Mook Review: “Into the Wild”

Into the Wild – Novel by Jon Krakauer

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

The nonfiction book “Into the Wild”, written by Jon Krakauer, documents the life of the adventurous, intriguing, and outrageously intelligent Chris McCandless.  In 1990, just after graduating from Emory University, Chris left his entire his money, possessions, and family behind him to venture into the wild and pursue a greater way of being.  Krakauer delves into the story as much as anyone possible could, and gives as much detail on the interesting young man as possible, without actually being McCandless himself.  This, we come to learn, is because of Krakauers alliance to the same school of thought as McCandless, his similar passions, and wildly ambitious nature as a young man that almost led him to his own death.

Through letters and diary entries, interviews with those whose lives McCandless has touched, articles written on him, and stories of other young men who sought out the wild so eagerly they felt invincible, Krakauer tells us this story.  It is wonderfully written, insightful, and captivating, something I found remarkable considering Krakauer had never met McCandless and there was hardly anything known about him post-disappearance.  This novel is less of a biography, and more of an extended essay that touches upon the romance of nature, the slight of invincibility, and the truth of what actually happens to those who think they are above the twentieth century.

I am hardly critical or not understanding of why people seek the wild and abandon cultural norms.  In fact, the idea of the wild intrigues me but the collection of stories Krakauer puts together, in addition to the journey of McCandless, definitely teaches you to be mindful of any kind of epic wild journey you may embark on. Regardless, this biography is stimulating and wonderful, and I truly fell in love with it.

 

“Into the Wild” – Directed by Sean Penn

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

The first I’d ever heard of “Into the Wild” was when I caught the movie midway through on HBO several years ago.  I became immersed in what little was left of the story, and was always intrigued by it, but it was not until some time later that I actually came back to it.

Emile Hirsche and Sean Penn make the epic tag team duo as actor and director.  I was a little bit worried about how this would play out as a Mook; Krakauer uses stories of other travelers to support the story of McCandless, while “Into the Wild” only focuses on McCandless and his journey to his untimely death. 

One thing that always impresses me are actors who can create drama, depth, and intuition when it is just them singularly on screen. The majority of this film is McCandless on his own, and it takes a truly great actor to convey the transcendental and emotional person that he was.  On that note, Hirsche succeeds immensely.  The entire supporting cast helps create a dynamic climax as well, along with some phenomenal cinematography that captures the beauty of nature – the thing that drew McCandless out of his traditional life and into the wild at the young age of 22.

Generally, I just love the story of Christopher McCandless and I urge you to immerse yourself in who he was, whether you read Krakauers book or watch his biopic.  You will not be disappointed.

Mook Rating  

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Mook Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Novel by Cassandra Clare

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

As many of my loyal readers know by now, there is nothing I enjoy more than a riveting YA fantasy series. In stating that, I really wanted to like The Mortal Instruments series, and after reading the first installment City of Bones, it wasn’t that I didn’t like it… I just wasn’t obsessed.  Personally, I like a book that I can’t put down.  I like story that is so engaging I think about it when I am not reading it and long after I have finished.  I like a novel that is a quality piece of work and stimulates the mind, and inspires me to write.

Cassandra Clare’s series is just… eh.  The story is ok, and even nonsensical at times, and the writing is nothing to call home about.  While other YA authors such as Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) and Veronica Roth (Divergent) aren’t necessarily better technically, Clare doesn’t suck the reader in a provide enough page-turning material to make this truly worthwhile.  However, I did find myself consistently going back to this book and, albeit not desperately, wanting to know the truth about Clary and her relations to the demonic world of Shadowhunters.  I can see the audience this book can reach and why it has a following, but in a way I think I am just too old for this.

While the ending to this story was a cliffhanger in the traditional sense of the word, it didn’t really leave me hanging.  I was quite confused by the direction the novel took and wasn’t completely sure how the integrity of the story would redeem itself, but I wouldn’t completely shun the idea of finishing the rest of the series.  Honestly, there are just too many other books I want to read, and none that I want to sacrifice for the second installment of this series.

“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” – Directed by Harald Zwart

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

This movie, to be quite blunt, was awful.  I couldn’t even finish watching it.  I am a firm believer that even if the book is just mildly invigorating, the movie can be much better (ie: my Mook review of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief”) and I was hoping that expectation would be met in this movie.  I was wrong.  Lily Collins, while beautiful, is kind of pathetic as Clary and Jace, while mysterious, is flat and lacking any kind of depth.

The biggest problem I had with this film was pace.  It was like this movie was on speed.  The first 30 minutes spanned a huge portion of the book and left the viewer with no explanations, no insight, and no passion.  I know I am not the only person with this opinion either, as it completely tanked at the box office and filming for the second movie “City of Ashes” was put on pause (the movie has since been reinstated).

I almost feel that I am not even at liberty to give this Mook a rating since I couldn’t finish watching the film, but I don’t think it would have made much of a difference.  Fellow mookologists, what did you think of this film?

Mook Rating  

Mook Review: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now  Novel by Tim Tharp

via whatanerdgirlsays.com

via whatanerdgirlsays.com

I was a little underwhelmed by this book.  When I went into reading The Spectacular Now, I knew little about the story.  I only knew there was a film counterpart that had debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and had done favorably well.  I’m not exactly sure what my expectations were going into this story, but I just didn’t connect with it.  The carefree, lush narrator Sutter Keely was a frustrating one and since the story is told from his perspective, you can’t escape him.

While I supposed having such an emotional reaction to the main character, albeit a negative one, is a good thing, I still don’t know what exactly was missing for me.  The development of his and Aimee’s relationship wasn’t authentic enough for me to take seriously, although the very realistic circumstances of their lives was effective.  I was waiting for Sutter’s catharsis and growth but was utterly disappointed at the ending of this novel.  If there is one thing I am almost guaranteed to not enjoy, it is an ambiguous ending, and the one in The Spectacular Now was a total let down.

Although I enjoyed the storyline and felt that Tharp captured the essence of his characters in a realistic way, there was something about the story that didn’t grab me.

The Spectacular Now” – Directed by James Ponsoldt 

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

“The Spectacular Now” might be one of my favorite movies of the year.  Unlike the novel, this movie is impeccably authentic, crazily effective, viscerally saddening, and sublimely uplifting all at the same time. I loved it.

Miles Teller is an incredible actor and I loved him as Sutter and his chemistry with Shailene Woodley is wonderful.  It is always satisfying to see a cast of young actors really take the movie on and prove themselves.  I felt the connection between Sutter and Aimee in this movie, where I did not in the book.

Another stroke of genius (in my opinion) was the change of ending.  One of the last scenes of the movie with Sutter and his Mom (played by the awesome Jennifer Jason Leigh) is so touching and I really loved that addition to the storyline.  Of course, seeing Sutter turn a new leaf and actually face his fears was something the viewers wanted, and I felt it brought closure to the story even though it was a small final scene.

Mook Rating – ★★★