This is a really visually involved Graphic Novel. The artwork doesn’t immediately seem to be complex – the lines are usually clean and uninvolved. HowThis is a really visually involved Graphic Novel. The artwork doesn’t immediately seem to be complex – the lines are usually clean and uninvolved. However, there’s a lot to take in when you look more closely, and you would probably find more over subsequent readings. Particularly interesting are the shadows which repeatedly show up in Will’s life – I would guess that different readers would have different approaches to the art work.
I read some complaints that the book was too mature for younger readers. I would agree that it is aimed at a teenager audience, but I feel complaints that it’s ‘too old’ demonstrates a misunderstanding of graphic novels. A lot of people feel that they’re only for children or poor readers and fail to see or look for the strong graphic novels aimed at YA and Adult audiences.
Other reviews I read claimed that it would not be interesting enough for YA readers. It’s definitely not a ‘something happening every panel’ graphic novel, instead the story winds its way through the book like the river Will and her friends visit. I think there are plenty of ‘quiet’ YA novels which gain a loyal following from YA readers and I see no reason that quiet YA graphic novels can’t do the same.
I think there could be some really interesting conversations to be had about the inclusion of the carnival and the blackout – especially treating them as metaphors. Will begins the graphic novel using light powered by electricity to keep the darkness at bay. By the end of the novel, she’s required to think of alternative methods to create light. At the same time, she’s using her controlled life to keep the darkness of her past away and is required to use different approaches by the end. The carnival, with its variety of displays, yet strict adherence to social ‘rules’ is another interesting aspect of the story.
I think this book would be really interesting to study in coordination with Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree, which also uses interesting imagery to explore personal darkness.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this quiet but effective graphic novel. I haven’t read as many graphic novels recently as I did when I was teaching and this was a wonderful reintroduction to the format.
I’d heard a lot about this book and how much people had enjoyed it, but not specifically what it was about, so I headed into the story of Salisbury FoI’d heard a lot about this book and how much people had enjoyed it, but not specifically what it was about, so I headed into the story of Salisbury Forth without a lot of background knowledge. I found myself in a post-pandemic Melbourne, where a side-effect of a vaccine – sterility – has led to an uprising of the overly and outwardly pious who have banned artificial hormones and labelled those who don’t fit into neat little packages as ‘transgressors’. Adding in rolling power outages and power rationing, and a thriving hormone black market – and those who’d like to destroy it for their own means – and we’re in a world balancing between the familiar and nightmarish.
I was particularly struck by the world building in this book. There’s a lot going on, with the story touching on animal rights, government control over medications, government surveillance, how different subcultures behave under different circumstances and an old fashioned mystery to solve, but most of the time those elements are balanced well and the pieces fit together nicely.
I was thinking that this is a story which works better if you have some knowledge of Melbourne, because it relies on the Melbourne we know today to work (it’s definitely not a story which would work in a Brisbane setting). I read it while I was in Melbourne, so I don’t know how much that influenced my reading of the story – especially as someone holidaying there rather than living there. After a couple of brief discussions at Continuum, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about how known places work in fiction, so this was book definitely fed and continued those thoughts.
As well as place thoughts, I have thoughts about the medical aspects of the story. The entire story balanced on the vaccine which made people sterile. Most of our vaccination schedule in Australia happens in a child’s first 18 months, so as a parents of a young child, I hear a lot about vaccinations. And inevitably you hear from anti-vaccine people or people who are ‘concerned’ about vaccines (and want to spread that fear to other parents – usually mothers.) So, to have a government sponsored vaccine as the catalyst for the story left me with some heavy moments of ‘hmmm’ and wondering whether to let that impact my enjoyment of the story. Ultimately, I decided to file it in a ‘I don’t like that choice, but it doesn’t impact the overall story’ pile, but I am still thinking on it.
A world where artificial hormones are only available through secretive, illegal means downright terrified me, though. I admit to a complicated history with artificial hormones since they helped me get my son, but they also threatened my life at the same time. I was under the supervision of a highly trained and experienced doctor who had to see me 2-3 times a week to ensure that I was safe. I’m one of those people who just overreacts to artificial hormones, so I can’t imagine absolutely needing them (as many people do for many reasons) but not having that constant care to ensure they’re as safe as possible. (Though, I imagine there’s a lot of people around the world who are put in this situation for financial/organisational/systemic reasons. More things to think on.)
Despite all the deep thinking thoughts the book inspired, it didn’t read to me like a ‘thinking book’. It was a fast-moving adventure of a story with a pretty large cast of characters who (thankfully) were well defined and differentiated from each other. It provided one look at a possible future, while inviting us to look at where we are and what we’re doing at the present time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m glad I was able to get my hands on it.
You know those books where you read a bit and you think that it’s ok. Then you read a bit more and you think it’s pretty good. Then you read more andYou know those books where you read a bit and you think that it’s ok. Then you read a bit more and you think it’s pretty good. Then you read more and suddenly you can’t get it out of your mind? Well, that was Holier Than Thou. It’s a ‘slice of life’ novel about Holly, a woman in her early 20s, with a great boyfriend, great living conditions and a job which she does well, even when it’s difficult. Despite how good thing are, she finds herself drawn back to her past, in memories of her father’s death and the people who surrounded her at the time.
I really liked Holly, even though at first I wasn’t sure I did. She’s like one of those people you’re not sure about when you first meet them, but before you know it they’re one of your closest friends. She’s feeling a real disconnect with old friends, most of whom are doing big things in the corporate world, while Holly struggles with the demands of being a social worker. It’s also very clear that she hasn’t dealt fully with the death of her father, and that at some point she’s going to let everything fall down around her.
The story really unfolds for you, slowly letting you into more and more of Holly’s life and deepest emotions. You find yourself really in her corner, cheering her on when good things happen and begging her to make the ‘right’ choices. The writing is lush and descriptive, enveloping you in Holly’s world – both past and present. I really, really enjoyed this one, and I look forward to finding Laura Buzo’s first book, Good Oil to read as well.
I constantly had to stop while reading this book to remind myself that I wasn't reading a story set in the early 1900s, I was reading a memoir by a woI constantly had to stop while reading this book to remind myself that I wasn't reading a story set in the early 1900s, I was reading a memoir by a woman younger than myself. Deborah Feldman pulls you into her world completely, while telling her story in snippets, rather than thoroughly. I found myself wanting the answer to questions as I read it, but was left satisfied by the end.
The most thorough part of her memoir is the time around and after her wedding. She highlights the problems she and her husband had consummating their marriage, not at all helped by the sketchy sex education they had both received. She also talks about her pregnancy and her gradual movement away from the Hassidic world.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and I look forward to more books by the author....more
(Disclaimer – I know the author through the internet)
Back in the olden days before I became a teacher, I completed an arts degree with a double major(Disclaimer – I know the author through the internet)
Back in the olden days before I became a teacher, I completed an arts degree with a double major in Ancient History. My real love was Ancient Athens (I even learned Ancient Greek), but I did have a certain fondness for the early empire.
Which, luckily for me, is what Love and Romanpunk is based around.
The book is part of the Twelve Planet series and consists of four short, related stories. In the first one, Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary, we are introduced to the background to our story, told by my favourite of all Roman women (I studied Nero a little, so spent way too long designing collapsible boats with other wayward students. Did I mention we drank a lot of wine in the Ancient History department?) It turns out that the twists and turns of the early Roman empire where not caused by revolution and jealousy and a certain fondness for horses alone. Instead, there were numerous creatures and beings, some of them members of the ruling family. While we learn about the Roman world, which is kind of as we knew it, we are being fed information which sets up the next three stories – including the introduction of Lamia – Roman vampires.
In Lamia Victoriana, we follow these creatures to Victorian times. We then slip forward in history to a Roman City built in the Australian outback in The Patrician, before heading into the future in Last of the Romanpunks. Each story builds on the last, and I must admit that I really feel like I should read the whole lot again so that I can really understand it even better.
I don’t read a huge amount of short stories, but I understand that it’s a delicate balancing act to create fleshed out characters, without getting bogged down in lengthy character exposition. I think Love and Romanpunk does an excellent job of doing this, building on characters that we ‘know’ and creating characters that are very easy to care about. I would easily want to read more about the different ‘worlds’ we are introduced to.
I really loved this book and I would recommend this book to history lovers, of course, but also to people who aren’t usually interested in speculative fiction, but would like to dip their toes in a bit. The format is a great way to be introduced to Australian speculative fiction, and I look forward to reading more of them. I believe Love and Romanpunk had sold out in the print form, but is easily found through Kindle or the Twelfth Planet Press website.