Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Film vs Book: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter


I knew I wanted to see the movie as soon as I layed eyes on the trailer. Well, I ended up missing it in the cine and picking up the book instead. I read a couple of book vs movie reviews, and most seemed to say that the movie was pretty on par with the book, which caused me to become more resolved to finish the book first. 

So how did the movie compare to the book? First off, I'd have to disagree with those that claimed it was in line with the book. That's not to say the movie was bad. I certainly liked it well enough (though, like the book, I can't see myself coming back to it). However, like it or not, it had a lot of differences from the novel.

The first thing I noticed was the movie gave Abe a negro friend, who later replaces Lamon as Lincoln's bodyguard. First off, what little I know of Old Abe I have learned that he was not always anti-slavery. With this in mind, he certainly wouldn't have a negro friend as a child and throughout life. Now, I can hear you saying, "But, Nic, this is a work of fiction," and you make an excellent point. However, even in the book, Abe doesn't truly consider the black man equal to the white man. He believes they both have an equal right to life, but he doesn't believe they ought to have the same rights as the white male.

Other things that bothered me involved the vampires. In the book, Abe vows to kill all the vampires in America after his mother is killed. In the movie however, our Abe only cares about putting down the vampire that is guilty of his mother's death. Of course, he still kills plenty of vampires, but only because Henry promises Abe things if he does. Speaking of Henry, remember the time he saves Abe in the book by killing a vampire? Well, there's none of that in the film. Well, Henry still saves Abraham from a vampire, but the movie has it where vampires are unable to kill their own kind. I have to say it's an interesting concept, and with it in play, it brings more logic as to why vampires would recruit humans for vampire slaying. However, I couldn't help thinking, "Why?" Why would vampires be unable to kill their own kind? Humans can kill humans. Animals can kill their own kind. So why can't a vampire kill another vampire? The other major difference between the book vampires and movie vampires is how they are killed. In the book, it is more a matter of training rather than special tools. In the novel, you just need to stop the heart and maybe cut off the head (it was unclear to me if you had to perform the latter or whether it was an either or option) whereas in the movie, you needed silver to slay the vampire. Now, the silver addition made for some nice visual scenes, along with an extra scene that wasn't needed in the book, but I liked the not needing silver for the supernatural. Of course, each to his own. If you like the silver weakness, good for you. Hell, I'm not even against it, but it's nice to see something else for a change.

So besides vampires and giving Abe new friends, what else did the film change? Of course, like any adaptation, there were small changes. The movie completely removes Lamon and Armstrong, keeping only Speed. It also gets rid of Abraham's first love and has Mary Todd be the only woman. Although they are changes, I can easily see why they were done. All of these characters can be removes and yet the story could essentially be the same. Now, the movie did also change Mary Todd's character, making her much stronger than in the book. In the movie, she can be found helping in a Civil War plot while in the book, Mary Todd is, for the most part, complaining or mourning (though with good reason). 

The final major difference I noticed between the two mediums is their focus. The book seemed to integrate the vampire hunting into Lincoln's life so we got to see more of Abraham's career life and the general growing up along with the vampire hunting. The movie primarily focused on the vampire hunting and little else. Personally, I felt that the focus on the hunting made it feel more like a story rather than an alteration in history. I also felt that the book Abe seemed more like the real Abraham though more factors than just story went into that (movie Abe was just too damn pretty).

As to which telling I liked more, I did prefer the book to the movie, but that's not to say the film was a complete disaster. It has some great action scenes, and it was visually appealing. I also especially liked the end where we see Henry in modern day times, repeating a line he said to Abe (though it did remind me of Lestat in Interview With a Vampire. "I am going to give you the choice I never had."). I can seen a lot of the nonbook reader enjoying the film. As for those who have read the book, it's more of a toss up. All I can say is watch it and decide for yourself.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Level: Explicit Lite
Genre: Historical Fantasy > Vampires
Obtained: Purchased at Target
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

Okay, I normally hate purchasing books that have a movie poster or scenes from a movie/television series on it. Of course, there are always exceptions. For examples, I much prefer the True Blood covers compared to the original Sookie Stackhouse covers, but most of the time, I simply dislike it. However, in the case of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this isn't true, and unlike the Sookie Stackhouse books, it's not because I think the original covers are god awful. For some reason, I just really like this cover. What's more is I think it would do a fantastic job at getting a potential buyer's attention. Just look at it. That cover promises a dark novel with loads of vampire hunting action with its play of shadows and light of a full moon. The fonts and colouring work perfectly as well, something both elegant and bold. It's a cover that is bound to be grabbed from the store shelves.

About the Book:
Every American knows, at least, the basics of the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Every one knows about the American Civil War where brother fought brother on a field of blood. What we don't know is the truth behind the war and the truth behind Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter follows Abe from his youth when he has his first encounter with a vampire, which causes him to make a vow to kill every vampire in America. This book follows Abe from a boy to a man to the legend while revealing all the details that had remained hidden.

Rating: 6/10
What to say about this book? Often times, I just find myself saying it was good. I haven't felt the urge to really recommend it to anyone (with one exception). There were things that were really fantastic about it, but I rarely felt myself getting sucked in.

One things that I really liked about this book was that you could tell it was well researched. Now, if there are flaws, I would not be the one to spot them. I am not afraid to admit that I know very little about Mr. Lincoln. However, I have noticed plenty of history buffs have read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and found it up to par. Of course, there are some things in the book that are false (but often fun) such as Abraham meeting Edgar Allen Poe,  but seeing as how this is a work of fiction, you can't expect everything to be 100% accurate. However, since this story is well researched, it gives the illusion that all of this was possible, which is one of the best things a story can do.

Well, it has already been noted that I did not love the book, and you are probably wondering why. Honestly, I could not tell you exactly. If I had to guess, it was probably something as simple as subject matter.However, I have noticed that a good chunk of readers had issue with the constant flip flopping between first and third person. Personally, I did not find this disconcerting, but since so many did, I felt that it should be mentioned. 

Overall, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wasn't a bad book. It was actually quite enjoyable. Personally, I cannot see myself reading it again, but I don't feel it was a waste of time either, and I may even check out other works from Seth Grahame-Smith. The man has a gift for altering original material rather than creating a very loosely based story around it. It's fun and relatively easy to envision Lincoln as a vampire hunter with this novel. I just wish it had pulled me in a little bit more.

What I'm Reading Next: 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

Okay, I know I said I was going to read The Man Who Sold the World next in my last post. Sometimes, I just end up putting the book down for a bit so something else gets read before it (for example, I still plan on finishing the Marquis de Sade book I started ages ago). However, I will not finish The Man Who Sold the World so sorry to you Bowie fans out there. I just could not get into the author's writing. I kept trying and trying but I never even made it past the intro. Anyway, onto the review.

Level: Explicit
Genre: Parody
Obtained: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

Hmmm ... not really sure what to say about the cover. Clearly, it's a play of the Fifty Shades covers, which makes sense. Plus, it has nice sense of humour with the tea bag. However, I don't feel like the humour is overdone in the cover.

About the Book:
It's a Fifty Shades of Grey parody. What more do you want?

Rating: 7/10
As the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey grew, the market became filled with material relating to it. Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is one of the many Fifty Shades parodies out there, but what makes this one different than the others? Why read this one out of the hundreds of Fifty Shades parodies out there?

Now, I can't really compare Fifty Shames of Earl Grey to other Fifty Shades parodies out there simply because I have not read them. That's not to say I haven't read anything making fun of the bestselling trilogy (a few snark reviews, a parody fan fiction, and a brilliant chapter by chapter snark by the lovely Jennifer Armintrout), but I haven't really read any other parodies of E.L. James' erotic work (though I use the word erotic lightly here). However, that is not to say I haven't read or seen parodies of other works, which often leave me disappointed. Often times, I feel that the jokes in parodies aren't very creative and are jokes that I've heard in most parodies out there. Now, that's not to say Fifty Shames was completely void of the generic parody type joke, but I felt that the jokes branched out a bit more than your typical sex joke.

Another issues I find in a lot of parodies is that they rely on the same joke and don't branch out more within the original material. I felt that Fifty Shames of Earl Grey did a fantastic job at bringing forth more than just sex (especially in a parody about a book known for its sex). For example, Fifty Shames played on Christian's stalker tendencies and Anna's lack of intelligence. It also pokes fun on how vanilla Fifty Shades of Grey really is and the fact that it started out as a Twilight fan fiction.

The final problem I'd like to bring up when it comes to parodies is that often times it feels like they don't make fun of the feel of the original piece. For example, in the Fifty Shades parody I mentioned earlier, the author has Anna using words like vagina and cock when one of the main issues people complain about is the fact that Anna constantly uses the term "down there" to refer to her sex. Not once in the Fifty Shades trilogy are such crass words used. In Fifty Shames of Earl Grey however, I thought the Merkin stayed in tune with the original work quite well. The characters were more like caritures of themselves, which I think is an excellent thing for a parody.

All together, I found Fifty Shames of Earl Grey a delightful and light-hearted read. What's more is I was not disappointed for a change. It brought forth a variety of jokes that poked fun of a wide array of the Fifty Shades trilogy. I can't say I laughed out loud at the piece, but it certainly brought a smile to my face.

What I'm Reading Next:    
I promise this will actually be the next book I review.