Tag: fiction

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.

The Best of Adam Sharp

Author:  Graeme Simsion
352 pages in Kindle

Published: May 2, 2017
Dates Read: April 20- May 1, 2017

My Rating: 3 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

On the cusp of turning fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT.

But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

My Review

When I found out that Graeme Simsion had written another book that was not one of his ‘Rosie books’ (The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect) I wanted to see what it was about!  The description of The Best of Adam Sharp had me interested in reading it. I found out that music is mentioned throughout the novel.  That was a plus as well!

The book begins in present day where Adam Sharp is living with his partner Claire for twenty years.  They are just going through the ‘swing of things’ with nothing much going on in their lives or with each other. Then out of the blue Adam gets an email from his old flame Angelina that is just one word: “Hi”.  He decides to return the email and they begin to correspond.  It eventually leads to Skype and then Angelina suggests that they meet up for a week; yes, she is married and her husband will be there too.

The novel goes back in time to the 1980s when Adam and Angelina first meet.  We get to experience their affair back then which is necessary with the course of the novel.

This is all I will mention about the plot. The Best of Adam Sharp is about life, relationships, and music.  Should the past be left in the past or is the chance to see ‘the one that got away’ again going to be worth it?  What or who does Adam want?

I loved all the music that was referenced in the novel. I did not know all of the music as it goes as far back as the 1960s. For reference there is a play list of the songs at the end of the novel.

Unfortunately, there was a lot I did not like about the novel.  I did not like the fact that Adam kept conversing with Angelina without telling Claire and there was a lot of flirtation going on.  As I was reading I wanted to tell him to stop temptation.  The characters were also not that likeable for me. I was curious what was going to happen so I kept reading.   Then at 60% into the novel it went in a direction that I was not expecting and certainly did not want to read.  It became a little bit risqué and controversial for me.  I kept reading to see how it would end, and around 90% it got better for me.  Though I felt indifferent with the characters, I could ultimately agree with the ending.

The novel is well written, but overall it was not for me.

The Best of Adam Sharp is very different from The Rosie Project.  Do not go into Adam Sharp expecting the same kind of book or you will be very disappointed.

**I received an e-arc from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.  Thank you for my copy!

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon
AUDIOBOOK

Published: July 31, 2003
Dates Read:  March 7-14, 2017

My Rating: 5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.

And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

Review:

Christopher is our narrator for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. For the rest of the review it will be referenced as The Curious Incident. Though not mentioned by name in the novel, Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. He is fifteen and one day he finds his neighbor’s dog has been killed. The Curious Incident is his journey to find the dog’s killer, but it becomes much more than that: It is a tale of a boy trying to find his place in our very complicated world.

Mark Haddon used to work with autistic individuals and his writing perfectly shows us how a person with Asperger’s may think. Haddon really gets us inside Christopher’s head. I became fully involved in the journey and was with Christoper every step of the way.

I chose to read this book as it is next in a book club I have joined. Since my reading list is very full I had to listen to it on CD versus actually reading it. This review is for the audio version. I knew there were pictures throughout the novel, so I was prepared to get the actual book as well. I was worried I might miss something by not seeing the pictures. The narrator did a great job in his narration and I do not feel that I missed anything by listening to the audio version. I was actually able to get a copy of The Curious Incident at my local library book sale, so I was able to see what the pictures looked like in the novel.

One thing I was confused about as I started listening to the CD were the chapters. The novel did not begin with chapter one. They are instead numbered differently with prime numbers. Once that was explained I was fine. At first I thought the first chapter was skipped in the CD I was listening to!

Some other things to keep in mind if you are going to read The Curious Incident. Christopher is very detail driven in his narration. At times it could be seen as if it was dragging on, but this is who Christopher is and he can’t help it. He is very literal in his thoughts and explanations. Math is mentioned a great deal in The Curious Incident. For those of us that are not mathematically inclined, this can seem to keep going like the Energizer Bunny.

Christopher also doesn’t like jokes as he can analyze them, but he doesn’t understand them. He is writing a book on his mission to find out who killed the neighbor’s dog, and he says the book will not be funny, but he is so literal in this thinking that at times he is funny without realizing it and you can’t help but giggle a time or two.

This was a very enjoyable read for me. It is a shorter novel around 220 pages that could be read very quickly, though it may not be for everyone. It seems The Curious Incident is either a love it or hate it kind of novel.

The Curious Incident is highly recommended.

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