December 19, 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J.K. Rowling

Release Date: July 8, 1999
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Series: Book 3 in the Harry Potter series

Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?

This review may contain spoilers, read at your own risk. 

My Review:

Cover: Buckbeak, Harry, and Hermione. This is my favorite cover. I like Buckbeak's spread wings with the moon in the background. Hermione looks pretty ridiculous though. 

Writing: (4/5) This book was surprisingly well written. It might be the best written of the entire series. The writing was probably so good because this one sounded like a fun book to write, it had a lot of great characters. The only thing that was annoying was the childish full caps yelling.

Setting: (5/5) The fully occupied wizard village, Hogsmeade, sounded like it was a lot of fun. The setting was once again really fun. The animagi, boggart, and patronus ideas were really good.

Plot: (4/5) This is my favourite book of the series. I think it's a lot of people's favourite and I can see why. People claim its the only one that's its own separate story. Although I think the first four are all really good books individually, at the end of the day, they did center around the conflict of Voldemort. This one didn't. The conflict was something else and it was way more interesting in a lot of ways.

The plot and revelations of this book were really good. You didn't quite know who the villain was and it wasn't heavily centered around a villain really, which is why I think it was so good. It was a good plot completely fueled by some really great characters. Those always tend to be the best of stories.

The only flaw was the whole time travel thing. It was thoughtless. Completely and utterly thoughtless. J.K. Rowling said she established early on that the dead can't be brought back by magic. That was a good rule, especially considering that one of this series' themes is death.

With that in mind, I find it pretty shocking at the end of day that J.K. Rowling broke that rule and made HUGE plot holes in her series. The plot holes were so huge that she had to destroy the time-tuners later on in the series.

How did she make such a big mistake? In my personal opinion, it had all to do with Hermione. I'll talk about Hermione down below under the other characters.

Main Character: (2/5) I honestly could not stand Harry for the first half of the book. All he did was whine and whine about how he couldn't go to Hogsmeade. What an ungrateful little bastard. He got so much in these past years. He found a home in Hogwarts, he found friends, he even found so many great father figures - Dumbledore, Hagrid, Remus, etc. Yet he still has the nerve to whine about not being able to go to Hogsmeade!?

After the whining stopped, I could comfortably go back to tolerating Harry. But he did do something that I found incredibly admirable near the end. Might be the only admirable thing Harry did in the entire series.

Something I didn't really highlight in my other reviews is that I really liked that Harry's parents didn't die for convenience. It added so much more depth and meaning to the series and I enjoyed learning more about Harry's parents in this book.

Villain: (5/5) The villain was good. One that I surprisingly could never truly hate, maybe because, unlike Voldemort, this character had more depth. 

Other Characters: (4/5) 
Hermione Granger:

This is a rant, that doesn't really have to do with this book but the series as a whole. Feel free to skip it, if you just want to see the review for The Prisoner of Azkaban specifically. 

Anyway, I said above that I blame Hermione for the whole time travelling fiasco. I really think that J.K. Rowling does not think clearly when it comes to this character. She was so hung up about the whole Ron and Hermione thing later on, if you know what I mean, that she never really looked at Hermione as a character. Hermione is wish fulfillment. J.K. Rowling admitted that Hermione and Ron were wish fulfillment. I don't know why J.K. Rowling was so invested in this awful pairing or why she found Ron so appealing. That's something only J.K. Rowling really knows at the end of the day.

The pairing wasn't the only problem though. In fiction, and maybe in real life, we have a habit of labeling girls under three categories: beautiful, plain, and ugly. It's not enough to say she's plain. You have to stress that she's plain. Look, that's still shallow. Is Ron beautiful, plain, or ugly? What is he? What's Harry, Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid, and Remus? Who the hell knows or cares. Tom Riddle and Sirius Black were supposed to be handsome, but does J.K. Rowling keep telling you that over and over like the girls? Fleur is beautiful and Hermione is plain. She tells you this over and over and stresses it.

Hermione is a great person despite being plain. What is this nonsense? Your qualities determine who you are, that's true, but there's no despite about it. People are looking down on good qualities, to even for one second think that despite them not being attractive they have worth.

At the end of the day, Hermione has no worth because her whole character centers around this flawed idea. She's wish fulfillment in the sense of this insecurity people have about not being attractive.

Dumbledore proves that good conscience and light will always win. Snape shows bravery. Remus and Hagrid show kindness. Sirius shows loyalty. In the face of these awesome characters, what does Hermione really show?

I wish people would stop comparing girl characters to each other. Always compare characters to the best characters. Before trying to make them "a good girl character", please try to make them a good character. They will be a good girl character as long as they're female, it's not rocket science.

Sorry, I just wanted to get that out of my system.

End of Rant. 

Going back to The Prisoner of Azkaban, the only parts I could not stand were the Hermione parts. I always feel like she gets in the way of the boys' friendship. Considering how many times the boys fight with her, they're not much of real friends anyway.

I wish I counted the number of times Hermione cried. Why does this girl consistently cry?

Aah the time-tuner thing. Probably made up to give Hermione a little task. You know, turning the damn thing, because nobody else could have done that.

The book keeps saying she's the cleverest girl of her age. Yeah, because Harry, Ron, Neville, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle are such great competition. Why can't she be one the most intelligent people in the book? Way to sell a character short.

Tom Riddle and Dumbledore felt far more intelligent, even when they were at Hogwarts. James and his friends and Snape were out inventing their own spells while they were students. And what did Hermione do? Study? Is she the best at studying at least? Does she have top marks? No. She didn't get a perfect score. Apparently though, there were characters who got perfect 12 O.W.L.s (Bill, Percy, and Barty Crouch Jr.). I'm getting off track again.

Ron Weasley: Ron is probably the best out of the trio, not that I particularly like him though. I do like his friendship with Harry though. It feels so much more genuine when Hermione isn't with them. I also liked this line he said near the end:

"If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us, too!" he said fiercely. 

Maybe Ron is a Gryffindor after all.

Dumbledore: Dumbledore's lines always make me want to tear up. Most of the best quotes of this series are Dumbledore's.

Severus Snape: We found out more about Snape in this book. It's fun learning more about Snape bit by bit.

Remus Lupin: He's one of my favourite characters. Most people seem to love him after reading Azkaban. He's such a kind teacher, I wish he had been my teacher while I was at high school. It's a shame that his story never really went anywhere with this series though.

Overall: (24/30) The only thing that's irritating about this book was Hermione and the time travelling fiasco, besides that, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was easily the best book in the series, probably because it was driven by so many good characters. 

December 18, 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling

Release Date: July 2, 1998
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Series: Book 2 in the Harry Potter series

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself.

My Review:

Cover: I do like this cover, even though I find the flying car slightly weird.

Writing: (1/5) I think this book's plot and content was sound, but it was ruined by the writing. I'm guessing, like the movie, it was supposed to be mysterious and full of suspense, but the writing was horrible and really didn't covey that. Where it was supposed to come off as creepy, I only felt it was laughable. There were so many pivotal moments and revelations ruined because of the poor writing. I think the movie did it way better, probably because it didn't have the poor writing. The second Harry Potter movie is probably my favourite out of all the movies. 

Setting: (5/5) Man I love Hogwarts. We learned a lot of new interesting ideas and stuff about the wizarding world like duelling. I also really loved the parselmouth and diary ideas. I know the book wasn't that great because of the writing, but the movie version was great. I don't why people underrate it so much.

Plot: (5/5) I think this book's plot was actually better than the first book. For the first time in this series, I felt Harry actually had something at stake here. He was snooping and getting to the bottom of things because doing so actually meant something to him. Hogwarts was at stake and it was his home more than the Dursleys ever were. Next to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I felt this one had one of the best plots of the series. Too bad the bad writing was such a heavy blow though. 

Main Character: (1.5/5) Like I said above, I really like the parselmouth idea and that Harry had something personally at stake here. But Harry is still as flat and personality-less as ever. 

Villain: (5/5) Really liked the villain with this one, might be my favourite. Which is a shame with what happened to him later on, if you know what I mean. He became such a laughable and poor excuse of a character.

I actually wished at some point that the villain for the series was a recent graduate of Hogwarts, making the series truly about Hogwarts. The last three books were centered around Voldemort being the villain, which is why they fell flat. What do you expect though, when you center books around such a piece of cardboard of a character? You know, J.K. Rowling developed Harry Potter into such a wonderful series. I really wish though, that she took the time to develop what this series was actually about - Harry and Voldemort. Let's not kid ourselves, these two are flat-tastic characters and frankly I've seen better heroes and villains. 

Other Characters: (4.5/5) 
Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger: These two are fine in this book. I didn't mind them, though I suspect part of the reason is because Hermione was out of commission.

Dumbledore: Aah Dumbledore, I love Dumbledore. He's really the heart and conscience of this series.

Hagrid: I love Hagrid! Such a sweet character! I think he's underrated and if you look at each of the books, he actually plays an extremely important part. He probably plays the most importance in this one. Surprising, because this was supposed to be a mysterious and suspenseful sort of book. A huge reason I love the movie version of Chamber of Secrets is because of the ending that was given to Hagrid:


I tear up after every time I watch that. I miss Chris Columbus, he was such a great director that really appreciated this series.  

Severus Snape: Snape's barely in it, but awesome as usual.

Dobby: Ah, Dobby. I hate Dobby. He's such an annoying character. I feel he never really stops being a slave. He just finds someone new to serve.

Gilderoy Lockhart: I admit Lockhart was funny, but he's such a forgettable character. I always forget that he was a Harry Potter character. 

Overall: (22/30) I don't really blame people for not liking this book, the writing was really bad. I actually recommend the movie version instead, it was probably the best movie of the franchise. Despite that, I really feel that Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets had a really good plot, probably the best next to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, if not even better.

December 17, 2014

Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters
by Laini Taylor

Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Series: Book 3 in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause. 

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. 

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world. 

What power can bruise the sky? 

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

My Review:

Cover: This is probably my favourite cover of the series. I really like the bright yellow colour.

Writing: (1/5) Laini Taylor's writing was pretty and elaborate, but who really cares with the last book? This book was a whooping 613 pages and I felt like nothing happened. All the pretty writing was padding to basically no real content. This past year I went to liking pretty writing to thinking it was the bane of fiction. Why? Because pretty writing fools readers into thinking a book is good. How? The book goes on for pages and pages of pretty writing, but when you look back at the book or even a series, nothing happened. And I really mean nothing happens. 

Writing is a tool. You're supposed to use it to convey what you're picturing. If you're spending lots of text trying to describe something, you're doing it wrong. Especially when a couple of simple sentences or even one could have sufficed. 

For example, Laini Taylor kept describing the sky as "bruised". I guess this was supposed to sound poetic or something, but what the hell does that mean? What does the sky exactly look like? What was the point of saying it was bruised when all that really does is cause confusion? It's unnecessary

And that's pretty writing. It's unnecessary. Look at any book that has pretty writing and scrap that away and look at the contentThe story. 

Because at the end of the day, fiction is about stories. Writing is a tool. If you want pretty writing, write poetry. With poetry, beautiful words are the point. 

The author also has this annoying way of overusing cliff-hangers. No, it's not enough to have books end in cliff-hangers, let's make one chapter contain a billion cliff-hangers. 

Another thing about this book that absolutely disgusts me is the author's refusal to capitalize the word God. If you have something against religion, that's not my problem, believe what you want, but I find this extremely disrespectful to people who do believe in God. And if you still don't give a damn, then at least use basic grammar rules. When you're referring to someone specific, you're supposed capitalize the word.

Setting: (1/5) I don't know what to say about the setting. It changed so many times that I didn't have time to catch where the hell we were before we moved on to another setting and point of view.

Plot: (1/5) Plot. Yeah I wish there was a plot. Instead of completing this series, the author does something I've never seen anybody do. Dreams of Gods & Monsters felt like an introduction to a completely new series. It didn't end this series, not really. So you read the book expecting it to be an epic conclusion to the series, and then the author introduces two new characters and they become a plot tumor. They start taking over the plot with this completely stupid and irrelevant plotline that ends up being what the whole book is about.   

I think the author got bored with this series and didn't know how or care to end it. She actually had another series before this one, the Dreamdark series. It's a trilogy but the author never bothered to release the third and last book.

Main Character: (1/5) Karou is such a feeble main character. She's flat. What the hell is her personality supposed to be? In the second book, Akiva takes over being the main character and in this one this new character, Eliza, becomes the main character. I really, really feel the author gets way too bored with her characters. She keeps changing it around instead of trying to develop the characters and stories she already has. She adds more flat new ones instead of trying to develop the ideas she had into something with more depth. 

Villain: (1/5) What an unsatisfying and pretty unbelievable way to beat a villain.  

Other Characters: (1/5) 
Akiva: Akiva goes to being basically the main character to getting shoved to the side. There's also this stupid revelation about him that makes him the most unbelievably and stupidly overpowered thing since Jean Grey. 

Zuzana and Mik: I was wondering why these two got so much screen time. It didn't make any sense, they're pointless to the plot. Then I found out Zuzana was a fan favourite so author put her in more and then it made sense. 

Liraz and Ziri: Liraz and Ziri's relationship makes no sense and why does every single bloody character in fiction just HAVE to be paired up?

Eliza: Her backstory is pointlessly disgusting, not to mention she's a totally pointless and random character that suddenly becomes the center of the story.

Scarab: Queen of the Stelians. While I think we wanted to know more about the Stelians, what we found was the stupidest thing ever. Not to mention Scarab's (stupid name) personality was all over the place. Was she a vicious overpowered queen (how overpowered she was was laughable) or an inexperienced girl I don't know.

Romance: (1/5) Akiva and Karou are so annoying, either get together or don't, stop wasting everyone's time. Which they did. Waste everybody's time. Every second they basically appeared on screen.

Overall: (7/35) One of the worst conclusions to a series I've seen. Don't pick this book up. Don't pick this series up and don't pick any more books from this author, because she's proven with this one and her previous, Dreamdark series, that she will not give fans a proper ending. 

October 1, 2014

August & September Haul


Bought:
I really enjoyed The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (my review) and have been meaning to read the sequel for quite a while. 
I loved the first two books in this trilogy and I think I'm pretty satisfied with them. With that being said, after reading the reviews for this last book, I'll probably not be reading it. Better to stop reading it when it was on a higher note. 
One-Punch Man is one of my favourite manga series. So far the English publisher has not released a print copy, only digital (I really wish they'd release print copies already!?). So this one is the Japanese edition. Definitely recommend this series, it's freakin hilarious! 

Gifted:
It was my birthday in August and my sister got me two volumes of another one of my favourite manga series - Skip Beat!. Another series I highly recommend with the main character being the best female character I've seen. I also recommend these editions, they're the price of one volume but have three volumes in them.

Trade:
A manga series about a school were everyone is a clone of a famous historical figure. I've been wanting to read this for quite a while. Not sure how it'll turn out though. 

Review:
  • Wolfsbane by Gillian Philip (Thanks to Tor)
Still haven't read the first book, Rebel Angels, but this series looks pretty intriguing. 
  • Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (Thanks to Scholastic Canada)
Lately Stiefvater's characters are very unpleasant. She's also using extreme violence, swearing, and abuse of drugs - which to me comes off like she thinks that's cool. Did she forget she's writing young adult? My opinions for The Raven Boys and The Dreams Thieves have changed greatly after I went and looked through them again. Anyway, I'll probably be reading Sinner, but I don't have high hopes for it.
  • The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (Thanks to Scholastic Canada)
This sounds like it could be fun, but it does sound like a rip-off of Harry Potter. I think the first book is going to be a lot like Harry Potter and then as the series continues it's going to derive from it. 
  • John Diamond by Leon Garfield (Thanks to Random House Canada)
I've never heard of this and I have no idea how this one will turn out. But I liked the cover and thought the synopsis was interesting enough. If you've read John Diamond, what did you think?

September 29, 2014

Review: Bloody Cross, Volume 1

Bloody Cross, Volume 1 
by Shiwo Komeyama

Half angel, half demon, Tsukimiya must drink pure demon blood to stave off the curse that will eventually claim her life. When she meets an angel named Hinata, he’s eager to team up with the half-blood to take down a vampire that has been attacking humans. Tsukimiya is surprised to find that Hinata is a capable partner, but when the vampire is slain, it is Hinata who claims its demon blood, leaving Tsukimiya to be taken by the curse. In a last-ditch effort to save herself, Tsukimiya tries to drink Hinata’s blood, now mixed with the vampire’s pure demon blood. But in taking the blood that will save her, Tsukimiya has also transmitted the curse that will kill her. Hinata and Tsukimiya now share the curse…and they’re running out of time.

My Review:

Story: (1/5) At first the story was interesting enough, but then it got pretty chaotic. The story was straightforward to begin with: Tsukimiya is a half blood (half angel, half demon) that's cursed and will die from her mark. She meets Hinata, one thing leads to another, and they both end up sharing the curse. Now as the story continues from there, the manga kept adding all these random characters and conflicts and I just got confused and bored. I was also annoyed with all the fake deaths. I hate when the plot twist is "Oh, wait they didn't die, they're alive!"

Main Character: (1/5) Seems to have two main characters: Tsukimiya and Hinata

Tsukimiya is one of those cold girls. But I've seen those types of girls in manga/anime so much that she didn't really wow me or leave me with a strong impression. 

Hinata was kinda of annoying. I didn't like his overly flirtatious and fickle personality. I didn't like how you were never sure who's side he was on or how you were never sure if he was serious or not. He's just an annoying character overall. I feel this comes more from the author not being sure what kind of personality she wants him to have.

Other Characters: (1/5) Ugh, the other characters were all poorly constructed and obnoxious. I really didn't like any of them. They also added a new plotline that didn't seem to have anything to do with Tsukimiya and Hinata. Why would you add a new conflict so early in the manga when you haven't really finished with the other one? This manga would have been so much better if the author just focused on the two main characters and their adventures in trying to undo the curse or something. 

Setting: (1/5) The setting was really bad. I wasn't sure what era they were in. Modern, past, or some alternate universe. Not to mention there were barely any backgrounds so the characters were usually in this white void. 

Artwork: (1/5) If you couldn't already tell from the cover, the author seems to have no idea how to draw a normal-portioned human. The result is pretty laughable. There's barely any backgrounds so the characters usually look like they're in a white void. Probably some of the worst artwork I've seen. The author also didn't do any original character designs or outfits or anything that might have at least made this manga more unique.

Overall: (5/25) The main characters were nothing special and the art is terrible. The plot gets too chaotic and random characters are introduced later on. Not to mention there isn't a single original thing about Bloody Cross. It's just a bunch of rehashed overused ideas. I'm dropping this manga. I don't see it getting any better, on the contrary I see it getting worse. 

August 24, 2014

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: December 2, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

My Review:

Cover: OK, this has to be one of the worst covers I have ever seen, but considering the synopsis of this book, I'm not surprised the marketing team didn't put in much effort.

Writing: (1/5) The writing is childish, it sounds like an airhead of a teenage girl wrote it.

Setting: (1.25/5) There were some nice places described in France, but this book was such a poor excuse to put a bunch of teenagers together without any parental supervision. Why Anna was even sent to France is so laughably explained too.  

Plot: (1/5) You'd think from the synopsis that this is a cute and fluffy story and that's what I thought before I started it. But it felt like the author was totally serious when she wrote this book. To say the least, it's poorly done. It reminds me of one those stories teenage girls write on wattpad or their school story assignments. I'm not even sure how this managed to get published or why it's so popular. Is it because everyone thought it was cute and sweet?

It's not. It really isn't.

This is trash. It's poorly written. The whole book revolves around Anna wanting a guy who's already dating somebody. I have no idea why reading this would appeal to anyone. I don't know, I assume girls just self-insert themselves into Anna or something.

Main Character: (1/5) At first you think Anna starts out like a nice and cute girl, but the more I read, the more I disliked Anna. Why the hell does she go after someone with a girlfriend? She acts very cruelly to the girl too!? None of her actions are justified. She's just an all around horrible person. 

Other Characters: (1/5) I really, really don't understand why everyone is in love with St. Clair. I do not see the appeal. He's a poorly constructed character. HA! Constructed, that's rich. I'm not sure what his personality is even supposed to be. The author keeps saying he's gorgeous but yeah I don't see it. I just imagine a flat character. I don't understand why everyone loves him. Is it because he has a British accent, is rich, and "apparently" gorgeous? I'm sorry, but I really only see girls inserting themselves into Anna and pretending that a guy would choose them over their girlfriend because they're so wonderful.

The other characters were a joke. St. Clair's pack of friends, his girlfriend, and not to mention that mean girl who hates Anna. That's one of the worst mean girl characters I've seen and I've seen countless.

Romance: (1/5) Anna was such an unlikable character and St. Clair was an awful character. Not to mention this whole thing was wrong. Really, the guy has a girlfriend!? Why the hell didn't he just break up with her sooner? To make this book last the longest it can go probably

Overall: (6.25/30) This book is a joke. It's just so bad. I'm not sure why people like it. I'm not even sure how it got published. Must have been the biggest fluke ever.

August 23, 2014

Review: Peter Pan

Peter Pan 
by J.M. Barrie

Release Date: July 11, 2013
Publisher: Puffin
Age Group: Children
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

One starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland--the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles...

My Review:

Cover: I really love this Puffin Chalk edition. The cover is a chalk illustration and the book and font are the perfect size. 

Writing: (2/5) At first I really loved the writing and I found so many lines and descriptions that I really loved:

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

But there were so many times where I had to reread a line or paragraph. No matter how many times or how carefully I read it, I could not understand what the author was trying to say. 

The author also had this annoying habit of letting the narrator tell you what will happen in the future and it basically spoiled huge portions of the book. This was also jarring because one second he's talking about what's presently going on and then next he's talking about what will happen. The first time he did this, I was so confused about what was going on and what the characters were talking about. 

Setting: (2/5) I really liked the idea of Neverland with the pirates, beasts, fairies, mermaids, and the Piccaninny tribe.

But I felt that Neverland was barely explored. Most of the book was set either in the Darlings' house in London, or Peter Pan and the Lost Boy's home in Neverland.

Plot: (2/5) The plot was fun up until Wendy and her brothers got to Neverland, then it just got really awful and chaotic. The book became more and more of a mind screw and the children became more and more demonic. When Wendy landed on the island, one of the boys shot her with an arrow to the heart. Wendy becomes more and more unhealthily attached to Peter (even when she's a fully grown woman). The boys kill pirates near the end. Looking back, I don't understand what the whole point of this book and the characters' actions was, but I guess it was to illustrate the author's theme.

The book has a really terrible theme "the selfishness of childhood". That's basically what the whole book is about. Wendy and her brothers are selfish. Peter Pan is selfish. The Lost Boys are selfish. You won't find one child here who's sweet or has any good traits.The more you read, the more demonic they become. They disappear without a trace and go on adventures not caring how worried their parents are for them.

The author has this disgusting idea that little children are selfish and they don't care about their parents' feelings. They're not selfish, they're innocent. They don't know any better. There's a difference. And I don't know about you, but anytime a kid sees their parents unhappy or sad, they tend to burst into tears. The author never had any children of his own and that doesn't surprise me.

Main Character: (2/5) Some people consider Wendy to be the main character, but I personally consider Peter Pan to be. He is the center of the story and really the whole point. Wendy can be taken out completely and we'd still have a story, but Peter Pan cannot be taken out so easily. He is the story. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I really love the idea of Peter Pan. The whole idea. I like his name. I like that he's a boy that never grows up. That he still has his first teeth and a baby's gurgle. I like that he wears clothes made of skeleton leaves and can talk to fairies. But that's it. I really love the whole idea behind Peter Pan, but I hate the execution.

For one, what was the point of the Darling family? They just distracted from Peter Pan and Neverland.

Another thing is that Peter Pan was inconsistent. The author did not give us a specific age. From his descriptions of him, I guess him to be around 8? But from how he acts in the story and how all the girls are in love with him (Wendy, Wendy's mom, Tiger Lily, Tinkerbell) you think he was a teenager.

Peter Pan was also very disturbing. He kills others on a regular basis. He constantly forgets his experiences or who someone is to preserve his youth. And mentioned very offhandedly: "Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them."

Also, for the life of me, I really don't know what his personality is. Is he a little boy that likes adventure and fun? Is he cruel and savage? Is he nice? I really don't know. Every personality trait you can think of, Peter Pan has shown it.

Overall, I love the idea of Peter Pan, but that's it. It was a good idea, but the author used it terribly. I actually preferred other portrayals of Peter Pan, like Peter Pan from the TV series Once Upon A Time. You know an author is terrible when people can use their own ideas better than them.

Villain: (3/5) Captain Hook is easily the best character. Again, like Peter Pan, I really liked the idea but his personality was inconsistent. He was supposed to be very calm and intelligent, but he is the complete opposite of this sometimes in the book.

Also, the author kept telling and telling you about Hook. He really never showed you anything. It was all telling. Hook was this, Hook is thinking this, Hook is going to do that, etc.

I did like his ending though, I'll give him that. 

Other Characters: (1/5) What I hate the most about this book was all the other characters (besides Hook's crew):

Wendy Darling: I liked Wendy from the Disney adaption and I thought she would be similar, but yeah right she was. I hate Wendy. For one, can't she pick if she wants to be Peter Pan's mother or his girlfriend? She acts like she's both, which is distributing. She does not care about the other boys' horrible actions and even encourages it. But at the end of the day I hated how, like every female in the book - and I mean every female (Wendy, her mom, Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, the mermaids, even a female BIRD) - cannot keep their hands off Peter. It's disgusting. He's a little boy. And is that all the female characters amount to? Being part of Peter's Pan's little harem and having a cat fight over him?

John and Michael Darling: Easily the two most boring and useless characters. There was the Lost Boys, so what was the point of them?

Mrs. Darling: I have no idea why there's so much stress on Mrs. Darling. The author goes into more detail for her than he does with anyone else, besides maybe Hook. Also it was creepy how she acted around Peter Pan, as if she had a thing for him like the rest of the females in this book. She's also such a ghastly portrayal of a fake and stereotypical mother.

Mr. Darling: Mr. Darling is constantly abused by the other characters and the author to appalling degrees. Also, like Mrs. Darling, he's such a stereotypical father.

Tinkerbell: I liked the idea of Tinkerbell. Her talking sounds like bells, the whole mythology of the fairies, and her being Peter's companion. But she's such a horrible little creature. She tried to kill Wendy numerous times because of her jealousy. She's portrayed more sympathetically in the Disney movie, but not at all in the book.

The Lost Boys: There's six Lost Boys. The author introduced all of them in the same breath, so I never had any idea who's who. The Lost Boys were a waste of space.

Overall: (12/30) Peter Pan had loads and loads of great ideas: Peter Pan, Hook, Tinkerbell, Neverland, etc. But that's it. That as far as it went. He barely focused on or used the ideas to their full potential. Not to mention the book had a horrible theme and most of the characters were terrible people. The book was extremely unpleasant to read.

I don't recommend reading Peter Pan. Watch the Disney version, it's a hundred times better.