Book vs. Movie: “The Shining”

I have spent the last couple weeks making my way through Stephen King’s The Shining a horror literature classic that my dad gave me for Christmas. As I was reading the book, my parents asked me about some familiar and iconic movie scenes and how I enjoyed reading them. After finishing the book and not coming across those scenes, I realized that there were some stark contrasts between the novel and Stanley Kubrick’s re-imagined classic. Thus, I decided to do research and have conversations with my dad about the differences between the two entertainment sources, and analyze their impact on their respective audiences.

Several subtle differences to the atmosphere have occurred to properly terrify audiences according to the type of media consumed. For instance, Danny’s interaction with the “wolf-man” is replaced with Wendy’s vision of a man in a bear suit in the movie. While both concepts are frightening in description and convey similar themes, the “wolf-man” is more cartoonish and sudden, showing the experience as one would expect from a terrified child’s mind. However, the movie interpretation is more unnerving than a typical jumpscare, showcased in a quick zoom shot that cannot be as successfully accomplished in a literary style. These differences in interpretation thus offer a similar effect using entirely different scare techniques, both appropriate for the interpretation and entertainment style it’s present in. Additional scenes, such as Danny turning a corner to find himself faced with the twins and the blood-filled elevator, are not present in the book due to their unnerving and sudden appearances, something that cannot be done through King’s detailed descriptive writing. The strongest and most important setting difference between the book and the movie is the animal-shaped hedges, replaced in the move by a maze. This has a profound effect on the plot, and is known as one of the most memorable features of the film’s Overlook hotel.

Concept and character differences make up an even more influential part of the contrast between the two versions. In King’s book, it is made abundantly clear that while Jack has his demons to deal with regardless of his position, the hotel is genuinely haunted and a large factor in his eventual descent into madness. This is shown through his son Danny, and the kid’s ability to sense the ghosts of the Overlook through what the cook Halloran calls “The Shine”. In the movie, however, Danny’s power is less intense, and we are forced to question if Jack is truly seeing things and going crazy due to his own guilt and violent tendencies. One of my least favorite aspects of Kubrick’s adaptation is his treatment of Wendy Torrance, the leading lady of the story. In the novel, Wendy is much more powerful and independent, able to defend herself and her son from Jack. She even goes as far as to use a tiny shaving razor to defend herself, showing her resourcefulness when faced with impossible odds.

Because a story is always most well known for its plot, it is important to take note of the plot differences between the two media forms. In the book, the story ends with Halloran trudging through the snow to rescue Danny, taking the mother and son away on a snowmobile as the Overlook explodes with Jack inside. However, the movie takes a more eerie and suspenseful approach, all while killing off Halloran once he steps inside the hotel. Jack chases Danny through the hedge maze, and he eventually escapes, leaving Jack to freeze to death in his madness. The movie closes with an image from a 1920’s scrapbook picture, Jack being seen at the center of the party, symbolizing how Jack has become one of the eternal ghosts of the Overlook. Due to plot differences, this haunting final image does not present itself in the novel. Additional plot differences such as Jack’s weapon (an axe in the movie and a mallet in the novel) and the fate of Jack’s play are changed for the sake of forwarding the plot, allowing for characters to meet certain fates or build up to truly terrifying moments.

The Shining as a whole is a brilliant story filled with terrors, dread, and undeniably interesting characters. Both materials have stood the test of time and lived up to their reputation. As a literature fan, I am impartial to King’s original story due to its fascinating writing style and descriptions of themes and slow dread building to the plot’s climax. However, I also give credit to Kubrick’s film for its ability to terrify audiences in its own way. While not exactly holding true to the source material and thus an inadequate adaptation, it carves its own path in horror media as a phenomenally crafted film with its own story to tell.

-Bailey L.

The Shining by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is the well-known story of a miserly old man named Ebenezer Scrooge.  Scrooge hates everyone.  He mistreats his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit.  All Scrooge cares about is making money.  To Christmas he says, “Bah, Humbug!”  On one Christmas Eve, he leaves work to return to his dark and dreary home.  Strange things begin to happen.  Scrooge is home alone as usual, but he sees and hears things out of the ordinary.  He dismisses these at first, until suddenly, to his astonishment, the ghost of his partner appears to him.  Jacob Marley, his long-dead business partner, is wearing heavy chains.  Marley explains to Scrooge that his chains were formed during his lifetime by evil and selfish deeds, and now he must carry them through the afterlife.  Marley warns Scrooge that he will suffer the same fate if he does not change his ways.

As the familiar story goes, Scrooge is visited by three additional spirits.  The spirits show Scrooge the importance of caring for other people.  Gradually, Scrooge realizes the error of his former ways, and finally resolves to change his life.  When he awakes on Christmas morning, he goes about spreading Christmas cheer, even to the surprise of Cratchit and his family.

I love this book and its inspiring message.  To me, this is a book about change.  Scrooge seemed like a person who would never change his ways.  But even he was able to change.  He learned the value of kindness toward others.  He also learned to care for those less fortunate than him.

This book is quite short compared to many of Dickens’ other books, but for good reason this is considered one of his masterpieces.  As we expect from Charles Dickens, the book is extremely well-written and wonderfully descriptive.  Take for example his description of the city streets:  “The house-fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon the ground.”

Dickens masterfully describes many contrasting images throughout the book.  On the one hand we see haunting ghosts and miserable living conditions, but we also see hope and cheerfulness, and finally the redemption of a miserly old man.  This book is highly enjoyable to read and we can learn many lessons from it.  It is great to read around Christmas, but I would recommend it any time of the year.

-Oliver H.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol–along with every variation–is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Movie Review: Spectral

If ghost and ghost hunting is your thing, then I recommend the movie Spectral on Netflix. I will firstly say that the movie is PG-13, so please do not watch if violent movies are not your thing (contrary to the previous sentence). 

Basically, researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is approached by a military general, showing him a video from a fallen soldier’s goggles. Visible in the video is a mysterious, almost translucent apparition that had suddenly attacked the soldier, killing almost instantaneously. These “anomalies” were later named as Arratare.

These “ghosts” were invisible to the naked eye and were completely bulletproof, making even the strongest military weapons useless. 

Clyne is sent to Moldova (bordered by Romania and Ukraine), where the US military is currently deployed. Clyne and CIA officer Fran Madison begin to work with the Delta Force in order to come up with a plan to defeat the anomalies with weapons that actually had an effect. 

After further observation and a scary encounter with the Arratare, Clyne realizes that these anomalies are actually man made, meaning that there was a way to stop the anomalies before they kill anymore people. 

This movie has so many unexpected twists and turns (even though I may have given away some crucial information… sorry). 

I give this movie a 8.5/10, and totally recommend watching this movie to chase away the boring days of quarantine. 

-Phoebe L. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is about a kid who lives in a graveyard due to the murder of his parents. Bod Owens, short for Nobody lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts and mentored by an apparition neither from the world of the living nor the dead named Silas.

As the book goes on, readers learn more about the man that killed Bod’s family. It turns out that he was hired, and is part of an organization called the Jacks of All Trades. As Bod explores the graveyard and learns to do things like disappear or phase through things he comes to the realization that he will soon have to go out into the real world. This realization scares him because the man that killed his family hasn’t been caught, and is probably still looking for him.

Silas and Mr and Mrs. Owens prepare him for a confrontation with the man, and it comes sooner than expected, and with more men from the Jacks of All Trades. Bod picks them off one by one, and finally comes face to face with the Jack that was supposed to kill him. Using his knowledge of the graveyard, Bod traps Jack and escapes. After this, he starts seeing the ghosts less and less often, until he can no longer see them.

-Emilio V.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver is set in a type of utopia. It is about an isolated community devoid of feelings and memories. There is one person however that has all the world’s memories. The Receiver of Memory. The most honorable job in the community.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is selected to be the Receiver. Jonas has to bear the pain and joy of all the memories passed down from the previous Receiver. The more memories Jonas receives, the more he wonders why his community has removed these things from people’s lives. Jonas and the previous Receiver, the Giver, come up with a plan to give the memories back to the community. The Giver has a map of what lies beyond the community, so they use that to plan Jonas’ escape.

Once Jonas passes a certain line beyond the community, the memories will be released into the community. Color and feelings will go back to all the citizens in the community. Shortly before his escape, Jonas learns how a Release is actually done. Jonas always thought that the person being released would be taken Elsewhere. It turns out that being Released means to be killed. A new child Jonas has grown close to, Gabriel, is being Released soon, so Jonas decides to take Gabriel with him to save Gabriel. On the night of his escape, Jonas stops by the Nurturing Center, takes Gabriel and leaves the community, starting his journey to the boundary.

Jonas takes a bicycle and rides all day, resting at night. Eventually he makes it to the boundary to a house covered in snow. Inside Jonas can hear singing, and he knows that the people inside are waiting for him and Gabriel. As soon as he crosses the boundary, all the citizens of his community receive memories and feelings.

-Emilio V.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is the story of an old and grumpy man named Ebenezer Scrooge. The story is based in England the day before Christmas. Ebenezer owns a counting house. Bob Cratchit works for him. Cratchit gets paid a very small salary, so he isn’t very wealthy. Around Christmas, Cratchit likes to celebrate with his family. Right before Cratchit leaves for the day, he asks Scrooge if he can have Christmas off. “Bah! Humbug!” is Scrooge’s response. That night at Scrooge’s house, as he’s going to sleep, he hears a loud bang and chains dragging on the floor. Before him appears the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s dead business partner. Marley is completely chained up. Marley warns Scrooge that unless he changes his ways and becomes more selfless he will end up like Marley. Marley also warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts: the ghost of Christmas Past, the ghost of Christmas Present, and the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Throughout his encounter  with all three ghosts, Scrooge is shown something important to his life. The ghosts show him himself as a young man, the children of man, and what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. After seeing the three ghosts, Scrooge wakes up on Christmas changed. The first thing he does is send a boy to get the prize turkey so that he can send it to Bob Cratchit. Then he donates a lot of money to buy the poor food and drink. Next he goes to his nephew’s house for his Christmas dinner. The next day, Scrooge tries to get to his office before Cratchit and he does. Scrooge notes that Cratchit is 18 minutes late, but it doesn’t anger him. When Cratchit arrives, Scrooge acts angry, but raises Cratchit’s salary, promises to aid his family, and becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim who ends up surviving.

-Emilio V.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a fantasy novel about Katsa, who has been graced with the ability to kill. In her world, there are some who are graced with supernatural gifts and have different colored eyes. Those with useful gifts, such as Katsa, are brought to their King so he can use it. Unfortunately, Katsa is the niece of the King, and is used to intimidate would-be criminals. Engaging in secret espionage to help hinder his actions, Katsa is constantly working with the other members of the court.

On one of her missions, Katsa encounters Prince Po. Graced himself with an amazing ability to fight, Po goes to Katsa’s court. There, they fight together and maximize each other’s capabilities. Katsa has been trying to solve the case of a man she and other members of the court had rescued from another Kingdom. They did not know who had kidnapped him, but soon discover that this man is Po’s grandfather, who Po had been looking for. Working together, Po and Katsa discover the secrets behind both the kidnapping and their graces.  

The plot was intricate, but developed into a great story by the end. Katsa is a strong lead, and the development of her character is seen through the course of the story. Initially, she was reticent, but developed into a strong, self-assured character by the end of the story. Po also developed throughout the story, and was a great second character. The plot was simple, and easy to follow. However, there were some instances where it felt stretched out and a little boring, but there were not too many scenes like that. I would recommend this too whomever is looking for a fantasy read with a strong female character.

-Anmol K.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

With a chilling and intriguing beginning, Neil Gaiman instills a desire to keep reading. It’s one of those books that you almost cannot put down once you start. Gaiman’s unique plot line and incredible writing skills create such a vivid image in your head, it’s like you’re standing right there, in the middle of a graveyard.

Starting off with the gruesome death of a family, Gaiman automatically begins his book with an adventure. The story only gets better when the reader realizes the family’s baby slipped away unnoticed by the killer and ventures out the front door to, where else, but a graveyard. Gaiman writes with a dramatic, ominous tone and paints a picture of the dark sky and lonely graveyard. After a suspenseful scene, the baby is hidden by the intrigued spirits of the yard in the nick of time. A problem begins to rise when residents of the graveyard debate if the child should be taken in or not. Soon it is revealed that the human child will be adopted by the spirits and granted the Freedom of the Graveyard. The baby is introduced with a new name, Nobody “Bod” Owens, and the novel unwinds to reveal Bod’s adventures within the graveyard premises. Surely with the hundreds of ghosts to the mysterious man who lives on the borderline of life and death, Bod would be safe. But Gaiman’s novel doesn’t rest on safety and support; rather it’s the complete opposite.

Gaiman spins off into a wonderful journey starting from when Bod is at the young age of four. The graveyard holds many thrills and Bod makes no hesitation to jump right in. He befriends fellow humans and goes on reckless adventures, specifically to the grave of a Sleer: a snakelike creature who is the oldest creature in the graveyard and guards precious treasure. Bod also has a tendency to get himself into trouble; this is a result of his curiosity and mischievous personality. He literally falls into a death trap when he falls through a ghoul gate. He is transported into the Underworld and is on the brink of death before he is rescued by an unlikely soul. The young protagonist continues to stumble through life inside and outside of the graveyard. He encounters near death, celebratory dances, risky friendships and lasting memories until the end.

Neil Gaiman uniquely twists the themes of love, home, safety and family by setting his story in a graveyard, a place normally acquainted with death, gore, horror and dullness. Bod realizes that life is always changing and there’s always more to discover. The reader learns along with Bod, runs side by side Bod in his adventures, fights evil alongside Bod and ultimately, falls in love with the graveyard as Bod does.

-Jessica T.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive and Hoopla

Webtoon Review: Tower of God by SIU

What is it that you so desire?

Wealth?

Fame?

Power?

“Whether you are looking for: wealth, immortality, absolute power, magical abilities or mysteries, just head up. All the glory and happiness of the world are all up there. The Tower is such a place”

But The Tower is not chosen,  The Tower chooses who enters its walls. For whatever reason, to enter The Tower means hard journey to the top. There is one, the 25th Bam also called Bam, who enters the tower on his own volition.  Not because he was seeking material want, but he was chasing his friend, Rachel, who entered the tower so she could see the stars. Bam encounters the First Floor Guardian of The Tower, Headon, who introduces Bam to the world he has forced entrance to. The Headon is the first to weed out those who are worthy to advance up The Tower. Each level of The Tower is a test to find the best of the best, who are worthy enough to reach the end. Bam, determined to find Rachel, decides to enter The Tower to find her, but once he enters The Tower, Bam realizes not everything is what it seems. The Tower contains many deep and dark secret that he will soon come to find.

The Tower of God plays on the idea where the weak will not survive and the strong determine the rules. This webtoon delved deeply into the reasons people act the way they do. What causes someone to choose betrayal over friendship and what is the meaning of a relationship between people are just two of the social question the webtoon asks.

Forewarning, there are a lot of characters. The one thing that the author does well is no character, once they are deemed important, is left without proper character development. As the entire story deals with the motives of people, SIU does an fantastic job of explaining how the character’s have come to be. The artwork is not particularly fantastic but I found his play with color interesting as color as it is involved with character development. Keep in mind, the social structure and how The Tower is quite complicated, so it may take a bit to understand The Tower. The development of The Tower, though, is integral to the story. Overall, story is fantastic despite its complexity.

This can be a very violent webtoon, so I recommend it for older audiences. Of course, this is only my opinion so why don’t you read it for yourself and decide.

The Tower of God is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Manga Introduction: Bleach by Tite Kubo

bleach_titekuboIchigo Kurosaki is a high school student who can see ghosts. Because of this ability, he encounters Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who guides souls from the World of the Living to Soul Society (the afterlife and Rukia’s home). Their meeting is not the most fortunate. Rukia is severely wounded saving Ichigo from a fallen soul called a Hollow. Left with no choice, Rukia gives her power to Ichigo to change into a Soul Reaper so he may fight in her stead. Now without power, Rukia is trapped in a human body and must train Ichigo to keep the balance of souls a Soul Reaper. Their partnership is far from easy as it reveals dark secrets that could tip the balance of the world just enough to destroy it all.

 

Here are a few facts about Bleach:

  • It was published in August of 2001 and ended 15 years later in August of 2016
  • There are 74 tankobon volumes (manga books) .
  • It was published weekly by Shueisha in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump
  • Bleach has sold a total of 84 million copies in Japan, ranking as the sixth best-selling series from Weekly Shōnen Jump as of 2013.
  • An anime series aired from October of  2004  to March of 2012 ending with a total of 366 episodes
  • Four animated films have been released, all featuring an original plot and character created by Tite Kubo: Memories of Nobody, The DiamondDust Rebellion, Fade to Black, and Hell Verse
  • Two collectible card games based on the Bleach series have been produced, one in Japan and one in North America.
  • There has been 9 musical productions since 2005. Five of which have been based on the original manga. The rest have been original stories or specials performances.
  • Recently, a live action film adaptations has been confirmed and it is to produced by Warner Brothers and directed by Shinsuke Sato, who has filmed other live action movies like Gantz and Library Wars

This is not one of my top favorites, but I still consider it a good manga. Compared to most manga, Bleach has one of the most structured settings I have seen. This could be seen as a necessity, due to the large cast of characters, but it helps with understanding how each society functions. This one of my favorite multi-dimensional worlds stories as it goes beyond just the two parallel worlds concept. Rather there are several worlds that balance the each other out. Characters, especially, are well developed with backstories that explain their choices and actions. I will have to say the beginning of the series I enjoyed more than the chapters currently, because the manga now is just trying to end and it has been dragged out far too long. As far as I understand, it has “officially” ended but there are still “extra” chapters to be released.

I do recommend this to an older audience as it contains a large quantity of violence and cursing. This manga I would give a 6/10. It could have been better if it had ended earlier but overall, I enjoyed it. Read it for yourself to find out!

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Bleach is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.