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Day 4 – Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated

I had to think quite hard on this one as nothing immediately sprang to mind. In general, because I love film AND books, I tend to look for the benefits each medium brings to the tale it’s telling, rather than focus on where one is better than the other. Like many people, I tend to find books more explicit and detailed than the film counterparts, but that’s not always a bad thing.

‘Completely desecrated’ is a pretty harsh label as well. At first I thought of film adaptations I’d been disappointed with, but nothing matched this. So then I started going through the ‘bad’ films and that was when I remembered The Good German. Oh yes, that was a film that desecrated the book! The film on its own is simply appalling – all style over substance, very little relevant from the book remains and so the shocks of the murder-mystery are completely lost. If I had not read the book, I would have struggled to see what the film was actually supposed to be about. And when you look at the line up: Clooney, Blanchett – you certainly expect more.

What made this worse for me was that there are some pivotal moments, explaining the abhorrent behaviour of some main characters and what motivated them to act in the way they did during the war, such as the Jewish girl who sold out her own people, in order to protect the illegitimate child she had with a senior SS man. These are real ‘Sophie’s Choice’ moments – examining the very core of human behaviour and love: the unthinkable things you might do to strangers, in order to protect your own. In the film, they are thrown off with such a blase shrug, I remember being more angry at the end of viewing the film, rather than disappointed (hence the ‘desecrated’). How can you change the fundamental motivation of a character so much and then just dismiss it as if it were not important? All it does is create a completely abominable character and therefore destroy any way you could accept a romantic story for them – you want them tossed in jail and the key thrown away!

You can’t change key motivations for a character in translating it from book to film – you still need them to have things make sense: would Harry Potter have been the same person if his parents had survived? No, he’d probably have been somewhere between Ron and Neville…Would Bella Swan have been so intrigued by Edward, if he had not been so troubled with her? Probably not – he would have left school, she would have traipsed around, facebooked a bit and done well in her exams before heading off to school in somewhere a little sunnier than Forks. If you had changed these elements in taking the story from page to screen, I can’t see how the story would have worked. Unfortunately, that is exactly what The Good German did – and that is why it ruined the book.

Good German - film

By contrast to the film, the narrative of the book is all subtleties and hints – you feel as if you are sneaking around Berlin with the protagonist, spying through the cracks to see a number of threads that pull together into an amazing web of intrigue and lies. The book immerses you in the atmosphere of the Berlin of the early post-war months, an era I’d never read about before. It is July 1945, the time of the Potsdam Conference. The author leads you through the city, bringing to life the ruinous aftermath of war: bombed out houses, ever-present soldiers of various nationalities, roads blocked by rubble, empty spaces where, before, Berliners had lived.

The protagonist is an American journalist, Jake Geismar, who returns to cover the Potsdam Conference, but finds himself walking familiar streets from his pre-war life and meeting up with his former lover.

Interlaced with this personal quest story is a really intriguing murder mystery, that begins with an American soldier’s body washing up at the conference, sodden money filling his pockets. So many elements drift through this book, eventually finding traction and taking the story to a fantastic climax, it feels natural and believable. If someone had told me at the end of the book that it had been based on a true story, I could have completely believed it.

If you’ve never come across this book and fancy something a little noir-ish, set in one of the most interesting cities/times of the modern age, then I would heartily recommend it. If you’re considering watching the film, I would recommend you boil your head instead – probably less painful.

Synopsis With World War II finally ending, Jake Geismar, former Berlin correspondent for CBS, has wangled one of the coveted press slots for the Potsdam Conference. His assignment: a series of articles on the Allied occupation. His personal agenda: to find Lena, the German mistress he left behind at the outbreak of the war.

When Jake stumbles on a murder — an American soldier washes up on the conference grounds — he thinks he has found the key that will unlock his Berlin story. What Jake finds instead is a larger story of corruption and intrigue reaching deep into the heart of the occupation. Berlin in July 1945 is like nowhere else — a tragedy, and a feverish party after the end of the world.

As Jake searches the ruins for Lena, he discovers that years of war have led to unimaginable displacement and degradation. As he hunts for the soldier’s killer, he learns that Berlin has become a city of secrets, a lunar landscape that seethes with social and political tension. When the two searches become entangled, Jake comes to understand that the American Military Government is already fighting a new enemy in the east, busily identifying the “good Germans” who can help win the next war. And hanging over everything is the larger crime, a crime so huge that it seems — the worst irony — beyond punishment.

At once a murder mystery, a moving love story, and a riveting portrait of a unique time and place, The Good German is a historical thriller of the first rank.

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The 30 Day Book Challenge

Back in August 2013, one of my favourite book bloggers did this challenge, and I popped in every day to check out her posts. (Becky blogs at Blogs-of-a-Bookaholic – http://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/ ) For me, I’d spent most of Spring and Summer 2013 trying to avoid reading – because if I don’t, I struggle to write as much and over a year on from when I wanted to release RMT I had to focus on that.

Now that The Rainbow Maker’s Tale is finally out there, and I’m well on my way with Outlanders, I thought I could give myself a bit of a writing break and do some reading again. (It’s not really cheating if I’m writing about reading, is it?) Anyway, I’ve collected a whole bunch of books for my TBR list, which need to be started and that I really want to read 🙂 so be prepared for a bunch of reviews as I get through them, and if you’re interested – come back and check out how I do with my book challenge.

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The aim of the 30 Day Book Challenge is to to try and post everyday for 30 days. On each of these days you answer one of the book related questions below. And that’s it! It’s really that simple! Why not try it for yourself? :)

 

DAY 1. – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just end already.
DAY 2. – Favorite side character.
DAY 3. – The longest book you’ve read.
DAY 4. – Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated.
DAY 5. – Your “comfort” book.
DAY 6. – Book you’ve read the most number of times.
DAY 7. – A guilty pleasure book.
DAY 8. – Most underrated book.
DAY 9. – Most overrated book.
DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.
DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in.
DAY 19. – A favourite author.
DAY 20. – Favorite childhood book.
DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished).
DAY 22. – Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually
enjoyed otherwise.
DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.
DAY 29. – A book you hated.
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

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WWW Wednesday – 5

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
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What are you currently reading?

Little Zombie 🙂

I’ve just started Zed by Stephen Herfst – really good so far…I’m a sucker for zombie films/shows, but this is the first time I’ve read a zombie book. I’m also still plodding along with The Passage by Justin Cronin – but it’s been relegated to my ‘lunchtime’ read and I don’t often get a ‘proper’ lunch so I think it will be a slow burn.
What did you recently finish reading?
I’ve just finished Shade of Grey a series of short stories by Michael Cargill. Although the stories aren’t specifically linked they have a particular flair and style that is recognisable in each. Overall, I loved the set and will definitely be reading more by this author – he draws such fantastic and beliveably real characters that I frequently found myself lost in the worlds he created. There is something particularly immediate about the way he writes and I love the realistic flaws and personality traits each of his characters exhibit – he does a good job of crawling around inside people’s heads.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Next up in my tbr pile is Last Stop This Town by David Steinburg and Fall for You by Cecilia Gray – both are YA books and the authors are featuring in the Indie Author Month in May on my other blog http://asidefromwriting.wordpress.com Take a look at the site and see who’s featuring as there are a whole range of different YA authors covering romance to horror and dystopian to vampires – there are daily freebies and competitions, as well as the chance to meet new authors and books in time for summer!
🙂

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WWW Wednesday – 4

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
———————————————-
What are you currently reading?
The Passage by Justin Cronin – as it’s a pretty big book I’d put off starting it in March because I had a lot going on at the time and needed to meet my target of reading five dystopian books for a Goodreads challenge – so even though (I think) it is going to be dystopian-ish, it would have killed my chances in the challenge. Now I just have to read it and give it back to my friend at work and so I’m jumping right in now!
What did you recently finish reading?
Shadowland by C.M. Gray – fantastic YA/adult historical adventure (the male protagonists are both young men). It’s a fast paced, interesting read set in Arthurian England and has some nice twists and turns, mystical elements as well as action. It’s also really well written, lovely description and scene-setting, in-keeping with the historic setting, as well as plenty of witty dialogue between the boys.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’m really need to start Zed – the zombie with a brain – by Stephen Herfst, as a broken kindle held me up last week (now replaced by the lovely peeps at Amazon) and then I’ve got some other lovely books I can’t wait to get to (but you’ll see those in Friday Finds over on Aside from Writing!) 🙂

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WWW Wednesday – 3

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
What are you currently reading?
I’m still reading Shadowland by C.M. Gray because I took a break over the weekend to read a couple of different books. I’m about halfway through though now and enjoying it still – lots of dark ages adventure and mystery set against a backdrop of Saxon invasions and the decline of the Roman Empire – the main characters are both interesting and well-written – reads a little like a book springboarded out of a film like King Arthur with Clive Owen.
What did you recently finish reading?
I read The Tower by Jade Varden, which is Book 2 in the tarot inspired Deck of Lies. Really good mystery-thriller contemporary YA and I enjoyed it as much as the first book Justice. You can read my review of it here https://melcj.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/just-finished-the-tower-by-jade-varden/ and if you like the sound of it there’s a giveaway running this week to win both books so you can enter off my review too.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’m thinking Zed by Stephen Herfst – I’ve never read a zombie book, but I love zombie films (guilty pleasure) and so I’m looking forward to this 🙂

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WWW Wednesday – 2

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading – swing by there if you want to join in…Anyway – back to WWW Wednesday…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
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What are you currently reading?
I am about 10% into Shadowland by CM Gray – loving the olde worlde Aurthurian-style setting and its really well written. The only thing I find odd about Kindle reading is saying things like ‘I’m 10% in rather than – on page 94’ 🙂
What did you recently finish reading?
I read Bites by Ninfa Hayes this weekend and Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis – both were good, especially liked Demonica short story in Bites. 
What do you think you’ll read next?
Well I’ve started The Passage but ignored it for a week or so now – it’s just so big it’s putting me off! 🙂 Just got The Outsiders through from Amazon for the classic YA read in April on one of the Goodreads groups, so will probably try that.

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WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at Should Be Reading I saw it on Confessions of  a Bookaholic a couple of weeks ago and liked the sound of it. Anyway – back to WWW Wednesday…it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following three questions…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?
What are you currently reading?
I am literally about to turn the first page on The Passage, I’m still doing the dystopian March reading challenge with Never Too Old for YA group on Goodreads and have another two to do before the end of the month if I’m to get there. This does look good and sounds like it might be an interesting mix of post-apocolyptic with something a little monstrous…
What did you recently finish reading?
Last night I finished The Long Walk by Stephen King – really good (if gruelling) look inside the minds of 100 young men taking part in a 400+ mile walking marathon, which ends with bullets to the head if you fall below pace or can’t go on. This was for aside from writing’s book of the month – you can see my review there now.
What do you think you’ll read next?
It will either be the first book in the Patrick Ness trilogy, which is in my TBR pile beside the bed, or The Running Man, not sure yet, although I think after The Passage, which is pretty long, I’ll be looking for a shorter book, which would be the Stephen King 🙂

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