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Review: Ordering Books Online From Fully Booked Philippines

As a child, my parents encouraged me to read a lot, even though they aren’t readers themselves. We weren’t rich, but they’d buy books for me whenever they had money to spare, so I had no shortage of Peter & Jane books and Enid Blyton novels. For that I am truly grateful. Because without books and the magic of imagination and wonder, I would not be who I am today.

Course, I think my mom regrets it immensely, now that the house is running out of space to store my books lol.

But I digress.

A friend’s daughter had her birthday recently, and since she likes reading (a rare thing among kids these days, I think!), I thought of sending her a book. A Neil Gaiman title if I could find it. But since my friend lives in the Philippines, I had to look for a store/retailer that could deliver there.

I first went to Amazon, but apparently it has a policy whereby books, music, video and DVD products can’t be shipped internationally (coz of copyright issues). Same thing with sites like Kobo and Kindle (even the e-version! If you’re in a different country, it only allows you to read it in that country wtf).

After what felt like hours (and getting annoyed that we’re in 2020 and it isn’t even convenient to buy a fahking book to gift to someone overseas) I ended up at the website of Fully Booked, a books and stationery retailer in the Philippines. Their flagship store in Bonifacio Global City, Manila, is known for its cool lifestyle-oriented aesthetic; similar to how BookXCess is like here in Malaysia. They also have an online arm, and they ship within the Philippines. Perfect!

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The site is easy to navigate and offers a seamless online shopping experience. Books are sorted by category (children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, lifestyle, art & design, etc.), and they also have a tab for special collections and bestsellers. If you know the title/author you’re looking for, there’s a search bar you can use to navigate the site. Aside from books, Fully Booked also carries stationery, totes, clothing and novelties, as well as toys and games.

After selecting your order and adding them to cart, simply key in your details and check out. Payment can be done via (for those in the Philippines) Dragonpay through options like Over-the-Counter Bank Deposits and Over-the-Counter Non-bank payments, and credit card. Since I’m based in Malaysia, I chose Paypal as my mode of payment, and it automatically converted the currency from RM when deducting the amount (this is based on standard international conversion). You can also choose to pay via Cash on delivery, provided you have a minimum order of PHP799. Free shipping is also available for orders above that amount.

Once I made the order, I received an email confirming my purchase, along with a tracking number. It takes about three to five working days to process, after which they’ll send another email informing you that the shipment is on its way.

All in all, I think it took about five days in total for the book to arrive, which is quite efficient!

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I originally wanted to get Coraline, but it wasn’t available, so I chose a lesser known Gaiman title which I thought she would enjoy.

Cinnamon is a picture book set in a make-believe place in India. It talks about a talking tiger, who is the only one who may be able to get a mute princess to speak. Illustrated by Divya Srinivisan, the book is full of colourful illustrations that both adults and children can enjoy.

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Some of the book’s lovely illustrations!

I was glad to hear that she enjoyed reading it – and that it piqued her curiosity about Indian culture. That’s another great thing about reading : it encourages us to broaden our minds, and with that, our understanding of the world.

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So that was my review of using Fully Booked for the first time. Even if you don’t live in the Philippines, I think it’s fairly convenient to buy something from Fully Booked as a gift for someone there. The only downside is that you can’t give it as a ‘surprise’, since you’ll need to key in their contact details.

fullybookedonline.com.

PS: Thank you Mr.A for the photos!

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I Finally Played Assassin’s Creed – Here Are My Thoughts

The Assassin’s Creed series is one of the most popular games in the world, with 11 installments under its belt and over 140 million copies sold. While I have heard many good things about the game, I never had the chance to play it until recently. Steam was having a sale on all AC titles, some of which were going at half price – and after looking up reviews, I settled on AC: Origins.

Only regret? I should have started playing sooner.

AC Origins is set in the last days of the Ptolemaic dynasty in ancient Egypt, and follows Bayek of Siwa, a Medjay whose duty is to protect the people – sort of like a modern day sheriff of sorts. A dangerous job begets dangerous enemies, and Bayek and his son Khemu are captured by mysterious masked figures from The Order of the Ancients. They demand Bayek open the Siwa Vault, but Bayek was actually oblivious to the vault’s existence, a fact the Order of the Ancients refused to believe. In the ensuing scuffle, Khemu is accidentally murdered by his own father. 

The story picks up one year later, with Bayek returning to Siwa after successfully killing The Heron, one of the Order. Bayek and his wife Aya are hell-bent on revenge, and they have a list of targets from which they intend to eliminate. However, the more Bayek investigates, the more he realizes that toppling the order isn’t simply about assassinating a few men, as the organisation is not only firmly entrenched in society and politics, but also wields enormous influence. They also discover that the Order is actually after powerful relics – which is why they wanted access to Siwa Vault – and use these powers to subjugate the population and bring peace and order to the world. 

To counter this, Bayek and Aya found The Hidden Ones, the precursor to the modern Assassins. Like the modern version, the Hidden Ones are meant to represent peace through freedom, whereas the Order of Ancients – a forerunner to the modern Templars in other AC games, represent peace through order. These two secret societies will battle each other through the ages: one determined to seek out relics for power, the other to prevent the subjugation of mankind. 

The Story and Characters 

If you’re a fan of historical fiction (like Dan Brown), you’ll love how the story weaves Bayek and the Hidden Ones into real-life events in history. There’s even a mission where you help sneak Cleopatra into Ptolemy’s palace, so that she can meet Julius Caesar. The main story isn’t all that long, but there are plenty of side missions to keep you occupied. Some have interesting plots and add to the overall story; others are mundane and involve things like fetching items. As much as I like the game, I found the side missions tedious and repetitive after awhile, but kept going because I’m *hangs head in shame* a completionist and it bugs me when there’s an incomplete mark on the map lol. 

Bayek as a character is quite likeable, albeit a little naive (he often takes what people say at face value, then (insert Pikachu face meme here) is shocked when they betray him. Bayek’s guilt at Khemu’s murder ,his helplessness at being unable to protect his son and family, is also well written and portrayed through small side missions, like the one where you can complete puzzles and be rewarded with some dialogue about how Bayek and Khemu used to go star gazing.

I also think that the theme of revenge is conveyed really well. Bayek feels that by killing the people responsible for his son’s death, as well as those who have wronged Egypt and oppressed its people, he will be able to feel at peace. We see that this is not the case. 

Whenever Bayek makes a kill, the player is transported to a dark space where Bayek has a conversation with his victim and passes judgement for their sins, before they are sent to the afterlife. But as the player observes, Bayek is not always happy, even after his vengeance is complete, because deep down he knows that like Hydra in Greek mythology, cut off one head and another appears. There will always be oppressors, just as how there will always be the oppressed. It isn’t until he realises this and finds a greater calling – to protect the people through the Hidden Ones and leave a legacy that lasts beyond his own life – that he truly finds purpose. 

Graphics and Setting 

Image via Ubisoft

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Egyptian history (one of my dreams as a kid was to go see the Pyramids of Giza), and AC Origins delivers with breathtaking visuals. It’s one of the prettiest games that I’ve played, aside from Detroit Become Human. 

The immersion is wonderful; at times I felt like I was actually exploring ancient Egypt in Bayek’s shoes, checking out tiny details on the buildings and statues,soaking in the culture and colourful tales of their gods and myths. The costumes are amazingly detailed and reflect the different stations of its characters, from the everyday people and the priestesses, to soldiers, merchants and nobility. You also get a nice mix of Egyptian, Greek and Roman culture, as during the Ptolemaic period these three were intertwined (Rome invaded Egypt in 30BC, ending Cleopatra’s rule and the ancient Egyptian dynasty). As Bayek, you visit important cities such as Alexandria, Krokodiliopolis, Thebes and Memphis, each with their own unique architecture.

Gameplay 

I have to admit – I was rather miffed at the lack of a ‘jump’ command when I first started playing, because it seemed like such a basic move that players won’t be able to do at will. Instead, you vault over obstacles when Bayek’s avatar is close – but you kind of get used to it as the game progresses. As the AC series is all about stealth, you’re not supposed to be running through hordes of enemies hacking and slashing, relying instead on hiding yourself in bushes, around pillars and timing your attacks so that enemies won’t raise the alarm. Overall, the gameplay feels smooth, even though sometimes I would accidentally release myself from a ledge and watch as Bayek falls to his doom wtf haha. That being said, the game allows you to move and climb virtually anywhere. The use of your hawk Senu to hone in on hidden treasure and enemies is a nice touch, and is apparently a hallmark of the AC games (can’t compare because I’ve never played the other ones). 

I feel that it is a good thing that I started with AC: Origins. Not only does it start in the ‘correct’ chronological order ie how the Assassins came to be, thus giving the player plenty of backstory, it’s also touted as one of the best AC games of all time. Because I had so much fun, I purchased AC: Odyssey, which is the latest one in the franchise and will be checking it out as soon as I have more time – and I’m planning to get some of the older games too.The thing about that, though, is that the new games tend to be improvements over old ones, so you just can’t get into them once you’ve played the new (case in point: I played Witcher 3 first, and Witcher 2 just sucked in comparison. Same case with Borderlands 2). 

Have you played any of the Assassin’s Creed games? Which one is your favourite? 

Movie Review: Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

Every time anything with Stephen King’s name stamp on it comes out, I get super excited (He is, after all, one of my favourite authors!), so I was super psyched to watch The Dark Tower movie.

As a self-professed King fan, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of the Dark Tower books in his behemoth 7-titled series – but only because it was hard to find earlier titles in bookstores, and I didn’t want to start in the middle. This was a blessing in disguise. I went in to the movie with only the tiniest notion of what the books were about (a gunslinger in a fantasy world where forces are out to destroy The Dark Tower, which links all the worlds together), so I had none of the ‘baggage’ or expectations of a reader. And guess what? I liked the film, despite its abysmal 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe it would have been different if I had read it (case in point: The Hobbit – which Hollywood utterly destroyed) but I thought it was a nice, solid film with good casting and a well balanced dose of action.

Synopsis:

11-year-old New Yorker Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has recurring dreams of a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who forces children with psychic powers to channel their energy into destroying a Dark Tower. He is aided by monsters, dressed in human skin suits. There is also a gunslinger who opposes him.

Jake’s visions coincide with increasingly frequent earthquakes in the city. When he relates these to his mother, stepfather and psychiatrists, they dismiss it as trauma from his father’s recent death. His stepfather, who wants him out of the house, eventually convinces Jake’s mother to send the boy away to a hospital – but when the alleged facility people come to take him away, he recognises them as the monsters from his dreams because of the seams under their necks. Fleeing, he eventually locates an abandoned house from one of his visions and discovers a portal, where he travels to a parallel dimension dubbed the Mid-World. There, he encounters the Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last of his kind from a line of medieval knights, sworn to protect the Tower. Roland is seeking the Man in Black, Walter, as revenge for killing his father who was also a gunslinger. Jake learns that the Tower is all that is protecting the universe from ‘outside’ monsters, hell bent on invading and destroying reality as we know it – and that the Man in Black wants to let them in by harvesting the powers of psychic children.

Meanwhile, Walter investigates Jake’s escape and the portal breach; coming to the conclusion that Jake’s psychic powers are far beyond anything that they have seen so far. And so the hunt for Jake begins… can Roland protect him and save the world?

Verdict 

I don’t know why there’s so much hate for the film. Maybe I have low standards (?) but I quite liked it. Of course, it’s not mind-blowingly good, but with a run-time of only 96 minutes, it was short, sweet and entertaining. The Independent called it ‘wildly unfaithful and simplistic to fans of King’s books’. Maybe so, but how do you condense a mammoth 7 books into one short film? Even Peter Jackson had to stretch out the Hobbit into a trilogy. I felt that Nikolai Arcel did a pretty decent job, considering.

The plot is simple enough that newbies should be able to understand without having to read an encyclopedia of King lore, and the cast is stellar. If nothing else, critics all agree that Idris Elba makes an excellent Roland. His world-weary portrayal of a Gunslinger who has lost his way and purpose, only to find it again through an optimistic, never-say-die young boy, is inspiring. Elba is effortlessly cool and scenes where he draws his gun and shoots baddies are awesome. I especially liked the Gunslinger’s Oath (which, in my mind, when recited by anyone else would appear almost cheesy and comical).

Jake is also very likeable; coming across as courageous and quick-witted. Some critics have panned the way the movie focuses on Jake more than the Gunslinger, but I felt it was a good way to build up the story without taking away from Roland’s role. Action sequences are choreographed well, and I enjoyed picking out the little Easter eggs from King’s other novels throughout the film.

The weakest link among the cast is, sadly, The Man in Black. Matthew McConaughey’s slick, snakeskin-oil salesman persona lacks real menace, and for a sorcerer who can make others stop breathing with just a few words, he seems rather mild and tame compared to some truly disturbing villains.

While I wouldn’t say it’s a great film, I felt it wasn’t as awful as critics made it out to be. Definitely watchable, especially on a lazy weekend.

Score: 7/10.

 

 

Batman vs Superman: Best Worst Film of 2016

Note: Spoilers.

Okay. I have to write this down quickly before I start forgetting details. Anyway.

Batman vs Superman is one of the worst films of all time. 

Aside from the B-grade sounding title (which I can forgive because Hollywood seems to have run out of creative juice lately), the movie is an absolute mess.

First of all, let me clarify that I’ve never been a fan of either the DC or the Marvel universe. Sure, I’ve watched a couple of old Batman films here, and odd Spiderman/Iron Man there… but I don’t follow the series religiously, especially since they’ve been churning out sequels faster than one can poop these days.

Coming back to BvS, friends (and good ol’ movie review sites) have posted on how bad the film is. But becoz my movie buddy Simon had free tickets and this was the only one showing on a Thursday night, we thought why the hell not, right? 

Synopsis: 


The movie has so much stuff that makes no sense, I will try to summarise as best as I can lol.

We begin the film with Batman’s parents being murdered by some random thug. Fast forward to about 18 months before the film officially ‘starts’, and we see Superman fighting fellow alien Zod, causing massive destruction to Earth and destroying Wayne’s HQ + killing some employees. The OTT intro; buildings exploding left and right while Wayne navigates the roads – no biggie – was similar to that scene in 2012 where everything except the hero’s car gets obliterated. Figures.

From then on, Batman has a big ol grudge against our man in the spandex.

Fast forward again to the present day, and journalist Lois Lane is in Nairomi, Africa (much original, so wow, at least make the effort to come up with a fictional African place name instead of lazily changing one letter) to interview a terrorist. Long story short, shit goes down, Superman comes to save her and gets a whole village of innocent people slaughtered, but because he is an asshole, all he cares about is banging Lois in the bathtub afterwards.

People come forward to accuse Superman of not giving a shit that his actions are causing harm, which is exactly what Superman does – not give a shit. Batman reads all this stuff and goes ‘Superman is a threat to humanity and must be stopped.’

Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, a billionaire’s son (this version seems more like the Joker than Luthor from the comics), imports kryptonite, claiming to be able to manufacture weapons to use as a deterrent against potential Kryptonian attacks. He gets access to General Zod’s body, slices off his fingerprints and uses them to gain access to the Kryptonian ship. There he finds a Kryptonian Siri who teaches him the knowledge of a 100,000 worlds (which, towards the end of the film, seems to have no bearing to the story – Lex does not suddenly use this knowledge for anything). Instead, he decides to make Doomsday, a brutish creature that looks like it walked off a Lord of the Rings set.

Lex invites a bunch of people to a party, where Batman and Superman meet as their alter egos for the first time. Clark Kent thinks Bruce Wayne is up to no good (which was true, as Wayne was gonna steal some data shit from Luthor) but halfway through tailing him, sees a kid in a building on fire somewhere in South America and flies off. Wayne bumps into Wonder Woman, who is looking for a photo of herself from 1918 which Lex has in his archived research of metahumans.

After all this randomness, the story basically progresses where Batman’s grudge grows stronger and stronger against Superman, some other exploding scenes, Batman steals Kryptonite from Lex Luthor and fashions it into weapons to fight against the Man of Steel, while Luthor laughs in the back because Batman is a gullible dumbass. Lex kidnaps Superman’s adoptive mom Martha, and forces him to fight against Batman.

So instead of explaining to Batman about the whole situation, dumbass Superman starts off with ‘You have to listen to me, there is not much time’ – which allows Batman to sucker punch him first, followed by Superman deciding that he would beat up Batman instead. After a good 10-minute fight, Superman is finally weakened and goes ‘You have to save Martha!’ – which happens to be Batman’s mom’s name as well.  Lois Lane pops up out of nowhere and goes ‘It’s his mother’s name!’ B and S become best friends. Batman goes to save Superman’s mum.

And then Doomsday is revived. Wonder Woman sees this on the plane where she was about to go back into hiding, and decides to fk it and go fight instead. Cue slow shots of Gal Gadot and epic music. More exploding buildings, fight, Superman dies and saves the world, is remembered as a hero. The end.

Verdict 

I know this is a superhero film, but BvS stretches logic to the limit. The storytelling is the worst part of the film – choppy, and scenes have no bearing to the story (the part where Bruce Wayne emails Wonder Woman, she looks at it and then that part of the story just gets cut off for no apparent reason; or that part where Batman dreams about a world where Superman has gone rogue coz of Lois Lane and some random time travelling dude screaming ‘come find us!’) Made no sense to me.

The funniest part was the Batman vs Superman fight. Super unnecessary, and the most logic-defying part? When Superman says ‘Martha, save Martha’ and they suddenly become best friends coz their mums share the same name. It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble if you spoke up sooner, Superman. And Batman, stop being a stupid btch.

The best part of the film is the Wonder Woman soundtrack. Ben Affleck’s acting wasn’t that bad, actually. Superman’s character was just a pompous, attention-seeking prick.

It made 500mil at the box office though – it might have come from people like me who know its bad and wanted to watch to see how bad it is.

Score: 2/10

 

 

 

Book Review – Animal Farm by George Orwell

I have not read Animal Farm before.

I know, I know. How can I proclaim myself a bookworm and literature lover if I haven’t read one of the greatest classics of all time?

(Note: I haven’t read a tonne of classics. A Clockwork Orange, Catch-22… should I stop this blasphemy now?)

But yeah. Who hasn’t heard of Animal Farm? I have, but I’ve never gone out of my way to buy a copy. I may be a book hoarder, but I am a lazy one. I usually buy books based on what I see – which is, whatever I can grab whenever I happen to be at a bookstore. I’ve never read War of the Worlds either *gasp!*

Animal Farm was going for only RM15 at my local bookstore, so I bought it two weeks ago along with two other books. Since it was a small and lightweight book, I brought it along during my Penang trip. I finished it within the few hours we were travelling from KL to the island – not because I’m trying to brag or anything, but coz the story itself isn’t very long.

animal_farm_propaganda_by_Satansgoalie

Background:

Animal Farm by George Orwell was published in 1945 – a few years before his other famous novel, 1984. Similar to his latter work, AF is set in a dystopian setting, and has been hailed as an excellent political satire; a critical look on the political and social climate of that era – in particular, the communist regime of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Orwell, who was a democratic socialist himself, has stated in interviews that he felt that Soviet Union had become a brutal dictatorship, and writing Animal Farm was his way of opening up the eyes of the West, many whom at that time were still sympathetic to the Red Army’s cause. Orwell himself suffered during the Spanish Civil War under this regime, and that has led to the somber and unforgiving tone of this story.

Originally dubbed Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, the preface in the book I bought explained that it was called so because it reeked so much with political overtones that publishers rejected it on the basis that even the blind could tell that the characters in it were meant to refer to people in real life. Adding ‘A fairy Story’ gave it fair basis to claim that it was, in fact, just a fairytale. But isn’t that how the best tales are told and passed down through the generations?

SYNOPSIS

The story chronicles the lives of animals on a farm. They live a hard life – the chickens, ducks, pigs, dogs, horses, donkeys… all are not spared from hunger and the rod, slaves forced to work  for a drunkard master, Mr Jones. The animals would have stayed in that station forever, if not for the wise Old Major, a prized white boar. He has a vision – that the animals would create a peaceful nation for themselves without human oppression. He lays down the principles for ‘Animalism’, which become the basis for everything the animals should follow – the most important being ‘All Animals Are Equal.’

Then he conks out.

Left with a void of leadership, two male boars take the helm of leading the animals, now that their founder was gone. These are Snowball and Napoleon, reportedly modeled around Trotsky and Stalin, respectively. Being much smarter than the rest, they teach the animals how to read and write, help in ensuring the farm runs smoothly, etc. In a coup, they manage to overthrow Mr Jones (which is said to symbolise the people overthrowing the Russian Tsar) and establish a new government called Animal Farm. All seems to be well for a moment… until small but sure allowances are given to the pigs; an advantage over the other animals. It started off with a little bit more provisions, then this and that. The other animals, having lived all their lives in subservience, and being less intelligent, felt that these were necessary since the pigs were ‘smarter’, after all.

The book portrays Snowball as being the clever and innovative one, who comes up with all sorts of ideas, such as building a mill so that the farm could be self-sufficient without relying on outside sources for trade. Napoleon, on the other hand, is seen as biding his time, training a newborn litter of puppies as his personal guards. The two boars fight constantly over reign of the farm – until one day, Napoleon seizes a chance and chases Snowball away with his now fully grown, ferociously trained dogs. He establishes himself as the ruler, and the animals are made to work harder than ever to complete the windmill project, which Napoleon now claims as his own. Still, the animals, being uneducated and afraid, convinced themselves that they were better off than they were under a human.

A neighbouring farm attacks, destroying the mill the animals worked so hard to build. Somehow along the way, Snowball is made a scapegoat for all the farm’s troubles, and those who ‘remembered’ the situation wrongly were put down or killed. Napoleon uses his armed dogs as a weapon to instilling fear, and rewrites ‘history’ in the memories of the animals until Snowball is seen as the harbringer of all their problems. The principles of Animalism underlined by their late founder, the Old Major, are slowly twisted and changed of their meaning. The animals continue toiling under a mistaken belief that they are now living better lives, free from the humans. What they get in exchange, however, is merely the same whip, under a different master.

The story has a rather sad ending in my opinion, but if you want to find out what it is, grab a copy.:)

VERDICT – 

Often simple but very cleverly written (and this is no mean feat!),  Animal Farm is understandably one of Orwell’s greatest masterpieces. Done in clear, concise language, there is nothing dreamy about the cruel reality of the farm’s residents, and reflects on the strong opposition Orwell had towards the ‘ideals’ created by Stalin’s regime. Orwell was a socialist himself, and seeing this version of his beliefs being twisted into something that it wasn’t was probably hard for him. You can see this from the novel – how Old Major supposedly represents Karl Marx, the founder of Marxism, and his vision of ‘all animals (people) are equal.’

Towards the end of the novel, the reader will find a saying that drives this point home – “All Animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” My take on it is that sometimes principles, no matter how well-intentioned they may have started off with, can be easily twisted by self-serving individuals for their own ends. True equality is impossible. If you applied it to some situations today – how people are using religion and twisting its interpretation to suit their needs – it is basically the same concept. The story also deals with how people can be subjugated and made to forget with fear and coercion – as seen by how Snowball was demonised and rewritten in their memories as an evil pig, even though he was a hero in the first place.

The characters are developed well, each representing a particular ‘segment’ in society. Boxer the carthorse, for example, is loyal to the bone but not very intelligent, responding to hardships by working even harder. His is a sad, hard fate. Then there’s Benjamin, a cynical old donkey who states one irrefutable fact about life on the farm – “life would go on as it had always gone on– that is, badly.”

Overall, Animal Farm was a VERY good read, and although short and simple, the symbolism and layers of political and social commentary within it is astounding. You could probably read it a few times and get different meanings every time. It also reflected Orwell’s stance against Stalin Russia and the form of socialism they promoted, as being an impossible dream to achieve, because although the ideals are there, there will always be men who are too weak or selfish to uphold them.

Rating: 10/10.

You shoudl have just skipped everything above and just gotten this piece of advice:Read. It. 

Book/Movie Review – The Maze Runner

A lot of films these days come from book adaptations – meaning that the book probably had a wide fan base before they decided to make it for the silver screen. Although I love books, I’m not ‘hip’ when it comes to choosing titles: which means that I probably read the ‘hot’ ones wayyyy after they have been published and the hype has died down.

In fact, I actually watched the movies before I read the books (like Lord of The Rings and Hunger Games). So The Maze Runner, the latest sci-fi/dystopian young adult movie, was no exception.

THE MAZE RUNNER TM and © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

I liked the movie because it had cute guys (felt like such a pedo until I found out later that the actors in them, who portray teenagers, are all around my age in real life. whew) AND a good story plot. The pace of the storytelling is just right and many of the characters are likable (even Gally, whose douchey-ness is understandable in the context that he just wanted to protect his own people and is suspicious of changes – quite different from the Gally in the novel who is just pure douche).

So while out browsing for my weekly book hoarding, I saw The Maze Runner series (there are four books) and decided to get it.9781910002117_2_Z

THE MAZE RUNNER

Author: James Dashner

Synopsis:

Thomas wakes up in a steel box filled with supplies, with no memories of who he is, where he’s at or how he got there. Being rudely jolted awake by a bunch of teenage boys hovering over him doesn’t exactly help – and no one seems to want to tell him anything. All he finds out is that he’s in a field called The Glade, and that everyone is stuck within it’s walls by a gigantic maze that shifts and changes. To make matters worse, the Maze is filled with Monsters called Grievers – huge sickening machine-beast hybrids that would either kill you or sting you with stuff that drives you nuts.

Not long after, the box which he came in from sends another ‘Greenie’ (slang for newbie at The Glade) – but this time, it’s a girl – the only girl ever sent all the years they have been there. She clutches a foreboding note, tells them that she’s the ‘Trigger’ and seems to have telepathic powers with Thomas – meaning they can talk to each other inside their heads. Before the bunch can really figure out what everything means, the maze mechanics changes – new sections open up, and they are attacked by Grievers. Now they must find a way to solve the mystery before all of them die inside, never knowing what is out there.

Verdict:

I admit that I had high hopes for the book, since the movie was quite enjoyable.Fans have compared the series to Divergent and The Hunger Games (which I love), so I was expecting some major kazam and nights staying up late reading.

I’m sad to say that Book 1 of The Maze Runner series was a disappointment for me.

Dashner loves using adjectives and verbs to the point of overkill. The formula of his writing style seems to be ‘dialogue’ followed by ‘description of feelings’. This means that after every single dialogue, the characters are feeling something or doing something. After a bit, it gets really, REALLY annoying. In the first few chapters of the book, nothing is explained, with Dashner preferring to confuse the readers as much as Thomas himself. Some critics have said that it was intentional, but for myself, I didn’t quite like it. Thomas in the book also seemed like one moody mofo, swinging from relief to panic to anger within a few sentences.

I also felt that Dashner wasn’t consistent with his characters ‘attributes’. For example, Minho, one of the Runners (people who explore the Maze), was extremely depressing and gave up as soon as he could when they were stuck in there overnight – Thomas, ever the hero, was the one giving encouragement. Fast forward a few chapters and the same Minho was suddenly giving prep talks on persevering, while Thomas was the one being sullen.

Although I understand that people can react differently in different situations, the change that Dashner uses is not smooth enough, making the characters seem like a bunch of bipolar teenagers.

Storywise, the movie did some tweaks – which were actually pretty  good. The same can’t be said of the novel – some parts seem clunky and dragged out, and were unnecessary to the plot.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have redeeming points. After about 200 pages in, the book starts picking up the pace, and it does have it’s fair share of suspenseful moments.

All in all, I wished The Maze Runner Book 1 could have been a better reading experience. However, I think to compare it to The Hunger Games is a little… uhm, inaccurate. Oh well, to each their own.

Rating – 5/10

Read it for the: Interesting premise. I mean, how many books with people stuck in mazes do you get out there?

Movie rating – 7/10

Watch it for the: Hot gaiz. There is so much eye candy. Especially Dylan O Brien as Thomas, Thomas Sangster as Newt and Ki-Hong Lee as Minho.

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….Omg so hot.

Welp.. if you’re a guy… there’s always Teresa.

Nah, also watch it for the: action, character development (much better in the movie than the book, which is saying something coz the book is like 300+ pages long and the movie is only less than 2 hours), good acting chops and Gally (Eustace from Narnia all grown up!)

30 Day Challenge Day 11

Today I’m supposed to list my favourite quote.

Being the bookworm that I am, you can imagine what my favourite quote is going to be about. It’s by one of my favourite authors:

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

If I could do just one task for the rest of my life, it would be reading books and getting paid for them. (I think there’s a description for them. They call them librarians?)

Books are like the pathway to Narnia. They open up whole new worlds to the reader.  You can be a peasant-boy-turned-future-king, swordfighting evil orcs across an imaginary landscape of lush greenery, or a pilot of a spaceship infested by aliens, or even a girl with a serious shopping addiction trying to look for Mr.Right. There are endless possibilities in the realm called imagination, through something that square and tiny.

You hold infinite worlds in your hands.

30 Day Challenge Day 7

Today’s topic for the 30-day challenge! I’ve been doing this for a week and so far so good, haven’t missed any yet.

Do you read? What are your favourite books? 

I am an avid reader. My dream is to one day have my own library. With the way things are now – my OCD book buying syndrome:  buying books left and right without actually having time to finish reading them, my shelves are already filled with books. I might have to move them to storage boxes under the bed soon coz there is not enough space. Mum’s been nagging me to give some away, but like a hoarder I cant seem to part with a single one.

I have lots of favourite books, but I’m just gonna share a few that I never tire reading of.

HARRY POTTER

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My first Harry Potter book was actually the second in the series: The Chamber of Secrets. My cousin lent it to me when I was back visiting my hometown. Most of my classmates didn’t like reading (Malaysian kids. Go figure) so I had never heard of the spectacular adventures of this boy wizard. No doubt by the first few pages, I was hooked. I spent the rest of my visit with my nose buried in the book, nearly reading it to tatters as I brought it to the dining table, to the mall, everywhere. Once I got back, I bought the first book so that I could read from the start. The collection slowly expanded right up til high school and college.

It felt like something in me died when the book ended.

I grew up reading the HP series. I know every child secretly wished for a letter from Hogwarts.. including yours truly. 😛 Most people my age felt a strong connection to the characters because they grew up as we grew up: it was like they were close friends, a part of our lives. I loved the movie series too, as all the actors are my age.

There have been ups and downs in the HP books. Personally, I didn’t really like Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince. But I liked how Rowling’s writing became increasingly darker as the story progressed – it wasn’t all magical rainbows and unicorns all the way through. I also liked how she tackled issues like friendship, love and the battle of good against evil, encouraging values such as bravery, honesty, courage in the face of diversity, things we all need in real life.

LORD OF THE RINGS

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I admit it. I’ve never heard of Tolkien’s works until a brilliant filmmaker by the name of Peter Jackson decided to adapt it to the bigscreen. I. LOVE. THE. MOVIE. Me and my bro have watched it so many times we can recite parts of the dialogue from heart. But this meant that I only started reading the books when I was in late high school. Tolkien is by far my favourite author, and no one has been able to compare to him in my books. Engaging storytelling, the world of Middle Earth is told through such vibrant detail one can almost envision the sweeping panoramas of the land, the characters, and their quest to defeat evil. Tolkien was a master of linguistics, creating entire languages and writings for the races inhabiting his world.

I have been told that not everyone enjoys Tolkien’s books because of the way it is written. It is not simple and straightforward language, but prosy, complicated and absolutely beautiful. It makes it a joy to read each sentence. The Hobbit is much simpler than the LOTR series, but has the same witty charm.

If I were to put a ‘human’ face to the books, I would describe Lord of The Rings as being a wise old grandfather; ripe with knowledge and power, and yet with joy that bubbles forth like a sudden spring in the woods. Just like Gandalf, the wizard character in the books.

LIFE OF PI

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Last, but surely not least, is the Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

I also found out about this gem of a book from the movie adaptation. 😛 I absolutely loved the concepts depicted in the film, especially when it comes to spirituality, religion and soul-searching. The idea is original and fresh, and the way Martel describes it brings to life a kaleidoscope of colours and visuals to the mind. Each sentence is rich and full, like the swollen belly of a mother giving birth. You have to read it to understand. But yeah, it was a fascinating story – about an Indian boy who loses everything and shares a boat with a Bengal tiger, trying to survive the ocean. The relationship between Pi and the tiger, Richard Parker, is one that the reader can feel a true connection with various persons/things in our own lives. It really makes you reflect, and think.

 

There you go – my all time favourite books. If you haven’t read them before, do try to pick one up sometime soon! Meanwhile, feel free to suggest more good books – I’m always game for a great read.