You Should Be Reading: December 2016

(Written for Filmoria)

This month sees the introduction of my new monthly feature for Filmoria, You Should Be Reading, which looks at what book adaptations are being released as films over the following month.

If you love reading just as much as you do watching, then this feature will tell you everything you need to know about the upcoming films that are based on books, giving you ideas on what you should be reading in anticipation for the release of their adaptations.

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You Should Be Reading: Story Of Your Life (Arrival)

“I’d love to tell you the story of this evening, the night you’re conceived, but the right time to do that would be when you’re ready to have children of your own, and we’ll never get that chance.”

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Story of Your Life is a science fiction short story written by author Ted Chiang, which is a part of his Stories of Your Life and Others collection, originally published in 2002.

Premised during an alien invasion after multiple spacecrafts touch down across the globe, linguist Dr Louise Banks is recruited alongside mathematician Ian Donnelly and US Army Colonel Weber by the military to assist in translating communications with an alien race known as Heptapods. As mankind scrambles for answers as to why these aliens are here, Banks tries to distinguish between their two distinct forms of language – the Heptapods’ spoken language, which has a free word order, and their written language, which has a complex structure that a single semantic symbol cannot be excluded without changing the entire meaning of a sentence – a vital study to maintain peace with this mysterious race.

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You Should Be Reading: The Light Between Oceans

“There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory. Isabel is part of him, wherever she is, just like the war and the light and the ocean. Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone. He watches the ocean surrender to the night, knowing that the light will reappear.”

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The Light Between Oceans is a 2012 debut novel by M.L. Stedman, which follows war veteran Tom Sherbourne, who returns home to Western Australia after fighting in the western trenches of World War I in Europe. After meeting and quickly falling in love with the young Isabel, the newly married couple move to an isolated island where Tom maintains the upkeep of a working lighthouse, and Isabel gets used to married life away from her family. But as Tom struggles with his numb emotions from serving in the war, and after the heartache of not being able to start a family of their own, the couple rescue a baby girl who has washed up on an adrift rowboat.

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You Should Be Reading: The Girl On The Train

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”

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Written by British author Paula Hawkins, and quickly becoming one of the fastest-selling novels in history after its release in January 2015, debuting at No. 1 on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list, The Girl On The Train is a psychological thriller that follows an alcohol divorcee, Rachel Watson, who takes the same train to work every single day. As Rachel passes by the same houses, she comes to recognise the people she sees and begins fantasising about the relationships and lives of those that reside there. One of these houses belongs to her ex-husband Tom, who now lives with Anna, who he cheated on Rachel with, and their baby daughter. A few doors down, Rachel spends most of her commute fantasising about the seemingly happy lives of Scott and Megan Hipwell. But everything changes when Rachel witnesses something from the train window and Megan is later found to be missing, presumed dead. Becoming entangled in a missing person’s investigation, Rachel’s involvement promises to send shockwaves throughout both her past and future.

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You Should Be Reading: The Girl With All The Gifts

“And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both. But you have to open it to find that out.”

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Written by M.R. Carey, based on his Edgar Award-winning short story, Iphigenia In Aulis, and originally published in 2014, The Girl with All the Gifts is a set in a dystopian future in which most of humanity is wiped out by a mutated fungal infection that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”.

Set at an army base in rural England, a small group of children, who appear to be immune to the disease’s effects, retaining normal thoughts and emotions, are being studied by the ruthless biologist Dr Caldwell. Spending their days in a classroom, taught by the empathetic Miss Justineau and guarded by the ever-watchful Sergeant Parks, the story centres on a particularly special young girl, Melanie. Melanie excels in the classroom and loves each day she gets to spend with her favourite teacher Miss Justineau. But when base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks, Pvt. Kieran Gallagher, and Dr Caldwell, and must discover what she really is to ultimately decide both her own future and that of the whole human race.

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You Should Be Reading: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

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The debut novel by Ransom Riggs, originally published in 2011, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a young adult book that combines a collection of vintage photographs with a narrative led by Jacob, a teenage boy who follows clues from his grandfather’s old photographs. Led to a large, abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island, Jacob begins an adventure that spans different worlds and times. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and about their special powers, as well as the powers of their enemies. Chosen to protect the Peculiar Children, Jacob must discover his own power to save his new friends from the nightmarish Hollows and Wights, who are led by the mysterious Mr Barron.

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You Should Be Reading: Me Before You

“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”

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Jojo Moyes‘ 2012 best-selling book, Me Before You, tells the story of a 26-year-old girl from a small English town, Lou Clarke, who has just lost her job in the local cafe. With only one option left at the job centre, Lou is employed as a carer by the wealthy Traynor family, despite having no skills or experience, to help support her struggling family. Here, Lou is placed in charge of Will, a once successful man who enjoyed all aspects of his life, who is now a quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down after being involved in an accident. As Lou attempts to show Will what life can be like if he opens his mind, Will encourages Lou to live her life to the fullest as an unexpected relationship blossoms.

Set to be released on 3rd June, the film adaptation is directed by Thea Sharrock and stars Emilia Clarke as Lou and Sam Claflin as Will.

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You Should Be Reading: The Divergent Series – Allegiant (Part 1)

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”

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Based on the final book in Veronica Roth‘s young adult dystopian Divergent trilogy, originally published in 2013, The Divergent Series: Allegiant is the third instalment in The Divergent Series of films and is the first in a two-part adaptation of the final book.

Set in the aftermath of Insurgent, Allegiant sees Tris and Four venture outside of the walls that enclose the only world they know, a futuristic Chicago in ruins, for the first time ever. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Taken into protective custody by a mysterious agency known as the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust, as a ruthless battle ignites. In order to survive, Tris is forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, and sacrifice.

Again directed by Robert Schwentke, and with Shailene Woodley and Theo James in the leads, the film adaptation is set to be released on 10th March.

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You Should Be Reading: The 5th Wave

“We told the stories of our lives before the Arrival. We cried openly over the ones we lost. We wept secretly for our smartphones, our cars, our microwave ovens, and the Internet.”

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Written by Rick Yancey and originally published in 2013, The 5th Wave is a young adult dystopia and the first in a trilogy of novels.

Centred around 16-year-old Cassie Sullivan, the story is premised during an alien invasion after an unknown species have executed four waves of increasingly deadly attacks, leaving most of Earth decimated. The first wave saw an EMP wave take out all electronics and technology, the second saw massive tsunamis around the world take out every coastline, the third saw an infection kill off most of the remaining survivors, and the fourth saw “the people in charge” turn their guns onto those left. But there’s still another wave to come, and it’s bound to be lethal. On the run, Cassie teams up with a young man who may be her final hope – if she can trust him – in a desperate attempt to save her younger brother.

With the adaptation released in cinemas today, the film is directed by J. Blakeson and stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Cassie, alongside a supporting cast of Nick Robinson, Maria Bello, Liev Schreiber, and Maika Monroe.

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You Should Be Reading: Room

“In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time… In Room, me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there’s only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.”

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Published in 2010 and written by Emma Donoghue, Room is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother. Ma has created a whole universe in ‘Room’, where they have both lived for Jack’s whole life. But when Ma decides it’s time to escape, she risks everything to give Jack the chance to make a thrilling discovery: the outside world.

Set to be released on 15th January, the film adaptation, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, sees Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay lead this story about the unparalleled bond between parent and child.

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