Tag Archives: A Monster Calls

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayCreated and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for those who love lists and want to get to know their fellow bloggers. Each week features a new theme, and anyone may participate. This week’s theme is…

Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. In the past week, this book has skyrocketed to the top of my TBR list, mostly because I’ve heard such great things about Martin Scorcese’s film adaptation. It looks like a beautiful book, one worth owning, so I plan to buy myself a copy at Women & Children First, my favorite indie bookstore in Chicago. Look for a book + movie review sometime in the next week! (#)

Wildwood by Colin Meloy with illustrations by Carson Ellis. I am a long-time fan of The Decemberists, and while I wasn’t terribly impressed by the preview chapters made available prior to this book’s release, I’d still like to read it. Cason Ellis’s illustrations won’t look great on my Kindle, so this is another title I plan to buy in hardcover. (#)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness with illustrations by Jim Kay. If you think there’s a theme here, then you’re correct, at least for these first three titles. I’m intrigued by the premise of the story, and two book blogs whose opinions I trust (see: one & two) have had nothing but good things to say about it. Plus, the illustrations look beautiful. (#)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. This is another instance of my needing to read the book before I see the movie. I mean, have you seen the trailer? And true, this isn’t a YA title, but can’t we all agree that the line between YA and everything else is blurry, at best? It’s been a long time since I’ve read a spy novel, and I like the idea of reading a non-dystopia series in the coming months. (#)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I’ve been meaning to read this book since…2006? And the copy I own has been with me in Washington, DC, Honolulu, HI, and now Chicago, IL. That alone gives it the right to some attention. Beyond that, I’m fairly certain that I’ll love this book, once I get over its intimidating length, and for whatever reason, it strikes me as ideal winter reading. (#)

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Speaking of winter, I’ve been saving this book for the long, cold nights and short, cold days that I’ll inevitably spend nesting in the warmth of my bed. I’ve watched the first season of the HBO show, so I’m (somewhat) prepared for Martin’s tendency to kill his characters, but I’m looking forward to experiencing the story in full detail. Also, I want to be up-to-date when season 2 premiers in April. (#)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. To be honest, I don’t know much about this book other than that it won the 2011 Newbery Medal, but that’s enough for me. I’d like to have read it before the 2012 winner is announced in January. I know there’s sometimes frustration with book awards, but I like them because they often introduce me to books I might have otherwise missed completely. (#)

A Million Suns by Beth Revis. Across the Universe is one of my favorite reads of the year, and when I finished it back in July, I was immediately anxious to read this sequel. I think that one of the reasons I love this series so much is that it’s much more sci-fi than it is dystopia, and I would love to see YA as a whole veer in that general direction, setting stories in a future of adventure and space travel rather than oppressive and vaguely feudal governments. [To be released January 10, 2012.] (#)

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer. TBR as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. Based on what little I know about this book, I get the impression that it’s going to be something along the lines of fairytale retelling meets Battlestar Galactica with elements of general YA dystopia thrown in for good measure. I could be wrong, but that sounds awesome. And I love the cover art. [To be released January 3, 2012] (#)

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. A glowing review by Anna Reads is what first brought this title to my attention, and it sounds like a lot of fun. The story sounds like One Day for the YA crowd, but that’s OK by me. I appreciate that the focus is (maybe) on more than just the main characters’ romance, and once again, I love the cover art, however twee it may be.  [To be released January 2, 2012.] (#)

What about you? What books are you most excited to read this winter?

Generally Bookish: On Book Trailers

Tomorrow, Marie Lu’s debut novel, Legend, will be released amid an impressive amount of hype for a young adult book. Between book blogs and Goodreads, I’ve been hearing about Legend for at least a month¹, and yesterday, a mostly positive review was printed in the Los Angeles Times. The basic plot—dystopian, of course—sounds right up my alley, and I’m pretty much sold on buying and reading it as soon as possible.

But here comes the “but”: last night I watched the book trailer for Legend, and the degree to which I cringed throughout was almost physically uncomfortable:

Let’s first acknowledge that nothing exists in a vacuum. Penguin, I’m sure, put a lot of thought and effort into marketing Legend, and this video is but one small piece of the puzzle. What’s more, the Penguin PR team has clearly done its job, as evidenced by my writing about this book well before I’ve actually read it.

However, why on earth would anyone think that this trailer is a good idea? The bad voice acting, the graphics that evoke computer games circa 1998…it’s as though there’s someone, somewhere, who wants to embarrass anyone who wants to read this book. I mean, I’m at the core of the target demographic², and I  found it off-putting.

Which brings us to my main question: if a book trailer doesn’t pique one’s interest, if it potentially repels, then what’s the point?

For the sake of comparison, I decided to look up the book trailers for some of my favorite reads of 2011. Here’s what was done in 2009 for Kristin Cashore’s Fire, a book so good, I’ve already read it twice³:

Again, let’s acknowledge something upfront: unlike movies, books don’t come with a bank of footage that can be cut into a truly excellent trailer. And any attempt to put a voice or face to a particular book or character is going to be met with resistance from some fans, no matter how carefully one treads.

And yet…really? A (faux?) British accent, Brigan awkwardly wielding what looks like a katana, and something about desire destroying the Dells? I would cry, were it not for the knowledge that this video is not the main, let alone only, means by which one is likely to discover this wonderful book.

Which again begs the question: what is the point of a book trailer? Why bother with one if it’s not able to stand alone in support of the book it features? And is there any way to create a successful trailer for a medium that is not inherently visual?

After further exploration, I’ve decided that book trailers improve the second they eschew voice overs of any kind. Little, Brown and Company got this right with their trailer for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, though I remain undecided about the video as a whole:

Having read (and loved) Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I question the packaging of the story, plus the video is fast cut, making the text difficult to read. Still, the graphics are pretty, and the overall feel is a step up from Legend and Fire.

To be honest, I’ve seen only one book trailer that actually increased my interest in reading its particular book, and this is for A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness:

Based on this trailer, I have some understanding of what this book is about, and more importantly, I trust that understanding and want to know more. Moreover, I have some idea as to how this book will make me feel—and I don’t think it’s coincidental that this trailer is for an already illustrated novel. There was no need to draw imagery from scratch, only to animate variations of what was already included, and this connection to the origianl lends the entire video authenticity.

I’m curious to know what others think about book trailers: whether or not they’re regularly sought out and watched, and how they might be made more effective as publishing houses continue to embrace the Internet as a way to cultivate interest in books. (And if you’ve seen any particularly wonderful trailers, please send them my way!)


¹Goodreads tells me I added Legend to my “to-read” shelf on November 1st.
²Likely +10 years, but hey—at least I have a disposable income!
³In the Katsa vs. Fire debate, I am 100% Team Fire.