Pere Don Callahan had once been the Catholic Priest of a town – ‘Salem’s Lot had been its name – that no longer existed on any map.
I did it, I finished it – all seven of them. I’ve changed sides and am one of Those that Read Them now (applicably for many other book (series) of course). I’m done, and I feel slightly run over.
I don’t often review series, especially following books, because I feel like you won’t start a series if it’s only the third (etc.) installment that interests you, nor that it’s easy to discuss plot lines without spoiling those still starting. But it’s been five minutes since I’ve finished the last book and I need to get things off my lower ribs (it’s always my lower ribs over my chest).
For a large part of the last novel, I felt impatience and frustration. Because honestly, how much more world-building is necessary, how many pus-filled pimples on villains need to be described. I was still a bit uneasy about the meta twist of things (Stephen King getting involved), and basically felt almost as tired as Ronald to just get to that damn tower.
I’m glad I stuck with it. No novel is supposed to be stale, and even though you could view some decisions as made for shock value, you might realise that the ending motivates all those decisions made. And what an ending.
So this isn’t really a review for a series, it’s for the ending(s) of one.
The Dark Tower, Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton 2004
So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.
If the main character wouldn’t have been female, this book wouldn’t have been published or written of as chick lit and get none of the acclaim this one had. And ‘acclaim’ here is the categories my CloudLibrary put it in, so maybe it’s only Canadian acclaim, but still.
Anyway. I picked All Our Wrongs Today because it was time travel with a bit of The Jetsons and environmentalism sprinkled all over it. What’s not to like about that?
Well, probably the fact that all that is merely a background for half of the book, because protagonist Tom just whines about his life, his family, his actions (and inactivity), his life, his family and how his original surroundings are so much better than where he’s now. Mixed through that the reader gets a few female characters that are clear points to hang the plot on: mother, ex(es), (unattainable) love of his life.
But wait, it’s not just the women in Tom’s life that are merely plot points!
And like that, the reader might start hoping for Tom to time travel into nothingness, rendering this entire disappointing story non-existing. Or at the very least with 80 percent less navel gazing.
All Our Wrongs Today, Elan Mastai, Penguin Random House 2017
The gunslinger came awake from a confused dream which seemed to consist of a single image: that of the Tarot deck from which the man in black had dealt (or purported to deal) the gunslinger’s own moaning future.
I really thought I had read more from these series, but I’m pretty sure I would have remembered this book if I would have. So here we are, the second book in the Dark Tower series. Now I definitely understand people’s confusion about trying to tell this story/these stories in just one movie.
As usual with series, it’s a bit of a challenge to not spoil previous books, especially because I can’t remember anything from the first novel. Luckily, in these editions is a handy ‘Here’s What You Missed’ part before the story picks up again.
What you probably should know, starting these series, is that this is eerie Stephen King, not straight shooter/thriller Stephen King. There’s fantastical elements but also some that veer quite close to horror territory, and there’s not many straight plot lines. If you don’t mind that and are looking for (the build up of) an epic, I’d definitely recommend trying this series.
The Drawing of the Three, Stephen King, Sphere 1990
I’ve had Jidenna’s Long Live the Chief stuck in my head ever since leaving the theater for the Black Panther showing, and I think that could give you a bit of a clue about the film and how it leaves you. Assuming you don’t hate superhero movies, and aren’t racist or sexist. P.S.: the song isn’t in the film, the soundtrack is cool and fitting (either way).
The character of Black Panther has been shortly introduced in previous Avengers/Marvel movies, but finally he and his country get their own movie. Which of course comes with a moderately interesting villain, love interest, family issues and hardships he has to work through.
But, and here where it turns out not to be a black Captain America; the director doesn’t take one step back on the blackness and African-ness of it all. It’s in the music, it’s in the accents, it’s in the attitude; for once there’s a story in which an African people are by far the superior ones. With special mention to all the women that are allowed in the spotlight, showing all the things they can do without needing (the leadership of) men.
So even though it’s still a Marvel movie in many more colours, it’s cooler and feels less plastic. And the soundtrack, that soundtrack.
Black Panther, Marvel 2018
I’ve finished the bloody book.
And Dud Read in February goes to The Power. If there wouldn’t have been some well timed critiques read, I would have walked headfirst into disappointment, because so many people were so_positive about this one.
I mean, Margaret Atwood supported the author in this (at least, that’s what’s mentioned in the acknowledgments), critics mentioned a science fiction story that would make you question patriarchy, the poison of the male fragility, how power corrupts and so on. All that, and teenage girls managing to shoot electricity from their hands.
But then there’s the execution, and the execution is crummy. There’s no fiber, no rhythm, no connection between the characters, the chapters, the paragraphs. It’s an idea dump, sketches of world building that are deserted before you can imagine the image. There’s no push to care about these characters, the worlds they (try to) destroy or build up. It’s not refined enough to add men(‘s right activists) without making it feel like the story is excusing them, and the conclusion of Power Corrupts is clear from early on.
Just don’t bother; I’m sure there are books out there with similar themes that do manage to come out more balanced.
The Power, Naomi Alderman, Hachette 2016
Just out of reach, just beyond you: the rush and froth of the surf, the sharp smell of the sea, the criscrossing shape of the gulls, their sudden, jarring cries.
And the Southern Reach Trilogy is done. As it looks like I haven’t reviewed the previous novels, I’ll just judge the entire trilogy in one go. It’ll be easier than just Acceptance, the last (and biggest) novel.
The Southern Reach Trilogy is an eerie set of books you’d best ignore if you like your conclusions clear and your clues obvious. In these three books, especially the first one, a lot of uncomfortable weirdness builds up, but Jeff VanderMeer doesn’t give you a breather.
There’s an unfamiliar place where life functions along different rules. It infects, it controls, it changes the research teams that enter, and no-one seems to be able to understand if it’s aliens, the planet itself, or something they can’t even think of.
The first two books are small ones, just enough to give the reader the creeps without feeling like you’re being brought along for a ride to nowhere. Acceptance might mean that the people involved are accepting, but the reader will have to do without a clear answer. The creeps stay though, just in a lesser amount.
Acceptance, Jeff VanderMeer, HarperCollins 2014
8 x 49 min.
Zo’n tv-show die ik al best lang in mijn Netflix-lijst had staan, maar pas ging proberen toen mijn 20-jarige stagiaire het aanbeval. Terwijl wij nu niet bepaald qua mening regelmatig op dezelfde golflengte zitten.
De show stond zolang in mijn rijtje omdat ik wist dat ze Zuid-Amerikaans (Braziliaans) is, met Portugees als voertaal. Ik kijk liever niet te veel niet-Engelse series tegelijkertijd, zeker niet sinds ik weer Engels ben gaan studeren. Hoeveel taal past in je hoofd, tenslotte? In ieder geval, hoor ik meteen Engels! 3% heeft dus ook een gesynchroniseerde optie, maar daarmee zitten ze zo vaak naast de articulatie van het origineel dat ik gewoon ondertiteling aanraad. Aangenomen dat je geen Portugees spreekt.
Maar wie of wat is die 3% dan? De 3% zijn mensen die Het Proces succesvol doorlopen en hun sloppenwijken kunnen inwisselen voor een zogezegd utopie. Dat Proces is alleen nogal bruut, dus er zijn ook wat tegenstanders van. Met teksten als ‘niet iedereen verdient hetzelfde’ en ‘alleen als je je uiterste best doet verdien je een beter leven’ is dat ook wel te begrijpen.
In acht afleveringen (had wel met één of twee minder gekund, maar het tempo zakt nergens echt in) volgt de kijker een groep die graag door Het Proces heen wilt. Voor uiteenlopende redenen, natuurlijk.
Het is aantrekkelijk vermaak met – voor mij zeker een pluspunt – een diverse cast. Als je Hunger Games in tv-serievorm wilt, kun je aan 3% geen buil vallen.
3%, Netflix 2016
I don’t watch a lot of thrillers, definitely not those involving aliens because I really don’t like aliens (I’m sorry, aliens). This movie – like The Invitation – was sold to me as ‘just scary, not gross’, and because I have the human need to be scared by (outrageous) things, I added this to my Netflix list. I was promised very little aliens as well.
10 Cloverfield Lane uses one of my favourite tropes for horror/thriller/scary stuff: are humans not the worst monsters?
Michelle is in a car crash and wakes up in a bunker. The owner of the bunker says it’s for her own sake, because something bad happened outside, but isn’t particularly sharing about what this badness is. Instead, he seems to care more about her fitting into the image of what life in the bunker should be.
It’s easy to say too much, so I’ll stick with ‘Is he being a scary mean guy for a reason, or just because he is a scary mean guy?’. The movie balances nicely between those options, and after finishing it you may find yourself thinking that the other option would have been better.
10 Cloverfield Lane, Paramount Pictures 2016
Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.
This is one book that could do with the cleaning up of of TV-script writer. There’s so much violence, described in detail, that could be put away behind an (atmospheric) description or implication instead.
While the plot’s got plenty of things going for it. Mysterious not-alien, godlike but not gods creatures that look like humans, call themselves librarians but are able to do about anything? International mythic elements used to show these skills and knowledge, and something going on underneath the surface to spur things into action? Yes, yes, and yes.
But then there’s a conclusion that can elicit little more than a ‘mwoh’, possibly also because you’ve been beaten into a pulp by all the abuse, rape, murder and torture. So maybe Scott Hawkins can release his notes about the world he build, and give someone else a chance with it. That way we get more of the story behind the librarians, and less of the blood and pain that made them the way they are.
The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins, Crown Publishers 2015
Tsja. Het had heel veel kunnen zijn, een film over de fantasy scifi van-alles boekenserie van Stephen King. In plaats daarvan probeerde het vooral even van alles aan te stippen, zonder al te veel op te letten op wat het bronmateriaal aanbood.
Dus wordt er een jongen toegevoegd, en details van zo’n zes boeken rond gesprenkeld. Hij heeft visioenen van een andere wereld met daarin een donkere toren, maar dan blijkt hij nodig voor de doelen van de slechterik, dus mag hij ook die andere wereld in. Gelukkig is er een held, de laatste van zijn soort, en daardoor emotioneel op de standaard Remi-manier.
Idris Elba (de held) doet nog wel zijn best, en je gunt hem een spin off of op zijn minst een mini-serie waarin we meer van zijn achtergrond leren. De slechterik lijkt vooral een donkere outfit genoeg motivatie te vinden om slecht te zijn. Er wordt niet genoeg gedeeld, en moeten we ons echt wel zorgen maken als de toren valt?
Men zou bezig zijn met een televisieserie voor de boeken. Geef Elba nog een keer een kans, en laten we de rest vergeten.
The Dark Tower, Sony 2017