Archives for posts with tag: Audiobooks

AsYouWishPrincessBrideDeluxeEdToday’s featured titles come courtesy of the library’s High School Book Club.  At their last meeting, these awesome folks opted to read books which had been made into movies.  Their inspiration led me to a book which spawned a modern classic film then right to a book about the making of the film itself.

Chances are extremely high that you’ve seen Rob Reiner’s movie, The Princess Bride or, if you have not, that you have heard (or have quoted) a line from it.  (You haven’t?  Inconceivable!  Find a DVD and watch it now.  Enjoy amazing storytelling.  Borrow a copy from the library, a friend, a neighbor.  No excuses.)

But, have you read the book?  Yes, it’s a real book—not merely a narrative frame featuring Peter Falk.  Penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman, the book version of The Princess Bride presumes its source material from the “great Florinese writer”, S. Morgenstern, teller of captivating tales.  “What’s it about?” you ask.  What’s in it?  “Fencing.  Fighting.  Torture.  Poison.  True Love.  Hate.  Revenge.  Giants.  Hunters.  Bad men. Good men.  Beautifulest Ladies.  Snakes.  Spiders.  Beasts of all natures and descriptions.  Pain.  Death.  Brave men.  Coward men.  Strongest men.  Chases.  Escapes.  Lies.  Truths.  Passion.  Miracles.”  Swashbuckling romance at its finest!

This is both a love letter to and a charming poke at classic tales of lands far away where true love blossoms amid the fight between Good and Evil.  Let’s not take valuable time with additional plot details.  Instead, think on this.  Whatever charm, wit, adventure, delight, satire, romance, truths, and great lines you may have found in the movie, you will find multiplied beyond compare in the book.  Goldman is a master storyteller on screen and in print.

In short, read it for goodness’ sake!  Or listen to it.  Lots of editions to choose from—for extra fun, try one with the introductions to the 25th anniversary and the 30th anniversary editions.  The library has a lovely illustrated version with all manner of maps and drawings.  The audiobook narrated by Rob Reiner is entertaining, rather like being read a bedtime story by your New York-accented dad.

Reiner and William Goldman created magic both on the page and on the movie set according to actor Cary Elwes in his book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride.  Elwes, who played Westley in the film, offers an entertaining, behind-the-scenes glimpse of movie making from audition to premiere.  In some ways a typical Hollywood memoir, he moves beyond potential pitfalls and captures with delight the camaraderie that brought Goldman’s script to life.

Elwes’ self-effacing charm permeates the book.  His witty, respectful storytelling is generous and interesting.  Throughout As You Wish, he has sprinkled sidebars from other big names with the film—memories, stories, impressions from their points of view which round out the tale.  Give the book a try.  Better yet, listen to the audiobook.  Cary Elwes reads it, and his smooth, conversational delivery sounds like a friendly chat.  He is also an accomplished mimic, reading quotes from Reiner and the late Andre the Giant in voices you would swear were theirs.  Fans of The Princess Bride and movie buffs alike will enjoy either format.

The library’s Teen Department sponsors two book clubs which meet most months of the year.  Both groups are teen-driven; participants decide on a theme for the month then choose their own title that fits the theme.  Everyone may read a different book, but that’s what makes it fun!  At book club, we rant and rave and chat about our selections in addition to enjoying a dessert.  Both groups are free; neither require registration.

Middle School Book Club is open to grades 6-8.  Its next installment will be held from 6:00-7:00 pm, Monday, April 2, in Community Room East at the library.  Percy Jackson fans get ready because we’re reading books by Rick Riordan!

High School Book Club is open to grades 9-12 and will be held from 6:00-7:00 pm on Thursday, April 5, in Conference Room 1.  This month’s theme is comedy, so come prepared for laughs.

Interested in learning more about these or other Joplin Public Library services for teens?  Contact me at the Teen Department, 417-623-7953, ext. 1027.  Happy reading and have fun storming the castle!

Teen Fiction

Adam and his girlfriend Lizzie have pretty good seats to the concert that sets off a chain of events only the revolutionary Zealots could have predicted. Jimmy Earle, a rock star at the height of his career and popularity, has taken the drug Death. Jimmy has accomplished his elaborate and very public bucket list and is putting on one last concert before the best, drug-induced week of his life ends in his equally public death.

Because that’s what this new drug, Death, does. You take a little white pill, have the most fantastic week-long high, and then die. Very simple. Once the drug has bonded with your brain, there’s no going back. There’s no antidote. No cure for Death. Once you’ve taken it, you’re dead after seven days.

After Jimmy dies on stage in front of thousands of fans, the riots begin. The undercurrent of tension between the haves and the have-nots in Manchester suddenly boil to the surface. Adam and Lizzie get to watch it all unfold making Adam feel like he and Lizzie are bound together by this night. Nothing could be better.

Then Adam’s life begins to unravel. His parents get a mysterious letter from the Zealots telling them his brother, Jess, is dead. Lizzie seems disinterested and angry with him. Suddenly, Adam’s view on his life is much less positive. In a moment of self-loathing and despair, Adam decides to take Death.

Now he’s got a week left to do as much living as a teenage boy can. Like Jimmy Earle, he begins with an extraordinarily complicated and elaborate bucket list. To accomplish this list, his first task has to be to make up with Lizzie and spend his last days with her.

After he and Lizzie reconcile, they become enmeshed with a dangerous drug-dealer’s even more dangerous son. Lizzie gets kidnapped and Adam has to decide whether to use his remaining days to help her or to accomplish his bucket list.

Burgess has created a near future dystopian adventure in “The Hit.” The gap between rich and poor is so insurmountable that home-grown terrorist groups like the Zealots find strongholds with Manchester’s young people and, for some, taking Death seems like a viable option.

Adam and Lizzie deal with a lot of heavy issues in “The Hit.” Burgess does a good job of focusing on the issues his characters face without being too heavy-handed or preachy. The action scenes make you sit forward in your seat. The twists and turns the plot takes are realistic as are the characters.

Every characters’ flaws are exposed and explored to a degree that makes you wonder whether you really like these people. Ultimately, the selfishness and insecurities revealed by Adam are so uncomfortable because they are so true-to-life. Adam behaves exactly as a teenager would–he is at times self-absorbed, reckless, heroic, kind, a genius and a complete idiot.

The premise of “The Hit” is intriguing–what kind of mental process would you go through if you knew in 7 days you were going to die? Especially if the world is about to change and you realize you won’t be around to see or help the change happen. Would the self-loathing and hopelessness you felt when you first took the pill last through your 7 days or would you find a reason to regret that choice?

With sexual content, drug use, and mature themes, this is a good choice for mature teens and adults who like near-future dystopians and flawed characters wrestling with Life’s big questions.