Seventh Son

102 min.
If you would have told me that this was a movie from ten or even twenty years ago, I would have believed you as well. It’s a b-adventure movie, unoriginal plot with reel-thin plot and pretty people.
seventh_son_poster

There’s an unlikely hero who is found by a rude stranger to be his new apprentice. There’s witches returning you see, and witches have to be fought. Because they’re evil, except when they are the love interest.

What follows is just a lot of destruction and explosions and some semi impressive CGI use. Creatures are gathered to help the witches, while the hero only has his rude master. Nameless civilians are sacrificed, towns decimated, how did it end again? Oh yes, the good guys win, but learn about how every win comes with losing (people) as well. Just pause and stop the VCR when it says The End, there’s no after-credits-anything.

Seventh Son, Universal Pictures 2014

In The Flesh

9 x 56 min.

More zombies? Yes, but possibly like you’ve never experienced them before. These zombies view brains as a delicacy, they are back from the dead, and they are medicated in such a way that they are not rabid any more and need to assimilate (back) into society. The bbbc-in-the-fleshBBC sometimes likes to spin things just a bit differently, and this time they do it well.

If the pain and discomfort of having undead murderers move back into your neighbourhood, add a bit more human horror with having the neighbourhood being a small, Northern England one, and have the main character be different in another way as well: main character Kieren is gay. It’s hard to discover which one is viewed as worse.

That makes In The Flesh – possibly more than other zombie stories – a show to look at your way of viewing the other in society, and the hypocrisy of Not In My Backyard and the like. This doesn’t turn it into a Save Humankind pamphlet, which might make things even a little bit more depressing. And yet, it’s a show to watch, a pain to suffer. That darn BBC again.

In The Flesh, BBC 2013

Talon

 Observe.

Is me dat even sappig allemaal. Negeer af en toe de iets te uitgebreide omschrijvingen van uiterlijk, gevoelens en interieurs en je hebt zowaar een vermakelijk, semi-origineel YA verhaal in handen.

Semi-origineel? Ja, want deze keer zijn het draken, in plaats van vampiers of heksen. Draken die zich in een mens kunnen veranderen en dus gewoon in de samenleving rond kunnen lopen. Zolang hun aartsvijand, de Orde van St. George, hen niet ontdekt.

Gelukkig is de hoofdrolspeler wel heel knap, is er een love triangle, een corrupte groep om tegen te vechten en (kortstondig) een verzameling pestkoppen. Genoeg YA elementen om niet off the beaten track te gaan.

Maar lekker. Bijna puur vermaak, amper een frustratie te vinden. Het is wel het eerste boek van een trilogie, maar herhaling lonkt al snel, dus misschien het gewoon hier bij houden.

Talon, Julie Kagawa Harlequin TEEN 2014

The Diviners

In a town house at a fashionable address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, every lamp blazes.

Yay, finally! It feels like this book has been on my list for at least five years, but because it’s 2016 and the book was published in 2012, that’s not possible. Anyway, it felt like a long time. And now I finally read it.

First of all, for ‘YA’ it’s a big novel, over 500 pages. Secondly: there’s no love triangle. Adjust to that, and add Roaring Twenties, diverse characters with diverse motivations, and a scary edge that keeps it just teen friendly enough.

Something bad is happening, and it isn’t impeding economical doom. Luckily the main characters all have some kind of power, they just have to stay alive long enough to understand it and the reason for having it.

It’s the first book of a four book series, but luckily Bray doesn’t go for huge, annoying cliffhangers to invite you to hang on. The story itself manages to do that.

The Diviners, Libba Bray, Little, Brown and Company 2012

The Vicious Deep

I hear the first wave before I see it-

Teenage boys really think about their dicks a lot. Being related to the king of the mermaids isn’t that important, where did his dick go?

But okay, mermaids for once, instead of vampires or werewolves. And no matter how often the main character wishes he would have a more masculine problem (oh, male teenagers), there’s nothing girly or frilly about the world he ends up in.

Tristan has – I assume – plain male teenager problems, until he survives a freak wave, gets sick and starts dreaming of a scary mermaid.

Combine discovering a whole new side of himself and his family with a best friend/love interest and finishing high school, and neither the reader or Tristan get time to take a breather.

The Vicious Deep offers some nice world building and (strange) insight to the teenage boy’s mind. It’s the first book of a series, but can do fine without any sequels.

The Vicious Deep, Zoraida Córdova, Sourcebooks 2012

Undermajordomo Minor

Lucien Minor’s mother had not wept, had not come close to weeping at their parting.

Uh, well, erm, what kind of book was this? Pretty early into it I already tweeted “This book is going to be awesome-weird or how-what-why-frustration-fueled-weird” and it landed largely on the side of the last option.

The blurbs call it darkly comedic, a fairy tale, a commentary. I only recognised the fairy tale part. There’s an unlikely hero (soft on the hero part), a strange village with a stranger castle with even stranger people inhabiting it. Mysteries happen as well, but somehow, along the way, the author seemingly decided to start unveiling them.

This turns things from a-bit-out-there to too neatly wrapped up, and with an unsatisfying end to boot. I don’t know why it was on my To Read list, but I’m not going to pass it on.

Undermajordomo Minor, Patrick DeWitt, Anansi 2015

Guardian of the Dead

I opened my eyes.

Between okay and “why did I put this on my list” non-fiction, I previously had the wonderful Fates and Furies to lift my reading experience up. Now I can add Guardian of the Dead as a delightful breath of fresh air (nothing bad about non-fiction meant, it just has to work harder to blow me away).

This book (a debut novel) did. This isn’t just another YA novel. The usual suspects of love triangle, unknowingly perfect hero(ine) and lack of any friendships/relationships are almost non-existent (the author has a good excuse for the last one). But probably the most exciting thing was the use of Māori mythology. And not in an ‘ Oh, Ah, how exotic and strange’ way, but very much as a part of daily, contemporary life. It shows that there’s more to mythology than another version of Zeus messing up things.

Not that messing up doesn’t happen. Main character Ellie walks into a bite-more-than-you-can-chew situation that might turn into the end of New Zealand as we know it. Throw in frustrations about family, school, and body, add a crush (there is a slightly mysterious love interest), some female friendships and enemies,  some unexpected magic and you get a maelstrom of entertainment.

Read it, love it hopefully as much as I do.

Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Hachette Book Company 2010