Why The Book Thief book is better than the film

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Now I’m no film snob – I love watching all types of films and I’m fully prepared to give book adaptations a fair chance. So far however, I can’t think of any book adaptations, except perhaps The Hunger Games, which have been much better than the books. I do have some more reading to do though, as I’ve definitely seen some films but haven’t read the books yet. Please remember that this is only my personal opinion and no offence is meant to Markus Zusak, whose book I absolutely love.

I realise fully that the main problem is that my imagination is radically different to that of the director and screenwriter, therefore it can never truly be the same image on screen. However, I was a little more disappointed than usual about The Book Thief adaptation which I saw last week.

The Book Thief book is one of my favourite YA books. I’m not sure why I picked it up several years ago but as soon as I did, despite the very strange introduction from ‘death’, I flew through it. I know I’m not the only one to do so but what disappoints me now is there will be a lot of people who have never read the book but will watch the film and think this is the true representation of the original work.

What’s strange about the film is that the performances were good but it lacked the conviction of the book. From the first appearance of ‘death’ as a rather posh sounding narrator, who doesn’t explain particularly well why he becomes obsessed with Liesel Melinger rather than anyone else, it failed the audience. I tried to keep positive but then Liesel arrived to meet her new foster parents with amazingly clean hair and not a speck of dirt on her, however her new foster mother declares ‘I’m not letting her in the house. She’s filthy!’ Urm, no, she isn’t…

That was one of my main thoughts – the film was too clean in general. For a war film, I wasn’t convinced by the lack of hunger (which was a feature in the book – all stealing was removed), plus their impeccable clothes, their clean faces and bodies, etc etc. Perhaps this was to keep the 12A rating, which I think is a shame if so. Even though the swearing was kept in, it was never explained, therefore it could easily have been a term of endearment for those who haven’t read the book or those who speak German! Clean, clean, clean.

Despite this, my main gripe was with the tension, or lack of, in the film. I have read the book at least three times and even when I was re-reading, I felt tense, despite knowing what was going to happen. In the film, I had no illusions that the authorities would find Max in the basement, or that Hans might die at war, or that Rudy and his family might get into trouble for Rudy’s behaviour. It was all too quick and the tension stripped out.

Perhaps it was because the book has a lot of content. I found I missed small moments from the book which I felt developed the plot well and added to the build up of tension and emotion. I cried at the end of the book but at the end of the film, I didn’t feel the same stab of emotion. I wish I had.

What I want to say is that I hope future generations pick up the book because it’ll be a better experience for them. Markus Zusak, whose been a great supporter of the film and deserves the attention his book has received, also deserves to have people read the original work. I have a lot of respect for his work. Without death’s chapters addressing the audience, building the tension about who lives and dies, and his thoughts about Liesel, the film is weaker in my opinion. Plus for all the reasons above, I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone who wants to experience The Book Thief, does so through the medium of the book first and foremost. In fact, this is more than a recommendation, it’s an order!

This post is for all the YA fans out there and linked to #UKYADay and #AprilExtravaganza

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The Unwind Tetralogy by Neal Shusterman

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Last year, I discovered a trilogy, soon to be a tetralogy, which kept me turning the pages thick and fast. On the cover, it stated ‘Before The Hunger Games, there was… Unwind’ and on the two subsequent books, ‘More chilling than The Hunger Games’. This is not what made me read the books. However, I have to agree that I enjoyed these books more than The Hunger Games. I thought the characters were more gripping and the books written better in general, although this is no slight against Suzanne Collins, who has done very well for herself and written a successful series. I just prefer this one!

Unwind is a fascinating premise. Dubbed as ‘science fiction’, I think the series are also thrillers, adventure and drama books all wrapped into one. The basic premise is this: in the future, after after a civil war (known as the Second Civil War or the Heartland War), fought over abortion, a compromise was reached. This compromise allows parents to sign an order to have their children aged between 13-18 ‘unwound’, in other words taken to ‘harvest camps’ and their body parts harvested for the use of others. In this sense, nearly 100% of the body is ‘used’ and lived on in others, therefore the children don’t technically ‘die’. Children under 13 can also be ‘storked’, which means that they can be left outside someone’s house if they’re unwanted and if no one sees the person dumping the baby, the family who find the baby must take care of it.

Still with me? Okay, it takes a little a few pages and perhaps a few chapters to really immerse yourself in the idea fully. I kept thinking, why would parents choose to do that, no matter how bad their kids are? Although, Shusterman managed to convince me with his characters and the situations they found themselves in. Connor was the hardest for me to understand as his parents signed the order voluntarily, mainly due to his bad behaviour, which he unwittingly discovers before he’s to be collected (then harvested) and decides to go AWOL. Risa, an orphan who is to be unwound because of cuts in funding and a lack of a ‘worth’ in the eyes of the state, was easier to understand. Lev, the youngest character, is a ‘tithe’, someone born to be sacrificed because of religious reasons. Lev is a true believer in his fate, whereas the others want to fight against it.

What follows is an intriguing clash of personalities and beliefs, all trying to find the best solution for themselves. What it develops into throughout the trilogy is an examination of the morals in society, a fight between ‘good and evil’ with the goalposts always moving, deep bonds being formed and lost, and a whole lot of questions. What is so gripping about it is that the premise only becomes more and more believeable as time goes on, and you find yourself worrying that this could be reality in thirty plus year’s time! The reason I also liked this series so much (and the reason I’m really excited about the final part) is that I loved the characters with their imperfections, insecurities, pasts, indecision etc…

I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys an exciting story with a good dose of moral questions and surprises. I just hope the ending is just as good as the rest, hopefully released this year!

You can visit Neal Shusterman’s site for more information about him and his books.

This tetralogy isn’t set in the UK but this is a post linked to #UKYA’s April Extravaganza!

UKYA April Extravaganza!

Hi all,

In April, the website UKYA, who promote young adult books set in the UK, are doing a special event! Details are yet to be revealed but it’s being called April Extravaganza!

As part of this event, myself and other bloggers are being asked to post a blog on April 19th. In preparation for this, I’m going to be writing about my favourite YA books and my thoughts about YA in the build up to this day.

To start things off, I’m going to list my top twelve favourite YA books or series (if it’s too hard to choose one of the series!) Let me know if you agree or if you can recommend others for me!

1) Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman

2) Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

3) Unwind trilogy by Neal Shusterman

4) The Fault in our Stars by John Green

5) Entangled by Cat Clarke

6) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

7) I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

8) Berserk by Ally Kennen

9) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10) Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

11) Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

12) I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Okay, that was tough, and I have a lot more I could add! In the coming month or so, I’ll put up some reviews and more thoughts about YA. For now, join the conversation! And support YA, some of the best writing out there today!

Find out more about UKYA at: http://projectukya.blogspot.co.uk/

Join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook with hashtags #AprilExtravaganza and #UKYADay

Choose a character name in my novel!

Hello everyone!

What’s in a name?

Do you want to contribute to a novel but you don’t have time to write one? Never fear… I’ve decided to run a little competition for you lovely people to name a character in the third installment of The Project trilogy.

The only thing I have decided about this character is that they are going to be over the age of eighteen. The novel is set in 2075, in case that influences your choice. Their nationality is not important – perhaps you can help me with that when you suggest a name! Extra points for a first name and a surname.

If your name gets chosen and used, AND the book is one day published in any form, you will receive a nice thank you in the acknowledgements. So get your thinking caps on and COMMENT BELOW… (All you need to do to comment is provide an email address and name so the blog knows it’s not spam, but you don’t have to display any info you choose not to).

Thanks all. Let the naming ceremony begin!

This blog

Hello all,

This blog exists to give you information about my new novel, Project Tsunami. On this site, you can:

– watch a lovely trailer about the novel

-read about the novel

-meet the characters

-read preview chapters

-learn about Mati and Jo’s favourite band, Reaper

-and hopefully, comment and interact

Thanks for visiting.

About Project Tsunami

What happens when society can’t fulfill the needs of the population? Project Tsunami.

In 2074, the world is heading for disaster. A terrible sacrifice is going to be made by governments all around the world. Yet, what if the ‘sacrificed’ don’t want to accept their fate?

What begins as a mandatory Life Skills course soon becomes conscription into World War Four. Mati Hunter and her peers are sent to Australia as ‘support staff’ for the army, believing they’re fighting for their country. However, when they discover the truth behind the war, a death sentence named Project Tsunami, they unwittingly create a rebel army. This rebel army has only one mission: to live.

The first novel in a three-part trilogy, Project Tsunami is the beginning of an epic battle to stay alive, in a world that has already signed their death certificates.