Category: Government Agency vs. Supernatural


I’ve been having the hardest time getting this done. Seriously, I spent more time staring at a blank page on this than I spent on some of my papers back in college. I keep going off on Holtzmann related tangents, which is fun but not what I’m here for. A lot of my stuff also winds up being pretty cyclical, so there’s that too. Plus writing this up makes me want to do another thing about the characters specifically later on and I kept getting side tracked by that. Quick note, the version of the movie I have is the theatrical release, not the extended cut, so I may make reference to the movie not having certain scenes that were restored for that. It’s a lot later than I meant for it to be, but hopefully still fun. Enjoy!

General Feelings:

The Book: So, one of the big things with this Book vs. Movie is that both tell, essentially anyway, the same story. I went into a lot of my stuff with the book in my review, but I feel like I need to repeat that my main issue with it stemmed from its having a set protagonist in Erin. That the book is based on the script for the movie also means that a lot of moments I really enjoyed in the movie are absent because they were improvised by the actors. That said though, there are a number of flashbacks early on that fill in both Erin’s tragic back story and what happened between her and Abby. The movie doesn’t suffer hugely from not having them, but they did make me appreciate Abby a lot more.

The Movie: This is one where I saw the movie several times before I read the book. I am distinctly hoping that a sequel happens, maybe set after the upcoming comic or something. The movie is a horror comedy, much heavier on the comedy than the horror. It could have used some of the flash back stuff the book had to beef up the initial dynamic between Erin and Abby and, not going to lie, I would have had less Kevin but it’s solid and funny. It also has a lot more Holtzmann and Patty, due to the actresses physically being there, which is something I’m never going to complain about.

Erin vs The Ghostbusters:

Dr. Erin Gilbert: I’m not a huge fan of the book’s version of Erin.  It isn’t that she’s a bad character so much as that the way she’s written tends to make her feel stiff and unconnected to other characters. Part of this is that a number of shared scenes in the movie are Erin’s thoughts in the book or cut down to being between her and Abby. Book Erin is a protagonist who lends herself to over thinking things and worrying more about her/their credibility being acknowledged than actual accomplishments. Now, the flipside to this is that the book being so Erin focused pulls her issues to the front. She’s noted the day of her tenure review on her calendar as V day, validation day. That no one believed her as a child when she talked about the ghost is something that gets touched on a lot and built on. Eventually other people’s disbelief lead her to taking an authority figure’s advice and abandoning the paranormal, her research, and Abby. It’s something she struggles with throughout the book.

The Ghostbusters: While the movie does still tend to focus more on Erin and it could be argued pretty easily that she’s still the main character, I very much prefer how present the other characters are in the movie. Admittedly a big part of the other characters being more present is that their actresses are physically there, even if only in the background, so even if a character isn’t doing anything that effects a scene they’re still there doing something. Because there was a lot of improvisation on a lot of lines there was more interaction between the Ghostbusters and that did a lot to sell them as a team. There’s more cohesiveness as a result and that means I care more about what happens. That I’d watched the movie first and Holtzmann and Patty are my favorites affects this greatly. They’d probably still be my favorite characters if I’d read the book first, but that’s a lot to do with seeing more of them in the movie.

Rowan North:

Book: Rowan is much more a foil to Erin in the book. They both had rough childhoods due to their parents not understanding them and kids at school being aweful. They both have an interest in the paranormal, Erin to prove it’s real with science and Rowan to end the world and rule over the ghosts. They’re both smart, having attended and graduated MIT. But then Erin is a partical physicist, because she gave up on the paranormal and ran away from her research to try and be normal, while Rowan is a janitor who hates his job and everyone he interacts with. Erin is self destructive in a way that leads to no validation being enough, she needs everyone to know that this thing was real all along. Rowan doesn’t seem to care what anyone else thinks of him, he’s put himself above it all, if people don’t accept him then that’s fine they were worms anyway. His back story is more than a little cartoonish, but so is he. Rowan is one of the only characters that I feel benefitted totally from the book. He gets point of view scenes and seeing that makes him familiar. The book grounds how fantastical Rowans plans are in a character who is at once both the ineffectual loser who doesn’t people well and also the guy driven enough by his anger to build bombs in his basement.

Movie: In the movie Rowan loses out on almost all of the point of view bits he has in the book. This loses a lot of what made him work there and makes him a limp villain with not a lot of drive. We get a scene where he monologues to himself about going from having been bullied to being the bully, but that doesn’t work for me, it’s too neat. We don’t get anything on his background beyond that. We don’t get as much of the utter distain for humanity. He feels more like he’s there because they needed a bad guy and less like he’s be hording ammo if the Fourth Cataclysm didn’t work out.

Character Moments:

Book: As I’ve mentioned before, the book doesn’t have a ton of little character moments. That does make the moments that it does have stand out more. My biggest example is towards the end of the book, Erin’s punched a blogger and left the headquarters to be alone and we get Patty and Holtzmann going out to get sandwiches. This bit has next to nothing to do with the plot, but it lets us get to know both of them better and shows them interacting and being friendly. There’s also the bit right before it with Holtzmann trying to cheer Erin up after the fallout from her decking the blogger.

Movie: The movie is made of character moments largely, again, because the actresses are physically present and it featured a lot of improvisation. It bounces in importance from Holtzmann flirt dancing to “The Rhythm of The Night” which is awesome but minor, to the Swiss army knife/side arms scene which is both a character moment and also important to the big fight at the end of the movie. While he’s not my favorite, most of Kevin’s non-plot scenes are from the movie. Plus, again, with the movie we’re out of Erin’s head and so see more of how the other characters react to things.

Conclusion:

This is a case where I like the movie better, hands down. While the book clarifies things that the movie could only hint at, it only does so for one character. The ghosts of the book, Slimer excluded, were also less cartoony because I was imagining them rather than seeing them and the book goes a little more into the descriptions for it’s mooks. Meanwhile the movie benefits massively from its actresses which the book, by virtue of being a book, doesn’t have. That’s pretty well what a lot of my feelings on the book boil down too, it was entertaining and fun but it didn’t have the characters as I knew them while also being similar enough that it felt weird. If you can find the book, give it a shot. If not, grab some friends and watch the movie.

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Confession time. I know this is the full name for the movie, so I’m only assuming that it’s also the novelization’s proper title. If anyone knows, give me a heads up. Anyway. There’s a review to kick off my throwing so, so many words at the new Ghostbusters. Enjoy!

Ghostbusters Answer the Call cover

Dr. Erin Gilbert has moved past the strangeness of her childhood. She’s respected in her field, up for tenure at Columbia University, and then some guy shows up with a copy of the book she thought she’d buried. To protect her safe, normal life Erin’s going to have to confront her former friend Abby and her new co-worker Holtzmann. Confront them and then wind up working with them once she’s booted from Columbia and determined once again to prove the existence of ghosts to prove she isn’t lying or insane. Strange things are happening in New York and it’s going to be up to the Ghostbusters to get to the bottom of it.

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, the 2016 movie, was one of my favorite recent movies. It isn’t a perfect movie by any means but it’s solidly entertaining and a lot of fun. This isn’t a review of the movie though, this is about the novelization by Nancy Holder. This bit is mostly here to point out that I’m not really reviewing the story here, I like the story it gets a four out of five from me. This is mostly going to be me talking about the writing itself.

One of the big differences here is that the novelization has a set main narrator where the movie is more of a group thing. Erin Gilbert is the decided lead of the novelization, she’s the one we’re following and it’s her head we’re stuck in for the bulk of the story. That’s both a positive and a negative. Being in Erin’s head lets us dig a lot more into her character stuff it makes it very clear that she’s got anxiety and serious issues with needing validation from the most conventionally normal people possible. That’s fantastic and is both heavily supported by her back story as well as doing a fantastic job informing her actions in the story proper. The flip side to being in Erin’s head is that she’s not an incredibly likeable character here, she’s judgy and picky and can be just generally unpleasant. I do feel like a lot of that comes from the  writing itself. Erin’s thoughts have this weird stilted diction to them that would have been great if she was one of several leads, it is really notable and feels fairly technical in a lot of places. Unfortunately it can put me in mind of “not like other girls” YA protagonists.

That’s actually kind of a thing with the writing throughout the book, it can feel very like a bad young adult novel when it’s at its worst. There’s a couple scenes that do nothing for the book where Erin talks to other, basically one off, female characters and they feel very like something that would pop up in bad YA. These one off characters exist to mock Erin, and to a lesser degree the other Ghostbusters, which serves to reinforce her not fitting in but the scene doesn’t really work because they have no bearing on anything. Another bad YA moment is when Kevin is introduced and Erin’s brain literally stops working for a paragraph or so. Points for her losing interest as she realizes how incredibly dumb Kevin is.

I feel like I’m being unfair to the main character here. I sort of am. These moments are pretty spaced out and the unlikablilty would probably not be nearly as much a thing for me if I hadn’t seen the movie first. What’s it like when other characters get the spot light? There were some bits before Patty joins the party and towards the end with the other Ghostbusters as the point of view characters. I would have loved to see more of that. We also have several short bits throughout with Rowan, the antagonist. Those have a lot of the same bad YA feel, but they work a lot better for me because Rowan is a character that I’ve known people who were like that. He thinks he’s much better than anyone else, that his station in life is an unfairness inflicted upon him by the innumerable fools he must constantly suffer. That whole feel ties in really well to his driving thing being, essentially, revenge against the world as a whole. Rowan is stilted and full of himself in ways that can often throw a fantastic dark mirror to Erin. I adore that. The idea that, in another iteration of the story, their places could have been swapped interests me. Though, I do feel like more could have been done with him to solidify that and make him a bit less cartoony.

What this all boils down to is that, while Holder does some fantastic character work that I would have absolutely loved to have seen more of on more characters, the same character work can come across as more than a little juvenile. And that can be jarring. There’s a section that I actually read like five times featuring Holtzmann and Patty that was really good, it made me wish there was more of them in the book. It felt like a genuine moment for both of them and, after so much Erin angsting over her past mistakes, it felt really good to just have them getting to know each other. As with many things I’ve mentioned here, I would have really enjoyed more of that kind of moment during the quiet points of the plot.

So, I’ve already said at the beginning that I enjoyed the story. I’ve talked a lot about the writing itself being solid but cartoony or overly exaggerated, about it needing a little more. That’s kind of what decides it for me. Ultimately I would read Nancy Holder’s writing again whether another movie novelization or original fiction, but the need for just a little more in a lot of the character work leaves Ghostbusters: Answer the Call with a three out of five all told.

Just a quick change to the contest as a result of this, apparently I misunderstood while setting up the giveaway but there will be two winners instead of one.  Both winners will receive one of the two Jackie Rutledge novels rather than one receiving both.  I’m sorry about the mix up guys.  This will be reflected on the giveaway post as well.   But on to the fun stuff!  As the title suggests, we’ve got a guest post to day from the author himself!  Enjoy!

Hello, everyone. I’ve been granted the opportunity to post today in regard to the release of the second book in my Deadworld series, The Vengeful Dead. It’s what I would call paranormal crime fiction or if you’re in a bookstore, urban fantasy. One of the problems in writing urban fantasy, or any genre for that matter, is developing something that feels fresh and new, even when it often isn’t. There is certainly a vast wealth of material to draw upon regarding the supernatural, from vampires to werewolves to demons and fairies. We UF authors borrow a lot from the lore and stories of old to build our own.

I am certainly no exception to this. Deadworld has its share of ghosts and vampires, though I’ve taken a bit of a different spin on what a vampire is.  They aren’t your traditional, gothic, undead variety, because I wanted to do something different with them that would give readers a different feel. On that end, I believe I’ve succeeded to some degree. When I originally wrote Deadworld, I  had a completed story left with some dangling threads that could be picked up if a publisher decided they wanted to pursue that. Fortunately for me, they did, and I was left trying to figure out exactly where to go from there. When I sold, I had moved on to another story and had left Deadworld to sit. Now I had to develop another two books to go with the first. So, where was it going to go?

I knew there would be cases to solve, a developing relationship between Jackie and Nick, and Jackie’s continued efforts to resolve her emotional issues (she has a few of them).  Having a love for epic stories though, I wanted to incorporate a bigger, series spanning arc. I wanted it to involve the supernatural, and I had three major elements to work with: vampires, ghosts, and the “other” side or Deadworld where the ghosts reside and the vampires are inextricably connected to.  Vampires and ghosts have been used quite a bit, and even with a “fresh” spin, I didn’t feel all that excited about expanded upon them. The Deadworld though, it held possibilities. What could I do with this place, a spirit world that in some ways was a mirror of our own? If it was a place where the souls of the dead resided until they were ready to move on, what could I do with it? The first question that came to mind was, “If souls move on from here, where exactly is it they move on too?” This led me to think that if Deadworld was something of a world between, and we humans moved there when we died, what was to say that something else, from somewhere else, couldn’t access it as well?

The image of that something else came to me rather quickly, and you will see it in The Vengeful Dead, albeit in more of an introductory fashion. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t give out any more details on that, but it is the beginning of a story arc that will encompass the rest of the series, or at least the next few books, assuming I’m fortunate enough for it to get that far. This element begins to develop in book three, The Lingering Dead, and assuming I get a new contract, will really take hold in book four. This element did not come from any mythology or lore that I know of. If it is similar, it’s purely coincidental. Perhaps I’m going out on a limb in creating something out of thin air that has no basis in any supernatural history, but it’s been fun to develop, albeit difficult, because there is no base from which to work. On the plus side, I can’t get any of it “wrong.” On the negative, it might be straying too far from what is typically thought of within the urban fantasy genre. Regardless, it’s a risk worth taking and I’m having fun creating it, which as a writer, is something I find to be very important. I just hope that you all as readers will enjoy the ride.

I want to thank Lauren for having me here today, and in regard to the giveaway, if the winner of The Vengeful Dead has yet to read Deadworld, I still have some author copies and I’ll be happy to include that in the prize. Take care and happy reading everyone!

So, today is the official release date of J.N. Duncan’s new book The Vengeful Dead.  This is awesome.  What’s even more awesome is that one of you guys is going to win a signed copy of both The Vengeful Dead and the first book in the series, Deadworld.

So, what do you guys have to do to enter?

Be an e-mail follower and leave a comment about your favorite urban fantasy or paranormal romance series.

For an extra entry follow me on Twitter @Tymp3st

The contest will run from today until next Tuesday the 11th at midnight and I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday.

Edit:  The giveaway was meant to be for the books separately rather than together, I got that mixed up while setting this up and gave you guys bad information. There are more details in the guest post. Best of luck everyone!

Given that it’s a Tuesday and I’m still studying for finals, I thought I’d take a quick break to post my review for J. N. Duncan’s Deadworld and remind everyone about the Maiden in Light giveaway that ends on the first.

FBI agent Jackie Rutledge is at least as tough as any of the supernatural killers she’s faced before, but when bodies start showing up exsanguinated and totally clean of evidence she finds herself faced with needing help beyond the FBI’s resources.  For this case she and her partner Laurel are going to have to rely on the Bruce Wane-esque P.I. Nick Anderson and his team of odd ball supernaturals.  Can they trust him though?  Nick’s keeping secrets that stretch back over a century that may drag Jackie and Laurel far further into a twisted game of vengeance than they ever should have gone.

My impressions of J. N. Duncan’s Deadworld are colored by his use of a few tropes that tend to really annoy me as well as an immediate degree of respect for his writing for using them in a way that takes them from annoying to genuine feeling plot twists and bits of character development.  Jackie is six kinds of emotionally messed up and hard to like because of it, but then character development happens.  She’s still messed up, but it’s an understandable level of messed up that she doesn’t just magically get over all of the sudden.  Laurel’s most blatant characterization for a big chunk of the book seems based on her sexuality, but she’s not written as just a bundle of stereotypes and gets nearly as much development as the main characters.  Nick gets slightly less active development, the guy’s a pile of secrets and guilt from cover to cover, but he gets a back story that shows why he has that guilt and a personality that almost gives reason to the secrets.  That said, the villain is never given any reason for his actions aside from doing it for the sheer evil of it and to mess with Nick for no adequately explained reason.  I will complain that there were some moments of dialogue that seemed completely out of character and threw me for a bit of a loop, especially towards the end.  It’s also a nitpicky little thing, it may be the stilettos or the leather pants, but I can’t see Jackie as the cover model.  It’s also worth mentioning that Duncan didn’t immediately shoe horn Jackie and Nick into a relationship, a definite plus in my book as they’re both too damaged for something that fast to work out, but seems to be easing them towards something.

For the little things and the fact that I have problems with the lack of villainous reasoning, I give it a four out of five and wait impatiently for the October release of book two The Vengeful Dead.