Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How to Survive The End

So, as many of you will surely know, we're so, so close to the release date of Mockingjay Part 2. So close I can count the number of days leading up to this massive event on ONE HAND!!! This is serious stuff, people! However, as exciting as it may be, there is also a sense of fear and dread looming in the fandom. No, I don't think any of us are concerned that they're going to turn the last film into an epic screw up; Francis Lawrence has proven himself as an incredible director and I have every faith in him, and all of the cast, in that they won't let this film be a let-down.

The thing we're worried about is the end.

I'm going to get quite personal here. Are you ready? 
So, I found out about The Hunger Games later than a lot of people. I can't have the pride of calling myself one of the original fans and I hadn't even read the books before the first film came out! Tragic, I know!
I did, however, remain in the dark about this series until November 2012, when a friend of a friend lent me the books. At this stage, I had never heard of this series. I still can't believe I had managed to live all the way through the huge hype without hearing something of it - it's a mystery to this day! I hadn't heard of or seen the film and I went into this book without knowing a thing about it. I came out a changed person.

I know what you're thinking. How on Earth can three fairly small books cause somebody's life to change? I don't actually have an answer to this. I have no idea what occurred in my brain during the week that I read these books back then, except, of course, the tension and drama of the incredible story. All I know is that, once I had finished, I felt that I had been opened up to a completely new world, and this was where my life as a reader truly took off. I had always been quite a big reader, but up until this point I pretty much read the Harry Potter series on repeat (hence the reason I have each book 24 times so far!). It was at this point that a whole world of other books opened up for me. Of course, for a little while, I did what I did best at that time, and I spent a while reading The Hunger Games trilogy on repeat, but soon after, I discovered Divergent, Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman and a whole new spectrum of incredible stories.

Anyway, we're getting off topic.
In just a few days, this series, the thing that has meant the world to me for the last 3 years will draw to a close and that is a scary thing for many people - especially me!
It hasn't really dawned on me until now that there will never be another anxious 4 hour wait at my laptop for a new trailer to be released, or another 1000 day countdown to the final film, wishing the years away, or even that next November, there won't be another film in this series for me to look forward to.

So, how can we handle this?
Is there even away to deal with the grief of losing your favourite series?
I don't think so. But we can have a go!

My amazing friend Sophie, from The Life of a Teenage Fangirl, put together a 'Book Hangover Kit' for me a little while ago, and while it is intended for books, I think it can probably be applied to this situation too.

Step 1 - Cry all the feels away!
             I know it's not the best method for some people but I'm definitely one for face-planting the bed and drowning it with my tears! As long as you don't cry too loudly in the cinema (as I discovered the hard way...) you'll be fine! But sometimes it's good to have a good cry when something like this happens. I'm sure I will!

Step 2 - Chocolate Gorge!
             This probably isn't the best advice, but I have always been one for gorging on chocolate after I finish a particularly painful ending, so while the doctors probably wouldn't prescribe this for post-ending-sadness, I will! Trust me, it helps!

Step 3 - Distractions
            A stand-alone novel is generally recommended when you come out of a long and heart-breaking trilogy, which I know helps me! In the case of Mockingjay though, I will be distracting myself from the pain by having a weekend of rom-coms, and I'm also planning on starting Winter, the last of the Lunar Chronicles, which is really exciting!!

Step 4 - Reminisce
            For me, this is probably the most important step. It's overlooked a lot, but I think the only way you're ever going to accept that something has come to an end, is to go back to the start and remember all the amazing times you have had with this series. After the initial pain has gone, thinking about why you love the books and the character and the world can often help you realise that your journey through this wasn't for nothing. Remember how much this has benefited your life and how much you have learnt from it, because I don't care who you are or what you read or see, everything will change and shape you as a person. Even the very worst book can help you learn something.

I guess that leads me on to my next point.

We book lovers love books for many reasons, but probably the most important reason as to why I love them so much is that they're dependable. I guess that's why I love rereading books so much. You know exactly what you're going to get and you know that the characters and stories will ALWAYS be there for you. No matter what. The thing I have realised while writing this, is that even when Mockingjay Part 2 ends, and the revolution is over, and Katniss puts down her bow, and the credits roll onto the screen, Katniss will still be there. Her story may have ended but that doesn't mean it's gone forever. We will only have to reach up onto the shelf to bring her and her adventures back and we can relive all this as many times as we want. Yes, of course we're going to miss sitting and waiting for the trailers to drop, for the tickets to be released, for the news on the premieres and the stills and the soundtracks (which we're still waiting for!). I guess that's something that has finished forever now. We're just going to have to accept that. But it doesn't mean that we have to be any less excited about these books and films and what they mean to us. I feel like Neville Longbottom really captures what I'm trying to say in his speech to Lord Voldemort at the end of Deathly Hallows Part 2.
"Yeah, we lost spoiler tonight, but he's still with us, in here - points to heart"

Josh Hutcherson, our stunningly gorgeous leading lad from The Hunger Games films also adds to my point. In a recent interview in response to the question "How do you say goodbye (to the series)?" he answered, "You don't; you hang onto it forever." I think that's a beautiful thought. Even when we're old and looking back on our lives, we'll still have this moment and it will still be just as important to us.

So, while this may seem like the end, it's not really. Of course it's going to be a horrible time for us tributes, but it should also be a happy one - we can celebrate that our favourite books have been turned into magnificent films for us to enjoy again and again. This doesn't happen to many books so we should be grateful for us being able to relive Katniss' world in a completely new and amazing way.
It'll be terribly sad to see our favourite characters die before our eyes instead of just imagining their deaths in our heads, but we only need to go back to the earlier books / films, and there they'll be, alive and smiling at us through the page or screen.

And in terms of our survival. Come on, guys! Katniss survived 2 lots of the Hunger Games and a whole entire war. Peeta survived being tortured to insanity. Gale survived his home being burned to the ground. Survival is what tributes do best!
We can survive this! Together, we can conquer anything we want, and isn't that the moral of the story?

This is not the end.
This is only the beginning.

Much love,

Charlotte xxx

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Extraordinary Means | Book Review

Extraordinary Means is the first and only book by Robyn Schneider I have read so far. Her debut novel, Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (also published as The Beginning of Everything), has been on my TBR list ever since it was released but I still haven't got around to reading it yet.

"When he's sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.
But when he meets Sadie and her friends - a group of eccentric troublemakers - he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn't have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure."

Even before I read this book, I had a feeling I would fall in love with it. I'm a HUGE sucker for tragic romances involving teens and this seemed just that! I don't really know why I enjoy sad books so much, but they seem to take up the majority of my shelves!
Also, the cover is just gorgeous, and that really was the main reason I picked this book up! It's so pretty, and I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but, be honest, don't we all?!

There is a lot of talk around this book concerning its 'unoriginality' ; it is described to be a cross between The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, both by John Green, and while I can see why some people might think this, Extraordinary Means does have some features of its own. Okay, so the idea of this book might not be completely original, but that doesn't stop it from having some amazing twists and moral messages. This book did have a few surprises, too, so please don't be put off reading it just because it's said not to be too original.

As said in the premise, this story revolves around a group of teenagers who have been sent to Latham House, a secluded boarding school, because they have developed a deadly and contagious disease, TB. Lane is the newcomer to the school and is initially intimidated when he meets Sadie and her friends - the school's group of trouble makers. However, after a little time in their presence, he finds out that there can be more to his life than his illness has meant, and that, even in the state he's in, he can still find love.

I really loved the writing style in Extraordinary Means. While it didn't differ too much between the dual narration of Sadie and Lane, it suited the book well and gave the book a great feel to it. Robyn Schneider's voice brought Sadie and Lane to life in an incredible way. I loved it.

I loved the depth of characters in this book so much. Lane was the hard-working, stressed out kind of guy who hadn't embraced his illness and wanted to go back to school as soon as he could. Sadie was almost the opposite; a rebellious trouble-maker who wouldn't be controlled by anything- especially her illness. At the start of the book, I doubted that they would fit with each other, but as the story progressed, I fell in love with their relationship as much as they fell in love with each other. But, saying that, romance wasn't really a huge or important aspect of Extraordinary Means. However, I do believe the book benefited from this - after all, not every book has to be filled with lovey-dovey scenes, and I liked the fact that this one wasn't since it made it more original.

I feel like there's not really much else I can say about this book without spoiling it, but I think I would recommend it to pretty much anybody. It was such a heartfelt and meaningful book, which was surprisingly funny while devastatingly sad. The humour was very dark, but it still brought glimmers of light into this amazing story, which it definitely benefited from.
If you haven't read this book, I suggest you do! It very quickly became one of my favourite books and I gave it 5 stars!

From this point onwards, there will be major spoilers for Extraordinary Means, so if you have not yet read the book and would not like to be spoiled, please stop reading now and come back when you have finished the book. Thanks :)

Okay, on to the spoilery bits now!

Since it was set in the 'kind-of-future', this book features a lot of references to things we have now, such as Harry Potter, John Green books, Starbucks, etc! I'm not quite sure how I feel anymore about pop-culture references in books like this. I used to love them being there because it made the characters more relatable to my ways of thinking, but recently I've almost got tired of seeing them there. References like these are in so many books now and it's just starting to feel unoriginal. But, having said that, I think that if I ever wrote a book set in this world, I would probably still end up including some Harry Potter references or something like that!

From the very start of the novel, I had guessed that either Lane or Sadie would end up dying, and I had an idea that it might be Sadie who went. So, if you have read the book, you'll know that my prediction did end up coming true, but even before it happened, I would never have guessed how she would die.
As much as it was a devastating and horrible ending, I am actually really glad (in a weird way) that this is how she went. I mean, obviously I would have preferred her not to go at all and for Lane and her to be able to have a happy ending, but I still feel that if she hadn't have died, they wouldn't have had this anyway due to them being cured and then sent to live back with their families, who wouldn't understand any of what they went through, which is also showcased after Sadie's attack when her Mum stays with her and barely lets Lane see her.
The ending, while utterly heart-breaking, was very well thought out, in my opinion, and very well timed with the cure becoming available and really gave the story an unexpected twist and was extremely thought-provoking. I also think that Sadie, given the choice, would have preferred to go out this way as opposed to just dying from her illness, since this aspect showed how she lived her life, and didn't follow the rules, which she seemed to be proud of. I think that just letting her die wouldn't have been nearly as important for her as this death was.

Also, while redrafting this, I realised that Sadie's name literally has the word DIE in it! How did I not see this before?! Of course she was going to die with a name like that!

So, what did you think of Extraordinary Means? Rate down below if you've read it!

That's all for this post but I hope to be back for more very soon!
Much love

Charlotte xxx