Book: My Midnight, The Graphic Novel

"My Midnight"

Midnight’s sister Dawn went missing when Midnight was still a child. Dawn, it is believed, was abducted by a strange ghostly creature.

A few years later, Midnight and her parents transfer to Candon, a strange little town in the province of Ilocos Sur–strange because vampires, rumors abound, roam the town.

Midnight hates Candon and wants to go back to Manila. But she abruptly changes her mind when she meets Yael, the most gorgeous young man she has met. Midnight instantly knows she is in love while Yael seems determined to stay away from her.

Yael, it seems, isn’t what he appears to be.

I’m taking whatever I said about Dark Side back. At least that had a semblance of an original thought. In comparison to My Midnight, the graphic novelization of Precious Hearts Romance book of the same title, Dark Side can be considered a work of art.

I’m not dissing for dissing’s sake. I want the local publishing industry to flourish. But why must we insult the intelligence of local readers?

My Midnight is localized Twilight. Twilight-lite, at that. Our main character has more powers than Bella Swan, but even less personality. I didn’t know that was even possible. And then there’s leading man Yael. At his worst Edward Cullen was a stalker, Yael trumps him with a split personality. But at least that’s a character trait, right? That’s a personality?

I came in to My Midnight with no expectations. I lowered my standards. You could step on the standards I was going to hold this book down to. And still the book didn’t hold up.

What’s wrong with it? Why don’t we list it down:

Story. Ripping Twilight off would have been fine if the story presented something new. Or, at the very least, improved upon the source material. That didn’t happen. Obviously. The story is all over the place as the writer (or should I say writers, since they’re crediting someone else for the graphic novel?) tries to make this not look like Twilight.

The lack of plot development. We get presented an event. It’s going to happen again. Except, by the third act, they’ve forgotten about it because villain has emerged with a bigger plan. Which leads me to:

Characters. We get introduced to a semi-villain who doesn’t really do anything and becomes an ally without an explanation. And then there’s:

Character development. The utter lack of it. Our hero hates Candon. She leaves town. And then she gets saved by Yael. And then she forgets that she wants to leave the place. Heck, she didn’t even think about her (character-less) parents when she decided she wanted to leave the place.

Structure. Things happen because they need to happen. It’s obvious that someone just wants to push the story along because nothing happens organically. And the bad thing is, unnecessary moments still pop up in the book. Like a bookstore scene where our main character just ogles at Yael.

Seriously.

The whole thing is inane.

I respect Precious Hearts Pages for what they are trying to do for the local publishing industry. But please, get your editors to turn down stories like this. My Midnight will not help the industry.

And don’t tell me that this wasn’t written for the intellectual public. Precious Hearts readers read things in Filipino, not English. If this was intended for them, My Midnight would also be in Filipino. It’s not.

Not that it would’ve done any good.

Now I’m wary of my last Black Ink series to read…

Movie: Red Riding Hood

"Red Riding Hood" starring Amanda SeyfriedAm I late to the Red Riding Hood party?

I’ve been doing a lot of watching lately, and one of the most recent movies I’ve seen is Red Riding Hood. Yesterday, actually. So I’m not even going to try and make a recommendation, as by the time you read this, the movie might not even be in theaters anymore.

But I want to write about the movie as I thought it was something worth having a discussion over. So I am hoping that you, dear reader, will comment with your own opinions about the movie after reading this. That is, if you’ve already seen the movie, which I hope you have.

If you haven’t, here’s a warning: spoilers ahead!

Red Riding Hood is a retelling of a folk tale: about a girl who goes to visit her grandmother’s house in the woods only to be met by a wolf in her journeys. The very child-friendly version has the wolf only wanting to get what’s in red riding hood’s food basket. The more well-known version has the wolf stalking red riding hood so he could eat her (after he ate her grandmother. in one swallow.) There’s a lesson there somewhere.

The movie’s version of the folk tale seems to be having an identity crisis. One one hand, it wants to remain faithful to the original material–which it does; red riding hood still goes to her grandmother’s house in the woods, she still meets the wolf who pretends to be her grandmother, and a woodsman still saves her and kills the wolf. Except in this version, there’s an icky incestuous undertone. Oh, and the wolf is actually a werewolf–which makes sense, if you think about it.

Red Riding Hood centers on Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), the girl who wears the titular red riding hood. She is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a woodcutter like her father, but is engaged to marry Henry (Max Irons), the blacksmith’s son. While the main narrative of the movie is involved in the mystery of the werewolf’s identity, the love triangle that forms between Peter, Valerie and Henry is also tied tightly into it–more so when the werewolf talks to Valerie and asks her to run away with him, because he’ll take care of her.

Thing is: Peter also asked Valerie to run away with him, and Henry had promised Valerie that he’ll take care of her.

When werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives and tells everyone that the werewolf is one of their own, the fear that everyone is feeling gets amplified. And Valerie begins to wonder if one of her suitors is actually the werewolf. The only clue she has is that the in human form, the werewolf’s eyes are brown.

Like her grandmother’s, father’s, the village priest Father Auguste’s, and even her friends.

I would have liked the answer to the mystery more, actually, if it weren’t for the aforementioned incestuous undertones. The story is pretty solid, and the characters are all pretty much three-dimensional. The only thing I really had a difficulty liking was the Twilight feel of the movie.

The main narrative had to do with the werewolf–why does it feel like there are way too many scenes with Peter and Henry sizing each other up? Eventually in the story, they end up working together–and neither one likes it as they suspect each other of being the werewolf–but that doesn’t need to be established in more than one scene! The fact that they’re both in love with Valerie is enough of a reason for them not to like each other!

Oh, and the hard-headed female protagonist who gets into trouble for being special? It reeks of Twilight‘s Bella Swan. I mean, she’s not the only damsel-in-distress who ends up doing something brave later on, but Valerie’s character really feels as if she came from the same mold as Bella–which I didn’t like.

And it’s the same with Peter and Henry. Peter is broody, pretty much a loner, and isn’t the one Valerie’s parents want for her. And Valerie is in love with him. Henry is the likeable boy who is charming and eager-to-please. The two sound familiar?

Again, the three are pretty much characters that have appeared in so many different movies and television programs and books, so I really can’t say that they’re ripped off Twilight–but the treatment they’re given really does have the same feel. Then again, if I’m not mistaken, I think this movie has the same director as the first Twilight movie. Maybe that has something to do with it?

Oh well. I don’t regret watching the movie; it wasn’t a waste of time. But had something more interesting been showing in theaters, I might have asked to see that something else.

event: mockingjay launch party

"the panelists for the mockingjay launch party"good day reader!

i’m back from attending the MOCKINGJAY launch party held at NATIONAL BOOKSTORE: BESTSELLERS at robinson’s galleria. and here i am now, reporting about it.

i arrived during the last part of the panel discussion, so i wasn’t able to hear what was talked about. what i did get to hear about was the last three questions: about the blurbs from stephen king and stephenie meyer, about violence in a young adult series, and about favorite characters.

with the first question, the panel discussed their thoughts on why scholastic chose to put an endorsement blurb from stephen king and stephenie meyer, two authors from very different writing backgrounds, and with very different kinds of readers. i agree with the general consensus that scholastic is covering all the bases, making the book attractive to the two types of readers: the more serious ones and the tweens.

i’m not saying the tweens who read stephenie meyer’s books are not serious readers. on the contrary, i think TWILIGHT readers show a good potential at becoming great readers. i mean, to be able to stand a series that basically has no plot? whatever book follows must be an amazing adventure. that and i have friends who liked the TWILIGHT series and are big fans of better books too.

the second question, which deals with the violence present in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, has everyone in agreement that there’s no alarm about the violent nature of the book. on the contrary, the violence shown in the books are actually a good way of getting children nowadays to open up to their parents about their thoughts on violence. granted that there is an open line of communication between the reader and whoever they need to talk to about these things.

my answer for this question is actually connected to my answer for the last question–which is the favorite character one.

when i started reading the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, i connected with the character of peeta. he’s nothing special, but he gets thrust into the limelight and slowly discovers who he is and what he is capable of. but as the series progressed, i found myself getting drawn to one of the supporting characters: prim, katniss’s younger sister.

now, how is this connected to the second discussion?

katniss volunteered herself to become a tribute after the reaping put prim on the spotlight. prim was the one who was supposed to be part of the hunger games. instead, katniss volunteered in her place. in our time now, many parents would rather shield their children to the violence present in the world. and that’s exactly what katniss had done.

but as the story unfolds, we see that prim is not the naive little girl katniss would like her to be. prim has seen and is seeing what is happening in their world. and that’s exactly the same thing that’s going on in our world. children are exposed to violence no matter how parents try to cover their eyes from it. violence is present in the television, in the radio, in games. and let’s not start on the availability of everything in the internet.

by the time we come to the story’s conclusion in MOCKINGJAY, katniss realizes that she’s never had to shield prim’s eyes from the violence. and while she doesn’t regret what she had done, she does come to an understanding that prim is stronger than she thinks. and that prim can understand, and is not afraid to ask when she doesn’t, what is happening in their world. [and that’s not a spoiler, for those of you who are spoilerphobes.]

and that is why prim is my favorite character: because she is a reflection of our youth. the ones who, if we try to help them understand, can pave the way for a better future. as the famous song goes, “i believe that the children are our future. teach them well, and let them lead the way.”

"the tributes during the live-action role-playing activities"after the panel discussion, the launch party went on to the activities it had prepared for the afternoon. the main feature? live action role-playing of the hunger games. or a version of it.

24 players registered to be part of the game, 2 volunteers representing each of the 12 known districts in THE HUNGER GAMES. and the first round had the “tributes” racing across the room in piggyback and sending arrows flying towards the MOCKINGJAY wall at the back of the events area.

it was all good fun, and the game was designed to shave off pairs upon pairs of players until a winner is called.

i don’t know who won or what happened after the second round, which is a modified version of tag-you’re-it. but i have to say the people there certainly enjoyed the games. i’m not very big on audience participation though, and i was feeling a bit claustrophobic at the smallness of the activity area. so i left to browse around that time.

at the back of the activity area, stalls were set up for the sponsors:

there was cinna’s corner, in which attendees can have a temporary tattoo applied on whatever body part to signify their attendance in the launch party; there was haymitch’s bar where cookies and other pastries were served with blue sprite; an area where you can go online to find out which HUNGER GAMES character you are, and a photo “booth” where you can have your photo taken on with either a “team peeta” or a “teem gale” flag.

"mockingjay launch party extras"truth be told, i’m not a big fan of the “team this” and “team that” phenomena. while the ship wars have been present for as long as fandoms have existed, it’s not until TWILIGHT that these “team” things have become so infuriatingly common.

though it was fun to watch [though, i did cringe at some parts] as fans of the book debated over the qualities of peeta and gale as partners for katniss. these fans are really passionate about the man they want katniss to end up with! they argued about their quality as a partner, the parts they played in katniss’s impressionable years, and whether or not they were the person who made katniss a better woman.

it did get a little heated though, so it was a relief when the moderators cut the debate off. i wouldn’t have been surprised if hair-pulling was about to ensue, even if the debate started off in good fun. it was that heated.

was the event a success? i wouldn’t know. this is only the second commercial book launch i attended, and it’s the first to actually have activities that doesn’t involve the author at all. so i’ve got nothing to judge this event by. that said, the attendees seemed to have a great time participating, and generally bonding with each other, that i would say it was a success in that aspect.

and in the end, isn’t that what matters? events are supposed to bring people from all walks of life together, to enjoy an afternoon celebrating the one thing (or many things) they do have in common.

though, i do hope to see more people in the next event i attend.