Wednesday, 15 June 2022

A Stunning Post-Apocalyptic Debut: 'Moths' by Jane Hennigan, narrated by Juanita McMahon

Moths by Jane Hennigan | Narrated by Juanita McMahon |Audiobook Review

There's something about certain dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels that draws me in, keeps me reading into the quiet hours of night and doesn't let me go until I'm finished. I knew I had to read Jane Hennigan's Moths when a fellow Goodreads reviewer John recommended it, stating that it was going onto his list of favourite dystopian novels alongside a favourite of mine A Boy, His Dog and the End of the World. I went in with such high expectations - usually a bad idea - but in this case, my impossible expectations were exceeded.

I lived, breathed and slept Moths in the two weeks that I listened to it and might have flown through it sooner had I been reading it. I took long lunch time walks out on the marsh as I listened to this dark tale about nature gone wrong, knowing that I needed to draw it out for as long as possible. I didn’t want to finish this book, could think of little else in those two weeks and needed to know what would come next.

Moths is set about forty years into our future, following a catastrophic time when the tiny toxic threads of a previously unknown species of moths begins to kill men or fill them with uncontrollable, murderous rage. Society breaks down, systems fail, changes are made to ensure that both men and women can survive in this strange new world. Most of all, sacrifices are made and controls put in place to ensure that men are not exposed to the unrelenting threat of moth fibres that permeate the entire world.

The future world of Moths is a deeply horrifying place but I’m hesitant to go into details of the structures and practices because I want other readers to go in as blind as possible, to experiences the twists and reveals as I did. I can say that it is at once feminist and misanthropic, that it reminded me of both The Handmaids Tale and The Testaments and that I’ll be reading both Vox and The Power now due to favourable comparisons with those books.

I can also say confidently that it is unique and inventive enough to stand out in the world of dystopian fiction and that, like John, I will be adding this to my list of favourite dystopian books ever. I am absolutely thrilled that the sequel Toxxic is coming out in July!

I felt that Hennigan portrayed the effects of long-term institutionalisation very well as well as the consequential infantalisation of those who are incarcerated, how decades of medication would render them as empty shells. I didn’t quite agree with the complete breakdown of the electric grid, mobile grid and internet but it is clear that this is an issue that will divide dystopian writers and fans for ages to come. Just how much will society collapse following a catastrophe?

I listened to Moths narrated by Juanita McMahon on Audiobooks.com. Juanita’s narration was superb and absolutely contributed to my enjoyment of Moths. I liked how she changed her voice for each of the characters, making them distinctive and nuanced. I definitely recommend listening to this one on audiobook.

I give Moths a superb five out of five stars and recommend it to all fans of dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction. I cannot wait for the release of Toxxic and will be following Jane Hennigan's writing career with great interest.

★★★★★

I was gifted a copy of the audiobook by the author Jane Hennigan. I will always give an honest and true review no matter whether booked are gifted or purchased by me.

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Monday, 13 June 2022

The Gunpowder Plot, Tower Hill Vaults, London - Review

The Gunpowder Plot | Tower Hill Vaults, London | Review

The Gunpowder Plot is the latest immersive experience from Layered Reality, the award-winning producers of the Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience which I went to (and loved) in 2019.

The experience integrates immersive theatre and virtual reality. Guests can expect to join live actors on an adventure back in time to 1605 as you travel across London and participate in the Gunpowder Plot itself. Multi-sensory special effects, three interludes on virtual reality, and a labyrinthine set combine to deliver a fun, educational and immersive experience.

We had a lot of fun at The Gunpowder Plot. I'll tell you all about what worked and what didn't.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

The Gunpowder Plot

I had no idea what the Gunpowder Plot was actually about (note: I didn't go to school in the UK). I knew Guy Fawkes wanted to blow up parliament but I thought he was simply an anarchist. I didn't know it was about Catholic rebellion in the face of James I's brutal repression of the Catholic faith and that it's all linked to the time from Henry VIII.

I learned about all of this on The Gunpowder Plot which was fascinating to me because I already make a habit of traipsing around England and photographing the ruins of dissolved monasteries. I loved the historical aspect of The Gunpowder Plot and am thirsty to learn more about that period in history.

The Gunpowder Plot | Tower Hill Vaults, London | Review

The Immersive Experience

The immersive theatre aspect of the event was superb. I now know first hand what it feels like to breathlessly press your back against a wall to avoid detection from pursuers. The actors were all incredibly talented and each and every one of them drew us into the story, asked us questions and didn't call us out when we lied to them.

Special mention goes to Jess Darnell as the priest, Leda Douglas as Lady Cecil, Stanley Eldridge as Thomas and the wonderful Harriet Sharmini Smithers as Anne. We got to collaborate as a team, make a pretty significant decision and I'm glad to say that I was on the side of the majority.

The Gunpowder Plot | Tower Hill Vaults, London | Review

The Virtual Reality

The only part of the experience that a bit hit and miss was the Virtual Reality. On the whole, it was a bit glitchy and blurry (and I say this as an experienced VR user who knows the usual tricks to stabilise the image). A lot has been made of the fact that Tom Felton is part of the digital cast but the quality of the VR was such that I wouldn't have recognised Tom in his role as Guy Fawkes if I didn't know it was him. The graphics were not as good as in Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience, and I expected more from Layered Reality.

The Gunpowder Plot | Tower Hill Vaults, London | Review

Verdict

We really enjoyed The Gunpowder Plot but were disappointed by the VR interludes. I hope that they will work to improve this aspect of an otherwise excellent experience, because the actors, set and other visual displays were brilliant.

Tickets for The Gunpowder Plot are on sale now at gunpowderimmersive.com.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2022

'Graphic Novel Review: Clementine, Book One' by Tillie Walden TWD (Based on the Telltale's The Walking Dead character)

If you've played Telltale Games' The Walking Dead video game series, you'll be very familiar with Clementine, the series protagonist. Clementine lived on after the end of the game, making her first post-game appearance in Clementine Lives, which featured in Skybound X along with the first chapter of Rick Grimes 2000. Written by Tillie Walden, Clementine: Book One is Clem's first dedicated comic book series.

Clementine by Tillie Walden | Graphic Novel Review | Front cover and author photo

Official Synopsis

Clementine is back on the road, looking to put her traumatic past behind her and forge new path all her own.

But when she comes across an Amish teenager named Amos with his head in the clouds, the unlikely pair journeys North to an abandoned ski resort in Vermont, where they meet up with a small group of teenagers attempting to build a new, walker-free settlement.

As friendship, rivalry, and romance begin to blossom amongst the group, the harsh winter soon reveals that the biggest threat to their survival… might be each other.

The Story

Clementine: Book One has proved controversial among fans, many of whom weren't willing to accept Clementine leaving AJ in Clementine Lives. I think this notion was immediately put to bed in the opening pages of Clementine: Book One with Clementine meeting Amos as he embarks on Rumspringa. Just like Amos needs to go on his voyage of self-discovery, so too must Clementine find herself in this coming of age tale. And if that ultimately leads her back to AJ, then so be it.

The Art

I'm not going to lie, the artwork was disappointing. I'd been drawn in by the gorgeous, eye-catching cover and was dismayed to see the grey, bland pages inside. I'm also a little annoyed - they'd ultimately reissued The Walking Dead comics in colour, so haven't they learned that fans prefer colour?

Verdict

I wanted to love this comic with all of my heart but sadly the artwork let it down. It’s not just about aesthetics – there were scenes that I had to read once, twice more to try understand what was happening because it wasn’t clear from either the text nor graphics. This was most evident in what could be described as the most important scene in the book, one where there shouldn’t have been a shred of ambiguity. I think Clementine: Book One could be saved with a colour re-issue but even then they might need to enhance some artwork or dialogue.

Stan Zone

Recommended if you like: The Walking Dead, zombies, post-apocalyptica

Buy

Clementine: Book One will be released on 28 June 2022 and is available from the following retailers:

Amazon | Forbidden Planet | Waterstones

Affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you.

Links

Tillie Walden Instagram | Tillie Walden Tumblr

I received an advance, electronic copy of this graphic novel from Edelweiss. I will always provide an honest review, whether books are provided to me or purchased by me.

Image Credits © Tillie Walden

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Monday, 4 April 2022

Horror Film Review: See For Me (2021) ★★★★☆

I love films that are more than just the sum of their parts. Give me synergy, emotion, gravity and I'm sold. Randall Okita's See For Me is a whole mood. Visually stunning and anchored on a flawed protagonist, it tracks one night in the life of a blind former skier when the luxury home she's sitting is invaded by a team of thieves.

Skyler Davenport is Sophie | See For Me 2022 | Horror Film Review

Sophie (Skyler Davenport) is independent and savvy, a former athlete whose career was cut short by a degenerative retinal condition. Nowadays she pet-sits for a living, selectively lifting more valuable items to supplement her modest earnings.

The gig at the mansion of a recent divorcee should be simple. One cat, a secure yet secluded location and her best friend Cam on the other end of a video call.

Simple, that is, until she has a fight with Cam over her klepto tendencies and manages to lock herself out of the most secure house on earth.

Enter Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy, The Flash). A lifeline at the end of the See For Me app, she guides Sophie back into safety. It should all end there but what's the fun in that?

Jessica Parker Kennedy is Kelly | See For Me 2022 | Horror Film Review

Sophie awakes in the middle of the night to noise and signs of company, definitely not the invited kind. As she navigates in the dark with only Kelly to assist her, can she make it through the night alive?

See For Me is a tense thriller, made all the more claustrophobic for its use of darkness; an excellent technique for the viewer senses Sophie's visual impairment. Simultaneously, director Okita washes each frame with colour, a lurid, visual feast for the eyes.

As visually appealing as See For Me is, it's the performances that make it shine. Skyler Davenport is excellent as Sophie, thoroughly unlikeable and morally unsuited for the task of housesitting-while-blind. The casting was spot-on and I'm pleased that they chose Davenport, a partially sighted actor, for the role. Likewise, Jessica Parker Kennedy shines as Kelly, as moral and likeable as Sophie is not and the true hero of the film.

Spoiler Warning

See For Me 2022 | Horror Film Review

I have two complaints about the film - one unfounded and one founded - and I'm going to put up a spoiler warning. I'll try to be vague but don't read on if you've not seen the film.

Both complaints can come under the header of plot holes. I managed to debunk my first complaint. There seemed to be a heck of a lot of rounds fired from a certain gun so I researched it. The standard police-issue service weapon in Canada is a Glock 17 and there were exactly seventeen rounds fired before the gun clicks on an empty chamber.

My second complaint wasn't as easily debunked. The See For Me app depends of the operator speaking to Sophie and we don't see Sophie putting in earphones. There's a lot of background noise with drilling and conversation, but I'm not entirely sure the thieves wouldn't have heard Kelly on the other end of those calls, especially when she's screaming.

Skyler Davenport is Sophie | See For Me 2022 | Horror Film Review
I give See For Me an excellent four out of five stars. I'll be honest, I should have docked a star for that plot hole but I enjoyed the acting, plot and visual feast enough to keep it at four. Technically, See For Me is more thriller than horror but getting locked out of the most secure house on earth in sub-zero temperatures while blind is a horrific concept, so I'll let it slide.
★★★★☆

A Shudder Exclusive Film, See For Me, Premiers Thursday, April 7, 2022

Trailer: See For Me (2021), dir. Randall Okita

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Friday, 25 March 2022

Horror Film Review: Night's End (2022) ★★☆☆☆

Today we welcome a brand new contributor to the Addicted to Media team, Mirza Hota. Mirza's first challenge is Night's End, directed by Jennifer Reeder (Knives and Skin)

Geno Walker stars as Ken Barber | Night's End 2022 | Horror Film Review

Night's End starts off really well. An unemployed divorcee shut-in with a history of alcohol abuse (played convincingly by Geno Walker) moving to a new town, away from his ex and their kids to an apartment that turns out to be haunted.

Night's End 2022 | Poster | Horror Film ReviewWalker spends most of his days carefully sealing himself off from the world outside of his apartment and making YouTube videos until viewers of one of his clips notice something strange going on and alert Walker to it.

I don't want to give too much away in this review. I have to admit I really enjoyed large portions of the film. It's atmospheric, dark and in parts very claustrophobic which adds greatly to the tension and highlights the main character's loneliness and frustration. The feeling that he is trapped in a prison of his own making.

The lead is very effective and Michael Shannon (who unfortunately does not get the chance to shine here) is always a welcome addition to any film.

Sadly Night's End loses it's edge, and much of the atmosphere towards the end and becomes a bit silly. Again I don't want to reveal too much but the ending didn't work for me. There was plenty there to work with. The main character's isolation, his frustration and anxiety are not properly explored. I don't know if the filmmakers felt they didn't know how to wrap it up or simply felt they had to end things spectacularly but I think they missed an opportunity here.

Night's End 2022 | Poster | Horror Film ReviewI give Night's End two-and-a-half out of five stars, rounded down to two stars for that ending. This is Jennifer Reeder's first foray into horror.

★★☆☆☆

A Shudder original, Night's End will premiere on 31 March 2022

Trailer: Night's End (2022) - dir. Jennifer Reeder

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Wednesday, 23 March 2022

First Look: Stranger Things 4 Returns 27 May 2022

It's official: Stranger Things returns to Netflix on 27 May 2022 which means you need to watch 2 to 3 episodes a week if you want to complete your rewatch by then. As before, Stranger Things 4, Volume 1 will premiere on 27 May 2022 and Stranger Things 4, Volume 2 will premiere on 1 July 2022.

Millie Bobby Brown with Noah Schnapp & Finn Wolfhard | Stranger Things 4 | First Look

About Stranger Things 4

It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time – and navigating the complexities of high school hasn't made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.

Finn Wolfhard with Noah Schnapp & Charlie Heaton | Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things stars Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, the boy whose disappearance signals the beginning of the fight against the the Upside Down. Winona Ryder stars as Will's mother Joyce and David Harbour is local cop Jim Hopper. Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton and Joe Keery star as older siblings and unexpected teen heroes Nancy, Jonathan and Steve and the cast was joined in Stranger Things 2 by Sadie Sink and Dacre Montgomery playing siblings Max and Billy.

Millie Bobby Brown with Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard & Charlie Heaton | Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Scroll down to see more exclusive images as we get a first look of Stranger Things 4.

Winona Ryder & David Harbour | Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Gaten Matarazzo with Sadie Sink & Priah Ferguson | Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

Stranger Things 4 | First Look

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Friday, 18 March 2022

First Look: Sally Green's 'Half Bad' Trilogy Is Coming to Netflix in 2022

There is great news for fans of Sally Green's incredible Half Bad trilogy today: the series is coming to Netflix in 2022 and we get a first look at the cast! The eight-part drama series will feature Jay Lycurgo (Titans) as Nathan , Nadia Parkes (Domina) as Annalise and Emilien Vekemans (Transferts) as Gabriel.

Netflix Half Bad | Nadia Parkes is Annalise, Jay Lycurgo is Nathan, Emilien Vekemans is Gabriel

Multiple Brit Award and Mercury Music Prize nominee Roísín Murphy will be making her drama debut on Half Bad and the cast will be joined by Isobel Jesper Jones, Paul Ready (Motherland), David Gyasi (Carnival Row), Kerry Fox (Conversations with Friends), Liz White (Unforgotten), Karen Connell (Vikings), Fehinti Balogun (I May Destroy You) and Misha Butler (Kiss Me First).

Half Bad is produced for Netflix by The Imaginarium, the production company co-founded by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish. They've brought in British screenwriter, Joe Barton to adapt Green's novels for the show, with additional writing by Ryan J Brown, Dionne Edwards, Helen Kingston, and Emer Kenny.

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© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

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