At the Movies

And we are back.  Well, I am.  As I’m writing this Kate is on a plane on her way home.  New Orleans was great!  We both had a lot of fun.  It’s such a chill city.  It was a lot of fun walking around and seeing the sights. I do hope we get to go back again some day.

But back to business. The movie adaption of Insurgent by Veronica Roth comes out tomorrow.  I have mixed feelings about the movie of Divergent, I overall liked it but I have reservations about this one.  First the trailer makes it pretty clear they did some major changes and I’m not sure if that’s going to be good or bad.  Insurgent was a hard book to read because Tris suffers from PTSD and no one tries to help her and it was beyond frustrating.  I’m not sure how that will play on screen or if they will sort of gloss over it kinda like they did with Katniss in Mockingay Part 1.  I guess I’ll find out when I see it later this or next week.

There are other YA movie adaptations coming soon that I’m pretty excited.  Of course Mockingjay Part 2. That’s definitely going to be brutal.  Moviefone highlighted a few that are in the works.  Some that I knew of like The 5th Wave and Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The former should make a good movie and the latter, well hopefully with Tim Burton at the helm it will be better then the book. I didn’t know that Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Grasshopper Jungle, Immortal Rules and Shadow and Bone have all been optioned.  That’s awesome!  I think both Kate and I have said how much we loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  That will be really interesting to see how that plays out on the big screen.  Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is excellent Vampire Dystopian novel.  I also think that Smoke and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is being produced by David Heyman of Harry Potter fame. So I have a lot faith that will be well done.  And Edgar Wright is attached to direct Grasshopper Jungle?  Yes please! I know we have talked a lot about this book lately and it’s flaws but it was an entertaining book and I actually think if done right will make a better movie.

So book fans, we have a lot of good books being made into movies in the upcoming years.  Let’s hope that they are all more like Harry Potter and Hunger Games and less like The Giver or Percy Jackson.

P.S. Not mentioned in the article but Maggie Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park have also been optioned.  I’m not sure where Scorpio Races is in development but I do know that Miss Rowell was asked to write the screenplay for Eleanor and Park and well I can’t wait for both of these!

RE: Sexism, Twitter and Giant Insects

One last thing on the whole Andrew Smith fiasco.  Maggie Stiefvater said it best on twitter.

The author who said that Maggie was “more familiar with manly car things” was a female author.  It’s also a pretty benign comment that probably wasn’t meant to be sexist but could be taken as that, just as Smith’s comments were.  It goes both ways.  That’s why we have to talk about.  Sexism has become such a part of culture that we don’t even truly realize we do it.

Sexism, Twitter and Giant Insects

Author Andrew Smith is having a good year. His last book, Grasshopper Jungle, won a Printz Honor and he’s been getting good reviews on his new book, The Alex Crow.  He’s been called the Kurt Vonnegurt of YA and Grasshopper Jungle has shades of Slaughterhouse-Five with it’s multi-layered plot lines  that are kinda absurd.  However, he started a controversy after comments he recently made to Vice.com  Here’s the quote that got him in trouble.

On the flip side, it sometimes seems like there isn’t much of a way into your books for female readers. Where are all the women in your work?
I was raised in a family with four boys, and I absolutely did not know anything about girls at all. I have a daughter now; she’s 17. When she was born, that was the first girl I ever had in my life. I consider myself completely ignorant to all things woman and female. I’m trying to be better though.

So, he’s saying that the reason that his female characters are one dimensional is because he has had no experience with them so he can’t write them.  By that logic, what experience does he have with giant insects that he was able to make them believable? Anyway, it’s not surprisingly, many women in literary circles took to twitter and other social media and called him out on this comment and in response it seems Mr. Smith deleted his twitter page.  In return, many of the women who criticized have been harassed and bullied for speaking up.  Criticizing someone’s work is not bullying them and nor is having a valid point either. This has sadly become all to common on social media.  Let’s not forget that Gamer Gate is still going on. That many women on the internet are threatened with violence for nothing but pointing out sexist practices and trying to start conversations to change them.

I like this tweet by author Shannon Hale.*

but I feel for women author they really don’t have the luxury of creating one dimensional characters the way men authors do at least when it comes to female characters.  I feel like it a female author wrote male characters the way that most female characters are that they would be undoubtedly called on and probably wouldn’t publish another book. But that’s just me.

I liked Grasshopper Jungle. My only beef with it was the fact that the only real female character in it, Shann was a non-entity.   As I wrote in mini-review of the book earlier this year.

Weird. In one way, it was refreshing to have a novel take on bisexuality in such a head on way but on the other hand, the female lead Shann, is pretty one dimensional. So it’s progressive in one way and a step back in another way.

So one one hand, he wrote a compelling story of a boy struggling with his own sexuality against the backdrop of apocalyptic destruction by giant grasshoppers.  On the other hand, the few women in the story were the girlfriend, who is a none issue besides being the main character girlfriend and mom of the main character’s best friend who is promiscuous. So, in Mr Smith’s own words, he is ignorant of all things women so he’s just not going to put the time into writing them.

So this has turned out to be a longer post then I intended but that’s OK.  We need to talk about this.  We need to talk about the lack of diversity in literature, whether it’s adult fiction or young adult fiction.  We need to stop allowing authors get away with lazy opinions that because they are not female or minority that they can’t possibly write those characters so they don’t and when they do, we should call them out on it and not fear being, harassed, threatened or bullied.  Andrew Smith is good author as he was just recently honored with a prestigious award so he should be held to higher standard but then again all authors should be too.

So I ask you, what is your opinion on this or this topic?  Sound off in the comments below.

*Speaking of Shannon Hale.  Here’s an account from a school visit she recently did where only girls were given permission to hear her talk, not the boys.

I can’t think of a clever title so Award Winners it is!

The American Library Association announced the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott  and Printz awards today.  These honor the best on Children’s literature.  Past winners, like Johnny TremainThe Graveyard Book, and The Westing Game are now consider classics so it’s a big deal to win.  Not to mention a boost in sales. No doubt tomorrow hundreds of parents went into bookstores all over the country asking for them.

Featured imageThere are a few stand outs.  Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson has already won the National Book Award for Young Adult, was honored with the Coretta Scott King Award and was also a Newbery Honoree.  It’s Ms. Woodson’s memoir of growing up in the south and in New York, told mostly in verse.  On a personal note, Ms. Woodson lives in the neighborhood that I work in and is a very nice woman.  So I couldn’t be happier for her.  I haven’t read it yet but it’s definitely on the to-read list.

Featured imageGrasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith was named a Printz Award honoree.  I have read this and let me tell you, it’s kinda of messed up.  I became interested in it since it takes place in Iowa, my home state.  It’s a story of Austin, a horny teenager who struggling with his feelings for both his girlfriend Shann and his best friend Robby.  If that wasn’t enough problems for a teenage boy, he and Robby accidentally unleashed six foot praying mantis’ that will destroy the world.  Yeah, I know.  Weird. In one way, it was refreshing to have a novel take on bisexuality in such a head on way but on the other hand, the female lead Shann, is pretty one dimensional. So it’s progressive in one way and a step back in another way.  It’s still worth a read though.

Have you read any of the other winners or honorees?  If so, sound off in the comments below.