Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Classics I Wish Had Modern Adaptations

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was classics I wish had modern adaptations!

As I've been binge-watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I've been thinking about all the other classics I want to see adapted similarly! 

I'm a huge fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, as well as modern adaptations of books in general, so this pretty much felt like it was tailor-made for me.

5. The Fall of the House of Usher

This is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe that I read in high school, and from the day I read it, I thought it would make an excellent short film set in the modern day. After all, there's no reason it couldn't be set in 2018 -- have a storm knock out the phone signal, or have a blizzard snow everybody into the house, and you're good to go. The story is simple, but incredibly spooky, and I'd love to see it come to life in a new way.

4. Twelfth Night

Besides She's the Man! (Which, don't get me wrong, is a hysterical movie that I will watch anytime.) This is my favorite Shakespeare play, and I think it has great potential for a modern update, especially since we live in a time that's so much more enlightened about gender and sexuality. (Viola is nonbinary, it's canon, fight me.) Also, the Malvolio subplot was made for the era of catfishing. Seriously, can't there be a webseries of this?

3. The Great Gatsby

I know this story is all about the pointless decadence and emptiness of the 1920s, but there's a reason it's still so popular to this day... some things never change. The 2013 film used a lot of modern music, and I'd love to see how it'd turn out taken a step further, moving the action up to modern-day. I'm not saying I guarantee it'd be good, but it'd certainly be interesting.

2. Dracula

The vampire craze that consumed the early 2010s may be over, but let's be real -- I'm never gonna be out of my vampire phase. We already have an excellent modern adaptation of Carmilla in the form of a webseries of the same name -- let's get one for the most famous vampire of them all! I'd love to see the classic, creepy gothic horror brought to life in the 21st century--

No. No. Not like that. Definitely not like that. No no no no no.

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray

PLEASE GOD LET THIS HAPPEN. I love this book so much, and I'd love to see its sense of horror and cynicism translated into a modern-day setting. (It'd also be nice to get a decent film version of it for once. But I digress.) Dorian Gray is a villain protagonist for the ages, and he'd fit in just as easily in 2018 as he did back in 1890. (Baby boomers think my generation is narcissistic? I'll show them narcissistic!) I'm not sure who I'd cast as Dorian, I just know that I need to see this movie that doesn't exist that I just made up.

If any of these adaptations exist and I somehow missed them, please tell me!


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BOOK REVIEW: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

TITLE: Wintersong

AUTHOR: S. Jae-Jones

GENRE: fantasy, romance

PLOT SUMMARY: Liesl's grown up hearing stories of the wicked Goblin King, and now, she's going to have to face him head-on. The King has claimed Lisel's sister Kathe as his new bride, and in order to recuse her, Lisel's going to have to journey through the enchanted Underground. Lisel has always been the responsible, protective older sister, and would do anything for Kathe... but what happens when the King becomes something other than her enemy?

FIRST THOUGHTS: I've noticed that this is a book that inspires very... passionate feelings, whether for or against. (Seriously, scrolling through the Goodreads reviews for this book is like walking through a field full of landmines.) I have a feeling that no matter what I say, I'm gonna piss someone off. So, is Wintersong good? Honestly... no. But that question is not the same as, "Is Wintersong enjoyable?" And the answer to that is, "Mostly!"

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: So the main reason I bought this book is because the plot summary had be thinking, "Labyrinth. It's Labyrinth." But that's not a criticism -- that is, after all, one of my favorite movies. I am just 100% convinced this book is the result of S. Jae-Jones watching Labyrinth as a young girl and being sad Jareth and Sarah didn't get married. (And I am completely on board. Is it a problematic ship? Yes. Absolutely. Totally. But she who is obsessed with Phantom of the Opera shouldn't throw stones.) The first half of the book is about Liesl's journey through the Underground, and I really enjoyed that part. I thought it was really creative, and I was so invested in her trials. So it was a real letdown when I got to the second half, and everything sort of started to fall apart. I will say that the second half is a good deal more original than the first, but it's also not nearly as engaging, and it's where I felt that Liesl's character started to get confused. More on that below.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: So Liesl is a... mixed bag. As a protagonist, she's easy enough to understand and relate to, but she also didn't feel very fleshed-out or relatable, and it feels like her personality does a total 180 halfway through the book. It often felt like her personality was just whatever it needed to be in order to move the plot forward, and that leads to a pretty wishy-washy protagonist. I did genuinely like the Goblin King, as well as Liesl's brother Josef, who I feel was underutilized. I just wish our heroine had had a more concrete identity, so it'd be easier to sympathize and root for her.

6 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: So with all my criticisms, you may wonder why I still said this book is enjoyable. Well... the writing is fantastic. The prose is absolutely beautiful, and it really does sweep you up in this enchanted, fantastical world. This is a pretty long book, but whenever I actually sat down and read it (yeah, that whole "read every day" resolution of mine? Didn't happen), I'd often read a hundred pages in one go. While there were sections that felt too wordy or too flowery, overall, I really loved Jae-Jones' writing style, and I'd be curious to see what else she's written.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: This is a very vanilla story, in that there are no POC, no queer people, and no disabled people. Nothing overtly offensive, but in a world full of diverse reads, the vanilla ones are always a bit of a disappointment. I did appreciate that the story avoided pitting Kathe (the girly-girl) and Liesl (the tomboy) against each other, but since Kathe wasn't used very much, she often felt more like a stereotype than a properly fleshed-out person. The romance is... well, it's definitely not as problematic as Labyrinth (probably helps that we're not seeing adult David Bowie trying to romance a 16 year old here), but I'm not gonna lie, it has issues. But those issues didn't stop me from enjoying the book, and I did genuinely like the couple. (Again, Phantom of the Opera. Stones. Not throwing them.)

4 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: This book wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but it was a pretty fun ride, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for a dark, indulgent fantasy read. I'm debating with myself on whether or not to pick up the sequel... If you've read both books and have an opinion, let me know! (No spoilers!)



Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

If you've read Wintersong, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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