I thought I would tackle this since the movie is coming out and seems it is being herald as the next Twilight, like we need more or something. (Looking at you, Warm Bodies.)
Guess we can start with the cover. I got the ebook on my kobo and it has the movie-tie in cover. When I first saw it, something about it looked familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it...
Yeah, I have nothing.
Okay, it starts with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself. It's labeled an 'Epigraph', and already has one over some other books. Here is the quote:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Wonderful. I love when great quotes from great minds are twisted to represent something as silly as teenage or first love. I'm fairly sure MLK was talking about the love for the fellow man and the love of your neighbor, no matter his race, creed, or orientation. Romantic love is great and all, but from what I've seen of the prologue, the narrator is not following MLK's advice in that sense.
Now, onto the story proper. Sort of.
The prologue is named Before: The Middle of Nowhere. At least it wasn't called a preface.
Now, I'm going to give a pretty unique warning. Anyone who comes or has come from a small town is going to get pissed off. I'm not really from a small town, but not from a larger city either. Nonetheless, we are called the 'boonies' from anyone who lives in Vancouver or Surrey. Not suburbs. They think we all live on farms.
Anyways! Yes, there is a lot of anti-small town stuff. Which really, I don't understand. I don't think EVERY teenager wants to run from their small home town to the nearest big city. That can be overwhelming and honestly, I don't think there is anything too bad with small towns. The sense of community can be supportive and humans are naturally communal creatures. I don't why small towns get such a bad rap in the media.
(By the way, I personally like to isolate myself. I'm actually not a fan of being everyone's 'story of the month'. Yet, even *I* think the rap is stupid.)
I mention this because, well, here is the first line:
There were only two kinds of people in our town. “The stupid and the stuck,” my father had affectionately classified our neighbors.
Or, you know, the people who love the quaintness of small towns. Or, the people who love the sense of community. Or, people who have a strong sense of pride and attachment to the home they grew up in...
Narrator, just because *spoiler* you want to leave, doesn't mean anyone who doesn't is either stuck or stupid. Or should I direct that to the AUTHORS?
So, Daddy elaborates thats people are either bound to stay or too stupid to leave. Everyone else runs for it once they are eighteen (or maybe younger). I don't know about anyone else, but I have lived in the same town since I was seven years old; for over fifteen years. My town, well, fucking sucks. Yet, I'm still here, and because I WANT to.
Oh, apparently Daddy is a writer. Seriously? Look, dude, it's not like being a writer traps you to one place. A coal miner? Yes. A car factory worker? Maybe. There are thousands of jobs that can trap people to one place and...writing isn't one of them.
Besides, what does he write? Screenplays? You can go to Hollywood. A journalist? Any city in the world will take you. A magazine columnist? Hell, go to New York. Even if you write fiction, nothing is stopping you from moving around. Lots of authors live in one place and have agents and publishers in another. Dad, let's just admit you are too chicken to leave the comfort of your home town.
Okay, I'm from Canadaland, which is the farthest from the American South one can get. So, I have a question for people: In the South, what do people call the Civil War? Although I was born in the US, I was born in SoCal. All I have ever heard the Civil War referred to is as the 'Civil War'. Yet, in this book, apparently people either refer to it as the 'War between the States' (as the young'uns call it) or the 'War of Northern Aggression' (as the old ones call it). I have NEVER heard this. Maybe this is a South Carolina thing?
Now, here comes the fun part: A list of why Gatlin, South Carolina, sucks!
Well, it's not a list really in the book, but I'm making it a list! So, why does Gatlin, SC suck so much we need an entire, four-ish page prologue on it?
1) We were too far from Charleston to have a Starbucks or a McDonald’s.
Ya know, my cousin lives in a barely incorporated town out in Ontario. It was actually near Timmins, Ontario (Shania Twain fans will know that town). The town literally only had a Tim Horton's. No Americanized fast food restaurants for him. Which may have been good since he was suppose to be training for hockey. Anyways, just because a town has a street corner doesn't mean it MUST have a chain fast food restaurant and just because a town doesn't have a chain fast food restaurant doesn't automatically mean said town sucks. Guess the narrator has never heard of 'making good with what you have'.
2) The library still had a card catalog
Um. So? Surprisingly, it could be that getting a computerized system might be too expensive. I'll concede that maybe Gatlin isn't exactly a well off town. Though, that doesn't mean Gatlin is a shitty little town.
3) the high school still had chalkboards
I remember my elementary school having chalkboard. I know this because I would get out of cleaning the erasers because I was allergic to the dust (Suckers XD). I believe even my high school still had chalkboards in the old section of the school before they tore it down. They tore that section down near the end of my grade 9 year, which was 2004, or five years before this book was published. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, lots of high schools, probably even in 2013, probably still use chalkboards. I hate to break it to people, but it's not like the American school system is well funded...
4) our community pool was Lake Moultrie, warm brown water and all.
I have a lake near my town called Whonnock lake. It's not very big, most of it is covered in water lilies. What you can swim in is slimy if you go past your knees. The beach is rocky and uncomfortable to lie on. The one mobile food place was overly expensive and the food sucked. There WAS a volleyball court but that disappeared when I was like twelve. I think my mom wanted to cry every time it was suggested we go to the lake. And this was the place where everyone released their unwanted bunnies.
Narrator, THAT is how you complain about something.
5) You could see a movie at the Cineplex about the same time it came out on DVD, but you had to hitch a ride over to Summerville, by the community college
What kind of Cineplex is this? Is the narrator talking about the chain of movie theatres, Cineplex? Because, my town has a Cineplex, the town east of me, which is a smaller town, has a BIGGER Cineplex, and the small city across the Fraser has an even BIGGER Cineplex. All of them play the most recent movies. Even the tiny movie theatre in Terrace, BC, where I visited once (And saw The Dark Knight two weeks after it came out) doesn't wait so long to release big blockbuster movies. Terrace really IS in the middle of nowhere. Do movie production companies even allow that?!
6) everyone else lived south of Route 9, where the pavement disintegrated into chunky concrete stubble
Narrator, you should come to my town. That is how our roads are AFTER they fixed them. Then there is the Port Mann bridge... (hehe, fucking morons)
In short, Narrator, I don't feel bad for you. Congrats, you live in a small town. For your entire life. In honesty, the narrator sounds like he/she has recently transplanted from Big, Awesome City
How is it interesting or intriguing to start a prologue of a book with so much BITCHING? Yes, teenagers can be angsty, but this is the reader's introduction to the rest of the book, and all it's about is how the setting sucks. Authors, why did you even bother with a small town if you were just going to have your MC spend the book bitching about how much it sucks?
Right, Twilight-syndrome. All I can say is...HA, SOUTH CAROLINERS, YOU HAVE BEEN RUINED WITH MEEEE.
*clears throat* Excuse me.
The whole next page is more bitching about the monotony of Gatlin. I'm nearly finished this prologue and I want to bitch that all this bitching is monotonous. You readers probably want to bitch about me bitching about all this monotony. It's a monotones bitching circle. BECAUSE, IT WILL STAY MONOTONOUS BECAUSE THAT IS HOW THIS MONOTONOUS, BORING TOWN IS. *throws sledgehammer at audience.*
So, mysterious narrator closes his/her battered book of Slaughterhouse-Five—which makes me wonder if that is the same thing as a battered Jane Austen book—shuts off his/her iPod (hey, look! A hint to a 'when'!) and goes to bed.
Now, before I finish, I want to talk about the voice of this prologue.
First, it's in first person, WHICH I FUCKING LOVE. So, no name, no hint towards gender, no descriptions, nada. Which, fine, whatever, this is a prologue. The problem?
Um. The narrator sounds like a girl. I know narrator isn't a girl. It was one of the things that made Beautiful Creatures speshul and different.
I even had to ask my boyfriend—who shall be now known as Tidus—if they narrator sounded like a boy or a girl because I was worried my knowledge and my recent escape from Hunger Games was tainting my view. He straight out said the narrator sounded like a girl. "The voice was too prissy and too detailed" he said. I agree. I'm also going to add 'bitchy'. What guy bitches THAT much about a town? A teenager at that? Not even a mention about there being no hot girls? Anything about football? No typical male-orientated complains? Just how ugly and boring the town is. All right then.
Continuing on, I'm just going to post the full effect of the last few lines of the prologue:
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
I never even saw it coming.
I can hear the 'DUN DUN DUN' all the way here in my igloo.
Wait. Where did the curse thing come from? There was no mention about a 'curse' before! Or, specifically a girl! The entire prologue was about how lame Gatlin was! There was no mention about a curse or a girl, I swear! *flails* Damn it, authors, you are making it seem like I missed something!
Whatever, on that ominous note, the prologue is done.
Fuck, what did I get myself into?
*throws papers* I'm going to go read Dearly Devoted Dexter.