#RandomReads Discussion – April Discussion

For the final post in April Random Reads, I’m going to be chatting about this month’s two Random Reads books in a bit more detail.
Our theme for this month was ‘Books that have been turned into a film’. Oddly enough, I’ve not actually seen the films that these books have been turned into, so I can’t really comment much on that…but I do have plenty of stuff to talk about which didn’t make it into the reviews.
I’m going to start off with The Book Thief as that’s the book Stacie picked for me to read. I said in my review that I had a story about this one so here it is…
My copy of The Book Thief was stolen.
There’s some kind of irony for you there.
I say stolen… I lent it to a friend who didn’t give it back for a long time (that’s why I don’t lend books!) and finally got lost in her breakup with her boyfriend (I hope he’s enjoying it!)
I have quite conflicted views about The Book Thief which I didn’t really bring into my review too much. It’s really interesting and well written and has some beautiful descriptions, but for some reason I just can’t get into it like I do with other books. It’s a shame because so many other people seem to love it – Stacie’s review is really glowing and I agree with all the points she makes, but for some reason I just can’t love it like everyone else does.
Another thing that I briefly touched on in my review was the use of metaphors and similes. Sometimes I loved them and felt they created a beautifully vivid picture, but other times I really stumbled over them as they just didn’t make sense to me. I think I like my writing a little simpler and to the point: The Book Thief tended to drag on a bit and sometimes I wished there was a little less flowery descriptions and a little more straightforward storytelling.
In terms of the film, though I haven’t seen it, I can’t imagine it doing the book justice. I don’t know if they kept the Death narration going, which is a pretty key part, but aside from that, I think it’s the words in The Book Thief that make it the story that it is. 
Although I’m glad Stacie made me read it again, I don’t think it’s one I’ll be picking up again.

Now on to Stardust which I nominated for Stacie to read.

Again, I think we had slightly differing opinions and she seemed to enjoy it more than me.
I’ve been reading a lot of Grimm tales lately and, while I love them and find them fascinating, I can’t read them like I do with normal books. There’s something about the way they’re told which is kind of distant and I can’t really connect to the characters as real people – because in a lot of cases, they’re not, they’re just a way to get a message across.
I don’t mind this in the Grimm tales because they’re so short, some less than a page long, but in Stardust it just didn’t work for me. It’s hard to care about a character you don’t feel connected to, and that’s how I felt about Tristan. Sometimes he irritates me with his actions, but other than I really didn’t feel much of a connection to him. 

Unlike The Book Thief I think Stardust would make a great film (probably is a great film, just not one that I’ve seen…) It’s just got that magical quality that I feel would look beautiful on screen, with enough interweaving plot lines, drama and romance to make the perfect film.

Stacie has done a lovely discussion about Stardust, which you can read here, as well as her reviews of Stardust and The Book Thief

After participating in this (first) Random Reads, I’ve read two new books and have resolved to watch two new film adaptations as well. I can’t wait to see what next month’s brings! Check back next Thursday to see what the theme and books are.

Book Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Ned Vizzini)

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 444
Release Date: May 1st 2006
Summary (From Goodreads):

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.
I made the mistake of Googling this book before I read it and found out the author committed suicide not long after the book was published and it made it all the more sad and poignant to read.

I struggled to get into this at first because of the dialogue, but I put this down to the fact that I have never been an American teenage boy. And after the first few pages of boy talk, when Craig is on his own, I found myself connecting better.

Craig’s illness is really relatable and it really shows that depression isn’t something abnormal or not understandable: it’s an illness with symptoms like anything else, and more people need to realise this. It’s also easy to see how life puts on these unnecessary pressures as well. My younger sister is 14 and cries every day about her GCSE exams, because she thinks if she doesn’t do well she won’t go to uni and she won’t get a good job and that’s her life over. It’s similar to Craig’s fears and I find it heartbreaking that she’s worrying about that at that age.

I thought the book started a little slow: I was expecting the majority of the book to be set in the hospital, but it took a while to get there, and I didn’t understand the significance of some parts (it came to me later though). I enjoyed Craig’s point of view as a narrator but didn’t find it easy to connect with him sometimes: his obsession with getting some girl action was a little annoying, especially considering his mental health position and where it got him.

I thought the characters were all very fleshed out and colourful, especially the ones inside the hospital – although this sometimes worked against them, as I felt they could be a little over the top some time.

The ending gave me conflicting feelings. I thought it did suggest a little that with a positive attitude and a new girlfriend you could make your depression better, which isn’t really something I believe. But I liked the fact that Craig wasn’t ‘cured’ as such, just getting into a better place.

Once this book got going, I really enjoyed it, but all the way through I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad it is that Ned Vizzini lost his own battle with depression. I hope his light hearted but poignant book has helped others with their own battles.

My Verdict:

Ahaha I love this book, you should totally read it!