Read Red Rising

red denson starThis year I picked up the book Red Rising and couldn’t put it down until I finished the trilogy. From the first page “On Mars there’s not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.” I knew that this book was something special. The series is an epic fantasy that sprinkles in humor and is not afraid to cover darker topics.  The story is set on a futuristic Mars where protagonist Darrow rises from the lowest part of society, where the people are called Reds, to infiltrate and eventually overthrow the oppressive Gold upper class. I loved the simplicity of the color caste system to signify roles in society as well as the slang incorporated, such as gorydamn representing a curse word, which helped with the immersion into the world. I hate to use Hunger Games as a comparison because I thought Red Rising was better in every aspect, even as a love story, but the simplest way to describe the first book is Hunger Games in space.
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Death Nope

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I don’t think I’m breaking any ground here in saying that the Death Note Netflix adaption was an utter failure and embarrassment to the source material. Also it would be even worse without knowing the source material, so while it’s not worth watching, apparently it is worth writing about. Death Note originally ran in Shonen Jump back in 2003 and follows protagonist Light Yagami after he discovers a notebook with the ability to kill anyone who’s full name and face he knows. Light uses this book as a way to purge evil from the world under the surname Kira, while the police try to stop him. It’s probably one of my favorite completed manga of all time but the movie was one of the least favorite movies I’ve ever seen.

I can’t think of a single good thing leading man Nat Wolff has been in, and the deviations from the manga don’t make sense to me. Shortening the length of Death Note, which features over 100 chapters in written form, to fit an hour and a half movie can explain some of the questionable plot decisions, but turning this from masterful intellectual thriller to teenage drama certainly can’t be explained by time constraints and it wasted the source material in doing so.
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Harry Potter Book Power Rankings

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I have probably reread the Harry Potter saga over three times as a whole, with special attention to my favorite books in the series hitting near double digit rereads. It’s not a perfect series by any means, but it will always be my go to escape from reality. A sense of belonging and comradery with people that also read and grew up with the adventure is also something I will always cherish. These rankings don’t account for the movies at all and I put emphasis in the rankings on how likely I am going to reread the book over my first impressions of when I read it. Now, let’s start!
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Done with Dune

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Dune is one of the most ubiquitous fantasy novels ever written and maybe because of this reason, I found the book incredibly boring. Undoubtably author Frank Herbert created an expansive and unique universe; however, when the central themes revolve around the intricacies and political bodies of space spice-mining operations, well, it isn’t particularly captivating. The giant sandworms are a fascinating concept and were my favorite part of the novel, but these creatures didn’t feel too original. In the science fiction world if there’s sand, chances are high there’s also something massive below the surface. Dune came out in the 60s and it had such an impact on people that there are still references to it even today, even if younger generations don’t realize it. This was the first book to have giant sandworms, but today it feels like everyone has used these creatures.  Heck, there’s even an episode of Spongebob referencing giant sandworms. The universe crafted by author Frank Herbert doesn’t feel original because it’s been emulated in the science fiction genre so often.
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The World of Ice and Fire: It’s a Small World After All

the world not a world
The enormity of the book reminds me of my old 9th grade AP history textbook, but with content much more interesting. The format and story is more similar to a non-fiction book than a work of fiction, but its visuals make the book a little easier to read. Honestly I enjoyed the art more than the content, however, it can be cumbersome to read at times and it somehow it feels like it has a dearth of information. Depraved and thirsty for more A Song of Ice and Fire material I went to this book to satisfy my cravings, but came away hungry for more. That’s the thing with this story, I don’t think it’s possible to be satisfied.

George RR didn’t write this, but he did edit it. The “story” is written from the perspective of a fictional maester, so everything included isn’t technically fact because this is a character’s interpretation of history, but for the most it’s safe to assume the content is accurate. The book has a never ending output of names, especially at the Targaryen Dynasty, so it can be hard to differentiate characters and it can be a little overwhelming for some readers.
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Book vs Movie: The Martian

martian book cover vs book cover
They changed the book cover of The Martian to Matt Damon’s face and his eyes stare into your soul as you read the book, it’s a little unnerving. I never pictured Damon as main character Mark Watney during my read, despite having his face shoved down my throat by the cover, but I enjoyed his performance in the movie. I usually don’t read books like this, but I enjoyed the fiction and sort of non fiction fusion that the story tells. The book was an easy read as most of story is told through Watney self narrating his thought process on how to survive on Mars. The Martian is basically a mix between survivor tv shows, with Mars being the tough terrain, and some Myth Buster explosive science thrown in. I felt like I learned something reading this book.

Matt Damon handled the character well, but too often I was watching Matt Damon trapped on Mars instead of the Mark Watney in The Martian. An actor of his caliber made me grow attached and feel his raw emotion as he tries to survive on Mars. His performance put me on the verge of tears even though I read the book prior to the movie and knew he would survive. The humor of the character felt a little forced at times in the book, but Damon made it feel more natural. Humor was a huge reason the audience grew attached to Watney, so that was a key trait to the character. Damon’s character appeared to lose a ton of weight through the course of the movie, but apparently that was just CGI. It’s okay Matt, I’ll give you a slide, you did a good job. Just stay off the book cover next time.
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Dunk and Egg: A Must Read

dunk and egg and an actual egg...there were not many good pictures out there

Waiting for Winds of Winter to come out sometime before I die of old age, I started craving for more A Song of Ice and Fire material so I finally got around to reading all three Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. They were amazing. It only took 2 days, the Hedge Knight was the longest at ~90 pages, but that’s nothing considering how much George RR usually writes. I haven’t reread the books in a while, but I’ve read numerous fan theories and as much of the wiki page as I could, it’s not the same!, but reading these novellas felt like a new book coming out early. I didn’t read them until now because…well I didn’t think I’d care about the events that happened in the past considering how I know how every turns out and they’re kind of hard to obtain, but I was wrong on both accounts.

The events in the Tales of Dunk and Egg occur roughly a hundred years before the Mad King and the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty. These two live in an entirely different Westeros than the one we’ve grown accustomed too. Martin released these novellas attached to other short story collection books, but I think it’s possible to purchase them individually on kindle or find PDF versions online. It’s still possible to understand and enjoy these novellas if one hasn’t read the books. Spoiler ahead, but I won’t ruin the plot to any of the novellas.
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Book vs Movie: Lord of the Rings

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Tolkien spends pages upon pages describing scenery that filming in New Zealand can accomplish in one frame. The narrative is tedious and exhaustingly descriptive while the dialogue feels pretty cheesy and annoying at times, something I never noticed during the movies. I breezed through the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but this book took me longer than I care to admit. I first fell in love with the movies and I wanted to love the books so badly, but the books were awfully boring by comparison. I wanted to learn more about the Tolkien universe but watching these videos answered a lot more questions than reading the trilogy and it only took 10 minutes.

The movies probably feature the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard and it multiplies breathtaking cinematography. The books aren’t devoid of music as there are songs and poems every other page, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same! Seriously though the book is half songs and poems…
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Book vs Movie: The Maze Runner

Usually for me the books are better than the movies, they just take longer to get through. The movie can’t include all the little details that make the book shine, it’s also tough to accurately portray character motivations onscreen without inner monologues, making it tougher to relate to characters. Sometimes there can be problems with casting and the actor doesn’t stay true with the character in the books. Movie soundtracks can really improve the story telling and it’s something that the books will never have. Surprisingly The Maze Runner movie adaption is a decent film, especially considering I was let down by the book.

The Maze Runner, well, it’s a teen dystopian story and the first of a trilogy, sound familiar? Hunger Games may have been the most successful of the genre, but it’s spawned countless other movie adaptions. If reading the book has taught me anything it’s that anyone can write a teen novel, they just have to sludge through their own garbage writing. Throw in a fantasy setting and some romance, boom, a best selling teen fiction novel. Also I swear every teen fiction protagonist believes they aren’t special but they totally are.
Teen fiction writers – “I can connect with teens, the world doesn’t understand me either!”
Maybe I should just stop reading teen fiction books, but then they should stop making movie adaptions of them.


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