Equals

Equals

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
In an emotionless utopia, two people fall in love when they regain their feelings from a mysterious disease, causing tensions between them and their society.

Review:

The premise to this movie, although not new, was quite promising. A society where emotions are viewed as a disease and people actually do not question it throughout almost the entire movie made me curious enough to watch it.

However, it got overpowered by a romance where I could not even feel the chemistry. Kirsten’s face works well for the robotic layer of her character but when trying to convey emotion, let alone chemistry with her co-star, it just didn’t work.
Also, her excessive thinness and bags under her eyes truly annoyed me. Aren’t these people supposed to look healthy because they are free of pretty much all diseases?

Also, I have to admit, I dozed off from time to time. Granted, a restless night of sleep didn’t help but boy was this movie slow. There wasn’t even a climax, not really, no matter how high the director pumped the soundtrack’s volume up.

The first contact between those two should have been much more intense. Their reactions were pretty muted considering that supposedly they had never even touched anyone up to that point. Just holding hands should have sent sparks all over their bodies, being confined in such a small space and that close and all. Instead there was just a lot of eye, lips and hands close-ups and some panting but no actual emotion or passion that came across.

The development after the plot twist made me bat-crazy. I could not understand why the guy was running around, it just seemed ridiculous.

The ending was a major cliffhanger and did not satisfy me in the least.

I wish I had seen more of the dystopia, the world building, than such a major focus on romance.

It was okay but really, really slow and honestly not that interesting.

Blood, Ink & Fire

Title: Blood, Ink & Fire

Author: Ashley Mansour

Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Romance | Science Fiction

Length: 464 pages | 6224 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.25/5

Premise:

Noelle is different from everyone else in Fell. In a place where words are forbidden and no one even seeks them anymore, Noelle feels an urge towards them.
When she makes the decision of following that calling, can the ones she loves be safe? What will she find? About herself, about the world?

Review:

I understand many people loved this book so I will try to keep my review as objective as possible.

Blood, Ink & Fire starts out as your average dystopia: a society where individuals are deprived of freedom and has this incredible AI whose purpose is more than meets the eye. Quickly you get the feeling that this is an ode to Fahrenheit and Shakespear and book loving in general.

However, as a work of fiction, to me, it failed to deliver. Suspension of disbelief is taken to an extreme, dialogues and monologues are cringe-worthy and the narrative just doesn’t flow, being obvious at time and not delivering resolution at others.

For example, we don’t even know why people are ‘immersed’ on their 17th birthday. Why 17? Because it is convenient that our main character is that old when all the juicy stuff starts happening?

And the bad guys. They are supposed to be almighty and have full control and all imaginable resources to be anywhere, anytime they want and yet they only show up at convenient times?

Even the names are ridiculous. Why Fell? Other than it is one letter apart from Hell? Obvious much?
And Boolos as short for book lovers? Really?
Forgetsum?
Need I go on?

There is a lot of info dumping and yet no actual world setting. When do these people eat? How can Noelle drive? How can she run for ages, did she get any exercise in her previous life that would justify it? And it goes on and on.

Also, once again, romance completely overpowers the story from a point on. And it doesn’t even make sense. This Ledger guy sounds much too human from the getgo, for someone or something who is not supposed to be one of us. I didn’t even get what he was supposed to be.
There’s a lot of feels and yet I go through the book completely unable to connect to any of the characters, least of all the main one, who everyone seems to love, Lord knows why.

The book had potential. I thought the relationship between Noelle and John was cute, different, and not just because he was blind or they didn’t make romantic moves. Although the fact that they called each other by their initials never made any sense to me but I guess it was supposed to make their relationship more special. Then it just went downhill for me. Things started happening for the sake of happening and I was, quite honestly, bored.

There were, as I said, things left unexplained and others that made no sense like what happened to the twin who deserted the Risers, or Noelle finding herself in a room, alone, with a note explaining that the room only locks from the inside and she can use the key to let herself out. Wha…? Is this a whodunnit book? Nope, it goes completely unnoticed.

There were several interesting concepts, especially the importance of books and the dangers of this new age where people no longer seem to resort to them to obtain information or pleasure – supported by quotes of books at the beginning of the novel whose authors have studied this phenomenon and sadly I have to say that was about my favourite part, the inspiration. The development of the premise just left me disappointed beyond words.

Disappointing does not even begin to describe the ridiculous ending. Is it supposed to be surprising or shocking? It’s not. It’s just ridiculous.
If you are going to introduce a different concept you need to make it work, not just be lazy in the end. You have this guy who isn’t a guy but sort of the memory of books. He has a mission. She has a mission. Find 9 books which will somehow lead to the location of this special, amazing place, although it is never clear what is supposed to be done when it is found. HOW?? How on Earth was that supposed to happen? How does it work? She reads all 9 volumes and something clicks? Are there hidden clues in each of the volume? How??
Also, for a thing that is supposed to be special, there were numerous opportunities to shake the reader with the wonderful act of reading and yet I only even remotely felt it once that I recall and even that lacked a good amount of emotion.

So even though most of this book waived between a 2 and a 3, by the end it just went down to 1. What a total waste of time.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jun 19 to Jun 24, 2016
GR Review

Broken Skies (Broken Skies #1)

Title: Broken Skies (Broken Skies #1)

Author: Theresa Kay

Genres: Adventure | Dystopia | Post-apocalyptic | Romance | Science Fiction

Length: 276 pages | 3823 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

Jax is not going to be Promised to any man. She has a plan. She is going to escape with her brother Jace.
Just when she is about to break the news to him, Jace gets kidnapped by alien fiends. Now Jax has got to do everything in her power to get him back and, for that, she will count on the help of an unlikely ally. In the process, she will learn things about herself she never dreamed of.

Review:

My first impression of this novel was not positive at all. Within the first few lines I asked myself what I had gotten myself into and that feeling increased as I read the first couple of paragraphs/chapters.
I immediately disliked the main character because she struck me as intensely immature. Demanding people to call her by her nickname, the rants, the tantrums, good grief…
Then there was all the flushing and the letting out of breaths she didn’t know she was holding and the stopping what she was about to do because she hadn’t realized what she was doing, etc, etc.

An awkward love triangle forms almost immediately and although its development was out of the ordinary it still felt clichée.
As I was reading, I guessed I was supposed to be moved by the relationship between Jasmine aka Jax and her brother, but the fact is I felt he was just a prop to make the plot advance. Jax was supposed to go on a trip with a mysterious, beautiful looking alien, so let’s make the purpose of said trip saving Jax’s brother, shall we? For the preparation and the journey itself, Jax will feel maddeningly drawn to the alien, but obviously constantly denies her feelings because he is an alien and just so damn rude and obnoxious. Or is he? No… No, he isn’t. She is, though.

As the story develops, Jax remains annoying though there is some growth. For the most part though, her mood switches between hot anger and icy fear – expressions, or variations thereof, which were repeated to exhaustion throughout the book.
Some revelations surprised me, others not at all. The book didn’t get exciting for me up to the last 15 or 20%.
However, the fact is the writing does not give pause for break. It is a fast paced book and although a lot was left unexplained (Why are children, both human and alien, sick? Why was Lir on the clearing? Why did his kitu stop working? Why didn’t the other aliens wait for him before returning to the city? And so much more) or did not make sense (example: if the aliens’ blood was green, why did they blush red and their infected wounds were red instead of dark green?), the fact is I was not bored I got through it pretty quickly.

I realize I am not the right audience for this book and that what I found annoying others may find exciting. Therefore, I recommend it to teens/young adults who enjoy sci-fi and romance; I believe they will find it very entertaining and difficult to put down.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jun 03 to Jun 05, 2016
GR Review

The Gospel at Work

Title: The Gospel at Work

Author: Sebastian Traeger, Greg Gilbert

Genres: Religion

Length: 160 pages | 2931 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Do we face our jobs as God intended? This book explores how our work fits into God’s plans and how we can worship Him while performing it.

Review:

Well, I felt it was time for something new, so I picked this one up, which had been sitting on my Netgalley shelf for well over a year.

The book puts things in perspective: do we idolize our work? Or, on the other hand, do we take it for granted and do as little as possible, giving in to idleness?

Can work be used to praise God? How?

I have to tell you, at times it didn’t feel like this book was only 160 pages long. That is most likely due to the fact I am not used to read non-fiction. However, I also did find it a bit repetitive at times – particularly the verse that kept being quoted over and ove again – and I had a difficult time adjusting to the Americanized Christian language.
I also wish I could have seen more of Greg’s experience; as far as I could tell, only Seb gave specific examples.

However, the fact is this book addresses several points in our relationship with work, what it means and how we should handle it, that people can relate to and does so in an unpretentious manner. It relates the statements to the scripture and in the end of each chapter there are a few questions that each individual can use to deepen the knowledge they’ve just acquire and do an introspection of their relationship with work.

I do believe any Christian should read it. It might just be what you need not only to help you deal with work but to actually find a new, wonderful meaning to it. Or if you don’t find the experience fully gratifying like me tou will still take something from it.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from May 25 to Jun 03, 2016
GR Review

The Lobster

The Lobster

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

Review:

Now the fact that you will turn into an animal if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here is not something that should upset you or get you down. Just think, as an animal you’ll have a second chance to find a companion. But, even then, you must be careful; you need to choose a companion that is a similar type of animal to you. A wolf and a penguin could never live together, nor could a camel and a hippopotamus. That would be absurd.

The Lobster is unlike any movie I have ever watched. With shocking opening and closing scenes, everything in between is disturbing and thought-provoking. The plot, characters, sound and visual presentations all contribute to present one of the most touching and bizarre movies probably ever made. There is a lot to take in, but it all comes together in a weird harmony.

Large audiences will most likely not take to this movie. It is often slow paced, filled with awkward silences and the authors deliver the lines in an almost robotic manner. That all suits the world being presented here, though. A world where people are reduced in such a manner that they are coupled according to their main characteristics – be it beautiful hair, proneness to nose-bleeding or short-sightedness.

Colin Farrell was superb in this role. As a man who was left by his wife, he often comes across as uncaring and even apathetic and his attempts to find a partner are quite awkward, although that is the norm in the place. Everyone is just so desperate, alienated and reduced to a shell of a person.
David struggles to keep himself and his freedom of choice of a partner or lack thereof, while surviving his oppressive surroundings, and watching him evolve is very moving.

However, don’t think this is a one-man movie. Each character is unique and they all add to the story in one way or the other.
I sort of wished I could have seen the female perspective on the hotel, but it would then be a completely different movie, so that’s fine.

The film is drowsed in noir humour. Because the setting is so bleak, I found it heart breaking, even in the supposedly funny moments. However, it is so rich in so many ways, from the concept to the mixture of cultural references to all the small hints at how our own society and each individual deals with being single. There is either a pressure to be coupled and being recognized as such by society, or a commitment to staying single, and it seems that, as in the movie, a middle term is practically impossible.

This is a film that needs to be appreciated throughout and there is plenty to digest and discuss afterwards.
However, do be prepared to be taken off balance and to cope with the slow pace.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A writer and wall street trader, Nick, finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

Review:

I know I am a tad late, but I finally got to watching The Great Gatsby.

Not having read the book, I am not sure what I was expecting, but this sure wasn’t it.

The narration of the movie between now and then and the transition to written form is such a brilliant touch, as is the contrast between present day and the narrative time.

The imagery was stunning. At times, I felt I was looking at something coming out of a modern fairytale.

I suppose that was the purpose of the movie. It was the Roaring Twenties. Anything was allowed.

I have to admit I was not quite sure why this new guy who no one really knows much and who has no money gets shown around to people’s darkest secrets. I felt that needed more build-up. On the other hand, the movie’s pace was insane and I guess that would have spoiled it.

One of the things I did not expect from this movie was that it had such a romantic component. The characters’ development, particularly Gatsby and later Carraway, was excellent.

I think I postponed watching this movie for so long because I thought I would be bored. I couldn’t be more wrong. I definitely recommend it.

Alien Child

Title: Alien Child

Author: Pamela Sargent

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 246 pages | locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.75/5

Premise:

Nita has grown up as the only member of her human species in the Institute, aided by her guardian from a different species and even a different world. As she grows up, Nita has all sorts of questions, but is denied access to the answers because her guardian says it is not yet time for them.
As Nita grows and learns of her past, she slowly realizes her future may very well imply the future of the entire mankind.

Review:

The beginning of this book is praise from a bunch of folks. I actually bothered to read it all, not only because I was curious about what they thought of this novel but also because it had praise from other books by her. She was defined as writing unique sci-fi, no one has ever done anything like her, she is a master at characterization and so on and so forth. Talk about setting high expectations. I hope I have learned my lesson.

So here I am, beginning the book per se, and immediately I have an issue. The first line is Nita’s earliest memory was of the day she had nearly drowned in the pool. She was toddling down the wide, lighted hall of her home, but her short legs could not keep pace with her guardian’s long strides. So what do I think? This kid is small, a toddler. And yet, when her guardian engages her later on, she has the speech of a much older child. And this is the issue I have with most books who have children as a main character – few succeed in making them sound as children.

Her guardian has trouble with English and, even though we later learn she has an AI at her service, it just did not justify why Nita seemed so developed from the beginning.

Several things felt like they were thrown out there for the reader to take for granted. Like Nita saying she always knew her guardians came from a spaceship. How did she always know? Did Llita tell her that story? Did the AI?

Not everything was bad. Some descriptions were very beautiful and the idea of Llipel and Llare’s people was intriguing and mysterious.

I did try to go along with the story but I kept thinking “wait, why didn’t she do this? Why didn’t she go there?” or just felt that some things were entirely too convenient. I just didn’t buy it and kept trudging on. I figured hey, it’s only 246 pages, how long can it take? Well, if felt like ages.

Even the ending was anti-climatic. The dialogues were stretched on for miles and miles and the entire idea was so repetitive. I almost yelled OK, I get it, mankind is bad, they are afraid to become like that, I get it already, can we move on??

I just could not take the novel seriously. I believe that had I read it at a younger age I would not have had nearly as many issues as I had. As it is, I cannot recommend it and definitely feel the praise was overdone.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Mar 11 to Mar 22, 2015
GR Review