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A couple of months ago FATED by S.G. Browne showed up on my doorstep. A friend I made online suggested that I review it, and a review copy headed to my house.

With the first chapter, I wasn’t sure how the listing the main character/narrator Fabio used to convey his meaning would work out. But I knew that I wanted to know what Fabio would experience in the course of the story.

See, FATED follows Fabio, the incarnation of Fate, as he navigates the practicalities of assigning fates to billions of people. He also has to navigate the interpersonal relationships with his fellow immortals, which leads to some entertaining public discussions. He has existed for millennia, and the novel opens with him battling a combination of ennui and apathy.

And then Fate falls in love. With Sara Griffen, a human.

The novel focuses predominately on Fabio as a character, so his falling in love functions as a catalyst for his concern about humanity to grow. But even if he didn’t fall in love, the novel is clear that it follows Fabio at a life changing moment. Fate is bored with his job and frustrated with humanity. And, because Fabio has a stubborn streak, he begins facing this crisis on his own.

Which speaks more to the point of the novel. The novel masquerades as a subversion of nearly every major mythology literature and Western society pull from, but the mythological elements are the mode Browne uses to communicate a larger point. Because, at its heart, FATED is about the desire and ability of humans to connect with each other and positively impact the world.

And it succeeds in communicating our need to create lasting bonds in order to make sense of the world. Fabio is lost until he truly connects with Sara, and though his connection makes him break the rules, he truly finds a purpose in his existence.

I really enjoyed reading the story because I quickly fell in love with Fabio. There’s an excerpt on S. G. Browne’s website, and you really should read that as you buy the book. It’s entertaining, thought-provoking, and definitely worth every moment of reading it.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, a young adult novel set in the very sad future of the United States of America, is a fantastic story. Suzanne Collins obviously knows her apocalyptic fiction, as she crafts a story with characters that remain human in an inhuman world. The novel fits very nicely within the grand tradition of life after the end of the world under a dictatorship.

I really love the characters, especially Katniss. Her emotional growth and conflict rise about the brutal conflict we watch her struggle through. Much like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, I care what happens to the narrator, even as I am confused by the world she lives in. The optimist in me thinks that this world could never come to be, but the realist sees the world of George Orwell’s 1984 becoming reality and knows that it just takes the right conditions.

Why this novel isn’t a 5 star for me is because of the length. I wish that the trilogy was condensed to 1 book. Continue reading The Hunger Games

Avatar: The Last Airbender

There are probably spoilers. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie and want it to be as close to completely surprising as possible today.

If you like the Nickelodeon series, this movie will probably disappoint you.

I love the series for it’s color and humor and treatment of serious issues (war, death, loss, fate verses desires) in a way that engages the audience without minimizing the issues presented.

The movie failed at that. It was heavy handed and slow. I checked the time on my phone several times during the movie to see how much longer until it was over. The sad aspects, like Zuko being banished by his father, should have been sadder, and the funny aspects, like Katara teaching herself to waterbend, should have been funnier.

Deadpan is fine if the movie’s subject can be played flatly, but The Last Airbender is an action comedy. It needs life and discernible change in emotion to be engaging.

Aside from the flatness of the story and acting, I missed the color of the characters. I don’t mean in their actions, but in the series, the main characters are non-white. That was one of my favorite elements of the story, because for once, a science-fictiony story on TV was not dominated by whites. It’s a trap that most science fiction stories, even adaptations, fall into, and it’s detrimental to the genre. In the live action The Last Airbender, the characters become white, which diminishes the story. Many of the background characters and extras were non-white, but the main characters, with a few distinct exceptions, were white.

My nerd complaint is that the characters couldn’t pronounce their names, or Aang’s title of Avatar, correctly. The entire series the pronunciation follows Southern Californian pronunciation with the short a for Aang and Avatar. Sokka sounded like “sock-ah”. Every time anyone pronounced Aang or Avatar or Sokka in the movie, I had to think through who they were talking about. If the series had been an adaptation of an Anime, I could understand the change. But Avatar: The Last Airbender is a US series. If you’ve seen the end, you can definitely tell there.

The graphics were flat and more silly than interesting. And I missed following the character development of the series.

All in all, it was a movie. I didn’t expect it to be great, and it wasn’t. I wasn’t disappointed,  but I’m glad I caught an early show, which meant I only paid $6. I didn’t find much in the movie to recommend, but I wouldn’t say avoid it like the plague. My review boils down to “meh”.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think? I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks.

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