Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire As you all know the Harry Potter books are too British for me, but up till now I’ve enjoyed the movies. Quite possibly the book makes more sense than the movie, but really, I’m not going to waste my time. So there’s some random competition that HAS to occur. And it’s left up to some magic cup who will participate. This is sacred, and will likely kill you, and all the kids want to do it. So, rather than protecting their best witches, the various schools send up their best to die in a meaningless competition, rather than keep them safe so they’ll be around to fight important battles, like evil. My gosh, what a crock! Sure I love dragons as much as the next girl, but I can’t get behind the premise. Also, the rift between Harry and Ron was just as stupid as any rift between boys, based on assumptions not truths. If there’s one thing about YA lit I can’t stand is the nonsense that happens in their heads that keeps them from confiding in their best friends. And when the hell did they stop not saying Voldemort??
Pirates! is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, even though it has an exclaimation in the title. In fact, I almost liked it. The first 2/3 has a very princess bride feel to it, and for the first 100 pgs I felt like Fred Savage trying to get through the mushy stuff. But there’s action, suspense, love, friendship, treasure, cross-play, all very much the way you want pirates to be. Of course the main girl was educated like a boy in her youth, and then the dad got remarried and she was taught to be a lady. So she’s got the best of everything. And of course she treats all people as people and judges them based on their character, and not their upbringing, race, status etc, etc and we all learn a valuable lesson. (gag). SPOILER: The ending pretty much disappointed me though, instead of marrying the Dread Pirate Roberts and sailing around the world she gives up adventure for love.
If you haven’t seen the Princess Bride, who the hell are you, surely you’re not my friend. If you haven’t read the book, please do, it’s good. And if you’ve read Princess Bride, then read Pirates!, it’s pretty good.
Rocket Boys/ October Sky (book) This is my favorite book from the class so far. It’s a true story, so any sappyness is allowed, because it really happened. A really inspiring local boy does good story. The movie is good, and the book is better. Space race, poor uneducated mining town, building rockets, science fairs, unions, father who’s smart but not traditionally educated, mother who wants nothing more than to move to Myrtle Beach and be done with coal once and for all. Science, explosions, love, what more do you need? Next time I won’t listen to this book in my car though. Note to self: no books on tape that are likely to make you cry when you’re on the freeway.
October Sky (movie) If the book is a true story, the movie is based on a true story. It takes the best of the book and hollywoodizes it quite a bit. Still, it’s pretty good, and I love cute retro people.
Whale Rider A critical hit full of universal themes and traditional charm. Oh wait, that’s just a nice way of saying dull, hackneyed, and way over with. How many times have we heard this story before: A (usually ethnic) girl grows up full of energy and intelligence, but it’s not the old way for a girl to be strong/a leader/ educated. And the old way is best, because. And the men won’t hear of it. And the women folk are slow to come around, but they change, because women are adaptable and men are stubborn. And the girl does something great, and the womenfolk cheer, and the men folk grunt, but you know in their hearts they’ll learn to accept it. And one again there’s hope.--- Heard it like a million times. I bet every ethnicity, and every profession etc, etc, has a story like that. And Whale Rider is the one for the Maoris. So the story is predictable, the people and scenery are ugly, and generally there are no redeeming qualities. This is a “good for you” movie that people like to pretend to love. I prefer good movies.
Fat Kid Rules the World Homeless, druggie, guitar playing, bi polar, stomach problemed drifter kid Curt (yes, pretty much Kurt Cobain—is he still a viable reference for kids today?) befriends Fat Kid with no self esteem and military father. And they start a band. Kids and their bands, it seems like a lot of kids in books have bands. So fat kid learns self esteem and Curt learns the value of stability, and it all works out in the end. Actually the book isn’t as bad as I’m making it sound. The story moves well, and isn’t un-good, just don’t think about it too hard.
Teen Angst? Naaah . . . A Quasi-autobiography Written by 19 year old Ned Vizzini, he chronicles high school in his first book. He’s adorable, and I love him. Who doesn’t love a nerd who writes well? He spends his time playing video games and Magic, yet manages to not be a total geek. Although it seems that he’s grown up now, and is available for motivational speaking, so maybe he’s not quite the boy I want him to be. I’ll have to read some of his newer stuff, and make a decision on his dateability. Daniel Deford, since you no longer work for the Daily Breeze, this Ned boy is about to replace you in my heart.
That’s definitely enough for now, I’ve probably forgotten some, but whatever. Here’s a non-class review to reward you for sticking around to the end.
Word Wars. A 80 min documentary on Scrabble players. Ok, could be much better. Word Freak by Steven Fatsis, is much more detailed and quite possibly worth a thousand pictures. Steven Fatsis is in this movie, and the makers thank him for their inspiration. And apparently he makes a poor muse. What I liked though, was being able to watch the people I read about. Somehow there wasn’t quite enough crazy.