Digital Artefact #5- ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ by Melina Marchetta

 

This is probably my last review for my digital artefact- however, I shall continue some more reviews here and there as I have plenty more ready to publish onto our Amazon account. Don’t forget to check out Grace’s site for her movie reviews- and I’ll catch you all next time!

-ThatGirlLauren

 

‘‘Looking for Alibrandi’ is an iconic novel of the ups and downs in the life of teenage Josephine Alibrandi- following her story as she: lives with her single mother, visits her grandmother after school and listens to her stories and discovers love with ‘bad boy’ Jacob Coote; all the while tossing up her developing relationship with her long lost father who has now decided to return to her life. (SPOILER ALERT)

So Josephine is in her final year at high school- where the real trials of life have just begun for her- it’s bad enough for Josephine that she’s living with her single mother who gave birth to her as a teenager and gets called a ‘wog’ by her peers because of her Italian background, but now her father has decided to enter her life. When having a picnic with family members, Josephine first sees her father and immediately feels resentment towards him for ditching her and her mother. Despite these initial feelings, Josephine comes around to her father when he backs her up after she gets into a fight with another schoolmate- her and her father hang around a lot more often and she even gets offered a job by him to get experience at his law firm. And more family secrets are exposed when she learns that her mother, too, is an illegitimate child as her grandmother had an affair with someone else. This places pressure on Josephine as she feels the weight of her family’s reputation coming undone.

On top of all this (and HSC preparation) Josephine learns more about life and love through her complex relationship with Jacob- they always get into arguments and always annoy each other, but remain together until the end of the novel when they end it once and for all. And … just to make things more complicated for Josephine, at the end of the novel, one of her best friends who was highly popular and looked up to by many commits suicide. Before he does so, he wrote Josephine a letter that expressed his deepest and darkest fears- expressing how he felt compelled to be what everyone wanted him to be.

 

Marchetta’s voice is honest and true as she explores the various complexities of the life of Josephine Alibrandi. Through the variety of complications and confusion that Josephine feels, we can see a resemblance to the entirety of life- written up in the span of no more than a year at most. Josephine is a real and honest character, who feels the weight of these problems and is not one to simply ignore them or see them as insignificant- to her, each situation has a personal impact on how she views her family, friends and most importantly herself. I loved how Marchetta explores different scenarios that can play out in an adolescents life all compacted within one individual.

Her writing is by far beautiful and detailed as she lives through the eyes of Josephine, a distinct connection between writer and character is clearly seen as Marchetta seems to incorporate her own personality and desires into the kind-hearted and confused character.

 

A wonderful coming of age novel to read.

-Lauren’

 

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Digital Artefact #4- ‘Looking For Alaska’ by John Green

My next review for ‘Looking for Alaska’, a little more on the short side but let me know what you think! Gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.

-ThatGirlLauren

 

‘Another book I decided to re-read lately, ‘Looking for Alaska’ is one of my personal favourites when it comes to novels written by John Green. The mystery and sudden twists and turns throughout the novel, followed with Green’s dry humour, made this novel both heart-warming and amusing. (SPOILER ALERT)
So Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter arrives at Culver Creek and quickly befriends the funny and lovable Chris- also nicknamed the ‘Colonel’ –and the irresistibly beautiful Alaska Young. He tries drinking, smoking and learns the ways of girlfriends, ‘Weekday Warriors’ and the Culver Creek ultimate pranks. One night, after hooking up with Alaska for the first time (despite both of them being in a relationship with someone else), Alaska leaves in a drunken state- terrified and angry at herself –and is involved in a car accident which kills her instantly. For the remainder of the novel, Pudge and the Colonel figure out that she committed suicide- upon seeing the police cruiser on the side of the road –and that she got upset, not at Pudge or her boyfriend but with herself, after forgetting the anniversary of her mother’s death. In memory of Alaska, they pull a grand prank involving hiring a stripper as a speaker for sex education in front of the whole school.

This books twists and turns- from the accident to Alaska’s own changing mood –gave the book a very intriguing and more mystical feel. ‘Looking for Alaska’ was very sweet and resonated more personally with Pudge as a character. I had to re-read this book twice to go over every detail of the book and fully understand the complexity that was Alaska and the emotional states of those she left behind. Despite the negativity that flows through the book from the ‘After Part’ to the end, Pudge finds his own sense of closure and peace at the end when he reads the letter Takumi sent to him explaining what Alaska was upset about that night. His final essay on Alaska’s question on the labyrinth of suffering ended the novel on a bittersweet tone that made me feel more empathy towards Pudge and really like him as a protagonist.
Contrasting this- the ‘Before Part’ was filled with nothing but comedy and happiness that brings the novel (and my feelings and hopes) up to a high before finally having everything crash back onto the ground for the dark scene of Alaska’s last night with Pudge. Heck, even just before she left Pudge made out with her which made me think ‘Freaking, finally!’ before the ‘After Part’ started and I thought, ‘Well … s-‘.
Overall, I enjoyed ‘this book- although to get more of an insight into the characters and plot, you should probably read it slowly or re-read it a couple more times. I’m going back for my third re-read right now.
-Lauren’

 

Digital Artefact Review #3- ‘If I Stay’ by Gayle Forman

My third review for my DA on Gayle Forman’s ‘If I Stay’, it’s a little bit rushed itself, but let me know what you think in the comments below and please feel free to mention any books you would like me to review in the coming future.

-ThatGirlLauren: 

 

‘After reading this book recently I felt the need to make a review on this novel and express why I gave it a four instead of a five. (SPOILER ALERT)

‘If I Stay’ is about the difficult choice between life and death as we follow the story of Mia- a teenage cellist who is almost leaving high school and contemplating going to Julliard to study music further. At the beginning, Mia is involved in a terrible car accident which immediately kills both her parents and later causes the death of her younger brother, Teddy. Mia, however, is not killed but rather roams the hospital her comatose body is placed in as a ‘semi-ghost’ (in the book she tries to walk through a wall, believing that ghosts can actually do that, but fails and later wonders if she is dead or alive). Throughout the story, Mia reflects on her past memories with her family, friends and boyfriend Adam as she decides whether or not to or choose death and join her family or choose to live and stay.

 

I am really fascinated with the whole ‘out-of-body’ experience; Forman really captures the dilemma Mia has over whether she should stay with her friends or leave because of how miserable her life will be if she does stay. This is really captured in her flashbacks to important memories in Mia’s life, involving moments like her first kiss with Adam, when her brother Teddy was born and so forth.

Although the flashbacks were iconic in learning more about Mia’s life and her dilemma’s over staying or leaving, I felt that each flashback was a little bit rushed and not much ‘action’ occurs other than that of the beginning with the car accident which drives the whole story forward. I also felt that Mia seems to be leaning towards life throughout the entirety of the novel- with a lot of focus on Adam. I understand this was because of her love for him, but it made it seem clear she would ultimately choose life in the end because she focuses on nothing else. Where some moments occurring in the world around her comatose body did have some focus to her family arriving or her best friend’s mother crying, her flashbacks- as the true reasoning behind her decision -felt more centred around Adam himself.

Other than Mia, no other character development is truly undertaken- there are only snippets of her family (which is fair enough seeing as they’re only viewed in flashbacks) which made it difficult to really connect with Mia’s loss as we are left in the dark about who her family actually is. Even Adam was slightly portrayed in a rushed manner- at the end of the novel I was still in the dark over who Adam was … and Mia chose to live because of him playing a song for her, which if it was me would seem similar to a random stranger singing to me because all I know of him is he likes Mia and music.

Other than this, ‘If I Stay’ was very moving as some connection was made between me and Mia as she contemplates the biggest decision of her life. Also, Forman ending with simply Adam saying Mia’s name was highly effective in leaving her story to the imagination of the reader.

-Lauren’

 

Digital Artefact Review #2- ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky

My second review for my digital artefact with Grace (click here to check out her blog!)- ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky; my absolute favourite book(!).

-ThatGirlLauren:

 

‘At the time I first read this book, I thought ‘Oh, this is cute, Charlie is a little bit weird, but this book is nice’ and I put it on a shelf where it has stayed for a solid three years. I do not normally re-read a book, but while passing Chbosky’s book recently I decided to flip through a few pages and ultimately decided to once again read ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. Now I’m thinking ‘I am so much like Charlie’. (SPOILERS!)

So, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ … it’s about the struggles of fifteen-year-old Charlie and his life on the edge of the dancefloor. Throughout this novel, he becomes friends with Sam and Patrick (nicknamed ‘Nothing’, which is mentioned at the beginning of the book) and how he becomes more participated in life and goes out onto the dancefloor. Charlie is the awkward teen learning about sex, drugs, alcohol, friends and family for the first time in his life. He is what Patrick calls a ‘wallflower’- the one who is always watching but never acts or speaks, focusing on how everyone else lives their lives without actually living much himself.
Charlie’s narration is in the form of letters to ‘a friend’ (the friend of course being the reader) and he writes about each event that has happened the past week and what he is feeling at the moment. He talks about; how he first meets Sam and Patrick; how he goes to parties and drinks, smokes and even tries drugs like LSD and pot; how he dates a girl named Mary Elizabeth; any events or dramas he witnesses- including his sister’s pregnancy and abortion, the rape of another girl and Patrick’s struggles with his lover named Brad (who has a girlfriend of his own) which eventually lead to Patrick getting beaten up by Brad’s friends and Charlie fending them off -; and he especially talks about his love for Sam.

My favourite part of this book is the ‘infinite moment’- after their dance, the trio drive to Downtown; but not before Sam gets out of the car to ride in the back of the pickup through the tunnel. Charlie notes of each individual moment- Sam screaming from the back, Patrick laughing at her, the song ‘Landslide’ playing from the stereo and the lights of the city at the end of the tunnel –and claims ‘in that moment, I swear we were infinite’.
The ‘freeness’, kindness and innocence of Charlie is overwhelming- he is a true character I feel like I can relate to in several aspects. His sadness, confusion and (of course) his innocence all seem truly genuine thanks to Chbosky’s use of words- especially through his choice of setting up the entirety of the narrative in letter format, which gives an even more personal sense as he writes to his friend. While this novel is depressing, the comedy of Charlie’s and his friends actions made the book that much more heartwrenching as he explores out of his comfort zone and experiences new things.
The passion and determination Charlie displays makes him a very strong and open-minded protagonist; he is never truly out in the world for just himself, he’s always there for his friends and even his family. Moments like this further heightened the emotional connection between audience and character as Chbosky slowly reveals bits and pieces of Charlie’s past- how his beloved Aunt died getting him a present and he feels unwanted guilt about it –as well as the past of his friends which further explains his constant need of protection from his friends and the protection he wants his friends to receive, allowing the audience to further understand the complexity of Charlie’s mind as he expresses his deepest thoughts and fears.

This book is honest, genuine and very very very emotional- I am glad I chose to take it back off of the shelf and re-read it. I’m currently reading it again for the third time right now.
Highly recommend reading.

-Lauren’

 

Digital Artefact Review #1- ‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey

The following post is a copy of my first review on Grace’s and my Amazon profile (under the nickname ‘The Pun Brigade’, click here to check out our other reviews) about Rick Yancey’s novel which has become a recent movie: ‘The 5th Wave’. Click here to check out Grace’s website and for her movie reviews.

-ThatGirlLauren

Here is my first book review:

 

Having read this book just recently, I thought making a review on it would seem suitable enough. So, let’s look at the plot (SPOILER ALERT):

‘The 5th Wave’ focuses on main character Cassie Sullivan in a post-apocalyptic world caused by the invasion of an alien race nicknamed ‘The Others’. In the prologue (though hinted) and throughout the novel, it is revealed the Others invaded Earth around twenty years previous by ‘uploading’ their minds into unborn children- once the children reached a certain age, their conscious would be absorbed by the Others’ and they would physically be human but mentally have the knowledge and training of the Others.

Earth had previously been attacked in four waves when we first meet Cassie- an EMP strike, natural disasters, infection and the ‘invasion’ of Others hunting humans. As the novel progresses Cassie meets Evan Walker, who agrees to help rescue her little brother Sam who was kidnapped by Others preparing an army of children who are to be the 5th Wave by convincing them the humans are infected by some kind of an alien brain parasite.

Evan is revealed to be an ‘Other-Human’, though he still wants to help Cassie because he loves her and Cassie rescues her brother along with the help of her high-school-crush-previously-thought-dead Ben Parish (the novel jumps between Cassie’s perspective and later on Ben’s perspective, where it is revealed he was originally infected with the ‘Red Death’ the Others created but was then healed and trained to be part of the 5th wave). Evan sacrifices himself and blows up Camp Haven- the base where the children were being trained –and Cassie escapes with her brother, Ben and several members of Ben’s military squad.

 

I’m not normally one to read let alone be interested with all the ‘alien invasion’ stories, but … I. Loved. This. Book. Everything kept me captivated and wanting more- the characters, the action, the plot twists … I loved them all!

I do not normally feel for the main character(s) in any way because they are set up as the ‘bitchy’ one- where the author writes them in a way that they are too passionate about what they believe is right that they just ultimately become a hateable character. Cassie Sullivan is not a character that you’d love to hate. While I did question Cassie’s immediate trust in Evan (regardless of how hot he is portrayed) I loved how we come to understand Cassie’s intentions through her flashbacks- reminiscing everything that happened up until Yancey first introduces her to us. I found that it worked very well to Yancey’s favour to write about her killing somebody first, then write about her past- a little moment of ‘What the *bleep* is she doing?’ which is ultimately replaced by sobbing uncontrollably in a corner over the loss of her parents and former life. Unlike the portrayal of many other characters from previous books I’ve read, I felt more empathy towards Cassie because of this amount of detail that Yancey wrote about her past.

I also felt that I connected with Cassie because she still felt- even though she would sleep beside her M16 and never lose sight of it like it was her baby –like the awkward girl. Even when she first met Evan, her first thoughts were self-conscious of how she looked, showing that even when the world around her changed she still maintained those aspects of her past life- an almost yearning to want things to be normal if she continued to act like herself (cue crying in corner once more). Everything from her writing in a journal of all her memories even to the moment when she meets the Crucifix Soldier, there is a pause of thinking humanely and wondering if killing is the right thing regardless of an alien apocalypse.

Yancey writes in two different forms: highly detailed and deep in thought, or quick, fast-paced and straight into the action. And in the context of which scenes he’s writing about at the time, the pacing is absolutely brilliant. Swapping from Cassie’s contemplative thinking of existence to the fast-paced battles of Ben proved very intriguing; there was no pause for boredom, confusion or sense of disconnection between reader and book. Especially when he wrote in detail- I had to put the book down when reading about how Cassie’s mother died from the ‘Red Death’ because it was so detailed I felt really disgusted (in the good reading-a-book-gives-me-goosebumps kind of way).

And, let’s not forget, the Others. The goddamn Others. Like I said, I’m not one to be interested in alien invasion stories- but the Others were written up so damn well. Yancey spiced things up by making it that the Others invaded way back when and the second they did attack it was in the most simplest ways- a tall pole (basically) over tectonic plates, a disease, an EMP strike. Yancey made the Others cunning- they understand the way the Earth turns, what makes a human tick and use it against them.

All in all, this book was absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend reading it- even if you aren’t a sci-fi fan or a huge ‘alien-invasion enthusiast’, get reading!

-Lauren’

 

Our Digital Artefact- What’s helping us Achieve Our Goals?

Grace and I will be composing a series of book and movie reviews on our Amazon.com profile under the name ‘The Pun Brigade’. Grace will be writing the movie reviews while I will be writing the book reviews. In these reviews, we will be looking at:

  • Character creation
  • Plot and story setup (if the story ‘flows’ or ‘makes sense’); and, as an added bonus
  • Movie-to-book and book-to-movie comparisons: not ‘which one is better’, but rather which one better portrays the characters and will help in the audiences understanding of the story

For our digital artefact, we’ve observed 10 different sources and have made various short summaries on what to do and what not to do when creating our digital artefact. These are those sources and summaries:

 

Source 1: Amazon

https://www.amazon.com.au/

This is our main site for our digital artefact- it is where we publish our finalised reviews. Amazon.com will be used for inspiration and guidance- we can observe other reviews on the same book and collaborate this information with our own as well as investigate how we can set out our own reviews so they are understood. Reading other reviews is also helpful so we can try to avoid ‘repeating’ what others have said about the same movie or book. The only problem with Amazon is you do not need to have read/seen let alone purchased the book/movie to make reviews, so few of these reviews may be inaccurate.

 

Source 2: IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2582846/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

IMDB will be helpful for us to observe the differences and similarities between book and movie reviews. It will also help us in figuring out how to critique the movie in a similar way to the book to avoid the issue of being biased. IMDb is both critic and audience-based reviews, we will be able to observe critics opinions on the movies and compare them to the audience opinions for more insight on what key factors are noticed in movies between the two groups. However, they are very wordy and long being at least two paragraphs or more- we hope to make ours at least a paragraph long.

 

Source 3: Goodreads

http://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/book-to-film 

Goodreads is a prime source for ‘what (not) to do’ when writing movie-book comparisons. There are some strong reviews on a variety of books; something I’ve noticed is when it comes to book-movie comparisons there some bias towards one or the other- e.g., the book-to-movie reviews on The Devil Wears Prada focused more on Meryl Streep’s performance in the movie rather than character depictions. This is what we do not want to do- we’re hoping to limit the general sense of bias within our reviews. Some of the Goodreads reviews are also ‘clunky’, they continue on about the book and in the end the true meaning is lost.

 

Source 4: 7 Tips for Writing a Film Review

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-tips-for-writing-a-film-review/

A ‘How to’ series of 7 dot-points on how to write film (and book) reviews. With these points in mind, we can be more careful when writing and publishing- for example spoilers, where this suggests to avoid using spoilers unless you give the audience a heads up first. The first 5 dot points will be very useful and handy as a guide to organise the writing style of our reviews; in the case of the last two dot points, they focus more on the actual cinematography of the movies- this will be used in our ‘movie only’ reviews as they will not be a main focus in our book-to-movie reviews.

 

Source 5: Cinema Sins

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYUQQgogVeQY8cMQamhHJcg

A YouTube series of short summaries on a variety of movies from an audience perspective. These summaries are not entirely focused on the creation and production of the movies but rather on the plot and character development. For entertainment value some small comments of dry humour are added. These are helpful in understanding the small pieces of information that audiences pick up on while watching a movie. While we may not comment on movies in this particular way (as they focus more on the negative views of movies), this will be interesting to observe what the audience sees and what they notice in movies that do not make sense.

 

Source 6: The Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill- Book Reviews

http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/book-reviews/

A more formal source that delves into what exactly a review is- very informative on the components of a review and how book reviews are all about perspectives despite their similar qualities. It also presents a couple of examples of what these perspectives can entail when the same book is reviewed by three different people, along with some notes as to why these specific audience members might have this view on the book. It is very interesting to observe what features stand out the most to a specific reader based on their background and experiences.

 

Source 7: Rotten Tomatoes

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_jungle_book_2016/

Similar to the IMDb source, Rotten Tomatoes is useful in observing reviews on certain movies. Unlike IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes is more ‘critic based’ and is a shortened, more formal series of reviews than IMDb’s longer audience based ones. These reviews are at least one sentence in length and some of these reviews simply make a statement of whether the movie was good or not. This proves as a problem because, due to the length and vagueness of these reviews, it’s hard to understand exactly what features of the movie did not work and caused confusion.

 

Source 8: Watch Mojo

http://watchmojo.com/

An informal series of YouTube reviews similar to the style of the previous source ‘Cinema Sins’- where Cinema Sins focuses more on plots, characters and negative factors of the movies that made them hard to understand, Watch Mojo focuses more on the design and layout of the actual film. While these series are usually in a ‘comparison’ or ‘top ten’ setup, their reasoning behind why will be very informative on understanding their reasoning behind their opinion and what exactly ‘worked’ within the movie. Same with Cinema Sins, we will not be entirely focused on comparisons of movies or negativity towards the movie to prevent bias.

 

Source 9: What Not to Do- ‘The Book is Almost Always Better than the Movie’: Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/6-reasons-the-book-is-almost-always-better-than-the-movie/

This blog post focuses on the features that differ between movies and their book counterparts, explaining that through the short storytelling of movies some audiences do not ‘receive’ the full story compared to reading the book. They also include examples of how movies have their own effect of added suspense- e.g. Jaws and how the audience never sees the shark. Despite all this, the overall topic of the article is that ‘books are better’. While we will focus on aspects the movie possess compared to the book and what connections the audience have to them, ‘comparative dominance’ of one over the other will not be established within our comparative reviews.

 

Source 10: Book Journey Blogs

https://bookjourney.net/?s=book+vs+movie

A series of blog posts based on ‘Book vs. Movie’ explained in short summaries- one paragraph each for both book and its movie counterpart. One of these examples I looked at was one on a book I myself am interested in reviewing- If I Stay by Gayle Forman –and how the author felt the movie brought out more emotion because of its visual imagery and how it was easier to understand. Before each argument, the author writes a brief synopsis of what the story entails before diving into the differences and similarities. The problem with this source is the summaries are too short, with the author briefly stating she liked it or not and sometimes focusing on one version more than the other in her reviews.

 

Thank you for reading! If you would like to check out our progress on our digital artefact, click on this link to check out Grace’s site where a copy of each review should be posted as an individual blog. Speak to you soon!

-ThatGirlLauren

Our Digital Artefact- Book-to-Movie

 

Okay, for our digital artefact, Grace (click here to check out her site!) and I will be doing a collective series of reviews for Amazon.com. This was brought about by our passion for reading and we thought this would be a great idea to express our thoughts and opinions on books we have read or are willing to read in the future.

Each of our reviews will be quick summaries of what we ultimately think of the book- we will do a quick summary of each plot (of course, notifying any and all spoilers we may slip into them) along with our own opinion on the books’: plot, characters, etc. … Also- as an added bonus –if any of these books have been turned into a movie (or are a movie turned book) we will also add in a comparison between book and movie: and saying, not which one is better, but which one to read/watch first to get a better view of the story and its characters!

 

All reviews will be available for viewing on both Grace’s website (link above) and via our Amazon profile; more details soon to follow.

If you have any recommendations for what we should review; comment on either the reviews present on Grace’s site or comment on this blog post and we shall see what we can do!

 

This is going to be a really fun and exciting experience for us and we’d love for you guys to join in on our little reviewing adventures!

Cheers!

-ThatGirlLauren

books-movies