Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mismatched Lovers

Published:  February 1st, 1979
Harold and Maude
By: Colin Higgins
Avon Books
ISBN-13:  9780380003853

Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death.  He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a customized Jaguar hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers.  Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life.  She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and "borrows" cars to remind their owners life is fleeting -- here today, gone tomorrow!  A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living.


       Ugh.  I know this is a classic, and I have a couple friends that absolutely loved it.  Maybe it also doesn't help my opinion that I've never seen the movie?  Not sure, but for some reason I'm not at all a fan of this one.  It was okay, but overall un-inspiring for me personally.

       I found it to be kind of similar to Love Story, in the fact that you can totally tell it was written to be a screenplay.  It was never written to just be a book and for me personally, that hurt my enjoyment of it.  There was no real flesh to the characters and barely any plot happening.  And that freaking ending...

       Since when is that the freaking answer?  Maybe if I had seen the movie, or read this as a teenager, I'd have had more tolerance for the whole "suicide-star-crossed-age-gap-lovers" thing.  But get this: I just didn't.  She could have just told him, "Hey yo, I'm way too freaking old for you.  Find a nice girl your own age and P.S. I'm going off on further adventures."  Instead she committs suicide and Harold learns a nice, neat lesson?  FUCKING GAG ME.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*I received this book from Avon Books on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was originally published on February 1st, 1979.*

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crazy On You

Published:  March 3rd, 2015
Rocket Raccoon, Vol. 1: A Chasing Tale
By: Skottie Young
ISBN-13:  9780785193890

Rocket Raccoon has been a hero to the weak, a champion of good, a heartthrob to many intergalactic females, but his high-flying life of adventure may be a thing of the past when he's framed for murder -- and the authorities aren't the only one on his tail!  (Get it?  Tail?)  The real killer is an imposter who seems to be one step ahead of Rocket at every it's up to our hero and his best pal Groot to find the truth!  With Macho Gomez and the Ex-Terminators tracking him, can Rocket make it out alive and clear his name?


       If there's any comic that I can get behing whimsical, unrealistic-in-every-way artwork, it would be a comic starring Rocket Raccoon and his ever present buddy, Groot.  So this time, it wasn't the art that got on my nerves.  In fact there really wasn't much of anything that got on my nerves, so to speak.  It was yet another case of the "mehs" for me with this book.  I really enjoyed the first few issues, but I felt like it ran out of steam and I must be the only one who read this that DIDN'T enjoy the issue that was all "I Am Groot"s and pretty artwork.  This whole book starts with Rocket on a quest to find the surviving member(s) of his race, that he found out about recently.  Oh, and to clear his name of murder.  Not that he hasn't committed murder before, but this rap sheet doesn't actually belong to him.  So, it has to be another from his race, right?  Then there's also the matter of all the ex-girlfriends that are trying to kill Rocket, for overall being a womanizing douchebag!

       As soon as the story arc from the first three issues was tidied up, I felt like the last half of the "story" was just filler.  And I think that's half of my problem with reading Marvel comics over DC.  No matter which publisher, there's a 50/50 shot as to whether or not it's going to be any good, no matter what.  But when you look at the pros and cons, I usually choose DC over Marvel.  It tends to be because Marvels trade volumes are about 20-30 pages shorter (2 issues, give or take).  Also, the story arcs, at least from the trades that I've read, seem to be more pointless/used to less effect.  About half the volume is filler, unlike DC where even if it's shitty, all of it's pertinent.  I guess what I've been learning from reading Marvel, and what I learned from reading Rocket Raccoon in particular, is that I'm old and a fun-sucker.  Which, y'know, doesn't make me Marvel's ideal audience.  In other words, I'm the perfect DC fan (to my DC-fan friends, just admit it to yourself).

VERDICT:  3/5 Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Life of Her Own, With a View

Published:  January 27th, 2015
Love, Lucy
By: April Lindner
ISBN-13:  9780316400695

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician.  After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation."  But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?


       I'll go right out there and say that I don't think this book is for everyone and it definitely could have been better.  The original source material for this retelling is A Room With a View by E.M. Forster.  It is a comedy of social errors and the class divide, somewhat reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel, but not quite.  This is less about following the rules of society and finding love with someone who might be slightly inappropriate, in terms of class.  But in say, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth at least has some social graces and knows how to act in society.  Also, she's not THAT far beneath Darcy, no matter what his pride says.  She's a gentleman's daughter.  Lucy Honeychurch in the original Room, falls in love with a young man named George who has no social connections, isn't rich and can't offer her anything other than his love.  She has to choose between socially unacceptable happiness and marrying a man named Cecil (for whom she feels nothing), who could give her every comfort she's used to and more - plus she'd still be accepted in society with her family/friends if she married Cecil.
       When you're adapting a story like that for a modern-day audience, set in the modern United States, it's difficult to translate quite what Lucy would have been giving up by marrying outside her social circle, in a downwards direction.  So Lindner tries to resolve this by making Lucy an actress, who is going to the college her father wants, majoring in business and never acting again, all so he'll pay for college.  That alone is somewhat far-fetched, due to the type of family she lives in and the time period.  It's an upper-middle class, caucasian family, with no obvious religious affiliations and no real obvious reason for this strict point of view.  Also, he forbids her to even continue acting as a hobby.  Alrighty then...and she's supposed to take a trip to Europe in exchange for forgetting her dreams?  On the trip, which she takes with Charlene (the daughter of her Mom's friend), she meets Jesse in Italy and he forces her to question how easily she's giving in to her parents about her future.  I did like the little love-hate thing they had going on at first, but once she's into him she ditches Charlene and is downright mean to her, which I wasn't super fond of.  Being a bitch to your traveling companion is just wrong, even if it's supposedly true love at stake.
       Probably the stupidest thing about this for me, was Lucy's romantic life once she gets to college.  While growing a backbone about being in plays/acting, she seems to lose all sense of self in regards to dating.  Thinking that it's over between her and Jesse, Lucy starts dating someone who seems like the absolute perfect guy.  Yet, she doesn't really have feelings for him.  But he's the perfect guy, so she should just stay with him anyway, right?  Then Jesse comes back to town, to be with Lucy, so she sleeps with him and goes on a date with the other guy the next day anyways, a "weekend away" on which he thinks they're going to have sex (I'm pretty sure it was the next day, I could be mistaken, as it's been a little while since I read this one).  It's like she just wants to miserable.  I think this novel should have been adapted in a different country/culture/place with other social expectations.  Or at least there should have been better reasoning behind Lucy's actions and lack of self-worth.  It made for an unlikeable protagonist which is never fortunate, unless it's on purpose.  Sadly, I don't think it was on purpose in this instance.  Overall, I give this one three stars because I could see the original glimmering underneath.  I also know what it's like to give up the direction of your life to the needs/wants of others.  But there was a lot of wasted potential in this one.  Maybe as a fluffy beach read, if you decide to pick it up?

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**