Casting Chaos Walking

As is the way with fantastic YA novels, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series may be getting the film treatment. According to an article posted in October 2011, Lionsgate acquired the rights for the Chaos Walking trilogy. I hadn’t realized the series was that old! Turns out the first book was published in 2008 and the third book was published in 2010. I can’t believe it took me so long to stumble upon these books. A more recent update (if you can call August 2014 recent!) notes that the project will have a new screenplay written by Jamie Linden. Robert Zemeckis will direct (Back to the Future and Forrest Gump are among his notable films). We’ll see if this movie ever comes to fruition. Until then, here are a few casting suggestions I came up with.

chaos_castingAfter reading the novels, who would star in your dream cast?

~ Interested in Chaos Walking? Read about my gushing review of the series here and read about its awesome villain here.

One of the Best (or Worst?) Literary Villains

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Voldemort.

King Leck.

The White Witch.

Queen Levana.

Young Adult literature has more than a few great villains. Villains who use their power to terrify, control, and even murder others. Today, I want to talk about a villain you might not be familiar with yet: Mayor Prentiss. He is the villain of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and he is a master manipulator.

Although the character appears minimally in the first book of the series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, his presence is enough to keep Todd on the run. However, in the following two books, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, we as readers begin to see how vile and corrupt the mayor is. In a land where all men broadcast their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and memories through a never ending cacophony of noise, the mayor is silent. This makes it hard to figure out whether he is trustworthy or not. Todd struggles with this in chapter 19 of Monsters of Men, “I also know he ain’t redeemed. I know he ain’t redeemable. (Ain’t he?) But he’s been acting like it.” Is Todd’s goodness rubbing off on the mayor, or is it all a ploy to get what he’s really after: complete control. As his abilities to control those around him improve, you’ll wonder how- and if- he can be stopped. The mayor always seems to be a step ahead of everyone else. You’ll have to read Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series to find out more about this awesomely wicked villain.

Who are some of your favorite literary villains? 

~ Read more about Chaos Walking in my gushing review of the series here.

The Next Must Read Series

chaos_postoneWow, readers. I just finished a series that was unlike anything I’ve ever read. It was thought-provoking, action-packed, suspenseful, and invigorating. It was so special that I’m going to focus three blog posts on this particular series. What series would deserve so much attention? The Chaos Walking series, made up of three novels and three short stories (one short story is at the end of each ebook). The series starts with The Knife of Never Letting Go, whose dramatic cliffhanger ending leads you right into The Ask and the Answer, and culminates with Monsters of Men. It’s a Young Adult series, but the content is pretty mature, so I would recommend it for readers over 13. Intrigued?

Have you ever wished that you knew what someone was thinking? Well, in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, you can hear what everyone is thinking. All. The. Time. All of their most secret and mundane thoughts, hopes, dreams, and memories are broadcast as “noise” to everyone around them. Oh, and everyone can hear what YOU are thinking too. Now maybe that doesn’t sound so cool. Got a crush on someone? Everyone would know. Don’t know how to do something? Everyone would know. Tell a little white lie? Don’t even bother, because everyone would know. The animals all have noise too, so it’s practically impossible to find some peace and quiet. But wait. Are you female? Then you don’t have noise. Lucky you! Only the men have noise, which means they are jealous and mistrustful of you and all your silence. How is such a thing possible? Well, this series takes place on a new planet where settlers have landed to get away from the problems of “Old World.” When the settlers arrive, the noise is like a disease they catch. So not only are they working hard to survive and build new communities, but they are also struggling to adapt to this strange phenomenon. Communities choose to deal with this issue in different ways.

The Knife of Never Letting Go follows the story of Todd, a young boy who is about to reach the age of manhood. His community- which is the only one he believes exists- no longer has any women. It’s just a town of angry, frustrated, depressed, and noisy men. One day, Todd is out gathering apples when he comes across a pocket of silence. This silence starts a chain of events that sends Todd running from his community in fear for his life. Along the way, he discovers the truth behind his community’s history, what it means to be a man, and how love can be a powerful force. I’m going to leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. You should know that the book may be a little strange and difficult to get into at first, but keep reading–it’s worth it!

This series has the potential to become the next big thing. Like The Hunger Games, the series is violent and brutal, and not for the easily offended. As in The Maze Runner series, the main character is a boy, instead of a girl like a lot of popular teen stories (Katniss, Katsa, Cassia, Bella, etc). Despite the heaviness of some of the events of the series, there is also a theme of tolerance, respect for the planet, and the courage to do what is right even in the toughest of times.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up The Knife of Never Letting Go at your local library, bookstore, or online outlet. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this wonderful series.


Read more about the Chaos Walking series on Goodreads:

Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go          + Short story “The New World”

Book 2: The Ask and the Answer                  + Short story “The Wide, Wide Sea”

Book 3: Monsters of Men                             + Short story “Snowscape”

When it’s Time to Give Up on a Book

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This pin on Pinterest made me stop and think: “If you read one book a week, starting at the age of 5, and live to be 80, you will have read a grand total of 3,900 books, a little over one-tenth of 1 percent of the books currently in print” (from The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History by Lewis Buzbee).

Now, I’m not sure about the accuracy of the math or facts involved here, but I do know that there never seems to be enough time to read everything I want to read. There are so many books in the world that it seems silly to waste time reading books I don’t enjoy. What’s the point? There’s nothing to gain or prove by finishing it. While I’m mentioning four reasons why I may not finish a book, it’s usually a combination of these which leads me to abandon a book.

It may be time to give up on a book…

  1. When I avoid reading –

Normally, I’m the type of person who is never far from a book or Kindle. I’d read while going to the bathroom, while blow drying my hair, or during TV commercials. Even with a new baby, I still find plenty of time for reading (mainly while feeding her). I know I’ve got a problem with a book if I’d rather do other things during this precious down time, like search for recipes on Pinterest or read up on the MMR vaccine. If I’m not aching to find out what happens next, a book is in jeopardy.

  1. When it puts me to sleep after a few pages –

This is the book where I never seem to make any progress because I keep falling asleep while trying to read it. Perhaps the pace is too slow, or there’s not enough action, or maybe it’s the language: too dry, too technical, or too much description and flowery language.

  1. When I’m completely lost –

I know this is happening when I find myself re-reading passages or flipping back in the book to see if I missed something. I think, maybe I’m not supposed to understand yet. Maybe this is what the author intended. But as I continue reading, the frustration of not understanding wins out.

  1. When I don’t like the characters –

Isn’t connecting with the characters one of the best parts about reading? If you can’t form some kind of a bond with the characters, it’s hard to care about their plight. I want to imagine myself as the strong, brave main character, or be friends with them, or crush on the love interest. If that’s not happening, I’m not buying into the book.

Here are a few examples of books I’ve given up on:

  • Code Name Verity (lost…so very lost…)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (all four reasons, though mainly because it was so dull at the beginning…which is as far as I made it. Read more about my thoughts here.)
  • The Monuments Men (wanted to avoid reading, and when I did, it put me asleep. Read more about my thoughts here.)
  • The Goddess Hunt (lost and didn’t connect with the characters)
  • Fallen (didn’t like the characters, and was perhaps a little confused as well)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (zzzz…no action. Only made it through one disc of this book on CD)

How about you: do you fight your way through a book just to finish it, or are you okay with abandoning a book?

John Green? No thanks.

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— Warning: may contain teeny, tiny book spoilers about Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines
     It’s official. I am not a John Green fan.
     If you didn’t gasp or let out a disgruntled hmmpf, then you probably aren’t familiar with Green. John Green is a Young Adult author who has legions of adoring fans. His novels include Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and a little novel-turned-movie you might have heard of called The Fault in our Stars. Green is kind of nerdy and adorkable. He video blogs along with his brother Hank and has inspired a community of followers who call themselves Nerdfighters. He has won myriad awards for writing about teenagers in (supposedly) realistic settings. His books have sold millions of copies and two have become movies (Paper Towns is scheduled to premiere this summer). He was also included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the World. In all, he’s an author getting a lot of buzz.
     So how could I, a lover of Young Adult literature, not be a fan of John Green?
I know, I was surprised too! I really wanted to like his books, and gave them an enthusiastic shot, but after reading four of his novels, I can’t quite figure out what the big deal is. I read The Fault in our Stars and thought I liked Green’s work. You can read my comments about the novel here. I wasn’t a crazy, adoring fan who was ready to get the word “okay” tattooed on my body or anything, but I liked the book well enough.
     But then I read three of his other books: Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. While reading all three books, I was faced with the decision of whether to keep reading or to abandon the novel. I kept reading mainly because everyone else seemed to love his books so much. At first I thought I didn’t like the books because the plots were so similar (road trip, anyone?!), but that wasn’t really it. I mean, I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew books, and they all followed the same, predictable plot formula. Instead, what really caused me to dislike Green’s novels are his characters. They are unlikeable. I wouldn’t be friends with them in real life. I don’t get a literary crush on any of the characters. They are whiny, philosophical, annoying, and sometimes boring.
     In Paper Towns, Quentin, Q, gets obsessed with the disappearance of his neighbor and long-time crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q has these deep thoughts about people and whether we can truly know someone based on what they choose to show us about themselves, and it gets so repetitive and dull that I sometimes found myself skimming through paragraphs of text until I got back to the action. His love interest, Margo, is so completely unlikeable that it’s a disappointment when she returns to the story. She’s just plain selfish. Why this book is becoming a movie is beyond me.
     An Abundance of Katherines follows the story of friends Colin and Hassan as they take a road trip to get over Colin’s latest break up. I found it hard to believe that a socially-awkward boy who spends all his time reading and learning languages would have had nineteen girlfriends. He’s obsessive and self-centered, and I can’t see what all of these girls would have been drawn to. Again, the novel’s burgeoning love interest isn’t all that great either. She is a girl who admittedly changes herself so that she is liked by whatever type of person she is around. She does this to the point where she doesn’t even know who she truly is anymore. She was dating her boyfriend mostly to get back at him; she didn’t even really like him. Despite this, we as readers are supposed to like her. On top of the characters, the novel included sections of math formulas that I skimmed over, as well as footnotes that I just found annoying. In all, I think I really could have stopped reading this book and I don’t think I would have felt bad about it.
     So there you have it. An unpopular opinion for sure, but it just goes to show you that we all have different tastes in novels and authors. I will be removing Looking for Alaska from my Goodreads To-Read shelf and I will not be reading Green’s future novels.
How about you? Are you a Green fan? Tell me why or why not in the comments.

Straight to Video: Not a Surprise

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     I recently* happened upon an article on Vulture.com titled, “Why Did This Movie Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper Go Straight to VOD?” I knew which movie the author was referring to right away, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear of its fate! While the author of the article mentions several reasons why the movie is a flop, he seems to be missing one important reason: the book the movie was based on wasn’t very good to begin with! 
     Let’s venture back in time a bit. Over a year ago, I posted about my reading wish list and how I was attempting to read books from BuzzFeed’s 14 Books to Read Before They Become Movies list. 
  • Gone Girl. Check.
  • If I Stay. Check.
  • The Maze Runner. Check.
  • Divergent. Check.
     You get the idea. A list of hot books that everyone seemed to be reading. So when I saw Serena, a movie that would be starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, I assumed I was in for another good read. I requested the book digitally through my library’s access to Overdrive. When it arrived, I started reading Ron Rash’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction-winning book and was…bored. Let me give you a summary of the novel: George and Serena Pemberton are ruthless timber barons. It’s constantly dark and dreary in the Carolina woodlands. A bunch of guys work really hard logging timber. There’s a terrible accident and someone dies. Serena Pemberton is intimidating. There’s more logging, another terrible accident, and someone dies. Serena is more intimidating and a little crazy. There’s some more logging, a terrible accident, and someone dies. Serena is upset and sends her lackey to kill someone, because obviously, there haven’t been enough deaths yet.
     When the book’s loan was up, I hadn’t finished the book- strange for me at the time. I contemplated just forgetting about the book, but again, I thought of the future movie. Jennifer Lawrence. Bradley Cooper. Beautiful period costumes set in the late 1920s. A fierce female character. Danger and intrigue in a logging company. Murder. Maybe I didn’t give the book a fair chance, I thought. Maybe I hadn’t gotten to the good part yet. Maybe if I just kept reading…so, I did. I requested the book again and read the rest of the novel. Sadly, it was still boring. The story continued with a lot of misery and destruction. There was no redeeming quality about the characters or the plot. I would not recommend this book to anyone I know. The author of the movie review had similar ideas about the film, stating, “Serena is not an interesting or particularly enjoyable movie, and I cannot in good conscience recommend that you watch it. But it is a useful object lesson in moviemaking in the 21st century — and an improbable tale of how something can go terribly wrong even when everything seems to be going wonderfully right.” That being said, read or watch Serena at your own risk!
           *The article is dated March 11, 2015. I wrote this blog post a long time ago…