Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Tomb Raider

Hello and welcome back to another review here at The Real World According To Sam.

Today's post brings adventure and history together into one huge blend of awesomeness that can only be summarized with one name: Lara Croft.  Lara Croft has been a really iconic character in the world of video games, originally created by Eidos around 1996 and taken over by Square Enix in 2010.  Recently she just had another game centered around her released which I've heard is super awesome and has gotten lots of great reviews (and has some epic screenshots and an intriguing story from what friends of mine have shared with me). There have been many Tomb Raider games over the years (around 9) and there have been some books written that focus on Lady Croft's adventures and artifacts she's gone after. These consist of :
  • The Amulet of Power
  • The Lost Cult
  • The Man of Bronze
It is still unknown whether the book series will continue since the contract created only called for three. There are of course, also the two movie novelizations: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider & Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; based on the screenplays for the movies starring Angelina Jolie as Lara. Word is, there is also a third Tomb Raider movie in the works, that serves as an origin story and centers around a younger Lara Croft. I'm rather happy about that, since Angelina Jolie isn't one of my particular favorites in the movie business. I do really enjoy the Tomb Raider franchise and adventures, but the casting was...minimally adequate. Jolie played the role well but Id like to see someone else take a shot at being Lara.

The games have been widely successful (I myself own 2: the first game for PlayStation 1- Tomb Raider, as well as the 2006 Playstation2 release- Tomb Raider: Legend). The success of the franchise has led Lara Croft to be one of the most popular and most recognized characters in gaming.

But enough of that, let's get to the review!

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Novelization by: Dave Stern
Based on screenplay by: Patrick Massett, John Zinman, and Simon West
Rating: 4/5

I'd like to begin this review by saying that I have watched this movie several times and find it to be pretty awesome. I was always really interested in the story and how it played out and the action sequences are pretty awesome. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderMovie novelizations...just non-visual, full word versions of movies, right? No!!! As if!!! Movie novelizations (or at least the ones I've read) have all been extensions of the movie that have expanded the film and have made the overall experience that much better! Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is no exception. What I liked most about this book was that it picks up in spots that the movie leaves out, most likely due to time. The transitions between scenes are so much more fluid in the book. There are so many more things the book had that the movie didn't. There are backstories added in and the characters are developed more. There's more of what Lara thinks and how she reacts to all the different characters. Its so cool to be able to get into her head that way. It really brings the character to life.

There are more scenes of how Lara gets where she does, there are scenes where Lara is a little girl that are written from her father's perspective, there are scenes where we finally get to find out what the deal with her and Alex West is (thank you, Ive been wondering about it for far too long) and there are scenes with Manfred Powell and Alex West that show the true colors of both. There are more scenes with Manfred Powell talking with his superiors in the Illuminati as well as more regarding the research he's done into the Triangle and his plots against others. We get to see how devious and conniving he is. So serious, in a way that the movie doesn't completely provide you. Between some chapters are Interludes, which are like flashbacks to the past that show how everything has been building up for over 20 years. We see how Lara grew up and theres much more.

Here's the basic premise: Lara Croft is an award winning photographer and....Tomb Raider. She seeks mystical artifacts and is very knowledgable about the world and its myths and its people. She lives in a huge manor. Its been passed down in the Croft family for generations, hence it being called Croft Manor. Her father died 20 years before the book begins. He went missing in the field, because he also went on different trips around the world. As a child he always told her a story about the People of the Light. Basically, the planets will align and there'll be a small window of time allowing for somebody with the certain object to control..even change...time. The Illuminati have been seeking this object, which was broken into two pieces and taken to different parts of the world. They seek the ultimate power. Lara's father left hints for her to find the Triangle and destroy it to prevent bad from happening. And so the adventure unfolds.

I have to emphasize something that I really enjoyed about the book that the movie dropped the ball on. Alex West and Lara Croft. They have history together, and the movie never explains anything. You can tell that something is going on but you never really know what, and when you think you do you're still left wondering if that's it.....the book clears up everything. I'm really super grateful for that. That was the one part of the movie I felt wasn't done as well as it could've been. Thanks book. You just made the movie better for me.

I was pretty hooked when I was reading this. It took me a few more days than usual because I had multiple interruptions and things to do, but it was awesome nonetheless. It is full of not just adventure, but awesome characters that aren't just cardboard cutouts. The movie is awesome, and the novelization just makes it all the more incredible. I highly recommend both as they both make the overall Tomb Raider experience come to life. There's guns and statues that come to life, time manipulation, life/death scenarios, cool tech gear and secrets that come to light. Lara may not know as much about her father as she thought and who knows what'll happen when she finds out. Its definitely a gripping adventure.

 This has been the book review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book Review: Formerly Shark Girl

Hi there!

In March, I read a book by the title of Shark Girl and I enjoyed it. It was new and interesting. The review for that is on goodreads so if you are curious about the book itself or what I quickly thought of it the link is right here: Shark Girl .   Ok, now that THAT is out of the way, moving on. After finishing that book, I discovered that there was a sequel to it. Naturally, I went to the public library's site and checked the catalog to see if they had it. They didn't and that was SUCH a bummer. The other day, I was at the library and I was walking around the teen section and just glanced over the New Book area. Formerly Shark Girl caught my eye. I checked it and was so elated. It was the sequel I had been wanting to read so many months ago. I had already forgotten (considering how many books I have checked out and that I own that I have not yet read) and jumped at the opportunity to pick up the book. In half a day and a little of a night, I had finished it. So, here is my review.

Formerly Shark Girl
Author: Kelly Bingham
Rating: 4/5

Formerly Shark Girl is the story of Jane Arrowood, a girl who lost her right arm when she was attacked by a shark. The first book was about her ordeal afterwards, adjusting to her new life. This second book gives us more of Jane and how her life is shaped by her choices and by the people around her.

Formerly Shark Girl

Jane has always wanted to be an artist but having only a left hand makes her passion a little difficult. Having been through what she has, she volunteers at the hospital, and considers becoming a nurse. Formerly Shark Girl picks up in Jane's senior year, when she is applying for colleges and deciding what direction her life will start to go in.

This book is really interesting because of the style in which it is written. There are really no chapters. There are just short passages, almost poem like that are told from Jane's point of view, with bold titles. Some only make up a page. Other pages have phone conversations or text messages sent between Jane and another character. All of these short passages are quick to get through but manage to tell everything that needs telling. Its like taking a wordy novel and chopping it down to only what is completely necessary. There's no fluff and every piece fits in where it should. At first, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like it. It seemed like just another YA novel to me. But while I was reading, something inside me shifted and I became engrossed. Some parts were so typical of a girl and of the common perception of high school. For the record, prom was never a huge deal to me, it came and it went. Its not exactly something I dwell on and it was just ok. Jane at one point gets on this thing about having missed out on her first year of being allowed to date because of her whole ordeal with her arm. Understandable of course, but she goes on a bit thinking of how she's never had her first kiss or been on a date before. I'm sitting here the same point, I hadn't either. I only just had both this past year. Did it bother me? Not one bit. Seems like a minor thing to get worked up over in my opinion, but then, its just my opinion. When she actually has her first, you gotta wonder a bit....but as the story progresses there's another romantic thing going on that I enjoyed much more.

Guess what? Max is back. Dreamy Max who graduated last year, who was captain of the swim team. Apparently he declined a scholarship to stay at home with his dad. Reasons for which I will not give away. Jane had a crush on Max last book, but now we finally get to see something grow.

I was loving it there towards the end. There was so much feeling and emotion and excitement. And that last kiss? I squeaked a bit. It was nice and it made me think fondly and happily back on my first. I liked the romance here. It was great. I also loved seeing how Jane saw every aspect in her life. Things were foggy to her and we saw her develop and grow as a character. So fabulous!!!! Thank you Ms. Bingham, for that, you did a magnificent job. I'm certain that Jane has made the right choices and that things will play out well for her, even with all the bumps inherent along the way.

This concludes another book review, thanks for reading!