book thoughts: The Declaration by Gemma Malley (2007)

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Gemma Malley

“If the chance to live forever came with a price, would you opt in or out?”

That’s the tag line on the cover of ‘The Declaration’ by Gemma Malley, a science fiction novel for young adults.  

In the future, Longevity drugs have made it possible for people to live forever. But, the Earth has finally reached a population limit, so no one is allowed to have children unless they opt out of of the “eternal life”.  Of course, there are still people that attempt to have children.  These children are taken away and called “Surpluses”.  They are trained to do the most menial jobs around and told their are worthless, using up resources that only the Legals have a right to.  Anna is a Surplus.  She has accepted that her parents were law breakers, bad people who had no right to create her, and now she must do her best to make up for existing.  Then Peter arrives and claims to know the truth about Anna’s parents…

While it sounds like a solid plot line, I felt the book could have been put together a lot better.  It is told in third-person limited point of view and switches between characters throughout the story.  But I felt we stuck with Anna so long in the beginning that by the time we switched to another character, it was a bit jarring and forced.  Plus, the plot device of Anna’s forbidden journal (Surplus’ are not allowed to own anything) slowed things down a lot because her journal entries were usually just re-tellings of sequences we had just read about a few pages before.  It seems like that should have reworked that because it really slowed down the advancement of the plot.

Do you ever get the feeling that a bunch of authors went to a workshop together and then wrote novels right after that? I really think I might have enjoyed this book a bit more if I wasn’t such a big fan of Scott Westerfeld’s ‘Uglies’, had not just finished (and LOVED) ‘Unwind’ by Neal Schusterman, and had not just read Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ (which I read because Joss Whedon said it inspired ‘Dollhouse’). Because if you put all those books into a blender, you get something not quite unlike ‘Declaration’. Compared to those books, ‘The Declaration’ falls short in style and substance.But what really ruined it for me was the ending. I won’t spoil it but it was pretty lame and I was hoping for so much more. Apparently this is book 1 in a series (wow, let me have a heart attack and die from the not-surprised).  

It was okay, but I don’t think I’ll be rec’ing it to anyone.

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movie thoughts: Moon (2009)

Do you like Sam Rockwell?  I mean REALLY like Sam Rockwell?  Because if you don’t, you probably won’t like ‘Moon’ because Sam is it (well, Sam and Kevin Spacey as Gerty the Computer). 

‘Moon’ is a story set in the future.  To solve our energy crisis, we figured out a way to harvest power from the Moon.  But someone has to be up there to monitor the equipment.  Sam has signed a 3 year contract with the company.  He has been living on the moon, his only companion a computer called “Gerty”.  He has 2 weeks left before he can return home.  But something is not quite right….

And I’ll stop there.  If all of the reviews of ‘Moon’ seem vague to you, it’s for a reason.  No one wants to say too much and spoil any part of this movie.

I thought Sam Rockwell did a great job considering he was all on his own.  He’s come a long way from ‘Guy’ (Galaxy Quest).  

I’m not so sure about the re-watchability of this movie though.  I don’t think I would view it a second time, but the first time through was interesting and it drew you in.  But after it was over, it was over and that was that.  

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movie thoughts: The Hurt Locker (2009)

Wow.  So, I doubt there is anything I can say about this film that you have not already heard.

It’s gripping, well acted, well filmed, the editing is fantastic and it will stick with you.  

Movies about the war in Iraq (or whatever it is called at this point) always seem to effect me more than I expect.  I think it’s because I can’t even fathom that environment.  I mean, we’ve all seen World War II movies with soldiers wandering Europe, but I get that landscape, that world.  The only new thing for me is the war.  But when it comes to the Middle East, it’s all so different.  The desert, the people…it’s just foreign.

I think that’s what makes ‘The Hurt Locker’ so mesmerizing to me.  The idea that these people live in a land where bombs are just left in the street blows my mind.  That these men risk their lives every day over there to protect so many.  It’s their job.  

‘The Hurt Locker’ is not a documentary though, it’s a movie about a team of men and the way the war alters them.  I know that sounds cliche…but this movie is just so well done, you forget about that theme and just focus on the screen.  It would have been so easy to just despise the main character, but somehow I understood his choice in the end.  

“The Hurt Locker” is an intense and well-crafted film that ranks up there as one of the best war movies I have ever seen.

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movie thoughts: Julie & Julia (2009)

A movie based on a book which was based on a blog inspired by Julia Child’s life in France.  

Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

The first sentence sums up why this was probably not the best idea for a screen adaptation.  The second sentence sums up why it succeeds at being entertaining at all.

‘Julie & Julia’ is a sweet little story that juxtaposes the story of Julia Child finding herself in France and Julie Powell, a NYC resident trying to find herself after a rough year.  Not really full of action, adventure, or drama – the movie is very watchable because of the amazing casting.  Meryl Streep steals the show as Julia Child.  Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of her husband is endearing.  I have a soft spot for the adorable Amy Adams who plays Julie Powell.  

It’s a cute movie, what more can be said.  It’s a little over 2 hours long, and by the end you’re starting to feel it.  But there are worse ways to spend an evening, and if you’ve got a supply of munchies ready to go, you’ll probably have a good time with these two ladies. 

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book thoughts: Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda (2009)

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Sarwat Chadda

Okay, ignore that cover over there.  That is the U.S. cover, meant to appeal to Twilight fans who apparently will only read books with a chick and mysterious dude pictures on the cover.  Or something.  The U.K. cover is way cooler.  

ANYWAY!

The rumors in London are that Billi’s father murdered her mother.  But Billi knows the truth – her mom was killed by ghuls: demons.  Her father is a member of the ancient order of the Knights Templar which is still surviving in our modern world.  

After her mother’s death, Billi’s father began to train her as a Templar.  As the years have gone by, the two have grown apart.  Billi would like nothing more than to just be a normal high school girl.  Instead she finds herself fighting demons in playgrounds late at night and then hiding the battle scars the next day.  And when an ancient evil returns to Earth to punish mankind, Billi has no choice but to battle beside her father to save the world. 

‘Devil’s Kiss’ has a great mix of action, adventure, history, mythos and just a dash of romance.  It is a fast read with a really strong female heroine.  

My only frustration with the book was that I didn’t know it was book 1 in a series until I finished.  Part of me was kind of upset – I’d like to just read a book and have it be it sometimes.  I wasn’t prepared for it to not officially end.  The sequel just came out this month but I’m not rushing out to read it. 

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book thoughts: Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford (2009)

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Brent Crawford

High school.  Remember when it was a mystery?  When you viewed it from afar, thinking that when you were finally that age, life must be easier?  Then remember actually getting there and being more confused then ever?

Carter has the same experience.  He is convinced that when he becomes a freshman, life will be simpler.  But, instead, he experiences a high school life that we are all familiar with.  Brent Crawford’s writing is full of humor and heart.  I really identified with Carter and his level of clueless-ness.  

Warning: if you can’t handle being inside a 15 year old boy’s brain, don’t pick up this book.  Carter is a nice guy but his mind is on two things all the time – do I look cool? and SEX!  So when he goes on a date with a girl for the first time and eats a giant burrito…well, you can guess where some of the humor will come from.

If you want a book that you will laugh out loud while reading (seriously, I got a dirty look from my cat from giggling in bed) but is also realistic and honest in it’s portrayal of High School and all of its ridiculous politics, pick up “Carter Finally Gets It”.  

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