by Louisa May Alcott, adapted by Lucia Monfried
My/my daughter’s rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Classic children’s, coming of age
The classic tale of the March sisters as they become women around and after the time of the American Civil War is adapted for children around age 8-10 in this book, complete with an illustration for every 2 pages. I read the book aloud with my daughter, who is 9, and am writing this review based more on her opinion of the book than my own.
I knew the story fairly well already, having seen the 1994 movie adaptation, though I’ve never read the original book (yet). My daughter was new to the story though, and overall, she really enjoyed it. The rating reflects how much she liked it, and the missing half a star was because she was super disappointed with a particular pairing that did not happen in the book (I know this book is old, but I can’t seem to bring myself to spoil it anyway, just in case).
Though I worried that much of what I was reading to her was going to go above her head, even with the adaptation, she was able to understand most of it as we went. Or if she didn’t understand something, she didn’t really realize that she didn’t. Now and then I’d stop and explain something that I thought she might not get (usually because of vernacular that is not in use these days) or that she questioned as we went.
I would recommend this book for children around 8-12, with the extra note that with younger kids, it might be helpful (and enjoyable) to read it with a parent or older sibling/friend.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!
by Andy Weir
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Sci-fi drama, suspense
Following a dust storm that forced an evacuation from the surface of Mars, astronaut Mark Whatney is left behind, presumed dead. But he’s very much alive, and must now figure out how to survive alone on Mars while back on Earth, they work on how to bring him home.
I watched this movie a few years ago (as research for a mini escape room I helped build), and I really liked it. The book is even better! Whatney is resourceful and determined. The repertoire between him and the rest of his team is fun and touching. The determination of those back on Earth to do whatever they can to help him survive is really interesting too.
The book has a lot of explanation about the different sides of what Whatney needs to survive. Ideas are thrown out and dismissed for better ones. It has such a real feel to it, as if it were any other modern space mission that went wrong. The genre is sci-fi, and it’s obviously a bit in the future, but the science isn’t far out there. It’s just a bit past what we have now.
The format of the book was interesting. Much of the narration comes from journal entries by Whatney, so it basically reads like 1st person. Then there is the 3rd person narration of what happens back on Earth. There are other formats, but explaining that would be a bit spoilery. I enjoyed feeling like Whatney was sharing his experience directly with us.
I watched the movie again a few days after finishing the book. I still think the movie is good, but like with many adaptations, they weren’t able to reach the depth of characterization that the book did. Plus, some harrowing moments and difficulties that Whatney faced were completely written out for the movie. Still, a good movie, and a great book!
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!
This movie originally came out in 2006. I watched it in the theater, but I don’t actually remember much about it. I’ve had the DVD for years, and only re-watched it recently after re-reading the book for the first time in over 10 years. It was…not great, unfortunately. Part of that is the curse of most faith-based movies, where the production quality isn’t what we normally look for. For example, even though several of the actors I’ve seen in other things (like Marc Blucas), and they were perfectly fine in those other things, most of the acting seemed stiff.
Past that, I had some notes about things that were different from the book that I felt detracted from the story, one that I liked in the movie, and one that was mostly neutral. Fair warning, the rest of this post will be full of spoilers!
I watched the movie about a week and a half after I finished the book. At first, I wanted to watch the movie quickly, before I forgot details about the book. Only a few minutes into the movie, I thought it might have been better to have waited several months (or more) to watch the movie. Maybe forgetting the details of the book would have allowed me to enjoy it in its own right. I understand that movies adapted from books have to be changed for various reasons, whether that’s to shorten the story, to add excitement, or even because a lot of what happens in the book is internal (which would be fairly hard/boring to show). And there are other reasons too. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it!
In my review of the book, I gave it a rating of 3.5 out of 5. It’s intriguing to me that the movie actually gave me more appreciation for the book. I’d probably rate it higher now. As with other posts I’ve made, some of my notes about what I didn’t care for in the movie are personal preference. Some of them, though, are places where I don’t think the movie did justice to the book, or even where I felt the movie just didn’t do well in general. I am going to give my notes, but without too much detail, mostly because my list is a little too long to go into much detail here. These are by no means all of the differences between the book and the movie, just the ones that bothered me. Also, I’m splitting these notes into things that aren’t too spoilery (shown first), and then notes that I feel would spoil either the book or movie enough to give a proper warning for.
Note: There are a lot, so it probably seems like I’m ranting. Well, I am. Again, I am well aware that movie adaptations are often very different from the book. If you think I’m being unfair, that’s fine. I didn’t realize how many notes I had about this until I started writing them down, and I considered cutting it short. But in the end, I decided to keep them all (and frankly, there may be some I forgot). So read on, or jump ship right now; it’s up to you!
- From the very beginning of the movie, the atmosphere didn’t feel right to me. When I read the book, I got a feeling of desolation and isolation in the real world, especially where Wade lived. People didn’t go out much, because they could do much more from the comfort of their couch (and because the real world was fairly dangerous). But we first see Wade outside of his “home,” and it’s pretty lively. People are shown outside a lot during the movie, and it just felt wrong.
- The book was heavy in 80s pop culture references. The movie expanded that to just general pop culture, but even that was very light (I get that a lot of this might have been copyright issues, but it’s still worth mentioning).
- In the book, Wade started out overweight (spent most of his life in a virtual environment, after all), but had a physical transformation once he gained the means to be active while also in the OASIS. There was no change of this sort in the movie.
- Also, in the book, Wade started out completely destitute. The things he had to do to make any progress in the OASIS showed ingenuity and a real struggle. This was barely touched on in the movie.
- Because The Hunt had gone on for years already when the book started, everyone who was hunting (called gunters) knew pretty much everything there was to know about Halliday, his life, and every book, movie, video game, song, or TV show that he liked. In the movie, Wade was explaining how he’d figured out a clue to other gunters often, and it really bothered me that he knew so much more than the others.
- Though I said in my original review that the time that Wade was alone (pushed away his friends) was not a time I enjoyed, I realized watching the movie that I missed it when it didn’t happen. Most likely, that means I didn’t enjoy it because it was depressing (which it was meant to be), not that it was a bad story element.
- I loved Ogden Morrow’s role in the book. In the movie it was kinda…meh (and it seemed like a waste of Simon Pegg).
- It really bugged me that they called the IOI gunters Sixers, but had absolutely no explanation as to why. It wouldn’t have been difficult to explain it. Even not coming from a book, it was an unnecessary lack of explanation.
- Similarly, in the book, the first 5 gunters to find the first key were known as the “High Five,” because of their positions on the almighty leader board. When watching the movie, I’d completely forgotten about that until some time in the last 20-30 minutes when Wade uses that term to reference those 5 characters, and I actually sat up and said, “Wait, what?! How are we supposed to know what he means by that, when this is the first time anyone’s said it?”
Before I go into the spoilers, I want to mention a few things about the movie that I liked:
- The visual effects in the OASIS were great. Much better than I could imagine in my head, I’m sure. I also enjoyed the way it looked when characters accessed things from their inventory and such. I’ve had dreams about actually being inside a game world, i.e. being my character, and it reminded me a bit of that. (Is that weird?)
- There were some nods to some of the things in the book that weren’t used in the movie at all, which was nice. Seeing the planet Ludus early in the movie, for example, made me smile.
Below here are the rest of my notes, which have what I would consider spoilers. Read on at your own discretion.