Friday 28 September 2018

Review on Jinxed

When Lacey Chu is rejected from Profectus Academy, she is heartbroken. She has dreamt of working for Moncha for years, the company that created the baku’s, robotic animals that can do everything a smartphone can and more. Then Lacey meets Jinx, a cat baku who is different from what Lacey has learned about baku’s. With Jinx’s help, Lacey finally makes it into Profectus, but it’s far from smooth sailing. Lacey soon comes to realise just how different Jinx is from other baku’s, and that having him as her companion might be putting her in danger.

As someone who is constantly checking her phone, the idea of a baku immediately appealed to me! I’m probably not the only one who struggles to go a whole day without social media, and the baku’s function is to keep people connected to the internet without disconnecting them from the real world. Honestly, I think owning a baku would instantly cure me of my smartphone addiction.

Lacey was an interesting character, and something that I loved about her was that she wasn’t perfect. She was constantly making bad decisions, and was pretty awful to her friends on several occasions. Most authors go with a likable protagonist, so it was interesting that Lacey wasn’t always likable. There were times when I was rooting for her, but also times where I felt bad for her friends. I particularly felt bad for Lacey’s best friend Zora, who was often left behind. As someone who has been replaced by friends, I empathised with Zora. Honestly if I was in Zora’s position, I would probably have cut Lacey out of my life altogether, as eventually it felt as if Lacey only contacted Zora when she needed something from her. I did however love the friendship between Lacey and her teammates, as although she had treated them badly, they still helped her when she needed them.

I wasn’t that keen on the romance between Lacey and Tobias. To me they lacked romantic chemistry, and the kiss between them seemed pretty random, as Tobias hadn’t really shown any signs of liking Lacey in a romantic way. I felt as if it was built up too quickly only to be dragged back down when Lacey fell out with her teammates.

I adored Jinx and his sassy attitude. If cats could talk, they would be exactly like Jinx. I loved how independent he was, and how he seemed to only help Lacey when he felt like it. I loved how Jinx eventually formed a strong bond with Lacey, and how they helped each other get what they wanted.

I loved the baku battles! Although baku’s are programmed not to fight, Profectus has a special rule where baku’s are able to fight each other in an arena built for that purpose. This was a bit like Pokemon crossed with robot wars, and I loved the teamwork that was involved, from the battles themselves to repairing the bakus in the aftermath. It was interesting to see how people reacted differently to their baku’s, with characters like Lacey and Ashley seeing them as a companion, while others only saw them as tools. We constantly replace our smart phones without having any sentimentality attached to them, so it was interesting to see how this changes for some people when they devices were in the form of robotic animals.

I loved that Lacey’s school focused on STEM subjects, and how Lacey was so interested in them. STEM fields have long been seen as jobs that men do, and statistics show that there are far less women working in STEM jobs than men. I loved how efficient Lacey was at companioneering, a type of engineering focused on working on the physical bodies of the bakus. Lacey was far better at this than the boys on her team, and I loved how it showed that these types of jobs aren’t just for boys, and girls can pursue STEM careers too.

I overall loved this book, and I’m looking forward to the next one in the series! The book ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I’m eager to find out what happens next to Jinx and Lacey. 

Jinxed is now available to purchase!

Amazon Book Depository 

Friday 21 September 2018

Theatre Review- The Time Machine from Gone Rogue

Today I have something a little different! This year I attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time and was lucky enough to catch a few shows. It was pretty overwhelming how many shows there were and I honestly wanted to see them all but as I was only in Edinburgh for a week, I would have needed a time machine to see them all- which brings me onto the topic of this post! The lovely people at Gone Rogue offered me a free ticket in exchange for a review of their performance of The Time Machine, and as I already review classics, I thought it would make an interesting blog post! Now I’m clearly not a professional theatre reviewer. My experience with theatre includes seeing a few West End shows, getting a GCSE in drama and knowing practically every song from every musical, but as I’ve never properly studied theatre I don’t know many theatre technical terms so I won’t be using many of those!

The majority of the plays I saw over the week had a proscenium stage, so the first thing I noticed was the seating arrangement. I did do a little research on stage set-up, but the closest example I could find was a thrust stage. However instead of the audience surrounding three sides of the stage, it only surrounded two. The audience was on the same level as the actors and consisted of just two rows. I loved this layout as it created an intimate atmosphere, and made the audience feel included. The stage area was used completely, and the actors performed to every audience member, making everyone feel included. My only criticism of the staging was that there were a couple of times when I couldn’t see part of the stage due to another actor being in the way. There was one point where I couldn’t actually see the shadow puppets due to the time machine and The Time Traveller being directly in front of them from where I was sitting, which was a little disappointing.

The play took aspects from the book, but also from the 2002 movie adaptation. I was happy to see that the majority of the play was based on the book, and the Eloi acted like they do in the books rather than the much more human versions from the movie. However there were also quite a few scenes from the movie that had

been adapted, including The Time Traveller having a name (the same name he had in the movie) and the same driving force from the movie, which is that The Time Travellers fiancé has died and he is trying to find a way to change the past and save her. It was clever how they were able to merge the movie and the book, but as the play was only 45 minutes long, it made me wonder if the movie aspects were actually necessary.

Something that I loved was how the actors didn’t rely on props, and often acted as props themselves. I particularity loved the forest scene, as even though the actors themselves were acting as the trees, it was obvious that The Time Traveller was struggling through and tripping over fallen logs and branches. I did however love the main prop, which of course was the time machine. I loved how it looked so home made as if The Time Traveller had used anything he could get hold of to create his  machine. The costume changes and construction and dismantle of the time machine were done quickly, and there was always something happening on stage to keep the audiences attention. Something else I loved were the Morlock costumes. The sound of them and the red glowing eyes were especially creepy, especially when they started heading towards you!

Something I always love about theatre is when something goes wrong and the actors have to find some way to

fix it. As the actors go through multiple costume changes, there was one scene where one of the actors hadn’t quite got her shirt on right, and one of the other actors helped her out while staying in character. There weren’t too many funny scenes in the play, so this happy accident brought some humour into the play. I also loved how they were able to fix the problem by improvising, as it showed they were able to diverge from the script and then go straight back into it without affecting the plot.

I was overall impressed with this performance, and how it took us on a journey through time in just 45 minutes. These young actors are clearly talented, and I would highly suggest going to see the show if you get the chance. I was also able to catch another Gone Rogue show, a performance of The Trail to Oregon from Starkid, which was

As a huge Starkid fan, I was impressed with their performance, and the actor playing McDoon even gave Joey Richter a run for his money! Hopefully, I will be able to return to The Fringe Festival next year to see what else Gone Rogue have to offer!

Monday 10 September 2018

Reviewing the Classics #11 The Time Machine

Goodreads Summary:

A Victorian scientist and inventor creates a machine
for propelling himself through time, and voyages to the
 year AD 802701, where he discovers a race of
humanoids called the Eloi. Their gently indolent way
of life, set in a decaying cityscape, leads the scientist
to believe that they are the remnants of a once
great civilization.

He is forced to revise this assessment when he
comes across the cave dwellings of threatening
ape-like creatures known as Morlocks,
whose dark underground world he must explore
to discover the terrible secrets of this fractured society,
and the means of getting back to his own time.

After being invited by Gone Rogue to review their performance of The Time Machine (review on that will be coming very soon!) I thought I would reread the book. I remember reading The Time Machine in school, but as that was ten years ago (wow am I really that old?) I thought I would read it again and share my thoughts on it!
H.G Wells created the idea of the time machine. Without this book, Doctor Who and Back to the Future probably wouldn't exist, and really where would we be without time travelling Deloreans and Police Boxes? The book follows The Time Traveller, a man who's name we never actually learn. I loved this idea of keeping him anonymous, as it made him even more strange and mysterious. After successfully creating a time machine, The Time Traveller tests it out by travelling forward  to the year 802'701, where he discovers that humans are no longer what they used to be.

This is a short book that is packed with action and adventure. I’m a huge fan of time travel stories and different interpretations of what the future will be like. Something that I do find with time travel stories is that they can get confusing, so I was surprised with how simple the time travel aspects were in this book. I was grateful that there were no time paradoxes or characters meeting their future selves, which seem to have been created later on to confuse us.

I found it interesting that there weren’t many characters. Apart from The Time Traveller and Weena, an Eloi who he saves from drowning, no other characters are properly developed. The story is definitely plot driven rather than character driven, which with the book being so short works out perfectly. The story strives to tell us what will become of the human race if we don’t change our ways.

The political messages were interesting, especially the power structure between the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Time Traveller theorises that humanities desire for an easy and simple life has made their bodies small and weak, and they have forgotten how to do simple tasks such as making fire. The Time Traveller believes that the Eloi used the Morlocks to serve them, and forced them to labour underground, where their eyes became sensitive to the light, but were able to see in the dark. I loved the idea of the Morlocks becoming the strong ones, and rebelling against the Eloi, as with nothing constructive to do, the Eloi’s minds and bodies became weak. Although The Time Traveller sympathises with the Eloi, and shows the Morocks as terrifying, cannibalistic creatures, it was the Eloi who were the original enemies and brought their fate upon themselves. It made me wonder if The Time Travellers theories were true, and what the Morlock’s version of their history might be.

I loved the end of the story, as The Time Traveller went even further into the future where humans seemed to no longer exist at all. However there are still signs of life millions of years into the future, including giant crab-like creatures. I loved the idea that there would always be some sort of life on Earth even when the Earth itself was starting to die. I think we have all wondered what the end of the world would be like, so it was interesting to see H.G Wells’ interpretation. I loved that The Time Traveller was still curious about the future despite everything he had gone through. I also loved how The Time Traveller’s fate is up to interpretation, as he never actually returns to his own time after telling the narrator that he would prove his time machine worked. Not knowing what became of him made him even more mysterious.

I enjoyed this book and feel that it would be a good choice for anyone wanting a quick and action-packed read. It is short and to the point, and none of the scenes drag on as they tend to do in some other classics. I definitely want to read more of Well’s work in the future!

The Time Machine is now available to purchase!

 Alma Classics  | Amazon Book Depository