Summary: A story that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother. Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.
Characters. Will is the main character and it’s told through his POV and we really get to see and understand him as a person. He’s a fifteen-year-old who is upset and wants revenge for his brother dying because of the unspoken rules. He’s a good kid but he’s distraught but he gets to experience different people who were directly connected to him and his brother. I can’t go into too much detail about him without spoiling the story but he was great. The other characters were also great to know and understand and to see their purpose.
The Story. Without going into too much detail Will’s brother Shawn was killed and he think he knows who killed him. So according to the rules, you don’t cry, you don’t snitch and you get revenge and he just needs to continue following that last rules. So, while he’s on the elevator, each floor he meets someone different who has something to say to him, to explain and all of that. Amazing. It reminded me a bit of A Christmas Carol in ways just without the whole Christmas spirit and what not. But so good.
Jason Reynolds is a WORDSMITH! Let me say this RIGHT NOW! This man can write a story and he can do it by putting some words together that are KILLER. I mean, I would stop and reread lines just because it was so powerful. I mean wow. There’s a particular line where Will says something about how his mother had to realize that once his older brother Shawn turned 18, she had to take her hands off of him and put them together to pray. I was like WHATTTT. I mean, that’s amazing. There’s another line about God in there that was great. Nothing was wasted.
Emotional. I didn’t cry or anything but I could feel all of the panic, anger and confusion that Will felt throughout the story. Most of the book takes place in the minute it takes to ride the elevator. We meet several different people who had some kind of connection to Shawn and Will and every person had something to say that needed to be listened to and I felt everything. Plus, the use of words
The Ending. Okay so throughout the book, Will is in the elevator and each person he’s talking to gives him a story about what happened to them and when they finally reach the lobby, they all leave and the last person turns back to him and says “You coming?” which leaves the ending open ended which in ways is great because it allows the reader to make their own ending. I mean what do you think Will did? I think he didn’t follow them.
The Ending!? This isn’t a con because it’s negative but it made me UPSET! When it ended, I was like REALLY?! REALLY!!!! That’s how it ends? Man, I love open endings sometimes but sometimes GIVE ME AN ENDING SO I CAN FEEL HAPPY ABOUT THE RESOLUTION! So, upset.
Overall, I very much-LOVED Long Way Down because it was such a real story but it was contained. It was a minute and so much happened. I loved meeting all of the characters, I loved how Will would react to things and how the other characters would speak with him, show him love, even if they weren’t necessarily close to him. I loved the emotional aspect of the story, as well as the writing because Jason Reynolds is a wordsmith. A WORDSMITH! The ending was also phenomenal but of course the ending was also soooo annoying because it was OPEN ENDED! *sighs* Short review but I can’t go into too much without telling the story, just know it was really good.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Have you read Long Way Down? If not, what’s wrong with you? Read it. Right now. If you’ve read anything else by Jason Reynolds, then read this book. Read it.
Let me know your thoughts down below and be sure to like and follow this blog for more reviews!
I know there’s a movie on Netflix that I will watch and review soon. I wanted to read the book first and it prompted me to want to watch the movie more, which is a good thing.
Summary: What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
The Characters. I liked all the characters, the main ones for the most part. I think Margot and Josh were probably a little lower on the list for me, but they weren’t unlikable. I understood them, but they weren’t that important to me. Honestly, the ones I’m going to mention are the main two of the story.
Lara Jean Song Covey. She’s the kind of character that I think some people would find annoying and there were times where I would roll my eyes at her, but I overall enjoyed her. I thought she was a quirky, kind, humorous leading character and I thought she was very likable. Ironically, she reminds me of an anime character, which is something she references in the book about how people always think she’s dressing up as some anime character for Halloween, but her energy and how she reacts to things makes me picture how over dramatic the anime characters can be when something happens. While she’s clumsy and a bit over dramatic, she’s endearing and strong and she loves her family. Cute character.
Peter Kavinsky. Peter is like the cool guy at school, everyone likes him, and he’s swoon worthy. When we first meet him, he’s being helpful to LJ, but she also reminisces about him which gives us a little more insight about him through her eyes. Once he approaches her about the letter, I thought he was going to be a jerk about it and what not since he’s the cool guy and Lara Jean isn’t popular or anything like that, but he turned out to be just that but with a heart and kindness in him. I really ended up liking him. Alright, he’s not so much a jerk but he had jerk tendencies. I really liked how he related to Lara Jean’s family and how he seemed to care about her in ways that were probably a surprise to him. I’m interested in reading the other books just to see what happened with him.
Family dynamic. I really liked the Covey family. They had a realistic dynamic. Being a younger sister but also an older sister, I understand the feeling of having the responsibility fall to you when the oldest moves on to college. I liked that the sisters were close that they would sleep together just to share the closeness before Margot left for school. Even though Kitty was a little brat sometimes, I liked her relationship with LJ and of course their dad wins the award for “Trying His Best”. You get a real sense that they had a tragedy in their lives and while it was still sore, they tried to work together like a family. They weren’t perfect, but it worked.
The Un-Romance. So, Lara Jean and Peter make a contract to pretend to date for various reasons. LJ had a little crush on Peter after he kissed her in the seventh grade. From the moment he stopped to help her when she got into her car accident, I knew from that moment on there might be a little something between them and I liked it. I quite surprised at how much I liked it lol. It wasn’t really a romance throughout, it was a pretend one, but they worked. I liked how Peter got close to her younger sister and even her father. I thought it was cute how he wrote the letters throughout the day even though half the time, they were things like “You look nice” or “Meet me here…” but it was endearing.
The Writing Style. I really liked Lara Jean’s voice, she was sweet and quirky, and I really enjoyed seeing things from her perspective. I think she could be a bit long winded in how things were talked about or addressed, but I liked how the story just flowed without feeling weird and just caught up in her mind, since it’s told in first person. It was thoughtful, and I liked how Lara Jean viewed things around her.
The Story Idea. The idea of past crushes receiving letters written about them is enough to give pause. I think it’s cool that LJ would write letters to help herself move on and then keep the letters hidden. It’s a mystery as to how they got sent out because she is in utter shock when Peter comes up to her talking about her letter and she has no idea what he’s talking about. I thought that idea was cute. It was everything else afterwards, like the pretend to date thing that I thought was familiar.
Josh/Love Triangle. I really dislike love triangles. If they’re done well with interesting characters and serve a point for the story then okay, but I don’t think it was all that necessary here. I mean, Lara Jean liked Josh before and because of the whole letter fiasco, she and Peter made an agreement to work together to keep Josh from bothering her and to help Peter make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Josh of course doesn’t like this. So, throughout the book, whenever he gets the chance, he brings up how he doesn’t think Peter is good enough for her, she’s innocent and what not and to an extent I get what he was saying and trying to do, but not only did he come off rude, but the love triangle just annoyed me. It was just the Josh part of the equation that was just ugh. I didn’t mind Josh, I was indifferent to him, but I felt like he was unnecessarily… kind of a jerk for the sake of a triangle.
Cliché and predictable. Don’t get me wrong it’s super cute, but super cliché and predictable. I knew how it was going to end, I knew what was going to happen almost like clockwork throughout the story. There may have been a few character moments that might have surprised me but in terms of the plot points, I pretty much called all of them because it’s a formula and this book followed the formula. The idea was a bit different, but the execution turned out to be familiar.
Overall, I very enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I thought it was cute and it felt like a very energetic person was telling me the story. I liked all the characters for the most part, particularly Peter and Lara Jean. They really had a relationship that played well and didn’t feel forced or trying to hard. I thought the whole idea of it was cute and I really enjoyed the writing style as Lara Jean had a voice that kept me engaged. The Covey’s were also a great family. My main negatives are the fact that the love triangle was unnecessary and while I see the point, it made a character who didn’t have to be a negative become a negative. I also thought it was cliché and predictable once the plot gets moving. Otherwise, great read and I read it quickly. It’s fun. I feel like I said “cute” a lot in this review lol.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Have you read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Did you like it? How does it compare to the Netflix movie?
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Summary: I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…
For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.
Characters. We actually met a LOT of characters in this book but I think going through all of them or even mentioning would kind of ruin you getting to know them as Tiffany does so I’m not going to do that.
Tiffany Sly. She is our protagonist and our narrator. She just turned 16 and is traveling to California to live with a father she’s never met. In the first chapter, we learn that she is terrified of flying, and also terrified to meet Anthony Stone. She has anxiety and she’s always worried about things that could possibly kill her. Irrational fears and what not. She is very nervous about meeting her father, but she’s also a bit in doubt since not long before she departed, another man came to her home, thinking he might be her father and he wants her to take a DNA test. So she’s thinking about that, plus, the other man is going to serve her father a court order so she has to take a DNA test and she’s thinking about that time frame. Seven days to confirm who might be her father. She marches to the beat of her own drum, she doesn’t conform, at least not completely, she does try not to test the waters, but she can’t help but to speak out against certain things she finds ridiculous that her new family does. She’s easy to befriend Marcus, even though he did come off as weird in the beginning and everyone freaks out about him, but she was pretty easy about it. She’s from Chicago, so she tries really hard not to be a stereotype in this new place, that’s also majority white. I really liked Tiffany, there wasn’t anything about her I didn’t like. She’s super tall, so of course people assume she likes and/or plays a sport but she’s into music. I loved her “nerdiness” and just how it was just natural and a part of her and not something shocking because she’s a black girl into what she’s into.
Anthony Stone. He is a potential father for Tiffany, but he is the one she’s going to live with. We don’t really get to meet him until the second or third chapter, and he’s interesting but also seems very detached and I did not like him, mostly in the beginning. I softened up to him more towards the end, but it was a hard journey. I felt like Tiffany when it came to him. She was kind of awkward with him, but unsure if he could be her father, especially once she meets him and sees what he looks like. There are moments where it feels right, where you wonder “Wow, maybe he is her father” but then he does something outrageous and you’re like “NO! He can’t be her dad!” I mean this dude has some pretty ridiculous moments, but he’s also kind of tragic in ways. A lot of things that dealt with him made me cry, especially at the end. Oh man. I had so much whiplash with him but I think Dana L. Davis wrote an interesting man.
Marcus McKinney. Definitely my favorite character of the book, he’s definitely a secondary leading character but I loved every bit with him. When we first meet him, I was a little unsure to what he was doing, or what he looked like because of his description but it becomes clear later. It does take a while to learn what is up with him but I think that’s part of his charm as well. He doesn’t care anything about what other people think about him and he just lives his life because it’s his to live. There is something different about him and Tiffany doesn’t really pick up on it until later, but she never makes a big deal about anything. Marcus doesn’t either. He became a great friend for Tiffany and she for him. He wrote a book in the book and I actually want to read his book.
Realistic Dialogue. I definitely have to give Dana L. Davis praise, because the dialogue in this book was very realistic. Especially for the teenage characters. I always complain when I read certain young adult books because it seems like the authors don’t really understand how teenagers respond to things, or how they speak to each other. Sometimes it comes off really pretentious or childlike and just ugh, but Dana L. Davis does it so well. Tiffany sounded like a true 16-year-old teenage African-American girl. The conversations she would have with her grandmother on the phone, with her best friend, even the conversations she would have with London and her other sisters. It just really flowed well and it sounded genuine instead of generic and awkward. I mean outside of Tiffany being awkward in general.
Humorous. I laughed quite a lot reading this book. The dialogue is so funny, and the interactions between characters is always entertaining. The book is told in Tiffany’s point of view, so we get a lot of her inner thoughts and her reactions to things, her irrational fears, her though processes, or her telling us how other characters are looking at her, or reacting was very funny. Also, Marcus being so enigmatic as he was, was also pretty funny too and he did it without trying it was just part of his character. Also, Neveah is maybe where most of the humor comes from when it comes to dialogue. That little girl will say whatever it is she wants and doesn’t find the problem with it.
The Family Dynamic. Tiffany’s mother passed before the events of the book, she is still very hurt from it, but she has hope, since she is going to live with her father in California. She’s never met him so it’s a first anyway, but I think we see of the family is pretty interesting. I don’t necessarily agree with what the Stones do, or even believe in, I think it’s a little extreme, but that’s how it is for some families and I appreciate that the book really touched on that. Their family was dysfunctional and they tried to pretend like they weren’t. I always find that very interesting because there is so many options to explore. Also, when Tiffany gets added to the mix, it’s very weird and awkward at first, but as the book progresses, the women of the family, well some of them, really become a strong lifeline for her, or her for them. It was a great natural progression.
Very emotional. I cried. A lot actually. The book deals with death and grief, and loneliness and family, and abandonment and I can understand a lot of that. I’m definitely not going to get into anything, but I do think if you’ve lost a parent, or someone you were close to, this would really hit home for you. Also, Tiffany has anxiety, among other things and seeing her deal with that, or dealing with her father who doesn’t believe in that kind of stuff, it’s hard and challenging but the way it’s handled is really beautiful. I think the end, the last few chapters are what really got me, especially after the trip in Malibu. Oh man, I can imagine if you don’t cry but don’t be surprised if you do.
Thought provoking. Marcus McKinney is a fantastic character, probably my favorite in the story but he is so smart and his beliefs are truly amazing. I’ve never met anyone like him but I can imagine I’d befriend him as well. He’s a bit odd at first glance, sure, but the way he thinks about God and energy, I was like “he’s legit” and I actually feel the same way in some instances. I talked about it with my coworker the other day and we both were like “so deep”. I mean, I really thought about it while he would explain it to Tiffany. Plus, there was something special about him anyway, so he felt like a pure person.
Unfinished Plotlines. I do think there is a lot that happens in this book. We get a lot of information and while I do think the book handles a lot of it really well, I do wish it would have gone a bit deeper, particularly with Pumpkin. She apparently she’s on the spectrum and at first I thought it was just something the mom made up, or they thought because they didn’t know how to really parent her outbursts, but the mom does try but nothing else really comes of that. Not that it had to be a big part of the story, but since it was brought up and since it was something Tiffany was around, I thought we should have seen more of that. Also, with London, there is something that happens with her and it does kind of become a little big something, but it kind of just ends. It was kind of strange to be honest.
Overall, I really loved Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now because it felt like an authentic story. Tiffany was a realistic teenager, she didn’t feel like an adult’s view of a teenager which I appreciated. I loved her interactions with other characters, and how she just marched to the beat of her own drum, she didn’t care because it was who she was. She loved her music, she loved the idea of what a father would be like to her and I think that’s all beautiful and so realistic for a teenage girl whose never had a father. I thought while complicated, Anthony Stone was a great character and someone who I ended up really liking and thinking was tragic by the end. Marcus was my favorite and I just want to sit and speak with him and also read his book. It’s funny, it’s emotional, it made me go “TELL EM AGAIN GIRL” and I finished it in a day so I loved it. My only real negative was that I felt there were a few storylines that didn’t get wrapped up as easily and I thought about it afterwards. But regardless, fantastic story.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
What I’m reading Next:
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Summary: February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s losing.
Cast and Characters. We meet a lot of people in this movie, but I won’t go into detail about all of them.
Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston. She’s the main character of the film, she wakes up on Cupid’s Day (Feb. 12) and goes about her day with her three best friends. I guess they’re popular, but they’re kind of mean to people, particularly Anna and Juliet. Sam is expecting to lose her virginity to her boyfriend that night, they go to a party and then they get into a car accident. She wakes up the next day, not understanding what’s happening and she tries to do things differently, she tries to avoid the crash because she thinks it’ll stop. But she gets some sad news and it starts over anyway. Samantha didn’t seem to fit in with her friend group, but as the movie went along, we got to see just how different they were but they fit together (they should stop being mean though) and Sam didn’t seem to fit either. I don’t know if that’s because of Zoey or not, but she’s affected very much by what’s happening and she tries to deal with it the best way she can. It was great to see her growth throughout the film. I think Zoey Deutch is definitely the standout in this film, we spend the most time with her obviously, but I think she holds the film very well. She’s likable and even when Sam is being mean, she’s still likable because it just doesn’t fit her. I think the times when she’s emotional, you really feel it from her.
Erica Tremblay as Izzy Kingston. She’s not in the movie like that, but she’s great with Zoey whenever they have scenes together and she looks just like her brother Jacob Tremblay.
Halston Sage as Lindsay Edgecombe. She is one of Sam’s best friends, probably the “leader” and she’s the meanest of the group. With her friends, she’s not bad, she’s not like Regina George where she’s mean and fake the entire time but she’s mean to the people she’s mean to. Lindsay is that girl who will turn on you when you tell her about herself, or who will claim you did something to cover for what she did. Halston Sage is fine in her role, she manages to be both mean and sympathetic.
Elena Kampouris as Juliet Sykes. One of the main victims of the bullying and she’s a bit odd, and her role is minor though important and I think Elena does a good job at playing this role of a withdrawn character.
Logan Miller as Kent McFuller. An old friend to Sam, he throws the party that they go to and as the movie goes on, we learn more and more about him and his past with Sam. He’s very likable.
The Story. So I’m a sucker for time loop stories, I think it’s interesting to see how people handle having to repeat the same day over and over again, getting to make different choices and try to find out why it’s happening and how to beat it. It’s very interesting to me and I like how this one just happened. There wasn’t really any set up to it, it was a mystery that had to be figured out as well. Each day happened and Samantha learned a bit more every day and it was great to watch her experience different things. Of course it was bad that things were emotional for her but it was great to see how she reacted to each new day.
The Music. Adam Taylor is in charge of the music and I liked it. It was a mixture of being whimsical during some of the quiet moments, especially when Sam was allowing herself to enjoy life and the moment. Most notably the moments with her sister, or the moments at the end. I also liked that the contemporary songs weren’t just in the film, but they were what the characters were listening to which helped it sound less jarring when a random pop song or rap song popped in. There is a song though that sounded like a less impressive version of “Irreplaceable”.
The Ending. So, I don’t know if it was because I was emotional watching the last 30 minutes of the movie, but I teared up. It’s common knowledge now, if you’ve been following this blog, that I’m a crier at movies in general lol, but still! I think the ending had a lot to say in terms of understanding purpose, how to treat people, living your life to best of your ability etc. It was pretty interesting how it turned out.
Cliche/Cheesy. This is a type of story that’s been done many times. It’s Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, and any movie that has to deal with living the same day over and over again. This doesn’t really bring anything new to that genre as it still follows that same formula. Plus, it’s based on a young adult book so it has to be attached to those tropes that are found in those books. The bullying troubles, mean girls, the weird girl, stuff like that and while this movie tries to add a bit more to it, it just can’t feel original.
The Story/Message. So this is here in the cons as well, because while I like the story (I generally enjoy time loop stories), I think that it’s a bit unfortunate with how it ended. Why did it have to end that way? Why did Samantha have to be the one to make the hard choices? Perhaps the book goes into more detail about it but the movie doesn’t really help out with that and it makes the ending feel unsatisfying. It wants to be deep and stuff but since there are so many unanswered questions, it just feels cheap.
Overall, I enjoyed Before I Fall very much so. It’s a movie based on a YA book and though it’s easy to tell that, I don’t think it super dramatic like those can be sometimes. I thought the acting was good across the board but Zoey Deutch really stands out in this film, she truly manages to hold her own and her character is compelling. I think the story is interesting, I really like Time Loop stories and the ending had a lot to say in terms of character, people and life. The music is also very nice. Unfortunately this movie is a bit cliché and cheesy, while it is based on a YA book and one of the better adaptations, it still falls into that category that feels like a YA book. While I did like the story, I do think it tries too hard to hammer home certain messages that’s cheapened by the ending. There are a lot of unanswered questions that make the ending feel unsatisfying. But it’s a good movie.
Rating: 3.35 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Before I Fall? Have you read the book? What did you think about it? Is the movie a good adaptation?
What is your favorite or the best Time Loop movie? Let me know in the comments below!
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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
The Characters. The way this book is written, we get to meet and learn about a lot of characters, including the supporting ones. But I’m not going to really get into all of that here, just a few, mostly the two lead characters.
Natasha Kingsley. She is Jamaican-American, and her family is being deported for being illegal immigrants. She is trying to figure out how to stop that from happening. She ends up meeting Daniel by chance. Natasha comes off as cynical, she really loves science and believes everything should be able to be explained by science. She is a bit brash, likes honesty and says what she wants when she thinks it. She has a determined personality and doesn’t believe in fate.
I quite liked Natasha. I thought she was a very realistic teenager in how she thinks, how she reacts to things considering how she’s grown up. I loved the fact that she was black with a large afro and that she carried herself confidently and that she was extremely smart and interested in science. There were times when I wish she wasn’t so… cynical about life and hope etc but I thought that was kind of realistic for what was happening and how her life had been.
Daniel Jae Ho Bae. He was my favorite. Korean-American, he and his older brother were born in America but his parents are immigrants from South Korea and his father especially is steeped in doing what’s best, not doing what they want. He wants to be a poet but his parents want him to go to Yale, become a doctor, marry a Korean girl and all of that. While he wants to do his own thing, he doesn’t know what that is. He happens to meet Natasha by seeing her dancing across the street in New York City and a series of events allows him to actually meet her.
I like Daniel a lot, like I said he was my favorite. I like guys who are romantic without being “too much”. I like the fact that it was him who fell first and that he was intelligent enough to talk to her, to let her know he wanted to know what she knew. He was quite the charmer and he seemed like if he was real, he would be really interesting to talk to, I’d think I’d like him. Plus, the Noraebang (karaoke) scene was the best.
The relationships. A big part of this novel is how Daniel and Natasha interact with other people, as well as each other. Due to the way the novel is written, we are able to see a bit more into some of these character’s backstories, which helps humanize them in a way they might not be through what is thought and said by Daniel and Natasha. It’s great.
Daniel and Charlie. Charlie is Daniel’s older brother and he’s a major douche nozzle. We learn from Daniel the moment when they started to drift apart and they basically have an antagonistic relationship moving forward. Charlie seems to hate Daniel but I don’t think Daniel necessarily hates Charlie, it’s just that he doesn’t get why his brother seems to dislike him so much and Daniel had to learn how to stand up to him.
Daniel and his parents. Definitely an interesting dynamic. His mother is like a mother, a bit nagging but loving. The tone of Daniel’s day really starts because his mother tells him something about his brother than Charlie overhears, but we really don’t spend that much time with her. When we meet his father, it’s at their shop and his father discovers that Daniel is with a black girl and he basically tells him “no” and that he needs to stick to the plan. It’s quite interesting.
Natasha and her father. We do meet her mom and brother but it’s really the relationship with her father that is most prominent and interesting. She is upset with him, it’s his fault they’re being deported, she hates him because of something she overheard him say to his wife and she hasn’t said a word to him about it. But we learn a lot about him through her eyes, as well as from his backstory tidbits we learn throughout the novel
Natasha and Daniel. Obviously, being the main center of the story… they just work.
The Style of Writing. The way the novel is written is very different. The story is told in present tense in Daniel and Natasha’s point of view, it switches back and forth between the two. Sometimes it’s a few pages of a chapter and other times, it’s just a page or two. It also includes backstories of other characters they have come into contact with as well as minor histories of things such as: the Black Hair Care business, fate etc. I quite liked it. It makes for easy read and it helps to understand side characters because even if they are minor, they all have reasons to be involved with the story.
The Story/Romance. It’s a romance, but it’s a tentative one. The characters have to progress into it. Natasha is so cynical that she doesn’t believe in love the way that Daniel does, who is a romantic. They really do spend the day getting to know each other, learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and it was natural, the way young adults would. I thought Nicola Yoon handled their personal problems well, their inner voices, their struggles and all of that built into what they grow into.
Starts off slow. It did take me a moment to get into this book. I normally don’t like reading books told from different points of views. Sometimes it’s not done well and it’s annoying. That didn’t bother me here, it was just that it took a moment to get started. Once the day actually begins with Daniel and Natasha being away from home… it starts to pick up.
Not for everyone. This is the kind of book I would think is not for everyone. I mean, no book is, but definitely noticeable here. I think if the characters and the writing didn’t sweep me up, I might have disliked it. If you’re not into romance, don’t read it. If you don’t like it when characters doubt where things could go… then don’t read it. Personally, I do think this book could change your perspective on that but just saying.
Overall, I loved this book. I don’t think I’ve loved a book like this in a long time. One that featured non-white leads, written by a black woman and that didn’t have some fantasy element to it. I like adventure/fantasy type books and I loved this book and it had none of that. I loved the characters, I loved the way they interacted with each other. Normally, I’m wary of young adult books because the dialogue could sound older than what it is but I didn’t think that here, and the times where I might have, it wasn’t jarring. I loved their romantic progression, it wasn’t forced. The ending tore me up inside and was filled with hope. I cried. If a book can make me cry and no one died… well done.
Rating: 4.7o out of 5 stars.
Also by Nicola Yoon: Everything, Everything.
I just read another article about the unfortunate news that the second part of the last book in the Divergent series is now being shuttled off to television. Hehehe it’s kind of funny. But at the same time, disappointing. It’s sad to see something that could have had potential be squandered away and ruined. I liked the first book and the first movie, with a few things that could have been handled better in the film, they both were pretty solid. I think it was easy to tell though that Veronica Roth is new author with how the series was handled, perhaps she got a bit lost in her own story. But onto what I really want to talk about.
So the Young Adult genre has a lot of rich stories in there. A lot of them overlap in terms of how they’re handled etc but there are very interesting and unique ones. While that’s true, not all of them need to be a movie. I don’t have every YA adaptation at my disposal but I think it’s important to note that there are a lot, mainly series that were turned into films, that probably could have done better as a tv show, or maybe even a TV Movie as the big theatrical release wasn’t good or necessary. It’s also important to note what is considered “YA”. I also haven’t seen every film adaptation IE: The Book Thief, The Maze Runner nor have I read every book counterpart, so some of these on the list will feature movies I have seen and I will talk about why the film should have been a show, not how it compares to the book but I probably will mention book elements.
Failed as a movie: So, it’s been years since I read the first two books and watched the film, but I remember enjoying the books and I was so excited for the movie aaand I was so disappointed. Everything was wrong, minus how the dragon looked and some of the actors but everything, the characterizations, their appearances, ages, how stuff looks… UGH! So annoying.
Reasons to be a Show: You would think the nature of these books would make for a great franchise with films like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings as it’s predecessors but perhaps that was it’s undoing. These books could have been given a Game of Thrones type treatment (I haven’t watched the show but I get the idea).
The Characters– There are so many characters in the first book alone, this short movie did not do enough justice for the viewers to get to know them. Especially since they weren’t handled well at all. I understand the need for cutting out certain characters, but when characters that are in the first book are not introduced in the first film it kind of puts a damper on them in the second film as their roles are larger in the second book.
Murtagh– my favorite character, has a large role when he’s introduced and while I enjoyed Garrett Hedlund’s portrayal of him, he was butchered. We should have been able to really like and connect with him. He’s like the opposite of Eragon in ways and he’s just cooler.
Brom– Jeremy Irons was a perfect choice and one of the better portions of the film but Irons could have really chewed up that role had it been in a better movie, or if it was a mini series or something on HBO or BBC.
The Action/Magic– I didn’t finish the series but there was a lot of action, wars, battles, and magic involved. I mean dragons and what not, but for some reason, the movie muted a lot of that down. Eragon had to learn how to wield a sword and it was packed in there, along with everything else that needed to be accomplished that it felt so stale. We should have been there with him learning it, a tv show would have allowed the viewers to feel his pain in learning, to watch him each episode grow in strength and knowledge. It would have been awesome. Plus, if given the GOT treatment, the battles could have been grand. There’s still time I guess.
The History- A lot of history for these characters, motivations, how things are built, etc a show would have allowed so much for that. It didn’t always need to be linear but flashbacks work better in shows. Gives for more time.
The Future- There are four books, which means there was still a lot of story to tell. I only got to book two as it was the only out at the time, so I will reread but there’s so much that needed to be set up. The first itself, could have filled two seasons. If done correctly, this series could have at least two season per book, so about 8 seasons. Unfortunate.
Possible Networks: HBO, Starz, BBC America
The Seventh Son (2015)
Failed as a movie: I’ve never read the books but there are 50 million books in this series. But the movie was boring. If you read my “Sequel Baiting” piece, I talk about this one in there. The characters could have been interesting but there was apparently too many of them to really be given enough story. While the cast had some great actors, the lead definitely needed to be recast. Nothing against Ben Barnes but meh. The action was boring, the special effects were subpar and I didn’t really care about the story.
Reasons to be a show: Another fantasy type show that could have benefitted from a GOT treatment. Could have been useful on HBO, Showtime whatever but it needed flesh. The movie was a boring skeleton. The characters needed more time, we were supposed to root for the lead but he was boring, perhaps it really was the lead actor, but still. Jeff Bridges was cool in his role and perhaps could have done better with a better script but that character definitely could have been better on tv. Julianne Moore had a great character, probably the most interesting but again needed a tv show treatment and then whatever was going on with Alicia Vikander’s character… plus they added in romance. It really needed a show.
Possible Networks: HBO, Starz, FX, The CW
The Divergent Series (2014-2016)
Failed as a movie: Well, like I said before, the first one was pretty solid but could have benefitted from a show. The second movie is really forgettable and adds a lot of stuff that wasn’t in the book. The third movie, continues down that deviating path which didn’t do it any favors. Unfortunately the characters weren’t very interesting, nor were they very distinguishable outside of Tris and Four, and Christina being that she was Zoe Kravitz. A lot of plot points were rushed, characters that are important in the series were cut out from the films, which prevents a chance for emotional weight later. Plus, it wasn’t handled well enough that they’re already going to do a tv movie for the last part, which didn’t need to have two parts anyway.
Reasons to be a show: Now, as this is a trilogy, each book could have had two seasons. The entire series could have been called “Divergent” and in season 1A could have dealt with Tris being in her own faction, for us to understand why she felt she was out of place, seeing her in her tests, interactions with her family, then depending on how they play it, seeing her choose her faction and going through learning how to be Dauntless, it could have a midseason finale with Al’s death or something.
Characters– So many characters that are pretty important in their roles. From Tris, to Tobias (which I was always kind of miffed they never stopped calling him ‘Four’ in the films, that was a big piece of character development for him) but everyone else? Meh. Just to point out a few.
Christina– She is Tris’ best friend and while we see them interact, it’s never really enough for us to really get invested in their friendship. Especially to even understand why Christina was so upset with Tris for lying to her about killing Will.
Peter– Outside of Miles Teller playing a douche very well, nothing else about Peter is really interesting which he is a pretty interesting and ruthless character. He stabs a guy in the eye with a plastic or butter knife because he was leading in the Dauntless trials. I mean come on. I get why that would have been risqué but that’s a big part and tv shows these days show a lot so put that in there!
By extension, they tried to add the eye stabbed kid in the sequel but he was just a henchman, when he reappears in season 2b, it would have held more weight because it’d be like “revenge!” due to what Peter did to him.
Will– blonde smartypants (in the movie, Peter, Will and Al all looked alike for some reason) and he’s really smart. Outside of a few moments here and there, we wouldn’t really know that in the film. With an entire season leading up to his death, we would have seen that, his friendship with Christina grow into a would be romance, and his friendship with Tris as to why it was so hard and emotional when she killed him.
The Story– definitely needed time to develop, it was rushed. Considering how there are a lot of plot holes in the films and a lot of stuff that needed to be explained, it would have benefitted from a show. The whole Divergent storyline, the side plots with Tobias and his family, Jeanine’s whole thing, the whole Evelyn storyline… yeah all of that was necessary.
The Drama– Needed time to be fleshed out more, Tobias’ attraction to Tris (let’s also not make her too short because I really hated her description in the books about being “childlike” it to creepy), the relationships, the friendships… the hatred of other characters, the emotional weight… yes. Tv show. It could be on ABC, Freeform would probably be best for this type of show though.
Possible Networks: Freeform, ABC, The CW
Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Now, I don’t think this failed as a movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it so maybe if I watch it again now it’ll be different, but I think this should have been a show because being that it’s also a book series, it probably wanted to have a franchise which it didn’t succeed in doing.
Reasons to be a Show: Without going all into details on this one as it’s been a while but all of the characters could have used a bit of flesh. The three children were interesting on their own and together they were funny, I would say they played off each other well but considering how Freddie Highmore played twins lol, but get some young teenaged kids (maybe try to find twins), really spend some time building up the bad guy, only get a glimpse of him at the end of the first season. Also could have been helpful for us to really learn Arthur Spiderwick’s fascination with these other creatures etc… it’s hard to choose a network for this particular show as it’s more for older kids, but the scary elements could be make it work on Freeform or maybe The CW.
Possible Networks: ABC, AMC, Freeform, The CW.
Percy Jackson (2010-2013)
Why It Fails as a Movie: I haven’t read these either but as films, they were both boring and bland. I enjoyed them but they were just… mindless fun which I doubt the author had that in mind when he wrote the series. I’m not sure how old Percy is in the first book, but Logan Lerman seemed to be too old to play the role, especially as there are like five books. Alexandra Daddario definitely was too old for her character. I enjoyed Brandon T. Jackson though lol. Anyway, his reveal of being a demi god was too fast, the whole Camp thing was too fast… the movie was too fast.
Reasons to be a show: The idea behind the films are good and interesting. It also would have given viewers enough to really get into these characters and the lore. Greek lore is interesting but the movie never really allows the viewer to sink into it, for us to really connect these characters in their lives, their anger at their parents, the disconnection.
Characters– The characters were all interesting enough, but get younger actors so there is time for physical growth (or young enough looking actors that if the story jump 5 years in time, they don’t look 10 years older).
Percy Jackson– Allow us to know who Percy is before he finds out he’s a demi god, because that’s what makes characters like him interesting, they may be special but they hold on to their humanity and values.
Annabeth Chase– She’s the daughter of Athena, which is pretty cool and she seems to be one of the best in the camp. Then she decides to go with Percy and Grover on a “quest” and meh, definitely would have liked to gotten to know her more. Especially to see why Percy likes her other than her being pretty.
Grover Underwood– I liked him the most, he’s funny, but he’s our exposition for a lot of the film. Didn’t need to be but a lot of plots he has in the movie (both of them) would have been better fleshed out.
Possible Network: The CW, Freeform, AMC, FX
I Am Number Four (2011)
Why It Fails as a Movie: I enjoy this movie too, but again boring. The most interesting character is number 6 and she’s not in the movie very long. I remember thinking she was awesome in the trailer. It has some fun moments, but again same problem, too much is going on, too much is being set up in such a short amount of time, it’s really hard to care for anything or anyone. When Timothy Olyphant’s character dies, it’s sad but you probably don’t really care unless you’ve read the book. The action seemed really subdued and the romance was ugh oh so forced. I didn’t find Diana Agron to be a very good actress and she did not make her character interesting at all. The lead was also boring and bland. I like Alex Pettyfer for the most part but he did not bring any charisma to this character. The plot was convoluted and anytime they tried to explain it, it sounded dumb.
Reasons to be a Show: Not going to go into detail here either, but the characters and their developments would have gained a lot, we could actually believe John and Sarah’s romance outside of it being weird. We could understand the relationship between John and Henri better and why John was so rebellious towards him. Learn more about why these people were being hunted down. See more glimpses of number 6 so that when she shows up, it’s even more awesome. The fight scenes would also have a chance to really be good and not feel ridiculously stupid and rushed.
Possible Network: The CW, Freeform
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Why it fails as a movie: I watched this movie once and again it was another movie I enjoyed but I don’t think I got it. I also don’t remember much minus a few cool moments and Emmy Rossum being awesome. It was also really long and gave me a headache lol. However, TV show. I appreciate the slow build up to the romance, but a lot of dragged out that I was thinking “jeez, get it together!”, there’s a lot of backstory, a lot of history between characters and while some of the characters did get some flesh it was really slow. There was a LOT of build up but the payoff was weak. Plus, it’s very very forgettable. I have no idea who any of these characters are. I literally only remember one scene and it’s with Emmy Rossum.
Reasons to be a show: With a slow buildup, the show would have allowed for a better payoff because we’ve would have had to wait a week to get a new update. Got to experience the history in a longer run/arc etc. It’s pretty much the same as everything else… would have allowed for more time to understand everything and since there are like three books in this series and then like a spin off or something series, this show could be a long one.
Possible Networks: The CW (seems like the best network).
Why it failed as a movie: SO BORING! You would think this type of thing would be awesome which in some parts it was but overall it was a messy boring pile of a movie. It had potential, it had heart and it some good stuff in it but meh. I wanted to know more about where this particular power came from, bringing stories to life, that’s cool, but there’s a price, also interesting. The villain is interesting and Dustfinger (a fire twirler) was the most interesting in the story and he also has a backstory that we only get in flashbacks. So annoying.
Reasons to be a show: Now because I’ve only seen this movie once and haven’t read the books, which I do want to, I think this series would be best as a series. The books are pretty thick, I’m sure there is plenty of flesh in there to make a long running fantasy adventure series. Mo and Meggie were both kind of boring in the films, so I’m sure with episodes instead of an hour and a half movie, would allow for character development. Including their pain with the mom disappearing. We would also get a chance to learn over time more about Dustfinger as he’s so cool! I feel like there was so much about him that was ignored or cut out due to film time restraints. We’d also probably get to see more of what happened to Meggie’s mom from her end, an actual episode that would focus on it. The first book could probably fill two seasons.
Possible Networks: The CW, Freeform, ABC, HBO
The Host (2013)
Why It Failed as a Movie: SOOOOO boring! I remember enjoying the book enough, a lot more than Twilight but this movie was a missed opportunity. I like Soairse Ronan but I think she was too young for this role, all of main actors were personally. I pictured all of these characters older than what they were portrayed as in the film. This movie was so long and nothing was happening.
Reasons to be a show: Because the movie was so long with nothing going on, this would have been perfect for a series with perhaps a chance at two or three seasons. Or maybe a miniseries. As there is only one book, they would really have to be smart at how they played the episodes out in order to get enough out of one book. But season 1A could focus on Melanie, Jared and Jamie and how the earth was overtaken by the aliens, their family, how Melanie and Jared met instead of being flashbacks, show us how strong their romantic relationship was, how strong her relationship was with her brother and the fear of being caught by the aliens. Season 1B could have started with Melanie waking up realizing she is now inhabited by an alien named “Wanda”. Or the lead up to all of that could have been one season and bring the actual alien in habitation in the second season. It’s easy to see how this could all work out. It would have worked out better. Season 2 would be about Wanda being with the humans and falling in love with Ian. It would have been amazing! Definitely not as boring.
Possible Network: The CW, FX, AMC, Freeform
Mortal Instruments (2013)
Why it failed as a movie: Oh gosh, so boring, so boring. SO BORING! Lily Collins is also not a leading lady and Clary in the film was annoying. Jace was probably the most interesting out of everyone but he seemed to be like a broody prick, Alec and Isabelle could have been removed, everything dealing with Simon later on was just silly, Luke was interesting (plus I love Aidan Turner) but meh, and obviously there was a set up for a sequel considering what happened with Clary’s mom but ya know how that ended up.
Reasons to be a show: It’s already a show on Freeform lol. Which is good, I saw maybe five or six episodes and I enjoyed it for the most part. So that’s all.
Alex Rider Series (2006)
Why it failed as a movie: ARGH! It could have been amazing because I loved the series, I got up to Ark Angel before I fell off due to school and losing contact with getting my hands on the next ones. Anyway, I think I was so obsessed with this movie that I watched the trailer 50 million times. I thought Alex Pettyfer was perfect for Alex Rider’s casting, and everyone else was fine since I had no idea who any of those people were in that movie (haha) and I own the movie. Anyway, the movie moves way to fast, Stormbreaker the book isn’t a thick book, none of them really are, but his training sequence goes so fast it’s almost like it happens in one day. That part of his life could have at least been three or four episodes. In the film, his uncle dies so fast, I think we should have at least seen Alex be with his uncle in order to get why he was so affected by his death because in the movie, it happens in the first 15 minutes of the movie that it’s like “umm okay.” Jack was also interesting in the book and we get a nice bit of her in the movie but not only should she have been a redhead (I mean come Alicia Silverstone could have dyed her hair red) but we should have been able to see the three of them, as Alex considered them family. Not to mention his entire crush on Sabine… which I can’t remember if she was all that important in the first book as they made her in the movie. Also the villain, wow, Mickey Rourke is a great actor but SOOO wrong for the part. The whole mission was opened and closed so fast. Meh.
Reasons to be a show: First of all, so many books, so much time to really dig into these characters and these missions.
Characters– Alex, Jack, Mrs. Jones, all of these people would have been allowed their chances to be interesting. While I thought at the time Alex Pettyfer was perfect for the role, physically he was, but he was a bit too… broody. It’s hard to connect to a lead character who is robotic.
The Missions/Story– Since this is a series, this allows for many seasons, especially if each episode is not the typical “mission of the day” but maybe a mission lasts half a season or something, with a few other things sprinkled in there. The Stormbreaker mission could have filled up the second half of the first season. But the movie was an 1hr and 33 minutes long which with Alex finding out his uncle is dead, being recruited by MI6, going through special agent training, learning about the case, going undercover and everything after it… to fit all of that in this short movie… meh.