Ebook Review: Demigods of Olympus

Demigods

You’re probably wondering if this is in any way related to the app I reviewed over a year ago, yes. Yes, it is still a pick-your-own-adventure type story. It is the exact same story, with a few minor differences, and I’m not entirely sure that they are good differences. Let me explain.

My understanding is that this was written for people who don’t have the app. Although, for something that was written for people who don’t have the app, it’s a little confusing why Rick Riordan hasn’t released the final chapter, “My Personal Zombie Apocalypse” for the app, when he had the whole story released for ebook form. Now granted, it would be another $2.99 through the app and I, probably against my better judgement, shelled out $6.99 for the ebook (although it wasn’t the $8.99 that Google Play is going to regularly charge). However, with the ebook released, it would be prudent for app users to have the satisfaction of finishing the journey that they started over a year ago. That being said, if you have the app, skip the book. It’s not worth shelling out the extra money. Is waiting going to be a pain in the ass? Yes. But you’re better off shelling out the $2.99 for the last chapter rather than shelling out an additional $6.99, or whatever your ebook retailer of choice charges.

Another difference is that you don’t really get to make as many choices in the ebook version. The app  allows about five choices per chapter, but the ebook gives you about two choices and then a link that says “do the thing” (whatever that thing happens to be, like for example there’s one where you have no other choice other than to put on the ring you pick up in the third chapter don’t do it Frodo). Much of the freedom of choice is constrained by the fact that Riordan creates the protagonist for you, unsurprisingly a male protagonist by the name of Zane Carver (I really wish he  would have created a female protagonist, but that’s just my personal preference).  Right away one of the obvious changes from the app version is that Zane apparently doesn’t select a favorite god/godess in the narrative, not that it ends up mattering, but you never get to make that decision for Zane, as opposed to the app, where your character is pretty much an avatar for yourself.

Now, if you’re wondering if the ebook is offered through the app, the answer is no. It’s the exact same story and there’s no point in selling an ebook of the same story you’re selling in installments, and so that makes sense.

Overall, if you don’t have the app, you might enjoy the ebook, but I will throw out the caution that for the limited about of choices you get, it probably won’t feel like it’s worth the money. It’s not a must read, and it’s underwhelming. So If you have the app, take a pass on this one. It’s not worth the extra money. Save it for the last chapter.

Book Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

18775255

I miss this blog so much, but work has been insane. But I’m hoping that things get better once National Novel Writing Month.

But I just finished a book, because I managed to get enough time in to actually read.Yep, I actually found time to read this weekend. Of course, my parents are also out of town for the weekend, so I’ve had a lot of time to myself. I actually bought The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet for my trip to Wisconsin, but that never happened.

Let me start this off by saying that I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series. I gave to the kickstarter and got the DVDs, and I like rewatching them over and over again. When I heard they were doing a tie-in novel, I was excited and couldn’t wait to be able to afford it. I have wanted this book for a year.

The book was disappointing.

As far as diaries go, this is a let down. Not very introspective, except for when Lizzie’s opinions of people is changing. That’s about the only time you get some introspection. You don’t even get much that’s different from the video in terms of scenes. There are a handful of scenes sprinkled throughout the diary that aren’t in the videos. Lizzie having some intimate conversations with her dad about Lydia and finances, Lizzie’s conversations with Dr. Gardiner, there’s a moment, while they’re at Netherfield (that I’m not spoiling here), that doesn’t even get alluded to in the videos.

Most of the diary is the videos in narrative form, we’re just getting the events described in the videos before the video hypothetically airs. Each entry includes hyperlinks in the ebook format to the video, or videos, that follow each entry, cluing the reader in that the experience isn’t just reading the diary, it’s reading the entry or entries, then watching the videos that correspond with the entry you read. I understand that it adds a level of interactivity with the material for something that has been a multi-media platform experience, but by doing that, the material in the diary entries should have gone more in depth, and depth was something in the diaries that was seriously lacking. Lizzie still held back significantly for something that should be a confessional style diary.

There are two or three occasions where the video is transcribed word for word, which baffled me and still makes no sense. I feel like Rorick and Su could have found a way to describe the events that transpired during a video recording, because diaries are supposed to be, by their nature, introspective. They could have delved into the more emotional aspects of the transcribed videos, while not losing Lizzie’s voice. Transcribing the videos verbatim was a lazy way out of really getting into the essence of who Lizzie is and what’s going on in her head during these videos, not to mention it defeats the purpose of watching the corresponding video.

Overall, it’s still worth a read, but if you’ve already watched the videos, you might want to give this one a pass. You’ve already heard about 90% of the material covered in the book through Lizzie’s vlogs.

I’m hoping The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet turns out to be better, at least I would hope so for a book that takes place in the aftermath of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Maybe we might see a slightly more emotional voice, and something a little more introspective, since there will not be the reliance on video blogs.

Review: Disney Hyperion’s Demigods of Olympus app

tumblr_nb2wfj19fN1qkw66wo1_500

For those of you wondering why I fell off the face off the planet, it wasn’t just my job, although that had a good deal to do with it. I’ve also been catching up on my long list of books to read (still slogging through Storm of Swords), a constantly growing list these days. On that to-read list involved an app Disney Hyperion released called Demigods of Olympus, which includes a fun pick your own adventure style story set in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles Universe where the gods of myth are real.

Getting started took awhile. I was a little surprised to find that this app has a name generator for it’s interactive story, because this isn’t exactly a situation where a user might not use proper discretion for something that’s for grownups and children. I was a little confused why there were only one or two female names for the five name options you were given for your character. Once or twice I stumbled upon gender neutral names, but overall, the app assumes you mostly want to play a male character. I had to refresh the name generator five times to stumble across the one I selected in the screenshot above. The first chapter is free to get access to, but I’m not entirely certain Disney is being reasonable in the $3 you have to pay just to get to the next chapter (yeah, they only have 2 chapters available now), when I can purchase one of Riordan’s novels for just $1 or $2 more.

The app also boasts a store where you can purchase all of Rick Riordan’s novels, companion books and crossover short stories. If you haven’t bought any of Riordan’s books in e-book format, that could be a plus, because the app then stores your e-book purchases in the library section of the app, along with the chapters you purchase the interactive story part of the app. For me, this wasn’t as much of a perk or selling point because I’ve been building my e-book collection through Google Play’s ebookstore, and might not be a huge selling point for people who already have his books through kindle or nook. This particular feature is a little late in the game for fans who already have all the ebooks, but may be great for readers being exposed to Riordan’s world for the first time and want to purchase more of his works, or for people who are looking to start an e-book collection on their new e-reader or tablet.

Overall, I’d give it a 4/5 for the app. Fun, but not worth racing to the app store, and the baffling pricing for just one chapter.

My Problem with Pemberly Digital’s storytelling of late.

I was going to publish this on my personal/multi-fandom Tumblr account, but I’ve decided since there are people on there discussing this probably more eloquently than I’m about to, I would post this here to get feed back from non-Tumblr users.

One of these days, I’ll learn when is the right time to quit a Pemberly Digital adaptation. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was amazing (and I can’t wait to get the DVD set in the mail) . I love the way it tackled and inter-weaved  the various subplots through different v-log channels and on Lizzie’s channel. It was brilliantly and masterfully done. They kept the complexity of Pride and Prejudice in tact, especially the way it was all brought together on the main storyline v-log channel.

Lately however, their storytelling game has lessened significantly.

Coasting off the success of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries with Welcome to Sanditon, they tried to tell a storystory based off an incomplete story, but then relied almost too heavily on role-playing.  That was a huge train wreck that was waiting to happen, given they were working with an unfinished work, but the role-playing made it the worst experience you could ask for if you just watched the videos. What was supposed to be a narrative unaffected by role play became something that heavily referenced role players interacting with characters in the story, which ended up bleeding into the dedicated “plot” videos. I’m not going to rehash every complaint I have about Welcome to Sanditon, because I’ve already dedicated a whole post to that here. I wrote that when there were only for episodes up, but nothing changed, and it only got worse. No point in being redundant.

When they announced that Emma would be the next book they adapted into a web series called “Emma Approved”, I rejoiced. I thought maybe things would improve with a clean slate. Oh was I wrong. There’s a clear line between adaptation and inspiration, and Emma Approved is showing more and more signs of being something more inspired by , and not something adapted from, the novel.

I have given the Pemberly Digital crew a lot of grace during this show, more than what I probably gave them for Welcome to Sanditon. That being said, I feel like my patience for them to get their act together is beginning to wear thin. I’m beginning to wonder why marriage is treated as such a bad thing with the writers.  Marriage is not a bad thing, so I don’t understand why Pemberly Digital continually gives off vibes that marriage will ruin your life.

They nearly sank the Weston wedding just because of Frank Churchill wasn’t sending a wedding gift (really?). Yes it was upsetting for the couple in the books when he doesn’t show up to the wedding, but Miss Taylor didn’t end the engagement just because all Frank sent was a letter to congratulate them on their engagement. The Weston’s entire relationship was not dependent on Frank Churchill’s approval or presence. Frank Churchill’s whole thing in the novel is that he can’t leave his Aunt. Frank Churchill’s absence throughout Emma Approved is nothing that is of much concern to anyone, unless it actually means anything, which it doesn’t anymore.

Now they’re turning John Knightly and Isabelle’s (in the adaptation, her name is Izzy) marriage into an abusive one. Yes, John got so angry at Izzy wanting to go to Hawaii instead of to the place they go to every year, that he reduced his wife to tears and shaking just because she stood up to herself for once and recommended to John going somewhere else for a holiday vacation. John was never that cruel in the book. I have no idea why they’re doing this, and I don’t like this.

Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet’s relationship was pretty spot on for the book, but that’s only because that marriage dynamic IS CANON. It’s written that way in the book. It is beyond me anymore what they are trying to do with Emma because they keep problematizing relationships that weren’t problematic in the book. At the rate we’re going in this new adaptation, the Elton’s are going to be the only couple with a stable, healthy relationship. And this makes me mad because Mrs. Elton is supposed to be the argument for Harriet being a superior partner to the one Elton picked for himself, and by the time the web series finally gets there, viewers are probably going to be glad Senator Elton picked someone else instead Emma and Harriet.