Monday, September 30, 2013

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan * * * *

I couldn't put this down. Literally, almost. I read the whole book in a day. The adventure just swept me along.

The story started in a school again. It's sort of a pattern, that the book always has to start with Percy in a school. Though this time, it's not a school he actually goes to. He was also not alone, but with his two friends. They were there on a mission. From then on, it was non-stop action.
I think we meet the most amount of gods in this book, that we actually see Percy talking to on a personal level. It's also the most tragic book so far, and I did find myself crying a little at one point. Okay, maybe two.

Percy is becoming a real teen boy now, and there are some mentions of love too. How he gradually changes in that respect is interesting to see. He doesn't just suddenly become interested in the opposite sex, as in some cases that I've seen. I feel I am really a witness to his maturing through the series.
While the previous two books had mostly male heroes, this time we have mostly female heroes. I loved Artemis' Hunters, that was a great concept. The hunters that we get to meet feel like individuals, and not stereotypes, or generic characters. Even the one whose name we just learned felt like a real person.
Annabeth and Grover are great, and I grew to like Thalia a lot as well. In this adventure there was less of a separation, the group mostly stuck together, unlike in the previous one.
I have to mention Blackjack. Now there was a personality! I'm scared of heights, but I'd love to ride on his back if he let me. The coolest pegasus I've ever read about.

Overall, this was another fun adventure. I'm gobbling up the series in record time, but it's really hard to put it down for me at this point. I love how the series situations are mixed with the fun things. Like killing a monster with space food. Really. It happened.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2) by Rick Riordan * * * *

I think I found this book more interesting than the previous one for some reason. Maybe because there were less explanations needed.
I also watched the movie, and wrote a review for it.

I talked about the world in my review of the previous book. This time it gets a bit more expanded, but not a lot. The story is mostly a modern version of the Odyssey, with some modern twists and Percy's friends added in. I did love the modern changes this time as much as I did previously. The whole story seemed to pick up its stride. One thing I have to mention that I loved a lot was the Ironclad. It's a piece of history that I love, and even did a presentation on in high school. I was excited about mentally travelling on it.

Percy was slowly coming to his own. He's only thirteen still, but feels more confident, and more of a leader. He had matured during his previous adventure.

Annabeth was a more prominent character in this story. She was more in the background in the previous book, but she worked more closely with Percy this time. They needed some time to get to know each other, which is very realistic. Her knowledge and quick thinking were more memorable. I hope this will go along this vein in the future.

Tyson was a new character that we got to know. Without spoiling who he was, I liked his character. He was a bit simple, but sweet. At first I felt that he was just a neat plot device, but thinking more about it, I realised that he played a role in Percy's character growth, and a bit in Annabeth's as well.

Clarisse made a return in the story. In the previous books she was a bit of the classic school bully. This time, however, she was a lot more likeable, and stepped out of her two dimensions.

Overall, great sequel, which is hard to do. The story sweeps you along, and you forget that this was supposedly for kids. So, sorry, but I have to go. I have book 3 to start...

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013) * * * *

The movie is an alternate version of the book. That is what I have to state first of all. I've read the book, and while the two do have similarities, there are major differences as well. As I've talked about it in a previous review, it's important for me that the movie can be watched by people who haven't read the book, more so, than how true they were to the original plot line.
For anyone who had seen the first movie, which I hope they did, since without it this movie doesn't make a lot of sense, the obvious difference was that they were four years older. This of course gave the whole story a different dimension, since they were a lot more adult, and there was also some of the usual teen looks they were giving each other. I have to confess, I felt that this was a good change. The adventures were a bit too much for thirteen-year-olds.
The story was very different as well. That was apparent from the first scene, though a movie is always pressed for time, and the changes did make sense. They did leave in some important elements, like the bull and Rainbow. There were some major cuts in the adventure, but the movie swept the viewer along, and didn't lack excitement.
The 3D was used well. Some pictures were clearly put there for the benefit of it, but if I sit into a cinema to watch 3D, then I want to get some of the joys that only that can give.

Logan Lerman looked a bit weird as Percy this time around. He seemed to have bulked up a lot, and that was strange. Otherwise, he was still good for the role.
Tyson was very different from the cyclops in the book. I suppose they wanted to give him a more well-rounded role, but it still felt out of place. He talked too much, and maybe they played up the angst surrounding him a bit more.
Annabeth felt more in character this time around, than she did in the previous movie. In the first adaptation, she didn't seem as clever as she was in the book, and was made even meaner, since some of the things that Clarisse originally did was given to her. This time Clarisse was in the story as well, and the two girls were an integral part.
Grover had a bigger part in the story than he did in the book, which gave more opportunity to his special brand of comic relief.
Luke was more active than in the book. The ending was very different, and gave Luke less role, while the previous installment's ending gave him a bigger role. So it evened out. The scene did give a good opportunity to make use of some 3D CGI, so it worked well in the movie. However, he didn't feel as clever as in the book.
I do have to mention a casting change. While in the first movie Chiron was played by Pierce Brosnan, this time it was changed to Anthony Stewart Head. While a surprise, I didn't mind, since I like both men. Though the character seemed to change a bit as well. While Brosnan's Chiron was more forceful, more powerful, Head was more relaxed and pensive. It didn't feel like a bad change, but it was a difference.

Overall, good movie. Even my mum enjoyed it, and came out smiling. That is important, because if she thinks something is too juvenile, then it is. Therefore, older lovers of adventure can enjoy it as well.
Those who have read the book can enjoy. It's different enough to hold a few surprises, but still contains some of the most important elements.
Those who had not read the books will surely want to try them. I do recommend starting from the first one for them, but more good reading material can never be a problem.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan * * *

More like 3.5 stars. I had a difficult time deciding between the two, but the story is more fun, and a bit too simple to deserve 4 stars. Of course, it's more for a younger demographic, still, it was a good light read.

The story itself is clever, but not too inventive. It can be recommended to young people as an introduction to the Greek pantheon. In a way it's very educational, and having always been a fan of Greek mythology, I can appreciate that aspect. It also does a good job of making it interesting for contemporary people. However, since most of the mythology is not invented by the author, I deducted points for it.
The story itself has a good pace. The language is easy to read, not overly descriptive, but still gives a good sense of the places and the people. It focuses on adventure, and since I'm not a fan of overly flowery language, I appreciated the simplicity. I gobbled up the whole thing in a few days.
It's also educational in that it often stresses the visible reality of pollution. It's interesting to note that at one point there is also a mention of not just physical, but mental pollution, that is done by negative thoughts.

I could empathize with Percy Jackson. He had ambivalent feelings about his father, and had to work through some issues. His devotion to his mother was also understandable. I have a similar relationship with my parents, therefore I could identify with his character.
Annabeth was a bit understated. She was the girl in the team, and I felt she was often forgotten. She was the brains of the operation, but I felt she should have had a more important role. Hopefully in future books.
Grover was a lot of fun. In a way, his character was the comic relief, but couldn't be completely dismissed as such.

Overall, the book is more for the 12-14 demographic, however, can be appreciated by adults as well. It should not be taken seriously, but as a light adventure, a bit of fun at the end of a hard day. For younger people, it's a good teaching tool for ancient mythology, as well as environmental protection.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns (The Devil Wears Prada #2) by Lauren Weisberger *

I really don't have much to say about this book, as I only got to 11%. Let me try to gather my thoughts.

This book is obviously a money-making attempt. The latest books of Lauren Weisberger probably didn't sell as well as The Devil Wears Prada. I wasn't that keen on that book either, but you can read my review of it as well. The point is, the movie was a lot better.
The real reason why that book sold was not the main character, which I believe is Lauren herself. If that's how she really is, I'm sorry, I'd never like to be her friend. She's whiny and often hopeless. Now it has been a while since I read the previous book, and I don't intend to repeat the experience. I do remember that the job was tough. So are most first jobs. However, how awful it must have been to take part in a party at the Met, which I remember her hating. Overall, if you don't care for fashion, don't get a job at a fashion magazine. The only redeeming factor of that whole story was Miranda, her boss, who didn't seem that bad to me. I've had worse.
However, in this sequel, Miranda is gone. All that we hear about is Andy. She is just getting married to a rich guy in high society, who has some issues because of his father. Prince on a white horse doesn't seem to cover the guy. In the 11% I read, they meet, fall in love, get engaged, and are to be married. Her only problem is the mother-in-law. Can someone say cliché? At least, make it an uncle or something! Story wise, this is about how far I got, when I felt that watching paint dry was more fun. There was some plot going on with a letter the mother-in-law wrote, but really, if you have that much faith in your husband-to-be, you shouldn't be getting married in the first place.

Character wise, this is Andy 10 years down the line. She has a bridal magazine together with her old colleague, Emily, who had landed her own rich husband. How did that happen? I didn't find out how they became besties. We do learn some of how the magazine was started. However, am I the only one who has a problem with Andy anywhere near fashion???? I'm sure I wasn't the only one who looked at that with a raised eyebrow. One would think that in 10 years she would at least be able to dress herself. Still, at the beginning we see Emily lending her a dress, because she didn't take proper clothes to The Hamptons. Obviously, the woman had 0 growth in that department. Therefore, I really never got what she was doing with a bridal magazine. Andy, this completely boring person hadn't changed at all.

Overall, I just didn't want to read more of this. I've had to read enough terrible books in my life for school, now that I'm out, I'd rather not waste my time. I didn't care for Andy's bridal problems. If this plain Jane got her prince or not. She could have hung herself in pain, and I wouldn't care one bit. So my recommendation is, don't buy this book. Really, don't waste your money on something so terribly ... snooze worthy. If Ms. Weisberger wants our money, she should make more of an effort, and try to write something worth reading.