Sunday, November 25, 2012

4th Sunday Surprise: How NOT to tell a story

Hubby and I watched Prometheus this weekend. I grew up watching the Aliens movies and looked forward to seeing Ridley Scott's newest creation. Plus it's no secret I LOVE sci-fi. However this movie turned out to be a dud. We fast forwarded parts of the film because the scene either dragged or the main characters were about to do something so dumb and I didn't want to waste my time watching their stupidity. When the end credits finally began to roll we glanced at each other and sighed in unison. There went 2 hours of our life and a $1.50 we would never get back. Thank heavens I didn't see it in the theater, because then I'd be pissed.

So what was it about the film that lacked?

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!! (If you haven't seen the movie and plan on it, you might want to stop reading here.)

Empathy- The movie starts out with an alien humanoid creature drinking a black fluid which causes him to disintegrate and tumble into a water fall triggering some new genetic reaction. The next scene switches to an archeology site on the Isle of Sky, Scotland were a couple discover ancient cave paints that match other ancient civilizations depictions. The lady archeologist, Elizabeth Shaw, interprets this as an invitation to find these people she labels "The Engineers" (the race who created humans). And then we are on the Prometheus traveling through space. All the crew are in stasis as the android David takes care of them and ship. When the crew wakes up as they arrive at their destination, the viewer is introduced to various array of characters thrown together supposedly to make for interesting story. None of them had met before they woke up, something I found very odd.

I didn't understand any of them or could sympathize with why most of the main character were there in the first place. The majority of the secondary characters behaved erratically and made poor choices that eventually led to their death. Archeologists were there to make contact with "their maker," but Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the leader of the expedition, forbids them to make contact without her permission. Peter Weyland is a rich man who funds this expedition so he can discover a way to live forever and is on board the ship. Okay I get the whole "seeking the fountain of youth" perspective, but wouldn't you pick a more emotionally balanced group of people to manage your 3 trillion dollar investment?

I couldn't understand anyone's goal or why they made the choices they did therefore I couldn't empathize for them and when they all died, except for one crew member, I didn't mourn their loss or care.

Logic- Prometheus lands on this planet and part of the crew go to explore a cave as soon as they get there. One of the crew members is a geologist and has these handy-dandy orbs that scan the tunnels of said cave. However when they discover this chamber where one of the Engineer's body lies decapitated he freaks out and decides to go back to the ship. Another crew member joins him. When a huge storm approaches and ship captain orders them to return, everyone leaves and barely makes it back to the ship, but not before David gathers some specimens to take back.The two dudes who left earlier are lost in the tunnels and remain behind AFTER they left long before the rest group. They encounter a snakelike alien creature slithering through a pool of black fluid and eventually die because of their moronic actions.

Okay, so that was the beginning of the "too stupid to live" mistakes that this movie teems with. 1) you fly a ship to the farthest place humans have ever gone and you land it (your only way home) on an alien planet without scanning the planet first? Why not send a investigating probe filled with those handy-dandy scanner orbs? 2) Mr geologist dude can't figure out how to get out of the cave system after he boasts his little orbs will map out everything for them and he had contact with the ship where they could talk him and his partner their way out. Huh? 3) Oh yeah, we're on a foreign planet in a creepy tunnel let's split up because that's always a wisest decision.

David ends up tainting the drink of Shaw's archeologist boyfriend with alien black water. He becomes unknowingly infected and has sex with Shaw causing her to get pregnant with alien baby (most predictable plot point of the whole movie besides people dying). The crew returns to cave after storm to search for the two left behind. David wanders way from the rest of the crew and discovers this is a ship and there is one Engineer in stasis there. This is where I fast-forwarded the movie because the crew discovers one of the teammate's body and people start acting stupid and I got impatient.

Shaw's boyfriend dies and it is then she discovers she's pregnant. She runs off into Vicker's quarters where she uses the expensive self-surgery machine to extract the octopus-like alien out of her. Then she proceeds to run throughout the ship as if she hasn't had any major abdominal surgery. Right, really believable...

Character Development- this goes along with empathy. Developing the characters helps the viewer empathize with them. Yet the only character development I saw was people's IQ level seemed to disintegrate as the movie went on shown by their idiotic actions. Maybe that was the point of the movie? Being in stasis for several years and then landing on a foreign planet makes you act stupid.

Lack of Story Arc- Weyland awakens from stasis. David leads him and part of the crew including Shaw who is mere hours post surgery to the alien ship within the cave. At least she's sweating and looks like she's in pain. When David awakens the giant humanoid alien who in return decapitates the android and kills everyone but Shaw who runs away. She manages to warn the Prometheus as she's running for her life and tell them that the alien is going to kill earth by flying the ship invested with canisters of black alien water. The captain decided to fly Prometheus into the alien ship to stop it. Vickers jumps the ship through a escape pod only to be squashed by the alien ship falling from the sky. Shaw survives and David (because he is an android and can't be killed) makes contact with her. She takes his head and body. Together they find another alien ship and fly away seeking the Engineer's home planet. A new species emerges from the fallen humanoid alien. The End.

The whole movie is a collection of events that are disconnected. Why did David taint the water and infect Shaw's boyfriend? Why did the Engineer kill the people? What was the other species that lived on this planet in the black water? Did they kill the Engineers? How did Shaw interpret that he was going to fly the ship to earth? And after everything she'd been through, she still wanted to track these creatures? Why, why, why?

No questions were answered in the movie. A bunch of people flew to this planet and died expect for one girl and talking android head. Okay so what was the point? Who was the antagonist? The aliens, the stupid crew members, or the planet? I felt the people were thrown into situations to create conflict, but the only thing that these events revealed about the characters is that they are too stupid to live therefore why should I care about or what happens to them? I understand there will be a sequel. Will the questions be answered then? Do I even care enough to watch the sequel?

Prometheus might be two hours and $1.50 I will never get back, but on the positive side, what a cheap class on how NOT to tell a story.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

3rd Sunday Sweet: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs.

Last summer at RWA, I had the privilege of meeting the fantastic Tera Lynn Childs as well as attend a YA workshop taught by her and Sophie Jordan. A while ago, Sweet Venom was free on Kindle and I downloaded it. The book sat in my archive for a couple of weeks before I started reading. Once I did I couldn't put it down.

It's written in intense first person kind of like Hunger Games and I was in the story from page one. The writing is fabulous. Sweet Venom is the tale of triple sisters, separated at birth, who happen to be descendants of Medusa, and their destiny is to keep the monsters popping up all over San Fransisco in check.

Grace, the eco-geeky sister, is my favorite. I love that she is sweet but tough when she needs to be. Gretchen is the badass sister that has been doing the fighting the longest and has known her destiny before the other two. Greer is the preppy snobby girl you want to hate, but at the same time can't help but love because underneath all the layers of the high class society she's grown up in she has a heart of gold. I loved how each sister's POV tells a new facet of the story. I felt the sadness, joy, and sacrifice these girls experienced as they embraced their destiny.

This fresh take on Greek mythology is full of adventure, excellent character development, and sprinkled with sweet little bits of romance. Reminded me alot of the Percy Jackson series but less middle grade. When I finished the book I bought the sequel Sweet Shadows. Didn't start it till last week and it's just as good as the first. I'm trying to pace myself because I HATE waiting for the next book... My strategy is not working very well...

You can get your own copy here. Totally worth it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2nd Sunday Savor: Here we go again

First of all, how the heck does one return to normal blogging after the awesomeness of the last two weeks? I mean, really. Featuring a NY Times best-selling author's next novel cover reveal AND ARC giveaway AND two teasers pretty much tops everything. Except maybe if I announced that I've sold my book. Unfortunately, I haven't. Yet. But it will happen someday. :)

So maybe I'll give an update about what's happening in this author's life. Well, I'm back at it again. Those strigoi keep haunting my sanity, begging for more page time. The Vampire Novelist is being revised again. I worked on it last winter and set it aside so I could write my mermaid YA fantasy (which I did & finished it & submitted it & got rejected). Living in the ancient world of Atlantis fulfilled a childhood dream of mine. Even though the story got rejected, I got great feed back from those I submitted to, saying "loved the story and the writing, unfortunately it's not what we are looking for at this time." That is the best kind of rejection right there.

This fall I started a new YA about a girl discovering she's a witch that can control the weather & the angel sent to protect her while she gains control of her powers. It's slow going and the plot needs some *cough* a lot of work, but I'm really having fun with this story.

And through all of this Traian, Patrick, and Danika (the three main characters from TVN) decided they weren't done with me just yet.Vampires- they'll suck you right back in when you least expect it. So my goal is to give them another go. So far I'm loving the new revised plot. Then submit the story again when I'm finished and we'll see what happens.

So that's what's happening here, folks. I've returned to the dark side. Muahahahaha!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

1st Sunday Snippet: Life After Theft Teaser #2 + ARC winner

WOW!!!! You guys rock. Thank you everyone who entered the Life After Theft ARC giveaway. You all have made this such a fun contest. According to the winner is:

Emily Jane! Please check your email today. :)

Thanks again and a ginormous thank you to Aprilynne Pike and HaperCollins for making this possible. Okay and here is the next promised teaser:

“Stop! Stop!” Kimberlee melted through the wall with her hands over her eyes. “Put the razor down. Do you really shave?” she asked, peeking through her fingers.
I pointed to the razor with my best ‘duh’ look.
“No, I mean do you have to shave? You get stubble and everything?”
“Lemme see.” She leaned close and studied the fringe of hair on my chin and around my mouth. “That’s sexy, you can’t get rid of that.”
“But the dress code says no facial hair.”
“Oh, please. They won’t bust you for stubble.”
“Why would I want stubble?”
“Girls love stubble. If you can grow it, it shows you’re more virile.”
I rolled my eyes. “Do you even know what that word means?”
“Capable of performing sexually as a male,” she said proudly. “I looked it up.”
I looked at my chin in the mirror and my thoughts flashed to Serafina. That wrestler guy yesterday probably had a little stubble too. “Virile. You know, I’m feeling virile.”
“Whatever—do your hair.”
I took a comb and parted my hair then brushed it back with my fingers.
“You’re kidding me.”
“What? It’s the messy look.”
“I know the messy look, Jeff, and that is not it. Do you have any gel?”
Last straw. “Listen, I am not changing my hair. If you want me to help you, you take me the way I am or no deal.”
Kimberlee folded her arms across her chest. “Whatever,” she said. “But if no girl will touch you, don’t say I didn’t try.”
It took fifteen minutes of coaching before Kimberlee was satisfied. I wasn’t convinced. I had pokey spears on one side with a flattened patch on the other and bits of crunchy bangs were hanging down over one eye. “I look like an idiot.”
“No, you look hot!”
“I don’t know Kim, maybe—”
Kimberlee. Maybe this really isn’t the look for me.”
“Trust me. You’ve never looked better.”
Trust Kimberlee? Every instinct rebelled against that thought, but what choice did I really have? Kimberlee was born and raised in Santa Monica and based on what I’d skimmed from her Internet presence—yes, I did more Googling—she apparently was the queen of Whitestone for almost three years before the riptide cut her reign short. I had nothing.
Besides, I’d spent so long on my hair I only had ten minutes to get to school. No time to start over.