Movie and Book: Mortal Instruments- City of Bones

I had heard a lot about The Mortal Instruments series. I never got into them, because after the Twilight craze I became very anti-vampire storyline. My roommate started reading them and explained the plot was not all vampires, and I became more interested in checking them out. This was one of those rare occurrences where I didn’t get a chance to read the book first. I ended up tagging along with my roommate when the movie came out, and the movie finally interested me enough to check out the series.

The Mortal Instruments City of BonesMortal Instruments is about a girl, Clarissa “Clary”, whose mother is mysteriously kidnapped and Clary becomes exposed to an underground world of Shadowhunters, werewolves, and vampires. Shadowhunters kill and destroy demons to protect all of humanity, and Clary gets dragged into the middle of it all by the broody, sarcastic, Shadowhunter Jace. Cue the sexual chemistry and sparks.

Despite not knowing a lot about the series, except the basics, I still managed to follow along with the movie story line pretty well. Clary, played by Lily Collins, suited the role. Jamie Campbell Bower simply embodies the sensual, enigmatic Jace. I liked the chemistry between Lily and Jamie (which makes sense since they were rumored as dating while they were filming this movie). By the end of the movie, I had decided I needed to read the book. My main reason: I needed to make sure the surprise twist wasn’t true. I would rate the movie 3.5 out of 5.

The Mortal Instruments City of Bones bookThe author Cassandra Clare definitely comes off as a first time writer in her first book. It is awkwardly written with a lot of bad similes and metaphors. Despite that, she created a really interesting world and characters that kept me reading. I recognized some of the really good dialogue scenes from the book were used in the movie, which shows the dialogue was stronger than some of the plot points.

Although, the movie actually did some different things with the plot that I actually liked better than how they were done in the book. For example, the first monster you meet in the movie is this terrifying demon dog thing. The first monster you meet in the book sounds like a lame slime monster.

There was only one part of the movie that wasn’t clear and that was due to the script, as it was completely different in the book. I enjoyed getting more involved in the history of the Shadowhunters, vampires, and werewolves in the book.

I enjoyed the overall premise of the series more than the actual writing of the book. Clary was often annoying. Jace was definitely the more interesting character that made reading worth it. I would rate the book 2.5 out of 5.

They set up the movie version City of Bones for a sequel, but I’m not sure if it will be made since the first movie only did so-so in the box office. I would like to see how they would have done with the other books in the series.

Charlie St. Cloud

It started with my interest in wanting to see the movie. Mostly because I have an undeniable weakness and love for Zac Efron. Then I found the movie-tie in of the book with Zac’s lovely face on the cover. I had no idea that it had been a book, and of course I had to find out how they compared.

Sherwood, Ben. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud (2004). 277 pages. Bantam Dell. $12.99.

I started with the book. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is told from the perspective of the paramedic who saved Charlie’s life. Charlie was in a tragic car accident, which resulted in Charlie being brought back to life and the unfortunate death of his younger brother, Sam. Fast forward 13 years later, Charlie works at a graveyard and, due to a promise he made, plays baseball with this spirit of his dead brother every day at sunset. Charlie’s ability to see his dead brother also allows him to converse with other spirits, and clearly illustrates that he is not truly living hence his “death”. Everything begins to change once he meets a girl, Tess.

I was initially very confused in the beginning, when the story started from the viewpoint of the dead paramedic who once saved Charlie’s life. Despite that, the story telling was simple and straight forward and, I admit, I was drawn in and teared up at the emotional bits. I like Charlie’s character and the bond he has with Sam. I also really like Tess and the connection she has with Charlie. I really cared about the characters and what happened to them.

Although I liked the characters, the writing itself had some issues. The twist to the story wasn’t much of a twist, as I predicted it several pages before it actually happened. The symbolism was a little overdone in comparing Charlie’s “life” to his “death”, and the ending was a little much. In the end, I realized that it was like the writer was trying too hard to be Nicholas Sparks, and kind of fell short. The one thing that bothered me the most was that Charlie had been working at the cemetery for thirteen years, he was 28 years old, and still playing baseball with his 12 year old brother. It just seemed a long time to be playing ball with your dead brother, and I just don’t see how the relationship between them would remain the same. Overall, I liked the story about Charlie, Sam, and Tess but the book seemed overwritten. I would rate the book 2.5/5.

Charlie St. Cloud (2010). Starring Zac Efron, Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta. Directed by Burr Steers. 99 minutes. $12.99.

I watched the movie soon after, and I was pleasantly surprised how close the movie was to the plot of the book. Charlie has a promising college career which abruptly ends with the death of his brother when he starts working at the graveyard instead. I thought the relationship in the movie between Charlie and Sam was played really well. The paramedic was a part of the story (played by Ray Liotta), but was not as big of a part as he was in the book. I pretty much just love Zac Efron, and I thought he did well.

One of the improvements from the book to the movie is that only 5 years pass from the death of his brother instead of 13. Charlie from the book is still hanging out with Sam when he is 28, while Charlie in the movie is only 22 or 23. I felt like it just made more sense. 13 years is a very long time to hold onto guilt, grief, and meetings with your dead brother every day at sunset. I felt like 5 years made a lot more sense. I don’t know why this little thing bothered me so much, but it made the characters in the movie more believable to me.

It still included the same twist to the story, which I felt wasn’t as predictable as it was in the book. I like the chemistry Zac Efron had with Tess (played by Amanda Crew). They filmed the movie in a north eastern harbor town that fit perfectly with where the book was set. I felt that the movie had all the good elements of the story, without the overwriting of the book. I would rate the film 3.5/5.

Chick Lit into Chick Flick

Out of all the different books I read, I find that the genre turned into movies most often is “Chick Lit”. Like most females in their young 20-something age bracket, I admit that I enjoy “Chick Lit” type novels. I don’t enjoy annoying, bitchy, or sissy heroine main characters (who would?), but I do like the easy-escape read it can provide.

Since I enjoy reading those types of novels, I tend to read them long before the movie comes out. I thought I would review a few of the novels and their movie counterparts for an entry. I would rather prefer to read the books and watch the movies again for a more in-depth review, however the copies of the books now reside several hours away from me. Besides I remember them well enough to give an opinion for each of them. If I happen to get the book/movie versions at a later date, I would happy to review them again if necessary.

McLaughlin, Emma and Kraus, Nicola. The Nanny Diaries (2003). 320 pages. St. Martin's Griffin. $13.95

First I would like to start with The Nanny Diaries. The book begins as a sociological type of framework as if the narrator is conducting a study, where the main character is called Nanny and the parents as Mr. and Mrs. X. Nanny is a college student who starts her first nanny job for the X’s to work around her school schedule. Chaos ensues. The only name the book gives is 4 year old Grayer.  I understand that the authors themselves were nannies for Manhattan higher society types, and this probably helped them keep their experiences with those clients somewhat anonymous. However, I felt that it distanced the reader from the characters. Nanny is very one dimensional except in her love for Grayer (although why I can’t imagine, since he continues to be the biggest brat in the world). Mrs. X is a total bitch who terrorizes the Nanny as she realizes her own son doesn’t love her, much less anyone else.  I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the book. The love story even fell flat with Nanny’s love interest, nicknamed “Harvard Hottie” (again he is not given a real name). The book can be amusing at times, but the writing style didn’t work for me. It’s a decent read if you enjoy reading about those types of situations. As an avid babysitter for most of my teenage years, I was just annoyed. Annoyed with Grayer’s brattiness, Mrs. X’s bitchiness, and Nanny’s cluelessness. Rating: 2.5/5.

In comparison, the movie counterpart starring Scarlett Johansson and Laura Linney was a vast improvement. The movie began with an archeological study framework which worked a lot better for the film than it did the book. The love story involving “Harvard Hottie” was written so much better (with the help of adorable Chris Evans). Also, certain scenes with Mrs. X were done a little bit differently making her seem not entirely heartless.* Laura Linney did a great job with the role and Scarlett had all the charisma that her book counterpart lacked.  The movie exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed it a lot more than the book. Rating: 3.5/5.

The next book I wanted to go over is Confessions of a Shopaholic. I absolutely love Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series! Becky Bloomwood is quirky, funny, and smart. She gets herself in the most ridiculous situations, but it always works out and she manages to grow as a character. The movie is based on the first book also titled Confessions of a Shopaholic. It’s not my favorite book in the series, but I still enjoyed it.  Becky works for a financial magazine, including how to save and stock tips, except Becky has a secret obsession called shopping. And her obsession starts to cause a big problem as she becomes more and more in debt. The book is broken up with letters from her banker which get more and more irate as Becky tries to stall for more time. Becky has a great witty, narrative voice that always makes me laugh out loud, and she has a unique, creative way to get herself out of situations. The book also introduces one of my favorite male characters, Luke Brandon. The only problem I had was the book drags a lot in the beginning. I almost had a hard time getting into it, but it definitely picks up at the end and I couldn’t put it down for the last 100 pages.  Rating: 4/5.

Kinsella, Sophie. Confessions of a Shopaholic (2001). 320 pages. Dial Press. $14 Book Cover pictured with Isla Fisher.

I was really excited when I heard the movie was coming out. First problem I had with it: they chose Australian actress Isla Fisher to play an American Becky and set it in New York (the book and characters are actually set in England). I wasn’t sure what to expect.  As a comparison to the book, it was a huge let down. When I realized that this movie was not going to be like the original story, I put the book out of my mind and focused on the movie for what it was. It was very cute. I love Isla Fisher and she really did embrace the character perfectly. The storyline was different, but the situation and resolution was similar. The only thing that really bothered me was how they wrote Luke and his relationship with Becky. Although Hugh Dancy did his best, he just did not embody Luke for me. Also there was a running joke/thing about Luke, Becky, and the green scarf they met/fought over. It was entirely written in and it really bothered me for some reason. As itself, the movie was cute and enjoyable. However, it lacked for me as a true book adaptation. Rating 3/5.

The last book I wanted to go over is The Devil Wears Prada. It was first time novel and best seller by Lauren Weisberger. It follows the story of Andrea Sachs, a recent Brown graduate, who wants to get into the world of journalism. She lands her first job as a personal assistant to the tyrannical Miranda Priestly, fashion editor of Runway magazine (it is speculated that the character is loosely based on the editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour). Chaos ensues. I had heard so much about this book before I finally made the trip to the library, and I wanted to like it. But I just didn’t. As Lauren’s first novel it shows. The book drags on too long, the writing style was flat, and her characters were forgettable. The only redeeming thing about the book is Miranda’s character. Although she’s a huge bitch (Mrs. X times 3), Miranda makes the book at least interesting. Andrea’s character is utterly forgettable and annoying. She hates her job but she doesn’t do anything about it until it’s almost too late. My biggest issue was that the book was simply too LONG. By the time it finally gets to the ending, the show down between Miranda and Andrea is anti-climactic and I just don’t care anymore. Rating: 1/5

The Devil Wears Prada (2006). PG-13. Starring Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, and Emily Blunt. Directed by David Frankel. 109 min. $14.98

The movie adaptation took out all the filler in the book and made it better. I love Meryl Streep and she nailed the role as Miranda. I adore Anne Hathaway and she made Andrea’s character charming and remembered. They added a couple scenes featuring Miranda that made her seem more human, which added a lot of depth to her character. And I felt Andrea had a lot more growth as a character in the movie than she ever did in the book. Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci add to the cast of characters that just weren’t there in the book. It was so much more enjoyable to watch then the book ever was as a read. Rating 3.5/5

I was thinking of adding one of my all time favorite Chick Lit book/movie duo Bridget Jones’ Diary to this entry, but I feel that I should reserve a whole entry for that one at a latter date (mostly because I want to reread the book again).

And for regular readers (all two of you), I am trying to be posting regularly on Wednesdays for now. We will see how it goes.


*I have issues with books/TV/movies of heartless bitches. Mean girls do not amuse me, I only get annoyed. It’s why Mrs. X** and Miranda did not amuse me. They just annoy and frustrate me. And I cannot imagine why a main character would bother putting up with it.

**Okay, I realize that Miranda maybe didn’t bother me as much. I think Mrs. X annoys me more because she’s a mom and a drama queen. Terrible combination.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler's Wife (2003). 546 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $14.95

I remember seeing this book everywhere when it became a best seller several years ago. The idea of the book appealed to me but I never had the chance to pick it up. My chance came when they recently came out with the movie version starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. As I always prefer to read the book first, I finally made a library trip.

The novel follows the lives of Henry De Tamble and his wife, Clare. Henry is a time traveler, affected by a genetic disorder that enables him to involuntarily travel through time. Henry and Clare’s lives are completely intertwined as he begins visiting her while she is very young. The novel follows the story of their relationship.

Although the concept of the book seemed interesting, I was a little worried. A cohesive narrative for someone who time travels is not an easy feat. I was afraid that the narrative would be jumbled and the time jumps would be confusing. I am delighted to report that I was wrong.

Each chapter is listed with time, place, and how old Henry is (which helps a lot). And the novel is set up in a way where things all tie together in their own time. Henry is a complicated character who changes and develops as he goes through the unique time line that is his life, and especially grows as a character with Clare. Clare is his perfect match, and some of the chapters of her waiting for him to return from his ventures in time are heartbreaking.

One of the main issues in the book is Henry and Clare attempting to have a child, and Clare has several miscarriages. These scenes are not for the faint of heart as they are very descriptive and gory, but heartrendingly told from a woman who desperately wants a child of her own. The supporting characters surrounding Henry and Clare were vividly told and played some key parts in the novel: Henry’s dad, Clare’s family, Clare’s friend Gomez, and Henry’s neighbor Mrs. Kim. Be warned that the book is somewhat of a tearjerker, and I was crying a bit at the end (like the soft-hearted sap that I am).

Overall, I absolutely loved the book. I thought the storyline was executed well and the story was beautifully told. Henry and Clare had great chemistry together and I believed their story. I rate it a 5/5.

I knew making a movie based on this book would be incredibly hard. There is SO much detail about Henry and Clare’s life, there would be too much to fit in the movie to accurately represent the beauty of the book. When I learned that the movie was only 107 minutes, I knew it would be lacking a lot for me.

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2010). PG-13. Starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. Directed by Robert Schwentke. 107 min. $28.98

I was right.

The beginning was set up well considering that it can be a difficult narrative to follow. Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams (playing Henry and Clare respectively) represented their characters well, and overall the movie script stayed very close to the book.

However, the slight deviations the writers made from the storyline were not done well. I’m not opposed to writers changing or adapting certain parts in the movie, as long as it is works. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There were two key events involving Clare’s character that change the entire story, and they were only glossed over in the movie. The way these events were written and perhaps performed in the movie ruined Clare’s character for me. Instead of painting Clare as the devoted, patient wife, she seemed manipulative, bossy, and a little b*tchy. Those scenes really irked me, and I had a hard time enjoying the movie afterwards.

Overall, the movie was okay. I wish they had spent a little bit more time on some of the supporting characters’ roles such as Henry’s relationship with his dad or Clare’s relationship with Gomez. I did like that the movie followed pretty closely with the book, and there were certain scenes that were done very well. However, I still was bothered by how Clare’s actions seemed so manipulative in the two scenes I mentioned. I rate it a 2.5/5.

I do feel that the movie was a decent visual adaptation of the book, and could be enjoyed without reading the novel. In this case though, the book is much more rewarding.