January 21, 2008

Movie Review: The Island


No, they haven't made Lost: The Movie yet. The Island is a part sci-fi thriller part chase movie part dark side of man type of movie. It stars Ewan McGregor in a role that reminds me of the movie that made him famous. No, I'm not talking about Moulin Rouge, but rather his role in Trainspotting. It's a deeper role than he usually plays these days. In this role he must play someone who is naive but at the same time curious and precocious. He is a person who is both lost and found, confident of himself and yet very afraid. Co-star Scarlett Johansson plays his soul mate and at the same time gets to make use of all the commercials she has starred in. Good job.

Lincoln Six Echo is having nightmares. He is on a boat with a beautiful woman (Johansson, who plays Jordan Two Delta) and is about to join her at the helm, when he gets pushed off the boat and drowns. Other than that, he is doing well in his life. Like the rest of his neighbors, he wears only white, is on a strict diet, and has fun playing simulated Knockout with Jordan Two Delta, his lady friend. Other than the nightmares, his main problem is that he is so darn curious. His job by day is to put drops of food into little holes that go into tubes. Lincoln wants to know where the tubes go and gets a stern look.

The ultimate dream of all of his friends and neighbors is to win the lottery and get chosen to go to the island, which is the only area that was not contaminated. It gives them hope and something to look forward to.

January 18, 2008

Book Review: Dreamrider by Barry Jonsberg


*Galley received from Random House booth. To be released February 12, 2008

I picked this book up at Midwinter. The description was intriguing. Yes, it's one of those bullying books I love so much. The editor said something like: "As I read this book, I thought 'Holy Crap! I can't believe how Jonsberg fooled me.'" I like these kind of books. Have you read Pete Hautman's Invisible or Gail Giles' Shattering Glass? In both of those books, you are on shaky ground because you just weren't sure you could trust what the narrator was divulging.

Michael Terny is a fat kid. He's pushed around at every school he's ever attended. At his newest school, he finds himself once again being the victim of two different bullies: Jamie and Martin. But maybe this school will be different. He's met Leah, a girl who actually listens to him, and Mr. Atkins, a teacher who Michael feels comfortable with.

There's more one more difference: Michael has discovered he can make things happen in real life with his dreams. He is powerful. He stands up for himself. And he can make anyone cower.

This was an easy read with the power of a car wreck. Once you see it, it is hard not to stop and gawk for awhile. Michael's tormentors are relentless. Teen that enjoy horror or the macabre will find something to enjoy here.

January 15, 2008

Book Review: Beige by Cecil Castellucci


Beige is an amazing read. When I started reading the book, I didn't think I was going to be able to relate to any of the characters. The roster contains Katy, our narrator, who let's face it, is one of those typical teen girls who never sticks up for herself and represses all her feelings, keeping them bottled up until she explodes. I hate characters like that. Then there's the free-spirited mom, totally oblivious to her daughter's pain. There's the father who never grew up. And then we have Lake, who is one of those people that thinks "really original" can only mean one thing and goes around insulting everyone who isn't punk.

But Castellucci treats her characters with a velvet glove. You get inside their heads and see the true heart through the rough edges.

Katy is going to spend the summer with the RAT, her punk rocker father who is the drummer for a once infamous band named Suck. She would much rather be in Peru with her free-spirited mother, excavating caves and stuff.

January 02, 2008

Book Review: Freak by Marcella Pixley


I have a special affection for books where the character is bullied. If you remember, I reviewed King Dork and Nineteen Minutes and liked both. Of course, the love affair began with what I consider the first book about bullying: Blubber. Remember Blubber? They picked on the fat girl, the nice girl stood up for the fat girl, and then the nice girl got bullied, too.

This affection stems from the fact that I have been both the victim and giver (only once) of the bullying. It's a universal thing that happens to everyone at one point or another. Isn't it interesting that the victims of bullying usually end up being amazing people. They just happen to not conform to the usual patterns of other kids. And the bully ends up having problems of their own.

Miriam is known by many names. Her parents call her Miriam. Her friends, Artie and Rosie, call her Shakespeare because of her dramatic presence. But the kids at school call her Freak. Why? For the usual non-reasons bullies have. She doesn't have breasts yet. Her nose is too big. She journals. She likes Shakespeare. All together, the cumulative points of Miriam make her a freak.

Movie Review: The Kite Runner


And the first movie viewed of '08 is The Kite Runner. What a way to start the year. This film was a touching look into the lives of the people of Afghanistan, a country that often seems so far removed from us. In the beginning of the film, we see a country full of life and color. Boys are flying colorful kites, wealthy men give grand parties, and there are children running in the streets.

Later in the film, after the war has started, gloom dominates. Kites are outlawed, and the streets are bare of any kind of cheerfulness. All is the Taliban. You could get killed for just about anything: a look, a word, an impropriety. A woman is stoned before an arena of men during half-time in the middle of a soccer game. It would be unimaginable to live in this world without losing a piece of what it means to be a human.