Friday, 21 November 2014

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer review by DaisDaily
Beware, there are spoilers contained in this review.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a book that is surrounded by so much hype, and in some cases, a reader can be put off. I admit, I was one of those people.
It usually takes me quite a while to get around to popular books, not because I'm trying to avoid reading them in the midst of the literary takeover, it's usually just because, the less I read and hear about it, the less scared I am of starting it and then being disappointed by that book.
The third and final installment of the Mara Dyer was released before I had even started it. I think that tells you exactly how long it takes me to catch up with popular reads.

So finally, after what feels like a life time of positive reviews and strangers urging me to read this. I have.
I always knew that I would eventually read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer because the premise outlined seemed like it was perfect for the kind of book that I love.
I was lead to believe that this book would be a dark and slightly disturbing read.

My reactions on first finishing the book?
Did I read the same book as everyone else?
For the entirety of my knowing of the Mara Dyer series, I have never heard a bad thing to say about it. I tend to avoid Goodreads reviews just before or during reading a book, but now that I've finished it and I've taken a look at what others have thought, I find myself sated with the idea that I'm not the only one to feel the way I do.

This book is dark, and it is a little disturbing. But I found it more confusing than anything.
I loved that we didn't know if what was happening to Mara was hallucinations and just normal PTSD symptoms, or if Mara Dyer was truly going crazy.
Mara Dyer is an unstable narrator, and I loved that, but in all honesty, that's the only thing I found  that I really loved about the entirety of this book.
I like her twisted way of seeing her 'powers' right at the very end though, like she is the enforcer of justice.

I find myself quite undecided of I like the character of Noah Shaw or not.
His nature, looks, and general badassness are a mold that I have started to grow tired of now. There are a thousand Noah Shaw's out there, and I found him lacking compared to others of his exact likeness.
Noah's 'powers' of healing are never really explained to us at all. I would have liked just the tiniest bit of exploration of them.
I did like his humor though, and I liked a lot of Mara's lines.

I found the pacing of this book quite slow. I felt like the book was centering so much on petty arguments at school, when it should have been more focused on Mara's mission to not be crazy.
There are so many things all juggling for attention, that I was finding it a little overwhelming.
The book held so much potential to be a truly original and remarkable, but I feel like it has kind of missed its mark a little.

I just want to touch on this next subject rather lightly, but.. If my best friend had died, in an 'accident' that I too was a part of, there is no way that I would be able to walk around normally and act ok. My grief would be an bottomless pit of a black hole, and I'm really not an emotional person either. But I'm sure Mara's parents would be ok with that and not see the need to send her for psychiatric help.
And when Mara figures out that it was indeed her that causes said 'accident' and indirectly crushing and killing her best friend, she still seems rather ok with that. I'd be a raging emotional wreck! Just saying.

And my last comment. I just want to say that I hated the ending.
Because now that we all know that Jude is alive, I find myself reviewing Mara's hallucinations and whether or not whenever she saw Jude if that was really him or not.

I'll definitely be picking up the second one, as I already own it, but because of my average opinion on this first one, I don't think I'm expecting too much from the rest of the series. Which is a huge huge shame, because the Mara Dyer series is one that I was so hoping that I could love and become obsessed with.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 review by DaisDaily.

I was very fortunate to be off work the day before and the of the release of the latest Hunger Games instalment. That being the case, I knew I had to see it as soon as possible, and so I went to the midnight release of the film.
As soon as I entered the cinema and saw everyone else there waiting for the same thing, you could feel the barely suppressed excitement in the air. In the way that people were milling around the screen waiting to be let it. The way people just couldn't seem to stand still for more than a few seconds at a time.
Before the adverts before the film had begun playing everyone had already taken there seats and we were all sitting there waiting for what we was hoping to be a euphoric two hours of film.
Once the trailers had all ceased, there was a collective intake of breath when the title card came onto the screen. Everything became deadly silent as everybody strapped themselves in.

I never really had any concerns for the film in the build up to its release, as all the previous adaptions of the series has been refreshingly true.
Now, if I had to roughly guess, I would say it's been around nine months since I last read the series, so though things are not exactly fresh in my mind, important things still stuck out to me from the book.
Most fans of this series usually agree upon the fact that Mockingjay is the weakest of the trilogy, so I was just a tiny bit sceptical on how it would all translate to screen.

Mockingjay Part 1 starts slightly darker than the previous films and takes place right after Catching Fire ends.
The beginning scene is of Katniss Everdeen crouched low and hidden, after waking from a nightmare and she has to recite a set of lines to ground her in the here and now, and I like that.
I had a fond love of dark, gritty and broken things, and I thought this was exactly how Katniss should be reacting after two traumatic Games
Also, the scenes set in District 12 were quite harrowing and deeply gut wrenching.
And Finnick. Gosh, Finnick. If you've read Mockingjay, you’ll know why every scene with him had me holding my breath. Though I do wish they had portrayed his unstableness a little more. He is in a pretty bad place, emotionally, and I wanted to see a rather unhinged Finnick O'diar

Unfortunately, this film is pretty lackless compared to its predassesors in terms of visuals, colouring, landscapes. District 13 is just a mass of concrete, with everything in between beeing just different shades of grey.
And though Mockingjay lacks the rollercoaster actions scenes from the previous two films, it certainly makes up for it in the form of emotional scenes.

Something that kept tickling my brain about the differences between book and film is that they fail to touch on Katniss's unrest at being underground in District 13. And how in reality, District 13 is a place of rules as tight and suffocating as the Capitol.

Performance wise, I feel like this film is lacking slightly. Jennifer Lawrence truly shines in this role. Plutarch, I tolerated. Gale, I enjoyed seeing more depth from, seeing as how important a role he plays in the end. I very much loved Elizabeth Banks’s Effie, as always, her and Haymitch's interactions with each other and those around them have always been the small bright spots in these films that make them so much more well-rounded and enjoyable.
On the subject of Haymitch. I've always said that he was my favourite character, and though I stand behind that still, I was saddened when realising he was barely in the film.
Also, staying in line with missing a character, I surprisingly found myself quite sorely missing Peeta's presence.
He's like Katniss's anchor and the audience feels an ache equal of hers in wanting to see him safely besides her. I’ve never really been a big fan of Peeta from the outset, so I found myself presently surprised when I was rooting for his safe return.
Natalie Dormer did absolutely nothing for this movie. She contributed nothing. What was even the point of her character?
I found President Coine lacking in any real chemistry with any of the other actors, and I was left wanting her scenes to hurry up and end so we could get back to Katniss.

We’ve always known that Katniss Everdeen never meant for any of this to happen, and this shows completely in Mockingjay, her only influence is that she is the face of the rebellion, she makes no real sacrifices, and Coin has to try keep her as the face. So they use tactics of showing her the destruction of 12 just to keep her on board. Katniss has no real influence at all.

Ok, let’s talk about Peeta. Poor poor Peeta. Though he is hardly in this movie, Josh Hutcherson steals every scene that he is in.
You watch as Peeta deteriorates in front of our eyes, and it’s heart-breaking.
In the very end, when the hostage Victors are liberated (a line from the movie) we are treated with a split second glimpse of Joanna Mason, shaved head and skinny, and a very tear jerking reunion between Finnick and Annie
What everybody is waiting for though is the inevitable reunion of The Starcrossed Lovers, and this film certainly doesn’t disappoint on that front. Everybody in the cinema had their breath held.
The shot is beautiful, in a harrowing kind of way.
We start with just a shot of the back of Peeta’s head, and as Katniss slowly and cautiously ebbs around the table he starts to turn slightly as the camera is used as Katniss’s view. Once we finally see Peeta face on, the difference is immediately noticeable.
Imagine Bella Swan in Breaking Dawn Part One. Peeta’s face is sunken and grey, he has black eyes and cuts and lacerations. It’s shocking, and Katniss shows that. And just a second you are lead to believe this will be the happiest of solutions, but then you remember that President Snow let the victors be rescued, and suddenly Peeta springs at Katniss and she goes through a brutal beatdown. The whole thing was so mesmerizing.

The film finishes with a scene of Katniss walking towards Peeta’s hospital room, and there, Peeta lays strapped down in a plain white room while he thrashes around, almost insensible. It really is a powerful shot to end this movie.

Ultimately, I have to say I think I preferred the former instalment, Catching Fire was on the whole a more enjoyable film. Especially for casual observers. But for fans of the books and those who are loyal and invested in Katniss Everdeen's story, they will not be disappointed.

Though I enjoyed Mockingjay, I was left wanting.
What I'm most looking forward to in Mockinjay Part 2, in undoutably Joanna Mason, and watching her and Katniss become closer.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Reading List

In the past four months, I've bought just over 100 books, which is completely insane. And now I have the impossible task of trying to decide on what to read. I feel like if I make some sort of list, then I have a more effective way of moving through all these hopefully amazing books.
So here is where I try to make that list.

  1. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (I'm currently marathon reading The Raven Cycle)
  2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
  3. The Evolution of Mara Dyer
  4. Reboot
  5. More Than This
  6. Warm Bodies
  7. Ready Play One
  8. The Darkest Minds
  9. Never Fade
  10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
I think it's best to only plan ten books, as this list is subject to change depends on new purchases, or wanting to read sequels. Or I plan just might not be in the mood for a certain book.