13th

100 min.

13th-netflixAren’t there documentaries with happy/happier subjects? Of course there are, but isn’t a documentary supposed to educate? About things that may not be a day-to-day subject for a lot of people? I think 13th is smack right on that with it being about the USA prison system and how black people suffer from it.

This isn’t an emotional appeal, this is layers and layers of facts and numbers and statistics showing how authorities use everything in their power to control the minority population. How there’s no equality in punishment for the same crime, how there’s no fairness and that believing in the system is more than naive, it might be lethal.

It’s the strength of the people featured that prevent you from completely circling down the drain of ‘Is this really society’. People that keep speaking up, that keep fighting, the Davids to the  many-headed Goliath.

Ignorance is not an argument. Know what’s wrong.

13th, Netflix 2016

A Wrinkle in Time

It was a dark and stormy night.

This was a cooler experience than expected. I expected a children’s book from another age, not a mix of Abarat, Narnia and love of science. There’s discussions of religion, space travel and personal development.

And it all starts with a missing father and strange creatures asking Meg, her weird brother, and a popular boy for help. All three of them are essential – for different reasons – in the fight against the scary dark. It’s all very visual and vibrant, and I’m quite curious about how and how much it will be shown in the movie that’s made based on it.

It’s a children’s book like one of those that are mentioned in fiction, and reading it as an ebook somehow felt like I was missing part of the experience. Yes, there are some questions raised, but they are the kind you accept as unanswered because they don’t sabotage the story and/or we know an answer might follow (there’s a lot more books in the series).

I read this for a Book club, and I didn’t even feel like it was a waste of time. Which sounds like little, but means that I feel like it added to my Books Read, instead of subtracted.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, Farrar Straus Giroux 1962

Uprooted

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley
I read stories by Naomi Novak before, and definitely loved her way of world building and kind of clean (fantasy sometimes can be quite fussy) tone of voice and writing. Uprooted was mentioned a lot in the past year, so I added it to my list and – when noticed that it was a hefty 600 pages – got even more excited. This author offered good fantasy stories, let’s do this!

Uprooted is a clunky, dull, stuffed C-History story that can’t even be brightened up by cool elements. The characters one sympathizes with are the horses.The victim that is around to give the main character a more human, caring side, is a more interesting character, but is only used for a sympathy vote. There is a romance that isn’t really a romance, and is there anything the protagonist enjoys? Is there something more she does than just being?

I don’t know if Novak wanted to make a Serious, Epic fantasy novel, but she ended up with a brick with some fantasy elements. A few, that is.

Uprooted, Naomi Novak, Random House 2015

Einde verhaal/End of Story

…en ze leefden nog lang en gelukkig.

“Sorry God, better luck next universe.”

In which language do you review a bilingual story? Geen wonder dat het hoofdpersoon een identiteitscrisis heeft, er zitten net genoeg verschillen tussen zijn Nederlandse en zijn Engelse verhaal om onzeker van te worden.

Johan is een gepensioneerde vertaler die nog één verhaal aangeboden krijgt: End of Story. Een verhaal waarin God een reality show verliest, en dus genoeg boze reacties heeft ontvangen voor het zelfs is gepubliceerd (het boek, niet de show). Dat maakt Johan allemaal niet zo uit, maar het is wel een beetje vleiend dat de Amerikaanse auteur speciaal om hem heeft gevraagd.

John is a frustrated Canadian expat in the Netherlands who feels like the Dutch part of him took over as soon as they left their country of birth, Canada. He views End of Story as an obstruction keeping him from writing his own memories and finally getting a chance to be the main character inside this body again.

John and Johan are one, en worden niet getoond alsof dit een splitsing is door een mentale ziekte. Het vertalen van dit boek ontrafelt de duidelijke muur tussen hen twee, en het drama dat het boek meeneemt, is niets vergeleken bij die twee die elkaar ‘bevechten’.

Door de herhaling is wel duidelijk dat ze niet honderd procent van elkaar verschillen, maar leren ze dat op tijd?

Einde verhaal/End of Story, Philibert Schogt, De Arbeiderspers 2015

The Wizard Returns

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses, the Wizard thought as the rolling green fields of Oz dropped away from his balloon.

I think I will add a new category: snack reads. Will you learn something from it, walk away a changed person, gain new insights, be blown off your feet? Nah, but it’s fun/entertaining/delicious.

The Wizard Returns is a prequel to the Dorothy Must Die series (another twist on the going ons of the Oz world and its inhabitants) and a novella, so not too large either. It is as it says on the tin, Dorothy and other familiar characters are mostly mentioned in passing, this is for the Wizard.

Paige uses this as an excuse to give/show more history to/of Oz and the Wizard, and to just go – once more – completely all out on technicolour descriptions on this strange but sort of familiar world. The Wizard is a brat, the monkeys fly, the reader is entertained for a hop and a skip.

The Wizard Returns (A Dorothy Must Die prequel novella), Danielle Paige, HarperCollins 2015

The Burning Sky

Just before the start of Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys.

Stories don’t have to be original to be entertaining. Unlikely hero? Absolutely beautiful, but cold-hearted-because-of-plot-point prince? Cruel authorities? Cross dressing for safety? Pompous names? Now I come to think of it..where’s the adorable pet/companion animal in this story?

Iolanthe has been warned by her guardian to not do certain things. With her listening to him, there wouldn’t be a story, and suddenly Iolanthe turns out to be a threat and a treasure to the powers that be. Good thing there’s a handsome prince that won’t let them get her. Instead, she should stay close to him, hidden away on Eton.

Emotions, hormones, friendships and a book that’s a gate way, a training room and a virtual reality of royal history all make sure that there’s nary a dull moment. Is the will-they-won’t-they sappy? Yes. Does Thomas go off on a much too long description of all the beautiful people around? Definitely. But sometimes someone wants a story you can race through without feeling like you have missed out on details, plot and information. I’m even interested in the other two books (of course this is part of a series), even though I wouldn’t know what they could be about. Sacrifice? More angry kisses? Good thing the trilogy is already completely published.

The Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas, HarperCollins 2013

Mascots

89 min.

netflix-mascotsOh dear, what is this? A mockumentary, although the people starring are small-mindedly human enough to be straight from reality. And what is it about? Sport mascots, the people that dress up as animals (and other things) at sport games. The featured mascots are preparing for a world championship of mascots and accompanying con. The people attached to that are ..maybe even weirder, and in the worrying way.

Especially when sex and furries are added. It moves the not-documentary from ‘people very passionate about an unfamiliar hobby’ to ‘how many weirdos can we gather’.

In the end this made me more curious about the people in mascots, the real ones. Surely they’re not as annoying and frown-worthy as this lot. And hopefully they perform without a dancing poop.

Mascots, Netflix 2016