Friday, 31 July 2015

Book reviews: Fantasy

I must confess that I struggle writing book reviews. It's mostly because I try to do something that I'd be expected to do in English, which is definitely different from writing a review for a blog. My reviews usually end up too long with waaay too much theme analyzation. However, I do love reviewing books (even if I suck at writing longer reviews), so I thought I'd try to make a happy medium and list books I've enjoyed in a certain genre and give a few sentences of a review (but I'll limit my list to five books because if I don't have a limit then I can go all day). I'll update my lists as I read more books. So in alphabetical order, here are five fantasy novels I've enjoyed. 

Dragonskin Slippers by Jessica Day George - Creel's aunt attempts to set her up with a knight by sacrificing her to a dragon, and her plan goes a little haywire when Creel befriends the dragon, falls in love with the prince and tries to take down the princess of a neighbouring country. I've loved this book for years because the Creel knows exactly what she wants and isn't afraid to get it. The world-building is amazing, the characters even more so, and the plot is fresh and exciting. There are three books in the series. 

Ingo by Helen Dunmore - set in today's time, Ingo is about Sapphire and her brother trying to come to terms with their identity as part mermaid, as well as save the world from the threats lurking deep in the ocean. The novel is beautifully written and you feel like you're part of the intricate world that the author has created. The characters are incredibly complex, and throughout the entire novel you can feel the characters' struggle, as changing as the tides, to accept both the sea and the earth as their home. The first book in a series.

Knight and Rouge by Hilari Bell - high fantasy, snappy dialogue and a mystery. In a world where knights and honour aren't celebrated and are actually laughed at, a lone knight works to bring the old traditions back. He saves a thief who becomes his squire and friend and together they solve mysteries in the name of honour. I didn't particularly enjoy the mystery aspect of it, but that might just be my personal aversion to mysteries (I read way too many Nancy Drew books when I was younger). The main character's friendship felt real and was the best part of the novel, however, it did lag a bit in the middle (but that might be my aversion to mysteries). This novel is the first in a series. 

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron - an urban fantasy retelling the story of Frankenstein's monster and his genius coding son, who creates a monster all by himself. I've been obsessed with Frankenstein since reading the original novel by Mary Shelly, and this novel did an excellent job of combining the themes and ideas of the original while breathing new life into the classic story. We also get to see the other myths (like Medusa, for example) come to life and see how they survive in the 21st century. 

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull (author of Fablehaven) - this one leans more towards MG but it's still fantastic. There's a new candy store in town, and the sweets are anything but ordinary. The main characters are soon pitched against characters with magical abilities, but who's telling the truth? I've loved this book for years because of its world building (the fudge makes you obsessed getting more fudge while you ignore the rest of the world, and the moon candy changes your gravity to make it more like the moon) and twisting plot. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Friday, 24 July 2015

Writerly Jargon

Writers are weird. I'll be the first to admit it. Because I'm a writer, I've annoyed countless family members, friends and the occasional random stranger with my ideas or novels. Because I'm a writer, I've stuck up plot ideas, character sketches and Great Expectations and Winnie-the-Pooh quotes up on my wall. (It's called my Wall of Utter Procrastination. Mostly just because I can.) Because I'm a writer, I enjoy talking about stuff that seems utterly boring to most people like dark moments, character arcs and how much fun it was to kill off that last character. (I promise I'm not a psychopath. Promise.)

Arguably one of the weirdest things that writers do is use writerly jargon, which can be very confusing. So, once being a new writer myself, I've put together a dictionary for all you new writers out there, or those of you who suffer because of a writer in your life and you have no clue what they're talking about. As a bonus, the non-writing readers of this blog will now understand what I'm talking about. Enjoy. 

Antagonist - the bad guy of the novel. Sauron, Darth Vader, Voldemort. 
Anti-hero - a person who's doing the right thing for the wrong reason. For example, Sherlock doesn't solve crimes to help people, he's in it for the thrill. 
Anti-villain - a person doing the wrong thing for the right reason. For example, in Casino Royale (spoilers) the Bond Girl betrays Bond to save her boyfriend. 
Backstory - stuff that happened to the character to make them who they are today. Example - Batman's parents were killed when he was young, so now he fights crime because of that (and because he's awesome (but not quite as awesome as Spider-Man)).
Character arc - this is the thing that the character learns during the story. For example, Artemis Fowl learns that being the good guy is actually a good thing. Other examples include putting others before yourself, being brave, learning to keep your friends, etc. 
Cliché - a stereotype. Not a good thing. 

Landscape pictures are cliché. (But hey, I still like them.)

Climax - the part in the movie when the good guy beats up the bad guy and generally gets the girl. There's usually a lot of explosions and shooting and epicness. 
Deus ex Machina - when something other than the characters solve the problem of the novel. In ancient Greece (where the term originated) it was when they lowered a "god" onto the stage to fix everything. Generally a very bad thing. 
Macro-edits - editing big stuff like character arcs and plot holes. 
MC - short for main character. This is usually the protagonist, unless the author is being tricky and having the main character be the villain, which in that case he/she is still kind of the protagonist. It gets confusing. 
MG - Middle grade. Books for kids in grade 5-7ish. 
Micro-edits/ line editing - editing sentences, like getting rid of passive tense. 
NaNoWriMo - National November Writing Month. This is when (totally insane) writers try to write a novel (the official goal is 50,000 words, but some people change it according to their needs) in the month of November. Yep, it's as crazy as it sounds. 
Passive voice - if you can add "by zombies" after the verb and have it work, then it's passive. For example, if the sentence is "the door was opened," you can say "the door was opened by zombies" and it makes sense, so it's passive. Passive = bad writing. 
Protagonist - the good guy of the novel. Some people shorten it to "protag". Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter. 

Because Harry Potter is awesome, and so is this poster. Source

Sub-plots - stuff that's happening in the novel besides the actual plot. For example, the Han Solo/Leia or Ron/Hermione relationship are sub-plots to destroying the Empire or taking down Voldemort. 
Theme - the (usually moral) message of the story. Love conquers all. Good always prevails. With great power comes great responsibility. 
Voice - the thing that makes your character sound like your character, and the thing that makes the author sound like the author. For example, I would say "and the door exploded in an epic fashion, shooting a million fiery pieces of splinters across the room, instantly killing everyone in sight" while someone slightly less enthusiastic about explosions would say "and the door exploded, killing everyone." 
WIP - Work in Progress. This is the novel that the writer is currently writing. 
World-building - this is basically making stuff up and creating a fictional world. You get this a lot in dystopian, fantasy and science fiction. 
YA - Young adult. Books for teenagers, but a lot of adults read them too. 

And there you have it! If the writer in your life is talking about something beyond these basics, then I can safely assure you that you've gone beyond your part as a caring friend/family member/whatever and most likely need to learn no more. And, if you're a new writer, then if you've got all this then you've got about 90% of everything you need to know down.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Bonus Post: Lunchtime conversations

The following is a transcript that's about 80% accurate from a conversation my friends and I (there were about five or six of us) had yesterday. (The 20% that's not accurate comes from the slight difference in wording and how I had to cut out a little bit). Yes, my friends are weird but also awesome. (And for those of you who were there, I'm sorry if I got some details wrong.) The letters are initials of our names, just in case you were wondering (with "V" being me). 

KC: "I need an idea for my art project."
J: "What's the theme?"
KC: "Change and technology."
J: "A dinosaur with a cellphone!"
KC: "What?"
J: "A dinosaur with a cellphone!"
V: "But dinosaurs have short arms. How's he supposed to listen to his phone when he can't reach his ear?" *demonstrates*
J: "A dinosaur with headphones and a cellphone."
V: "That could work." 
KC: "No!" *bangs head on table*
KB: "Chips anyone?"
V: "Me!"
SL: "Me!"
A: "Me, please!" 
*passes chips out*
J: "A mechanical rose?"
KC: "No!" *sobs* "I'm sorry I asked."
M: "Hey, weird question. Do the Americans and Canadians share the groundhog?"
V: "Like on Groundhog Day?"
M: "Yeah."
V: "I don't know. Maybe. Sure?" 
A: "Can someone pass the chips please?"
J: "What about half a real face and half a metal face?"
E: "Hey, what are we doing in English next?"
C: "Uh, Shakespeare, I think."
E: "Ugh!"
C: "The Lion King is based off Hamlet, you know."
SL: "Ew, no, The Lion King and Shakespeare do not belong in the same sentence."
J: "The evolution of cell phones!"
KC: "Shut up! Now who wants chocolate?"
V: "Is that a trick question?"
KC: "Nope."
V: "Cool. I will!"
C: "Me please!"
E: "Pass it here!"
*bell rings*
A: "See ya!"
KB: "Bye."
M: "Later!"
E: "See ya!"

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cyclone Marcia: 6 months later (Part 1)

Six months ago, on February 20th, 2015, Cyclone Marcia hit Queensland and left a lasting mark on our community. 

This is my story. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Bonus Post: 15 Things you (probably) didn't know about me

I thought I'd start some bonus posts because there's some more stuff that I'd like to put on here that doesn't fit into my Canada/Australia/stories posts. Because they're bonus posts, there won't be a schedule like my other posts, or even set topics. (I know. No schedule or topic?!?! Watch as anarchy unfolds.)

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you'll know a few things about me, like I'm into writing and I've moved across the world. And I like movies. And I'm quite random. Aaaand.... that's where it ends. So without further ado, here are some (random) things about me!

1) I am a nerd. And a geek. Yep. Star Wars, Graham's number (I LOVE Graham's number!), story structure, Lord of the Rings, complex numbers, extended metaphors, black holes, Marvel and infinity. (You could imagine how much I loved the science-y bits in Interstellar.) I love it all. 

The awesomeness...

2) I am the my family's tech person. I've digitalized all of our DVDs and schoolwork, and am working on scanning all of our pictures. I take care of our digital movies, music and pictures, too. It's not an easy, fun or quick job, but I do it out of my obsessive need to stay organized. 

3) My favourite shoes are Birkenstocks. They are the best shoes in the entire world. End of story. 

4) I have a weird taste in TV shows. Seriously, it's weird. I'm too lazy to bother searching down every episode of every season to a TV show, so I don't. I watch The Middle, Horrible Histories, Sherlock, Phineas and Ferb, The Big Bang Theory and Top Gear (as long as it's the challenges). And that's it. (Seriously though, how random are those shows?) I don't watch much more TV beyond that. 

5) My favourite colour is purple. I used to have my walls painted this really nice purple, but then we moved :( 

6) I own the Lego Death Star. My brother likes to show it to his friends, and I joke about charging them per viewing. It's just awesome. (Like I said, I'm a geek.) 

7) I hate Shakespeare. I'm sorry to anyone who worships him (or even mildly likes him), but I hate his work. This is mostly because the only play we were exposed to from grades 9-10 was Romeo and Juliet (we watched like three different versions of the play, watched two of the movies then studied it for a whole term) and I didn't like it the first place. Plus, I think the endings to his plays are all stupid. All he does is use his character's flaws to kill everyone. 

8) I have a really weak stomach, and I work in a pharmacy. Yeah, I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea, but so far I haven't fainted so it's all good. 

9) I am an introvert. I can talk to people, and I like talking to people, but it's exhausting. I'm usually done seeing people at 3pm (or even at lunch on a bad day), so when I have something after school I usually have to drag myself through it. 

10) I love soccer. It's my favourite sport and I've been playing it forever. I don't love training, but games are so much fun because you get to run around guessing what everyone else is going to do, then you get to kick the ball as hard as you can. So much fun :) 


11) I don't get popular music. I've tried, I really have, but I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU PEOPLE ARE FINDING THIS MUSIC! It's not there one day then the next day every single person I know loves this song and knows it by heart. WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN DID YOU ALL HAVE A MEETING WITHOUT ME!?!? It's been my rule that I find out about a popular song about two months after it comes out. Uptown Funk? Yeah, six months later... I don't really care, either, because I never like the songs anyways, but I do feel kinda stupid when everyone's singing along with the most popular song in the country at the time and I'm totally lost. (Rant over.) 

12) I stick all of my writing ideas up on my wall next to my LOTR, Hobbit and Avengers posters. (Don't judge me.) I call it The Wall of Utter Procrastination, because seriously, you could look at that thing all day and not get bored. Character sketches, plots, timelines, quotes, origami (I kid you not), world building... the list goes on. People think I'm slightly (ok, a lot) crazy, but I'm good with that. The crazy people are the best kind of people, in my opinion (as long as it's not psychopath crazy, which I'm not). 

13) I have a weird taste in music. This one kinda flows on from number eleven, and while I like good music, it's the combination of all of the genres that I like that makes it weird. I like some more mainstream music like Imagine Dragons, Sara Bareilles and Christina Perri, but I don't like the really popular music like Taylor Swift. Then I also like less-mainstream music like Owl City (best lyrics in the entire world) and Christian music like Mandisa and Casting Crowns. I like soundtracks (How to Train your Dragon and Cinderella (2015) are to die for) and classical music (my newest favourite is Lang Lang's The Mozart Album, and how could I not mention Jim Brickman?). Then I like some older music like Nat King Cole, Beachboys and the Andrew Sisters and I'll like the occasional "popular" song (like Bastille's Pompeii). Yeah, I don't even know. 

14) I write in a range of genres. I've written high fantasy, science fiction and contemporary, and I have plans for a spy/retelling book, as well as an action book. If I ever get published, my readers are going to be confused. 

15) My favourite kind of drink in the world is hot chocolate. With marshmallows and whipped cream, if I can swing it. Perfection in a cup. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

How to stay organized while querying

I'm not going to pretend that I know the secret to writing that perfect query letter to land the agent of your dreams (where after you land said agent rainbows and puppies and gold coins fall from the sky). And while I don't know the million dollar secret, there are plenty of people who do and have set up shop on the Internet somewhere. Feel free to go search for them if that's what you're after. 

I do know, however, how to start and stay organized during the querying process. It's a lot easier to focus on stuff like writing the perfect query letter when you're organized, after all. 

After you've edited your query letter and synopsis to perfection (to the point where it's so shiny that it blinds people), it's time to start querying. Here's how you go about that (in a nice and neat list, because I love lists). 

1) Get yourself a notebook. If you are addicted to notebooks like I am, this shouldn't be a problem. Preferably, find one that's empty. Or, if you're more of a computer person, open up a new document. 

I have an addiction to notebooks, but
it comes in handy sometimes. From here

2) Go to your bookshelf. Grab books that are like your novel in terms of genre and target audience and flip to the acknowledgments. The author will usually mention their agent. Write down that name (leave space below it if you're writing in a notebook). Repeat until you have five or more agents. 

3) Research said agents. The Internet is a great resource. Google them and write down any information you need (this is why you left a space under their name). This information includes their website, email, how long it takes to get a reply, what to include in your email and what they represent. 

4) Submit my jabberwockies, submit! Go and submit to your first couple of agents. Near the back of your notebook/document, start a new page with the name of your manuscript at the top. Underneath, write down the name of the agent you submitted to, the date you submitted and how long it should take them to reply. Leave some space for another column for their reply. This way, you can see at a glance exactly what's going on and who you've submitted to. 

5) Find more agents. Once again, the Internet is a wonderful place. I personally use Agent Query, or you can continue to search through your books. Keep writing down their information as you go, as well as keeping track of who you submitted to when.

Why would you bother with the writing down of contact info, you ask? After all, you usually only submit to an agent once about a project, why keep track of stuff? 

Well, by the time you've submitted to a few agents, you have a database of agents and their contact info. Now, you don't have to search books and the Internet again for any future projects. You have just saved yourself a lot of time, and, hopefully, you can find yourself an agent for your manuscript.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Going from a public school to an all-girl's Catholic school

I grew up going to a government funded public school in Alberta. Life was pretty good. We payed about $100 every year for the school to buy us basic supplies, and the rest came out of our taxes. We had gym five days a week and had a pick of your basic subjects once we got to junior high - home ec., technology, French, art, music, etc. Once a year, we got a ski trip to the local ski hill and a free pancake breakfast. All in all, it wasn't a bad way to go through school. 

Yes, funding was always an issue. As one of my science teachers would often say, "I've created this experiment out of our non-existent science budget for you to enjoy". But for me, it was never really an issue. One of the major problems was class sizes, though. In fifth or sixth grade (I can't remember which) my French class had thirty-nine kids in it (with one teacher), but most classes wouldn't more than about thirty. (Note that I never got to a Canadian high school, though.)

I entered Australian high school in grade nine. In Australia, the schools are either state funded (free), Catholic (the student pays a lot) or private (the student pays a whole lot). Public schools don't board (or at least that I know of), so kids who live out on properties, in little towns in the middle of nowhere or from the islands up North board at a Catholic or private school. This is why our school years are set up so differently from in Canada, because the two or three weeks of vacation in between terms allows the boarders to go back home.  

It took me quite a while to get used to the new school. For one, it was Catholic, so I went from a school where I only discussed God with my Christian friends to a school where we had to talk about God at least two or three days a week. Plus, it was Catholic, so those traditions took a while to get used to and to understand. There were uniforms to get used to (the clothes, the shoes, and the no jewelry, makeup or nail polish rules) as well as the house system (my sister and I were so thrilled when we found out that they had houses like in Harry Potter. The colours were the same and everything! (I still find it funny today because I've always said that I'd be put in Hufflepuff if I went to Hogwarts, and I got put in the yellow house.))

It's also a girl's school, which I found I really enjoy. While there's still drama (you can't get away from it), there's less of it. (We do get shared classes, where some girls go to the boys school and some boys go to our school for a subject, but you have to chose to be in that subject and a class is typically shared if the numbers are lower. Neither my sister or I took a shared class, but when he's older my brother can if he wanted.) I love the atmosphere of it being all girls, too. I definitely do miss going to a co-ed school without question, but given the choice I'd go to a girl's school. Call me crazy :)

It's also near the beach, so no complaints there. 

One of the things that I've found that's really awesome is that the school will work with you. In my old public school, they had too many kids to deal with to worry about individuals - which was totally understandable - but here class sizes are smaller which gives teachers more time to help individuals. For example, most classes have around twenty students, but some are less. I'm the only one in my French class (but I only get the teacher for half of my lessons) and there's about nine girls in my Math C class*. However, it's a lot more expensive than a state school, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm in high school or if it's my school, but there's a lot of pressure to do well.

Overall? I love going to my school and I loved going to my old school in Canada, but as with everything there's pros and cons. 

* In Queensland, there are four levels of math classes you can take. From grade seven to ten, there's three levels, lowest (there isn't really a name for this one), core or extension, and you move through the levels depending on your needs. Once you hit grade eleven, you have a choice of four levels - prevocational (basic math, the only non-OP** math), Math A (core), Math B (extension) and Math C (which is harder than Math B). I'm not sure what prevoc does, but Math A does stuff with money, directions and things like geometry and probability. Math B moves into the more complicated math, with stuff like radians, trigonometry, algebra and basic calculus. Math C is more about the abstract and totally not useful to real life, with complex numbers, vectors and matrices. If you take Math C then you have to take Math B.

** If you take five OP subjects (typically harder than non-OP subjects) and sit the QCS test at the end of grade twelve, then you are eligible to go into university (or you can sit the test without doing the subjects and get a rank, which is kinda the same thing). You can take up to seven subjects. It's a lot more confusing and complicated than that, but that's the basics. They're changing it again in a few years so that you don't take the QCS test, but I'm not sure what they're replacing it with.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Driving your motorcycle into a brick wall at high speeds (AKA Writer's Block)

There's a big difference between not knowing what to write and not writing. For example, sometimes you're struggling to keep up with school and writing, so you shelf writing for two weeks while you descend into the utter misery and horror of exams. Or, something's happened - a breakup, you've moved, a family member's sick, the Death Star has blown up your planet, whatever - and you just can't write because you're busy running and not thinking straight. These are all perfectly awesome reasons to not write. 

But what happens when you sit down to write and you can't? You have no clue what to write? You sit down and your brain goes fuzzy and your fingers are stiff and your characters are flat? That's called writer's block, and it sucks. (It feels like not even the Avengers can save you. Yes, it's that bad.) It kinda feels like driving your motorcycle at high speeds into a brick wall. (Not that I've ever experienced this, but still. I'm a writer. I have a good imagination). 

Ok, it's not a brick wall, but I'm sure it'd still hurt. 

In order to cure the world of this terrible, mind-numbing disease, I bring you, The List of Amazingness that will Surely Cure your Terrible, Mind-Numbing Writer's Block for (Possibly) Ever. For short, TLoAtwSCyTMNWBf(P)E

-Walk away. Give it a break. You've earned it. Writing is hard, and no one can stare at a screen forever. Give it at least a couple of days, possibly a week. 
-Eat well. You can't write if your brain is mush. 
-Get some exercise. See above. 
-Talk to people. Real people, not your characters. Yes, such things exist. 
-Read a book. Watch a movie. Recharge your creative juices. 
-Go for a drive. Or a long walk if you can't drive. Think a lot. Take pictures. Do a cartwheel. 
-Sit down with your pet/baby sibling/stuffed animal/favourite plant and talk to them. (It's probably best to do this in private so you don't get shipped off to an insane asylum.) I've found one of the best ways to figure something out, whether it be a plot issue or a flat character, is to just talk out loud. It's awesome to have someone to discuss it with, but not everyone has someone that amazing. So just talk to someone/thing who can't talk back, and don't stop. 
-Sit down and force yourself to write. It will be hard. It will suck. But just force yourself, no matter how painful. 

If all else fails, throw something random at your novel and run with it. It doesn't have to make the final draft, but it does have to get you writing. I've included some (quite random) ideas below. 

-Aliens from the third moon of Jupiter invade and capture your love interest. 
-Someone discovers an old time machine hidden under the floorboards. 
-A guy with a gun walks into your main character's school. 
-The main character's (MC) best friend lost your MC's iPod... was it on purpose? What it is accident? Who's paying for it? 
-Random explosions. 
-Random gunfights. 
-Random car chases. 
-Actually, anything random that you'd find in an action movie would work well. Or you could do a Mission Impossible and throw someone out of a building. 
-Something happens to the parents. Someone gets in a car accident, they get a divorce, someone's in a mid-life crisis, whatever.
-MC's crush was single... but not anymore. 
-The villain of the novel went to the same school as the MC, and the MC accidentally hurt the villain, hence why the villain hates the MC but the MC doesn't remember it. 
-There's an old guy with a long beard and a chainsaw following your MC. 
-Someone knocks your MC on the head and they forget everything. 
-A T-Rex appears at the high school and starts snacking on students. 
-Your MC's favourite teacher falls ill and a new teacher comes to school. Mean? Nice? Totally insane? All of the above?

Obviously, these ideas are a little out there, but you get the idea. Do something crazy. Do something stupid. And write. 

Always write.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

When it gets cold in Australia

The other day, it was cold. Of course, I would have liked to wander around the house in my pyjamas and housecoat, seeing how I didn't have school, but I had made previous plans to go out with some friends. I decided that I should probably at least pretend to be human and wear something that the other humans wore (Mom gets upset when I dress like I'm from the forgotten city in the Mariana Trench). Thus, I dressed in a tank top and tights with a skirt and another shirt over top of that.

What? It was cold. There was even a wind.

I came back after two hours of non-stop giggling and decided, rightfully so, that I was cold. I immediately donned my Gryffindor scarf. Later, my feet were cold, so I grabbed my Ursula socks (I got them from Disney in Tokyo. It was pouring rain and I was getting blisters from my soaked boots, so there was really only one course of action possible. I had to buy Disney Villain-themed socks. They come halfway up to my knees and are awesome). Of course, I was still cold, so I grabbed my school jersey and pulled that on.

Pause for a moment. Envision this outfit. High black and purple tentacle socks, black tights, a bright pink miniskirt, a white and blue jersey and my red and gold Gryffindor scarf.

I'm sure Mom was very proud.

Later still, it was still cold (what? It only gets colder as it gets darker) so I made myself some hot chocolate and sat cocooned in my blanket while I watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I am a proud Canadian. I spent most of my life in Northern Alberta, where we're too tough to take snow days. Seriously. I've never had a snow day in my life, even when it got to -40 (C) or so.

So it pains me to admit that it never got below 20 degrees Celsius.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Movie review : Minions

Minions. Tiny, yellow, glasses, overalls, and their weird language that you can just understand. And now they have their own movie. 

From the Minions website
The world is now complete. 

Minions have been here from the beginning, searching for a villain to serve. And minions, being minions, tend to... well... lose their masters as soon as they get them, via lava, cannonballs, giant ice blocks... You get the picture. When the tribe of dedicated minions run out of villains to serve, three brave minions set out on an epic journey to find a new master. 

Minions was created with one goal in mind; to make people laugh, and make people laugh it does. The minions themselves are funny, especially when they all run in a group or talk (or the minion equivalent of talking, anyways). They meet a series of interesting characters, including what seems to be a typical American family (who are actually bank-robbing, cop-shooting, grenade-tossing baddies) and the villain of the film, the underdeveloped Scarlet Overkill who always seems on the verge of either blowing up or hugging the minions to death. It was more the generally sillyness and complete randomness of the movie that made it so hilarious. 

The downside? The goal is to make people laugh, not to have any kind of emotional backbone. No characterization, no theme, no nothing. There's none of the touching moments that we found in Despicable Me, notably when Gru reads the girls a bedtime story or tells Margo that he'll never let her go (which gets me Every. Single. Time.)

Minions achieved what it set out to do. It delivered bumbling minions with silly jokes and, in all honesty, complete randomness (which isn't always a bad thing). It completely and utterly failed (kind of like the minions' surprise birthday party for Dracula) when it came to any kind of character or emotion, but, man, was it worth the watch. After all, minions!