The Rook: Book vs. TV Show

I haven’t done one of these posts in a long time, but they always used to be my favourites and since the views on them are pretty decent, I dare claim that you don’t hate them either. Sometimes the comparison isn’t entirely fair and I completely understand if your opinions differ. It’s really just my personal thoughts on the matter!

General Plot

A woman wakes up surrounded by dead bodies. She neither knows how she got into this mess nor who she is, however, there is a letter addressed to her for specifically that situation and it was seemingly written by … her? A journey encompassing secret government agencies, people with strange abilities (of which she is one) and vast betrayal begins.

Book

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)I have to start by saying that I read this book AFTER I started watching the show. I feel like that is very necessary to point out, because I have a feeling that had it been the other way around, the end result of this post might have been very different.

From the get go, I could see that they didn’t take much more than the general idea when they adapted the book for the screen. Which is fine for me, but I suspect not so much for fans of the source material. Anyway, the start of this whole reading adventure didn’t exactly go smoothly. I was painfully aware that this was written by a man, because no way on earth would a chick who had just been brutally beaten up and found herself without memory be blissfully exclaiming that she doesn’t have cellulite when she gets a first glimpse of herself in the mirror. Just nope. Throughout the remainder of the book, I felt like women were described in much more detail though, and often with the remark as to how they were more beautiful than the main character. Men on the other hand were shrugged of as being bodybuilder types, with their name not even being worth remembering cause they just didn’t get one, and I guess just everyone is handsome or beautiful, except of course, for the monsters. I was super curious about the story though and tried to shrug it off as best as I could. I am quite skilled in ignoring parts of things I might otherwise enjoy.

I had a distinct flashback to the Jackaby book series while reading The Rook, just in a far more modern setting. It is filled with all kinds of creatures and oddly placed humour in situations that are in actuality life and death. For me, that makes it hard to take it serious at times and lowers the stakes immensely. Also, when I am looking for something with “mutants”, I don’t really want vampires and such joining in.

I was disappointed by the villains as well. As much as there was good build up in the mystery department, all villains (there are really several) were just ridiculous and frankly … weird? And not in a good way for me. The kind of genetic and surgical “improvements” they made had me laughing out loud more often than trembling in fear. And again, those were supposed life and death situations. I may just be bitter though, because they made my favourite character from the show absolutely horrendous here.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! It wasn’t the worst book I have read, there are parts I quite enjoyed, but overall, I don’t think this will really stick with me.

TV Show

First off, I want to point out that at the time of my writing this post, there have only been three episodes released. I very much feel like this show is meant to be binged, rather than one week after the other, but unfortunately that’s not what Starz is giving me. I am therefore basing my opinions on what I have seen thus far.

If you enjoy a slowly told X-Men meets Jason Bourne, this show might be for you! It does have flaws in pacing and distribution of screen time to characters, but contrary to the book, the villains actually make sense. Here they are called vultures and they kidnap people with abilities in order to sell them on the black market. That is something I can handle better than Belgian weirdos who want to take over a country by riding in on horses with antlers or creating sentient fungus.

As I have mentioned before, the show took a lot of liberties with the story and characters. Myfanwy (which isn’t pronounced the Welsh way, but rather rhymes with Tiffany) has completely different powers, the main people have been vastly downsized and except for names, they didn’t keep much of anything else. I am personally very much in favour of this because of Gestalt.

For those of you who know German, you will realise that Gestalt means something like “figure” or “shape”. Here it is used as the name for my favourite character, a hive mind like being who lives in the bodies of four siblings. I am never quite sure how to describe it accurately, but imagine being one consciousness spread over several bodies. They can do individual tasks, but if you talk to one of them, you basically talk to all of them. Here’s a little visualisation to help along.

Naturally, I was beyond fascinated! The actors do such an amazing job and it must have been an intense experience filming it (especially since only one actor is portraying the “twins”). Add to the mix that in the show (other than in the book where they despised each other), Myfanwy and Gestalt seemed to have hooked up? And I am just so curious about the logistics of it all. But without trying to spoil you for anything major, it seems like they really care for each other and I am so here for that. During an attack on Myfanwy by the vultures, Eliza (the female Gestalt) got hit by a tranq dart and when Myfanwy visited her in the ward … just wow! What a powerful kiss it must have been when your alternate body crashes a car!? I am utterly in love with this plot point.

Conclusion

If you didn’t guess yet that the show downright won for me, then I cannot help you. I don’t want to trashtalk the book, but it just wasn’t for me. All the things that I found fascinating when I started watching the show just weren’t in the written version and therefore we just had a classic problem of expectations vs. reality. Also, Gestalt.

Have you read or watched The Rook? Do you see where I am coming from or feel the complete opposite? Let me know so we can chat in the comments!

#CurrentlyWatching: Humans

I realise that I haven’t done a #CurrentlyWatching post in quite some time, but I rediscovered the show I want to talk about today for myself after having taken a bit of a break from it. When I turned to Twitter to rave about it, I realised that very few of my friends even knew about the show, so I now want to introduce Humans to you.

This SciFi gem is currently in its third season and the stakes just keep getting higher and higher. It airs on Channel 4 in the UK and AMC in the US. Originally it is based on the Swedish fiction drama Real Humans, but since I haven’t ever seen that, I cannot attest to how close or far they are from their storyline.

Humans shows an alternate reality where humans have advanced so far in technology that they introduce robotic servants called Synths to households. The show portrays the struggles of that shift in society as well as the repercussions once the Synths become self aware.

I cannot tell you what first drew me to this show back when it premiered in 2015. I think they had some very intriguing advertising that made it look like they really wanted to sell Synths to people. If I remember correctly, they even had a Facebook messenger chatbot for a while that sent you on a little adventure with a synth. No matter how I found out about the show though, it was one of the few I watched live every single week and that in a time where I stream pretty much anything after its original air time. However, I can definitely try and tell you why I stuck with it.

Humans is a show that doesn’t try to persuade you with many gimmicks. It has a higher production budget than the Swedish parent show, but it is rather quiet and eerie still. As the title promises and despite the focus on Synths and artificial intelligence as a big theme, this show really is about the human condition. How do we act when there is something in front of us that looks like us and is able to act like us, yet we are told they are merely a machine? Do we show compassion? Does our darker side win? There is something very unsettling and creepy about the whole thing, but at the same time you will be able to find yourself in multiple characters and their struggles. Over the seasons, Humans builds up and adds more complex moral questions to the story. What starts in a small household with only a specific group of Synths being conscious, soon begins to spread and becomes a global issue. I found it extremely fascinating to see the characters confronted with difficult decisions and the way they decided to deal with them. It made me question how I would act, especially since technology these days is targeted in the direction of human-looking AIs becoming a real thing.

In addition to the moral dilemmas, I was really happy with the casting! I know that the actors and actresses who were cast as the AI robots had to visit a specific Synth school to study the behaviour and mannerisms of their characters. The acting is really phenomenal on their part. But also the rest of the cast seem like good choices and realistic for their age groups as well. Over the seasons there are a couple of guest appearances and limited character arcs that I also had a lot of fun with.

CW: rape, abuse, suicide, violence

It is very difficult to spotlight just one character. The main synth group the show is based around is extremely faceted and each and every one of them would deserve the spotlight for sure. My personal favourite is Matty, a badass hacker girl. I also have a soft spot for Leo, a person who is stuck between humans and synths, not sure where his alliance should lie and he fits in. However, the person who has probably gone through some of the most significant development is Laura Hawkins.

She is a working mother, an initial skeptic in regards of synths who later turns into a synth-rights-advocate. While I may not always agree with her approach to things or decisions for that matter, that woman is really there when it counts and ultimately does the right thing. She is fiercely protective of her family, but also extends that protection to others in need. She’s tough and resilient and if I ever were in a pickle, I’d want her in my corner.

I hope you got a closer look at Humans and maybe would consider watching it now? Have you already seen a couple episodes? Let’s talk about it!

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman/Jay Kristoff (Book Review)

Publisher: Knopf Books
Page Count
: 615

I may not always be up to date with all the latest book releases, but I really was looking forward to the finale to the Illuminae Files. I previously reviewed Illuminae (review here) and Gemina (review here) on the blog and even though I really struggle with talking about sequels, I could not pass up the chance to rave a little about this one. While there won’t be any spoilers for Obsidio, I do think it’s better if you have read the previous books in the series before continuing on.

I should probably start by saying that I was not one of the many people who hyped Illuminae. I enjoyed reading it, but it was really only during Gemina that I came fully on board with this series. Obviously the format is a lot of fun and the characters definitely grow on you over time, which makes Obsidio such an enjoyable conclusion to it all. Whereas the previous books mostly focused on one couple during the story and only lent cameo roles to the others, Obsidio truly brings it all together. In my opinion, it took away the spotlight from Asha and Rhys a little bit, but not enough to really make me mind since I was already invested in what the other characters were up to.

What I enjoyed most about reading Obsidio was the fact that you really get answers for all your questions. It adds another layer of depth to the characters (AIDAN is still my fave and I won’t back down on that – I have a soft spot for AIs), provides a lot of action, gives you the necessary conclusion, but still doesn’t close the door on this universe forever. It really was a wild roller coaster to read this book and I devoured it in one day, but sometimes I almost wished the stakes were higher or that the consequences were more devastating and lasting. That’s not to say that you won’t have a wide array of emotions coming your way while reading, but that tiny evil voice in the back of my mind just maybe expected even more cruelty (at least targeted towards the main characters). But if I ignore that tiny detail, and that’s really all it is, then it ended absolutely beautifully. I love when my series end as if they were tied up with a neat little bow, making sure I won’t have to worry about the people in it, even if I will always love reading more about their lives.

I realise this is a super short review, but books like this are always best experienced first hand. Just get ready for some hard hitting moral questions and a final adventure that really does the Illuminae Files justice.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! A very satisfying conclusion to the Illuminae Files!

Have you read Obsidio or other books in the series? Do you plan to? What are your thoughts?

#CurrentlyWatching: Lost in Space

I am finally back with another installment of #CurrentlyWatching. I have discarded all sorts of themes (although I probably still would have had a couple up my sleeves I suppose) and will just do one post per week again. I wanted to give you all a little break to catch up on your watching, because today I am here to talk about Lost in Space.

Lost in Space is a new Netflix original, which is technically a remake of the 1960s science fiction and adventure show as well as a late 90s movie. I have seen … none of those? Which is not an issue whatsoever for me personally, as it is a total reboot and starts fresh again. There’s one season out so far and there are mixed reviews. Similar to the Anne with an E reboot, a lot of people were missing the happy and quirky, more humerus approach. I guess you just need to watch it as something completely different than the work it is based of? I understand that can be difficult to do if it is something you loved, but then I just feel like people should understand what Netflix does by now, cause that is how they tackle most of their narratives – make it more darker and troublesome.

Lost in Space follows a family, the Robinsons, after they crash-land on a unknown planet and have to survive to make their way to the human colony in space.

I know my reading list is mostly full of fantasy and contemporaries, but just like with my books, I love SciFi as well. I don’t crave it all the time, but when I hear or in this case see that something is done right, there is no hesitation from my side to check it out. With this one, it was most of all the cinematography and the top notch CGI that drew me in. If the story is solid, I might be able to overlook low budget effects, but I am always overjoyed when I don’t have to. Also, I took one look at the location and knew immediately that they filmed it near Vancouver, which made my heart rejoice. That may be a very biased way to judge a show, but if it gets me to watch the program, does it really matter?

Anyway, let’s talk more about the story and the characters. I find myself gravitating more and more towards stories that focus on family and all that comes with it, which is the definition of this show. The Robinsons aren’t perfect, they fight, they have their problems in the past as well as the present, but they also would do anything for one another. They are a kind of patchwork family, which is just another way of modernizing the story, which I very much appreciate. Each family member has their role to play, with all their weaknesses and strengths.

For me, the emotional components balanced nicely with the more scientific stuff, that I mostly try to let sink in but don’t always get entirely. I have no problem suspending disbelief and just going with whatever I am told in that kind of setting. Do I think that there might be tiny plot holes every now and then? Yes, absolutely. But I was here for the characters and their relationships more than accurate depiction of space travel to begin with.

One thing that bothered me a little was how the villain was handled. Look, I am all for villains, but they have to have some sort of character development, motive and maybe a tinge of redeeming quality about them. With Dr. Smith there was none of that. She was manipulative, but to a point that didn’t even make sense. They were all fighting for survival and she was clearly not trained for the kind of situations they were faced with, so she needed the others.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the alien robot storyline. I’ll admit that he looked like a tall person in a suit with a mask on sometimes … but his relationship with Will, his learning progress and the continued mystery about his origin was fascinating. I, of course, don’t know if there is another season, but that robot’s story is not done yet and I am very happy about that. (The robot made me cry, folks! The robot did that!)

This is the point where I usually have my character spotlight, but the thing is that I don’t know who to spotlight in the family? Maureen is a fierce and brilliant mother and engineer, showing that you can really do it all. John is a former soldier not letting anything come between him and his kids as he has lost too much time with them already. Judy, the eldest daughter, is only 18 but has received accelerated medical training and is now the doctor for the next wave of space colonists. Then there is Penny, who seems superficial at first, but who is brave and cunning when others need help. Or Will, the youngest with only 11 years, but one of the kindest, sensible and most thoughtful kids out there who managed to befriend an alien robot that might as well could have killed him? They are this perfectly imperfect family with so much heart, because they do make mistakes and sometimes really stupid ones considering their IQs, but they are still very lovable as a whole.

There is just one last thing I want to talk about before I conclude this little post. While watching this show, I felt certain … vibes between Judy and Don (a roguish technician) and I was wondering if I only imagined them. In former versions of this story, I believe they were a couple, but I am not sure how audiences would feel about it here. As I mentioned, Judy is only 18, but Don looks like he is in his 30s (the actor is 36) and while I don’t mean to say that age difference necessarily has to be a problem when it comes to love, they do make it a lot harder to root for them? I will withhold judgement on this (cause it worked pretty damn well in From Dusk Till Dawn despite the age thing), but I am just trying to say that it might stir up some controversy. Anyway, him giving her his pet chicken to look after was one of the best moments of the season.

Believe it or not, this was one of the most fun relationships on the show!

Did you watch Lost in Space already? Are you going to? Did you miss #CurrentlyWatching? Let’s talk!

#CurrentlyWatching: Travelers

At this point, I don’t think I necessarily have to say it, but I got another weekly theme for you! We are talking “Freaky Sci-Fi” today and on Friday and are starting it all off with Travelers. From what I’ve noticed, not that many people know it. So, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase it a little.

So, far there are 2 Seasons of the time travel drama out there. You can watch them on Netflix, but they originally air on Showcase in Canada. There’s definitely more to tell, but it has been well received among viewers and even made it onto some list of Netflix, ranking it among the top 10 shows to marathon/binge-watch. So, here’s to hoping Season 3 will be greenlit soon.

The future is in peril! To prevent humankind from extinction, brave souls go on a suicide mission and transfer their consciousness into the 21st century to change what’s to come.

Usually I decide whether I am going to keep watching a show or not within the first 10 minutes. Whatever you do, do not base your opinion of Travelers on the first ten minutes! I might be sightly exaggerating, but they were dreadful. I didn’t understand what was going on and when I finally did, I didn’t enjoy seeing those situations over and over with different people. It just took way too long to really get going, felt hacked up and not like a good flow at all, but in the end I am really glad I stuck around.

The so-called Travelers leave their original identity behind and enter their new host body shortly before their moment of death, which they then prevent. Most of their information is based off of social media accounts or official records and digital papertrails. This makes for a great fish-out-of-water-scenario as the main characters have to pretend to be someone they don’t know in a time they’ve basically only read about.

Other than most Sci-Fi shows, Travelers is very understated. There’s not a lot of CGI or pompous effects, but rather a focus on interpersonal relationships and the drama that comes with wanting to save the world, but also having to preserve the cover of being an ordinary person. It’s more on the slow paced side, which gives the show room for character development and the exploration of the moral predicament the cast is facing at every other turn. After all, there are rules to time travel but nothing is what it seems and there comes a time when they have to decide which rules might be worth breaking and which ones aren’t.

Now it’s time for a new official part of my #CurrentlyWatching posts. I’ve already started to implement this a little in the past, but most of the time, it’s really the characters that make the show worth watching. So, from now on, I want to do a specific section to feature and spotlight one or several characters of a show that particularly enticed me. I am trying to get you attached here, but at the same time, I will try not to give too much away. Otherwise where is the fun in watching, right?

Already I struggled a bit to just spotlight one person for this post. After all, there is Trevor – one of the oldest travelers, yet the one who ends up in the body of a High School student. He is invigorated by youth, but struggles to fit into the shallow and reckless life the real Trevor used to lead. Then there is Philip – the historian of the team who has perfect recall and has to carry the weight of remembering all the deaths of all the people they might encounter, knowing that he is not allowed to change history, while also coping with a drug addiction that wasn’t made privy in death records of his host. Or maybe Carlythe tactician and soldier of the group, who finds herself with an abusive boyfriend and newborn baby that she cannot help but feel maternal for. But in the end I went with Marcy.

Marcy, the team’s medic, also fell victim to expecting a different life from her host, due to fake social media profiles. In truth, the real Marcy was a intellectually disabled woman and did not in fact have a relationship with David, who, in reality, is Marcy’s social worker. On the one side, I really enjoyed watching Marcy’s journey as she is one of the most enigmatic characters, but then again there is so much … problematic (not sure that’s the right word, but it’s what I am going with for now) with her character. Aside from the fact that they basically “cured” an intellectually disabled woman (which gets a whole new spin in Season 2 that I will not go into right now but I am also still not sure how to feel about), there is also the fact that she then proceeds to have an on and off relationship with her former social worker. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly cute. David is one of the most precious people out there, but the implications that come with that are staggering.

I am glad that it’s a topic that is discussed, challenged and by no means just accepted. David in particular struggles with his growing feelings for Marcy and knows what that means for his career and life.

There’s a lot happening in the two seasons so far. Some things I really liked, others I felt more iffy about. There is a tranquility to the show that is really appealing to me, but there are also single episodes that don’t work particularly well for me. In general, I feel like the show works better as a binge than one episode per week. There’s still so much potential in this story and their characters, so I am curious to see where they will go next.

Have you ever watched Travelers? Do you think you would want to check it out?

NaNoWriMo 2015 – How Is Everyone Doing? + Dreamer Chapter 7

There are only 3 MORE DAYS until the end of NaNoWriMo! I announced yesterday that I revised my goal and cut it down to 25K, but now I want to know: How are you guys doing? Are you right on target? Did you change your goal to a lower/higher word count as well? And how are you feeling about your story and characters by now? Have grown on you or gotten on your nerves? I tend to love my characters deeply but get frustrated with them just as much when they once more don’t do what I want them to do. I’ve learnt that it’s better to go with the flow when the story takes unpredictable and unplanned turns, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed when it happens. I wish I had written more this year, but I am just glad that I wrote something new again. I wasn’t getting anywhere with Break Up Buddy anyway.

Because I can’t really tell you much else, I’ll just share another chapter of Dreamer. (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are already available!)

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NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 2 + Dreamer Chapter 3

So, week 2 of NaNoWriMo is over. I’ve been to two local write-ins so far and they were nice, but I am not sure how much they actually helped me progress with Dreamer. I’ve found out that word sprints and the likes aren’t really for me, I like to write in my own pace and time and not be forced to do so. As I am writing this, my current word count is at 14,215 words and by the end of the day I should be at 25,000 words. I think we all know that’s not going to happen, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. 50,000 words is still a valid goal and I like writing my story, so I’ll get there sooner or later.

I heard that 98% of the NaNoWriMos struggle during week 2 (totally a made up number by the way!), but it is important that you keep going. I wrote something every day during the past weeks, sometimes only 100 words, other times more than 2K. Sometimes your characters just won’t do what you want them to do. They’ll argue and talk back like little children, but if you just keep going, the story will pick up again. Your brain will produce something awesome and new and exciting. Just keep writing! 

So, how are you my fellow WriMos? How is your WIP doing? Is everything going the way you thought it would?

And as promised I will continue to post chapters of Dreamer here. (You can already read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 by clicking on them!) Please keep in mind that this is a first draft. A lot can change after I go about editing and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still typos in there. (Last week I wrote “She was scaring the screen” instead of “staring at the screen” …) Enjoy!

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