Gone Girl and Two Movie Review Updates

Before I start my review of Gone Girl I would like to take a moment to review the movies I saw over the weekend. I gave my predictions of both Mama and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters last Friday, and they both deserve an update.

I really enjoyed Mama. My prediction was fairly correct in that it did not haunt my dreams afterward, however it provided nice jolts throughout and the acting was great on most accounts. There was one thing (I won’t give anything away) that I did not like regarding a vision, but one fault in a horror is about as good as it gets. The ending (again no spoilers, I hate spoilers) was unexpected, but very much Guillermo del Toro style. I had my own idea of what was going to happen (something that tied into some information you get earlier on) and when it didn’t end that way I felt like it was a not the perfect ending. On the flip side I can’t say I was exactly disappointed either, it may not have been perfect, but it was the next best conclusion. Also, I have to say visually, it was disturbing, earthy and beautiful, again very del Toro. I change my rating to a 9/10.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was better than I expected. It definitely had The Brothers Grimm feel, but the story was really good and the one liners were funny. I walked in thinking the movie was PG-13, so half-way through you see girl butt and a boob and all I thought was “Can they do that in PG-13 now? Well alright.” Then came a series of head squishing and blood spurting, and I thought “No, no this has to be R.” It was funny how it took a lot to convince me it was R because the commercials, the witches character design, even the cast seemed to be lending to a PG-13 movie. Well, anyways (I just thought that was funny) the way they did the movie was a success. I think if any element was done differently the movie would have been how I predicted, not bad but nothing to get too excited for. I change my rating to an 8/10.

Ok now onto Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

It’s hard to give a summary of this book without giving too much away. So we’ll go with this:

On his 5th wedding anniversary, Nick has breakfast with his wife, Amy and then leaves for work. He later finds the front door to his house wide open, the cat outside, and the living room a mess. His wife is gone. Who took her? Is she still alive? Was Nick actually involved? The cops seem to think he may be, especially as the investigation continues.

Like the synopsis? I know it doesn’t really give you anything to go off of besides “it’s an investigative thriller” so hopefully my spoiler-free review will.

I cared very little about the plot of this story. I did not care what happened in the story, it could have ended in any way and I wouldn’t have cared more one way than the other. That’s not to say the book was bad, in-fact I loved this book and the ending as well. I enjoyed what happened, how it progressed and all the twists, but I was too much enveloped by the characters to care what happened to them. I know that sounds weird, you’d think if I was so enveloped with the characters I would only care more about what their fate had in store, I know and I can’t really explain.

But I can try.

In many books, a bad plot is often waived by amazing characters, or terrible characters are only bearable because of the gripping plot. Don’t get me wrong, the plot for Gone Girl is great, no doubt, but when a good plot is so overshadowed by characters, characters that are literally fun to be around, you no longer care where they go, just as long as they keep going.

It wasn’t just Nick that was enthralling, every character, Amy, his sister, Go, the cops, the neighbors, the parents, every person was so concrete that you pictured this Mississippi Riverside town vividly.

But what made these characters so enriched? Well, to start the writing was solid. Each character was his own. All were convincing but the best thing about the characters was not one of them was perfect, and all of them were in some way very messed up.

I love messed up characters, especially ones as conniving, low, and downright crazy as the ones in Gone Girl. It makes you love them, it makes you hate them, it makes you not care what happens to them and love everything that does, all the good and all the bad they run into through the story… And there was a lot of bad!

So, if you want great characters that will stick with you, a twisting, deranged mystery that deepens as the story continues, pick up Gone Girl.

Also, one little thing I found interesting: in the acknowledgements Gillian Flynn talks about her son whom she simply calls Flynn. I think that for an author, who for whatever reason they may have, wants to not display their child’s name, simply calling them by the surname is kind of genius- and if I have a child I may do that someday.

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Soon after Clary, fifteen, is the only witnesses to a “murder” in a nightclub she begins seeing more and more of a world that no one else can see, no one else except Shadowhunters, demons and other supernatural beings; warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and the forsaken. Her struggle to find out how she belongs to such a world, a world where bloodline, family and the Clave are of the greatest importance, begins with her mother, Jocelyn. Jocelyn never told Clary what/who she really was, but before anything can be sorted out Clary’s mother is kidnapped by a feared Shadowhunter that many believed died years before. Now, Clary must find her mother, while piecing together her own history and the world of Shadowhunters.

I rated this book on goodreads with 2 stars and amended it in the comments that it would really be 2.5 stars out of 5. It seemed that I either hated or loved certain parts of the story.

I will begin with the characters. I could not attach myself to Clary and since she is the main character that’s kind of important. I thought she was passive when she needed to be aggressive and assertive when she needed to relax just a moment. However, since there are so many books in the series there is a lot of room for a character arch, I hope that’s the point. Also, it kind of got on my nerves that her name was Clary when the authors name is Cassandra Clare. Also Clary Fray as a name itself was awkward. Every time her full name was used I wanted to invert it and say Fary Clay, i don’t know why, but i think that’s a issue. As an author you need to be conscious of the different little things that may make a name awkward. (I realize I could be 1 out of 100 readers who feel its awkward and that’s a good average, or the author could have intended the awkward name as a symbol or a signifier of the characters personality).

Most of the other characters I like, especially Lucian, except by the end of the book, I felt like I could trust none of them. By the end you hear about 4 peoples version of the same events and nothing is really adding up. You can take this two ways. Either you like it because it causes you to feel like the main character, you’re confused just as much as she is and it’s all intended, or, you feel it’s too much and start to loose author-reader trust as a whole. The strongest parts of the story is when a character tells their story of the past. It really makes them stronger characters and builds up the world Clary has just entered. I feel cheated because as the strongest part of the story I also feel like they are lies.

As for the story, I won’t give away anything, but there were some choices that made me mad, made me feel like it was almost a cop-out. However, because by the time these events were happening my faith in almost every character was out the window, I really don’t think I can trust what happened. I’m pretty sure one thing in particular is completely false.

Now, I don’t know whether it’s intended confusion, intended falsifications from so many in the story, or if its just a terrible story.

I have hopes it all plays out the way I think it will, but I certainly will not reach for the second book with the same anticipation as I did for the first, though I still will be reaching.

Also, side note, I was discussing this book with a friend who has read the entire series. She compared the series to how Harry Potter started off and ended up. This comparison gave me even more hope for The Mortal Instruments because, and you all will surely find me crazy, but, I hated the first Harry Potter… but the as the series continued the story and characters grew and became much more interesting.

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A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is the story of Diana Bishop. Diana Bishop, a witch who has all but forsaken her use of magic, accidentally calls out a manuscript -a manuscript widely searched for, that many believed lost. The calling of the manuscript gathers the attention of many supernatural beings; vampires, witches and demons. One vampire, Matthew Clairmont, though his goal is to access and understand the manuscript, is compelled to protect Diana, compelled to fall in love with her -a forbidden romance. Now the manuscript and their relationship are gaining the attention of the Congregation, an entity designed to govern the supernatural beings.

I thought this book, the plot was decent. However, I think Harkness really did an excellent job with creating strong characters. A Discovery of Witches has a lot of different characters, between witches, vampires, and demons. I think with so many different kinds of characters in a book, readers could become disoriented with who was who or what, but Harkness did an excellent job at making each character very specific. I mostly enjoyed that demons could not sit still.

Another thing I think Harkness does exceptionally well is develop very interesting ways of Diana’s magic pouring our of her. The scene where Diana first experiences witch water is fantastic.

I think I cared very little about the actual plot of the manuscript, but the characters and description of Diana’s magic made me keep turning those pages.

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Bringing Up Books: Asking For Trouble

Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young is the book version of The Wedding Date movie From 2005.

Sophy has lied to her mother about a boyfriend she really does not have, so when it’s time to attend her sisters wedding, Sophy resorts to hiring from an escort agency. What she doesn’t plan for is Josh Carmichael. As the wedding preparations and ceremonies proceed, Sophy becomes increasingly confused about how she really feels about the man she hired, stressed by her mother, too perfect sister, and the rest of the family. She becomes just more wrapped up in her ever growing web of lies.

I don’t normally pick up a rom-com, chick lit book, but when I saw this movie (well, I love Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney) and realized it was inspired by this breakout novel, I decided to give it a try.

Like the movie, I thought it was very funny, sometimes sad, but heartwarming as well. A very fast, entertaining read that has me wanting to broaden my chick lit allowance and possibly make Young an author to collect.

I will let you all know, there are some huge differences from the movie (as there usually are) and, to me, both versions are equal (unlike most book to movie adaptations).

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