Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Revenge, The Television Show I Can't Miss!

CityTv, Airing 2011.

Emily/Amanda Works Her Magic
I do not get the opportunity to watch much television just because of my schedule. One week I might forget, or I am too busy, and once I miss an episode, I hate watching the next episode, trying to piece together what I have missed. But for Revenge (aired on Wednesdays on CityTv), I make certain that I can watch it. I have a soft spot for stories about revenge and abused children, especially those who are locked away by insidious people.

Revenge is about one woman, Amanda Clarke, enacting her revenge on the Hamptons social elite who were responsible for ruining her father’s life, which in turn ruined her life. David Clarke was wrongfully convicted of terrorism and died in prison. At the age of 18 Amanda inherited her father’s fortune, changed her name to Emily Thorne, and decided to take revenge on those who knowingly contributed to the destruction of her life. The series is an adaption of The Count of Monte Cristo.    

“Nothing’s random, Noland.”
The trailers gave me the impression that she was physically harming them. Secretly inside I wished she was a serial killer, but no, she is not. She gets revenge by ruining people. You might think that this would get stale fast, but depending on the person, ruin takes on different forms and witnessing the downfall of such cruel people is quite satisfying. She is also pretty manipulative, which makes me question her current relationship, and it makes me want to see more!

I highly recommend watching it. Thus far there is no gore or swearing (at least as far as I can recall for the swearing), but it is not overly girly either. The show is thick with plot and there are no wasted moments. After watching an episode I am amazed at the idea that someone could plan her revenge for so long. It makes me feel lazy, though.
And this is the awesome music that plays in Episode 4: Riverside - Obél

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FEAR Files, FEAR 2, and Fear 2: Reborn Rant

A while ago I finally finished up Perseus Mandate, FEAR 2, and FEAR 2: Reborn. And I am finally making myself post this before I forget.  

Perseus Mandate

Perseus Mandate was definitely better than Extraction Point, in my opinion. At least PM tries to give the player a different experience, though it is ultimately very similar to FEAR 1. This one has a different FEAR team investigating Armacham's Perseus Project with the unnamed protagonist (this time he is a Sergeant, but he is basically the same as Point Man from FEAR 1) and two AIs, Captain Raynes and Lieutenant Chen. What I like about this is that your comrades do not make the whole game an escort mission. For an expansion pack, I liked the two characters. I especially liked the end and what takes place on the helicopter...for those who know, yeah, I bet you think it was corny. I liked it. It gave me goose bumps. While this game is not cannon, it is not terribly deviant like Extraction Point was (by killing, oh, everyone). Yes, I do question why the Sergeant has the special abilities that the Point Man has. And quite frankly, it is because this system is what the FEAR series is based on (or was, until FEAR 3). When I scoffed and said that the Sergeant was a (game play) clone of Point Man, he might as well be a clone by the grace of the story as well. It’s not explained why he has the ability, though the Nightcrawlers say some things like “He’s been augmented!” Uh....really? Ok, fine.

Spoilers Ahead!
Things That Irk Me:
Fettel’s glowing green genetic material. Really? You know, it would look more believable if it were in a vial or something besides THE GREEN LANTERN. The real ending to the game is when the Green Lantern walks in at the end and punches them in the face to get his lantern back.

Not even trying to explain the protagonist’s abilities. JUST SAY HE IS A CLONE OF POINT MAN. After FEAR 2: Reborn, you know what? IT MAKES SENSE.

I actually do not mind that Fettel makes some ghost/apparition/ash guy appearances. I know that in FEAR 2: Reborn we hear that he is dead, but dreaming, and waiting to be reborn in a physical body. To say he is only dreaming means that he has not been “in” the world since he died, in my opinion. But seeing him like he appeared in EP and FEAR 1 did not bother me too much. It was not much of a stretch to think that his psychic presence allowed him to briefly reappear. Though I like Paxton just a little too much...    

I can’t recall which instalment of the FEAR Files this took place in, but in one of them I could grab items through glass. That’s right. I did not have to break it. I guess I was a ghost. Or Shadowcat. 

FEAR 2: Project Origin

I remember submitting an entry to the Name Your Fear contest in 2007. Funny, because I was hyped enough to do that but ultimately I did not play it for the first time until last summer (2010). In a strange occurrence, I enjoyed the game much more the second time around. It is probably because I played FEAR 1 on the computer and then went to FEAR 2 on the Xbox 360. Bad idea for someone who can’t really play FPSs. Anyway, the protagonist actually has a name! Michael Becket, part of a Delta Force unit called Dark Signal. Yup, he even has a little bit of a back story too, though not much (he was bad in school but rocked in the military). While he is not part of a FEAR team, he gets his reflexes (or perhaps enhances what he already has?) when he is captured and made to be part of project Harbinger, which is meant to make candidates for the telepathic Replica commanders without being born from Alma. Pretty cool...but you know, you would think Armacham would rethink making random military people capable of controlling THIER ARMY. Although he does not appear to be in control of the Replica soldiers (the game would be totally different if you could), it would be difficult to abduct people and make them subservient when they can psychically tell some big buff army guys with guns to shoot their captors and help them escape. This game gives the player some glimpses into Alma’s tree swing, her music box, and the moment they took her away. You see the image enough, and although it makes me sad, I would like to see more of Alma as a child, especially the dynamics of her and her father, Harland Wade.

Stuff that Irked Me:
The aiming system. Yes, I know it is probably more realistic to actually see through the gun’s scope or...whatever they have (I am certainly not a gun person. I am a lazy person too lazy to look at Wikipedia). But it was so much easier in FEAR 1! /Whine.

At the end of a mech sequence where you have to get out, I pressed X and hopped out...and...my character was suck in some rubble or something. Could not move or jump or get back in the mech. I killed myself with a grenade. While this game wasn’t as bad as its predecessors for getting stuck on random things, I had never gotten stuck to the point where I had to commit suicide.    

So the ending...Becket gets raped by Alma, who becomes pregnant. Wait, what? How is that possible? She does not have a real body anymore. She is like...disembodied psychic energy. When she appears as a child, she is making a psychic manifestation of her body as it was. When she appears as the emaciated woman, that is the psychic manifestation of her real body. She also goes into the manifestation of the beautiful woman, whom she has never really been, though she might have if she was never locked away in The Vault. My point is that without a physical body, she should not be able to get pregnant. I would really like to discuss this with some fans who know more than me, because I would like to understand this! 

FEAR 2: Reborn

DLC that rocked my socks. You are Foxtrot 813 (I call him Foxy because we’re pals), a Replica soldier. Yes, the protagonist, you, are that cool. Becket is still with Alma (presumed) and you are dropped in Auburn to reinforce a unit. Then you go crazy and accidently kill your other Foxtrot guys! “Opps, sorry, my bad, guys. You guys mad?” Oh yes, yes they are.

I know that intro was short. But it is a short DLC. But at least it is explained why Foxy is different and has special abilities! This takes ONE HOUR to complete and it explained more than PM did! AND THE ENDING WAS AWESOME.

Things That Irked Me:
TOO DAMN SHORT. I had fun. I know it was only 800 points, but seriously, I would have paid for a full game of Foxy trying to outrun his former allies, listening to Fettel guide him.  

Extra Ranty Goodness!!
Why I like the FEAR series: Alma and Paxton Fettel.
At first I am always all “DAMN RIGHT, ALMA. GET YOUR REVENGE YOU SCARY, SCARY LITTLE GHOST GIRL.” But then she tries to basically infect the world with her...scary world? Seems a little Silent Hillish to me (though Alyessa only bends the Otherworld), but that’s ok. Two days before her eighth birthday she is put into The Vault, made to have two children, and basically left to die in The Vault. Yes, she is totally a candidate for revenge, in my opinion. In my mind, she is like Samara from The Ring. Go get revenge on the people who hurt you. Then she starts killing everyone in Armacham, even the maintenance people. And then she is destroying vast amounts of land in FEAR 3 and killing more people. Uh...nope, I take it back! Revenge is bad! BAD GHOST GIRL!    
I like Paxton Fettel just a little too much. For some reason, I just think he is so bad ass. “Won’t tell me your secrets? Fine, I’LL JUST EAT YOUR FACE.” Having someone eat your face AND learn all your dark secrets while doing it is pretty scary. But I find his sheer presence to be interesting. I like his dialogue. I like his back story. I like his voice (his terribly sexy voice). Is there a Paxton Fettel anonymous group for addicts that I should be aware of?

Thoughts on FEAR 3:
Sounds like bad fan fiction.
I’ve been watching  LtMkilla’s Let’s Plays of it on Youtube (Part1 here) and it seems even more FPS.
I’ll pick it up when it is not still $70-80 used. Right now I’m playing Alice: Madness Returns, and it’s not making me miss FEAR 3, anyway. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

F.E.A.R (and FEAR Files) rant

Has Spoilers!
I've been playing F.E.A.R (further typed as FEAR because I can't be bothered with periods) and the FEAR Files. I love FEAR. I had the first one (Gold Edition) for the PC and I really liked it, but my computers have never been able to run it properly. Last summer I played FEAR 2 on the Xbox 360 but damn, the jump from mouse to keyboard was brutal for me. I don't play FPS...ever. Except FEAR. Because FEAR is that cool.

Except when you get stuck on random things. Like the corner of a chair and no amount of jumping or struggling will free you until that demonic chair is ready to release you. Is it normal in FPS to get stuck awkwardly on things?

So I finally got the first FEAR for the Xbox 360 and I played that over and over (on moderate difficulty, don't judge!!). I got FEAR Files as well, and I had only played the first expansion, Extraction Point, on the computer. One thing I noticed about both expansions is that the doors are now springy-that is, I can open them and they will close by themselves. WHY?! Sometimes I need the door to stay open to slink back in and use the door frame for cover. Now I turn back and smash my face into the door. No. This doesn't happen in real life. Unless a ghost, like Alma, is closing the doors, this shouldn't happen. You're ruining my strategies.

Extraction Point was ok, but as it wasn't canon I can't really get into the story. I bet they had fun killing off a bunch of characters though. And why the hell is Norton Mapes in there? Like he just walked away from the events from the first game...Uh...Norton, you got shot. You're not Van Gogh, you just don't pick yourself up and go home. You're not that cool. And even then, why bother with him? He's there for like 30 seconds to unlock a door and he's not seen again. Whatever, he's a ghost that unlocks a door. It makes more sense than he being alive. Other than that, Extraction Point was alright. A little repetitive, but what do people expect? I had a lot of fun doing the final fire fight on the roof of the hospital though.    

I never played the second expansion, Perseus Mandate, until a few days ago. To be honest it was interesting at first. You are the second Point Man (like in the first game) and you are investigating the ATC. You have some comrades, Raynes and Chen who are more than cardboard cutouts, at least. But...why the hell does this guy have SlowMo? Thanks for not explaining. And then BAM! there are enemies that have SlowMo too and I swear the first time I encountered one it wouldn't die, no matter how much I shot it. Arg! Am I the only one who noticed that before you actually get to Armacham  there are just so many health kits and light body armours? If health kits and body armour were cake in this game, this guy would be obese. Seriously. Up until Armacham, there wasn't much reason not to have 100% health and full armour for 90% of the time. And you can't say that I'm just too good for moderate difficulty because I suck pretty badly. Aiming? What the hell is aiming? I try and without SlowMo I would probably die in the first five seconds.

Anyway, have I finished Perseus Mandate? Nope. I have to restart. Once I got into Armacham it all went to hell for me. For awhile I had 25 health, no bullets on any guns, no body armour, and no grenades. Awesome. And now that Replica mech is chasing me through the labs and there are three mini-rocket launchers to get him with. I can make it explode, and a whole bunch of enemies come through the nearest door. And I have nothing but a rocket launcher, and no HP after the mech fight. Basically, the enemies kill me or I accidentally blow myself up. So I'm going to restart and go after some of the easy achievements, like not letting your flashlight die and getting all the upgrades...though I've noticed that they are mostly in the most obvious places.

Some interesting things about Perseus Mandate? Armacham, the evil guys, have Dell computers. This product placement wasn't there in the first game (or at least I never noticed) but it's in this one. I understand product placement and unless it is blatantly obvious and in my face and out of place, I don't really care. I actually liked the EB Games signs in Prototype. But Dell on the Armacham computers? I just find it funny that Armacham  are the ones who started everything and are now trying to kill you. It's not just because I hate my Dell printer. Other things are that Perseus Mandate has no scares. At all. It's a good thing I was intrigued by the story or you know...I wouldn't be playing it. I like survival horror/horror-I LIKE being scared. I'm not interested in playing a FPS. I'll try Perseus Mandate again, but I'm really wanting to play FEAR 2 again, now that I have a much better handle on the controls.
Favourite thing in the expansion? The mini-gun. And the mini-turrets. Yay. The mini-turret is so cute...when I don't accidentally throw it on the floor instead of the wall.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

ThunderCats Reboot Episodes 1-3

When I was a kid, I did not have the opportunity to really watch ThunderCats on television, as it was just slightly before my time. My partner was able to rent the movie when he was a child, but could we watch the television show? Nope. Sucks to be us, I know. At least some people were able to watch the movie. I know I had seen some form of animation, as I knew about the epic “thunder...thunder, thunder-HO! We have since bought the dvds, but it would have been cool if I had the memories of watching such a fun series as a kid. And to be clear, I love the old series.
For those of us who were not around in 1985, Warner Bros. Animation has created a reboot of the series. I know, the reboots of late have been tragic. But in my opinion, this one...
...was awesome.
No, really, it was. Cartoon Network airs them on Friday mornings. I can only hope that they air them on Fridays instead of Saturday mornings because school is out for elementary students anyway. Saturday morning cartoons are...not my cup of tea anymore. Anyway, this...Friday morning reboot of an epic cartoon is fantastic. It’s really worth the watch. It updated the character designs (Lion-O doesn’t have that awkward “abs window”) and yes, it did change some things, but for the better. Thus far, I am really enjoying it and I encourage people who dread the evil “reboot” word to give it a chance. I think cartoons are missing the fantasy genre lately, going mostly for randomness, and this is a nice reprieve from that.

Beyond this point will be spoilers of varying degrees...you have been warned!

The Ch-ch-changes...
At least to episode 3, there have some noticeable differences. In the original, the ThunderCats flee their planet of Thundera to find a new home, and are attacked by enemies on the way. They eventually get to Third Earth to start life anew, although only Lion-O, Snarf, Cheetara, Tygra, WilyKit, WilyKat, and Panthro make it, and it takes a long time. They go to sleep in capsules that stop aging, except Lion-O’s, who aged slowly and is now in the body of an adult but is really a child. On Third Earth they encounter their new enemy, Mumm-Ra.

I am manly! (Old version)
No abs?! (New version)

In the reboot, they do not leave their home planet. Simply put, Mumm-Ra destroys their kingdom. No space travel, and frankly, the space travel felt very late 80’s comic-book story, which is not bad at all, but it is very dated. This means that Lion-O does not age. So in the reboot he is a young adult(?). Yay. Because in the original, as a kid in an adult’s body, he just comes off as dumb. In the reboot, yes he is young and makes stupid decisions at times (please see episode 3) but he is learning and he will make mistakes. He has more depth now. But Tygra...oh god. Poor Tygra. He is Lion-O’s “brother” now (yeah...clearly adopted) and man they play up the “I’m better than you and I would make a much better king” way too hard.

Clearly adopted. (New version)
Once got high (Old version) 

Snarf does not speak at all in the reboot, which I like. I think he is much cuter just saying his name (like a pokemon) than being annoying. Yet so far he has not really done anything, and at least in the original series, he did things. Now he’s more like, “hey, remember me? I’m the pet you had before your kingdom got burned to the ground. Thanks for....uh...waitwat?” Yeah I never saw Lion-O actually save Snarf. He is absent during the fights and such, yet he is later just following around Lion-O and the surviving gang. Did I miss something?
 Anyway, my partner is not a fan of the new one. He liked the corny dialogue that Snarf gave.

ThunderKittens (Old version)
We're just following (New version)

WileyKit and Kat are back, but have not done much but act like kids so far. I’m interested in knowing what they will do with the two characters, as I really liked them in the original. I like their update, though, except the new WileyKit's non-existent dress.

 Gruff and "dead" (New version)
Russell Huxtable (Old Version)

Panthro is ...sorry, they say from the get-go that he is dead. But let’s put it this way-he is “dead.” As in, he is totally not dead, and you cannot make me believe that they would kill him off.

Badass lady (New Version)
 I'm from the 80s  (Old version) 

Cheetara has returned and she has some more depth to her, rather than her one and only character trait being “female.” Her original outfit and hair is very 80s, and I rather like her with long hair, though I’d like it if she put some clothes on.

Sharp teeth, clearly evil (Old version)
Sits like a thug, clearly evil (New version)

Lastly is Mumm-Ra. I actually like this one more as an evil, hunch-back thing. My partner prefers him in the original with his comical evilness, whereas I found that a little corny. I think the old one suffered from the “I’m evil, therefore I’m a little bit stupid” syndrome. Time will tell if Mumm-Ra will turn out like his predecessor, though. Lastly, I would like to add that so far, the format of the show has changed. Originally, the show was very much like the “monster of the week” format, and rarely did an episode have actual relevance to an overarching story. Thus far, this is not so, which is quite refreshing. All three episodes follow each other directly.

Things That Irk Me
Lion-O only did the full “thunder...thunder, thunder-HOOO!” once! ONCE. Seriously! They cut it down to a measly “Thunder HOO” probably just to save time. And there was the weirdest change between his “young” voice and his “manly battle” voice. Arg!
All in all, I think these changes are good, for the most part. Hopefully the series will continue to be this good and not crash and burn in remake hell!

And...did you guys know that the ThunderCats did a PSA against kids drinking? Oh 80’s cartoons PSAs...I miss you so much.ThunderCats PSA (Youtube). 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Darren Shan, Vampire Blood trilogy-Cirque du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood

Its been a long time since I posted anything to this blog, but I swear it’s not because I am lazy. And it’s definitely not because I’ve been playing video games in my spare time. I mean...what spare time?! I don’t have any spare time!? Give me your spare time!

What I have been reading are the first trilogy of books of the Darren Shan Saga: Cirque du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood. I was originally interested in them for my younger brother, whom everyone has pinned him down Goosebumps books and nothing else (not that there is anything wrong with Goosebumps, of course). I just thought he might like something different. Not wanting to give him something blindly, I read the book to make sure it was a suitable reading level and foremost, to make sure it wasn’t boring.

Cirque du Freak
So I bought the first one and read it, and I have to say I personally liked it. The first book, Cirque du Freak was engaging and had enough character development to make the reader care. There is the main protagonist, some of his friends (the most important one being his best friend Steve Leonard), his little sister Annie, and Mr. Crepsley, the vampire. I found Mr. Crepsley a little thinly written, but he appears basically at the end of novel anyway. Furthermore, not knowing much about him makes the reader want to read the next book. As the title suggests, the book is about the Cirque du Freak and it is not truly focused on the vampire. There were some terribly dry moments that I thought could have been cut or perhaps better written-the sports scene is the one that most sticks out in my mind on that complaint. One thing that I have noticed was that nearly every chapter ends with a OMG SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN FML! cliff-hanger, which get tiring. However, I know that perhaps young readers need that hook.

The Vampire’s Assistant
            Out of all three, this one was my favourite in terms of story. Admittedly, I usually find the first of a series the best and go from there. But the first is my second favourite. Weird. Anyway, I actually preferred the day-to-day dynamics of Darren’s new life as the vampire’s assistant. It has even more colourful characters than the first, though some of them are introduced and you don’t really see them again. Between the second and third books I found I really liked Evra Von, the “snake boy.” I liked his back story, his personality, and how the book describes how he looks.   
            Without spoilers, I liked the end of this book best as well. The first ends with (hopefully) a desire to read the next one because they are actually moving on and there should be more to see. This one ends on a more emotionally powerful note than the others, in my opinion. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Tunnels of Blood
            First off, this was my least favourite book (but I’m not saying that it wasn’t good!) and I’m saying that the title isn’t as great as it could be. I get where the “tunnels” come from, I get the vampire and blood stock words. Could it have been titled something better? Probably.
            That aside, this book introduces the Vampaneze. Sounds a little lame, but it’s a welcome addition at this point. As the reader progresses in the trilogy, vampires suddenly aren’t terribly scary anymore. Darren, a half-vampire, isn’t frightening, Mr. Crepsley arguably isn’t scary by the third book, the other vampire you see in the third book is quite friendly. The series really needed the Vampaneze as the frightening, uncivilized, other. The reader gets to know how normal vampires really aren’t bad at all and eventually accepts them.
            And because I like Evra, I do have to say that he is in this one alongside with Darren and Mr. Crepsley, so the reader gets to see a lot of him. The book gets into a groove within the universe. The concepts of the universe are not new (except the Vampaneze) so there is more action as situations no longer have to be constantly explained.    

Stuff That Irks Me
I am going to try to keep the next part as spoiler free as possible, so I’m going to be vague, but once you read the first book you’ll know what I’m speaking of. A character is introduced in the first novel, whom the reader gets to know, stuff happens, and he threatens to return and haunt Darren. Let’s just say, he hasn’t come back in the first trilogy. It feels like one of those plot points that writers bring up and let die (Heroes season 3, anyone?) and I would say its pretty bad writing. While he could show up in the last of the four trilogy books, couldn’t there have been something to let the reader actually take him seriously? Remember, we’re supposed to be afraid of this person for Darren. And I’m not, because I really forgot about him by the third book.  
The characters (Darren, mostly) flip-flop in their emotional positions. I trust you, never mind I don’t trust you, I trust you again, never mind you’re a vampire and I hate you...it gets repetitive and boring, and after a while I just really didn’t care. I wonder though, is there some theory out that claims that this is necessary for younger readers? The self-loathing is grinding as well, and not in a Louis de Pointe du Lac way. I hate myself, I can’t drink blood, I’m not evil, I want to go back, wah wah wah. Because these books are aimed at a younger audience, I don’t think a proper self-loathing would have held the audience’s attention. His loathing might be valid, but he doesn’t seem to even think about these issues fully. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think I thought about whatever angsty issues I had just a tad more.     

Final Verdict
            The first three are fantastic, even considering the things that irk me. Sometime down the road I’ll try to get around to reading the next trilogy. Great characters, though this trilogy suffers from a high turnover in characters. The ones that stay are interesting. Supposedly my brother likes the first book I gave him, so I hope to speak to him about the books in the near future. I would recommend this to 12-14 year old boys, but in high school I knew an 18-year-old young man reading the series who quite enjoyed them. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

LA Times Article-Librarian Interrogations

Anne Rice shared a link on Facebook and I thought I would share. It is found on the LA Times website here. 

It is about librarians having to defend themselves in a court (which is set up in a basement). What are they defending? Their jobs. They have to be teachers to also be librarians in their state, and they have to have taught in the last 5 years. Clearly, someone doesn't understand the role librarians should be playing, which does include teaching children how to access information. Let us consider how many adults do not know how to access information. If a school librarian is doing their job, there is no need for this-especially to make them defend themselves in front of armed police officers and a judge.

Seriously? I'm glad it's not like that in Canada. I just want to be a librarian, not a full teacher, and I don't want to have to defend myself even more than I already do. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

P-Books vs. E-Books, The Future of Reading, and Reading Literature of Other Cultures

One can argue that I don't know how to look at a calender, and they would be right. For some reason I thought last class (April 7th) was week 13 (the last class) and I read and blogged about the novel Thirsty. So here I'll blog about what I was supposed to blog about on Thursday, and on April 14th, when we actually read the group of novels that includes Thirsty, please go to the previous blog post.

"P-Books vs. E-Books"
I can honestly say that I have very little experience with e-books, and I have no experience with e-readers. The only e-books I can say I have experienced are the ones that you read from your computer. But I do find Digital Rights Managament facinating. The "Sharing" section speaks briefly on this. Some companies limit their e-books to be "lent" only twice, and in some cases, once. The "Secondhand Books" section also touches on this. The author says "Few e-readers support lending or reselling ebooks" which, to me, is unfair. I paid for it, it is now my property. If I want to sell it or give it away, I should be allowed to. However, I do understand the used property market, as I have been following the used videogame issue for a while. When you personally resell something, nothing is sent back to the people who originally made the item. At the same time, they already got their money, and they are not physically making another copy, and they are not losing money. They just are not making any new money from a resale. I know that was a brief run down, but it's the basics.
I'm still not sold on e-books, but I do have to say that the ability to highlight and make notes is pretty intriguing. I have some books from my undergrad that I highlighted in (my undergrad teachers told us it was ok and recommened doing it!) and when I re-read them I cringe. I know that I could always pay the $12 and buy a new copy and support my favoutire authors. Yet at the same time I like looking back at my copy of Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone that I read for the first time during a class called "The School Boy" that deals basically with homosexuality and children. My copy of The Golden Compass also has many notes about children and agency that I love reading. So even this e-book highlighting doesn't sell me.

"The Future of Reading"
"Story trumps all. It doesn't matter if you get to see clips of Lauren Conrad at a photo shoot on the screen while reading her new novel, This Book is a Symptom of Publishing Companies' Desperation." If I live to be 100 years old, or if I get amnesia, I hope I will never forget this one quote. I really don't mind if people are reading online, on ebooks, or in print, or messages in the sky. As long as you're reading and you're liking it, I'm happy and I think we're safe from falling into a dystopia (more or less). I like this quote because the story really is what makes something sucessful (though as I write this I am questioning myself...). I actually like the idea of the online medium and the riddles and the need to come together to solve the riddles, but really, haven't we all read a book, watched a movie, or played a video game where the story just wasn't there? Sometimes we finish the thing in question just for the spirit of not leaving things unfinished, even though there's nothing that's holding us to it?

"Reading Literature of Other Cultures"
Along with the article, I will also draw upon the seminar from Thursday. I am someone who enjoys literature from other cultures, as long as it has been translated or written in English because I am sadly uni-lingual. Personally I think it is strange to feel like you have nothing to say about a piece of literature because it is set in a culture that is not your own. As the article suggests, you can imagine yourself there, and you can always go research the culture in question. You can always speak about it in terms of its complete strangeness to you, and compare it to your own culture. As I think back to my elementary public school experience (burr) I can't recall any books that were outside of the Canadian/American culture. I read some books myself, including some of The Royal Diaries series (fictional diaries of real historical royality as children), and a book called Sakuran and some others that I can't recall the titles, but in the classroom I can't recall ever reading something outside of our own setting. In highschool we read The Forbidden City, but that's an American's view, there to explain everything we might find foreign and confusing to us. Maybe I think that we should have more culturally diverse material in the classroom because of my small town's inadequate reading collection, but that's where I stand. Don't make everything the white version of Canada/America. And I certainly don't believe in localizing the material-and this was something brought up in the seminar, wherein an international book will have the culturally specific bits removed and re-localized. Eg, a book that is set in Japan is now set in America when it is translated to English. Why do this? As people who belong to a diverse world, it would probably be beneficial to present children/young people these different cultures without having to mask them with our culture.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

M.T Anderson and the "Vampires, Changelings, and Radical Mutant Teens" article

For this week I read "Thirsty" by M.T. Anderson, and I read the whole thing and was flipping though the last pages and came across the other things the author has published. I didn't even realize that he wrote Burger Wuss, Feed, and the two volume The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. I have to say that I enjoyed the book, but initially I did not buy the Lord of the Vampires, Tch'muchgar, is going to come back and destroy everything. When Chris, the protagonist, describes the rituals that his town did, I just thought that his town was crazy, but then I was supposed to believe in it. Sorry, I just don't. I might just have a problem with naming things that I'm supposed to be scared of. Then he gets the holy plot device and they give it a name and how to "activate it" (Moon Prism Power!!! :p ) and I just find that so corny (out of Sailor Moon, of course).

What I did like about this book is how Chris' life is presented. I genuinely found his struggle to exist in the human world while slowly becoming a vampire intriguing. I know that if I had read this when I was in high school, I probably would have sat back and day dreamed for hours imagining what I would have done in his situation.

As for the article, I have to say that nothing in particular stood out to me. In my last undergraduate year I took a course on vampires in literature, so the article is pretty much a repeat. It did alert me to some interesting book that I want to read though.

(I had a nice long paragraph that was deleted randomly, and no amount of undo/redos will get it back. So I'll try to sum up my brilliance again.)
I particularly liked how the article discussed how young adults may not associate themselves with/as adults; therefore, they may not readily swallow the morality that adults are giving them (especially considering that adults will reinforce that young adults are not yet adults). In the last paragraph it reads that young adults need these types of novels because "the paradoxical questions of emotional and moral struggle as well as the contradictory issues of humanity may be asked and thought about without cynicism or deprecation." Vampire/paranormal fiction has always been one of my favourite types of literature, and the reasons why are always hard to articulate for me. I like the complete differentness of the world being presented; it is unlike what everyone has told you what life will be like.  It gives you different sets of morals. The end of Carrie Jones Need makes you stop and think, wow, seriously, she did that? Anne Rice's Lestat drinks from morally corrupt people, so does that make him, as a vampire, morally acceptable? Though not supernatural, Hannibal Lector eats the "free-range rude" which makes you reconsider him as a moral character (fourth year honours seminar on cannibalism in literature...good times). Something that literature concerned with the supernatural offers is new moral stances in a new world that is available to them.

So my re-typed thoughts about the article are not quite as great as they were originally, so maybe I'll fill in my thoughts some time tomorrow. I swear the moment I fall asleep I'll remember something epic... 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld reflections

With my seminar for this class tomorrow, and two enormous projects looming over the very near future, I wasn't able to read the entire book. It's a long book! But I'm really enjoying it. Enjoying it to the point that if the ending doesn't randomly suck, I'll probably go and buy the rest of the series and read it over the break between semesters.

I am a huge fan of dystopias. And this one seems to have more to offer than a lot of dystopias that I have read. Yes, they live in a closed society riddled with rules. But this one brings up other issues, like body issues, self-image, identity, and conformity issues. This might shock some of you, but I was called ugly as a kid, but that's nothing unique to me. How many times do you hear girls fighting and the worst thing they can say is "Well, you is UGLY!!!" </bad grammar>. How often do we (especially women) see articles declaring (like it's the first time we've heard it) that women who are pretty get better positions and better paying jobs just because they're pretty?

I like how this novel brings this to the forefront. Everyone gets turned into a pretty. Somewhere it said something on the lines of, there's only new pretty, middle pretty, and old pretty. Then dead pretty. But then there's just ugly, and that's not even really an option. I like how before the second part of the novel, the issue of choice comes up, but for a different circumstance that I wont spoil. But why can't you choose? And I wonder, just what is ugly for them? It's not really illustrated thus far, and beauty is subjective. We know that the main character has frizzy hair and thin lips, but that doesn't necessarily make her ugly, as in, hideous like Quasimodo. I find it's interesting that you cannot choose to not go through with the change. You simply do not get the choice to say "no thanks, I don't need it."

Thus far, I am really enjoying the novel.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mackey reading and *Burr* ....Twilight

I really enjoyed Margaret Mackey's "Salience and Fluency: The beginnings of stories” in Literacies across media: Playing the text. It makes me happy that young people, at least the ones in the study, are not partial to any one medium. Why? Well I hope it is because they are concerned with the story aspects of what is being presented to them. Though there were some comments that made me sad inside, such as the one person who didn't like Japanese animation or the one who did not like black and white films (another favourite thing of mine). Yet everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and at least they explained why they disliked some aspects of the mediums.

So before I go on, I would like to point out something I found strange. Cat’s Eye, if it is indeed the one written by Margaret Atwood, isn’t exactly age appropriate material for an 8th grade student, though if I personally knew the student and I knew they could handle it, and I knew the parent’s would not object to the themes, I would recommend this book. Then again, I read this book in high school and again in university, and a few times on my own since then, and it is one of my favourite books (I have a lot of favourite books, don’t I?) and I know that the story would have appealed to me in the 8th grade as well.

83 “They showed no signs of having an automatic preference for one medium over another; instead, they judged each text on its merits. Nobody either selected or rejected all the texts in a single medium without qualification.”

“Colin also took fluency into account with some of his decision-making. He rejected the black and white video of the old movie version of The Secret Garden: ‘I don’t really like movies in black and white because it’s kind of hard to decipher one thing from another.’” See, this guy actually has reasons for his dislike. That's more than I can say about A LOT of adults who look at something and just say they don't like it (I recall the first time I was watching A Tale of Two Sisters on television, and I was super into and my mother wanted me to do something upstairs, so I put it on upstairs, and the first thing she says is "turn it off, those Japanese movies are so boring." First of all, it's from South Korea, and it's a psychological horror film that was on for less than three minutes (if that), so it's not like she could judge from that. At least these kids are giving these materials a chance! </rant>  

Another thing is that I see how trying to guess a young person’s reading tastes can be difficult, especially if they cannot clearly articulate what they prefer, such as in the case of Megan on pages 83-4, wherein she does not like the big words in Anne of Green Gables, but she liked how The Golden Compass describes everything. The Golden Compass does get dense in ideas, but she seemed more inclined to keep reading The Golden Compass because the plot is more interesting.

And I appreciate Japanese anime, but I didn’t like the anime adaptations of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. While Kaze no Shoujo Emily is the more recent adaptation of the two I’ve seen and remember well enough to judge, the Emily adaptation just deviates too much from the book, though at times the animation if beautiful. 

I think I've wrote so much to avoid blogging about Twilight. So, fine. I'll do it. I don't like the text in print form. I find the non-existant plot boring. Meyer has a way of writing that is boring, yet has a way of hooking you, making you believe that at any moment, something will happen. I could have sworn that something  mildly interesting was about to happen all the time. But nothing ever does. I finished the book and felt like nothing had really happened. A guy stalks you and watches you in your sleep and you're like "Awwww! How cute!" Just to let you know, stalkers are scary. They aren't something that you go  "Awwww! How cute!"  to. The only remotely interesting character, in my opinion, is Alice. Can Alice have her own book, please? But in the end of Twilight it didn't make me want to read the rest of the books. Awesome. That wasn't a complete waste of my time. The movie (thanks youtube!) was an adequate adaptation in my opinion, though it was just as boring. Between the two, I prefer the movie because it ended my pain and boredom much more quickly. I have to say though, I can understand why young people like the book. It's a pretty basic romance (though there is nothing particular to vampires) with an otherwise boring and plain girl who moves and suddenly is so popular that everyone wants to date her. Isn't that a teen-agers dream? That what you once where will not follow you? 

And completely related to this topic is a youtube video from the "How It Should Have Ended" Channel. 

      (Just in case there's something wrong with the video here, it's also here.
 "Are you afraid she's going to play baseball better than you?" Yeah, Seriously Edward. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Alice, I Think

I read Alice, I Think and Why Angels Fly: Humor in YA Fiction by Janet Kleinberg and Lynn Cockett. I think it will be easier if I go into my comments about the article and gradually flow into my reflections about the novel.
The article came into something interesting about when you don’t find certain things funny. "“She was one of a dozen girls he would have liked to know better . . . know bed-der . . . much bed-der . . .” (Mazer 5). Cristina specifically said, “I know the author put that in there to make me laugh, but it didn’t.”"
I understand why the participant didn't think it was funny. I think as a young adult (and still as an adult) you don't want to be seen as a sexual object, and the reality is that our mothers/teachers/caregivers will always tell you that boys only want one thing. You would probably hope that the sentiment isn't true, and it isn't particularly funny to reinforce that idea, especially if you are meant to identify with the character being pictured like that. I haven't read that book, but I can think of Alice, I Think, when Aubrey comes over and she (and her mother and father too) worries that he will take her "into the womanhood tent." And it turns out that Aubrey isn't that kind of guy. Or rather, he can't shut up long enough to think about it. 
Can humour be a genre? I want to say yes, knowing that many people will disagree with me. I know that you can have humour in any genre, in any book. What about a book that is overwhelming humorous, and was written for the humour, and nothing else? If the humour in Alice, I Think was removed to leave just the bear plot, I don't think it would be even vaguely interesting. I can't decide what kind of humour I felt with Alice, I Think, though. Was it superiority, because I find her narcissism and her "I'm a mature intellectual now because I read The Fellowship of the Ring. I am on page 2" and her ego and her fashion sense to be absolutely hilarious? I hope it's not because I think I'm superior. I think I was supposed to find her home life with a hippie mother and father funny, along with the fact that she is home schooled, but I didn't really. I know that is a result of my own personal experience-I know a handful of home schooled kinds and they are fine socially and intellectually. So I don't find those facts to be humorous by itself. I find Alice funny because of her narcissism. She is a cultural critic, has a..."unique" sense of fashion, and at one point is convinced that everyone is stealing from the bookstore. Is she a sociopath like some people say? No. Dexter is a sociopath, if you need a comparison. Sure, the book isn't realistic in some aspects, but it was funny, and I think it was meant for the humour. The mother got into a fight with Linda, and yes, it was weird, but it could happen. I don't think the mother is "crazy" for fighting back. If you came out to three kids terrorizing your daughter in your car (which happened to me when I was younger) and if you, as her mother, tried to stop them, and the psycho one hit you first, and you want to lie on the ground and take it, be my guest. I'll be crazy. But I won't be wearing a muumuu or tie-dye scarfs.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Elsewhere Review

Fifteen-year-old Liz is the victim of a fatal hit and run, and this is the novel's beginning. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin is not the typical author's declaration of “this is what my version of heaven looks like.” It is something completely different, insofar as the afterlife goes. After waking up on the SS Nile, Liz is taken to the island of Elsewhere, where she lives with her grandmother Betty, who died before Liz was born. Here she will age backwards until she becomes a baby again and she will be reborn on Earth. This sounds appealing to those who die in their old age, but to Liz, she will never become a woman. And now she will never get her proper driver's license, go to prom, have children, or even see her sweet-sixteen. While she can see her family from Observation Decks, she can never be with them again. 
Elsewhere is written in the third person with an omniscient narrator that follows mostly Liz, but also other characters as well. Liz is a well-written character; her actions and feelings are believable for her age and circumstances, and she is the not over-the-top “stubborn teen” or unrealistically perfect. The secondary characters are all detailed and have secure places in the narrative. This book isn't about heaven, though some reviews refuse to see beyond these terms. This novel creates an imaginative world that is interesting to read about because it uniquely belongs to Zevin. The world of Elsewhere simply operates, whether Liz likes it or not, and she has to try to find herself in this “life,” when she never really got to experience her first life on Earth. The book is written with a clear simplicity and will interest readers who appreciate an imaginative setting that they can also recognize. 5/5 

 Zevin, Gabrielle. Elsewhere. Harrisonburg: Square Fish, 2005. Print.
$6.95 US/$8.95 Can. (Square Fish is an imprint of Macmillan.)  

Gabrielle Zevin writes young adult fiction as well as adult fiction, and her website is here, with the Elsewhere section here (this page also has the international covers, which is interesting to compare).   

Monday, March 14, 2011


A link on facebook was recently shared by a friend (Thank you!) and I thought I would share it here:
100 young adult books for the feminist reader
There are some interesting titles here that I would love to check out.

However, I wonder how accessible this list is to teens with overly sensitive parents who might object to their child visiting a website called "Bitch Media"/"Bitch Magazine."  On their about page they explain their name, but I still wonder because it is aimed at young people who are still under the thumb of their parents/schools.

Another place is the Amelia Bloomer Project Recommended Feminist Literature for Birth through 18
It has a list of recommended titles, but you have to find the ones for young adult ages because there have elementary school level books in there as well.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

John Green "Paper Towns"

Just to start off, I should say that while I am a huge fan of the vlogbrothers on youtube, I hadn't actually read a John Green novel. It was on my to read list for ages. Now I have. And I'm going to do my best to create a pure and unbiased review.

It was awesome. Go read it NOW. End of review.

What I liked most about this novel was the pacing of the story. It pretty consistently stayed at a fast pace that kept everything rolling. The story never stops going forward, and I think that this will be appreciated by a lot of young readers. Except for a bit around the first chapter that I found pretty boring- but I know why, because I'm not a guy and I couldn't care less about prom, even when I was a teenager I didn't care and didn't even go to mine. Maybe because I'm not a boy? Maybe because I hate reading words like "honey bunny over and over again. But then the plot goes on and doesn't stop. It is interesting and hilarious at points-it's so hilarious just in case someone is reading this and hasn't finished it or will one day read it, I wont even mention the epic hilarity. Towards the end of the book, something made me laugh for about 10 minutes, and I'm getting a little giggly thinking about it now. Lately books just haven't been that funny to me. The novel also has a lot of discussions about human nature, personalities, and the like. And expectations of the future and other people. I think it hit me deeply because since high school I "upped and left" a few times and just stopped talking to people I once knew. I liked how the novel reveals people's perceptions about other people and their actions-Margo's parents change the locks, Q's parents are willing to guide her and help her out, some people just think she simply ran away and leave her be. People made these assumptions without asking her, which I think young people can identify with, because aren't people always making assumptions for you on your behalf? Your parents certainly do, but so do your friends, don't they? They see you as a snippet in time, and you cannot evolve as a person past that or else you're not the same in their eyes.

To sum up, I really enjoyed this book. I hope in a few years I can give a copy to my little brother.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Weetzie Bat" by Francesca Lia Block

I honestly really enjoyed this book. I particularly enjoyed the way that the book rolls with quick descriptors of what the characters are doing, what's they're eating, the colours of the sky, their car, their clothes. Yet it doesn't go into extreme details about anything in particular and it keeps the pace up. I easily read this book and I know that some teens will appreciate how quickly it can be read and without much difficulty, I suspect. It gives a vivid stamp of a scene that gives the book a dreamy atmosphere.

As for the content and censorship issues, I personally don't understand why people in general really get riled up about content that they don't like. I think today I'll leave it at that. I personally like how this book portrayed how families meld together and become blended. Though probably not so magically and dramatically, families do exist that are not the typical nuclear family. These types of families exist to some extent and it does not stop the family from being full of love. The book also hints that someone has AIDS, and homosexuality is largely accepted, and characters discuss that the world is too damaged to bring children into, yet the world is beautiful and love exists, and it is an urban fairytale, so it's going to be ok in the end.

Feb. 16th 2011 Readings

Library materials and services for teen girls By Katie O'Dell
We had to read the first 6 pages and I found the section interesting. I was never into Nancy Drew books when I was younger, no matter how much this girl in my class was obsessed with them. Later on, my grandmother was the one who bought me my books. For awhile though, she keep buying me teen magazines, which never interested me beyond "oh, look what I can't afford or even buy in this town..." I had to say that if she's going to buy me a 12ish dollar magazine every week or so, could she please buy me a paperback Anne Rice, or Margaret Atwood, or etc. ?

Fifty ways to promote teen reading in your school library.

12. Use the lure of the forbidden. Tell them a book is banned or controversial, or just give them some of the crazy details (for example, boyfriend is on crack and parents are abusive) and a questioning "Are you up to the challenge?" look.
(One summer when I was a teenager I went to Maine beach and I found a copy of Lord of the Flies in a bookstore, and, no kidding, there was a bookmark that had "banned" on it with a circle with a slash through it sticking out of it. I had heard of the book before, but that "banned" bookmark, which I kept, sold me. Why? Because I was rebellious, and had to get my grandma to tell the store clerk that I could have it and that made me feel cool, yo.)
I am particularly interested in the points that discuss how to promote books in libraries, such as putting graphic novels in the front and having books near the computer stations. I also think that having your students pick books and run a blog (43 and 44) is much more effective than only you selecting books, unless you are really knowledgeable about teen reading trends. But even then, tastes are diverse and subjective so I think you'd be surprised anyway.   

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Judy Blume's "Forever..." (spoilers)

What I really liked was that the novel wasn't preachy about sex, in the way that some novels are. The issue of sex isn't a moral one, and as it was written in 1975 I feel that the moral issue surrounding sex is still (largely) gone. I read some criticism that the book has, and it's fairly interesting. I never read this book as a young adult, but I read Chuck Palahniuk and I see some of his novels as much "worse," though his books don't deal with Young Adults. Is that supposed to be the difference here?

Anyway, I particularly liked the character Erica, and she had Kath present an interesting notion about sex: is it a physical act or a romantic one? I think it is a good thing to make young readers think about. Especially because one character becomes pregnant and becomes almost a warning not that you shouldn't have sex, but that you should use protection, and actually know who the father is. The character who actually gets pregnant also has the desire to deliver the baby, despite not being able to take care of the baby. She wanted the "experience" of having a child. Personally, I feel like this was an unrealistic romantic idea she had, yet I feel that she herself believes that the act is a physical experience because she has intercourse with so many men that she doesn't know who the father is.  From the beginning I felt that this character had a stigma about her, and I knew that something weird was going to happen.

Other than that, I found the book to be a very quick read, and that says a lot because I am a very slow reader. The book took me perhaps two hours to read. Maybe two and a half? But there is a lot to consider in the novel, though the pace moves fairly quickly. How to explain it? Thought provoking issues were raised, we listened to the characters talk it out a bit, mostly summarized by the narrator, we read her thoughts, etc. but the plot and the pace doesn't stop. It's not like a Jane Austen novel where there are epically boring parts (sorry Austen fans). It really reminded me of high school where you just "keep going," day in, day out, and new stuff happened and developed everyday. Big decisions were made on a whim by some people, but if you're really trying to make a decision and you're thinking about it, you're still swept away by the everyday tide.

On a side note of Judy Blume and Chuck Palahniuk, I found this on Wikipedia: "Damned is an upcoming novel by Chuck Palahniuk, which is scheduled to be published on October 18, 2011. The plot concerns Madison, an eleven year old girl who finds herself in Hell, unsure of why she will be there for all eternity, but tries to make the best of it. It is based on the structure of Judy Blume novels, particularly Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." Epic, or, epic, right?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shoulder the Sky Review

Lesley Choyce’s Shoulder the Sky is a young adult novel that gives an honest depiction of a teenager’s grief after the loss of his mother. Martin Emerson’s mother painted pictures no one understood and wanted to drive to Alaska. Then she died, and her son is now seen to be acting too “normal” considering the circumstances. He continues to be the “intellectual snot” loner that he always has been.
The novel is fast paced with mostly dialogue, and includes themes of death, life, rebellion, and sex, and is set in a contemporary Canada. As the concept that every person has website or blog is now commonplace, it is easy to understand that Martin uses this outlet to rant about the world, and it is identifiable to most people. The articles that he posts, that are included in the book by separating clouds with thunderbolts, include topics that range from Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch, Jules Verne, Immanuel Kant, Herodotus, and Nietzsche. It is possible that a young adult audience would not be familiar with these concepts, and it may, as it did to me when I read this in the eleventh grade, interest the reader into researching the people or topics that are discussed.
While I read this book in the eleventh grade, there is nothing that would hinder, perhaps, a ninth or tenth grade student to read this novel. While it does speak about sex, it is more about the protagonists lack of interest in sex. The only negative I can say about this book is that it has an awful cover of a boy glowering back at you, arms crossed and smug, and it is not at all what I picture Martin to look like. If a reader enjoys reading books that are “sad” in nature, I would highly recommend this. 5/5 
(The Review ends here. Following is something that I want to say about the cover. I don't know why, but I always seem to be thinking about how things are marketed to audiences. This novel is for a Young Adult Audience. The protagonist is an "intellectual snot" that doesn't really fit in. The man on the cover just irks me. When I first saw this book, I was actually looking at the book from the back description, as it was laying on a table in a classroom for anyone to take. I began to read it and was intrigued. When I looked at the cover I was horrified. He doesn't depict the character at all. In fact, he reminds me of this young man I used to have painting lessons with. I think his name was Stephen, but honestly, I've tried to forget him. He was the kind of guy who pretended to know everything by saying whatever nasty thing came into his mind about whatever you were speaking of. If you said your couch was red, he would say it was brown, even though he never saw your couch in his life, then, he would make fun of your couch, and you. The pasty-yellow guy all dressed in black with one eye brow raised like he's a diabolical genius doesn't fit on the cover. Period.)     

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Catcher in the Rye Reflection (small spoilers)

Today I read, in one day, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I have to say, this is a book that everyone kept telling me to read in high school. When I would tell teachers that I hadn't read it, all I would hear is "Are you sure? Salinger. You must have. Holden Claufield. Ducks." I heard from so many people that I would just love him because he is a cynic, like my (embarrassingly) teen-aged self. Unfortunately, I read it now, not as a teenager, and I thought all the hype of the book was true. I was expecting way too much. And for all the people who said I would identify with him because he’s a cynic...yeah, thanks.

I know some people hate Holden, calling him whiny and such. Some people love him, calling him delightfully cynical. I didn’t find him to be either of these things. I found him to hate everything in general, sometimes without giving the world the benefit of the doubt before he judged them. I understand though, his harsh judgment on people whom he sees as “phony.” He doesn’t want to be in school, and it can be interpreted that he is being true to himself when he doesn’t apply himself. I get it, what's the point? right.  

The story, to me, is about the transition into adulthood wherein you begin to start making decisions for yourself and you are held accountable for your actions. He needs to figure out what he wants to do with his life. I was in my third year of my undergrad when I decided what I wanted to do after I obtained my undergraduate degree. What I can distinguish is the way that he handles his uncertainty. Leaving school early and living in sleezy motels and drinking is not the best way to deal with your problems. He begins to fantasize about leaving society and living in a cabin in the woods and never speaking to people again.    

While I did enjoy his digressions, I found that the story was just him...doing stuff. And remembering stuff. Some of it was not exactly fascinating to me. But the digressions were the most interesting part of the novel, and he does say, on page 183 of my edition, that he likes digressions as well.

My thinking, at this point in time (which I may change in the future) is that young adults or teenagers may enjoy this novel for the often “taboo” subjects that arise and the censorship and hype that accompany it (such as the shooter of John Lennon being obsessed with the novel). It is also interesting to note that Holden himself is a virgin in the novel, so even his own sexuality is being discovered, which may appeal to YA readers. It is a novel of teenaged-angst and general disgust with the world, and how the narrator identifies himself in that world, that can be identifiable to YA readers.      

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 2 "Library/bookstore visit"

"Visit a library or a bookstore before this week’s class. Make note of your observations for your blog postings and be prepared to discuss further in class."
I'm not sure excatly what I was supposed to be observing, but I did notice a few things that I would like to write about here. If I am completely off course, let me know. I read the “Teenagers Talking about Reading and Libraries” studies right before I went. 
Perhaps lead on by the study, I mostly noticed how some books are displayed and categorized in bookstores. And I have to say, most "big"/commercial bookstores are the same. Perhaps I don't know better, but marketing seems to be the reasoning behind categorizing the sections of books, not that it is a bad thing, mind you. But sometimes marketing doesn't make much sense. I always remember from my Children's Literature class from my undergraduate English degree. Most of the "children's books" that we studied were too complex for the marketed 8-12 year old range. Why were they marketed as children's literature? Because their protagonists were children. Lyra from Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy is 12, and I’ve never encountered the books for that trilogy outside of the children’s department. If I had read that trilogy when I was 12, the “real world” religious context would have been lost on me. I read them two years ago for the first time and they blew my mind.  
In one of the “big” bookstores, I asked an employee what guidelines are used to categorize books. All I got was a “head-office says so” type of mumble. I wanted to say that I wasn't done questioning him, but a tiny part of my brain knows that it is inappropriate to torment other human beings, for my personal amusement or for my academic blogging.  I was hoping that he would have offered to get the manager for me, but it never came up and he shuffled away.  
I noticed in used bookstores they had different ways of organizing and categorizing books. Sometimes they seem to be in some semblance of alphabetical order. I have, in the past, been in really unorganized used bookstores where books were just piled up on the shelves. Nothing really stood out today as being fantastically categorized or abnormally bad. For used books they must have to use their own subjective judgement. In “big” bookstores, I would like to know how much of their own judgement is involved in categorizing their books. I tried to get my little sister some books one Christmas when she was 8, and the bookstore in the city I was living in, a “big” bookstore, had what I considered to be baby books section, then a “12 year to-” ( I can’t recall what the age went to). But where does she fall into? I bought her two books, one was “too hard” (perfectly fine) and the other, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, which she liked.

LIS 9364

This blog will now be used for LIS 9364, Young Adult Materials. The previous posts were saved and will be re-posted....eventually.