New Release Tuesday: 3/29

Get excited, kids: Sweet Valley High is back today! Sweet Valley Confidential re-visits Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield at age 27. Jessica’s going through a divorce. Elizabeth is working as a journalist in NYC and dealing with the aftermath of her breakup with Todd. Oh, and the twins are estranged and haven’t spoken in some time. Still, I could never turn down a new Sweet Valley book! The preview posted on the book’s website promises that more of that guilty pleasure we all loved. Here’s an excerpt:

Like the twins of that poem, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield appeared interchangeable, if you considered only their faces.

And what faces they were.

Gorgeous. Absolutely amazing. The kind you couldn’t stop looking at. Their eyes were shades of aqua that danced in the light like shards of precious stones, oval and fringed with thick, light brown lashes long enough to cast a shadow on their cheeks. Their silky blond hair, the cascading kind, fell just below their shoulders. And to complete the perfection, their rosy lips looked as if they were penciled on. There wasn’t a thing wrong with their figures, either. It was as if billions of possibilities all fell together perfectly.

Twice.

At least they’ve gotten rid of the twins’ “perfect size six figures”, right? And I guess they don’t share a red Fiat Spider anymore, either.

I’ll definitely be reviewing this later in the week. Also look for a re-release of books 1-3 of the SVH series, now bound in one volume, at your local bookstore!

Review: Red Glove

I’m going to let you know up front that if you haven’t read White Cat yet, you should go do that tout de suite. It’s the first book in the Curse Workers series, and Red Glove is the second book. In this series, Holly Black sets up a world almost exactly like our own, but with one big difference: there are people called curse workers who each have a sort of magical power. There are emotion workers, luck workers, memory workers, dream workers, death workers, and rarest of all, transformation workers. A lot of fantasy books go overboard with the amount of cool magical shit they try to cram in, and they sometimes suffer for it. Much of the beauty of what Black has done here is that it’s so simple, but she’s fully thought out the consequences of curse workers existing. Everyone wears gloves all the time because workers give a curse with the touch of their hand, and you don’t know who could be a worker. A bare hand is risque and dangerous. There’s an anti-worker political movement and a worker’s rights counter-movement, and many workers have formed mobster families because working is illegal. The setting is modern, but these things make it feel very noir and gritty, as if parts of it came right out of the 1940s.

Cassel Sharpe is our protagonist, and at the end of the last book he uncovered a terrible secret about himself and his worker family.

Minor spoilers for Red Glove under the cut.

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New Release Tuesday, 3/22

New releases this week are Lauren DeStefano’s Wither and Anthony Horowitz’s Scorpia Rising, the final book in the Alex Rider series.

You can read my review of Wither here, and check out the book trailer! I thought it was excellent and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

Jennifer Lawrence Is Officially Katniss

Yesterday Lionsgate announced that Jennifer Lawrence is going to be taking on the role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. Director Gary Ross talked to Entertainment Weekly about the somewhat controversial casting choice:

There’s already quite a bit of hand-wringing that, no matter how good an actress Lawrence is, at 20 she’s simply too old for the role.
First of all, I talked to Suzanne extensively about this. Suzanne saw every single audition. And not only did Suzanne not have an issue with Jen’s age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss. This is a girl who needs to incite a revolution. We can’t have an insubstantial person play her, and we can’t have someone who’s too young to play this. Suzanne was incredibly adamant about this. Far from being too old, she was very concerned that we would cast someone who was too young. In Suzanne’s mind, and in mine, Katniss is not a young girl. It’s important for her to be a young woman. She’s a maternal figure in her family. She’s had to take care of Prim, and in many ways her mother, since her father’s death. She’s had to grow up pretty quickly.

I agree that Katniss does have a certain maturity and responsibility, but she’s also pretty naive and immature when it comes to dealing with other people or her own feelings. She is very good at pushing those feelings away, at not dealing with her feelings so that she can go out and take care or her family or survive the Games. As Peeta says, she doesn’t know the effect she can have. So, can Lawrence pull off both the badass archer and the innocent girl who the Capitol believes acted out of love?

Furthermore, is a younger actress really incapable of portraying the same maturity? Did 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld not show that she was capable of it in True Grit? I just don’t believe that you need an older actress to portray a mature teenage character.

In the books, Katniss is described as being olive-skinned, dark-haired, possibly biracial. Did you discuss with Suzanne the implications of casting a blond, caucasian girl?
Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn’t doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer’s hair color.

So, here we are with a concrete answer as to whether Collins meant for Katniss to be a person of color. Apparently not (or not definitely). Frankly, I’m disappointed because apparently the racial divides in the series are not as important to the author as they are to many readers, and because this casting means that movie Katniss will never match “my” Katniss. This is always an issue when casting a film adaptation of a book, but to cast someone with a round face, pale skin, blond hair and blue eyes when the character is described as having angular features, dark skin and dark hair just means that it will be that much harder for Lawrence to really become Katniss for a lot of fans.

Casting The Boy With The Bread

Entertainment Weekly reports that 18-year-old Josh Hutcherson wants to play Peeta in the Hunger Games movie. Hutcherson has read a script and met with director Gary Ross, though he can’t confirm anything now. On Peeta, Hutcherson says:

I love Peeta. The character is so much who I am—self deprecating, a people person. And he’d be such a great character to play! Like in the third book? Oh my God.

Well now! I definitely like that he’s a fan of the books, and he seems to understand the character. I love that he’s excited about Peeta’s big change of heart in Mockingjay, which would definitely be a challenge for the actor.

I actually know Hutcherson as the kid from 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, but you may also recognize him from Bridge to Terabithia or The Kids Are All Right. I can’t really judge his dramatic acting skills, but I’d say that he certainly has the charm to pull off Peeta, without being cocky.

My only concern would be age. At 18 Hutcherson isn’t outside the realm of believability, but he definitely looks more mature now than he did even three years ago. If you consider that they’ll likely make all three movies, he’d probably be 21 or older by the time they finish filming. On the other hand, he’s the youngest of any of the rumored candidates for Peeta (Hunter Parrish or Alex Pettyfer). I do think it’s important to cast younger actors in this film, like I said yesterday, but 18 might be as young as the studio is willing to go.

What do you guys think? Would you like to see Josh Hutcherson in this role? Who is your ideal Peeta?

Where She Went

If I Stay was Mia’s story, and like her music, it was lilting, graceful, sometimes somber. But Where She Went is Adam’s story, and like his music, it’s to the point, angsty and hard. This book picks up three years after the first book. Adam is a famous rock star, Mia is graduating from Julliard, and they haven’t spoken in years. It took me a while to settle into this book since things are so different, but in the end I really loved it.

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