Books, films, Geek Culture

February Wrap-Up: Books, Films and Mad Men

Better late than never, right?

It’s been a little while since I’ve last posted, and for this post, I’ve decided to mix things up a little. Normally, I use the end of the month to share some mini reviews for the books I’ve read over the course of the month, but after my month-long absence, I’ve decided to do a broader round-up. Instead of reviewing every book I’ve read, I’m sharing a review for my favourite book of the month, plus a review of my biggest disappointment. I’m also going to tell you about a couple of films and one TV show.

Books

In February, I read:

 

  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Way of Kings, Part 2 (The Stormlight Archive Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson
  • You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (re-read)
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi
  • The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle Book 1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Favourite Book of the Month

Redshirts by John Scalzi

By far my favourite book this month was John Scalzi’s Redshirts. This book was fun, smart, and geeky, making it hard not to fall for.

This is a science fiction story that takes inspiration from TV shows like Star Trek, the title, Redshirts, being a reference to the infamous Star Trek trope that the guys in the red shirts always seem to die on away missions. Scalzi’s book is told from the perspective of one of these redshirts on board the starship Intrepid, who begins to suspect that something’s amiss when he notices that whilst key crew members manage to survive the unthinkable each away-team mission, at least one low-ranking crew member is always killed.

The thing I love the most about Scalzi’s writing is his sense of humour, and his ability to create these surprisingly normal, relatable, and self-aware characters who have a lot of the same reactions to events as the reader (namely, wondering what on Earth is going on).  This book has some superbly clever twists that I didn’t see coming, and was fun and unusual. For a book that so clearly borrows from the culture of classic science fiction shows, it’s surprisingly unique. It takes the tropes of the genre, and spices them up, making it more than just a parody.

This was a very fun, entertaining, and unexpectedly sharp read.

Biggest Disappointment of the Month

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I’ve heard so many great things about the series, and read some glowing reviews from bloggers I follow and bookish friends, and while it was an enjoyable enough read, I just didn’t connect with it the way I’d hoped to.

The Raven Boys is a young adult fantasy, set in a modern-day town flavoured with a hint of the supernatural. Blue comes from a family of clairvoyants, and each year, she joins her mother to watch a procession of spirits – of those who are due to die in the coming year – walk past. Blue can’t usually see the spirits herself, but this year, one boy’s spirit is visible, meaning that either Blue was responsible for his death, or that he’s her true love. Add this to the fact that Blue’s mother has always warned her that if she kisses her true love, he will die, and the stakes are high.

I found the first half of the book slow, and frankly, not that interesting. There weren’t any characters who really excited me, or who I felt much empathy for, and Blue’s character felt underdeveloped throughout. I did, however, enjoy learning about the setting and the magic in this part of the book: this was different enough to stand out from other books I’ve read.

The final half of the book was a major improvement. I related to the characters more, the pace increased, and I started to feel invested in the budding romance and relationships between the characters. I got really into the book at this point. Unfortunately, while the ending leaves plenty of mystery for the later books, it didn’t feel particularly satisfying, since none of the storylines were really resolved.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book, but it wasn’t anything memorable or special for me.

Films

This month, I went to see two films at the cinema: The Shape of Water and The Post. 

The Post

The Post was a great film for anyone who likes drama, moral dilemmas, history, politics and of course, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, who were both excellent. Meryl Streep’s character in particular was complex and likable; I loved her character development, and she was the kind of strong, interesting character I wouldn’t mind seeing more of, and portrayed with such clever nuance. The political themes behind the film, largely, freedom of the press, are also still highly relevant today, so this added an extra angle to the film.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water was a genre-bending mixture of romance, horror, fantasy, and drama. I loved the storyline, which was so unique and unusual and tightly written, and I felt invested in the characters, particularly Sally Hawkins’ character, Eliza, a young and lonely mute woman who works as a cleaner in a dark and mysterious government facility. Michael Shannon’s character was so despicably evil and grotesque, and did a great job of eliciting horror, disgust and anger. I also loved the set design and the score.

TV

MadMEn

I’ll keep this section short, since I haven’t been watching much on TV lately. The main TV show I’ve been focusing my attention on is Mad Men, as I’m currently working my way through the first season. It’s quite a slow-burner, but I’m enjoying the setting, and the central male characters are ABSOLUTELY INFURIATING. I have such a burning hatred for Pete Campbell that I can barely stand to see him on the screen, and I can’t wait for Peggy to show the men what she’s worth. This show really hits my feminist nerve, and I guess that’s the point. I sure hope these horribly sexist characters get what’s coming to them.

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4 thoughts on “February Wrap-Up: Books, Films and Mad Men”

    1. Oooh I’ve not seen that one around so much – I’ll check it out, thanks for the recommendation! I also read Old Man’s War recently and loved it.

      Like

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