To finish, or not to finish

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been reading Disclosure.  Tonight I’m facing a decision: to finish the book or not.

Normally I’ll tough it out through books that I’m not sure of; I try to only give up when books are really bad or really boring.  (The latter is more often true of non-fiction.)  There is a mitigating circumstance here, because I read the book before.

Here are my thoughts, and the reasons I will probably bail.

This story has two major plotlines.  The first is the advanced technology and (if memory serves) digital espionage.  This is the plotline that I remember enjoying, but on this read it hasn’t caught me.  It is very possible that this is because the tech is so very outdated, and also because I’m just not as invested as I was when the book was new to me.  I was already debating finishing the book because of this reason when I hit the second plotline, and an even bigger reason.

The second plot is the one that got all the attention when the book came out, specifically, the sexual harassment part.  Crichton was always a questioner of authority.  Should we really play with things we don’t understand?  What are the possible unintended consequences of new advances in science?  His more recent books were more obvious with this, addressing nanotech and global warming with pretty blatant opinions.  This book draws attention to the possibility of a female in power harassing a male subordinate.  While I applaud the effort to make sure that the goose is treated the same as the gander, he did it in a really in-your-face way that I’m not sure I like.  It makes me feel really awkward for the main character, which is a situation that I totally empathize with and also very much dislike.

I remember enjoying the book a lot as a teen, which is why I checked it out for a re-read.  (I’m not sure how I feel about my teenage self reading the scene I just finished, but much like when I read Silent Spring in fourth grade, I think there was a lot I glossed over since I didn’t understand it.)  Many of Crichton’s books are very suspenseful, and as a kid I think the main reason I liked this one is that it wasn’t as scary as Jurassic Park or Terminal Man (which gave me nightmares for weeks and caused me to tape my window shades to the frame).

After writing out my reasoning (and noticing Jurassic Park and Airframe sitting on my table waiting to be read) I think that I’ll give up on Disclosure for the time being.  I’ll hold on to it – it isn’t due back to the library for a couple of weeks – but I may not finish it after all.

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Books or Movies?

I am the kind of person who prefers books over movies.  If I’ve seen a movie and find out it was a book first, I might read it.  (I enjoyed Rise of the Guardians and also the first book of the series by William Joyce, Nicholas St. North.)  But if there is a movie made based on a book that I like, it is a safe bet that I will not see the movie.  (I’ve been disappointed enough.)

There have been a lot of commercials on tv lately for the re-release of Jurassic Park in 3-D.  While I did enjoy the movie, I read the book first and liked it much better.  (I mean, come on.  In the book they figure out that the dinos are reproducing using graphs, logic, and math.  In the movie they stumble across hatched eggs.  Which one is cooler?)  The commercials are doing two things.  They are reminding me that John Williams is one of the best movie composers ever, and they are making me want to re-read the book (and perhaps also re-read several other of Michael Crichton’s books).

I decided to go for it, and requested several of Crichton’s books from the library.  I picked up Disclosure today, and will hopefully have Airframe, Congo, and Jurassic Park soon!

I’m not sure that was the goal of the commercials…

When a book ruins your life… or at least your sleep

I have found that my brain waits to process things that I read or saw during the day until I am trying to fall asleep.  This means that, even if I watch a TV show early in the evening, it will reappear in my brain as I am drifting off (and sometimes in my dreams).  When I finished The Hunger Games, things from the book twined themselves through my dreams throughout the night.

Saturday night I read Catching Fire, the second book of the trilogy, while in bed.  I was planning to read for an hour or so and then go to sleep, because I had most of the day on Sunday to finish it.  Notice that I said “planning,” because clearly that’s not what happened.  I ended up staying up until 1am finishing the book.  (This makes me glad that it is a quick read!)

I have to admit that at one point, when there was a lull in the very involving action, I got up to use the restroom and was overcome with a wave of fear.  I knew intellectually that there was nothing in my apartment that would suddenly kill me, but my adrenaline was running from the book and I had to turn on lights in every room before I felt safe.  When I finally finished the book, I wasn’t much calmer.  It took the first page or two of the concluding book to finally get me settled to where I could sleep.

My imagination gets very intertwined with fictional worlds, which is why for most of my teen years I made it a point to try to either barely start or completely finish a Michael Crichton book before bed.  I’m sure my parents remember when I read Jurassic Park, my first experience with his fiction.  My imagination was so worked up by the story that I couldn’t sleep, finally getting up at 5am when my dad did, to sit and finish the book.  I learned my lesson from that one, reading several of his novels in one day.  I also confirmed what I knew instinctively; I am not capable of handling horror books or movies.  I think I’d stop sleeping for days.

An active imagination is an excellent tool for an author, but I do sometimes wish it wouldn’t affect my sleep quite so much!

Movies and Books

I watched the first Lord of the Rings movie last night, and I’m preparing to go see the last Harry Potter tonight.  With both of these fresh in my mind, I thought I’d post some thoughts about movies made from books.

I am the kind of person who generally does not see movies if they are based on books that I liked.  I don’t like to be disappointed.  I’ve found a loophole to that rule recently, however; it turns out that if it’s been a while since I read the book, I don’t remember all the details and so I’m less disappointed.  This probably only holds true with movies that stick close to the book, although I haven’t tried it with anything other than Harry Potter.

I think that a book-based movie should be as close as feasible.  Michael Crichton believed in letting the screenwriters and Hollywood-types do what they liked with his books.  All I have to say is that Jurassic Park was a good movie, but it was disappointing for someone who adored the book.  (That would be me, if you hadn’t guessed.)  I applaud J.K. Rowling for insisting that the movies be a true to the books as possible, and I love how meticulous with detail Peter Jackson was when creating Tolkien’s world.

I am a realist; I understand that an 800+ page book can’t be made into a movie of reasonable length, and that certain things can be conveyed very well in writing but not at all in movies.  But if the book is popular and well-done, why shouldn’t the movie stay as close as humanly possible?

Going to the Movies

I have mentioned in a previous post that I don’t watch movies based on books that I like, although I didn’t explain the reason for the rule.  At this point, with all my complaints about consistency, it may already be clear.  Here’s the story. 

My friends all wanted to see Jurassic Park when it came out – I was in junior high.  My mom was searching for a way to get me interested in adult fiction, so she seized on this opportunity.  I had to read the book before I could see the movie.  It was quite a successful venture: I ended up falling in love with Michael Crichton’s work and spent the summer checking out every book he ever wrote.  (I played that game again later – in high school – when I discovered Mercedes Lackey.) 

This did, however, lead to the rule.  I saw the movie.  I would have liked the movie had I seen it out of the context of the book.  However, I spent most of the movie saying things like “the girl is the one who likes dinosaurs, not the boy” and “What?  That’s not how they figured out the dinosaurs are breeding!”  Needless to say, I was disappointed in the movie and the lack of cinsistency with the book.

Thus the rule was born.  It started as “no movies based on Michael Crichton books” and then grew from there.  (I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies, but I also didn’t finish those books and it was years between reading and watching.)  I did make one exception: I saw the first Harry Potter movie when it came out.  Guess what?  Disappointment again, this time based on the things that had to be omitted, so the rule was reinforced.  This has led to  more than a few arguments, with friends, family, and significant others who really wanted to see movies that I refused to see.   My apologies, but you knew my rule when you started.  🙂

I have since seen all of the Harry Potter movies, most of them on DVD.  I found that distance from when I read them (as in Lord of the Rings) makes it much easier to enjoy the films.  I went to see the most recent one last night; now I am impatient for the last one.  Of course, I am also impatient because I want to re-read the books, and I can’t do that until I have seen the last movie.