Thirteen Reasons Why

I zoomed through this book in the past two days, partly because of the new Netflix show. Written by Jay Asher in 2007, it follows Clay, a high school student who receives a box of cassette tapes from Hannah, another student who has recently committed suicide.

On each side of the tapes, Hannah tells the story of one person who contributed to her decision to commit suicide, ranging from a fellow student who was a Peeping Tom in her window to a boy who raped another classmate while she was in the room.  The book is pretty melodramatic, as is common with a lot of teen fiction and I can definitely see the argument that many have made regarding it glorifying suicide.  I still may check out the Netflix show to see how they adapted it.  I’ve heard there are a lot of changed they made.

The Circle

I kind of wanted to see the new movie The Circle with Emma Watson, but I generally like the read the book first.   Published in 2013 and written by Dave Eggers, The Circle tells the story of Mae, young professional who gets a job with a large technology company, The Circle.  The company is a mix of Google, Facebook, PayPal and pretty much any other social media website you can think of.  Basically, they control everything.

Mae is fascinated by the people who work there and the new projects they are developing.  She becomes more and more sucked in to the philosophy they adhere to even as it appears the world’s privacy rights are about to be stripped away.  Mae’s relationships between her family, friends and a potential love interest become strained as well.

I read through this book quickly because I really wanted to know what would happened at the end and if the Circle’s plan for total world domination would work.  I only wish Mae had been a more sympathetic character and with a little more conviction.

The Underground Railroad

I finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead today, which recently won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  It tells the story of Cora, a slave in Georgia and follows her from her time as a slave on a plantation throughout her journey to freedom and all of the trials in between.

The descriptions of the horrors of slavery are moving and often uncomfortable to read, even though I’m sure all of these atrocities actually occurred.  It seems like every time she caught a break, something would happen to her and beat her back down.  It was interesting to read about the aspects of the novel’s railroad system, which functioned as a literal railroad underground here instead of merely safe houses.

This book is set to be made into a mini-series soon and I will definitely check it out once made.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

On the airplane home I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spin off on the Harry Potter films.  In this one, taking place well before Harry Potter, Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne travels to New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures.  Of course, they are let loose and mayhem ensues.

It has been announced that there were be five films with these characters so it will be interesting to see where it goes with how this first one was set up.  I definitely enjoyed the movie and the characters in this world.  They will never be Harry, Hermione and Ron, but I will see where they go.

Arrival

Another movie I watched on the airplane was Arrival, which was along the Best Picture nominees last year.  The director, Denis Villeneuve made Sicario the year before, which I really enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this one.

Amy Adams plays a linguist who is recruited to help communicate with aliens who have arrived in pods in various places around the globe.  Jeremy Renner plays the scientist who works with her and eventually becomes her love interest.

The way Adams’ character develops a language and works with the aliens is fascinating and every time she enters the pod is tense and exciting.  The fact that the aliens appear to be giving her visions of the future is also tragic and heartbreaking.  The movie definitely makes you think about choosing certain paths in important life decisions and the possibility of life on other planets.

The Edge of Seventeen

We had another few airplane rides over the past week, so I was able to catch up on a few movies that I missed last year.  I watched The Edge of Seventeen, starring Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine, a high school student who struggles to fit in.  When her only friend starts dating her brother, she feels betrayed and completely breaks down.  I had a hard time relating to her as a character, partly because she was selfish the entire time and didn’t want to look at anything from someone else’s perspective.  Maybe it’s because I am so far removed from high school at this point…

The acting was excellent in the movie and I appreciated the friendship between Nadine and her best friend.  I also thought Woody Harrelson as the teacher she confides in plays the role well and it doesn’t disintegrate into a ploy.  Overall, this was a good airplane choice.

Thor

Next up on our Marvel movie viewing was Thor.  The kids both really enjoyed this one.  Chris Hemsworth plays Thor, an alien prince who is banished to Earth and must prove himself worthy to return.  On Earth, he meets his love interest in scientist Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman.  Tom Hiddleston is his evil brother Loki, who is plotting to take over the throne.  Jeremy Renner also makes his first appearance as Hawkeye.

My five year-old son liked when Thor finally got his powers back and my seven year-old daughter agreed that was the best part.  The supernatural aspects of the movie made it interesting and different from the other movies we have seen so far.  Captain America is up next so it will be cool to see how the kids respond to the historical aspect.