s because reading relaxes but then again if I’m too stressed so it’s a weird balance. I did, however, DNF a couple of books (3). So in total I read 7 books, 2 short stories, and 1 graphic novel.

So the books first:

The Ever Never Handbook by Soman Chainani

 

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3.5/5

The Ever Never Handbook is a companion book to The School for Good and Evil trilogy. This is like the equivalent to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to the Harry Potter series. It’s just a little bonus to the original books: how to survive going to this magical school, the course catalog, pictures of the cool creatures that reside there, school fashion and all that. I was kind of confused reading this book because there are excerpts of the characters sending letters and transcripts of characters talking to each other and they mention events that have not happened. So, at first, I thought cool, it’s a bit of an epilogue except the events that are happening are kind of depressing. One of the letters included is even “cut off” so you don’t know what happens after so that was rude. And then I look on Goodreads and found out there was gonna be a fourth book…(just as I was beginning to applaud myself for finishing one series in my life). But after reading the handbook, I realize I’m nostalgic for Sophie’s and Agatha’s world and want to go back to it again so at the end of the day, I’m happy there’s a 4th book but we’ll see.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld25852870

I had high hopes for this modern Pride and Prejudice retelling but alas, it was pretty disappointing. However, I do like the wry and tongue in cheek writing as well as the fast-paced nature of the book. It’s the sort of book I could finish in one sitting if I wanted to. It also made me nostalgic for P&P retellings so I immediately went and rewatched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries afterwards and I had a lot of feelings so, in true Carolyn-fashion, I rant about them here.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25489134I was excited for this one ever since I first heard about it because it’s written like a fairy tale and it revolves around Russian mythology. Vasya’s family worships the house spirits but when her mother dies and a priest tries to convert everyone to a religion of one god, the village starts to erupt in chaos and only Vasya’s magical powers can help. The writing is atmospheric and promises mysteries and magic at every turn. However, because it was written like a fairy tale, the secondary characters, including the stepmother, the priest, and Vasya’s father all came out to be pretty cliche. Also, the pacing was so off. Plotlines were brought up and then dropped until the second half of the book where one plotline was followed till the end. I really liked the fantastical elements such as the blending of Russian mythological creatures. I also found the author’s note to be sort of problematic; you can take creative liberties with a story but alternating Russian words because it’s not aesthetically pleasing is a different story. It could have been better but it wasn’t necessarily bad. I’ll definitely be looking out for Arden’s future works.

Human Acts by Han Kang

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In short, Han Kang has cemented herself as an auto-read author for me. My mini review here.

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

I just burnt bread this afternoon so you can tell how much of a cook I am but I checked25614711 this out because I love Korean food. Vietnamese food is great but there is something so communal and aesthetically pleasing about Korean food, not to mention the variety in color and type of food. What’s great about this cookbook is that there’s such a variety of recipes but each is prefaced by a little history or tidbit about the food and information about the different ingredients themselves. There’s also interviews with chefs who cook with Korean food, celebrities who love Korean food, and restaurant owners who cook a fusion of Korean and some culture of food. The photos are also really well-made and there’s even full page spreads of Koreatown and the Korean eating experience. I’m not making any of these recipes except for the one that was basically an improved version of how to make your shin ramyun (instant noodles) better but it really made me crave Korean food. Someone get me bibimbap and patbingsu asap.

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Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

This book has an amazing premise. A space ship is on its way to Aurora, its inhabitants23197269 hopeful in being its first colonizers. At the beginning of the book, the ship is on its 150th year in space and there’s still more years to go before they can even reach Aurora. Our main character, Freya, is the daughter of the ship’s chief engineer, Devi. The story sort of follows Freya as she learns to become a leader but it also follows the the ship’s apparently sentient perspective as it details the accounts of the journey. I’m really impressed with Robinson’s knowledge of biology, microbiology, population biology and physics. He does do a lot of infodumping but being the science major that I am, it was all so interesting especially when he explained the mechanics of the ship and its many biomes, how these inhabitants lived in the biomes. As can be expected, this novel is hard science fiction so do not read this if you’re not interested in any of the things I’ve mentioned above. Because it’s hard science fiction, the characters fall to the wayside but he does ask some interesting questions and gives twists to these questions that surprised me. Were we really meant to go beyond Earth given the limitations of our bodies? What happens, after generations of preparation and hope, when your destination is not everything you expected? And how do you fix the mistakes that the people who originally came on the ship didn’t forsee? Why should the generations after be forced to deal with the consequences when they might not have wanted any part of this crusade in the first place? After all, they were ultimately human, greatly ambitious but also inevitably fallible. It’s quite heavy in its scope and size and I found myself forgiving its flaws just because it was so fascinating.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han (reread)

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Every once in a while, a very special YA contemporary will come into my life that just does it right. This is one of those series. It’s cute and fluffy to the highest degree but while most YA contemporaries of that nature are at highest 3 stars for me, these two always leave me feeling not just happy but satisfied. I’m planning on doing a reread discussion for these two or a review of the entire trilogy when the third and final book comes out in May! The days cannot go by faster…

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Is it better to have been loved, or to love?

Image result for do not say we have nothingThis is the essential question of Madeleine Thien’s historical novel that alternates between the present where Li-Ling and Ai-Ming piece together the story of their fathers and the past where we find out their grandparent’s and parent’s lives during the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. As the Revolution grows more and more oppressive, we begin to see how her father and his family try to reconcile their personal passions and to an extent their inner selves and the constant danger of being arrested for being a counter-revolutionary. I really liked the undercurrent of music–particularly the violin and piano–throughout the book, a symbol of private desire. And I really liked reading about this struggle to maintain your identity when your very safety depends on your rejection of it. I also learned a lot about the Revolution in China during the 50’s and 60’s and how the aftereffects of that time period extended all the way to the 80’s and 90’s. I think the characters jumped a little too much from one motivation to another with no buildup in between. The pacing was also abrupt and jumps from one perspective to another with little sense of cohesion. But despite that, definitely worth a read.

Blonde Date (Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina BowenImage result for blonde date sarina bowen

Blonde Date is a NA romance novella that’s a part of Bowen’s NA series but you don’t have to read the previous books to understand this one. It’s about a girl named Katie who is in a sorority and she needs a date to go with her to a party because she has just broken up with her asshole of a boyfriend (for reasons that will be revealed throughout the story). She gets set up with Andy who is a sweet and genuine beta male (can we please have more of these in romance novels?). Diversity in romance is a problem in general but that’s a different story. I really liked that Katie, who would normally be the antagonist in a NA story is instead the protagonist. The dialogue was pretty cliche but it didn’t bother me too much. Blissfully unproblematic, cute, and enjoyable, highly recommended for a lazy afternoon read. I wish there was a full length book on Katie and Andy.

Image result for a series of steaksA Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-min Prasad

Helena Yuanhi makes a living out of 3D printing realistic looking meat. She gets a huge gig printing out steaks for a wedding and she hopes that this gig can give her enough to run away and escape from her past. She enlists the help of Lily whose spontaneous personality serves as the perfect foil to the more quiet and reserved Helen. This short story was so great, It has a slight satirical undertone and it’s quite comedic and just plain enjoyable. I liked the two main characters and their budding friendship and all the mechanics behind the 3D printing. Highly recommended and you can even read it for free here.

 

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollImage result for through the woods

Through the Woods is a collection of horror-ish short stories in graphic novel format. The problem with this was it ended way too soon just when the story was starting to get interested. You know that scene in a horror movie where someone hears a lot of banging or whatever behind a door and they’re just about to open the door. The stories end right when the person is about to open the door which was kind of frustrating. I feel like if she prolonged one or two of these stories, I would have been so much more creeped out and invested. I particularly liked the story about the two brothers who go into the woods and only one of them comes back alive but then the next day, the dead comes back again as if nothing happened.

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DNF

Image result for crosstalk connie willisCrosstalk by Connie Willis

I got about 1/2 of the way through and it had me feeling really claustrophobic which I guess is kind of the point. It’s set in the near future where you can get a surgery that will help you better see your partner’s thoughts. This, in theory, will lead to a happier relationship. It’s a light sci-fi novel with a romcom storyline. I appreciated the numerous references to other social media but at the same time, I felt like they were being referenced by someone who doesn’t really use them. I also thought this could have been about 200 pages shorter since the scenes kept being dragged out with interruptions from one of her annoyingly endearing family members and it just got to be too much. The heroine is a protagonist straight out of Legally Blonde, smart but has ditzy and truly naive moments, and talks like she always has everything under control when she really doesn’t. I wish she had more agency in this book. I just didn’t care ultimately.


News of the World by Paulette JilesImage result for news of the world paulette

There’s nothing technically wrong with this book. It just felt a little too safe for me and I guess I had higher hopes for a book that was longlisted for the National Book Award. It has a great historical setting (right after the American Civil War) but the storyline just felt too saccharine for me especially for a literary fiction novel that’s trying to be more nuanced.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie MclemoreImage result for when the moon was ours

I know this book is well loved in the book community and I really wanted to like this one because it explores themes of being transgender, being in a relationship with a transgender person and what it means to truly expose yourself. One of the main character is Pakistani which I never see in a YA book. I also really wanted to like this book because I really like magical realism but the writing felt a little too flowery and nothing was being said. And while the writing was pretty beautiful, the storyline felt like it was going nowhere. I understand coming of age doesn’t technically have a plot but I felt like Mclemore was trying to achieve another plot besides the coming of age and it just didn’t work for me.

And that’s my March reading! Let me know what you read in March, what your favorites were or if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts were. =)

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Book Discussion · Uncategorized

A Discussion of 2 Modern Pride and Prejudice Retellings

I wasn’t satisfied after I read Eligible and I knew a little of why I was so dissatisfied with Eligible as a Pride and Prejudice retelling.

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3/5

But it made me nostalgic for other P&P retellings, my favorite of which is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. So I rewatched it and it only made the problems with Eligible that much more glaring.

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And while I think Eligible does some interesting things to the timeless tale, I think ultimately it fails to create a modern context that is proportional to the events of the original Pride and Prejudice. Major Spoilers for both below.

So my first biggest problem with Eligible was how major events were translated to the modern day. Most of them just seemed forced. The biggest one, of course, would be Lydia’s elopement with Ham in Vegas where it was also revealed that Ham is a transgender male. My first problem with that is the way that Ham is revealed to be transgender. It was revealed at the very end of a chapter and written in a way that was very obviously meant to be there for shock factor which is not impressive. Using a person’s identity as a shock factor makes it less about the person in question and more about the reader’s and the other characters’ reactions to the person, using the person as a plot device for another character’s emotional angst, in this case, Mrs. Bennett. In LBD, Lydia’s significant event was the sex tape with George Wickham. I thought this event was really interesting and works so well for the modern day because in the original, Lydia eloping was a huge deal in Austen’s time period, more so because of the blow it would have on Lydia’s reputation as a woman of chastity and serves to emphasize what a money grabbing asshole Wickham was. Eloping now just doesn’t have the same connotation. The fact that Lydia eloped with a transgender person also has nothing to do with her sexual reputation. It feels as if Sittenfeld wanted to throw something out there that felt big but instead ended up feeling anticlimactic because it honestly didn’t change the story that much. This also felt true to me because we really barely got to see Lydia and Ham throughout the book and therefore, we barely got to really know them as characters. In LBD, the sex tape felt like a shocking blow because we’ve gotten to know Lydia and her struggles and so we feel sympathy and pain for her. But the storyline also serves dual purposes to reveal the extent of Elizabeth’s ignorance and dismissal of Lydia as a “slut” and “party” girl. In Eligible, it affects no one except Mrs. Bennet’s acceptance of trans people. Unfortunately, that also makes Darcy’s grand gesture feel not-so-grand. In Eligible, he only is prepared to try and persuade Mrs. Bennet of accepting Ham by saying it is a disorder which in and of itself is a little problematic but in LBD it feels more grand, since I mean he did buy out the whole company for Lizzie (swoon). Darcy’s grand gesture should be a gesture of sacrifice because up until this point we have only known Darcy to look down upon Elizabeth’s family and status but by doing this, he truly shows how much of his status and wealth he is willing to give up for Elizabeth which is what makes it so swoon worthy. The other big event that I felt LBD did better was Collins’ proposal. In Eligible, he’s not really a cousin but he still proposes to her. I really liked the twist that LBD brought to the Collins storyline because it just fits with the modern storyline and still feels relevant to who Lizzie and Charlotte are as characters. Admittedly though, the characters in Eligible are a lot older (late 30’s) so it feels more right that Charlotte would accept a marriage proposal from Collins.

But it still didn’t make as much sense in Eligible because we barely got to know Charlotte as Charlotte. In LBD, we understand why she would take Collins’s job offer, because she is practical and in a financial situation that doesn’t allow her to explore other options but we also understand why Elizabeth wouldn’t want Charlotte to settle for this job when she knows Charlotte has a lot of potential. It fits because in the modern age, we are always at odds with the jobs we accept and we always wonder whether we are just settling or if there was something else we were always meant to do. And, of course, like Charlotte, we often times have family obligations and financial crises that prevent us from pursuing the job that we would have wanted and take the jobs that are offered to us. At least, in my experience, we are less worried about abrupt marriage proposals from people we barely know. If a modern P&P retelling intends to show an audience how the original source material the themes and concepts of social class and social stigma can still translate to the modern day, it is better, to me, if the events themselves were not just inserted into the story but with different names. By making it socially relevant, we can see how P&P has withstood the test of time. Not as major, but the part when Lizzie walked to the hospital instead of getting a ride because apparently there are no ubers yet was kind of dumb to be honest and it felt like something forced to obviously reference to the original Pride and Prejudice and could not have stood on its own without the original source material.

The other problem I had with Eligible was the extent that the characters were explored. Even though the book was long enough to do so, I still felt as though the essence of these characters weren’t explored enough. It’s hard to recapture what is so charismatic and well-loved about Elizabeth Bennet even after all these years later. I did like how in Eligible, we see that Elizabeth is an older heroine (I think 38?) and I thought it was interesting how Sittenfeld interpreted the modern day “spinster” age. In terms of personality, however, I felt as though Elizabeth was just a combination of some of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth’s traits but didn’t develop a personality of her own so she was only a shadow of the original Elizabeth Bennett. I think something that was explored well, however, was her relationship with Jasper Wick (Wickham) who she’s been in a pseudo relationship for some 2 decades. Readers see he is basically an asshole with only semi good intentions but Lizzie doesn’t see that until way later in the book and thought that was really fitting how blinded Lizzie is sometimes. But in terms of her relationships with the other side characters like Lydia and Mrs. Bennet, we can only take them at face value. Mrs. Bennet is just as crazy and narrow-minded about getting her daughters married. In LBD, Mrs. Bennet is exactly the same so we think because everything we know about her is through Lizzie’s perspective. But as you move along through the series, you begin to question whether Mrs. Bennet is really as crazy as Lizzie makes her out to be. And this is such a good case of using the unreliable narrator as Lizzie should be. She is loyal and witty but also very, as you can guess, proud and judgmental. She’s often wrong about the right people and even wrong about the wrong people as well. We constantly see Jane and Charlotte telling her to be nice and pretty much everyone else knows that Darcy likes her way before Lizzie will admit it to herself.

Darcy, on the other hand, is ok in Eligible. As you might expect, he is offhand and aloof and perfectly enjoyable. In Eligible, he is a doctor, in LBD he is the owner of Pemberley Digital, in the original, I believe he is a wealthy landowner, you can see which interpretation I prefer. In LBD, we are constantly reminded that Darcy “always takes care of the people he loves” but of course, to Lizzie, he is anything but. In Eligible, we see that he is mostly misunderstood. But I like that in LBD, he serves as the perfect foil for Lizzie. Lizzie thinks she is nothing like Darcy but we can see that there are a lot of similarities. They both like to think they take care of their family and friends by meddling in their affairs; they are very proud people and are quick to make judgments about people and are hesitant to give second chances. There’s a certain level of truth to everyone’s perspective in LBD.  Yes, Darcy was wrong for essentially breaking up Jane’s and Bing’s relationship but Bing was also wrong for listening to Caroline so blindly. In Eligible, I felt as though there was less nuance and I didn’t particularly care if they got together or not, there is less of a foil, less of a pull and push.

In terms of style, they’re both consumable in very short formats. While Eligible has extremely short chapters (some only a paragraph long), LBD consists of 100 episodes, some only 3 minutes long. Because of this format, they’re both very easy and fast to consume. I really love that I couldn’t stop reading or watching either of them. I had to know what happened even though I obviously already knew what was going to happen. I think it’s vital to a retelling that even when you know the story by heart, you still read reincarnations as if this story hasn’t been done before. With Eligible, I was almost just waiting for the events to occur because I think it wasn’t enough for me to only be attached to the characters. In LBD, the vlog format allows me to really know Lizzie as a person and her struggles with being a graduate student etc. etc. However, with Eligible, it seems as though all the set up was used so the relevant plot points (ie Jane and Lizzie’s past relationships and working as a magazine editor for Mascara) could work instead of really building a character. And because of that, I never got a real sense of her deep relationship with her sisters (except maybe Jane) and especially her parents. In the vlog format, I suppose having her mannerisms portrayed on screen is pretty helpful to gauging what she’s like as a person. We know that she likes to hide under the guise of other people’s problems. She employs costume theater so we can get a gauge on what her perception of other people is. Sometimes you do have to suspend your disbelief with the whole who-is-watching these vlogs and there is so much personal information going out in these vlogs that no sane person would probably reveal on camera nowadays but it didn’t bother me too much. I also liked the vlog format because much like the book, other people (like Darcy and Wickham) aren’t revealed until much later in the series so it kind of builds up that anticipation.The important thing is I understand Lizzie’s limited perspective.

And half the fun of reading retellings is finding all the Easter eggs. I really liked reading about both. I read Eligible eagerly anticipating the events that I knew were going to happen. I liked how in LBD, Mary is their cousin and Kitty is actually a kitty, that was cute. I also liked how Bingley was translated as Bing Lee. I liked that Pemberley was the name of Darcy’s manor in Eligible and in LBD, it was the name of Darcy’s company. Just to name a few.

But, overall, I really think LBD’s retelling of P&P was a lot more successful than Eligible’s. Let me know if you’ve watched LBD or read Eligible and if you thought it was a successful retelling. Do you like modern P&P retellings? If so, do you have a favorite, I would love to know because I’ll never get tired of P&P.

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