Monday, August 29, 2016

One Punch Man: Series Review by James

A breath of fresh air for the increasingly unoriginal and stereotypical anime genre, One Punch Man is easily one of, if not, the best anime series i have watched so far. While most anime series follow in the footsteps of ground-breaking shows such as Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon, relying on similar plots, themes and character arcs, One Punch Man seeks to be different.

It revolves around a man named Saitama, a man who is so powerful he can literally obliterate anything with a single punch. Because he is so powerful, Saitama has become bored and uninterested, lacking motivation to do anything. Despite wanting to have long and epic battles with his opponents, he finds himself mowing them down without even breaking a sweat.

He is sarcastic and impatient, doing things that are against our regular expectations of an anime protagonist and prioritising ridiculous things. He is accompanied by his ‘apprentice’ Genos, an extremely powerful android who is desperately trying to learn the secret and origin of Saitama’s amazing power. They are also accompanied by many heroes from an organisation known as the hero association, a collection heroes like the Justice League that are ranked based on their hero activity.

The show is full of jokes and satire, digging into and mocking well-known shows such as DBZ and Full-Metal Alchemist in a dead pool-like satirical way. This series is for everyone, from someone who has never watched anime before and wants to start with something light and funny, to long-time fans of the genre who find that it has become slightly burnt out. While so far it only consists of a single, 12 episode season alongside the manga series from which it was adapted, there are plans for an English dub and a second season of both the anime and the manga.

James, 2016

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Hedge Knight- George RR Martin: Book Review by James

The Hedge Knight- George RR Martin

“Oak and iron, guard me well, or else I'm dead, and doomed to hell.” 

George RR Martin’s spin-off of the critically acclaimed and widely loved series A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hedge Knight serves as a much milder version of its adult counterpart, taking place almost a century earlier in a time where chivalry and honour were held in much greater regard.

The first book of the trilogy known as A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, it is set in the high-medieval fantasy realm of Westeros, a world of chivalrous knights and splendid tournaments. It follows the story of Dunk, a squire turned hedge knight after the death of his former mentor, Ser Arlan of Pennytree, during the first couple of pages of the book. - A hedge knight is basically a knight who wanders the realm in search of lords that require their services, much like mercenaries, that adhere to the chivalric code of being a knight. - After burying his mentor, the newly-made knight Dunk, or Ser Duncan the Tall as he calls himself, assumes his responsibilities and carries on his legacy, continuing on to the tournament his mentor was to participate in.

Dunk is somewhat simple-minded, not especially gifted with great intellect or cunning. However, what he lacks in brainpower he makes up for tenfold with his brawn and caring nature. He stands at almost 7 feet tall, towering above almost everyone he meets, possessing extraordinary strength and endurance.  He sticks to a strict code of honour instilled in him by his former mentor, acting like a gentlemen and sticking up for those weaker than himself. Holding somewhat of a low place in society, Dunk is often overlooked and disrespected by those superior to him. The novel revolves around the adventures of Dunk and a little boy named Egg, a witty and sarcastic child with a shaven head and deep purple eyes. Dunk finds Egg working as a stableboy at a local inn, and, after Egg demonstrates his will and intelligence, takes him in as his squire for the upcoming tournament. Dunk would soon discover, however, that there is much more to Egg
that meets the eye

Having previously read A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin’s most well-known series, I came to this book with high hopes. The Hedge Knight absolutely exceeded my expectations, proving to be one of the best fantasy novels I have read so far. Its detailed and rich narrative, interesting and in-depth characters and immersive descriptions kept me on the edge of my seat, unable to put the book down until I had finished it. Fans of Game of Thrones, and the fantasy genre in general, would find this book to be highly enjoyable and a great read.
James, 2016

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Monday, August 15, 2016

A different perspective on Eleanor & Park: Book Review by Amy by the Window

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor sticks out like a sore and very red thumb at her new school, meanwhile Park does just about everything he can to fly under the Radar. These star-crossed sixteen-year-olds form an unlikely bond over their love for music and comic books. But with their own troubles and insecurities, will they get their happily ever after?

Within 50 pages of this story I was hooked.

Set in the Suburbs of 1980s America, Eleanor and Park gave just the right amount of cultural context for it to be a timeless story of two young adults falling in love for the first time on an immersive 80s backdrop. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is fun and engaging, and her characters complex.

I loved the representation in this story- an Asian-American boy and a chubby red-haired girl are types of people I don’t think I’ve ever read about before, which was refreshing. Where parents are often absent in young adult fiction, Eleanor and Park’s parents were very much integral to the story and character growth.
The characters really evolve well over the course of the book, especially the secondary characters, who I fell in love with. 

But towards the end things began to get messy.

I was often confused, and was left unsatisfied. If it was all about the journey, this book would get five stars from me, but I can’t ignore how it ended. I appreciate that this book reflects that in life you don’t always get the ending you want, but it did hinder my enjoyment. That being said, it was a beautiful story, so I’m giving it four out of five stars!

★★★★

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Note: I would recommend this book to older Young Adult readers, because there are sexual themes and descriptions of domestic violence.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Stand by me: Film Review by James

A film I grew up with but watched for the first time in a long time recently, Stand by Me is a classic that has stood the test of time, proving to be an excellent movie even by today’s standards.

Despite not having read book by Stephen King from which the movie is adapted, I still found the movie to me fantastic and engaging. It follows the story of four teenage boys who go on an adventure that will change their lives forever. The four hear about a boy that has been hit by a train, and, eager to claim fame and renown as the ones that recovered the body, set out to find him. While the plot sounds boring, it is brought to life by the rich themes, amazing and believable acting and detailed, three dimensional characters.

The film explores the fears and anxieties that come with being a twelve year old, along with a plethora of concepts that apply to maturity, coming of age and rites of passage, with intricate and intertwining themes of grief, friendship and insecurity. While it may not be nostalgic to everyone, almost everyone can relate to the film in one way or another. The characters are three dimensional and detailed, making the viewers feel as though they know them well by the end of the movie.

The main character, Gordie, is reserved and quiet compared to his friends. His brother had passed away 3 months earlier and subsequently his parents have become emotionally unavailable and cold toward him. While many expect him to follow in the footsteps of his football playing brother, Gordie prefers writing over sports. On the other hand, Gordie’s best friend Chris is rash and immature, compensating for his underlying insecurities and fears about his future and his intelligence. Chris’ older brother is cruel and nasty towards the kids, showing no signs of hesitation or sympathy, making him one of the primary antagonists of the film alongside the rest of his gang. Gordie’s other friend, Teddy, is the most ‘off the rails’ character of the group. He cares little for rules or courtesies, instead living life the way he wants to live it, not worrying about the consequences. Behind this façade however is a troubled kid from a harsh upbringing with a mentally unstable father and a downtrodden mother. Finally there’s Vern. Vern is the ‘fat kid’ of the group, lovingly made fun for his weight and his feminine mannerisms.

Despite the fact that most of the actors are children, the film is amazingly well-acted. The combination of fantastic cinematography and a great soundtrack with the seemingly simple but intricate plot make the movie a must-watch. 
James, 2016

The movie club will be watching Stand by Me, Wednesday 10 August, 6pm, Narellan Library
Click Here for more information


Monday, August 01, 2016

Saving Francesca: Book Review by Kate

Melina Marchetta’s novel, Saving Francesca, is the well told and relatable story of Francesca Spinelli, who faces the many obstacles of life from within the classrooms of school to within the walls of her own home.

The familiar Australian setting is refreshing as it sets the stage upon which the story unfolds. Francesca’s own predicament, facing the troubles of her mother suffering from acute depression, as well as the discomforts of starting at a new school, which has only recently begun accepting girls, forms the basis of the story. Francesca finds herself surrounded by enthralling personalities.

These characters Marchetta creates are exciting and diverse, ranging from the feministic Tara Finke who greatly contrasts with the laid back Tom Mackee, whilst the shy Justine Kalinsky plays the realistic sweetheart and Francesca herself is simply trying to fit in with them all. Through her characters and story, Marchetta embraces the Australian culture, reflecting it within her novel. Marchetta’s style was one of the main aspects I found myself loving about the story as I was able to relate to the language and settings portrayed and the general culture of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and hope to read the other books of Melina Marchetta.
I definitely recommend it to young adult readers, to enjoy the simplistic yet fulfilling style of Marchetta and the wondrous characters she creates. 

Kate, 2016

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