I wasn't expecting that ending in the final part of this omnibus (that would be volume 6 on its own), because originally reading it in Jap4.5/5 stars!
I wasn't expecting that ending in the final part of this omnibus (that would be volume 6 on its own), because originally reading it in Japanese, I only stopped at number five. Then again, I probably should have seen it coming - Yoshiki was too nice of a guy in this world filled with viruses and demons. If you enjoyed the first omnibus of this series, this second one will knock you on your ass and leave you begging for more. There are a lot of Big Reveals in this volume, so hold onto your hat as we journey further inside of the VVV world!
Suzumi gives us a lot of great information on how viruses came to be, and what they lack that makes them lose their humanity. We also get great backstories for Sonoka's minions, Guy, Ruka, and Layla. We find out about Aion, Sonoka's boss, and the one who looks to remake the "True World" - basically, taking our world now, destroying it, and making it the way he wants to with the Fragments of those with the Sight. We also get backstory into Nahashi, Lilith and Lucif (Lucia's parents) and how they, Lucia, and Sumire figure into Aion's plot to destroy the world. Finally, we get a new resident in the Venus Vangard store and a new addition to the monster-hunting team - Lola, Layla's twin sister. The art is just as (if not more) gorgeous than in the first omnibus, and the bond between Sumire and Lucia gets tighter than ever. If anything, it almost hurt to read the entire first volume in this omnibus (volume four) because of all of the emotions between the two of them.
The translation for this volume took an interesting turn, as well - they left some of the parts raw, and then subtitled them in English. I think this was to keep the translation as close to the original as possible, and because of the kanji used (plus the katakana reading is different than the actual kanji reading), Seven Seas might have wanted to keep all of the possibilities on how to translate those kanji open. I thought this was an excellent move on their part, because I know I was having problems on how to most accurately translate those kanji without taking the completely different katakana reading into account. And for those who can't read Japanese, the translation is still provided for you in English in a close approximation. Everyone wins.
Lucia and Sumire go through a lot of changes throughout these three volumes in this omnibus, and it's nice to see them grow as characters. The world expanded as well, with all of the Big Reveals and further understanding as to how Fragments and viruses relate to each other. I won't spoil you guys, since you really should give this one a read (especially if you've read the first one), but the emotional depth is incredible concerning this medium - it almost felt like reading a novel, and not reading manga at all. Suzumi has real talent when it comes to building her characters and killing her darlings, with maximum emotional payoff in the end. I would love to see her write and illustrate a light novel just to see if it would work as well as her writing with this series. What I think I loved the most was that everyone, at the end of the day, no matter whose side they took or how fantastical their powers, was human, and was just as strong or weak as any human would be. Suzumi really knows how to make her characters emotionally accessible, even the villains. Though I would have liked to see a little more on who Sonoka is aside from what little we're given to go on through Ruka's backstory, I was still satisfied with how relatable the villains were.
Final verdict? Fans of the first omnibus, you simply MUST continue your VVV journey. For those of you just getting into the series, I suggest you read the first omnibus before this one as you might get lost. Just as the first omnibus made my best of 2012 list, so does this one. Absolutely gorgeous art, and a lovely story to go with it. I really can't wait until the final omnibus comes out - it's scheduled to hit stores in October. But for now, the second "Venus Versus Virus" omnibus is available through Seven Seas/Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more
Hm. I was hoping for more out of this one, but I guess I'm satisfied with what I got. "The Spindlers" is a pretty solid young MG book that will delighHm. I was hoping for more out of this one, but I guess I'm satisfied with what I got. "The Spindlers" is a pretty solid young MG book that will delight anyone who loves fairy tales (and being in them) as well as heroic quests to save people. It's a simple story, but it has a rather sinister theme underneath - that of trying to fight the lethargy that has descended over parents since the Great Recession started - and that of hope. Hopefully kids will get this theme, because it's pretty awesome that Oliver threw that in there, and hopefully kids reading who are having a hard time at home will find some solace in it.
For me, I think the large problem was that this book was just too straight forward in its quest for Patrick (and all that comes with that). The worldbuilding and characters were top notch, but the plot just felt too easy getting from point A to point B in order to get the real Patrick back. I wanted a little bit more in terms of challenges that Liza needed to overcome in order to get Patrick back. Had that been present I think that I just generally would have enjoyed the book more, period.
The characters: My biggest beef? The Queen of the Spindlers also felt more than a bit just too stereotypically evil. She tricked Liza (saw that one coming, as it happened repeatedly in the book), was generally kind of moustache-twirlingly evil. A bit boringly so. I loved how plucky Liza was, and her rat friend was more than a bit annoying, but came through for her in the end. Patrick was lovable in the way all little brothers are. I think my favorite characters were the Nocturni - I want a whole spin-off about them. I absolutely adored them and just wanted more on them in general. The parents were so authentic it hurt, especially in the areas about the bills, and how Mom and Dad now have worry grooves in their foreheads from how tough things have become.
The worldbuilding: Absolutely gorgeous. The troglods were hilarious, and the Nocturni - well, I've already talked about them. I loved all of the different locales of Below, but I feel like we didn't quite see them all as we quite have could. There was telling in more places than actually seeing, and that was a bit disappointing. But this happens sometimes, so I just tried to roll with it. It wasn't something that annoyed me endlessly but it still could have been better.
Final verdict? This one is going to be great for the young MG crowd, but older MG readers might want a bit more out of this book like I did. "The Spindlers" is out tomorrow in North America through Harper Children's, so definitely be sure to check it out if just for those Nocturni alone!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more
Winters feels like a whole new novelist with "The Last Policeman" - there's a different feel to his prose when compared to "Bedbugs" and his earlier efforts. The idea of having a murder mystery taking place in the middle of the Sixth Extinction (the sixth large extinction event to wipe out whichever dominant species is on Earth) is absolutely brilliant, and I really enjoyed it. And yet it asks a very important question - would we do the same in Palace's place? Would we go ahead and investigate what appears to be yet another suicide on a gut instinct when we all have only so many more months to live? That question alone kept me riveted until the end.
I can't exactly put my finger on it, but somehow Winters feels like he's really majorly matured as a novelist. I think it's because his worldbuilding skills have really, really improved since "Bedbugs" - shrinking the world to the city of Concord (and its surrounding areas) and giving it such a limited timeline to work with, along with a killer (no pun intended) backstory really worked here. Along with the construction of the victim, Peter Zell, and his entire history before the supposed suicide, was absolutely excellent. However, the one area where I feel he needs work was on the construction of the protagonist himself - while Palace is an excellent detective, I didn't quite get enough of him for him to feel entirely 3D. While he was adequate as a storyteller to narrate the whodunnit, I still wanted more of his backstory than what I did get. Since this is the first of a trilogy, here's hoping that things can only get better from here with the construction of Palace as not just a narrator but a character that's really interacting with everyone on the case.
Even with my nitpicking, Palace does get a great character transformation/journey arc throughout the book where by the end of the book he's a bit different than where we meet him on the first page, and I feel like Winters really hit his stride concerning Palace's character construction about halfway through the book. While not ideal, it's better than not finding one's stride at all, and I'm happy he did. Palace is a sympathetic, likeable guy that you just kind of want to give a hug (and all the awards) for staying on the job while the rest of the world around him is just kind of falling apart.
The story itself had a lot of twists and turns I definitely did not see coming - I did have some inklings of what might happen at the end, but for the most part, by the last page, I really, really wanted that second book in my hands NOW. I love who ends up being the villain, and why Zell dies, as well as the tantalizing secret of why the US government is suddenly changing all of these laws - both on the federal and state levels - all over the place "in preparation" of the coming asteroid. That kind-of cliffhanger alone made me want to read the second book.
While it's by no means a perfect tale, it's my favorite of Winters' works yet, and I really can't wait until book 2 gets released. "The Last Policeman" is out now from Quirk/Random House in North America, so be sure to check it out when you can! It's made my best of 2012 list, and its place there is well deserved indeed. Want something new to try? This police procedural at the end of the world will definitely leave you begging for more.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)