The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman Review

REVIEW

An invisible library, filled with books taken from thousands of alternate worlds? Librarians, who go out to find books from these worlds? Some of these worlds infected with ‘chaos,’ and therefore have vampires, werewolves and other Fae creatures running around?

Sign me right up!

Except, that isn’t quite what I got.

Well, I¬†did¬†get that. I got the vampires, the Fae, the magical Library and it’s Librarians, trying to collect a certain version of Grimm’s Fairytales. But I didn’t really,¬†care¬†about it all.

Sure, the story line was incredibly inventive, and, quite frankly, like my ideal job, if I had the slightest bit of bravery in me. I just simply could not find myself to care about anything going on, and that was because of a few issues:

  1. The characters.
  2. Missing emotional context.
  3. Lack of common sense.

These three things all weave into each other, but essentially, our main character, Irene, is rather good at not seeing the obvious. Or even suspecting it. She’s too busy trying not to think about Kai, and trying to be a Good Librarian, that she doesn’t even consider several very obvious possibilities.

Without giving too much away, there’s an Evil Librarian, who is trying to kill Irene, her apprentice, Kai, and their associate, Vale. And when she gets betrayed by a fellow Librarian, she doesn’t stop to think that maybe, just¬†maybe,¬†the one betraying her is the one trying to kill her.

I don’t know about you, but if I was being hunted down by someone who’s gone rogue from my secret society, and then someone in my society betrayed me and left me to the mercy of¬†werewolves,¬†I’d think that maybe they were the same person. Or at least associated with each other.

But not Irene. She just continues to think that this is all because of her and her betrayer’s rivalry.

The same goes for when she finds out the other character’s secrets, she doesn’t pull them aside and get them to explain, or wonder why she’s been lied to. She just carries on, resolving to ask later on, and continuing to just¬†trust¬†her partner, who has¬†lied to her about who he is,¬†for the rest of the book.

Which was, frankly, infuriating. Which is the only emotion I felt through the entire book.

There are several scenes in this book that should have made me wince in pain, or at least feel something, but each one fell completely flat for me.

Irene is injured several times, and quite severely. Or she’s put in danger. Or she nearly dies. Each time, I could not have cared less. The scenes were described in such a way, that I felt nothing. Even during the fantastical scenes, such as a steam-powered centipede attacking the main characters, there was no shock or surprise.

At any point, I could have put the book down and never picked it back up again, and not cared one iota about the fate of the characters. Several times, I did put the book down on a cliff hanger and didn’t pick it back up for several days, and each time, I didn’t think once back to the characters fates.

The only reason why I finished the book was to avoid having another ‘DNF’ on my list because I hate doing that.

Essentially, I really, really did not care for this book at all. It had all the elements I love – steampunk, libraries, female protagonists who actually¬†do¬†something, along with¬†vampires,¬†and I just could not care about it. I wished I could have liked it, but I really couldn’t.

A great story idea, with brilliant plots, but poorly executed. But hey, at least the cover is pretty?

3/5 stars.

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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.

The Assassin’s Creed Does Not Live On

assassins-creed

As of Wednesday, I’ve now seen the Assassin’s Creed film, starring Michael Fassbender, twice. And I’m still not totally sure if I enjoyed it or not.¬†I mean, it’s quite a cool concept, which is why the games have done so well, but I feel like there were some problems throughout.

For those who haven’t seen the film, it follows the story of Cal Lynch, who wakes up after his execution in a medical facility, and is forced into a machine called the ‘Animus,’ which essentially sends him back in time, into the body of one of his ancestors, so that he can help find the ‘Apple Of Eden.’ The Apple is supposedly the seed of humans first disobedience, and by obtaining it, the company can obliterate violence from mankind.

And that’s about all I understood to be honest.

The rest wasn’t really explained at all. I barely remember any other character’s names, can’t remember the company name for the life of me, and barely understood anything else going on.

For example, some of the other test subjects in the facility think that Cal will betray them, but it’s never explained¬†why¬†they think this. There’s very little explanation to Cal as to what the Assassin’s Creed is, or why they are doing this to him. And then some fight scenes are completely incomprehensible and utterly impossible to follow.

Sure, there was some explanation to some plot points, but mostly it was up in the air as to what was going on. I thought some research into the video games would help, and it did essentially nothing to help, as the games follow different characters and the plot has been changed for possible spoiler reasons. Then I thought a second viewing would help, and it still didn’t enlighten me any further, so I’ve essentially given up understanding half the film.

And yet, I sort of enjoyed myself. Despite the unexplained, I did mildly enjoy myself, not as much as I have done in previous films but it’s still reasonably enjoyable, if you’re into this kind of thing.

Peculiar Children, Peculiar Film

This week has been absolutely manic – concerts, replacement bus journeys, starting my third and final year of university, and a cinema trip. I was knackered by Thursday, but I recently read the Ransom Riggs book Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children, and really wanted to see the film, so I decided to go, despite how tired I was.

In the end, I’m really glad I went to see this film, because I did enjoy myself a lot. Admittedly, there were a few things that annoyed me – mostly to do with changes with character’s, or changing scenes from the book – but when the film is looked at without comparing it to the book, it’s very good.

All the children are suitably creepy, the Hollows are scary, and the universe of the Peculiar’s is incredibly captivating. The all star cast, including of Samuel L Jackson, Asa Butterfield and Judi Dench, are brilliant and compelling. Tim Burton’s directing gives off the right amount of creepiness, which is exactly what this film needed. Something would have been deeply missing if everything didn’t feel slightly¬†wrong¬†and out of place.

Audiences going into this film blind and no prior knowledge will thoroughly enjoy themselves. Fans of the book may leave a bit annoyed, especially if their sticklers for accuracy in adaptions.

Some characters are different ages to their book counterparts, a lot of scenes are taken out (though some of this was for run time, which is understandable), and the final fight against the Hollows is¬†completely¬†different. I can see why the final fight was different, as it gave the more minor characters the opportunity to shine, but to me it still felt a bit jarring. After a few more watches, I’ll probably be able to move past it, but right now I’m not sure whether I’m annoyed by it or not.

On the whole though, Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children is very enjoyable, and highly entertaining. It sticks to the book for the most part, the cast are great, and it has a brilliant mix of creepiness and wonder, which was exactly what I had been expecting. Book changes are jarring, but as a stand alone film, it’s quite solid and stands by itself well enough.

 

 

Writing Through The Noise

Writing Through The Noise

So, you want to write. You’ve got your story line sorted, you have scenes planned, and you’re inspired. In fact, you’re raring to go, itching to get started. But, there’s a problem. A very big problem in fact. You’re surrounded by people who won’t stop talking to you, or have put the TV/radio on, or are doing noisy things. And now you can’t concentrate, and therefore can’t write. So what do you do?

I’m afraid I can’t help with that, because I don’t know, because I haven’t figured it out myself. Since I moved three weeks ago, I have so far only managed to have one good day of uninterrupted writing, the rest I have been plagued with non-stop noise. That’s the problem with moving in with other relatives who don’t yet understand how you work, and don’t go out often – they want to talk all the time, and continue in their normal routine, without realising that they’re disturbing yours.

For years, I have had about 40 hours a week of uninterrupted time to myself, while my Mum was at work, which I used to write and read to my hearts content. Now I’m down to 8 at most, and the rest of the time I’m in the company of someone who talks a¬†lot,¬†and has the TV on for most of the day. It’s something I am definitely not used to, and it’s something I am now struggling to adjust to.

You see, I find it very difficult to write while there’s any sort of distraction. I can deal with writing with musical accompaniment, as that can be inspiring, but everything else is pure distraction. If someone is talking to me, that means I have to reply and think about the conversation, therefore I cannot concentrate on my story line.

If the TV is on, I get distracted, even when it’s a show I’m not interested in. I end up getting sucked into watching whatever is on, or find myself wanting to work whatever is going on on the TV into the story I’m writing, which is obviously not a good idea.

It’s a nightmare, and one I’ve been living in for the past three weeks. I’ve yet to come up with a solution to the problem. The only thing I can try and do is crank up the volume on my headphones, and hope to God it drowns out the TV/puts people off talking to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s all I’ve currently got. Until I can sort out my own ‘writing space’ I am stuck in with the noise. The noise that doesn’t seem to let up for a minute. Even with the new space, I don’t know how well it’s going to work. I’ll be away from the TV, but it doesn’t stop people coming in to talk to me.

I’m praying it will help my productivity a bit, but really, there is no catch all solution to the problem. If there was, that would be what this blog’s subject. But there isn’t. So the only advice I can give is to crank up the volume on the music if you’re in a similar situation. Crank up the volume and try to adjust the best you can.

If not, well, there’s always waiting for everybody to leave or go to sleep, and writing then.

Though if you have any ideas, leave me a comment and tell me, I’m dying to figure this out and stop the distractions!

Farewell Peggy Carter

Today is a sad day indeed, for today we have received the news that Marvel’s Agent Carter has been cancelled by abc in a frankly terrible decision. Peggy is sadly, no more in the MCU, apart from possible movie cameos from Hayley Atwell, and quite frankly, I am not pleased by this in the slightest.
Agent Carter is, for me at least, a big show. I love it dearly. I fell in love with Peggy during Captain America: The First Avenger, and have continued to love her since. I loved her spirit, her keen sense of adventure, and her devotion to saving people, no matter what she was told. Peggy didn’t give up in times of hardship, and never let someone tell her what to do. If she wanted to do it, she did it, without caring for the consequences of her career. As long as the world and the people in it were safe, Peggy did not worry about the repercussions of her actions. She did what had to be done, time and time again.
So when it was announced that she had her own tv show, exploring her life post Steve Rogers, I was ecstatic, and could not wait to see what she would get up to at the SSR. To say the least, I was not disappointed in the result. Agent Carter was a tv show with strong morals, great adventures, and one hell of a dynamic leading lady. Every week Peggy kicked ass, saved New York or LA, all the while coming up with great sass and looking great. It was funny, and silly in places, like all the best Marvel films, but it was also a great drama. I love every single second of it.
But what was even more epic was the message this show had. It carried over the message that Peggy has always had – that women are just as good as men. That even in the most sexist of times and work places, a woman can not only succeed, but she can do it without sleeping with anybody to her where she wants, without the help of a man, and without having to sacrifice her femininity. The show broke the mould in every way it could. It showed a regular human woman could save the world without a man doing it for her, that female friendship is so important, that women do not have to constantly be at war with each other, and so many other things.
Peggy Carter, to say the least, was a feminist hero, sort of like a non-powered version of Buffy set in the 40s. She gave so many important messages, the most important being ‘know your value, anybody else’s opinion doesn’t matter.’
Peggy broke the usual rules of tv, she was smart, beautiful, feminine, and saved the world. She didn’t have special powers, wasn’t an expert at combat, and didn’t let anybody stand in her way. To say the least I will miss her, and of course the ever wonderful Mr Jarvis, and her adventures. I can only hope that something like Netflix will pick up the series, and that she isn’t left to die like this.
Peggy will be sorely missed in this household, and many more across the world.
Farewell Agent Carter.