Posts Tagged ‘young adult fiction’

The (Book) Review: Sidekicked

September 4, 2013

As I bone up on what I hope to be “the competition” – a.k.a. Super Hero novels targeting the tween/young adult demographic – I thought I’d share my impressions of what I’ve read.  I’ve actually been simul-reading several novels, but here are my thoughts on the first one I finished.

Sidekicked-198x300The Book
Sidekicked, by John David Anderson, Walden Pond Press, published June 2013

Genre
“Realistic” Fantasy—Super Hero

Age Appropriate
7 and up.  Think Harry Potter for the Super Hero set.  Funny with mild, cartoonish violence and a focus more on how a real-life middle schooler would deal with the trials and tribulations of being something more (or perhaps less) than normal.  Romance plays its role, but in entirely the innocent sense of the word.  A little sprinkling of crude (though not foul) language and potty humor, but one couldn’t imagine anything else from a red-blooded American 12-year-old boy.  That said book reads a bit younger than the Harry Potter stories, so I am not sure it would have as much appeal to teen readers unless they are specifically Super Hero fans.

Good for Grown-Ups?
Yes.  While Anderson strives to capture the sensibilities and voice of a middle schooler, he doesn’t avoid some wonderfully descriptive language and puts together a very solid plot.  In many ways, he brings a sense of realism to the genre, moral conundrums and all, without falling victim to the “Dark Knight Disease” I mentioned in my previous post.

Book Availability
Widely available in hardback (it was just released this summer) and e-book in any number of forms.

Quickie Plot Synopsis (minor spoilers)
Andrew Bean is an excellent middle school student, but as a Super Hero, he kind of sucks. His alter-ego, The Sensationalist, doesn’t have the incredible strength and speed of his friend Jenna, a.k.a. the Silver Fox, and he can’t turn his body into a lump of impenetrable rock like the new kid in class, who incidentally seems to be making a play for Jenna.

How does a super nerd compete with Super Cedric?

How does a super nerd compete with Super Cedric?

Instead, he’s stuck with the power to feel, see, smell and taste absolutely everything.  So while his fellow sidekicks in training are leaping all over the secret sidekick training center in the basement of their school, he gets to sit at a desk and sniff into test tubes to hone his “skills.”  And did I mention the rock guy with the chiseled abs is making a play for the one girl who actually seems to like him?

And if being the least super Super wasn’t bad enough, Drew managed to get paired with about the worst Hero you could imagine.  The Titan, his personal idol and once the city of Justica’s greatest champion, now had more battles with barstools than bad guys.  But Drew signed off on the sidekick’s code, and was determined to figure out how to prove his worth to worth to the world…and to Jenna. And when the most notorious band of baddies return, the very same gang that sent Titan into his unexplained tailspin, everything Drew thought he knew about his friends, his family, and even about being a hero itself, is called into question.

My Review (minor spoilers)

I’m a sucker for a good sidekick story.  It’s one of the reasons one of my all-time favorite Super Hero incarnations is The Tick.  In all its incarnations, while the big blue idiot may be the title character, the story is really about Arthur, the average guy trying to keep up in a super-powered world.  It’s his story that grounds the ridiculous world of Supers that makes the whole thing work so well. Anderson seems to be of that same school, and comes up with a wonderful way to bring that same sensibility and sense of humor to the middle grade market.

Hard to decide, but I think I loved the live action version most.

Hard to decide, but I think I loved the live action version most.

Drew is our Arthur, seeming the worst of the best; possessed of powers that are seemingly not very super at all.  Indeed, Drew’s abilities provide fertile ground for great description and very funny moments (who knew you could fart in a test tube?). Drew’s story is told first person, and I think Anderson does a very nice job capturing the voice of a brainy, nerdy, extremely self-conscious 12-year-old.  If I were to nit-pick, I think some of the descriptive language he uses feels like it goes beyond his narrator, which I think is the issue from time-to-time in choosing first person with a child’s voice.  That said, it never feels so overboard that I lost the feeling that I was hearing things from Drew himself.

For the first three quarters of the book, I thought Anderson did a brilliant job making all of the “super” problems Drew encountered into essentially the same problems just about any middle school kid has, only pumped up on steroids.  The handsome other boy with an eye on the girl he is into isn’t just handsome, he’s handsome and he can turn himself into living rock.  The feeling of anxiety about keeping secrets from parents, in this case super powers and being a sidekick to the greatest Super Hero in history (or, some semblance of him) is a powerful metaphor for that increased feeling of alienation that so many pre-teens start to feel as they change.  Now throw in the fact that his Super Hero idol is a shell of his former self, and Drew gives readers a surprisingly deep-dive into the way kids begin to emerge from the cocoon of childhood into the oft harsh realities of life.

A similar conundrum to Man of Steel, but far more deftly handled.

A similar conundrum to Man of Steel, but far more deftly handled.

Anderson also does an excellent job playing with some of the core messages behind the Super Hero convention.  What makes a bad guy bad?  What are the ethics of being a hero?  Is “Thou shalt not kill” an essential part of a hero’s code?  How do the non-supers feel in a world filled with “freaks?”  All those are covered in a way that in no way feels preachy, as the middle school prism helps make these questions feel fresh and resonant.

As taken as I was by the setup, I have to say that the finish was not quite what I had hoped for.  It was still good, but it felt fairly conventional.  I felt like I was going from reading something entirely original to a solid copy of many stories I had read before.  The villain’s final reveal didn’t come as much of a surprise to me, but I was okay with that.  The rationale for the villain’s behavior, however, felt a bit staid.  But, as a discussion point, the blurred line between good and evil is an excellent one.  Better yet because it is NOT told in the “shades of gray” way that so many Super Hero stories today are told.  It is a real moral dilemma, not simply another ode to nihilism like we see in so many of today’s Super Hero stories.

In all, Sidekicked is a welcome addition to the genre and antidote to the growingly grim path Super Heroes have been taking.

Overall Read Score: 4 out of 5 stars.

Opportunities for Discussion
I’ve already noted a number of questions that the book takes in my review.  On top of that, Anderson himself has done parents and teachers alike a favor with a nice little discussion guide you can find on his website (.pdf).  As I noted, the book does a nice job of keeping the humor going through the book so that the very interesting and serious points being made about power never feel like an after school special.

Overall Family Discussion Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Book Review: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

April 10, 2013

I’ve mentioned that I have written a manuscript for a novel about a Super Hero who finds out that he can’t use his powers violently, The Adventures of…MightyDove! (If you know of any good agents out there, let me know!).  As part of my process, I have been reading other books in the Super Hero novel genre.  I’ve been focusing on the “non-comic book” variety, so no Superman, Spider-Man, etc.  Given I’m reading ‘em anyway, I thought I might as well double my pleasure and blog about them too.  So here it goes…

Daniel X CoverThe Book
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge.  First in the Daniel X series (of which there are currently five books).

Genre
Science Fiction/Super Hero

Age Appropriate
9 and up.  Daniel himself is a teenager, but the story feels much more middle-grade to me.  The bad guys are super-nasty irredeemably evil, and we get a fairly intense scene in the beginning detailing his parents’ demise at the hands of one of the baddies.  Language and intensity probably a bit much for the younger elementary school set, but I would say by 3rd or 4th grade, this will work just fine.

Good for Grown-Ups?
Not Really.  I’ll get to this more in my review, but I felt that this story was very “by the numbers.”  Very little about it felt fresh or original other than the core concept of Daniel’s power.  It moves along just fine and I can see how younger readers who haven’t experienced stories like this before might enjoy it.  But for adults, I can’t say I’d recommend this one on its own.

Book Availability
I got mine on iTunes for $6.99.  But because this is the ubiquitous James Patterson, you can find these books pretty much everywhere.  I’ve seen them at Target and Costco, among other places.  There is also graphic novel and manga versions of the story, for those who like pictures to go along with their Super Heroes.  Oh, and there’s a Nintendo DS game in case you just wanted to dispense with words altogether.

Quickie Plot Synopsis (minor spoilers)
15-year-old Daniel doesn’t have a last name.  His parents were killed when he was just three.  And did I mention he is a super-genius with super powers?  And he’s not from this planet?

Yes, Daniel’s parents were sent to Earth to protect the planet from other aliens who might seek to enslave humanity.  But their demise left their young son alone, and in charge of the list of evil otherworlders whom he must somehow defeat.

His solitude is somewhat ameliorated by his greatest ability: the power to create.  With only his mind, he can bring into existence anything he can imagine, from his parents and sister to a group of friends.  As long as he’s focused, they are as alive and independent as you and me.  But, while they are more than figments of his imagination, they are fated to eventually leave him alone once again.

Baddies have a kind of MIB feel, but without the tongue-in-cheek fun.

Baddies have a kind of MIB feel, but without the tongue-in-cheek fun.

His projected parents are not happy when he decides to jump to the No. 6 rated villain on the list, telling him he’s not ready for such a battle.  But Daniel’s heard that this Ergent Seth has an imminent plan for worldwide domination.  He has no choice to leap into the fray.

But Daniel doesn’t realize that loneliness is his Kryptonite, and Seth uses it to entrap and enslave our hero.  There he learns that he is just the latest victim of the villain’s campaign to exterminate his entire race.  Daniel must now find a way out of his seemingly hopeless predicament, or see both of his worlds exterminated.

Quickie Review (minor spoilers)
I think that if you have a child who loves video games, but isn’t as into reading, this may very well , as that’s really what it reads like.  From the two-dimensional banter between Daniel and the various baddies, to their boss-monster battles complete with discussion of “power levels”—it all feels pretty much like a video game in words.

Frankly, that doesn’t do too much for me.

Had my teenage self created a girlfriend, I believe she would have looked like this.

Had my teenage self created a girlfriend, I believe she would have looked like this. How ’bout you?

The central facet of the book is an interesting one.  The main power that Daniel has is this power of creation.  And the fact that he creates his friends, and even a love interest, is a clever device.  Unfortunately, the internal battle he faces with this power are dealt with in a very cursory manner, while Patterson and Ledwidge instead decide to focus more on the cool ways he can use his power to get out of particular situations.  Perhaps a deeper exploration into what it means to have the power (and the danger) of being able to create anything out one’s mind will come in later books.  But here it is kept at a very surface level.  I would say “juvenile” but frankly I think most juveniles are ready for a richer experience than what Daniel X has to offer.

One of the biggest issues I had with the book had to do with Daniel himself.  I understand that a major part of YA books is the search for understanding who you are through the difficulties of adolescence.  But the super-genius, four star chef, alien hunter seemed divorced from that struggle.  When we is forced into a high school environment, the relationship he developed seemed unreal, and when that relationship goes terribly awry, it does so in a way not only contrived, but further separating Daniel from a struggle we can in any way relate to.   Once Daniel goes off-planet, the plot drowns in a derivative cascade of Sci-Fi archetypes from The Matrix to Star Wars.  The adorable scamp, the wise sage, the people on the edge of destruction, the final battle—you name it, it’s there without a single toy surprise in the pack.  The only word that comes to mind to describe the story is lazy.

Overall Read Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Opportunities for Discussion
Frankly, I didn’t find this book worthy of a lot of discussion.  I think there are a number of other books that deal with the basic themes here of being an outsider, the hero’s journey, and overcoming evil that would be far more worth your time.

As I noted, however, the one somewhat original concept that emerges in this book is Daniel’s power of creation.  But rather than spend the time and money on this book to have that discussion, I’d instead recommend you recommend that you fire up the Netflix streaming and…

(Don’t) Read It (and Instead) See It

While I cannot find any evidence online, it seems to me that the “X” in Daniel X might be an homage to another teen with the power of creation seen back in the 1960s.  That “X” would be Charlie X, of Star Trek the original series.

When the crew of the Enterprise receive the teenage Charlie after he was orphaned on a desolate planet, they take him back and reintroduce him to human civilization.  What they don’t realize is that he has developed incredible telekinetic powers that, in the hands of a petulant teenager, endangers the Enterprise, and perhaps the Federation itself.

She won't be smiling much longer.

She won’t be smiling much longer.

60’s kitschy effects aside, I think this is a great episode of TOS to watch with your child, especially if you have a boy.  Charlie is an antagonist, but not an evil enemy.  He is to be pitied and feared, not hated.  And it is highly likely that your boy, especially if he is on the cusp of adolescence himself, may well relate to Charlie’s feelings and impulsive decisions.  It also has funny moments, like Charlie slapping Janice Rand (Kirk’s on-ship squeeze) in the keester, thinking it’s just the way grown-ups say “See ya.”

So while Charlie X rarely makes it to the top of many people’s A-list of TOS episodes, it is actually a fantastic show for this particular demographic, and, to me, an infinitely superior way of addressing the only intriguing idea that comes from The Dangerous Days of Daniel X.  If you want to go more modern the movie Chronicle goes in a similar direction with a darker, more angsty feel (and it sounds like there’s a sequel on the way).

So as any good parent would say, put the book down, turn on that TV, and go learn something!

The Review: Beautiful Creatures

February 27, 2013

Well, I have a bit of a blogging backlog as for the past two weeks we’ve been dealing with the impact of a pretty severe concussion my big boy suffered. Indeed, I was about 20 minutes into the movie as I went to see it on the first day when I got the call from the school that he needed to be picked up.

Well, Gus, still not able to get back to school, went with me this afternoon and we finished what I started. I’ll post more about my poor big fella later, but frankly I’m a bit talked out when it comes to that. So a little escapism first both for you and for me.

You can find my Read It and See It review of the Beautiful Creatures book here.

Beautiful-Creatures-Movie-PosterThe Movie
Beautiful Creatures, Warner Brothers

Based on a Book?
Yes. Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Originally published in 2009. First of four in the Beautiful Creatures series.

Genre
Paranormal Teen Romance

Age Appropriate
11 and up. I said 10 and up for the book, but there’s a little more sexual innuendo and some aggressive necking in this version in what felt like an attempt to be more “Twilight like.” So I’d bump it up a bit.

Good for Grown Ups?
No. Pretty muddled and insipid throughout, this movie seems far more directly geared toward a teen audience without any real attempt to make it into more than that.

Spoilers for Younger Kids
The effects of the movie were, as my son said, “cheesy” so there’s really nothing there to surprise or shock. This is a romance-heavy plot, so you’re just going to bore the living bejesus out of young kids if you take them, so do yourself and them a favor and see what’s streaming on Netflix.

Quickie Plot Synopsis
Much like the book, we start with high school junior Ethan Wate stuck in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. His mother recently died and his father has cracked under the strain of the tragedy. Only Amma, the housekeeper who has been like a second mother to him, is keeping things together. But he longs to leave the pain of the past and the small-minded pursuits of Gatlin society behind him.

Mean Girls can be beautiful creatures, too

Mean Girls can be beautiful creatures, too

But when Lena Duchannes comes to school, Ethan’s entire world will be turned upside-down. It starts just by defending her against the taunting of the bigoted “mean girls”, who ostracize her as a devil-worshiper because she is living at the old Ravenwood estate with the town shut-in, Macon. But as they get to know each other more, a bond forms between them, cemented by a curious broach that gives them a vision of two lovers separated by tragedy in the Civil War.

As their friendship turns to romance, Lena opens her secret world to him. She is a Caster, a magical creature from a long line of such, and is fated due to a curse brought on by those lovers to be chosen for a light or dark path on her 16th birthday. As the mysterious world of Casters opens, so too does the dark side of Lena’s family, who see her as a portal to bring their kind out of the shadows and into control of the world. Her fate, and their love, will determine the fate of us all.

My Review
When I had to leave this movie the first time, I told Gus that I felt pretty good about it. I was very pleasantly surprised by Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan. First, I liked the southern drawl he used even though the book clearly said that his mother taught it out of him. It lent some grounding to the setting that was really needed. I found his confused, depressed, and funny attitude to really work in the roll. Further, he seemed to have some real chemistry with his buddy Link, played by Thomas Mann.

Had I never come back, I would have been better off. I assume the pull to be Twilight was just too great, as the humor quickly drains from the story and shifts quickly to teen melodrama. Link and the funny buddy relationship quickly become an unfortunate afterthought. What I assume were budget constraints made the supernatural settings and effects feel entirely unbelievable, and in an attempt to keep focused on the protagonists, the rich world of the book is sliced so much that it becomes entirely unrelatable and uninteresting.

I do hope they restocked the bourbon in my trailer.

I do hope they restocked the bourbon in my trailer.

I felt the good performances also ended with Ehrenreich. Alice Englert does generally fine as Lena, but I couldn’t get over the thought that they were just looking for the new Kristen Stewart. Jeremy Irons felt like he was sleepwalking, complete with an accent that seemed to flitter in and out at any time. Viola Davis also screamed “Show me the check!” Emma Thompson at least looked like she was trying, but her role was so poorly written, especially with the new and asinine plotline of Casters taking over the world (why hadn’t they already?) she ended up feeling more like a caricature in both her rolls.

And what was a fairly thin plot in a very long book is rendered completely incomprehensible here. Both Gus and I looked at each other, and felt the whole thing made no sense. Indeed, it felt like that so much import was put on the scenes with Ethan and Lena fighting for their love, that everything else became unimportant. So what was left was a lot of teenage whining and something about magic people needing to do some magical stuff because, well…it’s magic.

The only plus over the book that this has is that there is a little more sexual substance between Ethan and Lena. That felt needed and realistic given the intensity of their feelings, and the fact they’re horny teenagers. But in the book, physical contact between the two of them actually hurt Ethan, a fantastic little detail about how their love was forbidden. Leaving out some of those easy details robbed this film of any of the creative charm of the book.

In other words…yuck.

Overall Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

See It Then Read It
As I noted in my review of the book, it has its moments. But if you look and say “I don’t want to spend the time on a 600 page book, so I’ll just see the movie instead,” don’t waste your time. Either read the book or don’t read the book. But don’t go looking for the book in the movie, because it’s just not there.

Read It and See It: Beautiful Creatures

February 4, 2013

Alright, less guns!  More books!  So a quick break from my ramblings on gun control.  The movie is coming out Valentine’s Day, so you better get cracking!

Note: You can now find my review of the Beautiful Creatures movie here.

Beautiful Creatures Book CoverThe Book
Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Originally published in 2009.  First of four in the Beautiful Creatures series.

The Movie
Beautiful Creatures, Warner Brothers. Release Date, February 14

Genre
Paranormal Teen Romance (yes, there is such a genre)

Age Appropriate
10 and up.  While this book is definitely geared to the high school set, there really isn’t much in this book that wouldn’t be appropriate for the middle school set.  While there is a bit more sexual allusion (the heroine’s cousin is quite the siren—literally), it’s quite tame and, frankly, I was surprised about how little there was considering this is the story about a 15-year-old boy and his first true girlfriend.  The violence is also far tamer than say, The Hunger Games series, with the most vivid depictment being a Civil War flashback.  I would say a thoroughly PG affair.

Good for Grown-Ups?
Did you like Twilight?  I didn’t read Twilight, but if you did and liked it, I would guess you’d like this.

Book Availability
Available in pretty much every electronic medium imaginable as well as paperback.

Quickie Plot Synopsis (minor spoilers)
Ethan Wate is a teenager stuck in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina.  His mother recently died and his father has cracked under the strain of the tragedy.  Only Amma, the housekeeper who has been like a second mother to him, is keeping things together.  But he longs to leave the pain of the past and the small-minded pursuits of Gatlin society behind him.

Great idea for a haunted house, or haunted society.

Great idea for a haunted house, or haunted society.

But when Lena Duchannes comes to school, Ethan’s entire world will be turned upside-down.  It starts just by defending her against the taunting of the school bullies, who ostracize her because she is living at the old Ravenwood estate with the town shut-in, Macon.  But as they get to know each other more, they find out that they are connected in ways Ethan could not have imagined, even being able to hear each other’s thoughts.

As their friendship turns to romance, Lena opens her secret world to him.  She is a Caster, a magical creature from a long line of such, and is here to fulfill her destiny to be chosen for a light or dark path on her 16th birthday.  Due to a curse brought on during the civil war, one where a love affair between Lena’s and Ethan’s ancestors sealed the Duchannes family’s fate, Lena will have no choice as to her destiny.  And if she goes dark, she will lose everything about her that Ethan has come to love.

The couple search desperately for a way to solve the issue, and tunnel deep into the hidden magical world veiled behind the veneer of Gatlin’s faded southern gentility.  Ethan discovers why his parents, most particularly his brilliant mother, never chose to leave this seemingly small and backward town.  But with time running out, another thought to be dead mother returns with a devil’s bargain for Lena—a way to be with Ethan forever, something that seemed impossible, in exchange for the lives of everyone else she loves.

Quickie Review
Okay, I’ll admit right up front that teen paranormal romance isn’t my cup of tea.  I didn’t read Twilight so I don’t really have a modern base for comparison here.  But I have to say what I had a hard time with in this book was my suspension of disbelief.

Perhaps the main reason I had an issue with the story was its choice of first person, and the fact that Ethan was telling the story (though it does transfer to Lena for a small section).  I myself was a former somewhat nerdy teen in a southern city, who was good at sports, never really fit in, and longed to escape.  So I felt I had good standing to connect with this character.  But, to me, this simply isn’t how a 15-year-old boy thinks.  It felt very idealized—frankly the way a 15-year-old girl might want a 15-yearl-old boy to think.  Maybe that’s the point of paranormal teen romance, but it left me a little cold.  Especially because of the sex, or lack thereof.

I know, I know, it’s a teen romance novel, and the girls don’t want to read about horny boys.  But if you’re writing a romance book in the voice of a red-blooded American adolescent male, it’s patently ridiculous if it’s not there at all.  Ethan and Lena end up in a torrid romance that includes the “L-word” and, even during all the scenes where they are making out, Ethan doesn’t mention sex once?  I was a nice guy teenager desperately looking for a Lena Duchannes, and I’ll tell you that if this happened to me, while I might never have acted ungentlemanly, it certainly would have been on my mind.  A lot.  A whole lot.  I think having that struggle on top of everything else would have made Ethan feel much more human, and the story feel more real and less Harlequin given this story is in his voice.

No wands this time, but similar magical destiny

No wands this time, but similar magical destiny

The magical world itself was pretty interesting. Very Harry Potter, with the things-that-go-bump-in-the night being real, but slightly different than we assumed, from witches (Casters) to vampires (Incubi).  The presence of voodoo and the role of some mortals as impartial guides through this realm was well thought out.  The big issue I have with both this and other hidden magical world books like this is that I really didn’t get any explanation as to why the magical world, one which is clearly much, much stronger than the human world and feels infinitely superior to it, chooses to hide itself rather than rule.  I felt the same way about the Potterverse.  I’m willing to be convinced, but when you just ignore that 800 lb. gorilla, it makes it much harder for me to suspend my disbelief.

This book also took itself VERY seriously, and I totally understand that.  It’s supposed to be a teen drama.  But they had Ethan’s best friend Link ideally situated for that very needed relief role, but I don’t think Garcia and Stohl really showed a deft comic touch.  Something needed to take a little starch out of the proceedings, and nothing really ever did.  The closest was probably the sexy siren and dark caster Ridley, Lena’s cousin.  Her character was probably the most enjoyable of the lot as because of her selfishness, impish attitude, and anger, she felt the most real.

The story’s big reveal at the end felt a little forced to me, but not unacceptably so.  And the small town southern life felt a little thick, but again not horribly so (though the idea of using live ammunition at a Civil War reenactment seemed a very odd contrivance).

So while I know that I am not the target audience for this story, I can’t help but think about The Hunger Games ability to pull me into its world despite the fact that I’m not a teen.  So while this book may be the rage with its demographic, I have to say there was little here to make that similar leap.

Overall Read Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Opportunities for Discussion
This is a story all about not fitting in and finding the power within yourself to stand up to bullies that berate you for being different or adults that think that they know what’s better for you.  It’s a pretty classic tale of adolescent rebellion that turns pages, but, unless I’m missing something, doesn’t have a whole lot else to say and really wasn’t trying to.

Lots of stars and bars in this one.

Lots of stars and bars in this one.

That said, the rural southern background, while pretty stereotypical, could certainly be used as a leaping off point to talk about the prejudices that still exist in our society, and how some of them are deeply rooted in our past.  The social bullying of Ethan and Lena is a universal story and could be a portal to discussion of whether there are things happening like that at your child’s school (though with significantly less magic, I’d guess).

So while I don’t think this book in itself raised any really interesting questions, there’s enough here in what is supposed to be a fun page-turner to perhaps engage in some serious discussion about the trials and tribulations of growing up.

Overall Family Discussion Score: 2 out of 5 stars.

BeautifulCreaturesMoviePoster1What to Expect from the Movie
Well, Warner Brothers certainly seems to think they have a winner on their hands given the heavy-weight actors they have supporting the teen-age leads.  Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis will all play pivotal roles in the film and hopefully give what felt like somewhat two-dimensional characters on the page some new life.

I also think the script could help the movie out, perhaps just taking a little bit of the stuffing out of the story.  I understand this is supposed to be a drama, but I think a more humorous Link, for example, might help the film stay a bit more grounded than the book.  With my wife out of town for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to give her the most sincere demonstration of my love that I can think of, as I’ll go see the movie without her.

Next in this series: The games children play to save humanity.