The Murdstone Trilogy By Mal Peet – Review

murdstone

What does every writer want, more than anything? More than a book deal, along with a movie adaption deal?

Someone to write the book for them, that’s what. And don’t try to tell me you don’t, every writer has, at least once in their writing life, wished the book would either write itself, or for someone to do it for them.

That’s exactly what Philip Murdstone gets.

Murdstone starts this book as an established writer, but he hasn’t published anything in years, and his sales are going through the floor. He usually writes books for ‘sensitive boys,’ overcoming some sort of trial in their lives, and that kind of thing just isn’t selling anymore.

What is selling, though, is fantasy. Fantasy is selling by the bucket loads. Every literary agent, publishing house, and writer, is looking to create the next Harry Potter.

There’s one problem. Murdstone hates fantasy, abhors it, wants it banished from the world. He’d rather die than write a fantasy.

“I hate Tolkien. I mean. Bloody pretentious escapist nonsense, isn’t it?”

His agent doesn’t like the genre very much either, but it sells, so who cares?

But when he is faced with no other choice, he gives in, and that’s where this story starts.

Murdstone ends up meeting Pocket, a swearing, uncouth, yet strangely likeable, Greme from another land, who agrees to tell him about Morl, a dark necromancer trying expand his Thule. The book becomes an instant classic, Murdstone soars to J.K Rowelling levels of fame.

It all comes at a price, though. And that price is Morl trying to use a sacred Amulet to get into this world, an Amulet that Murdstone possesses, and uses, to translate Pocket’s stories into our language.

Every writer’s dream, and worst nightmare, wrapped into one.

But, for a reader, it’s brilliant.

For a reader, who also happens to be a writer, or knowledgeable in the publishing industry, it is dream, to read.

Full of sass, snark, and just about every insult to Tolkien, Rowelling, and the fantasy genre as a whole, The Murdstone Trilogy is an unrelenting, yet hilarious, story, with twists and turns galore. Nothing is safe from Murdstone and his ire.

“Writers no longer work in solitude, crafting meaningful and elegant prose. No. They have to spend most of their time selling themselves on the fucking internet. Blogging and tweeting and updating their bloody Facebook pages and their wretched narcissistic websites.”

In between the Hamlet-esque ‘is he mad, or is this actually happening,’ diatribes against just about everything, and the fear for Murdstone’s life, there are moments where the audience can really sympathise with Murdstone’s plight.

Every writer has thought that they couldn’t finish the book, or face huge deadlines that loom overhead, or have been so unbelievably stuck, they didn’t think they could ever get out of it.

Every writer has wished that they were as successful as J K Rowelling.

Every writer has definitely wished for someone to take the story away and magically complete it for them.

And that’s the magic of this book. It’s wacky, and insane, but it speaks to the authors, the publishers, the editors. It creates a story focused around the world of publishing, while keeping the most fantastical elements flowing.

I loved every second of this book. It was truly a wonderful read, that had me laughing throughout, and half wishing I could have my own Murdstone-style adventure.

Witty, uncompromising, definitely not for the faint of heart, but, an absolute must read for anyone who loves books.

Valerian And The Intense Special Effects

For weeks now, every time I’ve gone to the cinema, I’ve seen adverts for Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets. I feel like it’s been everywhere for ages now, so I decided to go and see what it was all about.

Now that I’ve seen it, I’m still not entirely sure.

Valerian follows Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne), who are agents working for the space police in the future, and their adventure around Alpha. Alpha is a conglomeration of a thousand planets, who pool all their knowledge together for the greater good. But there’s a problem, according to the general, there’s an area in the centre of the station which is heavily irradiated, and it’s killed every agent who’s gone inside it.

At least, that’s the plot line I picked up on. There’s about four going through the film, to do with general, an alien species and their dead planet, and the fact that Valerian wants to marry Laureline, but she doesn’t want to, until he’s decided to grow up.

These plots weave in and out of each other, quite heavy-handedly at points, with fight and chase scenes interspersed throughout. I found it really quite difficult to pick out exactly what the plot was supposed to be,  it felt like there were so many things going on constantly, with no real cohesion, until the end.

For the most part, I didn’t feel much for anybody. The film threw it’s audience into the action, without giving anybody the chance to find out anything about any of the characters. Not that there was much to say about the characters themselves, really. I found both Valerian and Laureline to be stereotypes, with barely any padding on them, and any chance for them to become more was completely ignored.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that every chance for the story line to break away from stereotype was ignored. There was so much this story could have explored, the writers had an incredible play ground to play in, with so much they could have explored, and instead we got the same old tired space story.

The best part of this film was definitely the special effects. The special effects team deserve medals to say the least. Every alien, space scene, and chase looked real. I was utterly convinced of the special effects, which did so much more to transport me into this sci-fi world, than the story line.

If the writers had spent as much time working on the script, as the special effects team clearly did on their part, this film could have been amazing. Instead, it felt rushed, and left me wanting so much more than what I got. Maybe if I had read the comic book by Peirre Christin first, I would have gotten more from it, but personally, if you’re going to adapt a book into a film, it should be made for die hard fans, and complete newbies too. Without it, you lose half your audience’s interest.