Tomorrow, the highly-anticipated adaptation of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation arrives in theatres — well, in some theatres. For some reason, Paramount has decided to release the movie through Netflix in the UK, despite its internationally-popular star and critically-acclaimed director. Directed and screenplay adapted by Alex Garland, and starring Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Jennifer Jason Leigh (among others), here’s the trailer:

Annihilation is the first novel in Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US, and Fourth Estate in the UK.


Here’s the novel’s synopsis:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers — they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding — but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

The trilogy has also been collected into a single volume, Area X (US/UK).




This movie is based on a novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames (a review copy of which I received quite recently). A brutal crime story, the movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, who is hired to rescue a young girl kidnapped by a sex ring. The movie, directed by Lynne Ramsay, is already racking up accolades and awards, and was the winner of Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Here’s the trailer:

The movie is due to arrive in cinemas in April 2018 — distributed by Film 4, Amazon Studios, and others.

AmesJ-YouWereNeverReallyHereJonathan Ames’s You Were Never Really Here is published in North America by Vintage (a movie tie-in edition is due out in March), and in the UK by Pushkin Vertigo. Here’s the synopsis…

A gritty, harrowing story of corruption and one man’s violent quest for vengeance.

Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade.

When he’s hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe’s small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

Brutal and redemptive in equal measure, You Were Never Really Here is a toxic shot of a thriller, laced with corruption, revenge and the darkest of inner demons.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Books on Film: First FAHRENHEIT 451 teaser from HBO…

A couple of days ago, HBO released the first teaser for their upcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, here it is:

So, not hugely informative, but I am certainly looking forward to watching.

BradburyR-Fahrenheit451US-60thThe novel is published in North America by Simon & Schuster, and in the UK by Harper Voyager. Here’s the synopsis:

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

Books on Film: THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbø

I haven’t read any of Jo Nesbø’s novels, yet — I did pick up Blood on Snow and Midnight Sun not so long ago, and I think I bought the first Harry Hole novel (The Bat) when it was a Kindle Daily Deal quite some time ago. Anyway, I saw the trailer for this movie, based on the seventh Harry Hole novel, and thought it looked excellent.


Here’s the official book synopsis:

Soon the first snow will come

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Outside, he sees her favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

And then he will appear again

Detective Harry Hole soon discovers that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

And when the snow is gone…

When a second woman disappears, Harry’s worst suspicion is confirmed: a serial killer is operating on his home turf.

… he will have taken someone else

Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman is published by Vintage in the UK and US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Books on Film: “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion (Vintage)

MarionI-WarmBodiesMovieA brilliant zombie love-story…

Movie Synopsis: Life for Julie (Teresa Palmer) and R (Nicholas Hoult) couldn’t be more different. R is a zombie; with a great record collection; limited vocab and an overpowering love of brain food. Julie is a human; beautiful; strong; open minded and all heart. When R makes an unexpected decision and rescues Julie from a zombie attack, his lifeless existence begins to have a purpose. As the unlikely relationship develops, R’s choice to protect her sets in motion a sequence of events that might just change both of their worlds forever. Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and based on the debut novel by Isaac Marion, the heart-warming Warm Bodies is 2013’s zom-rom-com with a twist.

Director: Jonathan Levine | Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovitch

I stumbled across Isaac Marion’s novel when I was in New York. I read the synopsis in the Union Square Barnes & Noble (one of my favourite places in the world…). Despite being intrigued, I wasn’t in a zombie-mood at the time, so I passed over it – rather unfairly, as it turned out. After the movie was released on DVD, though, I decided to watch the movie first – not something I usually do, but given the vast array of books I have to read, I wanted to squeeze this in. And I’m very glad I did.

All of the actors do a great job, and Nicholas Hoult does a wonderful job of making “R” an engaging and even sympathetic character. He’s funny, he’s awkward, and his internal monologue is wonderfully relatable to anyone who has ever felt stuck, awkward, or like their lives need a change. It’s brilliantly done, all-round, and as we see R’s evolution (“re-evolution”?) we realise just how brilliant Hoult is as an actor. It’s a peculiarly sweet love story, and I loved how it was both true to zombie lore and also unexpected and original, as well as paying tribute to some of the greatest love-stories (Romeo & Juliet, for example). It also has a superb soundtrack…

Very highly recommended. I will have to move the novel up the tottering TBR mountain.

Book Synopsis: “R” is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…


Q&A with Andy Serkis on adapting Samantha Shannon’s THE BONE SEASON & George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM

AndySerkisIn a Q&A organised by Samantha Shannon’s publicists in the UK, Andy Serkis discussed the acquisition of movie rights for Shannon’s debut novel, The Bone Season. Serkis, best-known perhaps as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, has set up his own film studio, Imaginarium Studio. The Bone Season will be one of their first projects, alongside an adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, both of which will be directed by Serkis.


What is it about The Bone Season that compelled you to include it in The Imaginarium Studio’s very first slate of films?

We first came across the manuscript at the London Book Fair and immediately fell in love with the scope, the scale and the exceptional detail of the world Samantha had created. It’s a really compelling story with such a great central character – we all immediately saw its potential as a fantastic feature film.

Have you met Samantha Shannon, and how involved will she be in the film’s production?

Yes of course – she’s a delightful, incredibly intelligent person. She’s very warm and a passionate storyteller- dedicated beyond belief. We’re working very closely with her on all aspects of bringing the world of the book to the screen. We’ve been involving her with all the early concept artwork that we’re beginning to put together. Obviously it’s her world so we want to make sure we bring it to life in the way that she wants.

ShannonS-BoneSeasonCan you tell us about how the creative process for adapting a story like The Bone Season begins?

It begins with knowing the story you want to tell. There are thousands of stories contained within the world that Samantha has created – we have to be very disciplined about opening up the world in a way that will lead us on to further investigation in the rest of the series. We need to find the emotional heart of the story; the relationships; the tension; the suspense and the drive, and of course working closely with Samantha is going to make it much easier.

At this very early stage it’s about finding the right writer and the right approach to telling the story. Hand in hand with developing the screenplay it’s also about developing the visual world and bringing that to life, finding the right visual effects team who understand Samantha’s concepts.

You have been part of bringing some of the world’s most famous and well-loved fantasy worlds to contemporary audiences. Which of your experiences across film, TV, stage and video games would you say has been most helpful in preparing you to produce The Bone Season?

It would be impossible to single out any one single experience, it’s an accumulation of all my experiences to date, but obviously having worked on The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s extraordinary world with Peter Jackson is incredibly useful. Peter basically gave me the opportunity to work on a lot of extraordinary characters in a lot of extraordinary worlds and has opened up my eyes to a genre that I knew very little about before.

Will performance capture will come mostly into play when portraying Shannon’s Rephaim race on screen in The Bone Season? Can you give us any insight into how you’d like these characters to appear?

We’re in very early stages of designing how we want to portray these characters, and are exploring a variety of avenues to bring these characters to life. We’re certainly not tied to any one production technique at this early stage.

Animal Farm is the other film on your inaugural slate. What can you tell us about this project?

OrwellG-AnimalFarmWe’re extraordinarily excited about Animal Farm. We have been working on the methodology this year, the development of the characters and the story. We’re working with a wonderful character designer and very pleased with how the animals are developing as visual characters.

In terms of story, we’re remaining very truthful to the original book however we are relocating the setting as if Orwell were writing in the present day – we’ve been working very closely with the Orwell estate on this.

You’re talents are very varied! If you could only do one thing for the rest of your career, which would you choose (stage/TV/film/video game roles, voice roles, director or producer)?

Mountain Climber.