Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review Day: Under the Never Sky + Oz the Great and Powerful

Through the Ever Night

So a couple of months ago, I read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. It became one of my favorite books I've read this year. Such a great, well-written dystopian story. (My review HERE.) This past week I got the chance to read the sequel, Through the Ever Night.

***Spoilers ahead for book 1. Read at your own peril!***

We pick up not long after we left off, with Perry in his post as acting Blood Lord of the Tides and Aria running around, trying to find the Still Blue for Hess. (Actually for her and Perry but she pretends to do Hess's bidding, all the while looking for ways to undermine him.)

What I really like about Rossi's writing is that she doesn't beat around the bush; she gets right to it. The story starts with our two main characters reuniting, and then we get right into the meat of the conflict. It begins in the first chapter and then just keeps going.

We get more about Roar and Liv, which was fun (there's a short story about them I now want to read) and we see much more of this dystopian world. I won't say much more except that it ends in a good place, with enough closure to leave us feeling satisfied, but also looking forward to the next book. Here's the (awesome!) cover to the 3rd book, btw, which will be out next year.

Overall, this is still one of my favorite dystopian series, and I can't wait for the concluding book. Highly recommended to anyone who loves dystopians, romances, or just all-around great stories. :D

Has anyone else read book 2 in this series? What did you think of it?

Oz the Great and Powerful

So I never saw Oz the Great and Powerful in the theater. Based on the trailers, I wanted to, but I heard a lot of negative reviews about it. My sister brought it home from Redbox and I finally watched it this past weekend.

My overall impression was that it was good, but not great. 

Many people hated it, saying that it wasn't worth watching for various reasons. One critique I heard a lot was about the shallow character of Mila Kunis's Theodora. While I completely understand this complaint--she pretty much got rejected by a guy and became homicidally evil because of it--I would argue that it was more a flaw of the story-telling than of the actual character. Basically, I think Theodora always had a propensity for evil. She just needed an awesome, emotional excuse to make the jump.

The problem is that the movie tries to make her seem sympathetic, like it was the man's (Jame's Franco's Oz) fault that she made that decision; like if he'd been kinder to her, she wouldn't have become evil. And that's just ridiculous. It comes off as absurd and is the kind of thing that makes all women look bad. As in, have enough self respect to move on when a guy rejects you. This is especially true because the slight was at least partially imagined on Theodora's part. Not that Oz was an awesome, upstanding gentleman to her, but if all of us fell apart every time a guy we flirted with lost interest, what kind of world would it be?

It doesn't help that Franco's Oz is less than heroic. His character has a lot of comedy precisely because he is somewhat cowardly and deceptive. It makes for some great comedic moments. But it also makes the film feel like none of the characters are really worth rooting for. Why should be care if they aren't likable?

The exception, of course, is Michelle Williams's Glenda--I thought she portrayed the good witch wonderfully--and the actual creatures of Oz, who were at once cute, vulnerable, and courageous. In fact, Finley the flying monkey and China Girl were the delight of the show.

The show was entertaining, had plenty of adventure and great effects, and had a fitting end to be a prequel to the classic, The Wizard of Oz. But, that said, I think this film suffers from origin story syndrome. It was never going to be completely original, because it had to end in a way that made sense as a prequel to a story most people know, and it's hard to keep prequels from being predictable. So, overall, it was enjoyable, but not totally awesome. Didn't blow me away or anything. Just, meh. But I'm still glad I saw it and thought it was a valiant effort, with a few good laughs thrown in.

Did anyone else see Oz? What did you think of it?


  1. That was my assessment - decent, but no great. Something just didn't click. Of course, I'm not a fan of The Wizard of Oz. That film creeped me out when I was a kid.

  2. I watched Oz as well. I didn't like James Franco in it at all and really wished there just would have been more development of Theodora.
    Overall, I thought it was kind of weird and wouldn't watch it again. I'm certainly glad I didn't pay to see it in the theaters!