Mook Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl – Novel by Gillian Flynn

via Amazon.com

via Amazon.com

There are some books that seem to blow up all at once.  It’s as if suddenly EVERYONE is reading it, EVERYONE is talking about it, and EVERYONE is waiting movie adaptation.  These books are thrilling and successful, but are hardly ever very good (think The Da Vinci Code, 50 Shades of Grey), and typically have a great plot with surface level characters.  Frankly, these trendy books just don’t have much depth.

Gone Girl, in many ways, falls into the category of the book-of-the-moment.  Flynn’s third novel was wildly successful, with readers spanning from teenagers to parents to everyone in-between.  It was one of those novels everyone stayed up until 4am reading, just trying to get through one more chapter, and couldn’t wait to gush about to their peers.  But Flynn’s characters were complex.  As a reader, I developed emotions towards them: distrust, empathy, anger.  I found myself connected to their story.  I spoke about Nick and Amy Dunne as if they were real people.  I was obsessed.

The ending of Gone Girl was a sensitive subject for most but I do feel that since this was one of those top reads that everyone expected the concrete ending that most best sellers have.  I found the ending to be successful, with just enough information to know that something terrible is still going to happen, without explicitly knowing what.  The ending leaves your imagination to run away with itself in the right way, but I understand why most found it unfulfilling.  Flynn is a talented author, and Gone Girl led me to read her two other books which I really enjoyed.  While Gone Girl was definitely the strongest, I’m excited to see what comes next from Gillian Flynn.

 

“Gone Girl”Directed by David Fincher

via IMDB.com

via IMDB.com

There are so many ways “Gone Girl” could have gone horribly wrong.  It could have been poorly cast, terribly written, hard to understand, or too over the top to be impactful.  This move got a lot of hype, and even those who didn’t read the novel were eager to see the movie.  I do have to say, reading the book helped with digesting the movie.  For example, when Amy (played by Rosamund Pike) turns up on Nick’s doorstep covered in blood and looking distressed, I knew that she was just being typical, crazy Amy.  But for most of those in the theater, they found it comical.  People were laughing.  I also think many of the non-book-readers found the whole story to be slow.  The build up wasn’t as intense when you aren’t hearing the information through first person and became, in a way, boring.

The book was better, plain and simple.

The obvious aside, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike did an incredible job and were perfectly cast.  There was something about the way Pike carried herself that really nailed it for me.  Her smile was mechanical and her movements were calculated – and almost robotic – at times.   As beautiful as she is, Pike’s smile made me cringe.  Affleck also did a really great job playing Nick, although I feel like he wasn’t so much playing a part but playing himself.  You hate him almost as much as you hate Amy, which is exactly what he is supposed to do.  Of course there were bits and pieces left out of the movie, but they actually followed the storyline honorably well, moreso than many other mooks.  I still don’t really understand why the scene with Desi became so graphic, but I guess visually for those who didn’t read the book it may have been more thrilling.

In general, “Gone Girl” was a good movie but for all points and purposes just read the damn book.

Mook Rating  ★★

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Mook Review: The Leftovers

The Leftovers – Novel by Tom Perrotta

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

I really, really enjoyed The Leftovers.  Tom Perrotta (of Little Children fame) writes a beautiful depiction of post-rapture life in suburbia, complete with teen angst, cults, love, and betrayal while somehow managing to come across in the most subtle of ways.  Perrotta’s fictional Mapleton, and those who reside there, are well rounded characters that represent all types of coping methods.  Some look for answers, others lead the community, many try to forget, and a certain group hinges on brutal remembrance.  While I didn’t find the plot incredibly riveting (it was slow and stagnant at times) I felt myself drawn to this book.  I wanted to get to the end.  I needed to know what happened.

The story centers around the Garvey family; a family that becomes less and less like the nuclear clan one typically thinks of when they hear that word.  Kevin, the father and leader in more ways than one, internalizes his desperation to hold his family together.  After his son disappears to follow a religious movement under the figurehead Holy Wayne, and his wife joins a cult-like group called the Guilty Remnant (whose focus is to provoke the memories of lost loved ones and prove the meaningless of life post-Rapture), Kevin tries to hold on to his daughter, Jill, who is depressed and lost in light of the situation.  The Garvey’s are nothing spectacular, but an accurate representation of the American-dream family after trauma. Disjointed, disconnected, and disturbed.  And although their unit remains in tact after the Sudden Departure, unlike many that had been torn apart, the Garvey’s still find it nearly impossible to go on.

The Guilty Remnant was the main part of The Leftovers that really drew me in.  Historically, I enjoy learning about cult-like phenomena and find so many aspects of it interesting.  I am sickly fascinated by it.  Perotta did a great job of bringing a fictional cult to life and I found myself more invested in Laurie’s chapters than others.

Ending the leftovers in the way he did, Perotta left a lot to the imagination.  I typically don’t like ambiguity in my books as I prefer to have a concrete ending, however I didn’t mind this one so much.  It was fitting for the characters, the plot, and the setting.  I definitely recommend this read.

The Leftovers Series by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

via IMDB.com

via IMDB.com

The Leftovers as a novel served as a stand alone.  There was no inclination of their being a sequel, and really no need for there to be.  You can imagine how intrigued I was to then hear that this novel was not only being adapted for television, but that the author himself created the show in partnership with Damon Lindelof (of LOST fame.)

I knew before watching the series that it was going to be very different.  A novel like The Leftovers was too final and ambiguous to translate to TV without many changes.  In many ways, turning The Leftovers into a series really did not make sense.  Despite this, I had a good feeling about the show for three reasons… 1) The author was heavily involved in making it, so the integrity of the story had hope to stay the same 2) LOST was arguably the first TV series where people became obsessive, binge watched, and actually took TV seriously and 3) HBO typically produces amazing, award-winning series’.

For the first few episodes, I was thrown off.  I had a lot of questions about the surface-changes made (Why make Kevin the Chief of Police rather than Mayor?  How come Jill didn’t shave her head?  Did they really have to make Pastor Jamison into Nora’s brother?)  But as the series went on I began to realize in order for the series to be successful on its own, the creators of the show needed to make certain liberties.  Kevin transforms from the desperate, and sometimes boring, Father in the books to a strained, and perhaps crazy, police officer on screen.  As different as the character appear, Kevin still tries to hold onto any sense of normalcy and succeeds as the lead actor (and Justin Theroux being smoking hot has almost nothing to do with it).

By the last few episodes, I was not only hooked, but found myself enjoying the show even MORE than the novel… which almost never happens.  That isn’t to say I find the television series better, necessarily, than the book.  They are quite different.  The one part of the book I wish had more presence (or a stronger presence) in the show would be Holy Wayne.  While in the book this convention has depth and complexity, it doesn’t translate well on screen.

I do strongly believe that The Leftovers on HBO will last many seasons and pick up more viewers as they go on.  I was very impressed by season one and I am itching in my seat for season two – I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the residents of Mapleton.

Mook Rating  ★★

Mook Review: Divergent

Divergent Novel by Veronica Roth

via veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

via veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

Anyone who observes my reading habits knows that The Hunger Games left a huge, YA dystopia hole in my heart.  This genre has blown up in recent years, dominating both the book shelves and box office, but many competitors in the genre have fallen flat and not lived up to their expectations.

The Divergent series is a nice breath of fresh air in a very crowded genre.  While it doesn’t have the ambition and breadth of skill that The Hunger Games does, and at times the love story can seem contrived and silly, I enjoyed it.  The first and second installments definitely have a stronger presence than the last (we can discuss my opinions on Allegiant at a later time) but it is an interesting world that Roth created, albeit a little unrealistic.

Tris Prior is a successful heroine and I really found myself rooting for her and connecting with her bravery.  She is earnest, smart, and gutsy.  She fails and then thrives.  She finds herself in very typical, teenage predicaments but holds her own in a war that is far beyond her sixteen years.  Personally, I feel that Tris is a great role model and holds her own in this story.  There are, of course, very cheesy moments of bubbling love that seems just slightly unbelievable, but then again I am a 25 year old woman reading a novel targeted for teens.

The whole faction system at times did seem a little unrealistic and not very thoroughly explained.  It almost seemed like the author had a very surface level idea that she manipulated to seem more complex, without actually creating it from the ground up.  But, all in all, I enjoyed Divergent and it definitely sucked my attention in.

“Divergent” Directed by Neil Burger

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

For obvious reasons, I was skeptical about this film.  There have been so many adaptations of YA novels lately that have completely bombed (“Beautiful Creatures”, “City of Bones”, “Ender’s Game”, etc) and I was worried that “Divergent” would not hold its own, especially in comparison to the widely acclaimed “Hunger Games” movies.

Shailene Woodley is a talented actress, and between her role in both “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars” (which is set to debut a little later this year) she has set herself up for box office success.  However, I didn’t feel that her impact as an actor really carried the movie all the way through.  There were so many directions the movie could have gone in to make it less cheesy.  For starters, Abnegation is a faction that is supposed to be about selflessness and not relying too much on oneself.  It really, really bothered me how much makeup both Tris and her mother visibly wore.  I wanted the Abnegation to be simple people, and the costuming just didn’t really connect which I think was a huge slip up in the making of this film.
Another big issue for me was the music.  Going into this film, I figured that the track listing for “Divergent” was going to be yet-another companion album to the movie (a marketing scheme I totally do not understand; why release an album full of songs by top artists that aren’t even in the film?).  When I realized that these songs were actually in “Divergent” I was pleasantly surprised… for about five minutes.  It completely took away from the integrity of the film.  Again, it was just very cheesy.All of that aside, there were parts of the movie I liked, but not enough to be impressed. I was a little bit let down.  I will still hold out hope for other YA adaptation (“The Maze Runner” is my latest obsession and set to release in September, and long-time childhood favorite “The Giver” will release in August) but after another disappointment, I do feel my faith wearing a bit thin.

Mook Rating  

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  

Mook Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi – Novel by Yann Martel

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

My first experience with praised author Yann Martel was not through reading Life of Pi but his third novel Beatrice and Virgil, a lesser known but still wildly interesting story about a novelist named Henry and a strange taxidermist fan of his.  While I wont go much into this story, I need to touch upon the captivating writing style Martel has mastered; the way he writes forces you to feel that the narrator is speaking directly to you in a way that I have not quite experienced in other reads.  This same connection is established throughout Life of Pi and is, in my opinion, the reason why Martel’s stories are ones you carry with you even after reading is done.

Life of Pi is a spiritual book and sets out to tell a miraculous story.  Pi Patel is an interesting person; as a young boy he is captivated by religion and engrosses himself deeply in not just the Hindu religion, but Christianity and Islam as well.  Pi’s family owns a zoo in Pondicherry, India, but shortly through the book his parents decide to leave Pondicherry to open a zoo in Canada.  They set out on a ship with some of the animals and head west – however, the family is shortly thrown off course when a storm rolls through the ocean, destroying the ship, and leaving Pi stranded on a life boat with a zebra, hyena, orangutang, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Pi is such an interesting, and uplifting, character.  He is incredibly human and therefore we can relate to everything he experiences.  When he is first stranded he seems hopeful, then shortly becomes incredibly depressed.  It is only when himself and Richard Parker establish a relationship that Pi realizes he is not alone and, without Richard Parker, he would have died.

The twist at the end of the novel was definitely unexpected, but it forces you to love Pi for his incredible imagination and need to create a much better story than what had really happened.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, however I did find it a struggle to get through and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone. Life of Pi is long and there is hardly any dialogue, so some readers may find that to be missing.

“Life of Pi” – Directed by Ang Lee

via Movienewz.com

via Movienewz.com

The first thing I must say about this film before I go into the content is the wildly stunning use of CGI.  The visual effects were stunning and unbelievably realistic.  When “Life Of Pi” was nominated in the special effects category at the Oscars I was thrilled and I would hope this movie will take a win.  Richard Parker, as well as all of the other animals and settings, looked lifelike and I didn’t for a second believe it was not a real tiger.  Visually, this film was breathtaking.

In terms of mooks, this movie really did not go wrong.  Yann Martel’s novel left room for a great adaptation, however it could have been miscommunicated since so much of the novel’s content comes from Pi’s thoughts.  I felt that Suraj Sharma, the actor who played Pi, did an incredible job of acting considering the lack of dialogue and interaction with a completely animated acting partner.

There isn’t much that I disliked about this film at all.  I thought it was fantastic and uplifting, just like the book.  I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a film about a adventure and I hope that we will see “Life of Pi” as a winner this awards season.

Mook Rating  ★★

Happy 1st Birthday to Mookology!

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

It is with all of the brightness in my heart that I am able to wish this blog a very Happy 1st Birthday!  Each day, I am so thankful for all of the support that has came from Mookology’s fans, and if it weren’t for each and every follower this blog would not be where it is today.  One year is a milestone for any small blog, and I am so ecstatic that my book adaptation reviews have come so far.

With 2013 fast approaching, it only feels right to announce my New Years resolution for Mookology – to post more!  The past few months have been lackluster and indeed I do apologize, but slow and steady wins the race and Mookology will be back in action full force come 2013.  To all of my followers, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year!

Mook Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook – Novel by Matthew Quick

The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick, Books, Movies, Pat Peoples

via BN.com

Matthew Quick’s debut novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, is genuine, fantastic, and one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.  The story is about the mentally at-risk Pat Peoples and his return home to live with his parents after losing his home, his wife, and his life as he knew it.  This was one of those books I just couldn’t put down and recommended to (literally) everyone.  In my experience, I find it hard to find a light hearted story about a depressing topic that is as true to life as can be while still entertaining the reader.  The Silver Linings Playbook did this, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

Pat Peoples is the poster child of mentally at-risk adults – the ones who don’t fully recognize their disease.  Pat was troubled his whole life, which makes him relatable, as throughout this book he is trying to better himself and find his own silver lining.  His relationships with everyone throughout the novel are what truly move the story.  Tiffany, Dr. Patel, his Dad, his brother Jake, etc. all are pivotal forces in Pats life and help him grow and become who he needs to be.

The way in which his relationship with Tiffany played out was somewhat predictable and I wasn’t sure if I was fully satisfied with the ending.  I think it was clear that Pat developed deep and real feelings for Tiffany but I wanted him to come to that realization and let go of Nikki on his own, which he didn’t.  However, I don’t think this ruined the integrity of the book in any way; if anything it made it more realistic and without a silver lining.

“The Silver Linings Playbook”  Directed by David O. Russell

via IMDB.com

via IMDB.com

The one thing that I have truly learned throughout my experience with this blog is that once an author sells the rights to their work it no longer remains their story (unless, of course, the novelist is integrally involved in the writing of the screen play).  Although unfortunate, it seems that the brilliant minds that develop the characters and storylines we come to love on screen are sometimes thrown under the bus, and their artistic vision does not become the one that matters.  But, this is Hollywood.  Sometimes, you have to do what it takes to create a fantastic movie, one that viewers will love and understand.  And, lets face it, the average American wants to see their happy ending, the results they expect, and their own silver lining.  Unfortunately, I think Matthew Quick’s vision was not fully respected in this adaptation… However, David O. Russell created a fantastic movie, one that I truly loved and was able to accept regardless of it’s mis-telling of Quick’s storry.

Let me first state that the casting in this movie was spot-on.  It was perfect.  The actors embodied their characters so fluidly they almost seem like real people.  My hat goes off to Bradley Cooper who I truly felt was the break out here; up until this point, I had only seen him play the roles he had been stereotyped into but here he was vulnerable, heartfelt, and funny.  Another thing about this movie that was just spectacular… it was funny yet sad.  It was honest, it was real.  It is the kind of movie I will buy the moment it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray combo pack and fall asleep watching every night for at least 6 months.  It was so good.  I wanted to stay in the theater and watch it a second time – and I am not even sure why.

Like I mentioned above, this film was much different from the book it developed from but I just don’t care.  I don’t even want to mention it.  I guess the only thing that bothered me (and this usually does) is that they changed Pat’s last name from Peoples to Solitano.  I understand that Peoples is an unbelievable type of name, but at least replace it with something generic.  Solitano is a name that represents a specific nationality, which is something I just didn’t understand.  Change a book’s story all you want but whats the purpose in changing a name?

If you are looking for a movie to go see, see “The Silver Linings Playbook.”  I am not a romantic-comedy girl, I actually despise them, but this movie doesn’t even fall into one specific category.  It was awesome and I would hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Mook Rating  ★★

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I have been nominated by not one but TWO fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blog Award.  A big thank you goes out to D. Bryant Simmons and Stephanie at The Anxiety of Authorship for honoring me with the Versatile Blogger Award.  I accept this award graciously :)  I have been lucky enough in the few months since Mookology has first launched to receive nominations for several blogger awards.  The recognition is much appreciated and I hope you all continue to read!

As always, there are a few rules I am obliged to follow.  First, thank & link back to the person who nominated you (see above). Next, I’m to share seven things about myself.  I had to do something similar when I received the Kreativ Blogger Award so here are seven totally different facts about me…

  1. I’m short.  Like 5’1″ kinda short.
  2. I paint my nails about two or three times a week. My hands feel naked without polish.
  3. I have two dogs and a beta fish.
  4. My favorite TV Show is True Blood (although season 5 isn’t too great)… some close runners up are Game of Thrones, Homeland, and Shameless.
  5. I have a HUGE crush on Hunter Parrish AKA Silas Botwin on Weeds.  Sooo dreamy.
  6. In the future I would love to learn more about professional photography.
  7. Rainbows make me smile :)

The third responsibility in accepting this award is to name 15 other bloggers deserving of this award.   While I intend to award a full 15 bloggers with this lovely recognition, for now I am going to post whoever comes to mind first and add the rest later.  I like reading blogs on all topics, but mostly ones about books, crafts, and music so definitely check out these blogs below:

Reflections of a Book Addict

Amanda Loves Movies

Glitter N Glue

Miss.Zoe

KateSpanish

Steeshes

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Me

Beat Rack

Hearya

Mook Review: Savages

Savages – Novel by Don Winslow

Savages, Don Winslow, Baja Cartel, Ben and Chon, Mookology, Mook Review

via Collider.com

I picked up Savages after it was recommended to me by a friend in light of the upcoming movie.  I’d never read any of Don Winslow’s work but, after putting down Savages, I was truly able to appreciate the brilliance and intelligence of his writing.  Winslow does his research and was able to create a story that felt authentic from the ground up and it is clear he has a very deep understanding of the relationship between Mexican drug cartels and the U.S. marijuana market.

O, Chon, and Ben’s story is, in the end, a tragedy.  Winslow references Shakespeare in a number of ways through this story.  Obviously, O named for Hamlet’s “Ophelia” was an initial indicator that things make take a Shakespearean turn.  Winslow also incorporated staged scenes into the novel, usually at times of importance, which I found to be a really awesome writing tool particularly for Savages.  The last scene of the story is ultimately tragic.  O, Chon, and Ben cannot live without each other because their love is so strong they would rather die together than live apart.  Throughout the story, their three partner relationship is questioned by others over and over but at  the ending, you cant deny the strength of this trio.

I can’t say there was  much I didn’t like about this book.  It wasn’t a literary masterpiece, that is for sure, but it was interesting, complex, full of action, and remarkably well written.  Of course there were some far-fetched moments but hey, its fiction.  In Fictionland, all is possible.  Savages was really enjoyable for me and I look forward to reading Winslow’s  prequel to the story, The Kings of Cool.

“Savages”  Directed by Oliver Stone

Savages Movie, Don Winslow, Oliver Stone, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta

via IMDB.com

A film like “Savages” truly makes me question the purpose of book adaptations.  I would like to start by saying “Savages” is NOT a bad movie.  In fact, I found “Savages” to be a pretty decent action/suspense drug drama with a nice, all-star cast (besides Blake Lively.. she did nothing for this film.)  There were some changes made, which were fine.  I kind  of liked how they heightened Dennis’ role, which created more tension between the drug cartels and the DEA, and amplified Lado’s role between Baja and El Azul.

Additionally, the relationship between O and Elena was much more prevalent in the movie and helped reveal Elena’s ultimate weakness; her daughter.  In general, I liked the way each character’s role played out in the movie.

But (and of course there is a but) the ending was nothing short of senseless.  It is one thing to change the ending of a book adaptation, but it is another to make the choice to use BOTH endings.  The movie should have ended with O, Ben, and Chon lying together and awaiting death.  It was tragic and purposeful and, when it comes down to it, this is a film about drugs.  Good guy/bad guy doesn’t matter, we don’t need to see our 3 protagonists live happily ever after.  However, the choice to have O state “that is the way I imagine it” and then rewind the entire final scene, only to play out something entirely different, made absolutely no sense.  Elena gets locked up, Lado gets lucky, Dennis is awarded for his work at the DEA, and after Ben and Chon spend some time in the slammer, our trio are off the grid.  They live happily ever after in paradise.

This decision honestly ruined the entire movie for me and I was really disappointed.  It was hokey and weird, especially since the actual ending was so much better than what they created for the movie (in my opinion.)

Mook Rating  ★★

Mook Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin  Written by Lionel Shriver

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver, Book, Mook, Mookology, Orange Prize

via Wikipedia.org

We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of the most inventive, precise, and well written novels I have ever had the pleasure to read… although the context of this story may not be so pleasureful.  Lionel Shriver proves to be a magnificent author and one hundred percent deserving of the Orange Prize she received for this novel.  We Need to Talk About Kevin chronicles the aftermath of a school massacre which was plotted and carried out by our narrator Eva’s son, Kevin Khatchadourian.  In the form of an epistolary, we read letter after letter from Eva to her husband Franklin, all of which are desperate to talk about their childs’ wrongdoing and heeding no response.  It is unclear, until the very end of the novel, whether Eva is actually sending out these letters or just using them as a tool to relieve herself of her own detrimental thoughts.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is dense in its 400+ pages. It is hard to articulate everything about this book I would love to talk about but I believe the main focus of this book is how much Eva truly understands her son while, simultaneously, misunderstanding him completely.  Eva knows that Kevin is morbid, disturbed, and highly manipulative but she also knows that she will never understand him.  This is where Eva and Franklin are at odds and why Eva is so desperate to communicate with her estranged husband; their marriage fell apart at the hands of their evil son.

This novel spans the life of Kevin, from an infant crying incessantly in his crib to a teenager locked away in jail.  As a reader, we become addicted to his twisted ways and, as disturbing as some moments in this book may be, there is no way you can stop reading.  In this aspect, this is where Shriver shines.  The ‘school massacre’ concept is unoriginal, but We Need to Talk About Kevin puts the issue in a new perspective, and the resolution of this novel is that there is no resolution.  It is real, honest, and raw.  We Need to Talk About Kevin is definitely worth your reading time.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin”  Directed by Lynne Ramsay

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver, Movie, Film, Book Adaptation, Film Adaptation, Lynne Ramsay, Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

via IMDB.com

What an incredible adaptation.  As you may have learned through Mookology, it is nearly impossible to identically replicate a novel on screen.  Changes must be made, and whether they are big or large in scale are usually left to the screen writer and director.  Since Shriver’s novel was an epistolary, I knew the movie would do either one of two things: 1) Have voice overs of Eva writing her letters or 2) abolish the letters completely.  I am very happy that they decided to eliminate the letters, which saved it from potential hokey-ness, and instead used pure movement to articulate Eva’s life.

The commendable work of Tilda Swinton is just extraordinary in this film.  She is truly captivating, and shows so much with so little to say.  The idea to have Eva trying to get rid of the red paint that has vandalized her home was pure genius; throughout the film, which is intertwined with flashbacks to her life with Kevin, she is scrubbing away at the red paint which covers her hands and body.  It represents the blood of the victims that Eva feels is on her hands.  One of the most pertinent themes of the novel was Eva’s responsibility for what happened with Kevin, even though we realize it was purely out of her control.

Obviously, there is a lot left out of the movie.  I felt like a few really evil things were missing, particularly the scene where Kevin is playing with Celia’s glass eye as a token of what he had done, but the film moved along without it.  The only thing I felt really just didn’t make sense was the title in association with the film.  In the book it is obvious that Eva’s letters represent her needs to talk about what happened but, in the film, this doesn’t come across.  There is no one that Eva is communicating with about her feelings on the matter so the title doesn’t seem as related as it should – but I guess that is just me nitpicking.

Ezra Miller is the perfect Kevin, so perfect he almost seems too close to the character.  His purely sinister portrayal of Kevin throughout the film is sublime and we truly see a difference in Kevin at the end of the movie, when he confesses his “I don’t know” to his mother.  “We Need to Talk About Kevin” was very well done for the immense material it had to work with and I truly felt this was a great adaptation of a phenomenal novel.

Mook Rating  ★★★★