Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten
Genre: Fiction, horror, sharks, thriller, action, you know how you beat a shark? You stay on fucking land, idiots!
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: Disgraced naval submersible pilot turned paleobiologist Jonas Taylor is haunted by a failed dive that killed two of his colleagues and changed his life forever. Sadly for Jonas, no one believes that he actually saw an extinct albino shark in the Mariana Trench several years ago, and now he’s relegated to giving lectures and writing books on his crackpot theories to pay the bills. But all that’s about to change, and the definitely not extinct Carcharadon Megalodon will make her presence known to the entire world. Read: she’s going to eat everyone.
Welcome to the fifth annual Shark Week on Bibliomantics, where I torture myself by reading and reviewing a shark themed novel, all in the name of something that is definitely not science.
I wasn’t sure which book I was going to read this year, until the adaptation of Steve Alten’s much-praised Meg announced Jason Statham would be joining the soon to be a motion picture as protagonist Jonas Taylor. It also had pretty decent reviews on GoodReads so I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?
Much like the poorly named Sharc by actor and Kindle author Paul Rudd, Meg suffers from too many characters. With the exception of Jonas, Mac, Terry, Maggie (who I thought was named Molly until I double checked) and Bud, I regularly forgot which characters were integral to the plot and who they even were when they would deign to appear. Not that it matters because they’re all just pieces of one-dimensional cardboard — with the exception of helicopter pilot Mac who is the best. TEAM MAC!
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Book: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Movie: I, Frankenstein
Genre: Fiction, horror, science fiction, paranormal, supernatural, demons, the worst CGI to ever CGI
Rating: 1.8 out of 5 stars (movie), 3.8 out of 5 stars (book)
Summary: What happened to Frankenstein’s monster at the end of Mary Shelley’s classic tale of gothic horror? Did he kill himself as promised, or did he end up caught in the middle of a never-ending war between gargoyles and demons. Obviously it’s the latter, because of course it is. 200 years later the Creature must stop a demon prince from recreating Victor Frankenstein’s life-reanimating experiments and find out once and for all who the real Frankenstein is. Is it you Frankenstein? Is it me Frankenstein?
I have been wanting to watch the surely cinematic masterpiece that is I, Frankenstein for a while now. 1. Because why the fuck is it called I, Frankenstein and 2. Because how can something get a worse Rotten Tomatoes rating than both After Earth and The Last Airbender?
Sadly, I was not able to watch the Spanish language version Yo, Frankenstein which is the actual title and not a joke I just made up.
One thing becomes immediately apparent less than five minutes into the film: it’s really a shame Mary Shelley cut the entire Frankenstein’s monster versus demons versus gargoyles subplot from her gothic novel.
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The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (Galley)
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Genre: Fiction, young adult, science fiction, dystopia, post-apocalyptic, we could have had it all
Rating: 3.2 out of 5 stars
Summary: To prevent war following a catastrophic change in the climate, an AI working for the UN instituted an ancient peace-keeping measure: all world leaders must submit a child to be held hostage. If war is declared, their children’s lives are forfeit. One such hostage is Greta, the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, whose world is turned upside down by the arrival of Elián, a hostage from the Cumberland Alliance. Will Greta and the other Children of Peace keep war at bay or will their parents sacrifice their own for the greater good. And what do goats have to do with it?
Before I begin I have to say that I really wanted to like The Scorpion Rules — and sometimes I even did — but as with a lot of concept novels that deal with dystopian worlds and child murder (see also Dualed and its sequel Divided), it just didn’t live up to its premise.
The book begins as most dystopias do with an apocalypse, starting with the melting of the polar ice caps because yes Virginia, global warming is real. This rise in sea levels leads to a decrease in land, a loss of water and food, new diseases and plagues and a series of disputes calls the War Storms.
As readers we are not shown but rather told these events by a former human now a Class II artificial intelligence named Talis, a sassy entity and lover of the Terminator films who saved humankind from the War Storms, holding all of humanity hostage with their own mortality.
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Book: Jaws: The Revenge by Hank Searls
Movie: Jaws: The Revenge
Genre: Fiction, horror, sharks, voodoo is actually a much better explanation than no explanation
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (book), 2.6 out of 5 stars (movie)
Summary: Everyone’s favorite man-eating shark is back for his final adventure! Or rather, a possible relative of everyone’s favorite man-eating shark is back for his final adventure. In the 4th installment of the film series, turned the 3rd installment of the book series, yet another Great White Shark is torturing the Brody family, and it’s all because Michael Brody broke a witch doctor’s magical gourd. Leaving everyone who picked up this book to ponder: “Yeah, but is that why it roars?”
Yet another Shark Week has come and gone (with twice as many fake documentaries) and this year I chose to read perhaps the most torturous shark story to date — aside from last year’s read — a novelization of the film Jaws: The Revenge. AKA Jaws IV. AKA The One That is Somehow Worse Than Jaws 3.
Jaws: The Revenge: it’s a tale as old as time. Man kills shark. Man kills a different shark. Possible descendent of deceased sharks follows the man’s family to the Bahamas and begins systematically killing them.
You know, that old story.
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Divided by Elsie Chapman (Galley)
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Genre: Fiction, science fiction, young adult, dystopia, action, I really really need that reboot now
Rating: 3.2 out of 5 stars
Summary: West Grayer is now a Complete, having killed her Alt –an alternate version of herself — she is busy adjusting to her new life in the morally grey world of Kersh. Just when West thinks she’s done killing for good, she is given one more assignment by the Board. Will she take it and give her future children an unthinkable opportunity, or will taking up the role of Striker destroy the last remaining good inside West forever? In a world where only killers survive to adulthood, West must make a difficult choice. Kind of. Sort of. Not really. Okay, totally not.
When I last left protagonist West Grayer, it was in the novel Dualed, which while strong in premise, completely missed every single mark possible in terms of execution. Ultimately, a world in which two versions of you are brought into the world through some genetic mumbo jumbo (different parents are each pregnant with, give birth to and raise a different version of you) and only one can survive was an intriguing one, but author Elsie Chapman completely ignored all the interesting themes and questions her novel brought up. So much so that I demanded a reboot. Hey, if Hollywood can do it, why can’t the literary community? Said no one ever.
Sadly, while I hoped my worries about the sequel would prove to be unfounded, Divided suffers from the same exact problems as the original, and once again chooses to glance over all the interesting ideas it poses to make room for a tepid romance and an even thinner plot. What even?
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Book: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
TV Show: “Dexter“
Genre: Fiction, horror, murder, serial-killers, one of the worst series finales of all time or would a dream have been worse?
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (tv show), 4.5 out of 5 stars (book)
Summary: The once great serial-killer Dexter Morgan is now a shell of his former self, choosing to give up murdering those who don’t deserve to continue living by running off to Argentina to start his life over with the woman who tried to murder his sister and the son who is unable to work a treadmill properly. The only problem is the murderous psychopath the Brain Surgeon is on the loose and Hannah is wanted by the American government. Can they escape and live happily ever after or will “Dexter” get the laziest series finale on television? Spoilers: it’s the latter.
It’s not often that a series I have invested a significant portion of my life in (seven years to be precise) ends in such an unsatisfactory way that I have uneasy dreams. This however is precisely what happened last night after subjecting myself to the tragedy that was the season finale of “Dexter” in which apparently my brain thought it was more preferable that Dexter had a secret daughter who worked in a convenience store and absolutely no epilogue.
This conclusion was especially depressing because Season One, which followed the events in the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Season Two which deals with the ramifications of Dexter’s dirty little secret being discovered and Season Four which featured the Trinity Killer, starring the amazing John Lithgow were all impressive moments in television history. Unfortunately from Season Five on the series floundered, only to die a horrible death with the very last episode. This is what happens when you decide to rush an early finale.
WARNING: Spoilers obviously abound from here on out.
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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Release Date: August 21, 2013
Genre: Fiction, young adult, fantasy, magic, angels, demons
Summary: Clary is just your ordinary girl, until she learns that she’s part of a race called the Shadowhunters who are tasked with killing demons and keeping humanity in the dark about their constant impending doom. Enter Jace, her love-interest who seems to think fixing your hair is the same as acting and his team of leather-clad teens. And also Alec. When Clary’s mom is kidnapped, she is stuck in the middle of a plot that becomes unnecessarily convoluted and is tasked (for some reason) with protecting the Mortal Cup from Valentine, a diabolical villain with the worst hair of all time who picked up all his tricks from the web-series Acting With James Franco.
Let’s talk about The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
We know, we don’t want to either because our hearts still hurt, but it must be done. For the good of humanity. For all the people who loved the book series and wanted to see it hit the big screen but haven’t yet subjected their feelings to this monstrosity playing on screens around the world. And more importantly, for every person who will never read The Mortal Instruments because of this film.
WARNING: City of Glass spoilers that are super duper spoiled by this movie anyway ahead.
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