Top 10 Songs For A ‘These Broken Stars’ Soundtrack

Despite having read ‘These Broken Stars’ in the summer holidays, I still can’t stop thinking about the unbelievable world that Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman have created for their YA readers. The story has everything: action, adventure, romance, sci-fi, fantasy… and it’s beautifully narrated by the main characters, Tarver and Lilac LaRoux (such a fabulous name). As I enjoyed reading this book so much, I decided to put together a playlist to accompany the story (in chronological order) as if I were adapting it for the big screen.

  1. Icarus by Bastille: Icarus is the name of the space ship on which the first few scenes take place. The lyric “Icarus is flying too close to the sun” acts as foreshadowing for the catastrophe that is about to occur.
  2. Roads by Lawson: Tarver and Lilac keep crossing paths onboard the Icarus. As much as she tries to ignore him and push him away, they are drawn to each other by coincidence (which we later discover…is fate).
  3. Unsustainable by Muse: I can imagine this song complementing the scene when Tarver and Lilac are thrust into space in the escape pod. They are forced out of their comfort zone and into a world void of luxury or even simple communication. The word unsustainable is a reflection on the unstable escape pod itself and the protagonists’ future, as they will have limited resources when cut off from the Icarus.
  4. Hold My Hand by Michael Jackson ft. Akon: Lilac is very determined not to be helped at all by Tarver. She does not want to depend on him, and even though he offers to make hiking on the foreign planet more bearable, she refuses to take off her green ballgown, heels, or hold his hand when crossing the rocky terrain. This song shows the conflict between Tarver’s kindness and Lilac’s stubbornness.
  5. If These Sheets Were States by All Time Low: In order to keep warm, Tarver suggests that Lilac should sleep next to him when they are camping outside. The tension is high as Lilac seems to repulse him and will not resort to such sleeping arrangements. This song reflects the protagonists’ yearning to be close to one another before Lilac finally caves in to her feelings.
  6. Staring At The Sun by Mika: Tarver and Lilac constantly look out for rescue space ships in the atmosphere, and they both miss their family, who could be anywhere in space. This song highlights their loneliness, despite having each other for company; they are truly isolated.
  7. Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons: Tarver develops a sickness and Lilac must gather medical resources from the crashed Icarus. If she loses Tarver then she loses everything. For them, it’s practically the end of the world, and as Tarver bleeds out, so does Lilac’s hope.
  8. Final Goodbye by Rihanna: Now that the protagonists have been rescued, it’s unlikely that they will be able to see each other again. Lilac’s father is the most powerful man known to the whole galaxy and it is unacceptable for her to socialise with someone as low-ranking as Tarver, despite his reputation as a fighter. They say a final, heart-breaking goodbye, as they are both sure that Tarver will be punished in the same way as Lilac’s previous boyfriend…by death.
  9. Neutron Star Collision by Muse: I don’t think this song fits into the plot of the story in any way; it’s more of a general commentary on the protagonists’ romantic feelings. The title of the song seems like a perfect metaphor for the way in which Tarver and Lilac’s hearts collided (as it explains in the lyrics). I found it hard to include only 2 Muse songs in this soundtrack because they use an impressive amount of space/physics jargon that could not be more suited to sci-fi and fantasy.
  10. Atlas by Coldplay: I would use this song alongside the credits rolling. I can imagine the audience in the cinema remaining in their seats, stunned by the incredible cinematography and poignant, heart-warming story of the film as ‘Atlas’ haunts them before leaving this fantasy world. I get chills every time I listen to this song – it just resonates with me for some reason, and I think it would be the perfect end to a ‘These Broken Stars’ movie.
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1984

Big Brother is watching you
Film review: 1984 (adapted from the novel by George Orwell)

In a totalitarian society governed by the voices behind “Big Brother”, Winston Smith found his secret escape in the form of keeping a journal. In a life so contrived and regimented, where men and women were forced to rewrite history in order to obey their oppressors, Winston Smith dared to fall in love. In a soul-destroying landscape of rotting children and burning debris, where his every move was accounted for by the giant glaring eyes of Big Brother, Winston Smith faced an ultimatum in a torture cell numbered 101.

1984 is a tale of the time – a horrific dystopia envisioned in George Orwell’s 1948 novel of the same name. Whether this film aims to reflect a fictional time or one that could easily be recognised in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, it warns the audience of the possible deterioration of society. In it, Director Michael Radford effectively displays key themes of Orwell’s story, such as propaganda, media manipulation, and the power of language in shaping human thought.

First impressions count, and this is certainly true of this film. The opening sequence is harrowing, and enough to induce nightmares. Hundreds of citizens of Airstrip One, enslaved, indoctrinated and mesmerised by the Party are seen shouting “Traitor!” at a screen presenting the face of the ‘enemy’. They are taught to believe wholeheartedly in the propaganda that shapes their lives. Their minds are manipulated in such a way that the most positive report of all is the fact that their chocolate rations – yes, poverty has struck – have risen by twenty five grammes. The citizens are brainwashed in every aspect of their lives; children are taught to monitor their parents for thought crimes so that they can report disloyal behaviour to the Thought Police; they are forced to wear dreary, boy-scout-style uniforms to make them feel united in a youth group, mirroring those of the Hitler Youth that existed in Nazi Germany. People are trained to be suspicious of each other from a very early age, and are encouraged to report acts of defiance against the Party.

Winston works in a corporation with a name as ironic as the Ministry of Truth, in order to eradicate the past and re-write history as the Party wants it to be told. Winston claims that “Freedom is the freedom to think that two plus two equals four,” but in the extreme case of his torture in Room 101, he must undergo the process of brainwashing until he believes that two plus two may not equal four, but five. If the Party tells him it is five, then the answer is and will only ever be five (or at least, until they update the last edition of the Newspeak dictionary).

As part of the Party’s agenda, publicity is essential in promoting the values of their ideal society. There may be a war going on outside, but it is designed to be a constant, continuous struggle, and not to be won, in order to bring Society together for one cause. Publicity of the Party means that Big Brother’s unforgiving face is on posters plastered everywhere, to remind people that they are forever being watched. The blood red colour in the background of the posters is another stark contrast to the otherwise bleak landscape of Airstrip One, and it acts as a warning to the citizens who cannot escape their lives governed by this figure. Furthermore, a distinct female voice constantly recites statistics through speakers, supposedly to encourage people that the situation is improving. The effect in reality is the opposite. The voice is a reminder of the eternal struggle of the people under the Party’s regime, and the depressing world in which they live.

The lack of freedom is expressed throughout the film, either through the almost monochromatic visual tones, or the destructive imagery of inconceivable living conditions (such as Winston’s room), created to shock the viewer. Colour is used sparingly in the film, so that when an extreme close up of Julia’s red lips or a wide shot of the lush green hills of Winston’s dreamscape appears, the viewer is left with an uncomfortable sense of danger.

Despite the wealth of the Party, the population is left to believe that they are no less worse off, and left to suffer with limited rations of food, as well as dormitories resembling prison cells, and tentative relationships. No one is ever allowed privacy, as helicopters hover endlessly around the dilapidated landscape, as a constant reminder that “Big Brother” is watching them, like their conscience. Most iconically, George Orwell created the term “Newspeak” for 1984: an abbreviated language used to make communication more precise and less liberating. Parsons, Winston’s neighbour, is the character who engages the most significantly with this, and often uses the term “doubleplusgood” to express satisfaction. As well as spoken language, there is no freedom in thought, as they are taught that individuality leads to rebellion and disobedience.

Can you imagine your work colleagues spying on you, or your own children reporting you to the police for illegal, illicit thought patterns? Perhaps not. But how about interactive flat screens fixed to walls, or cameras following you on the streets? How is it possible that in 1948, when flatscreen televisions and closed-circuit television cameras were not yet invented, Orwell could conjure up such ideas? To what extent have we somehow fulfilled Orwell’s prophecy in our times, and how can we ensure that we do not create a reality for his most unbearable dystopic dreams? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2: Film Review

I enjoyed Pitch Perfect a lot more than I thought I would, as I assumed all the hype about the cup song was over-rated. I decided to see Pitch Perfect 2 as a fun way to unwind and start my holiday.

Overall, I thought the film was vibrant and energetic, with a lot of colour and good music. I loved all of the musical performances and the choreography was great. I liked that they included a wide range of music genres that matched the singers’ personalities and situations. The sing-off between the different acapella groups in the crazy fan’s basement was well timed and entertaining. I feel like the music producer cleverly put together the mash-ups so that the songs flowed from one to another in a fun and interesting way.

It was also great to be able to recognise other singing stars in the cast, such as Pentatonix (my favourite acapella group in the entire world) and Snoop Dogg (although I think his subplot was completely pointless). I was excited to see Flula, the German YouTuber, in the film as well, as he is absolutely hilarious in the videos he makes (and appears in –eg, I couldn’t stop laughing when he featured in Grace Helbig’s podcast, Not Too Deep). As I enjoyed the music aspect so much – and could have just watched the actors perform numbers for the duration of the film – I listened to the movie soundtrack as soon as I got home. I predict that the hype about the Pitch Perfect franchise will definitely make acapella more popular and appreciated in the music industry.

Whilst I admire Elizabeth Banks for directing her debut film and starring in it as well, I had some issues with the film, which I would like to highlight.

First of all, the script was terrible. I’m usually the one who notices visual effects and not so much the acting or script, so this script really stands out to me as being very poorly written. Pitch Perfect 2 is a musical comedy, and I can tell that they really tried to put an equal emphasis on both aspects. However, I felt that the music was strong, and the comedy was shockingly bad. Don’t get me wrong, there were some funny moments, but most of the time, I knew that the script was ‘supposed’ to be funny, but nobody in the audience laughed at all. There were lots of comments and jokes that were so unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the script. I felt like many of the lines were wasted and were used as fillers to pad out the film (in terms of extending its duration).

Something else I didn’t like was the fact that the characters were trying too hard to be awkward, possibly to seem relatable to the audience. I am a super awkward person when it comes to social interaction, and if I get nervous, my words come out in the wrong order and I say things that I instantly take back. Anyway, imagine situations like these, but magnified and acted out by every character in the film on multiple occasions. I don’t know why the writers decided that every character should be an awkward turtle because it made it so cringe-worthy and pointless.

In fact, I think that some of the characters could have been excluded from the film entirely, such as Lilly and Flo. Everything that Lilly said was completely random and irrelevant, much like Grandma Georgina from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Flo’s vulgar/stereotypical ‘jokes’ about her background were not needed. I didn’t really like any of the characters, and I particularly disliked John and Gail, who made awfully racist remarks that were not even slightly funny.

Following on from the issue of racism… Obviously every story has to have a villain, and in this case, the enemy was the German acapella group, Das Sound Machine. They were portrayed as totally evil characters compared to the Bellas, but it wasn’t just their personalities that alluded to harsh stereotyping. They wore all black, all the time, and their choreography had a militaristic style – it couldn’t be any more Nazi-esque if they tried. Also, maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it seemed obvious to me that the choice of songs they performed further added to the evil aura. Firstly, they sang Uprising by Muse, which is based on the story of 1984 by George Orwell. Next, they sang My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up) by Fall Out Boy. If these songs don’t scream death, destruction, violence and manipulation, I don’t know what does…

The Maze Runner

Film review: The Maze Runner

WARNING: There will, as usual, be spoilers involved.

My peak cinema season kicked off with a trip to see The Maze Runner, which I had much anticipated (especially as the release date had been postponed from Valentine’s Day ’14). Don’t judge me, but I actually took a notebook and pen with me to the cinema, so that I could record my reactions there and then, as the story unfolded and Dylan O’Brien’s charm radiated from the screen. Although it was (obviously) dark, and I couldn’t see what I was writing, I found it to be a useful experience, and I think I’ll do it in the future.

Let me first talk about the opening scene. For the first few seconds, we are left in darkness, and the black screen allows for sound alone to set the scene. You can hear all these clanging, mechanical noises, and then suddenly, Thomas, our protagonist, comes into view. As the lift rattles and rises in the shaft, the tempo increases, and you can actually feel his fear of the unknown. Even in those first few seconds, we get a sense of danger, and the not-too-subtle ‘WCKD’ stamp on a crate hints at what is yet to be discovered about Thomas’ situation.

Characters

  • Thomas was by far the most interesting character to observe. I liked his reaction of pure bewilderment as he first entered the Glade, how he questioned the rules, and how he let his moral judgment override the expectations set in place for him. I believed in Thomas – he gave us all hope – and he just so happened to be played by a gorgeous actor who nailed the role.
  • Minho (pronounced ‘Meen-ho’ in the film – don’t you hate it when names sound different in your head?!) wasn’t introduced near the beginning, even though he is a key character in the story. In the scene where Gally challenges Thomas to a fight, you can see Minho’s face burning with silent rage – the intensity in his eyes. It becomes obvious that he is a deep thinker and uses his experience in the Glade/maze to make wise decisions. Also, he is well respected among the Gladers, and doesn’t appreciate Thomas’ risky behaviour – “You don’t get it: we’re already dead.”
  • Gally was perfectly portrayed as the stocky, brutish bully by Will Poulter. What struck me was the way he was obsessed with keeping to the rules and his refusal to accept change. As soon as Thomas stepped on the scene, he knew things would be different, and I believe that he feared losing the attention and power he had earned from the Gladers. His strength and commitment to the community’s wellbeing was admirable, but his need to belong became increasingly more desperate throughout the film, creating tension in the Glade.
  • Newt was a cool character to see presented on film. He could be seen nonchalantly leaning against wooden posts or casually explaining the ground rules to Thomas. He was the kind of guy I would have wanted to become friends with – friendly but edgy and shrewd. Thomas Brodie-Sangster was the actor: lanky, dirty blonde hair, and smug smile to complete the look.
  • Alby didn’t do much for me. Although it became clear that he was the most respected Glader who led the community, he wasn’t the strongest character, or one that made an impact on me; I didn’t feel particularly sad when he died, and I felt that life in the Glade could continue without him.
  • Chuck was absolutely adorable! I just wanted to pinch his chubby cheeks and give him a huge hug! He was very well cast, and really brought out the true essence of the character.
  • Winston was a character that I could not remember from the book. Therefore, I was surprised by the amount of dialogue he was given, despite not being a main character.
  • One character I do remember from the book is Frypan, but I don’t recall his appearance the film. His name was etched into the wall with the rest of the Gladers’, but his name was never used in dialogue, and I was a bit upset that he wasn’t part of the main cast.
  • Onto the women… Teresa was simply awful. Kaya Scodelario’s performance ruined the film for me, in a way. I know that a few other cast members were British, but her American accent was the least consistent and the least convincing. Teresa is supposed to be special, but she ended up blending in with the rest of the Gladers almost immediately, and accepting her situation without much debate. Overall, I was not impressed, and expected more from the character.
  • Ava Paige wasn’t bad… I just wanted to say that she looked and acted exactly like Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews in Divergent, and Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder in The Giver. The hair and white dress, as well as posture and speech control was mostly the same, so she didn’t leave much of an impression on me.
  • The Grievers weren’t what I expected at all. Everyone’s interpretations are different, but somehow I expected a slug-like beast with mechanical saws, spears and pincers poking out of its body. Instead, we saw giant robotic spiders with gooey heads and a claw at the end of a scorpion-style tail. For me, what ruined the effect was their movement. They scuttled along too fast, as if they weren’t even touching the ground, so they looked a bit ridiculous in places. I know it’s fictional anyway, so that shouldn’t matter, but to me, aesthetics always matter!
  • In general, the characters were convincing Gladers who seemed to know their place. Sometimes their actions (particularly those who had no dialogue) seemed contrived, but mostly you could tell they had Glader instincts; eg. at one point in the maze, Winston is afraid the trapped Griever will suddenly lash out, so his hand instinctively goes to his knife in his belt.

Cinematography

  • Light: When Thomas was in the lift, it was dark, but when he was let out, the brightness was overwhelming – his escape brought relief and a sense of safety. However, when the Gladers were dragged out of the WICKED building, the natural light of the scorched desert landscape caused something like the opposite of hope – the fear of reality. I thought that these examples of contrast in light helped to intensify the characters’ emotions and circumstances. The use of fire in the evening was a simple yet effective way of creating atmosphere in the Glade. Candle lighting cast a mysterious, warm glow onto the faces of the Gladers, whereas the bonfire sparked a dynamic energy among them.
  • Colour: I loved the warm, earthy tones of the images in the film. The brown, beige, cream and pale blue clothing worn by the Gladers blended in well with their environment, and the brown hues added to the raw, almost rustic feel of that setting. The maze itself had a different feel altogether, with its silvery grey walls, dark green ivy and red stencilled numbers. The cold colours here made the space seem more confined, and presented a dark, damp, metallic labyrinth. Another other complete contrast was the desert outside the maze, which was a bright, golden colour. I thought that this over-baked panorama perfectly represented the ruined land caused by the Flare.
  • Shots: Overall, the film was visually stunning. Yet instead of making it look too Hollywood-esque (like in The Book Thief, where you wouldn’t believe there was actually a war going on) the filmmakers managed to keep an authentic feel to the settings, whilst using impressive shots to tell the story from a futuristic point of view. I liked the way the focus would shift from background to foreground, often to sharpen the image quality for a character’s emotion in a close-up and to blur the candlelit backdrop. The focus shifting also lent itself to switching between dialogue between two characters standing near each other. Whilst in the maze, the camera would sometimes show the open sky, then pan down to the claustrophobic space between the walls, and down to the Runners. This smooth action gave us a sense of location and time of day whilst the Runners were below, before we saw them in action, and it was very effective, in my opinion. One other aspect that I liked was the hand-held camera work as the Gladers were running through the crop fields. There was just enough shaky footage to get a sense of urgency and panic, without over-doing it to the point of making you feel uneasy (like in The Hunger Games, for example).

Sound

Sound is definitely not my forte, but I shall attempt to describe my thoughts… Firstly, Alby’s voice was unclear, and often I could just hear a faint whispering coming from the general direction of where he stood. Strangely enough, the voices of other characters seemed to be projected behind us in the audience, no matter where they were on screen. The sound effects were good because they set the scene of a tropical jungle landscape for the Glade, and the mechanical noises complemented the metallic maze. Perhaps the stereotypical tribal noises were a bit over-the-top, though. I also felt that the musical score itself didn’t go very well with the on-screen action. It seemed like a very generic action movie soundtrack, as if anyone could have bought it from a loyalty-free website to layer behind a home-made video for YouTube. In terms of tempo, the music’s increased with the pace of the visuals, but it was nothing that enhanced the experience, and sometimes the sound seemed to clash with the images because attention to detail was overlooked. To put it more simply: it wasn’t exactly Pirates of the Caribbean.

Comparing the film to the book

Although I must have read the book at least 4 years ago, there are still parts that have stuck with me over time. I can’t think of many obvious details that were missed out about the world of the Gladers (except for Thomas and Teresa’s telepathy and the WICKED beetles with cameras), which is a good sign. There was the same idea that you were learning about Thomas’ situation as he was, because his memory had been erased. Everyone starts off from the same point, without prior knowledge, so the storytelling is very important in the film. I’m pleased that the Gladers’ vocabulary was kept in the dialogue. I remember hearing ‘shank’, ‘greenie’, ‘klunked’ and ‘shuck’ (although I wish ‘shuck-faced shank’ could have been used too). I thought that Chuck died before the Gladers broke through to the WICKED HQ, so I was so happy that he lived through that episode. However, I was utterly mortified when he was killed later on. This had a bigger impact on me because I wasn’t expecting his death at that point (my memory must have been wrong, or they could have changed the ending). It was emotional for the audience as well as the characters who had grown so attached to Chuck. In the book series, ‘bergs’ – flying ships – were described as the transportation used, yet in the film, somehow all of the surviving Gladers could squeeze into a small helicopter. Will bergs be used in The Scorch Trials or will helicopters be the standard mode throughout the series of films? Finally, I think that the ending was altered in the film. I recall that in the book, the Gladers just about broke into the HQ, were met by some staff, and the rest was left ambiguous so that questions could be answered in The Scorch Trials. I personally think that the film could have ended with a shot of the white light at the end of the tunnel, rather than spending a few extra precious minutes explaining the Trials and taking the characters out of the HQ. I can see why it ended the way it did, but my idea could have been equally as effective, in my opinion. To conclude, the themes of the book (for example, team building, determination and a sense of community) were illustrated very well in the film, and I doubt that James Dashner could have been disappointed with the way in which his imagination was transformed into another medium of reality.

Questions left unanswered in the film

  • Who were the men clad in black at the end, ushering the Gladers out of the HQ? What was their role and who did they work for?
  • Who was the man in the helicopter?
  • How did the Gladers conceptualise time? One character said, “Meet me in the woods in half an hour,” but none of them wore watches, so how would they have a clue about time?
  • How could the Gladers leave with no food or supplies? The maze was huge and they didn’t know how long they’d be in there for. What if they needed medical equipment etc? Were they so confident that they could find a way out so quickly?
  • Why did Ava Paige feign her death? 

Question for my readers: Have you seen The Maze Runner? If so, do you agree with my ideas and interpretations, or did you have a completely different experience at the cinema? Let me know in the comments below!

Professional Fangirling

A 5-step guide to becoming the ultimate fangirl

  1. Choose a fandom
  • A fandom is a collective group of people who form an obsessive community where they can share an interest in a specific topic. Find something you’re fanatical about – for example, a TV show, book, film, actor or sports team.
  • Make sure you know the name of the fandom you belong to. Some popular examples are: Whovians (Doctor Who fans), Directioners (One Direction fans) and Danosaurs (danisnotonfire fans).
  1. Know the basics
  • Shipping: When you fantasise about two people or characters being in a romantic or platonic relationship and want them to be together, regardless of their gender or whether they are fictional or not. For example, if you ‘ship’ characters Four and Tris from the Divergent series, you could refer to the couple as Fourtris.
  • OTP: One true pairing. This is your favourite combination of characters from a fandom, your ultimate ‘ship’. It’s possible to have a number of OTPs, depending on how many fandoms you belong to. In the YouTube community, my personal OTP is Troyler (Troye Sivan and Tyler Oakley).
  • Feels: shorthand for the word ‘feelings’, and used to describe an intense emotional response, such as sadness, excitement or awe. For example, “OMG, the ending to The Fault In Our Stars gave me so many feels!” Grab a box of tissues and get ready to embark on a rollercoaster ride of emotion as you grieve the death of your favourite character, or squeal in delight as your OTP becomes ‘canon’.
  • Canon: An idea, belief or aspect of a story that is true to the original work. When it deviates from the plot but is accepted by the fangirl, the term used is ‘headcanon’ because it’s canon in their head. For example, in Harry Potter, it’s canon that Harry marries Ginny, but in your headcanon, Harry could end up with Ron!
  1. Interact and contribute
  • Tumblr: The number one place to find like-minded people and scroll for hours through the endless content your fandom has to offer. Create your own GIFs of Honey Boo Boo drinking her go-go juice or write a reflection of the moment when Alex Gaskarth made eye contact with you at the All Time Low concert for a split second.
  • YouTube: Watch the highlights of a sports match you missed, an interview with cast members from an upcoming film, a videogame un-boxing, or a book haul vlog. Whatever your interests, there will always be related videos for you to view. Or why not create your own videos? All you need is a camera and something to talk about.
  • Twitter: Be the first to know what’s going on in your fandom by following fellow fangirls, and let your idols know how much you admire them by retweeting and “favouriting” their every post. Use the relevant hashtags to immerse yourself in conversations about trending topics. Twitter is a simple means of entering various competitions for winning ARCs, merchandise, and VIP tickets to exclusive events… And don’t forget to wish your favourite band’s lead singer’s girlfriend’s cat a happy birthday!
  • Facebook: Click “like” on all the pages related to your fandom. This will generate a more interesting news feed, full of news updates, exciting release dates, memes and competitions to enter.
  1. Share your passion
  • For the artists: Try drawing your favourite characters from a memorable scene, compile a montage of quotes or screenshots, or create an alternative movie poster or book cover. You can use any media, but if it’s not done on the computer, take a photo of your work or scan it in so that you can upload it to a website dedicated to like deviantart.com, which specialises in displaying fan art.
  • For the musicians: Create your own soundtrack for a TV show, book or film, based on the themes, characters and setting. Think about how the lyrics could relate to your interpretation of the storyline. You could put the songs in a playlist on YouTube for others to enjoy, or burn the playlist onto a CD to give as a personalised gift to a friend who belongs to the same fandom.
  • For the writers: Start up a blog and dedicate it to spreading love for your fandom. Make sure you promote your blog to generate a wider audience by including the link to each new post on your social media accounts. You can take inspiration from pagetopremiere.com – a brilliant website which targets fandoms of popular book-to-film adaptations. If you’re into creative writing, try writing fanfic. You can come up with alternative endings to storylines or devise a cheeky narrative between your OTP. Don’t be afraid to be a bit unorthodox – you are the writer and your headcanons are valid. Read examples on fanfiction.net for ideas.
  • For the adventurous: After spending hours locked in your bedroom on your laptop or phone, you may want to go on an adventure! Book tickets for events like meet-ups and conventions to be surrounded by fangirls just like you. Check band websites for tour dates and CD signing events, and authors may have book-signing tours, so check out their websites, too. If comics and cosplay are your thing, head to Comic-Con, whereas Katsucon is for those who are into Japanese culture. If you love YouTubers, some big events for your calendar include: Summer In The City, Vidcon, DigiFest and Playlist Live.
  1. Be proud
  • Merchandise: Whether it’s Manchester United’s new season football shirt, an Adventure Time poster, a Fall Out Boy wristband or a mockingjay pin, make sure you get kitted out with awesome merchandise from your fandom. A visit to Pulp and Afflecks Palace is definitely worth your time. Alternatively, you can browse through websites like distrctlines.com, dftba.com and hottopic.com. I recommend cafepress.co.uk because, as well as choosing from an array of unique designs, you can create your own, which is really cool.
  • Show off about your fandom and be proud to belong to the community. How about singing the school song in Elvish next time, or resolving an argument with a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock”?

Remember – stay safe while on the internet, and don’t give out any personal details/arrange to meet up with strangers, even if you both think you’re Jacksgap’s number one fan. Have fun exploring your fandom, and DFTBA!

Glossary of fandom jargon:

GIF – graphic interchange format, a compressed file format used for pictures.

Vlog – video blog

ARC – advance reader’s copy (of a book)

Meme – an image or video, typically humourous in nature, which is spread around the internet using a variety of captions

Fanfic – shorthand for “fanfiction”, meaning a fictional story based on the original work, written by a dedicated fan

Cosplay – shorthand for “costume play”, an activity in which participants wear the costumes of fictional characters and create a subculture based on role play

DFTBA – “don’t forget to be awesome”, the slogan of the Nerdfighter fandom

To look up definitions of more words in pop culture, use urbandictionary.com.

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And now for some fangirl-related images. I think I went a little over-board…

PS – I’m super happy that this article was published in my school magazine 🙂 (That’s why it’s in a kind of instructional tone, rather than my usual, informal and trying-to-sound-nonchalant writing voice.) This is the original version – what I wrote before it got redrafted and something about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was added (against my will – this is not about Hollywood celebrities)! I’m really into this whole fangirling business at the moment; I’m even currently reading a book called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (which is seriously addictive). Well, anyway… thanks for reading.

Sorry if you find this article patronising. It is meant for people who have absolutely no idea about the wonders of the internet, and so you probably know everything here anyway. But if you have learned something new – anything – then at least I can gain satisfaction from helping one person. Peace out.

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The Fault In Our Stars: Top Ten Songs & General Hype

There’s no doubt that The Fault In Our Stars (AKA: TFiOS) by John Green is taking the world by storm. Along with the millions of other readers enthralled by this heartwarming novel, I believe that the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus is one that needs to be told.

To summarise in a sentence… TFiOS is about two teenagers with cancer, but the story is NOT about cancer – it’s about two normal teenagers falling in love. For a more detailed description, read this page. I don’t want to give any spoilers, in case you haven’t read the book. And if you’re one of those people, you’re missing out, so get on it!

Although TFiOS is the only book of John Green’s that I have read as yet, I can’t deny that he is my favourite author. He is such a fantastic person! Out of all the authors of books that I have read, John has made the biggest impact on his readers’ lives through his interaction with the community known as Nerdfighteria (definition here). The aim of Nerdfighteria is to ‘fight for awesome’ and ‘decrease world suck’. Anyone can become a ‘Nerdfighter’, as long as they are willing to help fulfil this criteria, to make the world a better place. Last week, I came across a Facebook group for Nerdfighters (link here), which is absolutely amazing. It sounds sad, but I’ve finally found a place where I belong. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive, and we all have so much in common, despite the socio-cultural diversity.

The reason I am so in touch with this community is mainly because of John’s YouTube channel, which he shares with his brother, Hank. The pair are known as the VlogBrothers (link to their channel is here), and each of them posts a video addressed to the other, every week. I know little about Hank, other than the fact that he has a band called Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers. However, I do know that he and John have been very successful in various projects: they created VidCon, founded DFTBA Records and started up Project For Awesome (to name a few)! They are also content creators for many channels aside from vlogbrothers, including Mental Floss and my personal favourite, The Art Assignment (which I would strongly recommend to anybody with an interest in art and design).

Back to TFiOS… If you haven’t already heard, I’m telling you now that TFiOS is being released as a film adaptation in cinemas next month. I, for one, am extremely excited. In fact, I can barely contain my excitement. The other week, I saw a girl in my form reading a book – and I could instantly tell from seeing a sliver of the inside front cover behind a wad of pages that it was exactly the same blue as what I would call ‘TFiOS blue’. I freaked out.

Since The Hunger Games, I tried to suppress my excitement for book-to-film adaptations because the first film left me feeling very disappointed. For example, with Divergent, even though I followed every single part of the filming process (from the drawn-out search in casting Four to sneak previews of the Faction symbol designs), I had low expectations. So when the movie turned out to be a genuinely good representation of the book, it exceeded my expectations, and I was not disappointed at all. However, this film has already been screened exclusively for some lucky fans (so jealous!) and everyone so far has agreed (between sobbing into a handful of tissues) that “the film is the book”. What more could I hope for?

I have seen the trailer(s) and all of the preview clips, and I just know that this film will be a huge success. The lead characters look perfect and the tone seems to be completely as John had intended. When I first saw the trailer, I thought, “Wow, this is actually happening. How cool!” But then I saw the extended trailer… and I got so emotional that I was halfway between crying and squealing (gutturally, which sounded very queer). Oh, the feels! If I’m like this for the trailer, I can’t imagine myself in the cinema screen!

It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.

If you also need to prepare yourself for the copious amount of feels in the cinema, check out this TFiOS survival pack, which is full of limited edition TFiOS goodies, including a much needed pack of tissues! Also on the website, you will find a treasure chest of the ultimate Nerdfighter merchandise, including products from DFTBA Records’ artists. Another useful link is for PageToPremiere, the best website ever. Here, you will find everything you need to know about all of the popular, upcoming book-to-film adaptations. The TFiOS section will bring you updates and exclusive material, so make sure you add it to your bookmarks!

In the mean time, allow me to introduce you to our wonderful movie cast…

There’s the beautiful, down-to-earth Shailene Woodley, AKA: Tris from Divergent (among other characters). There’s the gob-smackingly-gorgeous-and-totally-my-future-husband Ansel Elgort, AKA: Caleb from Divergent and Tommy Ross from Carrie).  Don’t be surprised if my next Top Ten Tuesday post is ‘Top Ten Reasons To Fall In Love With Ansel Elgort’. Oh, and there’s also Nat Wolff, who you may or may not remember from Nickelodeon’s The Naked Brothers Band.

Shailene Woodley Ansel Elgort Nat Wolff

And now it’s time for the original Top Ten Tuesday part of the post – 10 songs (in no particular order) that I think would make the perfect soundtrack for the story (I realised that I actually had quite a lot to say about TFiOS, hence all the extra bits and pieces above). My reasons for the choice of songs are pretty obvious, if you listen to the songs’ lyrics.

Amsterdam – Imagine Dragons

Hurricane – Panic! At The Disco

Just One Yesterday – Fall Out Boy

Oblivion – Bastille

Oh, Calamity! – All Time Low

Say You Like Me – We The Kings

Sun – Two Door Cinema Club

This Is It – Michael Jackson

Young Volcanoes – Fall Out Boy

Youth – Foxes

Here is a link to the real movie soundtrack. I think that ‘Boom Clap’ and ‘What You Wanted’ are really catchy and will be popular among the fans. Enjoy!

Before I sign off, I would like to leave you with the names of 4 inspirational cancer warriors:

  • Esther Earl (link to her book)
  • Josh Sundquist (link to his website)
  • Zach Sobiech – today marks exactly a year since his death (link to a video about his life)
  • Talia Castellano (link to a website in her honour)

And finally, here are some TFiOS related images that I want to share with you…

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Thank you for reading this super-long post! If you are new here, don’t forget to ‘follow’ my blog. And if you were brought here via the Nerdfighter Facebook group, please comment below to tell me! 🙂

DFTBA xxx

The Purge, Moonrise Kingdom & The Double

Film Review: The Purge, Moonrise Kingdom & The Double

I’ve seen these 3 films recently, and I don’t want to ramble on about them and analyse them in detail (if you want rambling, read my previous film reviews…) but I feel like I should talk a bit about them.

The Purge:

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I wanted to see this film when it came out in the cinema, but I never got the chance. I’m kind of relieved I didn’t waste almost a tenner on a cinema ticket, now that I have seen it. The idea for the plot was what really intrigued me. All crime is legal for one night a year – what a great concept (well, not in reality)! It was definitely a tense, gripping film, but it was disappointing. Out of all the possibilities for storylines, just from using that tag line, they didn’t choose the best one. Just by changing the story, the film could have improved a lot. I wasn’t too keen on the characters and the way the family interacted with each other seemed completely unnatural. I want to say that it was scary, but it didn’t really make that much of an impression on me. I want to say that the darkness throughout most of the film was effective, but it made me frustrated that I wasn’t really watching it – I was occasionally hearing people talking. So I don’t recommend this film. Someone please use the concept to write a book, and I will read it and praise it!

Moonrise Kingdom:

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My friend recommended this film because I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Wes Anderson directed them both. It made me excited right from the start because I could tell that it was going to be of the same style, and that’s what I was looking for. There was something really compelling about the film, the characters and the way the story was told. I felt engaged with the gorgeous protagonists (Sam and Suzy) and found their relationship adorable. Their characters were so interesting, and I found out afterwards that parts of Anderson’s personal life were reflected through these fictional people. I was a little baffled about the ending of the film, and it seemed a little pointless, but overall, I enjoyed the journey. For some reason, my brother did not seem to appreciate the film, and replayed the scene when Sam gets struck by lightning and thrown off the rocks about 10 times, laughing (this made me angry). I would recommend this film as a light-hearted and delightful form of entertainment for an evening.

The Double:

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I have just come back from watching this at the cinema this evening, and I have mixed feelings about it. The film itself was very good, and so interesting to watch. The setting and tone were what I liked best about the film. It was all vintage-style set design, props and costumes, and the dim lighting and sepia tones added to the atmosphere. The script was fascinating – cleverly constructed – and comical at times. Plus, Jesse Eisenberg was perfect for the role(s) – I think he’s a brilliant actor. However, I had to do some research afterwards, just because I was so confused about the ending! Please can somebody help me out because I’m still clueless about what happened to both Simon James and James Simon; there are all these questions burning in my mind about which one committed suicide and who slit whose face… I’m sure I can’t be the only one completely dumbfounded!