2020 was a difficult year all around but August brought with it a big blow to the world of cinema when it was announced that Chadwick Boseman had died. The actor had been secretly battling cancer for years and, on August 28th 2020, he died at his home aged 43. I know, in the age of social media, there’s always a huge outpouring of grief when a famous person dies but this felt slightly different. Boseman was a magnificent actor and was a big part of Black representation in the film industry. He had played some key figures in Black history and, as Black Panther, had proudly brought diversity to the MCU. Losing him so young was a shock and so many people felt it. Boseman’s talent will never be forgotten and he has justly been awarded with posthumous nominations for his work n Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It’s a this time of year that I’d usually be trying to catch up on all of the films with all of the likely Oscar nominated films but I’m all out of sorts thanks to Covid. That wasn’t going to stop me watching this. I had high hopes for this film.
I have a problem with Bookstagram. My problem being that I can’t stop myself from buying the books that I see people raving about. This was one of those books. Last year this book seemed to be everywhere and I hadn’t heard anyone say anything negative about it. Of course, I was slightly skeptical. I mean book that starts off by comparing itself to Get Out and Rear Window has some pretty high expectations of itself. It’s safe to say that I have been pretty dubious about contemporary thrillers. I find the majority to be superficial and not very thrilling. Of course, the added theme of racism and gentrification of this narrative had got me interested, so I decided to go against my natural instincts. Could it possibly change the genre completely? Especially when it sounded pretty similar to the plot of Vampires vs the Bronx.
During lockdown, I joined my first ever book club. It’s not that I have anything against them but I never do very well when I discuss books with other people. I was the same at university. I was always the shy one in seminars who would never speak out unless picked on. I was better in pairs or small groups but I’m still the kind of person who is much better on paper. It also doesn’t help that I’m so easily swayed by a good argument. Our latest read was Sula by Toni Morrison and I was one of the few people who had enjoyed it. However, the moment the rest of the group started criticising it, all of my beliefs went out of the window. Basically, I lack confidence and conviction. Book groups aren’t great for the combo.
When I started my holiday this week, I had all sorts of grand plans to read loads of my unread books and get ahead with the blog. We’re only halfway through but it’s becoming clear that I’m not going to achieve a great deal with this week. I spent Sunday and Monday playing with my niece, which was admittedly a fantastic use of my time. It just meant that the closest I got to reading was the first page of That’s Not My Kitten and I’m not entirely sure that would count towards my yearly reading count. It didn’t help that my desperation to finish Those People in time for my Monday review had left me not wanting to read anything else on Sunday night. So, in order to get something finished for my Wednesday review, I needed to play strategically. I wanted a small book from my TBR pile. Thankfully, this James Baldwin book has been near the top for a few weeks now and it seemed perfect. Much heavier going than my previous book but that was a welcome change.
It was announced recently that the sequel to Ready Player One will be released on November this year. I can’t say that I’m too excited by the news. I found the book really annoying and thought the film was kind of dull. I think it’s a problem with all novels that rely too heavily on their pop culture references. For one thing, I think it shows a lack of imagination and writing ability. For another, I think it’s a really lazy way of getting your readers onside. It’s using nostalgia to create engagement instead of a captivating story or developed characters. I’d go so far as to say that Ernest Cline’s YA novel made me quite angry. So angry that I’ve really stopped trusting any book that uses popular culture to draw people in. Which means that Slay wasn’t a natural choice for me to start reading. It’s a YA novel about an online video game and it’s really pushing the Black Panther connection. Writer Brittney Morris was inspired by the movie to write her first novel. Something she apparently accomplished in 11 days. But would it read like an 11-day long composition or would it actually make up for the wounds left by Cline? There was only one way to find out.