Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Which Trai Reviews 'One Tree Hill: The Beginning'

The Book: One Tree Hill: The Beginning

The Author: Jenny Markas

How I Found It: We've been through the whole "I love One Tree Hill as a guilty pleasure thing" already, yes? Good. Stop laughing.

The Review: All right, all right, so every once in a while I need a Brain Drain to clear my head. Midterms have passed and I just read the terribly upsetting Proof. This was short, quick, and fun, and after spending a bit exploring Babysitters Club Snark Fest, reading something way below my age level seemed like an appealing way to kill a few hours.

The last time I read a book based on a TV show would probably have to be tenth grade-ish. I loved Roswell and, before and after watching all three seasons, read both the books the TV show was based on and a large part of the ones written after (the three in the Loose Ends series, and five out of the eight books in the post-series ones). I freely admit that being a freshman in college makes me pathetic for reading books like this one, but whatever.

Okay. So. Rule #1 of TV novelizations is that they can be great, they can be out-of-character when it comes to the show, or the writer could just have no idea what the show's about in the first place. I think this one has a little bit of everything. Let me count the ways.

Part One of the book takes place in the summer between sophomore and junior years for the core five-- Nathan, golden boy son of Dan Scott, a former basketball player who also has another son Lucas, had illegitimately by his high school girlfriend Karen, who's crushed on by Dan's older brother Keith. Lucas' best friend is Haley, the one whose nickname I stole and who waitresses at Karen's cafe; Nathan's girlfriend is Peyton, an artist who lost her mom at an early age and as a result is Dark and Twisty; and Peyton's best friend since childhood is the ditzy (at first) Brooke, a rich girl who's pretty much the town bicycle at the show's start. Part Two is a prose version of the show's pilot, not the original content of the first half.

I'll summarize the original content half-- Lucas and Nathan both play basketball, Lucas by himself on the river court and Nathan whilst exercising in the off-season. Nathan and Peyton are together, at first in their more romantic phase and then where the show picks up, when they're having issues. (The more romantic phase part was actually cute to see, as Nathan does show Peyton in season four that there was a point where he really was into her.) Haley is working a minimum wage job at a local hot dog stand, and Brooke is involved with a college guy named Rusty.

There were definitely some parts of the book that made it clear the author hadn't seen enough of the show to really know the characters, and parts that made it obvious that OTH canon has been established over a long, long time (since 2003). Some things, like the whole subplot of Skills having an abusive stepdad and coming to live with Lucas, are invalidated by the fourth-season episodes that show Skills as having two very happily married parents. However, this novelization was written during the show's second season, so none of that was established yet.

However, some parts had glaringly obvious out-of-character errors. First off, Jake is mentioned twice-- once during the basketball game and once as part of the little bus joyride from the pilot. Where he's the one pouring the beers. Okay, I can deal with him not being mentioned much-- he didn't really become part of the show until mid-season one, and this is supposed to be the first episode. But mid-season one, which had already passed when this was written, establishes Jake as a responsible single teenage father who does not participate in this behavior! They even say in maybe the first five minutes of the pilot that he wasn't part of the bus thing, and it wasn't because his parents paid the cops off or anything! *steps down off soapbox*

Second, I had some issues with the way Brooke was portrayed. Brooke's a polarizing character-- you either love her or hate her. It's a little bit of both for me, depending on which season we're in. Anyway, I could deal with the author portraying her as drunk most of the time, as Brooke was supposed to be a huge party girl, at least in the beginning. But boy crazy as Brooke was, I don't think there's any way she would have gotten involved with an abusive boyfriend (Rusty). Brooke is the one who gave the otherwise-responsible Haley a lecture in season three when Haley and Nathan very unwisely had unprotected sex (that in all likelihood led to the conception of their son). I know some people paint her in an unflattering light, but I'd at least give the girl credit enough that she'd know when to get out of something like that. (Though Peyton attacking the guy after the hitting was definitely true to form.) Also, the part where Mouth held her after Rusty hit her at the carnival? Mouth was supposed to have a crush on her, but I don't think that would've happened.

Third, the party scene definitely showed the writer hadn't paid much attention. A couple reviewers have pointed out that Lucas and Haley only see Nathan's place at a party for the first time in early season one, specifically 1x06. So them going to a party at Nathan's house was wrong, as was Lucas (allegedly) talking to/getting near Peyton at the party. But the least believable part was Dan calling Keith and Whitey to break up the party before the cops came-- no way in hell would Whitey hide the evidence of underage drinking, he who condemns the players for the bus incident later on. And no way in hell would Keith help!

Okay, this is becoming a tiny bit of a rant. Anyway, parts of it were good, but some parts were glaring instances of Did Not Do The Research. Also, the way the characters were portrayed in the original half was at odds sometimes with the way they acted in the half taken from the pilot. (Also, Brooke wasn't even in the pilot, so the couple parts where they mentioned her as part of the action were inaccurate.)

It was good, but it could have been better had one of the actual writers of the show taken the reigns. Parts were cutesy, parts were "... ummm..." Recommended to fans of the show who don't mind a couple inaccuracies here and there (I did enjoy it despite the flaws, and it only took me about two hours or so to read). It's good for those of us who sorta miss the old days now that Lucas and Peyton were Put On a Bus (or, more specifically, Put In The Comet).

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