Mook Review: Divergent

Divergent Novel by Veronica Roth

via veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

via veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

Anyone who observes my reading habits knows that The Hunger Games left a huge, YA dystopia hole in my heart.  This genre has blown up in recent years, dominating both the book shelves and box office, but many competitors in the genre have fallen flat and not lived up to their expectations.

The Divergent series is a nice breath of fresh air in a very crowded genre.  While it doesn’t have the ambition and breadth of skill that The Hunger Games does, and at times the love story can seem contrived and silly, I enjoyed it.  The first and second installments definitely have a stronger presence than the last (we can discuss my opinions on Allegiant at a later time) but it is an interesting world that Roth created, albeit a little unrealistic.

Tris Prior is a successful heroine and I really found myself rooting for her and connecting with her bravery.  She is earnest, smart, and gutsy.  She fails and then thrives.  She finds herself in very typical, teenage predicaments but holds her own in a war that is far beyond her sixteen years.  Personally, I feel that Tris is a great role model and holds her own in this story.  There are, of course, very cheesy moments of bubbling love that seems just slightly unbelievable, but then again I am a 25 year old woman reading a novel targeted for teens.

The whole faction system at times did seem a little unrealistic and not very thoroughly explained.  It almost seemed like the author had a very surface level idea that she manipulated to seem more complex, without actually creating it from the ground up.  But, all in all, I enjoyed Divergent and it definitely sucked my attention in.

“Divergent” Directed by Neil Burger

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

For obvious reasons, I was skeptical about this film.  There have been so many adaptations of YA novels lately that have completely bombed (“Beautiful Creatures”, “City of Bones”, “Ender’s Game”, etc) and I was worried that “Divergent” would not hold its own, especially in comparison to the widely acclaimed “Hunger Games” movies.

Shailene Woodley is a talented actress, and between her role in both “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars” (which is set to debut a little later this year) she has set herself up for box office success.  However, I didn’t feel that her impact as an actor really carried the movie all the way through.  There were so many directions the movie could have gone in to make it less cheesy.  For starters, Abnegation is a faction that is supposed to be about selflessness and not relying too much on oneself.  It really, really bothered me how much makeup both Tris and her mother visibly wore.  I wanted the Abnegation to be simple people, and the costuming just didn’t really connect which I think was a huge slip up in the making of this film.
Another big issue for me was the music.  Going into this film, I figured that the track listing for “Divergent” was going to be yet-another companion album to the movie (a marketing scheme I totally do not understand; why release an album full of songs by top artists that aren’t even in the film?).  When I realized that these songs were actually in “Divergent” I was pleasantly surprised… for about five minutes.  It completely took away from the integrity of the film.  Again, it was just very cheesy.All of that aside, there were parts of the movie I liked, but not enough to be impressed. I was a little bit let down.  I will still hold out hope for other YA adaptation (“The Maze Runner” is my latest obsession and set to release in September, and long-time childhood favorite “The Giver” will release in August) but after another disappointment, I do feel my faith wearing a bit thin.

Mook Rating  

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Mook Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching Fire – Novel by Suzanne Collins

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

Let it be known, Catching Fire is my favorite installment of the trilogy.  Where The Hunger Games wows us with this sick dystopian world, the contrived Capitol, and the defiant emergence of Katniss, Catching Fire really ups the stakes for the story and we begin to see the severity of Katniss’ survival in the Games and what it means for the other district citizens.

Catching Fire is so successful in what it sets out to do.  With most trilogies, the middle installment naturally acts as a bridge between two major plot points, but often they are either dull and just filling a gap between two pieces of information or completely overloaded with material that you get kind of lost.  What I love about Catching Fire is that it IS a bridge between two major plot points,  but can still stand alone on its own.  It introduces very important new characters and themes, reveals more depth to existing characters, and reinforces and reiterates what is important about this story without constantly repeating itself.

If I could, I would read Catching Fire again and again and again.  It is an exiting piece of work and it really begins to construct the rebellion brewing in Panem, which leads seamlessly into Mockingjay.  The rapid events at the ending of the story happen quite quickly, and was something I had to reread in order to truly understand, but if done well could transition onto screen perfectly.  Catching Fire is definitely the strongest of the three books; an opinion I know I share with most fans of the series.

 

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – Directed by Francis Lawrence

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of “Catching Fire” makes “The Hunger Games” seem like childs play.  As a huge fan of the first movie (you can read my review here), I was interested and skeptical in how this film would pan out with a new director.  “Catching Fire” hits us over the head with brilliance and does the book incredible justice.

Just like the Third Quarter Quell, everything about “Catching Fire” is bigger and better.  The actors have developed stronger skills, the costumes are avantgarde and absolutely brilliant, and the special effects blow the previous movie out of the water.  The Tribute Parade and CGI animals in the arena were the most notable differences for me.  In “The Hunger Games” the Tribute Parade is almost embarrassing.  The special effects were sub par and it was really the only part of the movie I truly didn’t like.  Similarly, the “mutts” in “The Hunger Games” were very fake looking and, while scary in thought, weren’t realistic.  The current films Tribute Parade is as if we are transported to a dystopian ancient Greece, and Katniss and Peeta’s costumes are astonishingly executed without the cheesy flames of the first film.  And the baboons in the arena?  Absolutely terrifying.

Most importantly, the journey we, as viewers, go on with our beloved characters is emotional and real.  In a moment of purity, Effie breaks down in her disappointment with what has happened with Katniss and Peeta and expresses her loyalty to them as a team.  It is touching and moving, and I found myself getting choked up at most points throughout the film.  Newcomers like Finnick and Johanna elevate the storyline and bring realness to what is happening; like Katniss and Peeta, they are victors and they have also been betrayed by the Capitol.

All biases aside, something needs to be said about Jennifer Lawrence’s role as Katniss.  The final scene is astounding, her facial expressions flawless, and it is as if you are completely inside Katniss’ head without her saying a word at all.  The last few minutes of the film has me clenching the side of my seat and ended with a cliff hanger of astronomical proportions, leaving me beyond anxious for “Mockingjay Part One.”  Catching Fire is absolutely brilliant and I personally felt it was as near flawless of an adaptation as they come.

Mook Rating  

Mook Review: “Into the Wild”

Into the Wild – Novel by Jon Krakauer

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

The nonfiction book “Into the Wild”, written by Jon Krakauer, documents the life of the adventurous, intriguing, and outrageously intelligent Chris McCandless.  In 1990, just after graduating from Emory University, Chris left his entire his money, possessions, and family behind him to venture into the wild and pursue a greater way of being.  Krakauer delves into the story as much as anyone possible could, and gives as much detail on the interesting young man as possible, without actually being McCandless himself.  This, we come to learn, is because of Krakauers alliance to the same school of thought as McCandless, his similar passions, and wildly ambitious nature as a young man that almost led him to his own death.

Through letters and diary entries, interviews with those whose lives McCandless has touched, articles written on him, and stories of other young men who sought out the wild so eagerly they felt invincible, Krakauer tells us this story.  It is wonderfully written, insightful, and captivating, something I found remarkable considering Krakauer had never met McCandless and there was hardly anything known about him post-disappearance.  This novel is less of a biography, and more of an extended essay that touches upon the romance of nature, the slight of invincibility, and the truth of what actually happens to those who think they are above the twentieth century.

I am hardly critical or not understanding of why people seek the wild and abandon cultural norms.  In fact, the idea of the wild intrigues me but the collection of stories Krakauer puts together, in addition to the journey of McCandless, definitely teaches you to be mindful of any kind of epic wild journey you may embark on. Regardless, this biography is stimulating and wonderful, and I truly fell in love with it.

 

“Into the Wild” – Directed by Sean Penn

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

The first I’d ever heard of “Into the Wild” was when I caught the movie midway through on HBO several years ago.  I became immersed in what little was left of the story, and was always intrigued by it, but it was not until some time later that I actually came back to it.

Emile Hirsche and Sean Penn make the epic tag team duo as actor and director.  I was a little bit worried about how this would play out as a Mook; Krakauer uses stories of other travelers to support the story of McCandless, while “Into the Wild” only focuses on McCandless and his journey to his untimely death. 

One thing that always impresses me are actors who can create drama, depth, and intuition when it is just them singularly on screen. The majority of this film is McCandless on his own, and it takes a truly great actor to convey the transcendental and emotional person that he was.  On that note, Hirsche succeeds immensely.  The entire supporting cast helps create a dynamic climax as well, along with some phenomenal cinematography that captures the beauty of nature – the thing that drew McCandless out of his traditional life and into the wild at the young age of 22.

Generally, I just love the story of Christopher McCandless and I urge you to immerse yourself in who he was, whether you read Krakauers book or watch his biopic.  You will not be disappointed.

Mook Rating  

Mook Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Novel by Cassandra Clare

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

As many of my loyal readers know by now, there is nothing I enjoy more than a riveting YA fantasy series. In stating that, I really wanted to like The Mortal Instruments series, and after reading the first installment City of Bones, it wasn’t that I didn’t like it… I just wasn’t obsessed.  Personally, I like a book that I can’t put down.  I like story that is so engaging I think about it when I am not reading it and long after I have finished.  I like a novel that is a quality piece of work and stimulates the mind, and inspires me to write.

Cassandra Clare’s series is just… eh.  The story is ok, and even nonsensical at times, and the writing is nothing to call home about.  While other YA authors such as Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) and Veronica Roth (Divergent) aren’t necessarily better technically, Clare doesn’t suck the reader in a provide enough page-turning material to make this truly worthwhile.  However, I did find myself consistently going back to this book and, albeit not desperately, wanting to know the truth about Clary and her relations to the demonic world of Shadowhunters.  I can see the audience this book can reach and why it has a following, but in a way I think I am just too old for this.

While the ending to this story was a cliffhanger in the traditional sense of the word, it didn’t really leave me hanging.  I was quite confused by the direction the novel took and wasn’t completely sure how the integrity of the story would redeem itself, but I wouldn’t completely shun the idea of finishing the rest of the series.  Honestly, there are just too many other books I want to read, and none that I want to sacrifice for the second installment of this series.

“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” – Directed by Harald Zwart

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

This movie, to be quite blunt, was awful.  I couldn’t even finish watching it.  I am a firm believer that even if the book is just mildly invigorating, the movie can be much better (ie: my Mook review of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief”) and I was hoping that expectation would be met in this movie.  I was wrong.  Lily Collins, while beautiful, is kind of pathetic as Clary and Jace, while mysterious, is flat and lacking any kind of depth.

The biggest problem I had with this film was pace.  It was like this movie was on speed.  The first 30 minutes spanned a huge portion of the book and left the viewer with no explanations, no insight, and no passion.  I know I am not the only person with this opinion either, as it completely tanked at the box office and filming for the second movie “City of Ashes” was put on pause (the movie has since been reinstated).

I almost feel that I am not even at liberty to give this Mook a rating since I couldn’t finish watching the film, but I don’t think it would have made much of a difference.  Fellow mookologists, what did you think of this film?

Mook Rating  

Mook Review: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now  Novel by Tim Tharp

via whatanerdgirlsays.com

via whatanerdgirlsays.com

I was a little underwhelmed by this book.  When I went into reading The Spectacular Now, I knew little about the story.  I only knew there was a film counterpart that had debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and had done favorably well.  I’m not exactly sure what my expectations were going into this story, but I just didn’t connect with it.  The carefree, lush narrator Sutter Keely was a frustrating one and since the story is told from his perspective, you can’t escape him.

While I supposed having such an emotional reaction to the main character, albeit a negative one, is a good thing, I still don’t know what exactly was missing for me.  The development of his and Aimee’s relationship wasn’t authentic enough for me to take seriously, although the very realistic circumstances of their lives was effective.  I was waiting for Sutter’s catharsis and growth but was utterly disappointed at the ending of this novel.  If there is one thing I am almost guaranteed to not enjoy, it is an ambiguous ending, and the one in The Spectacular Now was a total let down.

Although I enjoyed the storyline and felt that Tharp captured the essence of his characters in a realistic way, there was something about the story that didn’t grab me.

The Spectacular Now” – Directed by James Ponsoldt 

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

“The Spectacular Now” might be one of my favorite movies of the year.  Unlike the novel, this movie is impeccably authentic, crazily effective, viscerally saddening, and sublimely uplifting all at the same time. I loved it.

Miles Teller is an incredible actor and I loved him as Sutter and his chemistry with Shailene Woodley is wonderful.  It is always satisfying to see a cast of young actors really take the movie on and prove themselves.  I felt the connection between Sutter and Aimee in this movie, where I did not in the book.

Another stroke of genius (in my opinion) was the change of ending.  One of the last scenes of the movie with Sutter and his Mom (played by the awesome Jennifer Jason Leigh) is so touching and I really loved that addition to the storyline.  Of course, seeing Sutter turn a new leaf and actually face his fears was something the viewers wanted, and I felt it brought closure to the story even though it was a small final scene.

Mook Rating – ★★★

Mookology on Hiatus!

Hello faithful readers!  These past few months have been very busy and filled with work, play, and travel.  While I have read a plethora of incredible books, it has been quite difficult to actually see the adaptations.

But fear not!  After a short hiatus, Mookology will be back and better than ever, with a revamped layout and plenty of Mook Reviews (“The Spectacular Now”, “The Mortal Instruments”, and oldie but goodie “Into the Wild” to name a few.)

I’ll be seeing you…

Mook Review: “The Great Gatsby” Part Two – Guest Post!

The lovely Stephanie of The Anxiety of Authorship has offered her pen to a guest mook review – a two part piece focusing on “The Great Gatsby.”  You can read Part One of her mook review by clicking here; an analysis on The Great Gatsby novel and the 1974 “The Great Gatsby” movie directed by Jack Clayton.  Stephanie has now provided me with her review and rating of “Gatsby” directed by Baz Luhrmann, and I must say I agree with her review whole heartedly!  Check it out below…

“Gatsby” - Directed by Baz Luhrmann

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

I wanted to like the new Gatsby movie more than I did. The build-up to it was tremendous–the stunning trailers, the talented actors, the creative and well-respected director, the Jay-Z produced soundtrack featuring huge names in music today. Like Gatsby’s invention of himself for Daisy’s approval, everything about this film is built to impress us. Though Luhrmann delivered the most entertaining Gatsby film to date, it did not reach the greatness I expected.

The main reason I can’t say the movie is great is because it includes a lot of unnecessary scenes, and also adds many unnecessary clichés to the story.  I tend to be open-minded to all kinds film interpretations of books, but I could not stand that Luhrmann turned this into a story within a story with Nick telling it all to a doctor in an insane asylum. The doctor then goes on to encourage Nick to write the story out on paper, leading him to write–you guessed it–The Great Gatsby. I often enjoy unique story structures, especially when there is a writer character involved, but I felt like I’d seen this structuring a million times before. There are other minor clichés in the film, such as cuts to shooting stars in the night’s sky (for some reason that really bothered me), cuts to the green light over and over again, and the hammering of “old sport” again and again. I know that “old sport” is Gatsby’s catchphrase, but I didn’t think he was supposed to say it that much. I think the film also tries to be too sweeping with all of the flash backs to Daisy and Gatsby’s lives before living in New York–again, such scenes were just unnecessary.

Despite the above, there are many things that work. The acting is great. There is a way each character speaks that just emanates the past. Each actor mastered a Golden Age accent specific to his or her character. Leonardo DiCaprio also brings much passion, obsession, and anguish to Gatsby as a character–and it works. I was only disappointed with Myrtle. Luhrmann chose not to focus much on Myrtle, though she’s supposed to be a quite loud and ridiculous personality. There was nothing wrong with the actress per say, but I thought she should have had a larger on-screen presence. The intermixing of modern and classic music throughout the film also works, although not in the way I expected.

It’s odd. I left the theater disappointed and a little embarrassed to be wearing my Great Gatsby book cover t-shirt. But since then, I’ve found the film sticking with me–I’ve been thinking a lot about what works/what doesn’t, thinking about my favorite scenes (Gatsby and Daisy’s first meeting scene at Nick’s house, and the Plaza Hotel scene), and downloading songs from the soundtrack. This must mean something. Although the film includes unnecessary scenes, and might feed into what popular audiences want, I know Luhrmann had good intentions, and I still enjoyed his surrealistic interpretation of such a classic story. I give this mook 3 stars.

Mook Rating – ★★★

Mook Review: “The Great Gatsby” Part One – Guest Post!

The lovely Stephanie of The Anxiety of Authorship has offered her pen to a guest mook review – a two part piece focusing on “The Great Gatsby.”  I am so excited to present her first mook review – please keep an eye out for her follow-up review of Baz Luhrmann’s take on the classic novel.

The Great Gatsby - Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

The first time I ‘read’ The Great Gatsby was for my eleventh grade honors English class. My teacher didn’t really spend much time on it–I just recall a few class sessions where my friends and I laughed at the name “Dr. T.J. Eckleburg” and repeated the phrase “old sport” a lot. Because my teacher told us we didn’t have to worry about a quiz or a paper, I never actually finished it (*older self scowls at younger self*). I decided to revisit this novel now, after four years of literary study in college, and after finding out there is a Great Gatsby film re-make coming out on May 10, 2013.

The Great Gatsby is a classic for a reason. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s simple yet beautiful prose tells a unique story of love, tragedy, and social class differences with memorable characters–memorable even just by their names; Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan, Meyer Wolfsheim, etc. The story has just enough action and drama to keep readers going, and just enough meditation and pace to give readers pause. From a writing perspective, I know it’s not ideal to have a main character just act as an observer, but Nick Carraway is an exception to that rule. We only see glimpses of his opinions and personality, despite the story being from his point of view, but this creates him as a mysterious character rather than a boring ‘observer’ protagonist.

There is one very steam-of-consciousness paragraph at the end of chapter two that really catches my interest. I think it implies that Nick wakes up in bed with a man after a drunken night in New York City. This small group of sentences is especially surreal and unexpected in comparison to the rest of the realist writing throughout the novel. Maybe Fitzgerald was just experimenting, but I am so intrigued.

Overall The Great Gatsby is such a well-told story that, despite the decades that have passed between its first publication and now, has managed to remain original and iconic. Although not my number one favorite, I rate it five stars.

 

 “The Great Gatsby” – Directed by Jack Clayton

This generation might not be aware, but there have already been five previous film adaptations of The Great Gatsby–in 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and 2002. Since I could stream the 1974 version via Netflix, I decided to focus on that film for this Mook Review. The 1974 “Great Gatsby” film is easily the most famous, starring Robert Redford (a perfect Gatsby) and, unexpectedly, a young Sam Waterston (from the original “Law & Order”) as Nick Carraway.

The film starts off quite slow, panning Gatsby’s mansion and Daisy’s vanity during the opening credits, but I thought the setting of this mood went on for a little too long. Most movies from that time period begin slowly, so I can’t really give fault to something like that, especially because the film itself was enjoyable and true to the story. I can imagine that viewers who haven’t read The Great Gatsby might become confused at times, though. For example, I don’t think the significance of the green light was clear, nor that of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes on the billboard in the Valley of Ashes–yet there were many cuts to show these things. The significance was missing.

I appreciated this film’s grittiness. The Great Gatsby takes places during an oppressively hot and humid summer, pre-air conditioning. Everyone, especially Tom Buchanan, is sweating. Sweat rolls down characters’ faces and their shirt underarms are soaked. Adding to that grittiness are rogue flies buzzing around some scenes–and the raw awkwardness some of the characters experience with each other. I really liked this kind of realism. The only thing was, after a while, I still felt like the characters, specifically Daisy and Gatsby, weren’t connecting in a believable way. Maybe that’s the way it should be, though. The book doesn’t make their connection much clearer.

This film was a little bit simple and seemed to cater mostly to those who have already read the book , but it was good in general. With that said, I am looking forward to seeing what Baz Luhrmann does with this timeless story. I think it is going to bring attention to the more surreal qualities of The Great Gatsby, hinted at the end of chapter two (as mentioned above). Once I see the new film, I will return with part two of my very first mook review!

Mook Rating – ★★★★

Mook Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures – Novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

As a huge fan of young adult fantasy, I was disappointed to find such a well-talked about novel to be so boring.  “Beautiful Creatures” was really nothing to write home about.  I found it quite erratic, the characters underdeveloped, and the plot line muddled.  When I first read the synopsis, I really felt this concept had potential but it was a story perched up on a fence, teetering one way and then the other.  Basically, I felt Beautiful Creatures was doomed to fail in general.

One issue I really had with this novel was the various story lines that all were supposed to “come together” in the end.  The problem was, they didn’t.  The way each plot line written seemed very processed and artificial; from the Civil War flashbacks, to Casters and Seers, and secret libraries, there was nothing truly concrete about it.  Each character was lacking depth and was so cookie cutter and stereotyped I just couldn’t get into it.  The character of Ridley in particular was most disappointing; when she first shows up in her sexy outfit, blonde and pink hair, and sucking on a lollipop I couldn’t stop my eyes from rolling.  It took a lot for me to even finish Beautiful Creatures and I was totally dissatisfied.

When it comes to Young Adult series, skip this one.  There are so many better series out there to read (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, even Divergent and the Matched trilogy) and Beautiful Creatures will just leave you disappointed and feeling like you’ve wasted your time.

“Beautiful Creatures” – Directed by Richard LaGravenese 

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

My expectations for the “Beautiful Creatures” film were somewhat in the middle.  I felt that there was a standout cast here and sometimes a good script is all you need to amplify a story.  Specifically, I was looking forward to seeing Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, and Jeremy Irons and their portrayals of Amma, Ridley, and Macon, but I was well aware that the movie could be a total bust.

Frankly, the movie could have been a lot worse.  I’ll start by saying Emmy Rossum totally put Ridley in a new light, rather than just the sexy Siren who is so stereotypical and far fetched in the book, she was attractive and sultry in a much more realistic way in the film.  I was shocked to find myself smitten with Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan Wate; he was incredibly charming and adorable – everything the character in the novel was lacking.  However, I couldn’t say the same about Alice Englert as Lena.  She was just so…. blah, for a character that was supposed to be so powerful.

Truthfully, there wasn’t much that could have been done to make the movie amazing given the story line, but I found they did a good job.  Taking away all the little sub-plots that seemed pointless (the “Sixteen Moons” son, Ethan’s Dad, etc) really helped focus on what was important with the story.  But even with all that the story was just ok.  In light of the recent franchise movie surge, I doubt “Beautiful Creatures” will really take off.  There is too much competition out there, and this story is just too contrived and artificial.

Mook Rating  ★

Mook Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi – Novel by Yann Martel

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

My first experience with praised author Yann Martel was not through reading Life of Pi but his third novel Beatrice and Virgil, a lesser known but still wildly interesting story about a novelist named Henry and a strange taxidermist fan of his.  While I wont go much into this story, I need to touch upon the captivating writing style Martel has mastered; the way he writes forces you to feel that the narrator is speaking directly to you in a way that I have not quite experienced in other reads.  This same connection is established throughout Life of Pi and is, in my opinion, the reason why Martel’s stories are ones you carry with you even after reading is done.

Life of Pi is a spiritual book and sets out to tell a miraculous story.  Pi Patel is an interesting person; as a young boy he is captivated by religion and engrosses himself deeply in not just the Hindu religion, but Christianity and Islam as well.  Pi’s family owns a zoo in Pondicherry, India, but shortly through the book his parents decide to leave Pondicherry to open a zoo in Canada.  They set out on a ship with some of the animals and head west – however, the family is shortly thrown off course when a storm rolls through the ocean, destroying the ship, and leaving Pi stranded on a life boat with a zebra, hyena, orangutang, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Pi is such an interesting, and uplifting, character.  He is incredibly human and therefore we can relate to everything he experiences.  When he is first stranded he seems hopeful, then shortly becomes incredibly depressed.  It is only when himself and Richard Parker establish a relationship that Pi realizes he is not alone and, without Richard Parker, he would have died.

The twist at the end of the novel was definitely unexpected, but it forces you to love Pi for his incredible imagination and need to create a much better story than what had really happened.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, however I did find it a struggle to get through and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone. Life of Pi is long and there is hardly any dialogue, so some readers may find that to be missing.

“Life of Pi” – Directed by Ang Lee

via Movienewz.com

via Movienewz.com

The first thing I must say about this film before I go into the content is the wildly stunning use of CGI.  The visual effects were stunning and unbelievably realistic.  When “Life Of Pi” was nominated in the special effects category at the Oscars I was thrilled and I would hope this movie will take a win.  Richard Parker, as well as all of the other animals and settings, looked lifelike and I didn’t for a second believe it was not a real tiger.  Visually, this film was breathtaking.

In terms of mooks, this movie really did not go wrong.  Yann Martel’s novel left room for a great adaptation, however it could have been miscommunicated since so much of the novel’s content comes from Pi’s thoughts.  I felt that Suraj Sharma, the actor who played Pi, did an incredible job of acting considering the lack of dialogue and interaction with a completely animated acting partner.

There isn’t much that I disliked about this film at all.  I thought it was fantastic and uplifting, just like the book.  I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a film about a adventure and I hope that we will see “Life of Pi” as a winner this awards season.

Mook Rating  ★★