The Girl with All the Gifts – Black Characters Matter

 

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Hello, fellow book junkies! Now that I’m on summer break, I’ve been going like gangbusters with writing and editing three YA novels. One of my projects is a YA fantasy about a girl who can vanish into shadows and longs to see the world but can’t because her family keeps to themselves. Then she learns the shocking reason why.

I recently made a big change in the second draft of that story. It was originally set in the distant past, but I switched it to a couple of hundred years in the future, and now it’s working much better and has an interesting new vibe. I likely got the idea for the time switch from two books I’ve read recently/am reading: Ready Player One and The Girl With All the Gifts, the latter being an adult zombie story with a POV that blew my mind.  (Beware, it gets scary as sh*t.)

The movie version of The Girl With All the Gifts hit UK theaters this week (maybe the US too, but I can’t seem to find it). As a reader who fell head over heals for the character Ms. Justineau, imagine my dismay when I discovered how the producers decided to cast her role.

In the book, Ms. Justineau is depicted as a 40s-ish dark-skinned black woman, in my imagination, kind of like Teyonah Parris:

In the movie, this is how the producers cast her:

Gemma-Arterton02.jpg

?!!? I mean, come on. Nothing against Gemma Arterton, who’s probably a fine actress and certainly is lovely but, well, she’s 30 and so white. Honestly, I felt betrayed and sad, as if the fictional 40-year-old black Ms. Justineau  I adored has been erased.

Other notes about casting for this movie: Glen Close was a good choice, I think, to play the sort of mad scientist Dr. Caldwell, and it seems the movie producers decided to try and balance the color scales by casting the little girl Melanie, who in the book is white, with a black actress.

Okay, but . . .

Ms. . .

Justineau. . .

— Eve Messenger

 

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Four Facts Survey

Some people seem to know themselves quite well. They have clear likes and dislikes and distinctive personalities. Maybe it’s because my head is in the clouds most of the time, but I don’t think I’m one of those self-aware people. That’s why it’s nice when a tag like this  comes along to bring me back down to earth and get me thinking about what makes me tick. For that I have smart, funny, forward-thinking Rae @ Bookmark Chronicles to thank. Rae discusses so many intelligent topics in her blog, not the least of which is, of course, books. 🙂 I hope you get a chance to check out her blog.

Rules:

  • Answer the questions
  • Nominate 4  people to answer the same questions

The Questions

Four names People Call Me Other Than My Real Name:

Eve / “V” / Mom / “Honey”

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

Music/foreign language teacher, vocal arranger, Acquisitions & Divestitures Coordinator (sorry, that really was my title, ha), waitress

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

Groundhog Day, Zoolander, Galaxy Quest, Love with a Proper Stranger (w/Natalie Wood & Steve McQueen)

Four Authors I’d Recommend:

V.E. Schwab, Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Marie Lu

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Japan, Taiwan, Virginia, Southern California

Four Places I’ve Visited:

San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, Cancun

Four Things I’d Rather Be Doing Now:

Writing, playing with my dogs, finding new music, talking to my friends

Four Foods I Prefer Not to Eat:

avocados, guacamole, anything sour, marmalade

Four Favorite Foods:

sushi, chicken curry, b’bim bop, chicken tortilla soup

Four TV Shows I Watch:

Orphan Black, Broad City, Walking Dead, The Little Couple

Four Things I’m Looking Forward to This Year:

  • Having lots of time during summer vacation to write, read, exercise and play piano.
  • Taking a trip sometime in August (not sure where yet–any suggestions?)
  • Finishing my novel.
  • Getting healthy again.

Four Things I’m Always Saying:

“I totally get that.”
“Have a great weekend.”
“Absolutely.”
“I don’t want to talk about politics.”

–Eve Messenger

Four People I Nominate:

Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secret
Blaise @ The Book Boulevard
Beth @ The Books are Everywhere
Jesalin @ Blogging Everything Beautiful 

Would You Rather See the Movie Before or After Reading the Book? @amreading

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Hello, fellow book junkies!  Just a quick question. . . Do you prefer seeing a movie before or after reading the book?

I am freakishly averse to knowing too much about a story before reading it. I enjoy being tantalized by a vague notion of the plot and characters but am the first to cover my eyes at even a hint of a spoiler. Why? Because if I know too much about the plot, I won’t read the book! I can’t. Because, for me, the most enjoyable aspect of reading a book is the thrill of discovery. Without it, reading a novel feels like going through the motions, as in: Oh, that was nicely written, but I know the girl is going to wind up with guy #2 by the end. You get the idea.

As you may have guessed, my answer to the question of whether I’d like to see a movie before or after reading the book is a resounding AFTER. Reading the book beforehand also gives me a more complete picture of the characters and subplots, which makes watching the movie adaptation feel like a more complete experience.

What do you prefer? Are there good reasons for reading a book after watching the movie?

Time Travel Movies Ranked Best to Worst

Redemption, magic, nostalgia, revelation, danger – what’s not to love about time travel movies? If you’re a time travel movie buff like me, you’ll probably enjoy this list of 40+ time travel movies and maybe agree or strongly disagree with their rankings. Most of these films feature characters who slip through time on some sort of cosmic magic (rather than building their own Wellesian time machines), so a more accurate term for them would be “time slip” or “time loop” movie. Enjoy! And please let me know if there are any other great time travel movies I should add to the list. 

1. Groundhog Day – A masterpiece. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray achieve the perfect balance of comedy and drama.

2. 12 Monkeys – The concept, look, and acting are brilliant. In true Terry Gilliam fashion, this is a one-of-a-kind film. Also made into a 2015 Syfy series.

3. Terminator 1 – Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese might just have my vote for all-time favorite movie romance.

4. Donnie Darko – A masterfully dark film with brilliant acting. Real-life siblings Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal play siblings in the film.

5. 13 Going on 30 – Pure fun. Love the ‘80s references and the magic.

6. Somewhere in Time – Heartbreakingly lovely film score and perfect location: the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Before she got into selling heart necklaces, Jane Seymour was a stunning and talented actress, at her most exquisite in this film. I would have gone back in time for Elise McKenna, too.

7. Source Code – Exciting, surprising, with first-rate acting.

8. 9 Times – I’ll admit I cheated with this one since 9 Times is actually a Korean miniseries, but I love it so much I had to include it.

9. Butterfly Effect – Dark, intriguing, underrated. 113 minutes of screen time with Ashton Kutcher is never a bad thing.

10. Fetching Cody – Indie, quirky, loved it.

11. The Family Man – A lot of heart, excellent redemption movie.

12. Back to the Future – Classic fun.

13. About Time – Sweet, romantic, totally worth watching. Domhall Gleeson is the perfect everyman.

14. Idiocracy – Great commentary on reality TV society.

15. Looper – Big budget, compelling.  Some sci-fi purists are put off by how this movie breaks time travel rules, but I was happy to suspend disbelief, especially since I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt’s. Incidentally, three movies on this list star Emily Blunt — maybe she likes time travel movies, too.

16. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Well shot and romantic, but couldn’t live up to the beautiful book by Audrey Niffenegger.

17. The Edge of Tomorrow – An exciting film that would have been much better with a different actor in the lead role.

18. Peggy Sue Got Married – Cute, worth watching

19. It’s a Wonderful Life – A classic and the only black and white movie on this list.

20. Hot Tub Time Machine – I’m not too proud to say I like silly movies, especially when they involve time travel.

21. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – A classic romp and actually kind of educational.

21a. Happy Accidents. Marissa Tomei.

22. The Adjustment Bureau – Creative concept. Would have been better if Matt Damon and Emily Blunt had had better chemistry.

23. Safety Not Guaranteed – Total indie, mostly in a good way. Aubrey Plaza is hilarious in every role she plays.

24. Sliding Doors –Interesting ideas. Alternate realities were edited together well.

24a. Sound of My Voice – Compelling docu-style indie flick. Rough around the edges with something troublingly beautiful at its heart.

24b. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is another film on this list tied for 24th place. FAQATT stars Chris O’Dowd, who’s always fun to watch. The film has an overall goofy feel, but there are dark and shocking moments as well. Anna Faris was a refreshing surprise.

25. Twice Upon a Yesterday – Had an uneven tone but worth watching. Recognize the brunette on the right? Yep, that’s Lena Headey (aka, Game of Thrones’ Circe).

26. Millenium – Great concept based on a John Varley short story, but the 1989 movie looks out of date. This is a movie that must be remade.

27. Minority Report – Slick. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.

28. Time Bandits – This movie is not my cup of tea, but some people love it.

29. Heaven Can Wait – A classic that might feel slow-paced to modern moviegoers.

30. Shuffle – Indie, troubling in a good way, a little disjointed, but that happens sometimes in time travel movies.

31. The Philadelphia Experiment – Typical ‘80s dick flick. Some conspiracy theorists claim this film is based on a true story, as in an entire naval ship really did disappear.

32. Frequency – Some people really like this movie, but it didn’t really do it for me.

33. The Lake House – Interesting concept but didn’t have much life.

34. Heart and Souls – Unique and sustained my interest, but like many of early Robert Downey, Jr. movies there was something a bit off about it.

35. Primer – Indie, good concept, realistic, but maybe a little too much testosterone and technical stuff for me because I kept falling asleep.

36. Touchback – Sweet if not a little too simplistic.

37. From Time to Time – Good cast but slow.

38. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court – Cute.

39. Bedtime Stories – Adam Sandler is in it and there’s magic; that’s about it.

40. I’ll Follow You Down – I had high hopes for this one, especially since Gillian Anderson is in it (“Fall,” anyone?). The movie looks good, but it really disappointed in the time travel department.

More Time Travel Movies  to See:

Me Myself I with Rachel Griffiths

Erased, based on the Japanese manga