Film Review: Black Panther

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5-stars

The world is changing. Soon there will only be the conquered and the conquerors. You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king.”

I don’t know how to review this cinematic masterpiece with having only seen it once. Black Panther is not your ordinary Marvel film. It is such a beautiful and layered story.  It wasn’t just an action movie, but a story of a man who has to make tough decisions.  This movie was POWERFUL and IMPACTFUL. There were so many messages that resonated and I’m sure resonated even more for the black community as a whole. I loved the characters, the cinematography, the music, the themes, and feminism. Yes, Black Panther is so freakin feminist that I would even argue that it’s more feminist than Wonder Woman.  The pacing was perfect and I wasn’t bored for a second.

At some point the characters stopped being characters and the actors brought their own authentic personalities to the role, it felt like. T’cholla (Black Panther) and his family were utterly heartwarming. Shuri was my favorite! I will have to dedicate an entire blog post just to write about her character. Seriously. Furthermore, the visual effects were astounding. The world-building of Wakanda was breath-taking. The scenes in South Korea were so lit. The chase scenes reminded me of the later Fast and Furious films.

It’s not magic. It’s technology.”

I really liked how Black Panther refrains from violent acts for the sake of violence. At some points, it does feel like the movie is holding back because the movie lands softer on its feet than other Marvel movies. What I mean is, Black Panther doesn’t make the story as simple as the hero vs. the villain. It’s villains against villains and eventually one of the villain’s own self-fulfilling desires is what ends him. It might feel underwhelming at first, but I thought it was an excellent way for Black Panther to separate itself from other Marvel movies.

Black Panther didn’t sugarcoat on the themes. European colonization and the issue of Western influence is a prevalent topic in this film. Black Panther is not subtle about calling out White People™. Speaking of… Throughout the film Wakanda is constantly dismissed as only being a third world country and therefore cannot have anything to contribute to Western society. While Wakanda is fictional, real countries in Africa are also stereotyped as being a place of savages and uneducated or unintelligent people. Many people still think the entirety of Africa is just a jungle. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Technological advancements and cities exist within Africa. My biggest hope is that Black Panther will break stereotypes about Africa as a whole.

My only qualm is that I expected a greater climax. I like when suspense is included in action movies (i.e. What’s going to happen next? I’m on the edge of my seat. I didn’t see that coming! I’m scared now). I also didn’t expect for certain characters to become irrelevant so quickly. Erik Killmonger is this movie’s main “villain”. His role in this film was completely unexpected. However, when you see it, you’ll understand how his character actually served as a counter-argument to the philosophy of Wakanda. While he serves a purpose, the villain’s demise was just a tad predictable to me.

Maybe I expected the film to have a dark edge (my first favorite superhero movie was Christopher Nolan’s Batman  after all), but instead it was more light-hearted and left me feeling more hopeful by the end. Maybe a tad too hopeful? That being said, my personal expectations did not take away from my overall positive experience with the film and the film’s narrative. Black Panther was extraordinary and important and relevant and SO MUCH MORE.

Let’s Chat

Have you seen Black Panther yet? What did you think? Do you have plans to?

 

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5 Ways Not to Give into Book Hype

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1. Understand marketing practices. 

  • If you see a book everywhere on social media, tread lightly. It could be the best book ever or it might be a colossal disappointment.
  • Don’t listen to Youtubers who suggest and promote books they haven’t read yet. You can keep a mental note of those books to maybe read for later, but don’t buy a book just because a Youtuber was given a paid promotion to talk about it before reading it.
  • The publishing company’s job is to generate hype so the highest number of people possible buy the book. Publishing is a business. They want that m o n e y.  Just because they sell books, doesn’t mean their practices are any different.
  • Pre-order swag, exclusive ARC copies, free excerpts and posters, and promotions from your favorite Booktuber, and a synopsis better than the actual book itself. All these things are meant to create incentive (and envy).

2. Wait a month or two after the release date to see what people are saying. 

  • Be less trusting of pre-release reviews because many are sponsored. Sometimes the reader is given some sort of incentive to give the book a higher rating. Have you ever seen a book with a 4.5 star rating on Goodreads only to fall to 3.9 after the actual release date? Suspicious, right? Yes, authors want you to order before release. It does help them out! But if you’re not sure about the book and you don’t have a lot of money, think about yourself first and trust your gut.

3. Read backlist books. 

  • There are some insanely popular series that were released 3+ years ago that I’m only starting now. And you know what? They are still popular! Some of the biggest fans might host re-read-a-thons and some of your fellow book nerds are just starting the series, too. That’s okay. There will still be someone to share in the experience of reading an older series.
  • Now that I’m starting backlist series, I don’t even care about the brand new ones coming out. What makes it better is that since the whole series is released already, I don’t have to wait an entire year (sometimes longer) on the next book.

4. Go through your list of 2018 new releases and read the synopsis. Do YOU want to read this book? Does it interest YOU? Make a shelf for those books. 

  • My reading experience is so much better now that I choose books based on what I think will be good. Sometimes the rush of a beautiful cover and rave reviews make me want to buy a book instantaneously. Then I realize I was never interested in the story at all. Now I judge for myself no matter the rating, low or high.
  • For example, I saw the Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken everywhere, so I bought the books on impulse and now I have zero plans to start either series.

5. Let Go of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

  • If you read a book later than everyone else, you’re still part of the community and there will always be people reading backlist books!  You don’t have to be a part of the hype. Sometimes our FOMO prevents us from enjoying books we want to read because we try to read what everyone else is reading.
  •  When everyone is talking about a book or Bookstagramming it, you feel like if you’re not reading it then you’re not really apart of the book community. This is absolutely false! Unfortunately, when we see Booktubers and Bookstagrammers  push so many new releases in our faces well over a year in advance that it’s hard to avoid that feeling. I finally let go of my FOMO because every single month people are still writing reviews on backlist books and still enjoying them. No one is treating them as less of a reader for jumping in on the hype train late.

I hope that what you take back from all this is YOU define what kind of reader you are. Some readers are absolute fangirls and they have to get their hands on the latest releases. Some readers are total hipsters and avoid what’s most popular. It doesn’t matter. Don’t feel bad. You can’t control hype or the fact that you might not be able to afford a book at full price.

What you can do is control your reactions and try to stop comparing yourself.  I know it’s hard and I can’t tell anyone what to do, but I hope to see a shift in the book community where readers feel more confident and positive about their place in the community. Sometimes we seek validation by how many hyped books we can get our hands on, but then at the same time we end up getting disappointed if the book didn’t live up to our expectations. Just remember all that matters is that you’re happy with what you’re reading.

Let’s Chat 

How do you feel about hyped books? Do you feel like you can wait to read them? Do you feel like you’re missing out? Have you done anything this year or in past years to give in less? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.”

I’m having trouble reviewing this book because I loved it so much. I think I have trouble reviewing my favorite books because I have trouble finding the flaws! Sometimes I talk about my one or two minor issues, but I cannot think of a single problem I had with Radio Silence. Sure, I could rave on and on about what I loved but that point I would just say, “Read the book! It’s that good!”

There are so many incredible aspects of this book and I don’t even know where to begin. It’s very diverse. It’s authentic. It’s raw. It’s a love letter to the teenage millennial experience. Frances and Aled represent the epic platonic friendship that every person should have. Alice Oseman managed to authentically capture the millennial teen experience, but with a dark edge. Most of the characters all deal with issues such as abuse, depression, anxiety, sexuality, and academic pressure.  One reviewer said that at one point, the characters stopped being characters and they just became people. Radio Silence did not have to try hard to be a book for teens.

In fact, I think this was better than any John Green book I have ever read. Everyone says John Green gets teenagers… No, he gets teen emotions. He makes his characters and stories very emotional because as a teenager, your emotions are heightened. Therefore, John Green’s prose is very emotional and flowery. It makes readers feel things. What makes Radio Silence so powerful is that she let her characters bleed their hearts on the pages without even trying to. She let them be teenagers, rather than theming being the idea of them. It also helps that Frances was around 20-22 when she wrote this book, meaning she isn’t so disconnected from what it was like to be a teen. Seriously, more teenagers and young twenty-somethings should write books about teens! I don’t get why sixty year olds still write for teens, TBH. I mean, someone has to write those books. Adults write children and middle grade books all the time, right? But there is something so specific and unique about the teen audience that can’t be generalized the same way children books are written.

Anyway, this book was simply amazing. Just do yourself a favor and read it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

You can find this book at all these places!! Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble

I made a list of major and minor characters because I don’t know what else to say.  This is why I review books for fun. Sometimes my reviews will be rambling and incoherent. At the end of the day I review books for myself and I just hope my readers can make sense of my thoughts most of the times.

Main Characters

Frances Javier is half-Ethiopian bisexual teenage girl whose major goal is to get into Cambridge by achieving academic success. She also thinks she is the reason behind Carys Last’s disappearance.

Aled Last is the brother of Frances Javier’s friend, Carys Last, who disappeared over a year ago. Through pure serendipity, they develop a friendship of their own. I’m not going to explicitly state his sexuality because that question is part of his journey and I want the readers to experience that journey.  His main interest is a podcast he makes called Universe City. It’s also a play on words: Universe City and University. You’ll understand when you read the book.

Minor Characters:

  • Cards Last – lesbian, twin sister of Aled
  • Daniel –  A gay, South Korean immigrant
  • Raine – Indian

This review and this review both explain better what this book is about and why it matters.

 

Let’s Chat 

Have you read this book yet? Do you plan to? What’s another diverse YA contemporary that you think most people would relate to?