REVIEW: Emancipated by M.G. Reyes

emancipatedSix teenagers are legally liberated from parental control for very different reasons but they all have something in common, they all have something to hide. There’s step-sisters Grace and Candace who are looking forward to freedom and for Candace to get her big break in Hollywood, John-Michael who has recently become an orphan, wannabe rock star Lucy, tennis champ Paolo, and computer nerd Maya. They now live together in a house on the beach, looking forward to a life of freedom but their pasts soon start to catch up with them.

Emancipated is interesting because these six characters come from different walks of life and they really shouldn’t have ever met or had anything to do with each other, so there’s often misunderstandings or general awkwardness.

The teenagers in Emancipated feel very real. They lie and big themselves up about various aspects of their life like sex and relationships but at the same time they sometimes suck at communicating how they actually feel about someone they like. Also they aren’t always likable characters, they can be mean, rude or brutally honest which is refreshing to see because if you did have six teenagers in one house with no adult supervision, things will get a bit heated now and then.

The chapters alternate between the characters and are often short and snappy so help pull you into the story. Often a chapter with one character will end on a surprise and then you go to another character and see what’s happening with them. While sometimes you might want to stick with a character for a while, none of them are really boring.

The thing with Emancipated is, it’s great to go into it knowing as little as possible. There’s so many lies and secrets revealed (and there’s a lot that appears to still be hidden) as you read the book that sometimes you’re not sure who these characters are or how they really relate to one another.

Emancipated is a quick-read with intriguing characters and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the sequel which is out later this year. 4/5.


REVIEW: Hail, Caesar! (2016)

hail caesarHollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) struggles to keep the studio’s stars in line as he tries to find kidnapped movie star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).

Hail, Caesar! is a Coen Brothers movie so anyone who has watched a fair bit of their filmography will kind of know what to expect with this film. There’s comedy, weird and wonderful characters and some brilliant back-and-forth dialogue scenes. Plus, it looks amazing, 1950’s Hollywood looks glamorous with the various sets and costumes and the music fits the various Hollywood sequences wonderfully.

If you’re looking for a solid plot in Hail, Caesar! you’ll be a bit disappointed as in many ways it’s more of a series of sequences that imitate classic old Hollywood movies. There’s the western headed up by Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who is now being shoe-horned into a ballroom drama at the studios behest, there’s the Roman Epic lead by the missing Baird Whitlock, there’s the song-and-dance lead by Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) who wears a sailor suit and tap-dances on tables and then there’s the spectacular synchronised-swimming sequence with DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) as a mermaid who isn’t as innocent as she appears on the big screen. All these scenarios have a hint of nostalgia for Hollywood’s Golden Age and they are all good fun.

Eddie Manix is the guy that holds all these characters and set pieces together as he not only struggles to put the ransom money together for his kidnapped star, but he also struggles with his conscience when he lies to his wife about giving up smoking.

All the cast fit their roles wonderfully, in many senses a lot of the characters are Hollywood stereotypes but as you watch Hail, Caesar! you don’t really care about that. They all seem like they are having a lot of fun, and you in the audience have fun too at the sheer delight as the film whizzes from scenario to scenario on a Hollywood Studio backlot. Hail, Caesar! doesn’t always make a lot of sense, and some characters aren’t really around for long but if you don’t mind that and just sit back and enjoy the ride, you might have a lot of fun.

Hail, Caesar! is chaotic and indulgent, it won’t be for everyone, but it really is a lot of fun. I’m in no way a hard-core Coen Brothers fan, I really did not like The Big Lebowski (1998) and that’s supposed to be one of their best loved films, but Hail, Caesar! was incredibly meta and fun and I couldn’t get enough. 4/5.