Book: Eleanor & Park

"Eleanor & Park"

Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabbier and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

You know how movies get novelizations that either take away from the action of the book, or give so much more than what the movie already offered? Eleanor & Park is not like that.

Eleanor & Park is a movie in book form; with no additives, and with nothing taken away.

I think I can safely say that no other book has affected me this much. I can’t stop feeling. There is so much feeling in this book, and I’m already on the part where I’m trying to analyze what makes the book good, and tears are still falling.

No, I’m not bawling my eyes out. I’m just tearing up. My heart has been torn out, torn down, and I’m tearing up. And I can’t stop.

This is the first time I’ve read anything from Rainbow Rowell. A few friends I’ve met through this book blog thing have raved about her books. Fully Booked sold out on her books back in December. Eleanor & Park was hyped too much. And I expected too much. And the book still exceeded those expectations.

I understand that I’m not making much sense at the moment. It’s only been minutes since I put the book down.

But I will say this: I think I already found the book that will define my 2014. Much like David Levithan’s Every Day became the benchmark for 2013, all the other books I’m going to be reading this year will have to contend with Eleanor & Park.

The funny thing is, when I started reading the book, I thought it was just an ordinary Young Adult novel about love and how we don’t see what’s really in front of us when we’re in love. And in a way, that remains true up to the end. But somewhere past the halfway mark, something changed. Suddenly, I cared that Eleanor & Park might not have a happy ending. And although the first page already warns us of this, you will hope that that event happens soon–and that they will be able to resolve whatever it is that will separate them.

And then the book ends. You’re just left crying your eyes out. And you’re left not knowing what hit you.

It’s perfect.

Now, excuse me while I go and let my heart bleed.

Go and check out what other people have to say about the book in the meantime:
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Movie: Warm Bodies

"Warm Bodies"

A funny new twist on a classic love story, WARM BODIES is a poignant tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human – setting off an exciting, romantic, and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world.” — (c) Summit

It’s funny how, almost two years ago, I couldn’t imagine the book being turned into a film–much less a film worth recommending. But that’s just what happened. Summit has made a good movie.

What I really liked about Warm Bodies was how it was trying to change the zombie genre. But, as I said, I couldn’t imagine how the people behind the film would translate that. What we end up with is a romantic-comedy sort of film. And it works.

Warm Bodies, in essence, is a Romeo and Juliet story. You have two factions, and a love that was as much impossible as it was inevitable. But it happens. And the film captures this, and celebrates this. So much so that we actually get a balcony scene between Juliet and R which I found really hilarious.

Though, much as Nicholas Hoult and (a strangely plain) Teresa Palmer do great in their roles, it’s actually Rob Corddry and Analeigh Tipton who steals the film for me. They are awesome and hilarious–and they hit the right notes. Especially Analeigh Tipton. This is, I think, the first time that a movie version of a character made me like a book character that I didn’t really notice. And now that I love Nora, I’m very much looking forward to the paper book version of Isaac Marion’s The New Hunger which makes Nora a bigger character than she is in Warm Bodies.

Before I move on to the other things I liked about the film, I want to bring this up: what happened to Teresa Palmer? I’ve seen her in I Am Number Four, in Bedtime Stories–and she looked hot. So why does she look like a blonde Kristen Stewart in this film? That’s not a good thing, let me tell you.

Moving on.

What I like best about Warm Bodies the film is the subtle things they incorporated–especially with R’s character. Something is changing in R. As per the synopsis, he’s increasingly becoming more human. And the make-up department does wonders with their gradual change of his skin tone. Nicholas Hoult also does well with the slow subtle changes he puts into his character–like the fact that he’s always slouching in the beginning of the film, and starts to stand up straighter as he turns more human.

R’s asides in the book fit nicely with the voice overs for the film.

And I like how there are four different looks for the film: the blue-gray tint of the zombie ruins, the harsh lighting of the survivor camp scenes, the toned-down and yet vibrant colors of memories–and the warmer colors of the ending scenes. This is a great use of color-grading, I think. Something I hope the makers of Tiktik take notice of when they get to the post production of their sequel.

Overall, the movie is a must watch. It’s not perfect, but it’s totally worth the ticket price.