Review: Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

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Slaughterhouse-Five cover

SYNOPSIS: Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don’t let the ease of reading fool you – Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, “There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters.” – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I have been meaning to read this book for forever. Not only this book, I guess, but anything from Vonnegut, and I can finally say that I have ticked something off of my list. It was good, too. Weird, strange, quirky, but entertaining. The novel was a really quick read that I breezed through when recovering from that last horrendous read, and it was pretty much exactly what I needed. You get into the rhythm of the bizarre writing style, and you take in the story, and the time jumps are not annoying or disconcerting, they just simply are. The novel flips effortlessly between humour and a more heavy, dramatic style, though I can tell you now that Vonnegut’s writing is not going to appeal to everyone. The story itself is really strange, and it is a whirlwind ride all the way. It is also cold and blunt, and due to the subject matter, I think that is going to grate on some people, too. I honestly thought that I would like this book more, especially because of how it is praised and all, but I didn’t find it to be groundbreaking and superbly amazing at all. Not that it is bad, but because it is just not the best book on war, or sci-fi, and the two don’t always mix too well all the time. There are also some disconcerting scenes – think of those involving sex and excrement – and there was not too much time at all to develop the characters very much. It is a book that clearly runs with the license to write what it wants, and at times that causes the book to suffer, and at other times it elevates the novel. Personally, I think it is worth reading at least once, at least for the trippiness and to have read Vonnegut’s most popular work, but I don’t think it is worthy of the extreme love it has. Or I missed something, who knows?

Fringe: Season 2 (2009 – 2010)

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fringe season 2 poster

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The way the tension between Olivia and Peter has been steadily building. It has been intense enough for me to want to pull my hair out! Ugh! But I love it!
  • The whole story behind Peter Bishop, Walter, walking between worlds, and all the things that came with it. This has been something that has had breadcrumbs thrown our way since season one, and by the time we finally get to it all in this season, it is amazing. The story is sad, the choices are difficult, the frustration is understandable. I loved it. I loved every second of it.
  • I genuinely love all the names that Walter has for Astrid – everything but Astrid. I think my personaly favourite was Ostrich, followed by Asprin.
  • I like the way that they have consistently kept spotting the Observers in the episodes. They are always lingering near a Fringe event.
  • Sam Weiss. What an entertaining character!
  • Walter Bishop. I cannot fail to mention him. The quirky scientist revealed so much to us in this season about his motives, his past, and all the things that motivated him, changed him, broke him.
  • Finally seeing William Bell and Walter Bishop reunited. It was quite entertaining, the way they sniped at each other like children.
  • The relationship with Peter and Walter was going so well dammit! So well. I mean so good that Peter even called Walter “dad”, and then things went downhill. And in an ugly, painful way, too.
  • Seeing how the alternate universe has suffered because of Walter crossing over in 1985 to save Peter.
  • That kiss. Eeeek! We have waited so long for Peter and Olivia to do anything at all about their emotions and feelings, and nothing. Then Olivia runs over to the other side to fetch Peter, and she tells him everything. YAY!

peter-and-olivia-fringe

What I didn’t like: 

  • I did not like how Charlie was written out. It was sudden, abrupt, and it was not closed off nicely, so I had some big problems like that, considering he was quite the important character.
  • Some things were rushed in and out, such as characters and events.
  • Peter not being with Walter and Olivia, it was so sad for me to think that Walter could be sent back to St Claire’s.
  • The way that the other Cortexiphan kids were brought in and out, but always as something bad, dealt with in an episode then hidden away. That got a little annoying quickly.
I get that she just worked me out, but my eye is twitching...

I get that she just worked it out, but my eye is twitching…

Rating:
GRADE 8.5
So off we are, into another season, and let me just tell you that things get better. They do. The acting is better, the effects are pretty awesome, the score works wonders and the relationships between everyone is so worth watching and they really draw you in. Season two hits the ground running and whips us up into another frenzy of bizarre cases and all. However, something that stuck in my craw from the beginning was the way that Charlie was written out so suddenly, and it wasn’t done nicely. It was rushed and it was glanced over, no time was spent there, I think it was a huge injustice to his character. Olivia also didn’t mourn him for too long, which was both good and bad. I did like how Sam Weiss helped Olivia along her route to recovery after returning from the alternate universe and her meeting with William Bell. Peter and Olivia seem to be gaining ground in their relationship, almost making you think it is going to go somewhere, but the progress is thrown to the wolves the moment that Olivia realises that Peter is, in actual fact, not from our universe. It is terribly painful, and it got a little annoying to watch her and Walter sniping at one another about it, though they both definitely had a point. To see how the Observer (September) was so involved in everything that was happening is awesome. He really was so intricately tied in to everything that was happening. I knew there was no way that it could end well, what with Olivia knowing that Peter wasn’t from there and saying nothing, and Walter deciding to. And I was right. Such a heartbreaking stage, Walter and Peter were making the very best progress of all time, and then Peter lost his cool (understandably) and then, disappointingly, fled. I was also unimpressed with the way that he hit on those other women, I thought there was more to him and Olivia than Walter and a job! Anyway, meeting Walternate was also an experience, it was fascinating to see John Noble flip so seemingly effortlessly between the two. You can distinctly see who you are dealing with the moment Walter(nate) steps on screen, which is great. Leonard Nimoy was also a joy to experience, once again, when we got into the alternate universe. Especially when you saw how he and Walter were around each other. I need to take a moment to say that I missed Charlie immensely, but I was happy to see Astrid steadily gaining more screen time, and more Broyles is also not a bad thing. Plus, what kind of review would this be if I did not address the fact that Peter Bishop is just… hmmm… Joshua Jackson is awesome and I love his portrayal of Peter. This season gave him a lot of material to work with, from regular, to loving, to afraid, to angry and bitter, there was just so much, and he was excellent every step of the way. Naturally, this was another season of Fringe that simply cannot be missed, I truly do recommend this show. I had such a blast rewatching them all, it was so rewarding.

olivia trapped in alternate universe

Lastly, for science and all that…

peter bishop hotpeter bishop smile peter bishop thinkingpeter bishop researchingpeter bishop unimpressed

This should be illegal…

peter bishop sexy

Review: The Voices (2014)

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the voices poster

“Friday I had a pretty cushy gig. Had lots of friends, I was the office hottie… now I’m a severed head in a fridge. Sucks to be me, Jerry.”
– Fiona

SYNOPSIS: A likable guy pursues his office crush with the help of his evil talking pets, but things turn sinister when she stands him up for a date. – via IMDB

It’s amazing. Things went from this:

the voices pizza scarf

to this pretty rapidly, and it was awesome!

the voices stabbing

GRADE 7Honestly, I watched The Voices because I read a bit about it on Ryan’s site (review here), and also because I needed to do research. Ryan Reynold research for science, of course. Needless to say, he was well worth the watch. It also turned out that The Voices is a better watch than you would actually initially give it credit for (not just a comedy).

I was incredibly impressed by the beautiful albeit slightly boring world that Jerry has. Crappy job, maybe, but he goes home to a pretty neat little apartment and his pets, his loyal and caring dog Bosco who absolutely loves him and Mister Whiskers, who is so freaking insane you can only laugh. He is grumpy and angry and nasty to boot, but Jerry loves him anyway. It soon becomes evident that Jerry’s mind is not as stable as it should be. You pity him because of how he is treated by Fiona, though you can sort of understand why he would have difficulty picking a woman like that up. His looks have nothing to do with it, but his social skills are lacking in the absolute extreme.

Where the movie really won me over, really got me on board, was when you peeled back the layer and saw the world as it really is, not the cushy little version that Jerry has. It is absolutely disgusting. His home is nasty and a wreck, his mind is permanently making things prettier than they are, and it seems that he will get away with everything because he has himself so sheltered and is such a loner. Also goes to show how disinterested people are, otherwise someone would have surely know that something was up with him!

I really liked the way that the storytelling was done. You get to see how Jerry understands and feels about it all, as well as the harsh reality. Nothing is given up immediately, but you are given the information you need in increments, so your view on Jerry slowly but surely deteriorates and changes, too. The humour in here is good, though dark, but I am a fan of that. The movie seamlessly crosses between hilarity and a more serious, disturbing side, which is something movies like this struggle to do most times.

The performances were pretty on the ball all round, too, and the characters were entertaining and not overly shallow, though none were as fleshed out as Jerry. I loved how this movie gets you thinking after you scratch the surface, to really look into the mind of a psychopath – this was an element that worked wonders here. The Voices did have issues in places, undeniably, but overall is certainly worth the watch if you are looking for a horror/thriller comedy and something that is a little different.

Review: The Bad Place – Dean Koontz

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the bad place dean koontz cover

A man wakes up in an area he doesn’t know, knowing he is being chased. He cannot remember a thing about himself, but he knows that he needs to get away from wherever he is. Going on the run and checking the items he has with him, he makes the discovery that his name is Frank Pollard. He has way too much cash on hand, and two different passport documents, meaning he is more confused than ever. A supernatural being shooting blue chases him, and Frank is desperate to survive, though he has no idea what is really going on. As if being chased is not bad enough, Frank is having issues sleeping. Every time he does, something is wrong when he wakes up – unknown money has appeared, or worse, he is covered in blood that is surely not his own.

Bobby and Julie Dakota are happily married private investigators with their own firm. Taking on cases and living mostly frugally, the two are working toward The Dream. Julie’s brother Thomas has Down Syndrome, and is living in a home, though he is happy there. Julie resents that Thomas is not with her or Bobby, but their irregular hours will not allow it. Thomas knows that something bad is coming for Julie, but doesn’t know who or what it is. Sending warnings to Bobby that Julie is in danger, Thomas hopes that Julie will be protected. Thomas may have some health drawbacks, but he is smarter than even he realises.

Frank Pollard goes to see Bobby and Julie in a desperate attempt to find out who he is, where he is from, what happens to him at night, as well as who the hell is hunting him and why. Initially Bobby, in his boyish and excitable ways, cannot wait to take the case, even though Julie is reluctant. However, shortly after Frank shares some news, it becomes evident that Julie is very interested in taking the case, though Bobby is sure that something bad is going to happen, and tries to tell Frank to go somewhere else. Julie wins the argument, and they take Frank’s case, because he is a likable guy and they feel sorry for him. Checking him into a hospital, they have an employee watching over him. When Frank magically disappears in the middle of the night, it appears that there is more to the case than meets the eye.

Who is hunting Frank? Why are they so intent on finding him, and what do they want from him? Is Julie in danger? What about this case is so twisted that it have left ripples in their lives? Who is Frank, where does the money come from, and what on Earth is happening to him at night? What abilities does Frank have?

GRADE 7.5Well, that was unexpected. I really, really liked this book. It took me a while to embrace the supernatural and inexplicable side of this novel, which is weird, because I can usually slip into that pretty quickly. Maybe it had to do with the fact that everything started so exceptionally normal (mostly) and then just jumped into that rabbit hole. Regardless, I enjoyed the book. The writing flowed, and there was a large array of characters to like and root for as well. There was some great humour, too, which I enjoyed. Reading about Thomas and how he thought really crushed me, so I thought Koontz did a great job writing about a character with Down Syndrome, it was really sad, but what a beautiful character. The book has a steady and solid pace, and reveals the secrets to you every now and then, nothing too fast, but never drawing the suspense out long enough to frustrate the hell out of you. The explanation for everything that came about was a pretty damn disgusting ordeal, I will not lie to you there. Nasty, nasty! Initially the chapters start off as really short and quick, just a few pages at a time, making for very fast reading, and nearing the end of the book they get a bit longer. It was so interesting chasing down the case with the Dakotas, and Frank’s desperation was almost palpable. You couldn’t help but worry about not knowing much about him, but get drawn in by his bizarre circumstances, and he came across as a really genuine guy, which helped his plight to entrance you even more.