Questus Libris Tommy

I found all my materials through the Library (Pierre)  My parents Netflix accounts (The OA, Russian Doll)  Amazon Kindle/Audible  (The Night Circus/ Also Pierre)  Or links provided in class/google (S Town, Other articles) and Steam/YouTube (Life is Strange)

Questus Reviewus

Questus Reviewus

Russian Doll

Russian Doll is a new tv series which debuted on Netflix.  The premise is that a woman named Nadia repeatedly dies after attending her birthday party, and eventually she realizes that someone else is dying with her, and they begin trying to escape this reality together by stopping the loop.  Nadia is a bumbling, grouchy, macho woman.  Many of her deaths are feeble attempts at slapstick comedy, as the writers of this series decided it would be funny to show her snap her neck about seven times due to her inability to walk down stairs, which somewhat clashed with the fact that they were attempting to write her as some sort of badass female character.  Unfortunately this was also undermined by the fact that she fell into the same drain two or three different times because she was dumb and clumsy.  Her constant inability to walk somewhere simple without dying, combined with her brusque personality, and possibly some bad acting make her a very annoying and irritating character.  Many of the characters in the series seem to either be poorly written or acted out, as their personalities change greatly in each episode with little clear progression.  For example, Nadia acts rude for the first two episodes, and then acts very odd and standoffish until the end of the series.  Alan on the other hand (the man she is stuck in the loop with), seems very odd when in scenes with his girlfriend, very awkward around people he doesn’t know, and cool around people he is familiar with.  This happens in nearly every episode until the last two, where he begins acting confident out of nowhere.  This character development seems very choppy to me, and made for an unenjoyable viewing experience.  While the rest of the characters were oddly developed, that is to be expected as they are meant to be slightly effected by our protagonists strange behavior each time they go through the loop.   Overall, the idea behind the series seems like it could be fun, and similar movies such as Live, Die, Repeat with Tom Cruise, and Groundhog Day with Bill Murray carried them out much better than this TV series did, which is unfortunate.  I would think that with the ability and time to flesh out more of the story, a TV series would do a much better job portraying these ideas, not worse.  I believe that the acting and writing killed this TV series for me, but I could understand why someone else may find appeal in a series such as this.

questus reviewus

OA Review

The OA is a series which explores a girl who refers to herself as “the OA”, and was a blind runaway, who returned to her adopted family with her sight. Through a variety of well-placed flashbacks, we see the OA’s life as she explains it to a group of random people she has collected from a random YouTube video.  In many aspects, this series has both awful and awesome storytelling.  I believe in the beginning, the story telling is very awkward, with the YouTube video, her awkward friendship with Steve, and her strange obsession with open doors.  Though everyone that she reveals her story to should be very skeptical and suspicious, they willingly accept everything she says with open arms (and doors).  The likelihood of five strangers, no more, no less, from the same town watching the same video within twenty four hours, and leaving their doors open to come listen to some crazy blind celebrity is insanely low.  I am all for “suspending disbelief” when watching movies, but the OA takes it a bit far without basis.  I believe what makes it a bit difficult for me to play along is that not only is the audience supposed to suspend disbelief with the supernatural elements of this show, but we are also expected to go along with the premise that all the other characters in this series act in completely irrational ways without any justification for their actions.  This is not just a plot building technique, I believe it is completely irrational to think that the five chosen people, (Steve, BBA, French, Buck, and Jesse) would actually do these irrational things every night, and no one is going to come along and either close their front doors or rob them.  Now, recall that believing these people act this way, and that no one in the house would get cold and close a door are in conjunction with the fact that we are supposed to believe not only the OA’s story, but that these five are dumb enough to believe it.  The OA’s story is basically that she was a young Russian schoolgirl who had a near death experience as a young girl where she encounters a woman in another dimension who takes her sight, and was the target of an assassination.  Later her father is killed while she is in a school for blind children in America.  Eventually he is killed and she winds up being adopted by her current parents, who give her a loving home and take care of her.  She repays this kindness by running away to New York after having a weird dream about him.  There she plays her violin and is kidnapped by a seemingly nice man named HAP.  This man ends up taking her to his house where he has imprisoned three other people who have narrowly escaped death.  Eventually they find out that he is drugging and then killing them repeatedly to discover how they don’t die.  They get a fifth member and start a very bad dance group, which annoys him so badly that he drives her to the middle of nowhere and dumps her in the middle of the road after seven years.  He then takes her place in the dance group and they travel dimensions.  When she gets through the story, the group has bonded and grown closer.  It is then that they realize she has inspired them to take up bad dancing as well. They learn the same movements as her original dance group, but then their parents burst in, telling them that they aren’t cool enough to dance like the OA. Saddened and discouraged, they give up, only to have an impromptu dance rehearsal when a school shooter arrives.  This confuses the shooter for long enough that he is tackled by a cook.  This sudden movement causes him to fire a burst of rounds (which doesn’t make any sense considering fully automatic and burst fire weapons are illegal in the United States), with one landing perfectly in the middle of the OA’s chest, because she decided to drop in and watch their rehearsal from the outside of the cafeteria window like every great dance coach.  This is where the season concludes, leading me to conclude that this series is kind of garbage.  It’s like a McDonald’s happy meal toy.  It is cool because it is free with Netflix, but it has little to no value and I am probably never going to see it again.  I enjoyed the first part, but the trailer for the next season doesn’t look too appetizing, so I will not be viewing that either.

Pierre Review

Pierre was a very intricately written book with several extremely perplexing elements, as well as many interesting allusions to other stories, which are slightly difficult to stomach in the modern age.  Many of these references went over my head as a modern reader, however I can see how this was viewed as interesting and immaculate writing in earlier eras.  Now, however the bumbling style of Melville does portray an interesting take on mental illness, as well as an intriguing challenge to social norms, however I feel that the manner in which he carried this out makes the book incredibly difficult to read with a severe lack of transitional skills, such as when Melville addresses the audience directly in just about every chapter.  This may be intentional, however, that does not excuse the incredible difficulty of deciphering this novel.  A large problem with the novel was that Pierre’s slip into insanity coincided with Melville’s writing becoming increasingly vague, as well as going into many lengthy tangents which do not serve any significant purpose, and are later contradicted in the book.  One such instance are Pierre’s ravings about Lucy’s beauty, whom he describes as *SPOILER ALERT* later leaves for his supposed half-sister.  I believe the book could have been much better and more readable if the narration would have been more concise, and acted as an anchor to reality.  Having a way to realize whether what was going on was supposed to be real, symbolic, or in Pierre’s head would have been very helpful when reading this book, especially if it was read personally.  Melville’s writing style seemed extremely clustered and scattered, and more like a rough draft, or sketched out plot than an actual published novel.

I did personally enjoy reading this novel, as I was discussing it with a class and it was enlightening to hear everyone’s takes on the narratives portrayed in the story, including my hilarious, kind, amazing, smart, and overall wonderful professor, Dr. Sarah Boyd.  However for anyone wanting to undertake this voyage alone, I would not recommend this book.  If I was to give it a rating, I would give it 5/10 stars for personal reading, but an 8/10 for reading in a class or collective book reading club.