Friday, 25 May 2018

Female Film Reboots: Yay or Nay?


Female remakes are a huge thing right now. Hollywood is literally churning them out. It's all to give women better roles, but is it the way to go? Do we need a Jane Bond when they could write an original female badass spy?

Leave a comment and let's discuss!


Examples

There's Ocean's 8. Admittedly, the characters are new characters, but let's face it - it's heavily. heavily inspired by the male-led series, and the name's a dead giveaway. Debbie Ocean is also Danny Ocean's sister. There's not much originality there.

There's James Bond. It doesn't been done yet, but there has been a lot of talk about making James a Jane.

There's Lord of the Flies. Just rumours and conjecture, but it's been mentioned.

There's Indiana Jones. Still just talk, but talk all the same. (FYI: I think Lara Croft already covers the female Indy. Just btw).

There's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. A female remake is being made starring Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway.

There was Ghostbusters, the 2016 female remake starring Melissa McCarthy.


There will be more. Hollywood shows no signs of slowing down the reboots - female-led or otherwise.

What are they trying to achieve and do they achieve it?

What with the very current topic of feminism these days, the film industry has felt the effect too. Writers are making a conscious effort to give women great roles to play. They're rewriting the wrongs of the past that predominantly had men playing the three-dimensional, relatable, well written roles. They're feeling the pressure.

But are these writers really doing the best they can do? Is the way to give women epic characters and stories just to rewrite a male hero as a woman and alter his story to fit her? Honestly, I think that's an insult to both men and women. I think it's sexist. It isn't all that empowering, either.

Here's what two actresses have to say:


Rachel Weisz: “Why not create your own story rather than jumping on to the shoulders and being compared to all those other male predecessors? Women are really fascinating and interesting and should get their own stories.”

Rosamund Pike: "I'd just say write a new story. I mean James Bond is a character that Ian Fleming created. I mean, you know of course the brand has become bigger and whatever, but take one of the Bond Girls and give her her own story. I think the character of James Bond is a man. He is really. But I mean, to have such a character in a completely independent series, why should a woman get sort of sloppy seconds? Why should she have once been a man and now it has to be played by a woman? Why not make a kick-ass female agent in her own right?"


In conclusion...

Personally, I agree with the ladies' quotes above. I don't think remaking male stories with female characters is the way to give women decent roles and stories. I think there needs to be more female directors, more female writers, who lend their female perspective to writing new, original stories and original, three-dimensional, exciting new female characters for actresses to play.

Don't just remake a male story and give the hero a heroine makeover. You're messing with characters who were actually written as male characters. Not to mention women deserve more than that. Just be original. Be brave. Be inspired. 




What do you think of these upcoming and potential female remakes? Do you think they're necessary? Do you think they're misguided? Do you think women deserve original stories instead? 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

SHATTER ME (Shatter Me #1) - by Tahereh Mafi

SHATTER ME (SHATTER ME #1) - Tahereh Mafi
Published: 2012 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Young adult / romance / science fiction
Pages: 338.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I hadn't heard much about this series before I read the first book myself, but the cover captured my interest right away. It's so chillingly intense.


Mafi writes well and her style is beautiful. Some lines are unnecessarily flowery, and ones like "I melt, hot butter dripping down his body" are ridiculous; I hate how the author skips right past the simile and makes her character become the "butter". It's too much.
Overall, though, the prose is lovely. The chapters are wonderfully short, too ;)

The world is interesting. I think it's a bit limited - I would have liked to have seen more of it - but the imagery we're given is stunning, and that makes the bit of world and civilisation quite fascinating.

The plot isn't original (especially towards the end where the climax is a sequence of scenes I've seen so many times before). Things are also very easy, very smooth running for the heroine, and yet......it's never boring. The action is great, and the story is exciting. It's a light, fun read. That's what it is.


Sometimes I think the loneliness inside of me is going to explode through my skin and sometimes I'm not sure if crying or screaming or laughing through the hysteria will solve anything at all. Sometimes I'm so desperate to touch to be touched to feel that I'm almost certain I'm going to fall off a cliff in an alternate universe where no one will ever be able to find me.


I love the heroine. Juliette has a firm set of morals, and despite her inner demons, she's passionate and fiercely devoted to what she believes in. She's easy to root for - I love her beautiful personality.

The characters are vivid, and I like that. At the same time, however, Adam is a boring love interest with very little personality, Warner is an interesting villain but PLEASE do not let there be a love triangle in the second book and then gloss over his problematic behaviour towards Juliette, and the secondary characters are flat, fade-into-the-background figures. Juliette is the best written character by far, and without a doubt carries the book.

I don't ship the romance. Adam and Juliette's relationship isn't well developed, and despite them having apparently known each other as kids, that bit of their past is never tapped into deeply enough. As a result, their relationship in the present feels very insta-lovey. They need more development.

(Also just FYI: 'Kissing it out' when it's actually a conversation they need to be having is not something I support. There are too many scenes where they start kissing to get rid of their troubles, and nope, nope, nope - talk it out, kids. Kissing doesn't magically fix stuff.)





Shatter Me is a fun, intense dystopia with a compelling heroine. But the weak romance and convenient plot line are unfortunate.  

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER - by Marie Lu

BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER - Marie Lu
Published: January 2018 - Penguin Random House.
Genres: Young adult / contemporary / retelling
Pages: 272.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy. The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list. One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals. Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope. In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.


Marie Lu is a huge name in YA and I've wanted to read her books for ages. I'm also a big fan of Batman and superheroes. This novel looked like the perfect story.
I buddy-read this book with my #squad, Di and Uma. Go check out their amazing reviews HERE and HERE.


I found the writing a bit.....underwhelming. The scenes are vivid and they move like something out of a movie, but the actual word choice and sentence structure aren't brilliant. The writing is average - not particularly astounding. It's too typical.
The dialogue is boring. It's completely unoriginal and weak. It's badly written. One of the scenes in the climax (which is supposed to be all powerful and emotional, and I can't say much more cos of spoilers) is severely impaired by its boring, cheesy dialogue, and that totally ruins the mood.

The plot isn't great. There's not a lot of action, and not much happens. There were so many amazing opportunities (like that prison break scene) for Lu to have spun the story in an exhilarating direction, but instead she played it extremely safe. It stays cliche, and adds nothing to the original Batman we know and love. It's dry and uninspired.
There's also the fact that the incidents that move the story forward are way too convenient. Bruce simply stumbles upon information (like the origami incident) and the climax of the book is easily revolved without much incident. It just doesn't make you go "wow!" It's simplistic and mediocre. I wish Lu could've taken more risks with the story.


“Maybe they weren't a smart match but fate had matched them anyway; and someday in some future perhaps they would be matched again.”


The characters need a LOT more depth and fleshing out. Bruce is a typical Gryffindor (kinda ruins the Dark Knight image am I right?) and bored me almost instantly. I also wish we could've seen more of how his parents' recent deaths affected him; their absence isn't mentioned much, which I think is a missed opportunity for depth and character growth.

Madeline is also a missed opportunity for someone who could've been an extremely compelling anti-heroine. Instead, we're just supposed to buy her connection with Bruce (which is insta-love on his side, and insta-affection on hers) and even though she's supposed to be this dark, dangerous villain, WE NEVER SEE HER FIGHT UNTIL THE END AND EVEN THEN IT'S JUST KINDA PATHETIC. Given her role in the story, I expected more. I didn't want her to go soft so early, and she needed more depth, originality, and personality. But she isn't even compelling.

The secondary characters - Alfred, Harvey, Richard, Dianne - are basically disguised stereotypes. I say disguised because I feel like Lu relied more on their legacy in the fandom (for Alfred and Harvey - since they're already established personalities) and didn't bother to add much depth and quirks to their characters. They're all very average.




Batman Nightwalker is a missed opportunity. The characters are boring, the dialogue is terrible, and the plot is too simple and convenient. It's a relaxing flick of a story, but it's not memorable or brilliant.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Romanticised Abuse: Rhysand and Feyre in ACOTAR


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.
- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.




First off, I just want to clarify that this discussion is about Feyre and Rhys in A Court of Thorns and Roses. I am not going to address their relationship in A Court of Mist and Fury because that would require me to re-read that book and frankly it was bad enough having to re-read these sections of ACOTAR. So no thanks. That's a discussion for another day. 


The section of A Court of Thorns and Roses I'm going to addressing in this post revolves around Rhys and Feyre's relationship towards the end of the book. Feyre has ventured 'Under the Mountain' to free Tamlin, and finds herself at Amarantha's - the villain's - mercy. I can't relay everything about the story, so this post will make more sense if you've already read the book ;)  

Anyhow. Moving on. 


Context: Feyre has been taken by servants, on Rhys' orders, and is being dressed in clothes he's picked out for her. Night after night, she will be accompanying him to dancing and banqueting Under the Mountain; she has no say in the matter, and Rhys is doing it to 1) spite Tamlin, who's forced to watch as Rhys interacts with Feyre, and 2) to show his ownership of her because of the bargain they struck. Her body's been inked to show evidence of this bargain she's made with him (the bargain is irrelevant to this discussion, so I'm not going into that. But just FYI: the bargain is not that she's agreed to go to this party dressed like that. It's something else). 

But from the neck down, I was a heathen god’s plaything. They had continued the pattern of the tattoo on my arm, and once the blue-black paint had dried, they placed on me a gauzy white dress. If you could call it a dress. It was little more than two long shafts of gossamer, just wide enough to cover my breasts, pinned at each shoulder with gold brooches. The sections flowed down to a jeweled belt slung low across my hips, where they joined into a single piece of fabric that hung between my legs and to the floor. It barely covered me, and from the cold air on my skin, I knew that most of my backside was left exposed. The cold breeze caressing my bare skin was enough to kindle my rage.
The two High Fae ignored my demands to be clothed in something else, their impossibly shadowed faces veiled from me, but held my arms firm when I tried to rip the shift off.
 “I wouldn’t do that,”a deep, lilting voice said from the doorway. Rhysand was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.
 I should have known it was his doing, should have known from the matching designs all over my body.
  “Our bargain hasn’t started yet,” I snapped. The instincts that had once told me to be quiet around Tam and Lucien utterly failed me when Rhysand was near.
  “Ah, but I need an escort for the party.” His violet eyes glittered with stars. “And when I thought of you squatting in that cell all night, alone …” He waved a hand, and the faerie servants vanished through the door behind him.
 I flinched as they walked through the wood—no doubt an ability everyone in the Night Court possessed—and Rhysand chuckled.
 “You look just as I hoped you would.” ……………..
 “Is this necessary?” I said, gesturing to the paint and clothing.
  “Of course,” he said coolly. “How else would I know if anyone touches you?” He approached, and I braced myself.
Rhys robs Feyre of her privacy.  He's dressing her in next to nothing, she's practically naked, and she has no choice in the matter.  She's going to be his 'plaything' for the evening - that's that. She's his property to parade around.
But it gets worse.   


His teeth were far too near to my throat. “And I’ll remember precisely where my hands have been. But if anyone else touches you—let’s say a certain High Lord who enjoys springtime—I’ll know.” He flicked my nose. “And, Feyre,” he added, his voice a caressing murmur, “I don’t like my belongings tampered with.”
Her body's been painted in ink so Rhys can tell if anyone else touches her. Also: possession re-enforced. She's his property for this night. She is utterly at his mercy. 


He smiled, and extended the goblet again. “Drink. You’ll need it.”
 Drink, my mind echoed, and my fingers stirred, moving toward the goblet. No. No, Alis said not to drink the wine here—wine that was different from that joyous, freeing solstice wine.
“No,” I said, and some faeries who were watching us from a safe distance chuckled.
“Drink,” he said, and my traitorous fingers latched onto the goblet.
He's drugging her. That's what's happening here.


“What happened?” I got out, even though I wasn’t sure I truly wanted the answer. My memory was a dark blur of wild music.
Lucien drew back. “I don’t think you want to know.”
Feyre asks her friend, Lucien, to tell her what happened the night before: Rhys drugging her, them going to the party...
Lucien's answer is chilling.  And it begs the obvious question: What did Rhys do to her and what did he make her do? 


Lucien let out a sharp breath, running a hand through his red hair. “He had you dance for him for most of the night. And when you weren’t dancing, you were sitting in his lap.”
 “What kind of dancing?” I pushed.
 “Not the kind you were doing with Tamlin on Solstice,” Lucien said, and my face heated.
 From the murkiness of my memories of last night, I recalled the closeness of a certain pair of violet eyes—eyes that sparkled with mischief as they beheld me.
 “In front of everyone?”
 “Yes,” Lucien replied.
So there. Lucien tells her what happened the night before, and it's horrific.  Feyre is not choosing to do these things, Rhys is making her do them. She's drugged - she's unaware of what's happening. 


After I drank the wine, though, I was mercifully unaware of what was happening. Night after night, I was dressed in the same way and made to accompany Rhysand to the throne room. Thus I became Rhysand’s plaything, the harlot of Amarantha’s whore. I woke with vague shards of memories—of dancing between Rhysand’s legs as he sat in a chair and laughed; of his hands, stained blue from the places they touched on my waist, my arms, but somehow, never more than that. He had me dance until I was sick, and once I was done retching, told me to begin dancing again. I awoke ill and exhausted each morning, and though Rhysand’s order to the guards had indeed held, the nightly activities left me thoroughly drained. I spent my days sleeping off the faerie wine, dozing to escape the humiliation I endured. When I could, I contemplated Amarantha’s riddle, turning over every word—to no avail.
HE IS KEEPING HER DRUGGED FOR DAYS AND NIGHTS. But hey, it's chilled, because his hands don't touch her anywhere but her waist and arms. Please. It's already sexual because of what she's wearing and how she's dancing. And although you can argue Rhys didn't sexually assault her, the way he's making her behave is extremely disturbing in itself. 


I lurked by a wall, forgotten by the crowd, waiting for Rhysand to beckon me to drink the wine and dance or do whatever it was he wished of me.
More horror. "Do whatever it was he wished of me". She's unaware of what she's actually doing. Rhys is stripping her of choice. 


Just to clarify again in case we still have any doubt of Feyre's awareness of the situation, here's a quote from A Court of Wings and Ruin where after Lucien remarks about a kiss Feyre had Under the Mountain, she replies: "I had as little choice in that as I did in the dancing." (pg 114)
I think we can agree she has no choice in these nights of revelry. So let's move on.

- Rhys drugs her. She is not aware of what he's doing or what she's doing. She has no choice in what's happening.
- Rhys makes her dance sensually (reading Lucien's earlier quote, I think it's obvious Feyre's dancing isn't PG).
 - Rhys has servants strip her naked and then has them dress her.
 - Rhys has her entire body painted (including, in Feyre's own words, "{her} more intimate parts".
 - Rhys keeps Feyre drugged day after day after night after night. This isn't a once-off incident.
 - Rhys touches her. Yes yes nowhere but her waist and arms, but please - cheap shot, Maas. He touches her against her will and that's wrong. Period.
 - Rhys has her dressed in an outfit that's barely an outfit. It's transparent material. Her breasts and backside are literally exposed.


And after all that, after everything that I've listed above happens, we are supposed to be grateful to Rhys (Feyre is supposed to be grateful to Rhys) for saving her?! For 'protecting ' her and keeping an eye on her?! Maas is romanticising a sequence of extremely disturbing incidents. She is manipulating and messing with our minds so that what Rhys does to Feyre is only questionably wrong?!

Maas is trying to push in our faces that Rhys is the hero here. He saved Feyre. And when you read the following lines, it's easy to be swayed. He "kept her from shattering":

It took me a long while to realize that Rhysand, whether he knew it or not, had effectively kept me from shattering completely.

“Feyre, for Cauldron’s sake. I drug you, but you don’t wonder why I never touch you beyond your waist or arms?”


But we shouldn't be questioning whether or not Rhys was wrong. There should be no question. He drugged her. He invaded her privacy. He stripped her of choice. He treated her like his own personal toy, made her dance sexually in front of other people, but "he did it for her good"?! 
To that I say: romanticised abuse. 


Monday, 21 May 2018

BRING ME BACK - by B. A. Paris

BRING ME BACK - B. A Paris
Published: June 2018 - HQ 
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary / mystery
Pages: 384.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again. Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love. As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?


I was so looking forward to reading this book. I hadn't ever tried the author before, but the premise was fantastic. It sounded deliciously twisty.


But the writing is weak. There is a gross excess of telling instead of showing, and that made it impossible for me to get immersed into the story; I never got to feel the anger, the pain, the torment, of the characters - it's all simply reported. The bland language doesn't help, either.
The setting of the story isn't fleshed out well enough. It's never fully realised. I wanted more of it. I wanted an atmosphere, and the setting never gives you that.

It's very cheesy and melodramatic. The last lines of almost every chapter end with an ominous cliffhanger such as "You have ten days" or "But then she spoiled everything" or "It was time to find out!" It's just so....eye-roll worthy. The anticipation the author's trying to instill in his readers is too forced. It's cheesy and overdone.

The end of the book has some nice twists. But they are also the kind of twists that make you think "is that really, really clever, or is it just totally bizarre and confusing?" That's how I feel. I'm not sure that the twists do make complete sense, and I for one am still very puzzled with the ending. The details of the ending's incidents are very weak and far-fetched, and they aren't written convincingly. I don't know quite what to think.


“Sometimes we lie for the greater good, don’t we? I wish that’s what you had done.”


The characters are flat. I hate the narrator - the protagonist - because he comes across so aloof and arrogant, and the secondary cast are dull and one-dimensional, too. No one is vivid and layered; they're all half-finished beings with tunnel purpose.
And the author never digs deep with them. That goes for the rest of the book, too. He just doesn't go below the surface, and so we get a weak, glossy surface-level story with no real depth or engagement. It's hollow.




Bring Me Back is badly written with flat characters, and does nothing to draw the reader into its clutches and keep them there. It also sends out mixed messages about abuse, which are never properly resolved.