BOOK REVIEW: Rick Riordan “The Red Pyramid”

51iXg+CcMcLTitle: The Red Pyramid

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Fantasy/Mythology

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Carter and Sadie are siblings, but you wouldn’t know it. They don’t look or speak alike, and they hardly even know each other. In fact, for the past several years, they haven’t even lived with each other. Carter travels with his father, the famous Egyptologist Julius Kane, and Sadie lives in London with their grandparents. It’s a system that’s been in place since their mother died.

When Julius Kane releases some Egyptian gods by accident and is banished, Carter and Sadie must learn to band together and save him. While setting out on their quest, they learn things about themselves, each other, and the Kane family that causes them to pause and question everything that’s ever happened in their lives. They’re thrust into a world of magic and monsters with little knowledge or training and one goal: saving their father.

My thoughts:

Percy Jackson is one of my favorite characters, and his are some of my favorite books. He’s a timeless character that I think anyone of any age can relate to, so even though I no longer read other middle grade books, I would reread Percy Jackson & the Olympians in a heartbeat because it’s so near and dear to my heart.

So maybe I just waited too long to read the Kane Chronicles, but I’m just not as eager to jump into this world. I felt that The Red Pyramid was too long and I struggled to understand the mythology and the magic. The thing that Percy Jackson had going for it is that many people are already at least partly familiar with Greek mythology. Egyptian mythology, not so much.

It was incredibly interesting, don’t get me wrong. You’ve never met a bigger fan of archeology and the discovery of new and mysterious things than me. I love reading about and seeing pictures of old tombs uncovered and information come to light. It was just hard to grasp all the magical concepts and to be honest, I was kind of bored for the entire book. A book about Egyptian mythology and all the other cool stuff included here shouldn’t bore me, but there I was, struggling to turn every page, wishing for it to be over already.

I didn’t hate everything about this, obviously. It’s a Rick Riordan book, of course I’m here for the silly, corny humor. If you can’t handle the cheese, stay away. The books are full of short quips, teasing, stupid jokes, etc. Many reviews I’ve read have mentioned this and considered it a negative, but I think they forget that these books are geared toward 12 year olds. Come on, it has to include jokes about poop and other childish things. And honestly, the kid in me finds enjoyment in the banter between the siblings.

The relationship between Carter and Sadie started off rocky, as to be expected, but I love the way that it develops and they grow closer. It’s very sweet, and it makes me want to call up my own little brother and tell him what a butt he is. Lovingly, of course.

The sequel, The Throne of Fire, is also on my TBR for this month, but I dread picking it up. I hope that it improves on the mistakes that The Red Pyramid made and that I enjoy it much more, but let’s say my expectations are low. I’ll stick around for more corny jokes and the sibling love, but I’m hoping that Riordan comes through and delivers a better sequel.

 

Rick Riordan: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Book-to-Movie Adaptations: the Good, the Bad, and the Unpopular Opinions

While booklovers get hyped when their favorite books get turned into movies/TV shows, most will swear that “the book is always better than the movie”. And in many cases, this is true. There are lots of amazing books that have been made into crappy movies. I’ve had my fair share of disappointments. However, some fellow bibliophiles might accuse me of blasphemy for saying: I actually like some movie adaptations better than the books.

*Gasps all around*

In all seriousness, it’s all a matter of preference. Some people won’t agree with the movies/books that I enjoyed, and I won’t agree with some of theirs. That’s just that. People have their opinions, and I have mine. This is simply a collection of several book-to-movie adaptations and my thoughts on each of them.

1.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a less controversial adaptation among book lovers, so I thought it best to start with this. The Hunger Games took the world by storm and was quickly adapted into what I believe is one of the better interpretations I’ll be talking about here. Many will agree that this series was successful, swooping in in the wake of Twilight’s final installment. These movies skyrocketed Jennifer Lawrence’s popularity as a person and an actress. I found that the movies were accurate enough and that the casting was well done. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Josh Hutcherson, but I believe he played the part of Peeta Mellark well.

My one complaint was the splitting up of Mockingjay into two parts. Even though it ended up turning out okay, I still think the two could have been easily condensed into one, seeing as this was the installment that had the least amount of action.

I give this adaptation a 4/5 stars. Definitely good, but not better than the books.

 

2.) Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Ah, I’ve had many a conversation about this particular series and the movies that followed. Generally, most can agree that this was a horrible adaptation. The movies didn’t really stay true to the books as far as accuracy or casting. And don’t get me wrong, I love Logan Lerman. I love Alexandra Daddario. In fact, 95% of the cast were, like, A+ actors and actresses that I really enjoy. But, Lerman is not Percy, and Daddario is not Annabeth. I mean, come on; her hair’s not even blonde. Get with the program, producers!

So yeah, this movie sucks as an adaptation. However, it’s quite entertaining, and because I like the actors so much, I really enjoy the movies. And I’ll watch the movies on occasion because I choose to think of the books and the movies as separate entities. As long as I don’t compare them, they’re both very enjoyable on their own.

3/5 stars, and definitely not as good as the books.

3.) Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein

There’s a good chance this section might get me murdered.

Let me start this off by saying I think that Tolkein is a very impressive author, and I admire him a great deal. He created an immersive, unique world and I am amazed by his skill and imagination. Which makes what I’m about to say very tough.

I just don’t like his books. 

I love the world and the characters and the different creatures and species he has created. But every time I try to pick up one of the books, I swear I start snoring. The series is just not for me. He manages to make the fight scenes bore me, and I just can’t get through his books without nodding off.

To all the hardcore LOTR fans out there, I’m truly sorry. It’s simply easier for me to remain engaged to the story when it’s in movie format, and that’s why I give the adaptation 4/5 stars and why I prefer the movies to the books.

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4.) Paper Towns by John Green

This may come as a surprise, but I actually quite liked the movie. This adaptation didn’t do as well as The Fault in Our Stars as far as the critics are concerned, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was funny and sweet, and it still had the same emotional impact that the book had on me, but with a much better ending.

(Spoiler in next paragraph.) That was my main complaint about the book, that I just hated the end. Up until that point, I enjoyed the characters and really loved the lesson that the story had to teach us, but I was torn up about the ending. When Quentin found Margo, she reacted horribly and I hated the way she treated him for it. He thought he had been doing a good, noble thing, and she made him feel bad. Their story just doesn’t wrap up good enough for me and I felt so dissatisfied. Yet in the movie, Margo was so much calmer and it made it easier on Q and easier for him to understand, and things were tied up so much nicer by the end. I wasn’t left with a yucky feeling when the credits rolled like I had when I had closed the book.

For these reasons, I liked the Paper Towns movie better than the book and I would give the adaptation 4.5/5 stars.

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5.) Divergent by Veronica Roth

This one could go either way with the YA crowd. Some thought this was a good adaptation, and some did not. I am one of those that did.

At the time, Divergent was such an important story for me. I loved Tris Prior with all that was in me. She was everything that I thought a heroine should be and seeing her in action in the Divergent film? It was amazing.

Divergent still holds a special place in my heart regardless of the small problems that I find with it today. Certain scenes from that movie still make me cry to this day, particularly when Tris runs with the Dauntless and jumps onto the train after the Choosing. I always watch it and think, “This is when Beatrice becomes Tris. This is when she’s born”. It moves me so deeply.

So maybe Divergent didn’t have the best special effects or dialogue; I got to watch a selfless girl from Abnegation become brave, and that’s why I love this movie. Still not better than the book, but I give it a 4/5 stars.

PS – don’t even talk to me about Insurgent and Allegiant. Those movies were train wrecks and I want them to burn.

 

I know there are many, many other adaptations that I didn’t include in this post, but I plan on posting a sequel in the near future. Let me know what you think of my observations, whether you agree or disagree with them. If you have suggestion for the follow-up post, let me know!

GROWING PAINS BOOKLIST: Devyn Guerra

About two years ago, I worked briefly with a music company where I wrote single, album, and music video reviews, and occasionally other fun articles. One such article was called “Growing Pains Playlist”, where I noted some songs and artists that truly shaped me and made me who I am. It was a really introspective article and allowed me to really look back and examine the music that formed me.

A few days ago, I saw someone write an article about the books that had shaped them, and it made me think of the Growing Pains Playlist that I wrote a few years back. I suddenly felt inspired to write one of my own here, and I hope that you all might do the same if you haven’t already!

1.) The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

I owe this series for stoking my love for reading at such a young age. My first grade teacher read this book to our class, and I remember being so invested in the lives of Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny. Seeing how smart and resourceful they were in the eve of their parent’s deaths really inspired me as a child, and I longed for a boxcar of my own to live and cook and sleep and hide away in. I read these books well into my middle school years, and even though I don’t read them anymore, my love and admiration for these mystery-solving kids has never died.

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2.) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

In 2009, I watched the Inkheart film and fell in love. Watching the movie caused me to want to read the book, which I loved even more. For about three years, Inkheart was my favorite book, sporting a beautiful fantastical world, likable, interesting characters and two more books full of the same. It was such an enjoyable series, and it was possibly my first time reading something besides children’s and middle grade novels. This book was sort of my graduation into YA, which makes it so much more important to me.

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3.) Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan

These books are so much fun, and certainly not meant for just middle grade readers. Percy Jackson can be enjoyed by all ages in my opinion, with it’s lovable, hilarious characters, action-packed plot, and even some learning moments, teaching about Greek mythology and giving it an interesting twist. I consider Percy Jackson to be a hallmark of my middle school reading days, which is why these books earn a place in my Growing Pains Booklist.

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4.) Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn

This series came at a perfect time in my life. I was about 13-14, going through puberty and struggling in my faith in God. The Christy Miller series is about a girl much like many other teenage girls. She faces the same problems with boys, school, family, etc, but the series also has a special focus on Christianity and faith, and it’s always been such an encouraging and inspiring read for me. I’ve never related to a character like I have with dear Christy Miller, and I almost feel as if I’ve grown up with her: she was in high school while I was, making decisions about life after graduation when I was, and she was getting married around the same time as myself. Robin Jones Gunn is still releasing Christy Miller books, her most recent about Christy and her husband’s struggles with pregnancy and children. These books have had a huge impact on my life and I’m thankful for each new adventure I get to experience with Christy.

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5.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is my favorite book of all time. I have loved this book with all my heart ever since I read it in my freshman year of high school. I care for the characters in this story like they’re my own family; a book has never moved me in the same way that this one has. In fact, this is the first book I ever read to make me feel such intense feelings. I can’t speak highly enough about this book, and every time I read it, I feel like it makes me a more insightful, fuller person.

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6.) Divergent by Veronica Roth

This may come as a surprise to you. Divergent isn’t particularly profound or moving, although I must say that Tris is incredibly inspiring as a woman and just as a person in general: so good and pure and beautiful. However, the reason this book makes it onto this particular booklist is because it spurred on my love for reading when I was stuck reading the same things over and over. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this; rereading beloved books is no problem. However, I was in some sort of loop for about 3 years where I wasn’t reading anything except the same 10 books on my shelves. A friend recommended Divergent to me, and I bought it on a whim. I have never read a book the way I devoured that one. I stayed up all night, eyes wide with surprise and intrigue and suspense. At the time, this book was one of my favorites, and it began my unhealthy book-buying habit which I am still trying to break to this day. Now, there are definitely things that I find problematic about this story and the logistics of it, but I still have nothing but admiration and adoration for Tris, one of my favorite female characters of all time. (PS – I will never forgive Veronica Roth for Allegiant. That is all.)

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This concludes my Growing Pains Booklist! Let me know what you think in the comments: whether you share any of my childhood favorites or if any of these titles were important to you and your personal growth. Message or email me if you’d like to be featured on my blog with your own Growing Pains Booklist. Mahalo!