Book review: Sharp Objects

Everyone and their mother has read Gone Girl, the third novel from writer Gillian Flynn. It’s been on my to read list forever, like every other book it feels like because I don’t get to read much these days. Between trying to get through some of my own writing and work, and chasing after a very active 4yo, I have time for little else. I used to read on my way to work, but I’ve been using that time more and more lately to scroll through my Blackberry to make sure I am caught up on everything before I get to the office, and to scroll through my Blackberry on the way home to make sure I don’t miss anything after I leave the office. I know, it’s not a healthy routine to get into. Its pathetic in fact. But alas, I am not a famous writer nor millionairess, so I, like scores of others, must work hard during the day, while leaving my writing to the evening hours when I should be sleeping. But I digress…

I did finally do something I haven’t in awhile. I used a few travel hours to power through a book that had been on my reading list since my friend gave it to me after powering through it on her own travels a few months back. And it wasn’t Gone Girl. It was however, Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects, and all I can say is – wow, holy shit, this book was incredible!

Flynn’s writing is crisp, witty, sharp and enigmatic, and everything I wish my writing was. I may be selling myself short, but I often wonder why I can’t write the way I think or the way I speak. When I put my fingers to the keyboard, something always seems to get lost in translation.Not that I am dissatisfied with my words. I’m not. Sure I think I can do better. All writers do.  But Flynn is in a league all her own. It’s no wonder her first three novels have won rave reviews the story is that good and her writing, the way she tells it, that incredible.

The dozens of reviews on her site, including high praise from the master of creep himself Stephen King, speak highly of this wickedly twisted thriller that does indeed as he says, stay with you “after the lights were out…in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave.” Its dirty, nasty, gritty, psychological wickedness that is beyond comprehension. At same time, so believable, the characters so real, they haunt you long after you’ve finished the book.

I don’t know what else to say other than read it. Do it now.

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Movie Review: In Time

How would you feel if your commute home cost you an hour of your life? Or, a cold drink at the end of a busy work day, two? Well Andrew Niccol, mastermind behind movies like The Truman Show and a special favorite of mine,  Gattaca, explores this very concept – time as a form of commerce – in last fall’s SciFi/Action/Thriller flick, In Time.

After pushing it to the bottom of my viewing list while it was in theaters, I finally had a chance to catch it this weekend on PPV. And despite casting Justin Timberlake as the movie’s main character, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie and now feel a glimmer of hope as I again begin to countdown the release date to Niccol’s adaptation of one of my favorite books in the last five years, the shockingly good SciFi/Romance/Thriller by Twilight mastermind Stephenie Meyer, The Host (due in theaters March 2013).

Despite Niccol’s mastery of creating stories set in the future – futures where technology, genetic superiority and societies obsessed with classism –  I have been admittedly hard on his pending adaptation of The Host. But since my criticism is largely due to the movie’s casting and yet bad casting was at play with In Time, yet I still loved it, I will give The Host another shot. Simply put – Niccol outdid himself with In Time and I am now more confident than ever, despite the actor, a good story is still a good story.

In Time’s story is one of unfathomable premise. Really, it blows the mind. Set in a future where humans are genetically altered to stop aging after age 25, after which they are given only one more year to live, In Time explores a world where time is the new form a money. Time is used to pay for everything, and even traded with others.

Now to be clear, I am not a fan of the “aliens are invading” or “what’s on the dark side of the moon” SciFi thrillers. But I do love those that explore a future where everything we pride about our advancements in science and technology are actually what flip the world as we know it, on its head. Look at The Matrix. That’s a perfect example of the promise of technology gone horribly askew – a world where technology takes over. Minority Report is another one. A future where police are able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, yet it’s a future where the law is dictated by science.

In Time is in line with some of these favorites of mine, coupling something as complex as a genetically enhanced human race alongside something as simple as time, to create a movie that is just totally out of control. Just when you think you have your mind wrapped around the concept,  living every hour as if it were the last, because in the In Time world it very well could be, the movie flips you upside down, challenging you with a new question: what if you had enough money to put enough time on your clock that you would live forever? Would you?

Mindbender!

The adorable Amanda Seyfried (Red Riding Hood, Chloe) is even kind of creepy in this movie, her trademark long blonde locks hidden under a blunt cut dark wig. And Cillian Murphy (Inception, The Dark Knight), does his part as one of the movie’s protagonist’s – The Time Keeper – a man who at any moment can take your time away. But it all works – the pseudo-celebs and unknowns – and in the end, you find yourself totally entertained, totally questioning what you just saw, and unable to not ask yourself the age old question – if I only had one day, one hour left, what would I do with my time left?

Check it out. You won’t be disappointed. And if you find yourself just totally tripped out, take a twenty and use good ole fashioned cash to buy yourself a drink. You might need it – and it won’t hurt to know that all it did was deplete your wallet, not your clock.