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Where The Wolves Read

A blog where I review mostly books. I also review, if my appetite allows, movies, music, and video games. Enjoy the feast!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why (book and show)

I got things to say and feels to feel so let’s get started. First, let me say that Thirteen Reasons Why is one of my favorite books of all time. In the way of re-reads, it even rivals the Harry Potter books. I picked this book up on a whim when I was in high school. I read the synopsis in my school library and I thought it would help me a lot. High school is also when my thoughts shifted from, “I need to leave South Carolina” to “I should kill myself.” I know some kids with mental health issues probably shouldn’t read books about suicide, but I was hoping that I would find something about loss and hurt. Thirteen Reasons Why did that for me. It was a book I needed in that time of my life, and it continues to be a book that I refer to even as an adult. When I found out one of my favorite books was going to be turned into a TV show, I was cautiously hopeful. Then I saw the trailer and my heart sunk. It looked like this big mystery and it didn’t feel like the book I fell in love with. Sure, there is some mystery involving all of the people on the tapes and how they interconnected, but the trailer for the show made it sound like most of these people were small and there was one major person who really caused Hannah to kill herself. Don’t worry, I’m not going to shit on the show. After the first couple of episodes, I realized I was enjoying it far more than I expected to. It’s actually a fairly decent show. Of course, there are some positives and negatives. Yes, they do involve the changes that were made but, out of respect for the author, this book, and everyone involved with the show, I’m going to try to be fair. So, here are my thoughts about Thirteen Reasons Why, the book and the show.
In standard Kim fashion, I’m going to hit some of the characters. I’m not going to talk about every character in the story. Just the ones that impacted me the most. Either good impact or bad. First, there’s Clay. I LOVED Clay in the book. He is the kid you can’t help but like because he seems so kind and aware. Don’t start with the, “If he was aware then he would have known Hannah wanted to kill herself.” This wasn’t a book about people trying to save a girl. She was already gone before the book started. I still enjoyed Clay in the show. The fact that he was a nerd made my heart happy. I didn’t really like how aggressive he got at certain points. There was a part with Skye where he grabbed her arm and exposed her self-harm scars. Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that to a person. Another thing I didn’t like about Clay in the show was when his parents brought up medication to him. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with anyone taking medication. Clay in the books wasn’t on any sort of drugs. Yes, it’s hard to tell when the book takes place over the span of a single night, but I like to think Clay was a pretty well put together person. The drugs made me sad because it seemed like there was something deeply wrong with Clay and it played into the myth of “the only person who can love someone mentally ill is another ill person.”  As a teen, I hung out with a lot of ill people so it wouldn’t have bothered me as much back then, but my perspective as an adult is vastly different. I’m blessed enough to have made friends who are well and loving. They are patient and kind. They do not look at me and see my disorders. They just see me. Maybe Jay intended Clay to have some dark secrets about his own mental health. I just don’t see Clay with those kinds of struggles.
I really liked Tony in the book. I thought he was an interesting secondary character with his own share of secrets. In the show, Tony immediately became my favorite character. He is suave, but honest. He is kind, but reserved. His interactions with Clay are humorous and heartfelt. I loved him. I also loved that he is gay, but it isn’t a big deal. It’s just part of Tony and he even says that everyone knows he’s gay. It isn’t some weird secret Tony has to wrestle with. He’s comfortable with himself. He did say something that bothered me. When his boyfriend confronted him about the phrase “my friend” versus “my boyfriend,” Tony said Ryan called him “my boyfriend” and he wasn’t comfortable with the possessive tone. But “my friend” also has that possession aspect. If anything, the wording should have been “a friend.” Correct me if my hearing is off and they did actually use “a friend.” It’s such a minor thing, but it seemed really contradictory. Beyond that, Tony is fantastic. I could spend hours gushing over him.
Skye. Oh Skye. I have feelings. In the original story, she wasn’t the most necessary character. She was a chance for Clay to try again when he sees someone in need. That’s fine. I’ve accepted that. I actually thought that was a nice way of ending the book off. Then they brought her into the show. She was fine, but she embodied the stereotypical “emo” girl with the dark clothes and the “I don’t give a fuck about anything” attitude. Fine. I rolled my eyes when she was introduced because I had no real attachment to her character anyway. What DID bother me was towards the end of series when Clay exposes her self-harm scars. Skye says that her self-harm is what she needs to do in order to survive. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to writing about any kind of mental illness. Especially depression. This idea that your options are either kill yourself or live, but you have to self-harm. Yes, those sound like the only two options to some people. Those sounded like my only two options for a very long time. But I wish that wasn’t what Skye’s character had become. She could have easily been that quiet girl who tries to stay out of everyone’s bullshit but still manages to get dragged by bullies. She wouldn’t have been as interesting for people watching the show, but it would have been a healthier representation of depression compared to how she was depicted in the show.
I’m done talking about characters for now. Those were just the three big ones that I had a lot of feelings about. Now, I want to talk about the story. A large part of why I love Thirteen Reasons Why is Hannah already died. It isn’t going to be a story about trying to love a girl back to health after she tries to kill herself. She’s gone. There is no fixing that. I’ve seen some people get upset over this approach to depression. They say it focuses less on Hannah and her mental health and the focus is more on Clay. That’s fair. But I like how the narrative was about the people left behind. Yes, this includes Clay. I like how the story isn’t about fixing the broken girl and it’s about where to go from here. What I really enjoyed about the show was the overarching story of Hannah’s parents and their lawsuit against the school. I’m sure it’s for legal/personal reasons, but we don’t really hear about that side when kids commit suicide. I was fascinated by how they both struggled with how to approach the lawsuit and how both parents changed throughout the story. I admired Hannah’s parents a lot. I’m sure it isn’t easy to deal with the loss of a child. Especially when that child commits suicide. I wasn’t really bothered that they lengthened the time in which the story takes place. It actually made a lot of sense. My friend committed suicide a couple of years ago and, if I got a mysterious letter or box of tapes from her, I would have to take longer than a single night to process everything. I also appreciated seeing how the school as an organization and the student body changed throughout the story as Clay moved along with the tapes. Overall, the story was good. They changed things and moved some stuff around, but it was still solid.
Here comes the not so positive things. There were a few things with the story that got on my nerves. First off, Justin. I appreciated how the show gave us more insight to the bullies and what their home lives were like, but I still hate Justin. He doesn’t get a pass because his home life is crap. Bullies do not get to use that as an excuse for why they are terrible people. Maybe my past makes me too angry at Justin’s story, but I don’t care. Something else that bothered me was the last scene with Tony and the last scene with Alex. Much like my problem with Skye, I felt like their reactions were predictable. They made me roll my eyes. I do think stories like theirs are important, but they also deserve their own focus. Their struggles shouldn’t be tacked onto the end of Hannah’s story. The last thing that bothered me was Hannah and Bryce’s last interaction. First, this brings up the question of how a person defines rape. In the book, Hannah was fingered by Bryce. In the show, it is definitely rape. Both of those are bad and Bryce is scum. That isn’t my problem. My issue is with how the scene was done. In the book, Hannah allows herself to be in this position as a farewell of sorts. Like, this interaction with Bryce was the only thing missing before she could commit to killing herself. In the show, Bryce uses force and takes advantage of Hannah when she clearly doesn’t want any of it. I felt like the scene in the book was more empowering because Hannah had that situation planned out. She knew what she was getting into. She wasn’t trying to make excuses. In the show, Hannah appeared trapped. This depiction of her was unfortunate. I think I’ll stop here. This is already way longer than I thought it was going to be. As a whole, I still love Thirteen Reasons Why. I still give the book 5/5. I would probably give the show 3/5. I just wanted to express some things as a fan of the book.

The trigger warnings at the start of the last few episodes were greatly appreciated. That being said, this is also really helpful if you want to know specifically what troubling things are in the show:

http://www.buddy-project.org/13-reasons-why

There are also a few scenes that involve guns. One is in the very last episode, and the other is a few episodes before it. Sadly, I don't remember exactly which episode off the top of my head. It's the scene with Bryce and Jessica. If you've watched the show, then you know which scene I'm referring to.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Most Intimidating Books Tag

Original Creator: The links I've been finding don't work so I'm not sure who the original creator of this tag is. :(

1. Name a book on your TBR that you haven't been able to finish:

There isn't a specific reason for this. I tried to read it years ago, and I never actually finished it. I'm going to try again, but this was the first book I could think of.

2. A book you haven't had the time to read:

I got the first 3 books in this series fairly recently and they can all fall under this question. I work at an academic library, so trying to find time to read books like this during the school year is hard. I've been trying to collect them so I can marathon (maybe?) the series when summer break starts. We'll see.

3. Name a book you haven't read because it's a sequel:

I read all the way up to this book and then I stopped because I know book 9 is still being written. I didn't want to be caught up with another series just to wait an eternity for the next book. *cough* GoT *cough*

4. Name a book you haven't read because it's brand new:

I got this in the January Owl Crate, and I just haven't gotten around to reading it. I love retellings, but I haven't read a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. I'm going to read this soon because I'm really stinking excited for it.

5. Name a book on your TBR by an author you've read previously and you didn't like their book:

I've had Icons for awhile and I just haven't gotten to it. This might be cheating, but I enjoyed the Beautiful Creatures series a lot. Then Margie came out with this book, then Black Widow: Forever Red. I read Black Widow already and I wasn't super impressed. It just didn't wow me the way I was hoping it would. I might give it another go later and read the sequel, but we'll see. I DO need to read Icons and Idols though since I have both of them.

6. Name a book on your TBR pile that you're not in the mood to read:

I read the first book in this series and I really liked it, but I didn't have the other books. Now, I have all of them and I'm just not in the mood to read them. I'm going to check out the audio version of Furies of Calderon to see if that'll help me get back into the world a bit.

7. Name a book on your TBR pile you haven't read because it's huge:

Sanderson, why do you write such massive books? Jeebus

8. Name a book on your TBR that you bought because of the cover, but it has also gotten bad reviews:

I read Hush Hush and I wasn't a fan. I saw a copy of Black Ice on Book Outlet hecka cheap, so I picked it up. I want to believe Becca can do a really good job with a book. I've also heard a lot of negative things about this book, so we'll see.

9. Name the book on your TBR pile that you find the most intimidating:

This book is massive, and literary fiction can be hard for me to get through. I've heard it's excellent though and I want to expand my reading tastes. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Where the Wolves Read: A Darker Shade of Magic

SummaryKell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. 

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.
 

Review: I'm going to be straight up and tell you this was a re-read and the Shades of Magic trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies of all time. Characters. I loved all of them. There has never been another book where I've loved all the characters. Even the bad ones. Kell was mysterious, but lovable. Lila was fierce. Holland is broken and I just want to hug him. I even liked the Danes. I found each of the characters unique and fascinating. Kell's ability to travel between Londons was a great way to experience the different ways magic has affected these seemingly similar places. Lila is my baby. Lila has this great attitude and just is not here for Kell's "I'm better than you because magic" bullshit. I need Lila to be my friend in real life. Just throwing that out there. Lila didn't let anything get in her way which is something I really appreciated. Regardless of the situation, she was willing to give it everything she had. Holland was fascinating. Is there a novella of Holland and Kell growing up? It would be excellent to see both characters learning how to craft their magic into what it was when ADSOM started. Rhy was such a fun character and (I've already read book 2) I know he only gets better and more complex as the stories continue. I do wish we had gotten more of him in ADSOM, but I think we got a feel for how playful, yet loving he can be.

As far as plot goes, I'm a sucker for parallel universe or alternate dimension stories. ADSOM did a good job of focusing on one specific city, but making it feel fresh and new every single time Kell traveled. I also really liked how the dual perspective narrative was handled throughout the story. It was nice seeing Lila's fresh take on everything and then compare it to Kell's experienced eyes. I don't know if this is because the book was a re-read, but there were some parts I found a little predictable. That didn't take anything away from my enjoyment though. From start to finish, I was in London with Kell and Lila. They had such a grand adventure for the story taking place in one city. I did use the audiobook to re-experience this story and I think it was a great decision. The audiobook was very well done and I had no issues getting into the narration. I'll try to stop gushing now.

5/5 howls

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)

Where the Wolves Watch: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Disclaimer: I have read through this entire series a couple of times. When the TV show was released, I re-read the books as they corresponded with the episodes.

Review: If you're looking for a series where kids go on an adventure and are back home with their parents at the end of the day, or a series where there is love and frivolity until the end of days, you should look for these more pleasant things. I, myself, have been quite invested in the Baudelaire children for quite some time. As a young child, I was fascinated with the horrendous things that take place within the pages of these books. When Netflix decided to make a TV show of the Baudelaire children, I was appalled. Why would a company as well known as Netflix make a mockery of such tragedy? Unfortunately, the show exists, and so does my continued heartbreak for these children. The first segment of the show follows the Baudelaires as they are put in the loathing hands of Count Olaf. The most despicable man of all time. Count Olaf is already a rubbish actor, but his performance was somehow out done in terribleness by the equally frightening Neil Patrick Harris. I quivered with fright as these two men became one and Count Olaf was brought to life once more. Patrick Warburton did a passable rendition of my dear Lemony Snicket. I desired nothing more than to jump into the screen and help him with the Baudelaire children. Let's speak about the children. The horrors they have experienced are indescribable. They were threatened and almost murdered numerous times. They have a commendable will to live that is unlike anything I've ever seen. They are truly special children. Sadly, that is not enough to keep them away from the upcoming tragedies. Now, I have learned Netflix is not done with the Baudelaire children. They plan on exploiting their pain for another season. Possible two more seasons. I will continue to watch for research purposes, but I implore everyone else to pry their eyes from the horrors within this series. I'm going to talk with the very favorable dissenters and see if there is anything we can do to keep Netflix from continuing this travesty. Good luck, Baudelaire children.

5/5 miserable howls

Friday, February 17, 2017

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

Original Creator: The Book Archer

1. Name a popular book series that you didn't like:

Twilight will always be my answer to this question. There are other books in series I hated more than Twilight, but I've completed the Twilight series so I felt it fit this question better than other books. I will say that I've grown a lot since I read this series. So, while I still hate these books, I can appreciate that they are the reason why the YA genre has grown to what it is now.

2. Name a popular series everyone seems to hate, but you seem to love:

Obviously, Vampire Academy has its fans, but lately I feel like people have been dragging this series. I feel like it's because they don't like Richelle's more recent books, so they feel the need to crap on VA as well. This series ended years ago, and the ending STILL sticks with me. I bought The Last Sacrifice the week it came out and loved everything about it.

3. Name a love triangle where you didn't like who the main character ended up with:

I'm not going to have the "Team Gale" or "Team Peeta" conversation today. I don't really have a preference between either of the guys, because I wish there was no romance at all. I get why it was there, but I still didn't like it.

4. Name a popular book genre you rarely reach for:

My two least read fiction genres are probably contemporary and historical. I've included pictures of books in both of these genres that I've read and loved, and The Book Thief is my favorite book of all time. So, clearly, reaching out of my comfort zone can be a very, very good thing.

5. Name a popular book character that you do not like:

Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. I hate him so much. I probably would have enjoyed this series a lot more if he wasn't a part of it. Oh well.

6. Name a popular author you can't seem to get into:

I had to read Ender's Game for two separate classes in college. This is supposed to be OSC's big novel, but I didn't really like it. The story was fine, but I couldn't get past Ender starting the novel at the age of 5. Plus, I just didn't like him as a character. I enjoyed the side characters, but not Ender. For the record, no OSC's personal beliefs had no part in my disliking of the novel. I'm pretty good about separating the author from their work.

7. Name a popular series you have no interest in reading:

I remember this series making its rounds when the NA genre was starting to take off. I heard it started as One Direction fanfiction. I don't have anything against fanfiction, but I don't like One Direction. Plus, I'm not really in the space to read a rocker romance blah.

8. Which book-to-movie adaptation is better than its source material:

I know this book has controversies surrounding it. As someone with disabilities, I honestly wasn't too bothered by how ablest the book was. Of course, I can see how people would be bothered, so the criticism is definitely necessary. I was really quite bored with this book. I didn't find it that compelling compared to other contemporary books I've read in the past. I did enjoy the movie. It might be because the movie sucked a couple of hours out of my life versus a few days. It could also be because I had a previous fondness for the actors involved. It was a solid adaptation so if you're curious, and you aren't bothered by the ablest tendencies, watch the movie. Skip the book.

9.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Where the Wolves Read: The Sculptor

SummaryDavid Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding  what  to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier! 

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work. (Goodreads)
Review: The Sculptor follows David who is a struggling sculptor who makes a deal with the devil. In doing so, he gains the ability to sculpt whatever he desires. David was interesting to read about and I found his struggles to be easy to relate to. Except for the conversation with Death. I also appreciated that David still struggled after he struck his deal. Death didn't give him an incredible ability and David was suddenly set. There was plenty of conflict to keep the story moving. There were side characters that David interacted with throughout the story. One of them was Meg. She reminded me of people I knew in my real life which was interesting. I've never had that experience with a graphic novel. She is quirky and fun, but she has her own demons to fight off. There was a specific scene between her and David that I really appreciated, but I'm going to let you guys figure that one out on your own.

The art was incredible. I've only read one other Scott McCloud book, Understanding Comics, but that was structured completely differently from The Sculptor. The drawings were beautiful and realistic. Then there is the artwork associated with the sculptures David creates. Every piece was unique and striking. The struggle for identity that David goes through in the book hit especially close to home for me. The Sculptor is a big book, but it is definitely worth checking out.

5/5 howls

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Erased (anime)

Where the Wolves Watch: Erased



Summary: Growing up, 28 year old Satoru has always suffered from "revivals" where he will jump back in time 1-5 minutes and have to fix some tragedy. After a series of events, his revival takes him all the way back to his 10 year old self. Through this, he takes it upon himself to solve a series of kidnapping/murders that occurred in his town.

Disclaimer: I have only read the first volume or so of the manga, but I've watched the anime in its entirety. 

Review: This series gave me so many feelings. First of all, let's talk about the characters. Satoru was an interesting guy and I appreciated how the revivals were already a part of his life before the story initially begins. It gives us an idea of what kind of person Satoru is without being an info-dump about revivals. I can't talk about specific side characters without feeling like I'm going to spoil certain aspects of the story, but most of the characters felt thoroughly explored and fleshed out. I will say, some of the kids 10 year old Satoru interacts with feel a bit more mature than I would have expected, but overall this didn't pull my attention away from the story. 

Now, for the actual story. The story in Erased was absolutely beautiful. There were so many heartbreaking and encouraging moments for the adult characters as well as the children characters. Of course, it wasn't perfect. On a personal note, I sometimes have a hard time with stories about people trying to fix mistakes and save another person's life. That being said, I enjoyed that this story had a thriller aspect to it, versus a strictly sappy storyline. One thing that I'm torn on was the length of the story.  When Satoru goes back to his 10 year old self, we find out there were 3 children who were kidnapped and murdered in his town. A large part of the anime's story focused on only one of these children. Part of me wishes they gave the other 2 children a bit more of a story. That being said, I'm not exactly sure how they would have been able to pull that off without the story becoming repetitive. That was probably my biggest gripe throughout the series, but it didn't diminish how much I loved the show. I will also add that I found the ending a bit predictable. I'm curious to see if other people were blown away by it, but I saw the ending coming from the start. Still, I would highly recommend this for anyone. It's short enough so, if a person doesn't frequently watch anime, they will not be intimidated. It's also griping so anime veterans will have an enjoyable time following along with this story.

5/5 howls

Additional: Have a video of AmaLee singing an English translation of the ending and opening songs from Erased