Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘vampires’

***This movie is now in theaters! Go see it! It’s excellent!***

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that Richelle Mead is my favorite author. She writes both YA and adult urban fantasy, most notably the Vampire Academy series and the Succubus Blues/Georgina Kincaid series. She crafts the perfect blend of fantastical plot, excellent characters, humor, and romance in all of her novels. Mead’s female leads are always strong, three-dimensional women. She also has a degree in comparative religion, so you can tell she did her homework in every novel she’s written.

But let’s talk about Vampire Academy, as it’s just been made into a movie by the guys who did Heathers and Mean Girls and came out on Friday!

Movie Poster

Vampire Academy is a 6-book series that centers around Rose Hathaway, a half-human, half-vampire (called a dhampir) and her best friend, Princess Lissa Dragomir. In this world there are two types of vampires: the Moroi (the “good” vampires with souls, who only drink blood to survive, use magic, and are not immortal) and the Strigoi (the “bad” vampires without souls, who drink to kill, can’t use magic, and are immortal). Strigoi like to eat Moroi, so Dhampirs, like Rose, are trained to be guardians for the Moroi, as using Moroi magic for defense is frowned upon by the upper classes. Moroi have one of 5 elemental magics – earth, water, fire, air, and one that I won’t mention because they don’t know about it until about halfway through the first book – so go see the movie if you want to find out what it is! Strigoi lack this magic. In the first book, Rose and Lissa have run away from their school – St. Vladimir’s Academy – because they have reason to believe that Lissa is in danger. The story begins with their recapture, and they must pick up in school where they left off. It soon becomes clear that Lissa is still not safe.

Vampire Academy came out around the same time the Twilight books did, but it’s about a million times better because the characters actually have personalities and act like real people. Plus, Rose Hathaway is a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, the media largely ignored this superior work (I’m not biased AT ALL), until now. I’m sure some of you think popular culture is a bit saturated with vampires at the moment, which is true. But isn’t it always? Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy… These franchises have spanned the last couple decades, and Dracula always seems to come back in one form or another. Why? People love vampires. There are multitudes of books written about this phenomenon.

So after I read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, I found myself reading a book about the history of vampire lore, and I discovered that the names she uses for the two types of vampires in her world (Moroi and Strigoi) are real. Not real in the sense that vampires exist, but this particular myth really did originate in Russia. See? She does her homework.

I could go on and on about this, but I want to talk about the Vampire Academy Movie. First, I’d like to point out that Richelle Mead loved the movie. Many people have expressed skepticism that she was essentially paid to say she liked it, but I’ve read a lot of her blog posts now, and I think she likes to be honest with her fans. She loved this movie, and so did I!

**EDIT: My review is more for an audience that has read the books. If you haven’t read the books, I suggest you check out this review instead.**

I used to be extremely skeptical about my favorite books being turned into movies. Many readers have this problem. But one thing I’ve come to understand over the last couple years is that movies and books are different mediums, so of course they can’t be exactly the same. Once you accept this, watching movies based on books you loved will be much more enjoyable. That said, it’s been several years since I read the Vampire Academy series, so I have to say that the storyline was coherent enough in the movie that I could follow it with extremely vague memories about what happened.

My favorite part of the movie was the cast, especially Zoey Deutch as Rose Hathaway. Everyone did a really good job, and I was really happy to see that Dimitri is played by a real Russian actor. But Zoey takes the cake for best performance. The entire time I was captivated by how perfectly she conveyed Rose’s sarcasm as well as how much she cares for her best friend Lissa. Zoey Deutch IS Rose Hathaway.

dimitri vs rose

The weakest link may have been headmistress Kirova, and that may just be because I remember her differently from how I saw her in the movie. First off, I thought Kirova was a dhampir, but in the movie she’s a Moroi. I also got the impression that she just really wanted to follow the rules of her institution, I didn’t think she was really that vindictive towards Rose. So, while she didn’t match the memory I had of her, the character in the movie was still really fun. Her costumes were quite elaborate (I mean really, check out those nails!).

While we’re on the subject of characters – there was great chemistry between all the major players: Dimitri, Rose, Lissa, Christian, and Mason. The romance between Dimitri and Rose comes to a slow boil, and it’s not the focus of the story, which was great (it’s not the focus of the book either). Plus, the last scene between the two of them was the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen. And I hate sappy romance. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I’ll just say that Rose is an amazing character. I loved Christian Ozera in the books as well, and I was pleased to see that I was not disappointed. I wanted to give him a high five after this particular scene:

Lissa was just as I remembered her from the books – pretty timid, until she hatches her plan for school domination, and the crazy starts to happen. She and Rose compliment each other as characters, and I was pleased to see that translate over from the books. And Mason was, of course, his adorably sweet self. I have so many feels about Mason, but I won’t drop and spoilers for anyone.

Many people expressed fear that this movie was written as a comedy, based on the trailers. I’d like to reassure everyone who’s read the books (and I suppose those of you who haven’t and have no idea what this movie is) that it’s not a comedy, but like all of Richelle Mead’s books, it has a strong comedic element. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Richelle Mead writes with the perfect blend of drama, humor, romance, and excellent characters. We are lucky that the screenwriters were able to translate that into film so brilliantly.

Now that I’ve talked about all the things I loved in this movie, I can say a few words about its flaws. The pacing seems a bit fast, but I suppose you’d always get that. They sort of skimmed over Rose’s arrangement with Dimitri for extra training lessons – she’s just suddenly having one with him. I think the level of weirdness associated with a Moroi who hasn’t claimed a magic type yet was played down. In the book it seemed like a really big deal, but in the movie they almost instantly realize that Ms. Karp and St. Vladimir had the same problem – and I’m certain this is all to do with pacing. The movie clocks in at 1 hour, 45 minutes, which says to me they had a little more time to slow things down. I can’t think of much more than that, and I’d probably have to go see it again with a critical eye. At first glance, I really enjoyed this movie, and I felt it stayed true to the book as much as a movie can.

So, without further ado, I give you the trailer! But you must ignore the 2/14 release date. They moved it up to 2/7, so it is out in theaters RIGHT NOW. I am praying to all the deities in Richelle Mead’s Age of X series to help this movie do well in its first weekend so we can have the green light to make the sequel! I have to see Adrian Ivashkov on the big screen. I really do.

Read Full Post »

“The book is always better.”

This is a phrase everyone is familiar with when it comes to movies and TV shows based on novels. We’ve all heard it before, and for a while it was “common knowledge.”

In recent years, I have come to realize that this is not actually always true, and it’s a lot more complicated than that opening phrase makes it seem. “The book is always better,” is a myth, and I’m going to crack it my way.

I choose to think of books vs. movies as two different art forms – two different ways to tell the same story. Then you have to consider who is behind the scenes. In the case of a book, it is mostly just one person letting their imagination run free, with some help from editors and beta readers. In the case of a movie, you have the writer, the director, the actors primarily, as well as an entire film crew that can vary in size. It is inevitable that these two groups will have the exact same ideas for how the story should be told. Very rarely does the original author get to write the script and be actively involved in the movie’s creation (whether or not those movies are better than other book adaptations is a debate for another time).

I am a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries. Don’t knock it ’til you try it. But after I finished the first season, the idea of waiting an entire summer for more of these characters sounded like torture. But hey, the series is based on a series of books, so they’re probably good, right?

Wrong. The Vampire Diaries novels were dreadful. I forced myself to read three of them before I had to give up before I tore them to shreds. They were terribly written. And apparently in the books, male vampires can’t get it up, so they just suck each other’s blood instead of have sex. Gross. Also, Damon is about 1,000 times more creepy in the books, and I am totally in love with that character in the show – so that was really unfortunate. I mean sure, he eventually redeems himself for a while, but the storyline goes to hell. Somewhat literally. For a while Elena becomes this weird, childlike, angel-creature, and abruptly loses all of her personality. Not that it was particularly great to begin with – she was more like Caroline was at the beginning of the show. Elena’s character in the show is brilliant – she has agency, right from the start you know that her greatest desire in life is to keep her loved ones safe, and everything she does reflects that (including all of her ill-fated and stupid decisions). In the books she’s a spoiled brat, the most obnoxious kind of stereotypical popular high school girl you could ever find. Julie Plec is a far better storyteller than L.J. Smith could ever hope to be.

Game of Thrones is my other favorite example of a show being better than the book it’s based on (I want to be clear that this is merely my opinion, but I know several people who share it). The benefit of the show is that you get to cut out all of Martin’s useless information that wasn’t edited out of his novels. Seriously, look at those things. They’re huge. The story flows much better on screen than it does in the books. But there are people who still like the books better. That’s fine. I don’t.

Another thing I have learned, related to this, is that if I read the book right before I see the movie, I end up hating the movie. But if I wait to read the book until after, or it’s been years since I read the book, the movie is brilliant and enjoyable. The Hunger Games is a great example of this. I thought it was an excellent film, and it told the story beautifully. Only later did I hear everyone complaining about it because certain things were changed or left out, but I still enjoyed the film. I might even go as far as saying I thought it was better than the book. When I went to see the 7th Harry Potter film right after I re-read the book for the umpteenth time (I think I literally finished it about three days before I went to the theater for a midnight showing), however, I thought it was terrible. Everything was wrong. But the friend I went with hadn’t read the book in ages, and she absolutely loved it.

MortalInstruments_c#41B39C3.JPG

Last week I went to see Mortal Instruments: City of Bones with my awesome roommate who likes the same TV shows and books as me. Though Clary seemed a bit passive in my opinion, I really enjoyed this movie. I have since started reading the book, and I’m enjoying that immensely as well. Is one of them better than the other? Sure, Clary is more active in the book (at least until Chapter 7, I haven’t gotten very far yet). But that’s not the only aspect that’s different. Personally, I thought many of the events in this story looked fantastic visually. Magic (though the Shadowhunters would take offense at that word) often does look really cool in movies. I had a similar experience with Beautiful Creatures, though I haven’t read the book yet.

So maybe the question is not whether or not the film is better than the book, but how we perceive the different mediums. I have stopped questioning which is better, and I look at them as separate entities. Both are telling stories, and some methods work better for one than the other. Don’t be so harsh to judge movies by their books. I think we should encourage book adaptation instead, because clearly Hollywood is running out of ideas when they just keep remaking what they’ve already done. There are billions of books to choose from, waiting to be told with a different tool.

This is why I am thrilled that one of Richelle Mead’s novels (Vampire Academy) is finally being adapted into film. Sure, the vast majority of the world’s movie-going population might be tired of vampires, but I never will be, and this is a brilliant story – FAR superior to that dreadful franchise featuring sparkling vampires. Ugh. Give me Rose Hathaway over Bella Swan ANY day!

Read Full Post »

I know I haven’t updated in a while, and I know I meant to, but life has gotten in the way and all that. I’ve been busy editing like mad the last couple months, applying for new jobs, reading, catching up on television, and working at the day job.

My original plan was to do some rough edits on the paranormal WIP, switch to the steampunk WIP and do some real editing and fleshing out on that, and send it out to beta readers while I do some real editing on the paranormal WIP. I’ve finished the rough edits on the paranormal, and I’ve begun edits on the steampunk, but I have found myself running into two problems.

First, I can’t get my paranormal WIP out of my head. It’s the first novel I’ve finished that I have serious thoughts about publishing. I want it to be great. I want it to be perfect, at least in my head. A big part of me just wants to throw myself into it and not come up for air until it’s ready for at least my writing partner to read. This is a two-part problem, because I don’t really have any beta readers lined up for this WIP, but I do have people who want to read the steampunk WIP. Some of whom are impatiently bugging me about it every time they see me. So I’ve reached the point where I feel like I’m pushing myself to work on something that I am having trouble getting into again (don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my steampunk WIP and how it turned out in the first draft – I’m just not in the mood for it right now) for other people. I want my writing first and foremost to be for ME, I want to create something that I love, and then share it with whoever feels like reading it. I love that people want to read what I’ve written, but is it wrong to make them wait when my brain is so clearly elsewhere?

My second problem is that I still feel untrained. I’ve been reading a lot more than usual lately, and I keep thinking ,”Wow, this writer is so brilliant, I wish I could do that,” or “This is something my novel is clearly lacking, and I need to educate myself on how to fix that.” I’ve started seriously reading the “Write Great Fiction” series and already I’ve come up with a good handful of things I need to improve on. I want to build and edit and revise my paranormal novel as I go along reading these writing craft books. I’ve only read three chapters of “Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint” and I feel like I’ve learned so much!

The short conclusion is that it takes a lot of hard work to become a good writer. It also takes talent, and an idea that you feel really good about.

So, I think I’m going to continue educating myself, and work on the paranormal WIP as I learn more. Because really, I have to be in the right genre mood for the right WIP to make it work. I’ve been watching the UK Being Human recently, and as it’s plot has similarities to mine (vampires plotting to take over the human race, etc.), it’s been very inspirational. As has the Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells (buildup to a mage vs. vampire war).

Of course, it’s not helping that I am being bombarded for countless other story ideas, since I’m not actively writing anything new at the moment. Maybe I should have something new going – but I really don’t have the energy right now. I really am loving the whole editing thing. It feels like progress.

Also – just discovered that Being Human has a soundtrack… that came out last year… and on one told me…

As usual, feel free to comment/discuss/share however you see fit. I welcome any suggestions on how to deal with my two problems. 🙂

Happy writing/reading/editing!

Read Full Post »