The Movie Date is a weekly feature where we discuss movies that may appeal to YA readers. Andrew is The Reading Date’s resident movie critic and this week he discusses The Great Gatsby 3D directed by Baz Luhrmann.
A Wall Street hopeful rents a Long Island home next to Gatsby, a millionaire with a shadowy background; Gatsby longs for a lost love who is now married and living nearby.
Disclosure: Unlike most or all of you, I’ve never read the famous Fitzgerald novel that the film is based on. My interest in the film came from curiosity about the book as much as love for the visual splendor that director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) is known for. So bear in mind that in viewing the film, I was reacting to what was to me a new story.
It’s always risky adapting a beloved novel (let alone a Great American one); for every satisfying Lord of the Rings there are a dozen disastrous Bonfire of the Vanities. Though this is not a well-reviewed film, I think the critics were sharpening their knives long before Luhrmann’s vision hit the screen, perhaps thinking of his outrageous revisionist take on Romeo and Juliet from many years ago. Fitzgerald with hip-hop music? In 3D, no less? Outrage!
For me, I found this film tremendously enjoyable and quite successful. Rather than a crass corruption of the work, this turns out to be an extremely faithful adaptation of the novel, adhering closely to the original plot. It also owns up to its roots as a novel, using original text at great length. Throughout we see bond salesman Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) relating the tale, first in person, then through a handwritten journal, and finally via a typed manuscript. He narrates transitions and establishing shots with F. Scott’s own gorgeous and heartbreaking language, giving us great insight into the characters and times. As Lucy pointed out, an eye-doctor’s billboard featured throughout draws subtly from the original novel’s cover art. (It’s hard for me to imagine a loyalist being appalled at this film, though I look forward to hearing your thoughts.)
It takes us quite a while to meet Gatsby, in fact. Instead, we get to know Nick’s lovely cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), her scoundrel husband Tom (Joel Edgerton), and even Tom’s mistress Myrtle (Isla Fisher). By the time we do meet the reclusive Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and learn of his long-suppressed love, we hate Tom so much that we’re “shipping” Gatsby and Daisy, big time. As we get to know the truth about the expansive Gatsby’s unglamorous past, we actually feel for the guy. And you know the story from there, right?
Though the tale is told calmly and clearly (I never experienced a moment’s confusion, unusual for me!), the main attraction is the Jazz Age splendor, which as noted is what drew me to the film. We view the glamour of 20s Long Island and Manhattan and the grimy, industrial Valley of Ashes that lies between them with a highly artistic eye. Luhrmann’s visuals and camera movements are gorgeous in the extreme, and the parties and celebrations we experience are almost overwhelming. So satiated was I with the visual overload I was actually grateful when Luhrmann settled into more conventional storytelling in the second half.
When Nick confronts Gatsby about his obsession with times gone by, the tycoon answers, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” Though Gatsby’s desire to reprise his history is seen as his fatal flaw, I find it amusing that this is the film’s great strength: its ability to dig into the past with great accuracy and make it relevant to a new audience, even to a viewer as non-literate as me.
A note about the 3D version: Most 3D films available these days are post-processed, which means the “deep” images are faked digitally from 2D originals, leading to fairly crude results. However, Luhrmann actually shot this film in 3D and the images are well-rounded, authentic, and gorgeous. I’ve been waiting a long time for a non-action picture to be made in 3D and I’m really pleased with this one. Instead of cheap thrills, the result here is intense beauty, which is certainly a thrill of its own.
The Great Gatsby opened May 10 and is rated PG-13. Running time: 142 min.
Book: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Penguin Audio, May 7, 2013
Book Info: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Audiobook received for review from Penguin Audio. Running time: 12 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza. Also available in HC, 457 pages (I bought it) from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The 5th Wave is impossible to ignore right now, and arguably the hottest YA book of the summer. I don’t read a lot of science fiction so I was wary about an alien invasion book described as The Passage meets Ender’s Game. But, all the rave reviews and Hunger Games comparisons got to me and soon I had the 5th Wave fever. The 5th Wave is thrilling like a rollercoaster and fun like a summer popcorn movie. And I think it’s accessible enough for the casual sci-fi fan and very much a human story. It’s one I picked up in hardcover because I know it’s going to be a book I can loan out to a wide variety of readers.
In Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, civilization as we know it has been wiped out by alien invaders in four devastating waves. The aliens want to get rid of the humans but leave the earth in good shape for themselves. These aliens are smart and have done their homework on how to exterminate the human race. Cassie is a teen who miraculously survived the first four waves with most of her family intact. She gets separated from her younger brother Sammy though, and the goal to get him back is what’s keeping her alive. Meanwhile she’s dodging aliens (nicknamed “the Others”) and hoping there won’t be a fifth wave.
In addition to Cassie and her brother Sam, we meet a character referred to as “Zombie”, and the mysterious Evan Walker who gives shelter to Cassie when she’s on the run. The story kicks off with Cassie’s POV but changes setting and characters with Zombie’s perspective. I clicked more with Cassie’s story and preferred being in her head, but the dual POV does give the reader a wider view of all the happenings. One drawback for me is that with the change in perspective I felt a little detached from the characters. Ideally, I would prefer the book was only from Cassie’s POV even though I get it from a storytelling perspective.
The chapters are short and action packed. The story drew me in quickly and I could feel the hopelessness and desperation the characters faced. It’s a scary story; partly because it seemed so realistic I could buy into the terror of it all.
I mentioned there are two guys in the story, right? So, yes there is some romance and it’s not without its complications. I liked that the romance doesn’t take over the book but it is there to break up some of the tension of the alien attack. I wouldn’t call this an alien romance exactly in the vein of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series, but it is there and I’m curious to see where it goes.
I listened to the audiobook read by Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza, both new-to-me narrators. I’m happy that I listened to the audiobook because it was easier to keep track of the different perspectives with different male and female narrators. Phoebe Strole’s voice reminds me of narrator Emma Galvin (Divergent) combined with Sarah Drew (Delirium). She sounds age appropriate for sixteen-year-old Cassie and conveys her toughness & sarcasm as well as her vulnerability. I liked her quite a lot. Brandon Espinoza also does a fine job with the male voices, and he in particular has to voice a variety of ages and personalities. Both read with a pace to my liking and increased the intensity as the story dictated. I’d recommend listening to the audiobook of this one to really let you escape into the story. I’m going to read it in print to get that experience as well.
I do think this book is a natural sell to Divergent and Hunger Games fans and has crossover appeal for any type of reader. The ending really makes me eager for the next book in the series, though we have a long wait on our hands. Bring on the movie!
Click to Subscribe by L.M. Augustine, published May 9, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Source: Review copy provided by the author
e-Book, 252 pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
1,135,789. That’s how many subscribers sixteen-year-old West Ryder has on his web vlog series. But he only has eyes for one of them.
As one of the internet’s most prestigious video bloggers, West talks about high school relationships under the name “Sam Green.” As far as he knows, no one from school, not even his best friend, Cat, has seen his videos. But the highlight of the whole thing is Harper Knight, who comments every day at exactly 2:02 in the afternoon. He doesn’t know anything about her aside from the occasional deep philosophical messaging on why pizza tastes so delicious, but as stupid as it sounds, he might be falling for her. So when they finally agree to meet in real life, West’s hope for romance seems more and more in reach. But that all changes as soon as he arrives at their meeting spot and sees Cat walking toward him, wearing the same “I <3 Sam Green” T-shirt Harper promised she’d have on.
To his alarm, West realizes he is falling in love with the best friend who has always been a sister to him.
Click to Subscribe is such a fun comfort read, perfect when you’re looking for something light. What intrigued me about it first of all was that it’s about someone who has a vlog. I think that’s such a unique set up for the story. The vlog helps West when he’s having a tough time in his personal life and also is the catalyst for romance with one of his vlog followers.
This book has a male POV only, which is kind of refreshing when the trend is dual POV. West has a fresh voice and is an interesting character. I couldn’t imagine how someone who’s such a popular vlogger, even though he has a pseudonym (Sam Green), could be anonymous at school. It’s like he lives a double life. West is a nice guy, a little clueless at times, but endearing. And he bakes a mean birthday cake!
West has a best friend named Cat who totally gets him and has his back. She is fun-loving, snarky and awkward in a good way. They can be silly together, fight, laugh, eat ice cream and pizza endlessly and talk about the tough stuff. They call each other out on their bullshit, and converse like only best friends do. But what happens to the friendship when Cat wants to take it to the next level?
Though the tone of the book is overall quick and fluffy, there is some sorrow in West’s life. The vlog is therapeutic for West, who recently lost his mom. West’s family life is problematic; his dad is a mess and not really there for him. The vlog helps keep West busy and is a safe place to get his thoughts out there. West relies so much on Cat’s friendship I can understand his hesitation to add romance to the mix, even though the reader can see they’re perfect for each other.
Augustine inserts some fun into the story with haiku email exchanges, emoticons, and Harry Potter and Star Wars references. And the junk food! West and Cat are a pair of sugar addicts – best to keep some ice cream with rainbow sprinkles handy when you read this one.
This book is a quick read at just over 250 pages, but it doesn’t feel rushed at all. It’s a fun and relatable book about friendships and life. I could feel the chemistry between the characters and enjoyed watching the friendship evolve. Click to Subscribe gave me the warm fuzzies and is an entertaining debut.
About the Author:
L.M. Augustine is a YA romance author who is obsessed with writing about dorky teenagers, love, and happy endings. He currently lives in New England, where he spends far too much time reading books and screaming at his computer, and he believes that the solution to the world’s problems can be found in chocolate cake. Click To Subscribe is his first novel, but it won’t be his last.
Giveaway! Enter the rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win an e-book of your choice and a $10 Amazon gift card.
Read other reviews by following along on the Click to Subscribe blog tour!
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature from The Broke and the Bookish. Last week’s subject was light reads and this week we’re going to the dark side. Surprisingly, this week’s topic was easier for me than last weeks! I’ve been gravitating towards lighter books lately, though I’ve certainly read my share of tough subject books.
These books deal with the tough stuff:
1. Miracle by Elizabeth Scott - Miracle takes on the aftermath of a plane crash and PTSD. Living Dead Girl by Scott could also easily be on this list- it still haunts me to this day.
2. Live Through This by Mindy Scott – Live Through This is a gripping novel about abuse.
3. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch – If You Find Me is a tale about abuse, and survival.
4. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – Wintergirls is a chilling book about anorexia. Anderson’s Speak should easily be on this list as well.
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – I tend to think of this book being about depression and grief for the most part, but there are other tough issues explored as well.
6. Hold Still by Nina LaCour – This book centers on the aftermath of suicide.
7. Speechless by Hannah Harrington- Speechless is about a bully who becomes bullied herself.
8. Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala – Takes you inside the life of a runaway trying to survive on the streets.
9. The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas - Loved this book about grieving and healing after losing a mother, but after going through this myself this is the kind of book I avoid now. It’s so interesting how personal experience shapes our book choices.
10. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller – Male POV about a soldier experiencing PTSD on his return home from Afghanistan.
Do you prefer to read lighter books or those dealing with tough subjects? Are there any tough subject matters you avoid?
It’s read-a-thon time! Here’s my game plan:
Finish my books in progress- The 5th Wave and Click to Subscribe
Listen to 1-2 more review audiobooks – Down London Road and Ten Tiny Breaths or something else TBD
Read 1-2 other ARC’s – potentially Golden and The Language Inside
Cheer on other blog participants
Participate in challenges and at least one #boutofbooks chat
Don’t stress if I don’t get through everything- just have fun
I’ll do a wrap-up post at the conclusion of the read-a-thon!
Hope you all had a nice weekend and happy mother’s day. My family gifted me with a new kindle paperwhite so I’m pretty excited to get that set up. My current kindle 2 is on its last legs.
We are having triple digit heat in my neck of the woods so it was hard to concentrate on reading this weekend. Summer is here early!
May is shaping up to be quite a big book month! It’s a little intimidating to be honest. Good thing Bout of Books readathon is going on. What books are you excited to read this month?
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – Yep, the hype got to me. It’s really good so far.
Invisibility by David Levithan & Andrea Cremer – My daughter is a total David Levithan fangirl so had to grab this one.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – New to paperback
What We Lost by Sara Zarr – New paperback cover and title (previously called Once Was Lost)
Digital- not pictured:
If I Should Die by Amy Plum – kindle edition
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr – audiobook
Don’t Let Me Go & Where You Are by J.H. Trumble – Won from Brigid Kemmerer in her Breathless Release Week celebration. I loved Where You Are and I’m happy to own a copy, and to check out the first book in the series.
The Keep by Veronica Wolff – The Watchers book 4 from NAL Trade.
Audiobooks from Penguin Audio:
The Black Country by Alex Grecian
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindel
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delahanty
Silken Prey by John Sandford
A Delicate Truth by John Le Carre
Digital Review Books:
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (audio received after I bought the book, so I can compare reading experiences! The narration is fantastic)
Down London Road by Samantha Young (audio)
Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly
Gated by Amy Christine Parker
How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Once We Were by Kat Zhang
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy
Let me know what you’re reading in the comments. Have a good week!