April 9th, 2013

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Recently Read/Watched Reviews

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

I’ve been watching a lot and reading a ton of things lately — my brain’s solidly into a “shiny!” phase where it’s magpie-ing all over the place. Here’s some stuff worth checking out (and also maybe worth not.)

Non-fiction edition — aka, see if you can guess what my next book will be about ;) –

The Poisoner’s Handbook — a quite interesting read on turn of the century poisons and the creation of the NYC forensic department and the men and tests behind catching criminals back in the day. I read this while in Vegas, a good quick book.

The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery — a book about John Hunter, one of the original anatomists from back in the day when there was still anatomy to be named and bodies had to be bought from ressurectionists. A little dry, but still cool.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks — I know, everyone’s read this already, but it was an interesting read, especially for the evolution of medical ethics angle. It also made me think very hard about how lucky I’ve been to have good access to science my entire life, so that I can think about it critically — I’ve never wondered if a National Enquirer headline were secretly true, you know? I wish education were consistently better for everyone, everywhere.

Fiction edition:

John Dies at the End — I watched the film and immediately wanted to read the book — I’ve loved David Wong’s articles on Cracked.com for forever — the one about how The Karate Kind Ruined the Modern World is what sold me on him — and when I saw he had a film out, I went and saw it and loved it and then I bought the book, and now I’m reading the second one This Book is Full of Spiders and I will be very sad when it ends.

They’re crazy mishmashes of real life mixed with supernatural horror and a deep, deep, deeeeep sense of the ironic and it’s a mixture I find completely irresistible. (Because I really wish I could write like him, but I can’t.)

Movie edition:

The Host – or, as I keep wanting to type it, The Hose. I feel really badly for people who loved this book, because I’m sure there’s a legion of them, including my friend who wanted me to go see it with her — she’s the one I watch horror flicks with, and we have honestly seen so much worse, for reals. The painful thing about this was that it could have been so much better. I don’t know if it was the film or the book, but there’s no strong narrative arc — the aliens aren’t bad enough to the humans to make them feel like a threat, the resistance fighters were more interesting in cultivating wheat than fighting, and the lovestory….look away now if you’re averse to spoilers!

The premise is that a girl gets an alien parasite put in her, and then they have to share the body. It’s actually a neat (if way way way old) way to get one person to fall in love with two people, because she and her alien both fall for different boys. But the romance was so rushed on screen that everyone in the audience laughed out loud when the un-parasited protag and boy 1 first hooked up — and then there were a ton of points in the film where her will-i-won’t-i depending on who was in charge of the body and which boy was nearby just didn’t feel credible. Plus neither of the men were differentiated enough as characters to feel truly special, they were Blonde and Brunette versions of each other.

Add to that the fact that the original protag’s POV is narrated, literally, by a voiceover for 90% of the film, and it’s just painful. I’m sure that narrative device worked great on the page, but not so much on the screen at all :/.

Primer — LOVED. I like things that sort of make my brain hurt in a good way. This is a time travel movie from back in 2004, and it’s hella obtuse, but that’s one of the awesome things about it. It’s got a very real feeling to it that most movies don’t come anywhere near to touching, and the two protagonists different takes on what they’ll be doing in the future — when they can know it ahead of time — is very compelling.

Game of Thrones — not linking because everyone in the world knows what it is by now, ha. I’m actually watching this season real time, as opposed to binge watching after the fact. Can I just say how unused I am to that? I keep thinking, “Wow, I really want to watch the next episode…” and then feeling primally frustrated when I realize I can’t, heh. I’ve been completely spoiled by netflix, prime, and hulu.

I’m starting Justified (very slowly! Deadlines! (she says, in case anyone Official reads this)) and people have told me it gets awesome, and yay Bullock from Deadwood!, but the first few eps are pretty slow, I’m hoping it picks up in a big way soon.

Anyhow — I’m going to bed early now, I have another daytime class this week, yeehaw ;).