Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Fallen (Nine Lives of Chloe King, #1) by Celia Thomson

Review by Tempest.

Blurb:

Chloe King is a normal girl. She goes to class (most of the time), fights with her mom, and crushes on a boy…or two. But around her sixteenth birthday, Chloe finds that perhaps she isn’t so normal after all. There’s the heightened night vision, the super fast reflexes – oh, and the claws.
As she discovers who she is – and where she comes from – it is clear she is not alone. And someone is trying to get her.
Chloe has nine lives. But will nine be enough?

* * *
 
Like most people, I decided to pick up this series because I saw the short lived ABC family tv show based off of the books. Wow. The show is WAY better. I'm usually half-and-half when it comes to film adaptations of a written work, so it's not like I prefer tv over books or anything like that. For example, I think the Vampire Diaries show is better than the books, but I loved Kite Runner the book a ton more than the movie. That being said, below I've decided to pick apart the differences between both book and show to better explain myself. Also, I feel like I owe it to you guys seeing as how I haven't reviewed...well, anything, in forever. So, read on for my review, and then the comparison, complete with photos and hot guys, ;) because really what kind of an apology would it be without?
I was expecting a lot from this book from the get go I must admit. Maybe if I hadn't first seen the show my opinion of it would have been different, though I highly doubt it. While the first book in the Nine Lives of Chloe King series was a fast read, not a lot actually happened. For one, by the end we still don't know exactly what she is. All we get is, "cat person". Cat person. Really. Really? You've got to be kidding me. The ending is highly anticlimactic, with the bad guy being defeated in a pretty lame way. I'm getting a head of myself though, let's go back to the beginning of the book. Chloe is stupid. Seriously. Knowing how high up she is, why would she ever decide to balance on a ledge? And this is before she's aware of her cat like reflexes f.y.i. I mean, I'm not saying that an almost sixteen year old deserves to die for stupidity but...it was still a dumb move. Throughout she's also not overly likable. I don't hate her, but I don't really care about her either, which in my mind is a problem. If I'm not fully invested in a character, why should I keep reading their story? She's nothing like she was in the show, an intelligent, loving girl coming into her own. Instead, we get a somewhat bratty, highly immature portrayal of a stereotypical teen. Don't get me wrong, I swear, do now, did in high school. A lot. But when Chloe does it it doesn't even seem like it fits. It's always at weird times, and comes off as so forced that I always have to pause and force myself to try and picture it in my mind. It shouldn't be that hard. She just ends up coming off shallow. There's a part in the book where it's basically stated that she's smoking clove cigarettes just to be "cool". Because that makes me like her more. Not. I dipped my toes in the smoking scene in high school (which really wasn't that long ago, as I'm only 23, so I can still mostly relate) but I would never have admitted that it was just to look "cool", and considering every other second Chloe doesn't really seem to care about popularity, I don't think she would either. None of these characters were very well rounded, in fact, they all fell pretty flat. AlyecTMI, but if that were the case, I'd have had three times as many boyfriends as I actually had, and I'm sure that could be said for a lot of people. (Not that I'm suggesting everyone go out and randomly make out with people). All of a sudden though, after just kissing, she's got two boyfriends? Huh? Which brings me to Brian...another just wow. He's even worse than Alyec (seriously though, right spelling? WHY?). All those times when Chloe claims he's being really smart and interesting, I was yawning. And something is clearly off about him from the beginning. Even the kitty hat, which should have been a quirky attribute like in the show, seemed actually more...creepy? weird? odd? to me in this book. By the end, even though he's nothing like his character from the show so you shouldn't see it coming, you're pretty much like, duh. There are scenes where Chloe is "yelling" at him, and they just came off ridiculous. Not believable, and completely forced. Her friends aren't really any better, and half the time I was wondering why the author even bothered giving her any. At least if she was the silent loner type at school her cigarette comments and soaking up all the new boy attention would make sense. Sort of. Both Paul and Amy however, are unimportant for the storyline. They literally do nothing. At all. And Chloe's mother...don't even get me started on her. So, just a quick recap, you never find out what Chloe is. Her friends do little to nothing other than go off page to make out. Her mother has been keeping her from dating because of some stupid promise she made TWELVE years ago. Brian is really a freak like Chloe says (even though her calling him that was lame), and Alyec is only slightly more interesting than any of the other characters, and that's mostly because I still envision him as Benjamin Stone. That said....yes, I am a sucker. I do fully intend to keep reading the series, but only because the show was so good, I need to know how it could have possible ended, despite all the major differences between them. Honestly though, I would only recommend this to someone who wants to kill an hour or two and has literally nothing else to do instead.


Now, on to that comparison I promised! :) Below is a breakdown of eight reasons why the show trumps the book. So, as I've mentioned, NONE of the characters act the same in the book as they do in the show, and because of that, a lot of the reasons have to do with the characters themselves. To start us off, here's the main character herself:
Reason number 1:
 
Chloe King is intelligent and thoughtful. Chloe King in the books is shallow. However, in the tv show, she's got a huge heart, and always puts her friends happiness above her own. She's still going through that "coming of age" period that she is in the book, but she's doing it a lot more noticeably, and realistically. She's a three dimensional character who, while at times still frustrating to the audience, always manages to come off authentic and real. She doesn't just jump into two relationships because she can. She's honestly torn between two boys, and isn't going to just stop being so because one won't kiss her. In fact, she already knows she can't kiss Brian without killing him (another thing not mentioned in the first book), and she still can't deny her feelings for him. Yes, in the show Chloe was turned a little more vanilla than in the book, as she doesn’t' swear or even smoke a regular cigarette, but this actually adds to her character. It works for her.
Reason number 2:
Her mother and her relationship is actually amazing. In the book, she and her mom don't get along. We're actually told a whole bunch that it's because her mom is a bitch. We don't really see a lot of that, but there is an underlying layer of ice that's fairly apparent. In the show, they're actually really close, having developed a strong bond after being abandoned by Mr. King, instead of growing apart. The relationship between the two of them is also so crucial to how Chloe acts, who she really is deep down inside. She has a caring parent, and therefore cares for others. She still has to keep the secret of her new fond abilities from her mom (at least so far), like in the book, but it's because she's confused and doesn't want to involve her in something that could potentially get her hurt. Her mom supports her in all other aspects of her life, and often times is the one who helps her through the more difficult problems, just like a parent should.
Reason number 3:
We're told exactly what Chloe King is. Yes, I understand that because it's a show certain aspects of it need to move more quickly then the written work, however..."cat person", really? That's what we're left with at the end of book one. I don't know about the rest of you, but I personally think that's ridiculous. Not only does it sound stupid, and bring to mind images of Halle Berry in a cat suit, but it's just another reminder that we've been told absolutely nothing. Who is Chloe? What is Chloe? Why are those guys really trying to kill her? With the show, things were laid out on the table, not all things, just enough to keep the viewers interest and keep them wanting more. There is nothing to keep the readers interest, because answers not only never come, they're seldom even asked by the main characters. Half the reason the show was so cool was because of all those Egyptian mythological parts. Tale those away and we're left with...well, Halle Berry in a leather cat suit.
Reason number 4:
Amy and Paul rock. They're hilarious, and they're actually there for Chloe. The awkwardness of the two of them becoming a couple and leaving Chloe feeling like a third wheel is still there, and Amy can still throw a mean temper tantrum when she wants, but their friendship is much more solid than in the books. They still really care for each other, and what’s more, we can actually see that (no pun intended). When she finds out she's got weird abilities, Chloe goes straight to them. They become her confidants, and that really helps to progress the story. She needs someone she can talk to about both her love interests and the strange things happening to her, and in the show she gets it in Amy and Paul. In the book, she gets two people who are basically as absentee as her missing father.
Reason number 5:
The bad guys are actually bad. Not cliché old guys (and one young) sitting around in a dark basement wearing matching robes. In the show, Brian's dad is scary. In the book, the slight glimpse we get of what I assume was him is laughable. There's just no way I can take a bunch of dudes wearing ritualistic robes seriously. I just can't. And the assassin Alexander guy? Yeah. Lame. He was way over the top, made to look just as crazy as he was supposed to be. You get right away that he's a religious nut, one of those "god hates everyone that isn't me" kinda guys, but that just makes him seem so...flat. Ok, he hates her because he considers her not human because she's...wait, what is she? Oh right! WE. DON'T. KNOW. We see him twice (three times?) and he's never really forthcoming with information, and yes, he does almost kill her a bunch and the fight scenes aren't all that bad, he still doesn't come off as all that threatening. I'll admit, a lot of the short lived show didn't actually have a ton of Tenth Blade people, but when it did they came off as calculating and wealthy, which I equate with being highly capable of affording ways to kill the crap out of her.
Reason number 6:
Jasmine. In the first books defense, I don't know if her character comes in later, like in the second or third novels, but the lack of a character like her in the first book really made my rating go down. She's vital to the flow of the story, there to balance out Alek (yes, I'm sticking with the way his name was spelled in the show) and his cockiness, as well as pose an important divide between Chloe and the more stressful aspects of being the Uniter. In the first book, not only does Chloe basically not have a good version of Amy and Paul, but she doesn't have a Jasmine at all. And that's just sad.
Reason number 7:
The actual plot. So much better. For one, Chloe isn't drooling over both guys. She really likes Brian from the start, but grows a connection with Alek. Is she still confused over which she likes more? Sure. But is she purposefully being a bitch and putting their feelings on the line? No. The order that wants to kill her is more crafty (like mentioned above) and Chloe's whole Uniter angle is really interesting. She's not just a girl with powers or a group of average friends. The plot twists were way more interesting and harder to see coming (albeit not impossible sure), and more believable. And Brian is waaaay cooler. Not a strange weirdo.
Reason number 8: And In My Opinion, Most Important:
Alek is Benjamin Stone. Ok, I fully admit to being just as shallow as book version Chloe King by saying that last part, but it's actually true. Look at that face? Seriously. Also, he's not an air head, or just hanging around her because he has to and taking advantage of her by making out in janitor closets. Even knowing she can't kiss a human, he's still jealous seeing her with Brian. And he's open about his feelings without first needing her to flirt like an idiot with him. He's still considered popular, but it's not thrown in your face like it's the most important thing about him, and you get to see him kick a lot more ass. The time spent between them in the book is boring, and doesn't really have anything to do with furthing along the story other than to make it more pages in length, whereas in the show he's crucial. He's there for Chloe in ways that other characters can't be, and he's the first love interest of hers that is also a "cat person". He does not come off as dumb, and he has a tragic past that we're aware of, not a weird wealthy uncle (though I'm sure this develops the same in the second book. I hope at least). He also brings a lot of the humor, whereas in the book he's not funny. At all.
And there you have it, the eight major reasons I think the show is better than the book. Ranty? Yes. Probably over the top? Undoubtably. But hey, it's a long post, right guys?! ;) If any of you have seen or read the Nine Lives of Chloe King, I'm super interested in hearing your thoughts!