Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts: It’s All In the Eyes

Firstly I have to thank the lovely young lady in Waterstones at Norwich. When she found out that I was a Michael Grant fan and was looking for the second of his books dealing with the FAYZ, she was delighted. A  fan of the series as well, she asked me if I’d read Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts. I had to admit that I had not. She highly recommended the book and helpfully pointed out that it was part of their ‘buy one, get one, half price’ deal. I quickly took advantage of their deal.

Thank you young lady, you didn’t lie. The book is scary and creepy. It is also very, very good.

In Jeyn Roberts’ book we follow the trials and tribulations of four teenagers who are affected by the events of the book. Their world has been rocked by earthquakes and school bombings. Some people are going crazy and killing each other. The world is in the grip of an ancient evil that has been released by the earthquakes.

The Apocalypse has started. Or as another character says, “It’s the End of Days.”

Mason’s mother has been in a car accident and while he’s at the hospital waiting to see how she’s doing, he sees that the school he’d been called from just a short time before has been obliterated by bombs. All his friends are dead and his mother is about to join them.

Aries (I’m Aries but I’m a Gemini) is on a public transport bus with two school friends when a massive earthquake causes the bus to crash and kill a lot of the passengers. Luckily for her she meets Daniel, a mysterious boy who seems to know why all this is happening. He helps Aries find one of her friends and helps her to escape the growing mayhem after the quake.

Clementine is in the town hall with her parents. They are attending a town meeting where the elders are saying that volunteers are needed to help assist in the quake stricken areas. Just as the meeting is getting under way two towns people enter cradling guns in their arms. Clementine’s parents tell her to leave the town hall. Now. Going outside, she finds the the place surrounded by armed people and she barely escapes them.

Michael and Joe are riding in Joe’s truck when a motorcycle and a car in front of them start ‘dueling‘ not surprisingly the motorcycle loses the duel and the rider is killed. His body and crashed motorbike cause a pile up on the highway. Michael and Joe crash the truck into a ditch to avoid being hit by a tanker. The police arrive in force and after telling all the drivers to get back into their cars start shooting them if they don’t act quickly enough. Michael and Joe are given a lift by another driver as their truck won’t start.

Roberts does a brilliant job of jumping from each of these four teenagers experiences and the paths they are having to take. At times the four cross paths and temporarily join forces. The people that have become affected by the quakes are known as ‘baggers’ a hunting reference. As in “they are going to ‘bag’ a deer.” People now equate the term bagger with killer. There are several different types of Baggers and the teens and the people they temporarily team up with must avoid them if they want to live.

Baggers suffer from bloodshot eyes, but, instead of their eyes being threaded with red veins, their veins are black.

The young lady who recommended this book to me said she read it at night. She was so ‘freaked’ by the book that she woke her sleeping boyfriend up and checked his eyes.

Just in case.

I had the luxury of reading in the daytime, in the park. I was surrounded by people, but Roberts yanked me out of that park just as effectively as if she’d physically grabbed me. The settings of the book, the main and secondary characters and actions of everyone felt real and scary and pretty freaking awesome.

The ending leaves you with the feeling that this is just the first of what could be a long running series. I hope so. I am dying to find out what the post apocalyptic world has in store for Mason, Aries, Clementine, Michael and that mysterious lad Daniel.

Either way, Jeyn Roberts has become another author that I will keep an eye on. Great stuff, Ms Roberts. Please, may we have some more?

Jeyn Roberts, courtesy of Google Search

The Blind Side (2009): Heart Warming True Story

Cover of "The Blind Side"
Cover of The Blind Side

The first time I saw this movie it was under duress. Despite being a huge Sandra Bullock fan, I am usually allergic to these type of films. I, for instance, hated the 1979 film, The Champ. This ‘tear-jerker’ was a big hit with audiences. With Jon Voight, Faye Dunaway, and Ricky Shroder starring in this remake of the 1931 original with Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper The Champ was a ‘lump-in-your-throat’ film that encouraged audiences to bawl their eyes out.

Manufactured tear-jerkers or ‘happy-happy’ films or ‘feel-good’ films are not my cup of tea. Then my daughter carefully explained it was based on a true story. I still was not convinced. But since I know my place in this world, I sat down and begrudgingly watched it.

I will admit that I fell madly in love with the film.

The film is about Michael Oher (pronounced Orr) who is taken in by the Tuohy family or rather he is taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy and family support her decision. The Tuohy’s meet Michael when he is seventeen and he has been admitted into Wingate High School based on the school football coach’s recommendation. The coach wants Michael because he is huge and the coach envisions Michael becoming a crucial part of the football team.

The film follows not only Michael’s journey from his arrival to the high school up to his being accepted by the National Football League. It also follows the Touhy’s who adopt Michael and hire a tutor to help him get his grades up to scratch so he can get into a good university.

The only fly in the ointment, is the NAACP who accuse the Tuohys of influencing Michael’s decision about which university he will attend.

The Blind Side is  similar to  On Golden Pond. There is minimal violence (and that takes place mainly on the football field), no sex, no drugs, no knives or car chases and only a few guns. Unlike On Golden Pond it is based on true events. If you doubt that fact pay close attention to the last scene of the film where the real Michael comes out after he’s been drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and ‘poses’ with his family on stage.

Or you could just look at the pictures that run during the credits that show Michael and his adoptive  family, the Tuohy’s.

This is the kind of film that makes you wish more people were like Leigh Anne Tuohy and her special family. These folks gave a chance to a young man whose size was the only thing he had going for him.

I now watch The Blind Side often. It always affects me the same way. I laugh, get angry and get ”choked up.” A lot. I defy anyone to watch this film and not feel buoyant and optimistic after watching it.

Sandra Bullock has never been better as Leigh Anne Tuohy and Quinton Aaron is heartbreakingly brilliant as Michael Oher. The entire cast give great performances. Kathy Bates is delightful as the Democrat supporting tutor, Miss Sue  and towards the end of the film, I defy you to not really dislike the NAACP lady who browbeats Michael and makes him momentarily doubt the motives of his adoptive family.

The Blind Side makes a touchdown instead of just getting the first down. I would highly recommend that if you have not watched this film, to rush right out and grab a DVD or ‘stream it.’

I also recommend having a box of tissues handy.

Michael Oher at Baltimore Ravens Training Camp...
Michael Oher at Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August 5, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)