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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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!