reading time: ca. 3 min
Uni has started again, and i'm back at reading academical essays and research papers. Yay. However, i am also trying to keep up my reading schedule, and i'm also writing again! And collecting ideas like a squirrel collects its nuts, partly for my personal writing projects, and partly for my up-coming master thesis next spring! Wohoo! Excited!
However, as i'm currently drowning in assignments, so please excuse my lack of time and concentration to write these reviews. I typed these down in my spare 30 minutes between lectures and appointments.
Read: Under Wildwood (Colin Meloy / Carson Ellis)
Continuing the story of book 1 of the trilogy, Under Wildwood follows Prue McKeel back into the Impassable Wilderness, being chased by assassins in the shape of black foxes. In Wildwood, her friend Curtis has become a bandit-in-training. But all is not well in that world that Prue has been wishing to get back to. A hard winter has come and discord reigns in the wake of the so-called Bicycle Coup. Besides the dark assassins another power has risen, as a titan of industry employs inmates from his orphanage to work in his machine shop, the two sisters of Curtis among them.
Darker than its prequel (though there were some hilarious elements, too! the encounter of the three very different men for example cracked me up and i actually had to laugh out loud in public!), the second book in Colin Meloy's Wildwood Chronicles has left me looking forward to the next volume. This time, the woods are covered in snow - and if i wasn't a sucker for forests, foxes, wolves, old men with wooden eyes, bandits, gunpowder, slingshots and anything fantastical rural already, that would definitely hook me to the story! Once again we join Curtis and Prue, children who are so well written that we believe the story, because we believe in them and through them we believe what they see and experience. We also get to know Curtis's sisters, Elsie and Rachel, who are left in a rather ominous orphanage by their parents so that they can travel to Africa. I have to say, at first it was a bit challenging for me because the story had so many "real life" elements such as school, Curtis's sisters with their Intrepid Tina doll and iPhone ear buds, Industrial Titans etc, but then - perhaps it was Desdemona who i always read with a heavy Russian accent in my mind, or Martha with her goggles, or the setting of the mechanical constructions, or the fact that they started to get in contact with Wildwood too - everything came to the familiar flow that i knew from the first book.
The movement between the different story arcs and events in Wildwood keeps the story exciting. As in book 1, Meloy's writing is rich, beautiful and picturesque. His words are well chosen, elaborate, and there were times when i wanted to frame the passage that was so beautifully composed (of course, the amazing illustrations played their part in that too). Meloy writes in a very visual way, which i love and which is easy to imagine as a movie. Another aspect of this novel that i loved was the way the author included Japanese folklore and Russian literature into the book. I Also love the fact that this book explores new areas of the map and introduces a number of new characters - a view of Wildwood and its surroundings that is definitely starker, darker, and far more grim, contrasting and complimenting the whimsy and highlights the book's surprisingly vivid emotional landscape. Again, Ellis's illustrations are the ideal companion, folksy and stylized but rendered suitably in thick blacks shot through with bright red.
I'm looking forward to dive into book three, the grand finale!
Space / sci-fi survival movies seem to have become super popular recently. Avatar, Gravity, Interstellar (which also features Matt Damon by the way), Guardians of the Galaxy, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, to name just a few. And now The Martian.
I love the Bourne Trilogy, but I think this one has become my new favourite film with Matt Damon! First of all, i really enjoyed the humour of, what was his name, Astronaut Mark Watney. This is, of course, a patriotic film of some sort - the motto "Bring him home" says it all. However, it was more light-hearted and almost self-ironic, reflective. I didn't expect this movie to be so funny at times, but it is!
You could call The Martian a remake of a sort. This is basically Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Not so much a science fiction genre any more, we know what Mars really looks like. Ridley Scott has it pinned down pretty well. No standing water. A thin, unbreathable atmosphere. The sun is farther away, thus less light at least for our human eyes. The cinematography is magnificent. The setting overwhelming. Lifeless world with a bluish-grey sky or orange tint as red oxidized dust fills the atmosphere. Put in a few dust devils and lightning in the distance and you are definitely there, on Mars. The lone Martian has to survive. His crew has left him for dead after an unlikely dust storm has forced them to take off. (i was so annoyed when the commander looked for Watney for what seemed like a life-threatening eternity)
Many times during this film, I legitimately believed that Mark Watney was a real, living person that was actually stranded on Mars for many months alone. Matt Damon is absolutely brilliant in this film. He plays Watney with so much charisma and optimism that it actually makes the depressing aspect of the film not as depressing for me. Some might call him a "flat" character, but i think he is rather tangible and easy to identify with. Of course, so many things would have to go right for the abandoned astronaut to survive that, in most likelihood, he would not. The challenges the stranded astronaut faces seem to be so easily overcome. Starvation? Grow potatoes. Punctured space-helmet? Sticky tape. Mars rover vehicle lacking power? Wire up a few solar cells. Communications equipment destroyed? Motor over to a handy Mars lander. We never sense that Watney is in a desperate, mind- and body-sapping struggle against the odds (conveniently he is a botanist).
But this is science fiction. And it wouldn't be much of an enjoyable movie experience if the hero was to die after a couple of minutes in the dust storm, or during his return home, now would it. The Martian never felt long to me and was enjoyable to the end. The science aspects of it was top notch and made you believe that it could be done (not even my two science-loving, critical room mates had much to complain about it). My room mates disagree, but i think this was even better than Interstellar - less complex and mentally disturbing, but more credible and comprehensible.
Maisy rates: 8/10
Listened to: Everything Is Awesome (The LEGO Movie) (Tegan and Sara feat. The Lonely Island)
Yeah, i watched the Lego Movie :) And it was hilarious! Had this frickin song stuck in my head for several days, lol.
Apart from that, i didn't discover very many songs last month:
Lieblingsmensch by Namika
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