Category: Review

Fight Club: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Audiobook
Published: August 16, 1996

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 9-18, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

The first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with white collar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded just as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it’s only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world.

Jessica’s Review:

Well… I’m breaking the first rule of Fight Club…Oops!!

It’s been many years since I have seen the movie, but I have never read the book. I was looking at my local library for my next audio book to listen to and came across Fight Club. It is a short novel with five discs at 5.5 hours, so I decided to check it out. I wanted to see how similar or different the movie was from the book, so I also decided to watch the movie again, which I will also review here.

Since I have seen the movie, I knew the twist but for me it came a little earlier than I expected.  Knowing this twist, you can see it coming as Chuck Palahniuk gives you those clues from the beginning. It was an “OMG, it’s right there!” feeling for me and I had a different perspective of the novel.

The basic premise is this: Our narrator meets Tyler Durden who comes up with the idea of Fight Club. This is where men come together to fight with certain rules; and if it is your first time at fight club then you WILL fight.  Our narrator also meets a woman named Marla at a testicular cancer support group… Wait… What? A woman is at a testicular cancer support group?  Marla also meets Tyler and in a different sort of way she becomes the center of a ‘triangle’ between her, Tyler, and our narrator.  You can’t say a love triangle as Fight Club is not the sort of novel that would really deal with love.  The fight club begins to gain notoriety and evolves into something more; something very dangerous.

I am not the target demographic for Fight Club.  I would say I am the total opposite of it.  I enjoyed the movie in the past and I wanted to be able to compare the book to the movie. I have never read anything by Chuck Palahniuk before and his writing style takes some getting used to. He repeats sentences a lot throughout the novel.  I personally don’t think I really got used to it; those repeating sentences really stuck out for me.  As the novel progressed and changed its course I found myself losing interest in it and tuning out a few times. I wanted to finish it and I was glad I did.  I really liked the ending of the novel and it is very different from the movie. I prefer the novel ending to the movie ending.  It is left open for a sequel that Chuck Palahniuk finally released on June 28, 2016 in graphic novel format.

The narrator for Fight Club is Jim Colby. For me he was perfect for the narration. He had a snarky, “tell it like it is” attitude to the narration which was perfect for our protagonist.  He did a great job!

Fight Club is very graphic so it will not be a novel for everyone.  By the end of it you will think twice about using soap or eating soup in a restaurant. Also, do projectionists really get that bored, or are they perverted enough to splice risqué images into children’s movies?

In some ways, going into listening to Fight Club I wish I did not know what the twist was as I think my mind would have been blown when that reveal happened. I still enjoyed the novel.

 Fight Club is recommended.


Movie Comparison:

Here is the trailer for Fight Club

I have seen the movie several times, but it has been many years since I have seen it. I did not figure out the ending and my mind was blown by that twist. I borrowed the dvd from my local library to watch after I finished listening to the audiobook. My husband had never seen the movie, but he knew the twist and he was willing to watch it with me.

The book is a short one as the audiobook I listened to was five discs. The movie is not quite 2.5 hours long and it follows the book fairly close….until the ending. I will go into that without spoilers a little later on. If you know the twist, when you go to watch the film again you can see the clues from the beginning just as in the novel.

Our narrator is played by Edward Norton, Tyler Durden is played by Brad Pitt, Marla is played by Helena Bonham Carter. Jared Leto and Meatloaf are also in the film. Meatloaf plays a character named Bob that you can’t help but grow to like.

I must admit the reason I have watched the movie is Brad Pitt. He’s in his prime and is just really pretty to look at even though he plays a complete psychopath. Brad Pitt plays this character perfectly and he improves the Tyler Durden character from the book as he is much more charismatic. As we were watching my husband said, “This is the same character as his 12 Monkeys character!” And yes, thinking about it Tyler Durden and Jeffrey Goines are very similar characters: complete psychopaths with compatible goals.

The anti-consumerism is really built up in the film version of Fight Club. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tyler Durden: “The things you own end up owning you”. This is so true for so many people out there.

One negative in the film is that Marla is really an enigma. We learn about her character in the novel. I do see why it was cut out as there was not really room for her background. It doesn’t take away from the film. Helena Bonham Carter did a very good job portraying Marla. And once you know the twist when you go to watch the movie, you see her in a different way. The way they acquire soap ingredients differs from the book and this was because they took out so much of Marla’s character. I did actually prefer the film version of how they acquire those ingredients as it fits more with the anti-consumerism.

The Ending (spoiler-free):

I never had an issue with the film’s ending until I listened to the audiobook. And once I did my thoughts were, “Why did they go and do that!?!” It was as if the filmmakers tried to have as much of a ‘happy ending’ as possible for a film like this. I definitely prefer the book ending. It is far superior to the film. My husband told me that he had heard that is the biggest complaint about the film. If you have seen the film and not read the book, please read it so you can see what I am talking about.

My husband did like the film version. He did tell me if he had not known the twist that he would have figured it out and he let me know where that would have been. Watching the movie and knowing the ending, I can’t believe I did not figure it out! He said if he had seen it when he was younger he would have enjoyed it more. My husband is 40 and I would say the film’s target audience is young men in their early 20’s.

I would recommend the film despite the ending. It will not be for everyone with the graphic violence.

Midnight at the Electric

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
272 Pages
Published: June 13, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Kansas, 2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house more than a hundred years ago and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate.

Oklahoma, 1934: Amid the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine’s family’s situation is growing dire. She must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919: In the recovery following World War I, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America. But can she make it that far?

While their stories span thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful. In Jodi Lynn Anderson’s signature haunting, lyrical prose, human connections spark spellbindingly to life, and a bright light shines on the small but crucial moments that determine one’s fate.

Kim’s Review:

Midnight at the Electric is a three-part story, ranging in years from 2065 to 1934 to 1919. In 2065, Adri has been chosen to be a colonist to Mars. She goes to the tiny town of Canaan, Kansas to see her long lost cousin, Lily, before she leaves the planet. While spending her remaining weeks on earth with Lily, Adri discovers letters and postcards and journals involving other women, living on the farm in past years. Catherine is a teenager in 1934 Kansas, right smack dab in the middle of the Dustbowl.

Catherine is faced with a sister who has dust pneumonia, a mother who refuses to leave her farm, and a serious crush on the farmhand, Ellis. While keeping a journal of her life on the farm and her struggles with family, economy, and love, Catherine discovers a woman named Lenore, from her mother’s past. Lenore is the daughter of a wealthy factory owner who dreams of going to America, to live with her best friend, Beth. While working at her father’s factory to save up money for her ticket, she meets a stranger living on her family’s estate. Their lives become intertwined and begins a saga that spans the ocean, continents, and time.

This book was awesome! I read Anderson’s previous book, Tiger Lily, based on a recommendation from Margot from Epic Reads. Unfortunately, I was not impressed. But after reading the jacket summary for Midnight at the Electric, I decided to give her another chance. And boy, am I glad I did! Another 5-star book! I couldn’t put this book down. I will admit that I didn’t necessarily like every character in this book, but the story got me emotionally hooked. By the time I finished the last page, I had tears welling up in my eyes. My husband took one look at me and said, “Are you ok? You look so sad!” Yes, I was sad, but the happy kind of sad. This book just brought in all the feelings and it felt good, and sad, and happy, and heartbroken, all at the same time. That’s always the hallmark of an enjoyable book, the feelings it elicits. 😊 Oh, and I would like a pet tortoise . . . so anyone who wants to get me one, that would be great!

 

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Release Day Review: The Breakdown

Author: B.A. Paris
328 pages in Paperback
Published: US: Today, July 18, 2017  UK: February 9, 2017

Reviewed by: Jessica
Dates Read: July 2, July 9-14, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Description from Amazon:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Jessica’s Review:

I first started reading this over the July 4th weekend along with Behind Closed Doors (BCD), which is also written by B.A. Paris.  I very quickly read the first 100 pages of The Breakdown.  I put it on hold to finish BCD first. Once finished with BCD I continued with The Breakdown.

The Breakdown has a strong opening: Cass is heading home alone in a bad storm. Instead of going home the way her husband wants, she cuts down a dark, wooded road which is a shortcut to home.  While driving, she sees a car pulled over. She can tell it’s a woman and debates on stopping to see if she needs assistance. Cass does not and continues home.  The next day she finds out that the woman was killed overnight.  Cass is torn between feelings of guilt and self-preservation; if she had stayed to help would the woman still be alive, or would they both be dead?

Beyond her guilty conscience, Cass is also having memory problems and they are progressively getting worse.  Her mother had dementia and Cass is beginning to wonder if she is facing early onset dementia.  And then there are the silent phone calls that have started.  Did the killer see Cass that night and he is taunting her, or is something else going on?

Once I saw that Cass was going to be dealing with memory issues throughout the novel, I did not know what to think. Sometimes these novels with the ‘unreliable narrator’ work for me (Jack Jordan’s My Girl and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10) and sometimes they don’t (Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train). Cass’ memory issues become the focus in the novel and I struggled with it. My thoughts were: “Yeah, yeah…things keep being delivered from the home shopping network that she doesn’t remember ordering; she keeps forgetting how to work things… I get it! Come one move on from this.” As I was reading I came to realize the double meaning of the title of the novel: The breakdown of the car and Cass’ mental breakdown. Even as I was struggling through The Breakdown I kept reading because I wanted to know what the final twist was going to be. When I finally got there I was glad I kept going. Everything that B.A. Paris wrote had a purpose and she knew what she was doing! I thought the twist was going to go in one direction, but I was wrong. I did not see the twist coming.

Despite struggling through part of the novel, The Breakdown is recommended.

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for providing me an arc copy for review!

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