Tag Archives: Reviews

Book Vs Movie: The Girl Who Played With Fire

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“Power is a flame that burns from within…”

I finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in February (you can check my review in here), and all of those who have read the book would know that the book leaves us at a bit of a cliffhanger at the end to ensure you’ll pick up The Girl Who Played With Fire to find out what happens to the heroine, Lisebeth Salander next. And by now, it wouldn’t be news to most of you all that the Millennium Trilogy is a series which dwells around strong social critique and conspiracy, which exposes the state of the morally bankrupt world of business in the first book, and misogyny and damage done to women by corrupted philanderers in here.

(This post doesn’t contain spoilers, so you can keep on reading, yet, I’d recommend you all to read the book or watch the movie first!)

Jumping straight into the book, I must say in this book also the opening was not much into my preference. Yes, the whole escapade of Salander in Grenada did enhance the character building of her’s to a whole new level, from a tattooed, pierced, bisexual computer hacker to a mathematical genius, who would try tackling Fermat’s Last Theorem while having her morning coffee. Yet, conversely, this methodical background detailing would go overboard at times and hinder the story, making it dull to be read. Anyhow, after that the story lives up to its predecessor, unraveling the real masterminds behind the three murders, for which the incompetent caricatures of the police make Salander the prime suspect, and also portraying the depths eminent public figures who are rapists and sexual criminals, would go to cover their tracks. So, overall, although the book disappointed me at first, I’d give it 5 stars (to the book).

Next, turning to the movie, I’d say this time the movie was not much of a disappointment when compared with its predecessor. True it had abandoned the whole Grenada hurricane catastrophe scene, nevertheless, it stays faithful to the book in most scenarios, reminding us the books of law don’t mean anything unless they could be translated into lived experience, while bringing the events of Salander’s childhood and traumas to live. Yet, I must also admit that I found the absurd scene where Salander asks for the help of Mikael to be unbelievably hilarious!!!

And now its time to pick the winner.

To me,  the winner is the The Girl Who Played With Fire book, which very much delineates the quote “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less” by Susan B. Anthony.

Do share your thoughts, in line with me or not?

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Book Vs Movie: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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When I bought The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I was equipped with the knowledge that the book is massively hyped, even though it is not what caught me under its spell. In fact it’s the dragon TATTOO of the girl what made me cave in and pick the book. At that time I had no clue this girl is Stieg Larsson’s agent to remind us that there are certain things in life to which we turn a blind eye. One more casualty of sexual assault,  one more victim of social cannibalism, one more person in pain because of unfair jurisdiction, we sure do catch a glimpse from our peripheral vision. May be it’s because we are overloaded that we have become numb enough to hear but not listen and to look but not see the most of it. Anyway, it is only one of the reasons which makes the book/ movie commendable! So digging further in to the story…

(Sorry, but from here onwards this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, PLEASE, stop right here, go read the book or watch the movie and come back again!)

… I can tell you that I thought it’s one explosive, monster of a thriller imbued with incredibly fascinating and unique characterization. Since you all may have read the novel or watched the movie, and already know how the combination of Mikael Blomkvist’s insistent journalism skills and Lisbeth Salander’s quite unconventional information gathering methods lead them towards discovering the gruesome history behind Vanger family, I’ll focus on the comparison of the book and the movie and try to come up with a winner!

First of all, I won’t deny that most of the readers would have found the first few chapters of the book to be extremely dull the way Stieg Larsson chose to describe Mikael’s libel trial. Given my accounting background, I thought it helps to encompass the characters, the situations they face and the way they are related, deeply. But most could have grown bored thinking it’s going to be a story about financial corruption. So according to my thinking, that start was definitely not the best way to make the readers stay excited! Anyway, after uncovering the novel’s strength –  Harriet’s mystery, in such an interesting and a shocking way, the book gets back in track from where it started, and devotes the last few chapters to describe how Mikael takes revenge from Wennerstrom, an industrial giant who falsely accuses Mikael of producing a slanderous article, again with the help of  indomitable Lisbeth. So, overall, despite poor choice Larsson had made at the beginning, I’d give five stars to this piece of writing.

And now moving to the movie, Lisbeth Salander’s characterization which makes the novel interesting, was pretty much lost in here. The sullen, anti-social and people skills lacking Salander is not much portrayed. And the reckless way Salander sends information to Mikael, making it obvious that she is a hacker when he has no idea who she is, is an insult done to her character, I dare say, specially when later in the movie Mikael suggests that Salander could be having a photographic memory in possession. Apart from the several plots which stretch credulity to a certain extend, the way it exposes to viewers how Salander becomes an enactor of justice, taking the matters into her hand, and resolving them in a way perhaps disturbing and disgusting, but undeniably fair and fitting compels viewers to confront their own ideas about the treatment meted out to the women in the society.

The winner? Although I like the movie, to me, ultimately the winning “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is the book, which pares the story down to its core. Now give me your thoughts. Which do you prefer the best?

South Asian Reading Challenge 2011

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Well, I kind of started to review all the books as I read them. But it seems time doesn’t permit me to be consistent in it. So I decided to sign up for the South Asian Reading Challenge 2011 hosted by S. Krishna’s Books, where I’m planning to attempt for the South Asian Explorer level, reviewing 5 books (with the hope of increasing the number as I go along) of a fairly widespread choice in 2011.

If you are also a keen reader interested, please link yourself here.

And stay excited!

Busted Intellectual By Vihanga Perera: Depicting The Ways One Could Be Busted

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Even though I’m not aware of the statistics, I’m pretty sure Sri Lanka is a country which has more politicians than writers. And among that small number of active writers, only a few stand out.  One such writer is Vihanga Perera. So it is, of course, my nature to pay homage to his incredibly thought provoking poems.

To a poetry novice such as myself, his words initially appear straight forward and very few verses rhyme. However, the way in which his poetry is laid out invites the poems to be read twice, and that is when one finds a deeper, consolidated meaning often concealed in the first reading of a piece.

Hence Vihanga Perera’s poetry collection, Busted Intellectual is a triumph of the genre, and a masterful exposition of the post war political stance in Sri Lanka and some of his personal experiences. Political poems in Busted Intellectual present what feels like a snapshot of the life of the minority of individuals (as it turned out to be, sadly!) in Sri Lanka who share the sentiment,  that this country could have gone for a humane solution, without much ruthless homicides taking place. Thus it is a collection emerged in a sad atmosphere, but one which is peppered with moments of lightheartedness thanks to some of his personal poems. And possibly a very different choice of words to the one you may be accustomed to. (At least it was to me when I first discovered his poetry blog, which you can check in here)

So now let me take the liberty of quoting some of the excerpts from two poems which I feel you would find ‘controversial’, where he is staunch in depicting what he feels right.

From ‘April-May: A Conversation in One Act’,

Prabhaharan: “SF is killable”
Pottu Amman: “Yes. Killable”.
Bomber: “Killable”.
Ravi: “He goes to Medavachchiya”.
State: “The best General of all. Four stars”.
Bomber dies.
Army goes past Kilinochchi.
Pottu Amman and Prabhaharan die.
People: “Is Prabhaharan dead?”
State: “Yes. Dead”.
Monk: “Everything is mortal”.
State: “SF is immortal”.
President: “SF is immortal”
SF salutes. Stamps his foot.

These initial lines remind me moments of a perfectly encapsulated morsel of past in early May 09’, when Sri Lankan army first announced victory over the LTTE, a group of terrorists, when there was no ‘I’ but ‘us’ (President of SL, Mahinda Rajapaksha and General Sarath Fonseka) to glorify.

Dauphin: “No one is immortal”.
King: “Save, by constitution, the President”.
Dauphin: “SF is but mortal”.
1st Officer: “SF is mortal”.
2nd Officer: “Yes. mortal“.
3rd Officer: “Mortal”.
Mrs. SF: “SF may die”.
Dauphin Inverted: “Die a slow, natural death”.

And quite ironically these lines reflect how SF was crucified as a traitor later on, solely due to the fact that he worked as the chairmen of the army procurement committee in a situation where his son-in-law had some connection to one of the bidders for the tender and according to tender guide lines (note ‘guide lines’) one should not sit in a tender committee if a relative is bidding. Since there had been no corruption involved, such a guide line violation warranted a warning only. And then how a ‘false’ allegation were made against him sending him to jail for two years, saying he engaged in politics while serving the country as the chief of defense staff. (The allegation rings false and cooked up, especially when the three people who testified against SF joined hands with MR’s regime next day, two as ministers and one as a top officer)

Now from ‘The Public Enemy’, where he discusses some harsh realities of the Sri Lankan psyche,

Three of us are skeptical – that he has been killed.
We protest that he had, by then, retreated
Escaping onslaught in that final minute.
They tell us an ambulance was shot at and blasted
But, we don’t believe that he was actually in it.

For some strange reason, this all looks so unreal,
Unheard of – unnerving and, by vote, unwanted.
This ambiguous death of a branded terror-releaser,
Whose metal had kept the South all haunted, two
Decades of carnage and the ballast’s worth
In those years when no reports came home from North.

Finally, while inviting you to consider reading Busted Intellectual the next time you are in the mood for poetry, I will leave you with one of my favourite excerpts from his personal poem, ‘Deep Down We Both Used to Breathe’, which is both traumatic and beautiful,

Many years later, you tell me stories
Of how Norwegian wood sweats in summer.
“Oh, good” I say, thinking all the time
Of the Beatles’ song. You say: “hey,
Did I do you wrong?”

No. In fact, it was only I, who
Dreamed of six other women
While being in love with you. And at the
Same fatal hour, even as you denied it,
I spoke and I wrote of love that’s true

How To Be Popular By Meg Cabot: When Being Yourself Is What Matters Most

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Popularity can be compared to a house. It has walls, a strong foundation, and many different rooms. The more deeply the foundation is sunk, the stronger the walls are, and the more rooms that can be added on. This is why, just like there’s no such thing as a house with too many rooms, there is no such thing as having too many friends.

Four days ago I finished reading Meg Cabot’s book Ready or Not and was not that impressed over the book. Nevertheless, I picked up How to be Popular, another young adult book by Meg Cabot on a whim and read it.

How to be Popular is the story of Stephanie Landry, a sophomore who incessantly gets beaten by her peers. The down side of the book is that huge portions of the story are predictable and flimsy, for example, the way Stephanie eventually realizes she is in love with her best friend, Janson. However the emotions Stephanie feels, the need to follow the tips in the outdated book she finds on how to be popular,  just to run away from what is overshadowing  her life, could be realistic, specially after being ridiculed for something trivial over a period of five years, like this,

Cheryl, realizing I was telling the truth, started to turn as red as the paint she’d spilled.
“But you’re—I mean, you’re—and Steph is…she’s—” she sputtered. “I know your name is Steph, but I didn’t think you were THAT Steph. I mean, that Steph…didn’t she, like, shoot someone?”
“No,” I said.
“No, but seriously. She put a car in Greene Lake or something. I know it.”
“No,” I said. “And I should know. Because I’m Steph Landry. And I didn’t do any of those things. All I did was spill a Big Red Super Big Gulp on someone once.”

Further more, How to be Popular has an overall cheerful tone which was refreshing after the read of not-so-awed Ready or Not book, even though for me, Stephanie seems to lack the eccentricity Meg Cabot’s previous heroines demonstrated.

In any case, ultimately How to be Popular is a cute story, which gets three stars from me, yet, unfortunately far from Meg Cabot’s best. There is no doubt Meg Cabot creates a likable cast of characters, for example, especially the character of Darlene, a pretty, friendly girl who pretends to be stupid to get her own way and although there isn’t anything profound about the book, it is made into a delightful prose. But I sincerely do wish Meg Cabot’s this consistency in style will not pop up in the other books I’m planning to read by her and instead show some variety.