Cruel Beauty Book Review

One of my favorite things about fairy tales is that the narratives are malleable. There is no rule that says that these stories have to fit within a certain mold.

Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge, was published in 2015. Since she was a girl, Nyx has known her fate. Upon turning seventeen, she marries the ruler of her kingdom, known as The Gentle Lord. Known for being a trickster and not well-liked by the people, Nyx’s goal is to kill him and free them all from his tyranny. But her new husband is not who she expected him to be. While she reconsiders how to end his life, she also starts to fall for him.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The best way to describe it is a YA dark fantasy adaptation of Beauty and the Beast with an undertone of Greek mythology. Nyx is a heroine is a perfect heroine for our era and her story is absolutely worth reading.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You never forget the first female TV character that inspires you to become a badass.

March 10th was the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was more than your standard coming-of-age high school drama. The supernatural elements were an allegory for the messy and very complicated experience of being a teenager. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has more to deal with than grades, boys, and friends. She is the Chosen One, the Slayer who has to save the world from all manners of evil that only exists in the very darkest of imaginations.

Writer and showrunner Joss Whedon (whose reputation has recently tanked due to his inability to act like a mature adult), took the allegory of growing up, added a few literal monsters, and in doing so, made the audience feel seen and understood. We related to Buffy and her friends because they were just like us. The fact that she could kick butt and had to save the world was just the cherry on top.

What made the show appealing was more than its title character. The other people who populated this world added additional flavors and colors. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was initially introduced as an unsure young woman trying to find her place in the world. By the time series ended, Willow had come out, both as a gay woman and a witch, lost the woman she loved, and grieved in a way that was representative of how powerful that loss was. Angel (David Boreanaz), was both Buffy’s antagonist as a vampire and her first love. After they slept together for the first time, he turned into Angelus, a villain of the first order. The analogy of sleeping with someone who then becomes someone unrecognizable was all too clear. Buffy’s mother, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) tries to understand what her daughter is going through. Like any good parent, she is doing the best she can. But that does not mean that she is fully comprehending who Buffy has become.

The reason why BVTS has lasted a quarter of a century and continues to appeal to young people is its ordinariness. Underneath the supernatural nature of the series was the everyday experience of becoming an adult and the pitfalls of that experience.

Happy Birthday, Buffy. Here’s to another 25 years.

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La Brea Review

The science fiction and fantasy genres are fascinating. There seems to be no limit in the stories that can be told.

La Brea premiered earlier this week on NBC. On an average day in Los Angeles, a sink hole opens, swallowing everything and everyone its path. Among those that have fallen in are Eve Harris (Natalie Zea) and her son Josh (Jack Martin). On the surface, Eve’s daughter Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) and her estranged husband Gavin (Eoin Macken) are trying to figure what happened. Gavin is having visions of the fate those who have disappeared into the sinkhole, but, no one believes him.

Thousands of miles below them, Eve, Josh and the other survivors have found themselves in ancient world, populated by animals that have not been seen alive for a millennia. The first task to figure out where (and when) they are and pull through. The second is to get home. Neither will be easy.

I like this show. It reminds of both Lost and The Lost World. Among the new series of this season, it is certainly a unique concept. I like both the family dynamic and the creative twist to a narrative that we have all seen in one form or another. Though the special effects leave a little to be desired, I’ve seen worse.

As good as I think it is, the reception from both audiences and veers toward the negative. Only time will tell if the full season is released or it is cut short. Either way, it is worth at least, a chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

La Brea airs on NBC on Tuesday night at 9PM.

Can We Talk About the Ending of Behind Her Eyes?

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the Netflix series, Behind Her Eyes. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it in full.

The mingling of genres takes a skilled writer. There are two equally important aspects of being able to accomplish this successfully. The first is choosing the right genres. The second is making sure that each of them is given their due while ensuring that they come together at the right moment in the narrative.

One of the newest Netflix series is Behind Her Eyes. It tells the story of a twisted love triangle with Louise (Simona Brown) at the center. At one end is her new friend Adele (Eve Hewson). At the other end is Adele’s husband, David (Tom Bateman), who is Louise’s boss and new lover. It is part psychological thriller, part jealous spouse, and just a little bit of science fiction/fantasy to make it very interesting.

My jaw dropped by the time the credits rolled after the final episode.

I loved the inclusion of Adele’s ability to use astral projection to leave her body. I don’t read or watch many psychological thrillers, but as I understand it, this particular story thread is not often used in this genre. But that is not the twist. The twist comes from Adele’s friend, Rob (Robert Aramayo). He is the master manipulator who is so under the radar that it is impossible to see the ending coming.

Kudos to the author and the screenwriter. If only every story was as good as Behind Her Eyes.

Debris Pilot Review

From a writing perspective, one of the upshots of creating a science fiction and fantasy narrative is that the number of stories one can tell is nearly endless. However, that does not mean that the reader or viewer is entertained.

The pilot of the new NBC series, Debris, premiered last night. MI6 agent Finola Jones (Riann Steele) and CIA agent Brian Beneventi (Jonathan Tucker) have been tasked with answering questions about an alien space craft and its effects on human beings.

If I was generous, I would give this program an A for effort. The show tries to live up to the trailer and the genre. But it was nothing more than background noise. Whatever story hook the created is non-existent. Though I did finish watching the pilot, there was nothing that inspired me into continuing on with further episodes.

Do I recommend it? No.

Debris airs on NBC Monday nights at 10PM.

Throwback Thursday-V For Vendetta (2005)

Science fiction and fantasy often has a way of revealing our fears and our dreams.

Set in the future, V for Vendetta (2005) is the story of a freedom fighter, V (Hugo Weaving), who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. V is fighting against a fascist government that has overtaken England. Evey (Natalie Portman) is rescued by V from the secret police. Together, they will become allies to overthrow the government.

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, this movie is not for children. It  asks some very tough questions about individualism vs. conforming and individual freedom vs. safety via complete government control. It is very dark and has some very disturbing moments. But there light at the end of the tunnel for these characters.

I recommend it.

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