Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

 

So I have a confession to make: I actually bought A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas on release day. Pre-ordered it, even. And then let it languish, sad and ignored, on my Kindle for a year and change between grad school and the fact that I’ve been leaning more and more towards non-fiction.

acotarAnd then I found the sequel (A Court of Mist And Fury) in the library, so of course I had to go back and finally read ACOTAR.

I have been a dingbat, y’all. An absolute dingbat, letting this absolute treasure of a book go unread so long. This book is if someone took about half a dozen things that make Poorva make happy seal noises (world-building! kick-ass women! beautiful imagery! fairytale retellings!), bundled them all up together, added in a spoonful of romance and a large dollop of gorgeous writing, and baked it all up into 474 pages of utter gorgeousness.

From Maas’ site:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
  
At its heart, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast… but Maas adds so much depth and richness to it that it took me a while to realise it. None of the characters, even the secondary ones, are quite what they seem and while I’ll hush now before I spoil anything, there were pages that made me tear up – and gasp in delighted glee.

One thing I’ve always loved about Maas’ writing is her heroines. Like Celaena from Throne of Glass, Feyre is complex, and flawed. She makes mistakes, she has shortcomings – real ones – due to her background that almost wreck the story, she’s not perfect… but she’s also brave, and loyal, and willing to do anything for the people she loves.

And then there’s Tamlin. Oh, Tamlin. I loved him in this book, loved that he’s Fae and therefore Not Human in some very important ways (leaving aside that he transforms into an actual beast) but (without spoiling ACOMAF) all I can say is that Maas is bloody brilliant at foreshadowing, and I’m going to be eagerly rereading ACOTAR to see if I can find the breadcrumb trails she left.

The thing with a romance – and this is a romance at heart, even with all the brewing war and political intrigue – is that it’s easy for secondary characters to get lost in the bargain. I loved Lucien’s slow warming up to Feyre, and Alis helping her even as she thought Feyre a stupid human… and Rheysand, oh, Rheysand… but to say anything more would be spoiling it, so… run, don’t walk, and pick up A Court of Thorns and Roses (and A Court of Mist and Fury!)

Available at: Amazon.in | Flipkart | (fingers crossed) your local bookstore/library.
 

Advertisements

Review: The Hunger Games

Or, as they say in France, ‘Les ‘unger gems!’

(Yes, I know it’s been forever since the movie came out, but I’m trying to clear my backlog of posts while I get back into the gear of this blogging thing. Pliss echoos.)

ImageBeing in France and not having much access to English bookstores and media in general, I’d somehow managed to completely miss the hype surrounding Susan Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Early in 2012, however, posters for the movie started to pop up everywhere, and so for a lark I picked up the first book.

From IMDB: In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’s younger sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

Now, generally, I avoid dystopias like the plague. I like my futures more Star Trek than 1984. But The Hunger Games? I got so impatient with my slower reading pace in French and so desperate to find out what happened next that I stopped five chapters in, got the English versions of the trilogy, and devoured the lot in one sitting. That’s how good these books are.

Given how much I loved the books, I was extremely apprehensive about seeing THG on the big screen. I mean, just look at the Harry Potter films. But the intial reviews were good, so good that I decided to brave both the French dubbing and the wrath of my best friend for seeing it without her, and go ahead and book tickets.

And boy, am I glad I did.

The Hunger Games is amazing. It’s up there with LoTR in terms of sheer quality. Even having it in French didn’t bother me that much. I’ve never seen any of the actors in any major roles, so the different voices didn’t bother me. Plus, I thought the dubbers did a really good job.

Now for the movie itself. Please be warned that this review contains SPOILERS for The Hunger Games!

Continue reading

Review: Snow White And The Huntsman

 

 

Poster for Snow White and the Huntsman. Kristin Stewart on the left, Charlize Theron centre, Chris Hemsworth on the right. Text: Snow White and the Huntsman.

 

 

 

Before I saw this movie, I was under the impression that Kristen Stewart was a bad actress.

 

I stand corrected. 

 

Kristen Stewart is an atrocious actress.

 

In all fairness, she does do a better job in Snow White and the Huntsman than in Twilight. Then again, she could have been replaced by a wet noodle in those movies and I doubt anyone would have noticed.

That’s not to say Snow White is a bad film. The story, a reimangining of the Grimm fairy tale, has solid bones, both Charlize Theron as the evil queen Ravenna and Chris Hemsworth as the widowed drunkard Huntsman doing a fantastic job. The supporting cast also shine, Sam Spruell playing Finn, Ravenna’s brother and perhaps the closest thing she knows to a friend, while Sam Clafin plays the handsome, if rather bland William, son of  Duke Hammond and Snow White’s childhood friend.  

With such a talented cast surrounding her, Ms. Stewart’s inadequacies are only magnified. And the script does her no favours. A great actor can elevate even the most banal dialogue to greatness, but give a bad actor a bad script and both will drag each other down to even greater depths of mediocrity. The scene where Snow White attempts to rally her people, especially, sounds like something out of amateur night at a third-rate theatre.

However, the movie does have its redeeming points. First, the character herself. This princess needs no Prince Charming, first rescuing herself, then donning her own sword and shield in order to defeat the evil Queen. Plus, the film is visually striking, with wonderfully crafted CGI and action sequences to rival many more traditional blockbusters.

Ultimately, however, Snow White and the Huntsman is a film that must be carried by its leads. And while Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron play their roles masterfully, the character of Snow White proves to be a bit too much to ask of Kristin Stewart. Pity, really, since this film really does rest very heavily on her shoulders.

Overall, Snow White and the Huntsman is an ordinary film. It’s worth watching if you have a couple hours to spare and a high tolerance for wooden faces, but it doesn’t come close to the magic of the Disney original.

Three out of five stars.