Sunday, 21 December 2014

'White Bird in a Blizzard' by Laura Kasischke: A Book/Movie Review

When Katrina Connors' mother walks out on her family, Kat is surprised but not shocked; the whole year she has been "becoming sixteen" - falling in love with the boy next door, shedding her babyfat, discovering sex - her mother has been slowly withdrawing. As Kat and her impassive father pick up the pieces of their daily lives, she finds herself curiously unaffected by her mother's absence. But in dreams that become too real to ignore, she's haunted by her mother's cries for help. Finally, she must act on her instinct that something violent and evil has occurred - a realization that brings Kat to a chilling discovery.

Sorry for the hiatus, Geeks. I've been dealing with some personal stuff lately, so I had to neglect the blog to recover in peace.
Anyway, I'm back for good!

Let's talk about White Bird in a Blizzard, a novel I had started reading a few weeks ago, as well as the movie which I watched recently after finishing the book.

The book blurb seemed interesting. It gave me a Gone Girl vibe, and since I'd enjoyed that book/movie so much, I had high hopes for this story, too. And this book had quite a few rave reviews hailing it as a 'literary masterpiece' and what not. I thought maybe this would be another dark and depressing teenage tale that would leave me wanting more (like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, which I'm currently re-reading).

But...


The writing! What do I say? Almost everyone who loved this novel claims that the writing is superior to anything they've ever read. But it's so exhausting to read this book! There are metaphors and similes crammed into every single sentence on every single page with so much description and so few dialogues that it drove me nuts. I like deeper meanings, I do. But this book tries to be so deep that nothing remains on the surface.

Let me show you. I'm going to skip to random pages of the ebook now and cite a few examples.

"And the darkness below her seemed to rise like dough - flour and yeast and water mixed up with night. 
We were down there in that darkness, that darkness that might rise and rise, and push everything out of its way as it rose, as it pushed its way out of the living room, swelling up the stairs. It might smother her in her sleep with its sprawling, domestic flesh."
(Page 105-106)

"Once, between Cleveland and the lake, an oil glaze on that river caught fire like some stripper's slippery negligee tossed onto the water, and it went smoking through the city - through the suburbs, where the stench and the fames and the flames were politely ignored - and it passed, then, into the country, spitting cinders into the wind, burning itself past the gawking sheep and cows, polluted, viscous, all-forgiving mouth of Lake Erie."
(Page 27)


"I could still remember dancing with him in the gym: How young we'd been! A sudsy bloodbath of energy. Fat, in my pink dress, I was a sad valentine made by a child, made of cotton balls, dime-store doilies and paste - sentimental, pathetic, a little desperate, but sincere.
And all those sweaty nights on the couch, his kisses like blurred stars all up and down my neck. I was still fat. Together we were wading into a tepid lake. Carefully. The mud was soft and as loose as flesh."
(Page 143-144)

I hope that proves my point. Yes, some parts of those quotes have actually been written very beautifully, but so much stuffed into so few pages (less than 200 pages as an ebook), it gets to your head.
Looks like John Green studied at the Kasischke school of writing.

Similar to Gone Girl, almost every character here has crossed into the moral grey area. Especially the protagonist, Katrina.

What do I say about you, Kat?
Maybe all 80s teenagers were like this, but...


No spoilers, because these things have all been revealed in the movie trailer, but she seduces a detective who's twice her age while dating her high school boyfriend without blinking an eyelid at the fact that her mother has disappeared. And yes, the mother in question is definitely not a good mother in any way, but a little concern would be nice, Kat.

The book was quite vague, because there wasn't much of a plot. A couple of scenes here and there that serve as flashbacks, Kat's sexual encounters, tons of metaphors... I didn't know how they would translate this onto the silver screen.

The movie does a good job of portraying the story, however. The director, Gregg Araki, must have a lot of talent.
Shailene Woodley stars as the promiscuous teenager unaffected by her mother's death (except in her dreams). She looks utterly ravishing in her retro clothing and dark brown hair, and plays Kat in a remarkable fashion.

Desperate, lonely and jealous of her own daughter, Eva Green convincingly plays the mother in such a way that you dislike her even more than you did in the novel.
I also loved the actors who play Kat's friends, Beth and Mickey.

One thing that bothered me, though, was that in the novel, Mickey is a female cheerleader. In the movie, Mickey turns into a stereotypic feminine gay boy with rainbow coloured hair and a wardrobe to boot.

The ending of the movie, too, has a slightly different twist. We are also given more information, whereas in the novel, the ending is a semi-cliffhanger.
I'm not sure why they made these changes.

 Anyway, the story moves at a very slow pace up until the last fifty or so pages. Then things thankfully get interesting and we start to discover what really happened to Kat's mother (no thanks to the detective).
But, unfortunately, the 'twist' is as clich├ęd as they come and it fails to leave you thinking, "Aha! So that's what happened. I should have known..."
Instead, all you think is, "I saw that coming since page one."

I'm going to go with 2.5 stars out of 5 for the book and the movie.
The writing is a little insufferable, the characters are difficult to bear, and the only redeeming quality is the suspense and the great music (for the movie, anyway).
I can't tell you to pick one over the other, and I wouldn't really recommend it to you unless you're a Shailene Woodley fan or you enjoy deeper-than-John-Green metaphors. Oh, and this movie is rated R for explicit content. Keep that in mind if you're planning to watch it with your family.


Check out the trailer below:


If you've read this book or any other works by Laura Kasischke, let me know your opinions in the comments below.
Do you have any requests for book or movie reviews? Tell me, and I'll do my best to write a post for you.

Christmas is only a few days away, and so is home! Happy holidays, Geeks. Bye-bye! :)

3 comments:

  1. I have seen the movie Dil chahta hai. It was full comedy. I liked the humour of the movie.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Dil Chahta Hai is possibly one of the best Bollywood movies I've ever seen. Humour, romance, friendship and Aamir Khan all rolled into one movie - what more could one want?

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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