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Buffy + book reviews

Mr Psmith and started a revisit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer about a month ago; we began with Episode 1, Season 1 and have been working our way through it, relishing every minute of it, and finally finished last night. I'd forgotten what emotional powerhouses the last few episodes are, just one thing after another: [Spoiler (click to open)]Xander's speech to the Potentials about Buffy, Faith's return and what it triggers, Willow's activation of all the Potentials, and -- of course -- Spike. I cried like a baby for half of the last episode and was totally wrung out by the time we got to the end.

We talked for a while afterwards about what exactly it is that makes Buffy so great: the writing with its clever use of language, the great storytelling, the three-dimensional characters? We determined it's all of the above, but two things in particular stand out. First, there's the constant reassuring sense that Joss knows where he's going with it, where he's taking you. He's never just killing time or floundering about. Almost every episode adds something to the overall structure of the tale: expanded understanding of a character, character growth, fleshing out the Slayer mythos/backstory, propelling the story arc forward (even the musical episode wasn't just a gimmick, it actually advance the plot in important ways), etc. Second, there's the way that so much of the time he's exploring aspects of what it means to be human: guilt, free will, family, love, faith, what it means to be/feel different, what it means to have/not have a soul, can evil be redeemed. Not every episode is all deep and philosophical, but even the funny ones often deal with larger questions. That gives the show overall a substance and a depth that others like Charmed and Supernatural can't quite match.

In other news, I'd gotten sadly behind on my book reviews on goodreads, so I took advantage of having today off (Memorial Day for us Yanks) to get caught up. Rather than posting all of them here, I'll just give a snippet and link through for anyone who's interested. It's quite an assortment: one non-fiction, two Stephen Kings, a psychological thriller, and a kids' fantasy. My reading tastes are a bit eclectic, as you can see :)

Tuesdays at the Castle For me, Hogwarts will always hold the crown for Best Sentient Castle, but I did enjoy my visit to Castle Glower. The title is a bit misleading, since the castle doesn't in fact only change on Tuesdays but rather whenever it feels like it, or whenever it's necessary, but that's a minor point... more

The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius It's tough to decide which story here is the more engrossing in The Spark: Jake the math and physics savant whose mind was nearly lost to autism, or Kristine Barnett the mother and teacher who argues (convincingly) for connecting with children through their passions... more

Alys, Always I picked up Alys, Always off the "New Fiction" shelf at the library; I had never heard of it, it had no jacket so no summary or blurb, but I read the first paragraph and was hooked. I recommend this as the best way to approach this book: knowing absolutely nothing about it... more

Under the Dome Under the Dome is the sort of book that makes you suspect Stephen King has a very low opinion of homo sapiens: a small town is abruptly and inexplicably cut off from the outside world, which causes mundanely bad people to become Very Bad People Indeed... more

11/22/63 11/22/63 is King's take on the classic change-the-past-to-improve-the-future trope (I think Hitler and JFK are probably tied for favorite characters to kill/not kill in this scenario). To power the tension, King employs a variation of the Novikov self-consistency principle in which history actively resists being altered... more


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May. 27th, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC)
I love Buffy, and I agree. It's one of those series that don't get old because so much thought, planning and love went into it and because it managed to tell a complex, thrilling and intelligent tale.
May. 27th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
Imagine what he would have done with Firefly if the Evil Executives hadn't cancelled it!
May. 27th, 2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
I adore Firefly. The first season was brilliant, and I would have loved to see more of it.
May. 28th, 2013 06:50 pm (UTC)
Ooh! Great minds and all that. I'm currently in the midst of a Buffy rewatch -- just started S7.

I love that speech of Xander's -- though my favourite part is the one Spike makes to her near the end. Still not quite forgiven the Scoobies for turning on her, though :(
May. 29th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, that one is lovely :) I'm with you about the one where they turn her out -- even Dawn, for pete's sake, and Buffy saved her ungrateful life!! I get angry with all of them >:|
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