Is Marvel’s “Eternals” As Bad As The Reviews Say?

By: Annilee Hampton

Marvel’s newest offering “Eternals” surprised fans in all the wrong ways when its Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score was revealed to be only 47%; Marvel’s first ever film to have a rotten score. However, the audience score differed strongly from the critics’ score, settling at 80% –at the time that this article is being written. This disparity may leave potential viewers wondering whether “Eternals” truly is the worst Marvel movie ever. 

One of “Eternals’” greatest strengths is its diversity, not only in its cast but in its settings. The present-day storyline takes the characters from London to Iraq to the Amazon Rainforest, while flashbacks show ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Babylon and the Aztec Empire. In addition, a wide variety of different languages other than English are used throughout the film, including Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, and even American Sign Language. This serves to highlight the massive scale of the film, taking place across thousands of years and spanning the entire Earth – and beyond.

The film makes sure to give each member of its ensemble cast a chance to shine, however, audiences may be left wanting more from certain characters. For example, Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the MCU, is the last of the group to appear in the present day. Makkari’s power of super speed is among the most interesting depicted in the film, leading to a thrilling fight scene in the film’s climax. Also of note is Makkari’s relationship with fellow eternal Druig, played by Barry Keoghan. While the two have very few interactions, their romantic chemistry is palpable, perhaps even more so than the film’s main couple, Sersi — Gemma Chan — and Ikaris — Richard Madden. Other standouts among the cast include Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, an inventor and technopath whose primary motivation comes from his desire to keep his husband and child-safe, and Angelina Jolie as Thena, a warrior struggling with an illness called Mahd Wy’ry which causes her to forget who and where she is. 

Visually, “Eternals” is one of the most spectacular Marvel movies. Director Chloé Zhao has infused the film with a unique style similar to that of her previous film “Nomadland”, which won Best Picture and Best Director at the 2020 Oscars. Much of the film was shot on location rather than through the use of green screens. This gives “Eternals” a much more grounded feel than many of Marvel’s other films, complementing its wide global scope. The film’s visual effects are also notable, particularly the golden cosmic energy that appears whenever an Eternal uses their powers. This looks especially striking on the weapons that Thena conjures out of thin air. Also notable is the design of the invasive species the Deviants. Each creature is unique, with some appearing amphibious, some appearing birdlike and even a Deviant that is more humanoid. The Deviants’ design appears intentionally incomplete and flawed, further emphasizing their monstrousness and establishing them as true threats. Perhaps most striking is the appearance of the Celestial Arishem, whose size is appropriately intimidating and emphasizes the Eternals’ contrasting humanity. 

“Eternals’’ weakest moments tie back to one thing – its runtime. Clocking in at two hours and 37 minutes, the film struggles with pacing, seeming rushed in some places and dragging in others. The beginning of the film, featuring Sersi, Ikaris and Sprite traveling the world in order to assemble the rest of the Eternals, feels particularly repetitive. While the film picks up speed in its second act, it is not quite enough to prevent audiences from feeling its runtime. 

Marvel fans will surely be looking for ties to the rest of the cinematic universe, and Eternals gives them much to think about. The most clear sequel hooks appear in its mid-credits and post-credits scenes, both of which include cameos that no one will see coming for very different reasons. However, throughout the rest of the film, small details tie the Eternals to the Marvel universe both past and future, from mentions of the Global Reparations Council (last seen in Disney+ series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”) to the appearance of Dane Whitman, played by Kit Harington, who is sure to have a large role in the universe’s future. The film offers multiple opportunities to speculate about the Eternals’ involvement in other films, with one fan wondering if there is a connection between Phastos’s technological abilities and the titular objects in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. 

Overall, “Eternals” is a very different film than its predecessors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While its ambition can sometimes be its downfall, especially in the areas of inconsistent pacing and its lengthy runtime, stellar performances from the cast and outstanding visual effects prove that Eternals is worth your time, even if it might be asking for a little too much of it. 

Alec Baldwin Involved in On-Set Shooting

By: Lily Riesett

On October 21, 2021, Alec Baldwin was in the middle of shooting his low-budget, small crewed film, “Rust,” when a deadly set mishap occurred. This historic filming area, Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been home to many famous westerns, all of which have gone off without a hitch as severe as this. In the middle of shooting a scene, Baldwin picked up and shot his supposedly unloaded prop gun, killing a member of his crew in the process.  

Baldwin’s character, a cowboy outlaw named Hardin Rust, was in the middle of a shootout between a sheriff and a U.S. Marshal in a small wooden church when the fatality occurred. Baldwin was given a .45 Colt Revolver which was told to him to be “cold”, or not loaded with ammunition, by the props workers on set. He held the gun up facing the lens of the camera for a close-up shot of the action, but was stunned when he pulled the trigger and an actual bullet was released. Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was fatally wounded in her stomach while Joel Souza, the film’s director, was injured.

It is difficult to pinpoint the perpetrator of Hutchin’s death in this situation. Though Baldwin was the one who shot the gun, he was told the gun he was holding did not contain live ammunition. The majority of the film’s crew must be looked at to get a solid grasp on who messed up in this situation.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the lead armorer, or the person who handles weapons as props on a movie set, was only 24 when she was hired to work on the set of “Rust.” The gun wasn’t only in the hands of Gutierrez-Reed though. Her lawyer made the argument that  “The first one on this set was the prop master, and the second was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks.” 

Sarah Zachary, the props master, was the first individual to handle the gun the day of the shooting, taking them out of a combination locked safe and handing them to Gutierrez-Reed. She then placed the gun on a cart on set. Dave Halls, the first-assistant director, checked the gun to make sure the only rounds loaded were dummies. These resemble bullets when shot but contain no gun powder. Halls recalls seeing three rounds in the gun, but Gutierrez-Reed did not turn the revolver for him to analyze if they were dummies or not. 

Both Halls and Gutierrez-Reed had come under scrutiny for mishaps on sets before being hired for “Rust.” In 2019 Halls was hired from a movie “Freedom’s Path” after letting a live gun go unchecked causing it to injure a crewmate. Gutierrez-Reed acted as head armorer for Nicolas Cage’s film “The Old Way,” but was almost fired due to having two rounds of live ammunition go off accidentally. 

Though no one has been charged with the death and injury during filming, Baldwin has been sued by multiple crewmembers over keeping an unsafe work environment. The decisions made regarding this case will forever change the way firearms are handled in Hollywood. 

A Look at the 2021 Met Gala

By: Lily Riesett

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit, better known as the Met Gala, took place on Monday, Sept. 13. This event is held each year to raise money for the Met’s Costume Institute and commemorate the opening of the Institute’s fashion exhibit. This year, the gala was in honor of the show “In America: The Lexicon of Fashion.” For most viewers though, this benefit is known as the star-studded event where the richest celebrities can show off their fashion choices. This year’s gala was no different.

The 2021 Met Gala did have some logistical differences though. For one thing, it is in celebration of only the first of two installations of “In America.” There will be another event in May of 2022 in honor of the second half of the exhibit. Because of this and the threat of the COVID-19 delta variant, the gala has been downscaled compared to years past. The smaller guest list became very youth-focused, inviting younger celebrities such as Tik-Tok stars. This was not only to attract a young viewing audience, but also because the fashion shown in the Met exhibit is emphasizing young designers. 70 percent of the fashion on display in “In America” was designed by what the benefit classifies as “young designers.”

With the Met gala being a smaller event this year, tickets were in even higher demand. Tickets were selling for $35,000 a pop. Entire table spaces were being sold for between $200,000 and $300,000. The stars that can afford this had to present a negative COVID test, proof of vaccination, and wear a mask during the event at all times when not eating. Tables were also spaced out so they follow basic social distancing guidelines.

The hosts of the Met Gala continued the theme of emphasizing younger stars, designers, and viewers. Amanda Gorman, the poet who read at President Biden’s inauguration, was chosen to be a co-host at just age 23. Timothee Chalamet was another host, drumming up anticipation for his two new film releases, Dune and The French Dispatch. Tennis player Naomi Osaka and singer Billie Eilish made up the other host duo for the event. 

One of the most talked about parts of the Met Gala is the fashion worn by the attendees. Though there was a limited number of guests, there was not a lack of impressive fashion seen that evening. Host Amanda Gorman wore a dark blue, sequin-studded Vera Wang dress. She carried a purse imitating the book “Give Us Your Tired,” imitating the Statue of Liberty. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white floor-length gown with the words “Tax the rich.” Cortez was invited to the event since she is a politician for the city of New York, and took this as an opportunity to protest the upper class attendees who could purchase a ticket. 

All viewers have their own opinion of who was best dressed at this fashion event. St. Mary’s sophomore Andrew Seitzman says “I loved how simple yet elegant Troye Sivan’s Met Gala look was. He had a very simple dress that was elevated with wonderful studded boots, a leather cuff on his bicep and a gorgeous Cartier necklace.” The fashion elevated the event as always.

Sex Education Season 3 Review

By: Angelie Roche

Netflix’s “Sex Education,” a show featuring a group of teenagers exploring their sexual identities, returned for its third season on Sept. 17. The students are in the midst of their sixth form–the British equivalent of high school seniors–and are suddenly wrought with a number of changes to their schooling– in particular, their Sex and Relationships Education curriculum. Moordale Academy, which had been dubbed the “sex school,” had been in danger of shutting down because of its reputation, so its new headmaster Hope vowed to make the SRE curriculum abstinence-focused, take down any inappropriate artwork and force students to wear uniforms. 

The show again expands its inclusion of identities with the addition of two nonbinary students, Cal and Layla. Both find their identities threatened with the imposition of the new uniform, as new headmaster Hope wants them to adhere to gender categories they simply do not fit into. It is rare for transgender and nonbinary characters to be accurately represented in media, especially when it comes to the unique and complex issues they face, such as chest binding. Far too often, shows will add characters of marginalized identities just to “check boxes” without giving them actual voice or direction in the storyline. One great aspect of “Sex Education” is that it not only includes people from these groups but allows them to tell their stories. When asked how they felt about this season of “Sex Education,” a nonbinary SMCM student, who wished to remain anonymous, added “I like that they had a nonbinary character who wasn’t white, because we don’t often hear about the black queer experience.”

Another character whose story is more closely examined in this season is Eric, main character Otis’ best friend. Eric begins dating shy ex-bully Adam, but feels that he is holding him back. This feeling is exacerbated when Eric visits his home country of Nigeria and finds the underground gay culture there, connecting his cultural pride and his pride in his own identity. This is yet another plotline that explores a nuanced issue with extreme care: though it can be dangerous to be gay in Nigeria, the show also portrays the country in a positive light, once again using it to strengthen Eric’s pride in his identity. However, (spoiler alert) there is one plotline that taints Eric’s loveable character–his act of cheating on Adam while in Nigeria. It was already clear that he was unsatisfied in his relationship, so why was it necessary to, once again, have Eric cheat on his boyfriend just as he cheated on Rahim last season? 

Yet another surprise plotline emerged in Otis’ mom Jean’s pregnancy reveal. She hesitates for months before telling ex-lover Jakob, who wants to be involved in the baby’s life but cannot seem to get along with Jean. Otis and his mother get closer through this plotline, but Jakob and Jean fight so much that it seems their season one chemistry has expired. 

Of course, the show would not be complete without the “will-they-won’t-they” Otis and Maeve plotline. Season two ended with Maeve’s love interest, Isaac, deleting a voicemail, which left many fans upset and angry. However, Isaac’s character takes a better turn in this season, being honest with Maeve about his actions and showing a softer, more understanding side. Otis begins the season with “mean girls”-esque Ruby, who we get to see become more vulnerable as the episodes progress. So, as Maeve becomes closer to Isaac, Otis is dating Ruby, and it seems that the two star-crossed lovers will once again miss their chance with one another. However, the season does end with a passionate kiss between the two and a promise that Maeve will find Otis after going away to America, giving fans hope that perhaps all is not lost.

Ultimately, the students put on a performance to try and “save” Moordale, but end up losing–the administration ousts Hope, but also cuts off all of Moordale’s funding, leaving the sixth formers to “find their own way” to finish the school year. This, of course, gives Maeve a reason to follow her heart and go to an advanced program in America, but it leaves so many loose ends regarding the rest of the characters. But, never fear–on Sept. 24, just a week after season three’s debut, the show announced that it would be renewed for a fourth season.

Upcoming Book, Television, and Movie Releases to Look Out for This Fall

Breezing into autumn in full, many long anticipated releases of seasonally aligned shows or books are approaching rapidly. 

By: Emily Vance

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, author of “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” and winner of the Stonewall award as well as a multitude of other awards for this novel, exemplifies themes of identity, specifically that of Mexican-Americans as that relates to his personal experiences. The sequel to the previously stated novel, “Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters do the World,” picks up from challenging and understanding how different aspects of your identity interact and potentially conflict and further develops this concept to “discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.”

A more seasonally appropriate novel coming out Oct. 19 is “The Restoration” by J.H. Moncrieff. The novel, influenced by the author’s overnight stay in a historically haunted house, follows a woman who was hired to restore an old mansion. As the woman and her daughter move into the house and begin the process of fixing the house the woman quickly realizes there is something not right. The house will not let her leave until its secrets are told, those same secrets could very well be the death of her. 

As Halloween creeps up, many television shows are set to release and embrace the oncoming spooky season. In terms of recurring shows, “You” season three is set to release Oct. 15 on Netflix. Leaving off with an unexpected pregnancy and a brief glance into a new nuclear family with a bloody past, “You” builds up excitement for its third renewal due to its astounding popularity. Anticipate a venture into the minds of two killers who seem to be the perfect match with similar pasts and motives as they attempt to assimilate into the suburban lifestyle despite its contradictory nature. 

Another show to look out for this fall that delves more into the horror genre is “Chucky”, which is set to release Oct. 12 on SyFy and USA. A revamped version of the notorious film franchise, “Chucky” follows the trend of the terror the doll reigns upon humans, this time with a “Joker” style narrative. The Chucky doll, bought by a local teenager at a garage sale, teams up with his new unlikely ally; Instead of attacking the boy Chucky defends him from his classmates’ unrelenting bullying. The doll, in front of the school at an assembly by the side of the boy, states “It’s contagious isn’t it? Laughing at people.”. Expect a new look into the mind of the infamous killer through this thriller commentary of cruelty in society. 

In the realm of movies, “Halloween Kills,”, the continuation of the classic “Halloween” horror movie franchise, is set to release in theatres Oct. 15. The movie is the 12th installment in the film franchise, as well as the sequel to “Halloween” 2018. Previously, the series left off with Micheal Myers who had been thought to be dead by Laurie, Karen, and Allyson, yet is shown to the viewer as just barely alive. The sequel picks up with Laurie assembling a mob from the town, hunting down Micheal in a vigilant pursuit hoping to finally end it all.

An upcoming movie to look out for later into the fall is “Encanto,” a Disney movie following a family hidden in the mountains of Colombia where each child is blessed with a magic gift except Mirabel. After discovering that their magic may be in danger, Mirabel may be the family’s last hope. The film’s musical aspect features the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who previously worked on the score This film is perfect for those who love the feeling of fall in films yet are not fond of the horror genre and is set to release in theatres Nov. 24 and on Disney Plus Dec. 24.

Look out for not only the new releases previously stated, but other horror movies, novels and shows as we enter October.

Take One! Improv Club Presents “Sick Day”

By: Catherine Wasilko

On Friday, Sept. 17 at 9 p.m., Take One! Improv Club hosted their first in-person improv show. The cast and audience wore masks during the entire performance for everyone’s safety. Senior Maggie Malia, President of Improv Club, introduced the event as well as herself to the crowd. When asked about her first in-person experience with an improv show since the pandemic, Malia said “I was really nervous, but also really excited. I had to engage with the audience in a way that keeps it engaging for everyone.” Malia’s previous experiences with improv were online. Malia explained, “We previously did a show over a recording [Zoom], so it was different since everyone was online.” 

The other cast members introduced themselves, along with their favorite activity to do on a sick day. The first game they played was called “Doubling Downment,” in which audience members got to choose two words, such as adjectives or nouns, that would describe senior Connor Heveron and junior Timothy Wells’ character. The two seemed to act like a tennis match, going back and forth with each line given. The game ended rather intimately, while scoring some laughs and applause from the audience.

The next game was called “Channel Changers,” where audience members chose wacky television shows for the whole cast to act in, as well as the type of person they were playing in each show. Names or personalities of the characters, as well as the television shows were chosen by the audience members. To transition each skit, cast members moved clockwise on the stage. For extra laughs, some of the members threw in some plot twists.

The third game was called “News Team,” where cast members acted as a part of a news team. Each member, such as the anchor, co-anchor, meteorologist and sports anchor, got a quirk chosen by audience members. Due to the audience members’ answers, props were used. A few members even broke the fourth wall by breaking out into laughter during the performance. 

The final game they played was called “Ad Campaign,” where audience members choose a “product” to be pitched to a fake company. As the final skit for the night, this gained the most applause from the audience. Freshman Sena Weaver is a part of Take One! Improve Club, although she was in the audience for this show. Weaver said, “I was sitting next to someone who couldn’t stop laughing, which was really funny, and [it] had me laughing.” 

Weaver will be a part of the next improv show on Oct. 1, which will be “Dad-themed.” When asking about future improv events, Weaver explained, “This will be my first time doing improv comedy.” In Weaver’s experience, “I was just so happy it went so well.” If you would like to be a part of Take One! Improv Club, practices are Sundays from 6-8 p.m. and Wednesdays from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Take One! Improv Club will do different themed shows every two weeks on Friday, from 9-10 p.m.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” Debuts To Critical Acclaim, Breaks Box Office Record

By Annilee Hampton

“Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Marvel’s first film with an Asian lead, was finally released on Sept. 3 after many delays, receiving positive reviews and an incredible box office turnout. 

Leading up to its release date, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” already had an uphill battle to fight. The film was originally scheduled to release on Feb. 12, 2021, which happened to coincide with Chinese New Year. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the film’s release date was shifted to May 7, then to July 9, and finally to its final Sept. 3 release date when “Black Widow” took over the previous date. Unlike “Black Widow,” which was released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, “Shang-Chi” had a 45-day exclusive theatrical release. 

In August 2021, Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated that the film would remain in theaters despite the rise of the delta variant, saying that it would be an “interesting experiment” for the company to continue to evaluate its release strategy moving forwards. Simu Liu, who plays the titular character, responded to this comment with a Tweet saying “We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US.”

Liu’s prediction was correct: “Shang-Chi” did in fact make history. The film made $94 million domestically during its opening weekend, surpassing 2007’s “Halloween” to break the box-office record for Labor Day weekend. During its second weekend, its earnings declined by only 2.1 percent. In comparison, “F9,” which was released in June and was also a theatrical exclusive, declined by 43.8% over its second weekend. 

In addition, the film was incredibly successful amongst both critics and audiences, with an audience score of 98% and a critic score of 92% — placing it in the top five for the Marvel Cinematic Universe — on Rotten Tomatoes. The fight scenes and choreography were some of the most praised elements of the film, with Laura Sirikul of Empire calling it the best yet in the MCU and describing it as “hypnotic” and “mesmerizing.” The cast’s performance was also applauded, with Liu as well as Tony Leung being mentioned as standouts. Angie Han from The Hollywood Reporter calls Leung’s Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s grieving father, “a supervillain with a soul,” praising his sincere performance. 

The film has also been acclaimed for its Asian representation. After 23 movies, Shang-Chi is the MCU’s first Asian protagonist. The representation offered in the film has been positively compared to that which “Black Panther” gave Black audiences in 2018 by critics such as Variety’s Peter Debruge. It is notable that “Shang-Chi” begins with a character narrating in subtitled Chinese, with nearly half of the rest of the film being in the same language. It is like nothing Marvel has ever done before, which, in this case, is likely a positive attribute. Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com puts it best when he says, “This movie is not an experiment for Marvel and Disney. It is a promising template for how they can get it right again.”

Kanye West’s Album, Donda, is Released

By: Lily Riesett

On July 23, 2021, rapper Kanye West held a rather out of the ordinary event in honor of his tenth studio album, “Donda.” Named after his late mother who died of plastic surgery complications in 2007, this album has stirred up commotion not just in pop culture news, but across all news categories. 

This excitement began in July of this year, when Kanye announced a listening party for the album at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This was very different from his “The Life of Pablo” listening and Yeezy Season Three release which was held in Madison Square Garden. While this was presented in the form of a fashion show and was very successful, the listening in Atlanta was definitely out of the ordinary. West spent the evening standing in the middle of the stadium surrounded by fog. He danced and made gestures while his new music played in the background for about an hour before leaving. 

To follow up this strange evening of events, Donda was not released at the time it was announced to be: on July  23at midnight. West’s record label and representatives made no comments on this. A second similar event in Atlanta happened later in July. 

Kanye held a third listening event for his album in Chicago during the end of August. Here, he had a recreation of his childhood home built and set on a hill in the middle of an arena. He had circles of dancers and black cars surrounding the set. West then decided to bring two guests on stage with him, rapper DaBaby and rock musician Marilyn Manson. 

DaBaby has recently come under fire for making homophobic remarks at Lolapalooza where he singled out fans who have been effected by HIV/AIDS. Manson has been accused of sexual abuse and grooming by his partner Evan Rachel Wood. The two publicly became a couple when she was 19 and Manson was 38. Jon Caramanica of the New York Times suggests West chose these guests to show that even those who have sinned can be forgiven. 

After a lengthy amount of anticipation for the album’s release, Donda was dropped on streaming services on Aug. 29, over a month later than it was supposed to be. The album features 27 songs, being over two hours in length. He has many popular artists featured on the album, such as Jay-Z and Lil Baby. West continues using religious themes in this album, talking to and about God in most songs. For example, he raps “God got us, baby, God got the children.” The illusions to God and Christianity can be considered one of the focal points of the album. 

Music fanatic and St. Mary’s student Greta Michels was one of the fans anxiously awaiting the drop of Donda. Michels excitedly exclaimed when asked about the album “ “Off the Grid” is my favorite song!” Michels, like many other Kanye fans, is not a fan of his confusing, problematic actions. She acknowledges “Kanye is problematic, but he makes good music.”

What Is BookTok?

By Charlotte Mayer

Recently, the term “BookTok” has popped up in college conversations, leaving many confused. What exactly is BookTok?

Booktok is an online community of book lovers on the social media platform known as TikTok. People on BookTok create all kinds of book-related content such as reviews, recommendations, hauls, aesthetics and more. These videos can range from a few seconds to three minutes. 

It all started with the increasing popularity of TikTok when COVID-19 quarantine began. Scrolling through the app to ease boredom, people found a new space to share their passions and express their creativity. Quarantine also led a lot of people to pick up new hobbies such as reading. 

BookTok is the place to be if you are trying to decide what to read next. It is full of recommendations, which spread extremely fast. One viral video can send a swarm of people to the bookstore. 

For many authors, this platform has greatly helped their career. Previously unpopular books are finding their way onto Barnes & Noble shelves and into the hands of excited readers who maybe never would have picked them up if it were not for BookTok. 

Author Adam Silvera released a book four years ago called “They Both Die at the End.” According to NBC News, in August of 2020, Silvera’s publisher noticed a significant sales bump, “the start of a trend that would send the book to the top of the New York Times’ young adult paperback monthly bestseller list in April.” He had no idea where the sales spike was coming from until a reader told him they saw it on BookTok. “TikTok videos containing the hashtag #TheyBothDieAtTheEnd have collectively amassed more than 37 million views to date,” says NBC.

A common way to convince viewers to read a book is to explain what trope it may have. Tropes are plot elements or cliches, such as hidden royalty, the “chosen one,” fake dating, love triangle, slow burn, friends to lovers, morally gray villains, grumpy/sunshine, and the much-loved enemies to lovers, also known as hate to love. Book recommendation videos such as “books that made me sob” or “books I couldn’t put down” are another way to reach readers. 

“I think BookTok is really clever,” says Regan Farrar, a sophomore at SMCM. “You think someone is telling a story and then they say ‘read the book to find out more!’”

“I always get sucked in,” she adds. “And then you think ‘oh my gosh, now I have to go buy the book.’” 

An anonymous SMCM sophomore says “I enjoy getting recommendations, however, I feel like some aspects of [BookTok] are problematic because a lot of people on it support authors who are not good people.”

They say that it is “not super diverse in terms of book recommendations or the characters in the books” and feel that these recommendations can become repetitive. “It’s a lot of the same books.” Overall, they think BookTok “needs to be more diverse and more open to criticism about books and authors, but also ‘BookTokers’ themselves.”

Over the past few months, this community has been reaching even more people. In fact, there is now a designated “BookTok” section at Barnes & Noble, as well as “spicy Booktok.” As one can imagine, these are mainly romance books with adult content. 

“On top of book recommendations,” says the Barnes & Noble website, BookTok has “other relatable videos for book lovers like ‘which dress are you wearing to dramatically run through a castle to your lover?’ or ‘the zodiac signs as Hunger Games districts.’”

Some fiction titles made popular by BookTok include “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover, “The Song of Achilles” by Madelline Miller, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid and more. In the YA fantasy section, there is “Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi, “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo, and “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black. 

Can’t decide what to read next? Head over to #BookTok.