It might have taken me seven months (March-September 2016), but I finally finished one of the longest books I’ve ever read. The paperback version was more than 1000 pages, a veritable brick of a book to take with me when I went out. I read it in bits and pieces, 5 pages here, 10 pages there. During a road trip in May I got through a whopping 40% of it.
Honestly, by the time I was about halfway through, finishing was as much a point of pride as it was to see how the story would wrap up.
I am speaking, of course, of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
Woo, some housekeeping notes!
As you might have noticed, I’m trying to get a bit better about posting regularly around here. I don’t know that I’ll be able to maintain the weekly posting I’ve done for the past month, but I’m going to aim for at least twice a month (and hopefully both of those will be reviews).
Some reviews I’m hoping to have out soon (although not necessarily in this order):
1) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2) Voltron: Legendary Defender
4) Parks & Recreation
5) Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee
As I get further through my reading list this year, I will add other books to that list, and I can almost certainly guarantee that I will go see the live action Beauty and the Beast when it comes out in March.
It’s probably a surprise to no one that Assassin’s Creed (based on a very good series of games) was…well, “meh” is really the best word for it. It had some great action and some very nice visuals, but that’s about the best that can be said for it.
It’s a bit of a shame, because the cast—Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, and Brendan Gleeson, to name a few—is a very solid one, and you’d expect them to be able to give their characters a bit more depth. But, sadly, there’s nothing really there to work with, so while they do a fair job with what they’ve been given, the end result is still flat.
The plot was interesting, to be sure. It’s set in the same world of the video games: there are two factions, the Knights Templar and the Assassins, and each is trying to prevent the other from finding a particular artifact called the Apple that holds the key to free will (yes, really). There is a massive corporation called Abstergo that has developed a piece of technology called the Animus, which allows them to put a person into it and have them relive the lives of their ancestors through genetic memory.
First things first: If you go into Rogue One expecting something just like the episodes, you will probably be disappointed. Rogue One is not like the episodes. It’s definitely a darker, more adult film (not really with regards to violence, which is about the same as the other movies, but with regards to themes).
It is, however, a fantastic movie and I loved it.
I knew going in that it was going to be about a group of rebels conspiring to steal the Death Star plans. What I didn’t expect was how far they would have to go and how far they were willing to go to do it. Rogue One has more about how the Rebellion actually functioned in its operation than what we’ve seen previously, and shows how fractured the Rebellion itself actually was.
If you were wondering how they would possibly make a movie about math interesting, let me tell you: when people’s lives hinge on getting the math exactly right, then you will also be on the edge of your seat, hoping the problem gets solved in time.
That’s basically the big crux of Hidden Figures: finding the correct equations that will allow NASA to compute the precise trajectory to get a man into space and bring him back again without setting the pod on fire or sending it careening off back into space.
But the math is just the plot. The story itself is about the unsung heroes of NASA, the black women who did the calculations that made the flights possible in the first place. These “colored computers,” as they were called, were some of the most brilliant mathematicians at NASA. Hidden Figures focuses on three in particular: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson.