July 30, 2011

Movie Review: Once (2006)

I fell in love with this movie last week. Once is a celebration of music, but it's also a celebration of friendship and love and the many forms it takes. A person can come into your life for just a short time and have a lasting impact. You might only meet them once, but sometimes that's all it takes.

Our story happens on the streets of Dublin. He (Glen Hansard) is a vaccuum repairman, who works in his father's shop. In his spare time, he writes music and performs it on the streets for spare change. She (Marketa Irglova) is an immigrant from Czechoslovakia who sells roses on the street. One evening, she hears him performing a song. No one else is listening. She loves his music, but lo and behold, she also has a vacuum to repair.

The plot is sparse, simple, and the perfect platform for some terrific songs. The two meet, walk the streets together, and she ends up showing him the piano she plays on. Next thing you know, they are singing one of his original songs together. As they make music, they fall in love with the connection they share. Both of them are lonely people. He has an estranged ex, and she has an estranged husband. Music is the language they speak to one another. With music, they share their hopes and dreams and flaws with one another. Through this innocent connection, they feel less lonely.

July 05, 2011

Book Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry Gives Hunger Games Fans Something New to Read

I have been a young adult librarian since 2006. I have witnessed book after book coming into the library. Let me tell you--there doesn't seem to be anything original coming in anymore. Now, teens and the adults who read teen books can breathe easy. In Rot and Ruin, Jonathan Maberry has created a novel that takes one of the latest crazes--zombies--and creates a new world that dystopian readers will delve into.
It seems odd to use zombies to teach lessons about humanity. It's the future, and zombies have taken over the world. Some virus has set in, and now it's only a matter of time before every human eventually becomes a zombie. If you get infected by a zombie, you're toast, and even if you die a natural death, you re-animate as a zombie. The only way to avoid being a zombie is for someone to drive a large stake into the back of their head.

Our protagonist is Benny Imura, a teenager who is your typical surly teen. Orphaned when his parents both became zoms, he now lives with his brother Tom. He despises Tom, because he believes Tom abandoned his parents when they needed him the most. But right now, Benny's biggest problem is finding a job. Everyone is required to work. He is willing to do anything but work with Tom. Tom is a zombie hunter, which should impress Benny, since he seems to be in awe of the other zombie hunters in town. But it's hard to look up to someone who you believe is a coward. Finding a job proves more difficult than Benny realizes. Inevitably, he ends up working with Tom, and he learns that everything he originally believed was a lie.