Comparison: Thirteen Reasons Why

Recently, a series for the novel Thirteen Reasons Why, was released on Netflix. Out of curiosity and the large amount of people raving about it, I decided to watch it. I read the book a couple years ago and hoped the series would do well to mimic it. Please note that this is a serious and powerful piece of work with triggering and sensitive topics. While it holds important lessons, it may not be a book/series for everyone.

A quick synopsis: Hannah Baker is the new girl at her small high school, ready for a fresh start. Almost immediately she captures the attention and interest of many and while it seems like her life is going well, it takes an unexpected downward spiral. Social media, rumors and loneliness saturate Hannah’s life and turn it upside down. She suffocates under pressure and undergoes numerous internal issues. Eventually she commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen cassette tapes holding thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The thirteen people responsible for her passing are hit with the overpowering realization that their actions and words are more than just actions and words.

The book, written by Jay Asher, is incredible and captures the essence of what it is like to be a teenager, overwhelmed by the struggles of today’s society. The book was personal and eerie but the series made everything come to life. Yes, the series over exaggerated some parts and added more details to parts in the book that were briefly discussed. However, that realism and graphic detail is what really speaks and captures the attention of many. Without using detail to demonstrate the severity of Hannah’s problems, people can be tempted to overlook them. The book and series share similarities such as the relationships between the characters, and the secrets and rumors that get spread around. Like any book and show, they hold differences as well. The biggest difference is how raw the series is. There are more in-depth character backgrounds, more dramatic confrontations between characters and heavier, darker scenes.

This book is a huge metaphor; while Hannah is one individual in this one particular book, she stands for every human in this world that may be going through exactly what Hannah went through. She stands for those who are too scared to speak out and she stands for what our society needs to fix. Thirteen Reasons Why not only acknowledges flaws in our world but also shines a light on the importance of being kind and realizing that everyone fights their own personal battles.

-Jessica T.

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

TV Review: Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

seriesofunfortunateevents_netflixThe first season of the new Netflix show, “Series of Unfortunate Events” was released! I will be reviewing the season as well as comparing it to the books, however I will let you know when I will delve into the spoiler sections.

Firstly, I would like to say that when I first heard that Neil Patrick Harris was going to play Count Olaf, I was a little nervous. Excitingly however, I think he did a great job portraying him, as he and the character are theatrical. Of the Baudelaire children I believe that Louis Hynes (the boy who plays Klaus) best portrays the character as it is in the book series, however I do like them all. The sets of Count Olaf’s house, Uncle Monty’s House, and Aunt Josephine’s house were all exactly how I had pictured them. Count Olaf’s troop characters including the Hook Handed Man and the Powder Face sisters were all there, as well as a few new characters that have added a more diverse dynamic. The format of doing two episodes to encompass each book worked out quite well. The base plot of the novels was consistent with the series, although there were minor changes and perspectives from other characters which was interesting to see. And as a fan of the books, I was delighted to see that Lemony Snicket’s narration of the series and character was included, as he has monologues directed towards the audience. I am happy to see that the creators did not shy away from the woeful darkness the story has, and embraced it instead.

This next section will be a SPOILER for the season, so if you haven’t watched it yet please go watch!

The biggest plot twist of the season, book fans didn’t expect this either, was the long running subplot of the Baudelaire parents trying to get home to their children. At first I was upset that the creators had the parents remain alive, but then came to terms with the notion that perhaps the creators would kill off the parents before the children ever knew they survived the fire. This concept was actually a theory of the book fans, in which the Baudelaire parents actually survived, but the children never knew, and they did not get reunited. However, as we know from the twist in the finale, the “parents” that were shown were not Baudelaires after all, but Quagmires. I loved that the creators made us believe they were the children’s parents, and in the end show us that they had never specified they were Baudelaires. This creates a smart introduction to the Quagmire twins/triplets, as we already know their backstory. It is a great use of the omniscient perspective that book readers didn’t get to see, creating exciting new details for book readers, without changing the plot. And lets not forget that ending musical scene! If someone had told me beforehand that they would be singing at the end, I would not be happy about it, but it really flowed in an odd and mystical sort of way.

So what did you guys think about the adaptation? Let me know!

-Ava K., 12th grade

Book vs. Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantasticbeastsposterThe book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally just a textbook in the Harry Potter series and, in the series, written by Newt Scamander. So, Rowling took this textbook and wrote it up (as Newt) for all of us Muggles to read. Rowling also wrote the film adaptation’s screenplay based on the textbook

The book is almost like a encyclopedia describing many of the beasts and creatures in Harry Potter. It also has “notes” written by Ron, Harry and Hermione. It is really cool book and it teaches you a little more about the creatures in Harry Potter.

The movie, however, is a completely different script written by J.K Rowling. It is about Newt Scamander who comes to America to research the one beast he has yet to see. But, one of his creatures gets out of his suitcase which results in him using magic in front a Muggle. This act gets him summoned before the Magical Congress of the Untied States of America (MACUSA) where he meets Porpetina and Queenie, two ministry workers. These two girls, Newt, and the Muggle Jacob end up having to hunt around the city for all of Newt’s lost creatures. Their search brings them in confrontation with a mysterious magical entity that is wreaking havoc in the city. It is revealed that Credence, an orphan under the care of a vindictive, magic-fearing woman bent of rooting out magic, created an Obscurus which manifested out of his hate for his adoptive mother. Newt and his gang were able to calm Credence down and stop him from wrecking any more of the city.  Within all this havoc Percival Graves, an Auror, is revealed to be the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald is disguise. This movie is a really great addition to the world of Harry Potter and it really gives you insight of the wizarding world in America.

The book and movie are both really wonderful and very enjoyable. The only elements they share are the named character Newt Scamander and many of the creatures mentioned in the original book. So, there really is not that much to compare because they are so different, one being an actual story while the other is more of a textbook. In fact, the script of the movie was a totally new story line written by Rowling.  I recommend reading the book and watching the movie to anyone who has the time.

-Ava G.

J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Show?

seriesofunfortunateevents_netflixIf you have never read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, you are missing out on an incredibly unique and amazing book series. This series is what made me fascinated in books as a child because it has such an alluring plot and intriguing narration. The story follows three bright young children named Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who have recently been orphaned due to a fire in their mansion.Violet, the oldest Baudelaire, is fourteen at the start of the series and is known for the signature black ribbon in her hair and scrappiness in inventing. Klaus, her younger brother is twelve and has read more non fiction books than all of us combined, and therefore is knowledgeable in many topics. And last but not least, we have Sunny, a mere baby who has an insane talent of biting. Because of the children’s large inheritance, a sinister man named Count Olaf hunts these children down throughout the series and continuously conjures up plots to steal their fortune. These poor siblings are left to constantly move from one home to another, forced to always look over their shoulder.

Although this is a children’s series, it is evident from the summary that interwoven are themes of survival, tragedy, and woe, which allows it to be a series that can be enjoyed by all generations. Don’t be alarmed however, because this series does not leave you depressed and solemn, but rather fascinated by the twisting plot, and heart-warmed by the Baudelaire children. There are thirteen books, but most of them are thin enough to easily be finished in a day or two, so do yourself a favor and pick up A Bad Beginning, which is the first book, and you will not be disappointed.

In 2004 there was a movie made about this series, encompassing the first three books, however it did not continue on. Excitingly, Netflix has announced a TV show of A Series of Unfortunate Events, in cooperation with Paramount Pictures. This show is said to have a slightly darker atmosphere than the series, due to the fact that the book series’ original fans are not children anymore. I have linked the newly released trailer to the TV show, which stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty, and many more.What I love about this cast is that the actors who play the Baudelaire orphans are around the same age their characters are, rather than being an 18 year old playing a 14 year old, which many book to screen adaptations do. The first season drops on Netflix THIS January, Friday the 13th. For fans like me who have been waiting for more than a decade, this is pretty monumental.

I would love to hear who else is excited about the Netflix reboot, so comment away!

Book vs. Movie: Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life

Image result for middle school worst years of my life bookMiddle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson is a good graphic novel. I feel that it is a great book for tweens and young teens.

I watched the movie with my friends, who have never read the books. They were shocked when the movie revealed something important, while I just sat there, knowing about this since the beginning. This probably altered my perspective, because when you have read the book first, you are comparing it to the movie the whole time. And more often then not, minor details from the book are changed for the movie and completely ruins the adaptation. Many minor details were altered, and I do feel that a couple changed how you look at the movie. Characters were not the same, and some were excluded. In the book, Leo passed away from meningitis when him and Rafe were toddlers.

In the movie, they state that Leo had passed about a year before from cancer. This can really change your perspective of the movie. In the book, you know that it’s amazing that Rafe can think of his brother like this through his imagination. In the movie, it’s just because Rafe is mourning. I feel that Leo is not thImage result for middle school worst years of my lifee same character in the movie that he is in the book. Also, what happened to Miller, or Miller the Killer? He was a huge part in the books as the school bully. In the movie, he only had a minor part and didn’t seem as threatening. Additionally, they did not have Jeanne Galleta and Georgia’s personalities correct. Jeanne is much more different, and defiantly does not sneak into his house. Georgia was way more of a brat, and did not feel sorry for her brother at all.

I would say that if you have never read the books, go see the movie! Maybe your younger sibling wants to go. Even if you think that this is a “kiddy movie,” it’s not. Half of the friends that went with me were high schoolers, and they enjoyed the movie as much as the middle schoolers with us. But for the fans of the Middle School series, I really don’t think that the movie is worth it. It is a humorous movie, but you might be disappointed.

-Rebecca V.

For reference, here is a comparison of Leo from the book and the film:

Image result for middle school worst years of my life book leoRelated image

Book Versus Movie: Starters/Selfless

starters_lissapriceThe book Starters by Lissa Price, and the movie Selfless don’t seem to resemble each other at first. However, after looking deeply at both I started to see some similarities. The idea of putting the mind of an older mind into a young person’s body is interesting, but the way the characters use that ability is so different.

In Starters, Enders (older people) rent the bodies of Starters (younger people) who give their bodies to the organization. Enders get to live in a younger body for a limited time and can do things like skydiving or horseback riding. Starters get paid a lot of money after they are made over and rented. This business is very common, because in this world, Enders are very rich and Starters live as homeless people. During the rented time, an Ender’s body is safely asleep, awaiting its mind’s return. This routine seems very normal and harmless, but in Selfless it’s almost the opposite.

selflessIn Selfless, the purpose of the experiment is to enable old but intelligent minds to continue living in order to develop and fulfill new ideas. However, they don’t rent bodies; they steal them. Before an elder’s mind can be transferred into a younger body, they must disappear or fake their death so no one notices they are missing. The younger person’s family gets paid a lot of money once their body is sold, so they no longer have a life of their own. Also, the young person’s personality is lost in the process. This process, known as shedding, is kept secret so as not to be shut down. Shedding is tailor made for the rich, as only they can afford the luxury to live forever in a younger body.

Both the book and the movie have similar storylines but the direction each take are different, with one using it to help both parties and the other ultimately killing someone. I loved the reading the dystopian book and couldn’t wait to check out the sequel, Enders. The movie was also very intriguing, making it nearly impossible to take my eyes off the screen.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

Starters and Selfless are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Book Vs Movie: Malala Yousafzai

iammalala_malalayousafzai“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” – Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, an inspirational girl born in Pakistan in 1997, was a very well known speaker on the topic of equal rights. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a group of Taliban men who wanted to cease the movement she had begun. “They thought they could silence me.” Malala says in the documentary, He Named Me Malala.

The first half of her book, I Am Malala, explains her family’s background. Her father, troubled by his stuttering voice as a child, grew to be a powerful speaker who inspired Malala. Her mother, fortunate to have enough money to attend school, felt out of place and shamefully traded in her books for candies and sweets. (Her mother later regretted her actions and strove for a proper education). Young Malala witnessed these and other troubles in attaining an education which sparked something in her to speak out for what was right. These actions at such a young age reminded me of the song, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. Malala knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life, and the lyrics of “Unwritten” display how you decide what you do.

henamedmemalalaHe Named Me Malala, the movie based on Malala’s life, shows the journey of her fight for education. The empowering documentary depicts her standpoint today, unlike her autobiography. She is not the “lucky 17-year-old” that some people say because all of the attention she receives. Malala struggles with schoolwork, stress, and fitting in, just like any other ordinary teenager. Another song that I think describes her life is “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. In truth, what didn’t kill her made her stronger.

Regardless of whether you get to know Malala better through print or film, I would definitely rate her story as an 11/10. Her words are indeed inspiring!

-Maya S., 8th Grade

I Am Malala is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library. He Named Me Malala is also available for rental