Sunday, January 24, 2010

Things that go bump in the night

Slogging through this book was an unhappy incident, but one unfortunately of my own choosing. I decided to read Werewolf: A True Story of Demonic Possession by Ed and Lorraine Warren as part of the background research I was doing on werewolves for my unfinished attempt at a literary classic retelling with monsters. Since my classic monster tale never even really got started, I was quite sorry to have wasted time reading this work.
Werewolf: A True Story of Demonic Possession is supposedly the story of Bill Ramsay, a Brit who seemed to be under the impression that he was turning into a werewolf. The authors of the book, the Warrens, claimed to be expert "demonologists," and became involved with Ramsay in order to tell his story and attempt an exorcism. The Warrens were also involved in the more famous Amityville Horror, which was penned by a different author, and I can only say that perhaps they should have done the same for this tale because it was one big confusing yawn.
The Warrens refer to themselves in the third person, strange enough, but they also extol their own virtues as experts in exorcism in the third person, without the slightest hint of self-awareness or irony. There were tense problems too which added to the confusion and the story of Ramsay as the werewolf never really solidified. There were some silly old black and white photographs reported featuring Ramsay mid-transformation during the exorcism, but little else of interest.
This book was set to be discarded, but it was suddenly recalled for a hold and placed back into circulation.
On the cheap thrills scale, this book ranks a 1 out of possible 10 -- better than shaving someone's back hair, but more boring than staring at the DVD cover of The Amityville Horror. Recommended for: weirdos who are into this stuff, older kids bored of reading the "Goosebumps" series.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Darling, My Hamburger

During my late elementary school and early middle school years, I remember constantly flipping by this book in the scant young adult collection, curious about what it might be about, but repelled by its weird title. The author, Paul Zindel, is probably best known for his play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, but also dabbled in writing young adult novels (also with usually weird titles). My Darling, My Hamburger explores the relationships and friendships of four teens in their senior year of high school. Typical teen problems are examined like insecurity, romance, family problems, and teen pregnancy. I found most of the characters to be sort of flat, stereotypical/stock characters (the pretty girl, her fat friend, the awkward nerd, the cool guy, etc) and would've liked more character development, but the story is definitely more plot driven (by the "unexpected" pregnancy).
The book is probably not very relevant for today's teens (considering teens are much more sexually active, the legalization of abortions, etc.) however, when examining the book from its publication date of 1969, it was probably groundbreaking in its subject matter.
On a scale of teen fun, I'd say reading this book is probably better than actually having an abortion, but you will probably fantasize about punching every character in the face. Not recommended for: the not so easily fazed fans of Gossip Girl, or foodies who think there might be an appearance of a hamburger somewhere in this book.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

90210: The Book

I found this little gem at a local thrift store, as I assume if my library did own it that it was probably weeded around the time some of those West Beverly kids were entering their 30's (or 40's considering some of the actors).
Beverly Hills, 90210 by Mel Gilden is a novelization of the (original) show almost literally, though they did leave out commercials and you have to imagine the fashion faux pas yourself. I thought perhaps they stopped after the first book since anyone watching the show would've probably viewed the book as a rerun, but apparently it was a series (and also in German!) so I'll have to be on the lookout for more of these in the future.

On a scale of teen fun, I'd rate this book better than playing "Girl Talk," but lamer than a pizza party with an early 90's mixtape and talking to real friends. Recommended for: Gen-Xers or pre-Millenials who are feeling nostalgic and might be snowed in.