The Art of Adaptation

I finally started watching the TV adaptation of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I had been putting it off and off because of all the publicity surrounding its creation and the backlash it faced, mostly from schools, about whether or not such a thing should be turned in ‘light entertainment’, that is, TV. But then I’d run out of things to watch when I finally got the TV to myself and cooking and renovating shows get boring pretty quickly.

I remember reading the book and liking it. I have a feeling I bought it for the library when I was still queen of that domain and so don’t have my own copy to refer back to now and compare. Or perhaps I did read it when it came out in 2007 and have just misplaced my copy in the ensuing ten years. Either way, enough time has sufficiently elapsed for me to be interested and surprised by what they have for the TV.

One thing that really strikes me is the modernisation of the text. As YA of the realistic fiction becomes dated very quickly, the TV show evinces just how digital our world has become since then and, perhaps, how much more quickly things can escalate beyond our control (and this may be where the stamp footing aversion to the show being made in the first place comes from too). I know I’m not that old, but the show makes we want to say:

“back in my day…”

as if I can’t keep up with or understand what it is to be a teenager. It also makes me want to yell at the TV a lot to point out how dumb some of their actions are, because I have hindsight and, as the quote above suggests, am actually no longer a teenager.

I haven’t watched it all yet, though I plan too. And I can’t really remember how it ends, so the tension is really working. Like Clay, I want to watch, but I also don’t want to watch. I need to know what happens, but in a sense we already know because Hannah is dead and nothing can change that.

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Oh, it’s not Friday

I only just realised what day it was, and therefore I had already reneged on my pseudo resolution. But that’s ok, because it’s only a day later and not the week it could have been.

So far this month I’ve read five books. I’ve been trying to read one a day, and my goal is to do that all month and therefore read thirty one books before I really get back into real life and work. Technically I’m only on holidays until January 28th, but I figure those first few days of work (and the last few days of January) don’t really count. I’ll just be settling back in and reading on the sly.

To this end, I have bought six new books in the last two days. Eight in the last week, one of which I have read already.

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You see only five here as one book I bought today is a gift for someone else and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

What I have realised though, is that a book a day may not be that sustainable. So I’ve started two at once. A fiction and a Non Fiction. I can usually manage the two styles simultaneously as long as the Non Fiction isn’t something with a story; not a biography or some such, rather a compendium of facts.

I haven’t even started thinking about the 2018 Reading Challenge (which I will probably write about next). Instead, I’m just reading and listing my titles down and I’ll fit them into the categories later.

What is slowing me down though, is the way I’ve decided to read this year. With a notebook at hand.

 

I’m using post-its to tag blog post ideas, but what I’m writing down are interesting words or other books I need to read that are mentioned in the book I am currently reading. Depending on the book I can be stopping every sentence.

I used to read like this when I was very young. I can remember that Dracula had a lot of new words for me and my list for that particular novel ran over two pages. After I had finished reading I diligently looked them all up in order to figure out what Stoker was really saying. This time round I seem to know a lot of the meanings, I’m just writing them down because they sound nice or are awesome words.

Resolved

It’s funny because I was going to start this post by saying I must not be a very good blogger if I haven’t written anything since May (a post about the novel Night Swimming by Steph Bowe). But then I opened up the WordPress app on my ipad and saw that a post about a Laini Taylor novel hadn’t published properly. And then it posted twice. So three posts in one day must mean I’m an amazing blogger (though perhaps also technology inept). 

I do plan on being a better blogger. Most of this year seemed to get eaten up by work and toddler terrors, thought to be fair I read a lot instead of doing much else in my spare time. I still plan on doing that, the reading that is, I just plan to make more of a conscious effort to blog about it too. Fridays I think, because that’s when I’ll have the time. If anything, I hope it will help me broaden my vocabulary again, I’ve already seen too much repetion of words in these very short paragraphs. Though I doubt it will do anything for my terrible use of apostrophes as predictive text sorts that out for me most of the time.

I read and saw so much I wanted to write about this year. I even wrote myself notes on the back of ticket stubs and started using post its when I read. But I just never did. Not at I have an excuse either. I now have a smart phone, and still have a tablet. Small, easy, portable. Laziness just seems to win out in the end.

But not in 2018.

The Flipside

Then there is the not so great fantasy.

  
I just don’t think I can do high fantasy anymore. And this isn’t even it in its most purest form because there are portals from the fantasy land to the world as we know it.

I must have like the first story in this series though, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because I did by this sequel. Though it has been sitting in my shelf for about a year I think. And I won’t be buying the third in the trilogy to see how it all ends because I just don’t care.

Some of the concepts in this series are good. I like the resurrecting, and the mysterious far off land they introduced in this book, but overall there is just too much gore. And not enough explaining. I don’t get why the two different peoples are fighting so much, I don’t get why they want to take over earth, I don’t really see where it could be headed, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem the author has posed. Or at least not one I want to read about.

What is good about these books though is that the love story is not the focus as it is in so much fantasy. It’s important, but more important are the ideas of hope and peace. But that is also one of the problems with the series. I don’t really care about the peace because I haven’t been given enough information/back story to care and so without romance, there is nothing tying me to the characters. I guess it’s just really hard to empathise with them. Perhaps because they are not human.

And that’s another problem with high fantasy, it’s mostly just doom and gloom and nobody gets what they want. Including the reader.

The Flipside

Then there is the not so great fantasy.

  
I just don’t think I can do high fantasy anymore. And this isn’t even it in its most purest form because there are portals from the fantasy land to the world as we know it.

I must have like the first story in this series though, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because I did by this sequel. Though it has been sitting in my shelf for about a year I think. And I won’t be buying the third in the trilogy to see how it all ends because I just don’t care.

Some of the concepts in this series are good. I like the resurrecting, and the mysterious far off land they introduced in this book, but overall there is just too much gore. And not enough explaining. I don’t get why the two different peoples are fighting so much, I don’t get why they want to take over earth, I don’t really see where it could be headed, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem the author has posed. Or at least not one I want to read about.

What is good about these books though is that the love story is not the focus as it is in so much fantasy. It’s important, but more important are the ideas of hope and peace. But that is also one of the problems with the series. I don’t really care about the peace because I haven’t been given enough information/back story to care and so without romance, there is nothing tying me to the characters. I guess it’s just really hard to empathise with them. Perhaps because they are not human.

And that’s another problem with high fantasy, it’s mostly just doom and gloom and nobody gets what they want. Including the reader.

Just another teen novel

18. A book published this year

While this isn’t your average teen novel, it is your average teen novel. YA fiction is so diverse these days that characters like these don’t really stand out. The setting makes a small difference, small town rural NSW, but my feeling is that change permeates all of society.

The main character is a lesbian and both her sidekicks are Asians. I don’t​ think that any of this actually matters in the scheme of things. It’s kind of like a diversity love triangle mixed bag sub plot. What actually matters in this novel is figuring out who you are without letting others aspirations for you cloud your judgement.

It is a pretty sad story. The dementia plot line is all too real, as is the one of patriarchal abandonment. Though perhaps that’s only because of my personal experiences. I cried a bit, which means it’s pretty well written, I’m not usually a crier. It also made me go

Ah, that’s so true 

In a lot of places as well.

 So maybe there is more of me in this novel than I realised.

I did have a conversation about censorship with this book at the centre. I honestly think though that adults like to cover their backs rather than offer teens the things they might need. And it’s funny how people are ready to ban things that don’t match their way of thinking. If it’s an alternative lifestyle, that is, not heterosexual, it must be going to lead someone astray. 

Banned Books

I’ve made the decision to stop buying books for a bit. I can hear your sharp intake of breath right now. You’re thinking

But you love buying books. You have a book depository wish list that is ten deep. What about all those awesome books that are about to be published?!

And believe me, I hear you. I pretty much buy a book every time I go out. And that’s kind of my problem. While my wish list is ten books long, so is my physical to be read pile. And they’ve been piling up since Christmas.

I’ve got the new Maria V Snyder and a new Traci Harding. Plus Sebastian Bach’s memoir (the rock one, not the classical one). Plus I’m only like a hundred sites into 1001 Historical sites you should see before you die, I haven’t even ventured out of the Americas yet.

So I’m sticking to this self imposed ban until I do some reading. Or maybe just until the new Patrick Ness is out next week.

26. A book with multiple authors

I’m actually skipping writing about a book I read before this one firstly because this is an awesome book, and secondly because I don’t know what to write about Anthony Bourdain yet.

So this is another book about books. It’s kind of my favourite genre.

I just love reading about what other people think of books. Though not reviews, per se. I like knowing what they think about books or what it made them feel or what makes it great. I don’t want to know plot. If you can convince me it’s a good book without really talking about plot then I might read it and I don’t want any spoilers.

This book sees a whole bunch of Australian authors who mostly write for children and teens talk about books that affected them most. I didn’t read it with post its beside me this time but I should have.

It is completely fascinating to see how books imapct on people and then to consider how they may have impacted on you. I don’t know if I could pick just one book to say affected me most, and some of the authors don’t just choose one.

Jane Eyre or Northanger Abbey are my go to books for a re read but that’s mostly because I like the story. Nothing jumps to mind in terms of having a profound effect on the trajectory of my life. I do wish I had every Teen Power Inc ever written but alas I borrowed them from the library. 

I’m going to have to give it some more thought and get back to you.

15. A book that takes place on an island

And very conveniently, and homophonic, Ireland.

I did not like this book very much. At least, not as much as Kent’s first book Burial Rites which I read a few years ago.

This is another truish story about an alleged crime, inspired, as they say, by true events. I just didn’t really care about those events. Though I didn’t dislike it enough to put it down either. As you all know I never finish a book I don’t like (I’m looking at you Ian McEwan).

Set sometime before running water and electricity in rural Ireland, this book looks at the transition between pagan and church ways of thinking. It questions customs and beliefs, and tries to get the reader to understand how these can come and go out of fashion.

I think I had a hard time reading this book because I read so much fantasy. In those books fairies and magic are ‘real’ whereas in real life they are not. So I just couldn’t get my head around this as historical fiction with all the talk of the Fey. Her writing couldn’t make me believe that people really used to think this way. I wasn’t convinced, perhaps because I now have running water and electricity.

She is a good writer, don’t get me wrong. She evokes the period and tells the story in an enthralling way. It just wasn’t a topic that really drew me in.

Like her other novel the build up to the event took a long time too. Though this was written in the present tense, rather than looking back like the other one. It still had the same sense of foreboding though, that dramatic irony where you know something is going to go wrong. It just wasn’t the injustice of the other novel. It was just a bit meh for me.

3. A book set in your home state

I’m not sure how I feel about this book.

I did read it in about two days which means I must have liked it because I stop reading when I don’t like a book.

I think it is a good book. It’s set back on the early 1990’s and I like that because I’m a child of the nineties. It’s also set in rural NSW and I like that too because I’ve spent a lot of time there.

Normally I don’t like modern Australian fiction. Too much of the convict mentality taints it. Or perhaps that’s just David Malouf. But I’ve found myself reading a little more of it lately. Last year I read all of Inga Simpson’s novels and I can’t wait for her to right more. And I love all Helen Garner’s true writing.

In this novel, I think it’s the way it unfolds that I like best. Because the narrator is writing from the future, after all the events have taken place, she tells the story on real time, as it happens, even if she didn’t know the information in real time. This way the mystery unfolds chronologically and I’m not confused or kept in the dark as a reader, something I loathe. 

All good mystery/crime fiction should allow the reader to become the sleuth. There should be just enough information for you to have a stab at picking the killer but not so much that you actually do. The twists and turns of this story really fit with the rural community setting, reflecting both the historical time and some contemporary concerns.

The ending was a little abrupt but I was unsatisfied, just a bit taken aback that it was finished.

My problem at the moment is that I dont know what to read next because there is no YA fiction on my shelf and the ones I want to read haven’t been published yet.