Reel Good Reads: January
Welcome to another month of matchmaking books and movies! This month, we’ve got fairy tales gone action-flick, creepy children, and just the right amount of gallows-humor.
The Movie: Fractured fairy tales are always a favorite, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters promises to provide some action to the tried-and-true tale. Picking up fifteen years after the, um, gingerbread incident, this film re-imagines Hansel and Gretel as attractive young people with a penchant for tracking down those of a more witchy persuasion.
Book Soulmate: There’s definitely no shortage of fairy tale retelling in YA lit. If the thing that intrigues you most about Witch Hunters is that it’s a retelling of the Hansel and Gretel tale, check out Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse. This isn’t a straight-up rehash, but H&G fans will relish in spotting the details (like twin protagonists, some serious woodland action, and plenty of candy) that tie these two stories together.
The Movie: If you’re looking for a more contemplative movie this bleak January, check out Gravity. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, this film that sounds straight from the golden age of science fiction: two astronauts are completing a spacewalk when their shuttle is destroyed. The two are tethered together, but their connections to earth and humanity are lost. Their hope — and oxygen — slowly dwindles to nothing, leaving them desperate to do anything they can to save their lives.
Book Soulmate: Set not in space, but in the bowels of an earth that’s been taken over by mysterious and savage creatures known only as “Freaks,” Enclave by Ann Aguirre nonetheless evokes the same panic and scramble for survival as Gravity. This super-quick read is a 2012 Top Ten Quick Pick for a reason: it’s an action-packed page-turner with very high stakes. With life on the surface wiped out, food at a premium, and disease constantly at the gates, the end of humanity has never been closer.
The Movie: If a super-dark space drama sounds a little too morose for you, why not try a little black humor? If you can track down a theater showing the limited release Struck By Lightning, you’ll be sure to laugh until you cry (or while you cry). Featuring Glee‘s Chris Colfer as a high school senior with big plans that are cut short when he’s, well, struck by lightning, this film has a lot to grimace at. Colfer’s retelling of the antics he got up to in his last few weeks, though, are so witty that you won’t be able to stop yourself from smiling.
Book Soulmate: There’s an odd mini-genre, it seems, of YA books about the afterlife and teens who are looking back over their time on earth. They run the gamut from very serious and contemplative to irreverent and silly. For a book that matches Struck By Lightning snark for snark, have a look at Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass. Tessa, the main character, dies from a gym class accident instead of a lightning strike, but she relives her life just the same. Somewhat uniquely, this is a verse novel, but it manages to avoid too much sap.
The Movie: Guillermo del Toro executive produced a creepfest named Mama that centers around two young girls who were lost in the forest for five years after the murder of their parents. Their aunt and uncle are devoted to raising them and giving them a normal life, but it seems like something more sinister is devoted to them, too.
Book Soulmate: The townsfolk of Gentry are more superstitious than most, but perhaps it’s because they have good reason to be. Mackie Doyle knows for a fact that some things are more real than legend because he himself is a Changeling. Switched with a human child at birth, Mackie lives in our world, but is born of somewhere more sinister. Brenna Yovanoff’s The Replacement (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults) is a darker, more horror-centered book than most that focus on the fair folk, and it’s just right if you’re looking for a chill from something other than the January wind.
As always, January serves up several movies based off of books, including sci-fi flicks Warm Bodies and John Dies at the End.
What movies are you looking forward to in the new year? Are any of your favorite books getting made into flicks? Are there movies you’d love to see get the Reel Good Reads treatment? Hit us up in the comments to let us know!
— Ariel Cummins, currently reading Steve Jobs, the Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal