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The Millennium Trilogy Series February 25, 2012

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Book Reviews, Classics.
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What are the 3 most important factors that would entice you to begin reading a 600+ page novel in the midst of a mindlessly packed office schedule?

Hmmmm..You might have your own opinion; my list goes like this:
• The first impression (name, look and feel)
• Personality and characterization of the protagonists
• The eccentric wisdom of the crowds

With these factors lingering in my subliminal consciousness, the Millennium trilogy by Steig Larsson figured at the top of my reading list for this year! This is a series of 3 books with the most riveting titles – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”. And, as the names suggest, the stories spin around this girl Lisbeth Salander who is the main protagonist of the series.

So, in the 2nd week of Jan, I embarked on mission Millennium. Reading these novels was like a 10 day phase. I used to shuffle to office every morning, worried and wondering what would happen next in the story and come back home longing to dig my hands into the book again. And the author ensured to keep the adrenaline pumping!  The books had the intrigue of an Agatha Christie novel, and the brashness of Sidney Sheldon. And Lisbeth Salander is the Lara Croft of Crime fiction!.

Quite predictably, the moment Salander was introduced, the plot got me hooked. My naïve first impressions had expected her to be a Charlie’s angels sort of diva. But man, that is not even close!

Shockingly different, she is a strong, ruthless yet tragic character. A bizarre anti social anti hero with a crooked smile.. a genius hacker with an eidetic memory.. a fiercely loyal and private weirdo..  You will worry about her, you will want to protect her, but she wont let you feel sorry for her.  Wandering the corridors like a stray cat, brazenly spooky, she sometimes seems more of a wiry character from anime series, than a real person! And the way she rises from the dead ( in the 2nd novel ) is … Well, I don’t have the words to describe it!!..

The other major character in the series in Mikael Blomkvist. A finance journalist, he is dedicated to revealing frauds in banking and business. He is a quite opposite Slander’s fiery personality; their queer relationship is what drives most of the story forward. A man of a somehow mild constitution, the way he is treated by his ladies (IMO, like an intelligent puppy : P ) is quite amusing!

The underlying theme of all the 3 novels is violence against women. The first novel is intriguing.. The second one is nail biting. The last one is a bit long drawn – with the secret service hocus pocus. But the climax is intensely satisfying. The story is touching, thrilling, shocking and scandalous. .. You will experience the most volatile waves of emotions..Love, hate, loyalty, disgust. All in one go. No guns, no hi tech drama.  Just raw emotions.

You might not like the books if you are disturbed by immorality and violence (some scenes might be described as grotesque). But from the point of crime fiction, it’s an awesome series; and the character of Lisbeth Salander is mind-blowing! The most outrageous and flabbergasting heroine I have ever read (or seen), you have no idea what she is going to do next!

What more can I say, this one is indeed a gripping read. A book that will be difficult to forget,  long after you have read it!!..

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In Time February 8, 2012

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi.
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It was a vacant Sunday evening foreboding a whole work week ahead. With nothing much to do (it’s pathetic to start a book on Sunday evening, unless it’s a thriller and you can get into the groove right from page 1! ) , I stumbled upon the sci-fi thriller – In Time .

The movie is set in a dystopian future when the human race is genetically modified to live only 25 years, after which everyone has to earn Time to survive. And like the ultimate scarce resource, Time cannot be created – it can only be transferred from one person to another. So as the cost of living continues to rise, the poor will die (or “time out” early) while the rich can live on till immortality.

Apart from this ingenious sci-fi theme, In Time has a very simple story. Realizing the inequity caused by the rich hoarding time, while the poor live by the hour, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) along with Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) goes on a Robin Hood style mission to steal Time from the rich and distribute it to the poor. Armed with a gun, these 2 guys just walk in, robbing bank after bank. That’s it!

The idea to use Time as a currency is novel, giving a fresh dimension to the Hollywood fraternity’s obsession with different ways to destroy the earth (Aliens, Dinosaurs,  Godzilla and 2012! ) But then, for a story to be compelling it’s not just the idea or the scenes. It has to touch some emotional chord, and somehow I missed that soul in the movie. So, while it does remarkably well on the concept and setting, it is quite weak in plot. And the characters simply don’t stand out.

Amanda Seyfried looks stunning; with all her stunts in designer party dresses and high heels (you can hardly recognize her as one of the Mean girls in the 2004 movie). Cillian Murphy has unforgettable haunting (and sometimes mean) blue eyes! He plays a foil to the hero as a Time keeper, the cop out to catch the Time stealers. The performance by Justin Timberlake is OK, his stint in The Social Network, IMO was much more impressive.

But then, it’s not the actor’s fault. The character simply did not have enough meat! It’s like an awesome concept which was developed in a hurry. The writers just didn’t want to put more effort into it, or add complexity to the plot. The producers wanted to package something and send it out fast. And that’s quite sad for a movie that had a potential to become great (like Inception) but turned out to be “just good”.

Will agree with the IMDB rating on this, it’s 6.6 out of 10.

P.S. I don’t know why, but this movie sort of inspired me to read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s now added to my reading list.