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review 2020-06-02 22:24
Verily, a Great Entertainment
William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope - Jonathan Davis,Marc Thompson,Daniel Davis,January LaVoy,Ian Doescher

"CHORUS:
As our scene to space, so deep and dark,
O’er your imagination we’ll hold sway.
For neither players nor the stage can mark
The great and mighty scene they must portray.
We ask you, let your keen mind’s eye be chief –
Think when we talk of starships, there they be."

 

"LUKE:
Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears
Wish not we had a single fighter more,
If we are mark’d to die, we are enough
To make our planets proud. But should we win,
We fewer rebels share the greater fame.
We have all sacrific’d unto this cause.
[...]
For with the Force and bravery we win.
O! Great shall be the triumph of that hour
When Empire haughty, vast and powerful
Is fell’d by simple hands of rebels base,
Is shown the might of our good company!
And citizens in Bespin now abed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here.
For never shall rebellion see a time
More glori’us then our strong attack today!"

Well, of course Doescher channels the Bard's great speeches, but this is not just parody (of either Shakespeare or Star Wars); it's a cleverly-executed synthesis, transposing the complete screenplay(s) into Shakespearean iambic pentameter -- and somehow managing to remain faithful to both.

 

I am glad that I opted for the audio version, though: Just as Shakespeare's plays are best experienced in performance (and, well, George Lukas wrote movie scripts, not novels), Doescher's synthesis of the two really comes to life when performed.  And I have to give huge kudos to the actors who, while they are clearly having more fun than should be permitted, take the work seriously and give it their full attention, all the way from R2-D2's "beep, squeak, squeeeaak"s (Death of Rats, anyone?) and Han Solo's "hey, I'm just here for the money" attitude to the weightier interactions between Obi-Wan, Luke, Leia, and Darth Vader.  (Interestingly, the total length of Doescher's text also falls squarely within the average range of that of a Shakespearean play.)   I'm not one of those who can do Star Wars marathons, nor will I typically watch more than one play by the Bard at a time, so I don't see myself bingeing on Doescher's syntheses of the two sources. But I'm glad there is more than one of these -- they just may turn out to be the things to turn to when my life needs a bit of brightening up.

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review 2020-05-30 15:54
The Green Mile
The Green Mile - Stephen King

by Stephen King

 

After watching and enjoying the movie made from this book many times, I had to read the source material. The story wasn't actually changed much for the film version apart from details about character's thoughts always being easier to convey in books.

 

I enjoyed the read a lot, but have one complaint. He kept giving spoilers for the upcoming chapters! It's something I haven't seen King do in any of his other books that I've read. He would finish a chapter with "and then X happened." All suspense was deflated, even though I knew what was coming because of seeing the movie.

 

Still, this is one of those not-Horror stories with supernatural overtones that King does so well. The story of John Coffey and his special ability to 'help' people is a King classic with good reason and translated to film well.

 

The last few chapters diverged a little more from the movie and went into more detail about what happened to various characters and that was interesting, although one issue was left unresolved unless I missed a detail.

 

As King books go, I think it's one of his best despite the spoilers along the way. I'm kind of glad I saw the movie first on this occasion though. I don't think the eerie supernatural scenes were depicted as intensely as I know King can do, or maybe I'm just spoiled because the movie did it so well.

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review 2020-05-28 03:19
Review: Neverwhere
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

So I think I have a love/hate relationship with Gaiman books.  Everything about them says I should love them, but 50% of the time I...well I don't hate them, but I also don't love them.  This was another that I didn't love.  It's fantasy, adventure, intrigue, and good narration (I listened and read along with my nook because I won't take my paper books on the bus.)

 

It follows Richard, a Londoner who lives a fairly normal boring life with a very unlikeable girlfriend who seems to only want to control his every move.  He gets mixed up with Door, who is from the London Under, which is the world beneath the regular world, the place where the people who fall through the cracks end up.  After his first encounter with Door, rescuing her and helping her to get back to her world, Richard inadvertently becomes part of London Under.  It's as if he doesn't exist in his world.  So Richard adventures to London Under hoping to find Door and her guide the Marquis De Carabas.  They are on a mission to learn who killed Door's family and trying to kill Door. Richard is hopeful that once their mission is complete there will be a way for him to fully return to his world.

 

The story just didn't hold my attention.  I couldn't get into it and was easily distracted from the story.  The best and most interesting part was the short story of the Marquis and his quest to find his missing coat.  It was just meh for me.  Maybe a re-read at a later date will be in order

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review 2020-05-24 14:37
The Canterville Ghost
The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde,Inga Moore

by Oscar Wilde

 

This is one of those Classic stories I've meant to read for years and have finally got to it. Oscar Wilde comes from an era when characters were written bigger than life, even when they are dead. Many clichés of ghost story writing, like blood stains that reappear after being cleaned up, are to be found in this one, but the reader should remember that Wilde probably wrote them first! His sometimes humorous take on ghostly activity set the tone for many stories that came after.

 

My only complaint would be that sometimes the ghost had too much physicality. The antics of the children who chose to torment him instead of fearing him might have had greater limitations if he couldn't slip on floors or have his dignity damaged by projectiles.

 

Later in the story, humour gives way to a poignant encounter with the little girl in the family who feels sorry for the ghost and his plight. The gamut of emotions that are woven through the tale make me want to read more of Oscar Wilde to discover his full potential as a writer.

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review 2020-05-24 12:56
Accomplished Debut Novel
Killing A Dead Man - Siobhian R. Hodges

“Killing a Dead Man” is rightly billed as a ‘supernatural thriller’ and though the author, Siobhian R. Hodges is a new talent, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel. Ostensibly targeted at the YA readership, it can be tricky when shedding light on some challenging themes not to oversteer, but in her subtle use of light and shade, the author successfully navigates a course, which balances the best and worst of human traits.

 

Written in the first person, the book adopts the perspective of Jordan, now aged fifteen, but weighed down by the loss of his twin brother, Danny, brutally murdered five years earlier. It was a defining moment in Jordan’s young life, steeped in guilt that he hadn’t prevented it and anger that the perpetrator had not been caught. The only consolation for Jordan is that Danny’s spirit had not moved on, but intermittently communicates with his brother. Jordan can feel Danny’s presence, rather than see him and though comforting, the connection was not without consequences. The boys’ bewildered parents had finally sought psychiatric help for their surviving son, meanwhile Jordan’s talking to an invisible brother was seized upon by teenage school bullies. The central character is isolated amid the struggles of his adolescent life, but not alone. Still, when Danny divulges he knows the identity of his killer, Jordan is compelled to launch across the country in search of revenge.

 

Whilst the premise of the subsequent adventure may play differently, depending on the reader’s beliefs concerning the afterlife, I found the author’s description of the twins’ ongoing relationship and the permeable nature of the boundary between this world and the next, both convincing and warming. Jordan and Danny are each held in a glutinous state of torment, which must surely be excised if they are to move on with their respective journeys, but it will take active forces in both realms if Jordan is to survive the ordeal.

 

Along the way, the reader is introduced to some intriguing characters, in particular, long-suffering taxi driver, Mr Butch, who is unwittingly drawn into Jordan’s odyssey and just as Danny attends the edge of the living world, so Jordan’s companion is a welcome escort for his foray into a murky, sometimes hostile adult environment.

 

The book teems with suspense, yet delivers the reader a very satisfying denouement. I look forward to placing my copy in the hands of a teenager, for whom I think the novel was intended, but with a hearty recommendation that it is well worth reading. So too perhaps for those young of heart!

 

Unusual praise too for the quality of the binding. I am not ordinarily moved to comment on such aesthetics, however, the paperback, apparently “printed in Great Britain by Amazon”, has a deliciously waxy feel to the touch, which simply made the book a genuine pleasure to hold. Ms Hodges is to be congratulated on such a rounded debut and I look forward with interest to her future titles.

 

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