Gene Luen Yang blends three stories (that of the famous chinese Monkey god from Journey to the West; the story of Jin Wang, an American boy born of Ch...moreGene Luen Yang blends three stories (that of the famous chinese Monkey god from Journey to the West; the story of Jin Wang, an American boy born of Chinese immigrants; and Chin-Kee, a walking stereotype) into one humorous and thought-provoking story told in graphic novel form that reads like a self-effacing diary. His characters are funny and charming, and the three separate threads combine at the end to make them something greater than the sum of their parts. American Born Chinese is easily a one-sitting read, though much more time may be spent poring over the illustrations (which have a Bazooka Joe lightness to them), which capture the moods perfectly. Despite mild and rare cursing, this book can easily be shared with younger readers. Yang manages to deal with serious subjects with a light hand, respecting them without getting bogged down in didacticism or the pointing of fingers. His writing is fun, witty and playful, and his book charming.(less)
When I first started this, I have to say I was pretty iffy. There's a bit to get through to get to the 'current' story, and I don't know that I've eve...moreWhen I first started this, I have to say I was pretty iffy. There's a bit to get through to get to the 'current' story, and I don't know that I've ever read info-dumping in graphic novel form. It was...odd. It made me feel really disconnected, and I wasn't sure I was going to like this. But once Rapunzel is banished to her high, um, tower of sorts, it started to pick up, and it took off when Jack entered the story -- it was enjoyable from that point on.
There was great humor in unexpected moments, silly little things popping up like easter eggs, both in the text (and the sort of 'background' text, if that makes sense. If you don't read graphic novels, I'm talking about the bits of text that pop up, not in a speech bubble or a box of text, but as quiet little background moments, going on behind whatever the text-box/bubble says.) and in the illustrations that accompanied the text. I got the feeling that Shannon and Dean Hale (married) and Nathan Hale (no relation) worked well to layer things and inject cute little quirks. It made for an enjoyable reading experience.
Rapunzel was interesting and fun (even if her braid lassos look like sausages), and she and Jack played nicely off of each other. Jack is absolutely ridiculous and shameless, and I loved him. He was a great foil for Rapunzel, and together with the Old West feel of the book, it all worked nicely. The one thing that I wished different was Mother Gothel. Rapunzel is such a fascinating story because it's hard to decide who the villain is. Rapunzel's parents trade her away for some stolen lettuce, so it's hard to buy them as the suffering heroes, but what exactly does the old lady/owner of the lettuce want with a baby, anyhow? And why does she keep her in a tower? There are questions in Rapunzel that interest me, and it's fun seeing how authors will answer them.
I didn't completely love how Hale answered them. Sure, some of the answers were really interesting, and certainly unique. But Mother Gothel had great potential to be a sympathetic character to me - albeit a much-flawed one - but that potential was ignored in favor of making her seem completely black-hearted, even when there was clearly much more to the story. It took away all of the fine little nuances and made me feel like this great opportunity was passed by; the story could have been dynamic and colorful where Gothel was concerned, and instead it was flat, black and white. I wanted to explore her character, her motivations, and what I can only guess was her vast loneliness, and maybe paranoia.
But that being said, I still enjoyed this and will read Calamity Jack, and would recommend it to fans of graphic novels and fairy tales, and those looking for something a little different. I think this one will be a great choice for boys and reluctant readers, too. And moms, apparently, because mine was flipping through this, and having never read a graphic novel before, she was immediately interested, and I had to keep her from taking it until after I'd written my review and gotten pictures of the frames I wanted to share, which never happened anyway, cause GUESS WHOSE SCANNER IS BROKEN... ;P(less)
This is probably just under a 3 for me. It was cutish, fun artwork, interestingish fairytale-like storylines. Not a great piece of lit, but fun.
The ba...moreThis is probably just under a 3 for me. It was cutish, fun artwork, interestingish fairytale-like storylines. Not a great piece of lit, but fun.
The basic story revolves around a group of goth club kids, some of whom are not so much "kids" as they are -- well, that would be telling, now wouldn't it? The story is slightly cheeky, making fun of the scene in the way that only people who are a part of it and sincere can really do. There are a lot of fairytale elements woven in, and a creepy carnival, both of which I loved, and there are some good funny bits. What held it back though, for me at least, was the constant sense of disconnect. The stories jumped a lot, and though they do fit together, and eventually work as a whole (in one volume) I think they would have been frustrating individually. Also, some of the changes within the stories are very abrupt and underdeveloped. For a light, fun, slightly macabre read, it works, but it doesn't go beyond that.(less)
This volume continues to present side stories of the peripheral characters of Emma, among them Erich and his squirrel, the Merediths and their maids,...moreThis volume continues to present side stories of the peripheral characters of Emma, among them Erich and his squirrel, the Merediths and their maids, and a trio of opera singers, as well as the story of how William met Hakim. I almost rated this a 4, simply because it's harder to absolutely love a series of side stories instead of the orig. chronicles of Emma. But the fact is, I love this world. Kaoru Mori is so attuned to her characters and the details. She can tell a story with no words for many panels (sometimes pages) and still keep it clear and entertaining. Her attention to detail amazes me, and her ability to inject subtle humor and outright cuteness. She could manga-up the phonebook and make it intricate and fun for me. And of course, her silly afterword manga is perfect as always. Sometimes I think, as much as I love the books, I love her afterword manga more. I was very disappointed to find out that there is only one more volume and then she's done with Emma. Don't know what I'll do with myself. Think I'm going to have to move on to Shirley Volume 1.(less)
First I want to start with a HUGE THANK YOU to Ksenia of Polish Outlander for being awesomesauce and surprising me with a copy of this.
I kind of don't know where to begin other than to say I fell in love with this. The illustrations are just perfectly stylized and atmospheric, and incredibly expressive. This probably has less text than any graphic novel I've ever read (entire pages go by with no words), and yet it doesn't lack for story. It's always so clear and complete - I never felt it was lacking simply from not having a lot of text. The story is fully there in the pictures, which not a lot of graphic novels pull off or even attempt. Furthermore, her style was distinctive and memorable. It reminded me somewhat of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in the simplicity and almost cuteness of the black and white illustrations, but Brosgol has definitely put her stamp on it.
Beyond the fact that the illustrations are just perfect, the book works on so many levels. Brosgol has a great sense of humor - in Anya and in the illustrations - that acts as a good counterpoint to the growing tension and unease regarding her ghost, Emily, who she meets when she falls down a well.
And speaking of Emily - oh, I loved her. I mean, you don't ever not see what's coming with her (did that make sense?), but it's so delightful watching her morph from this little lonely ghost to this maniacal sort of poltergeist with a vengeance. She's a sweet little nutjob, and I loved it. And Brosgol's depiction of her and the way her character evolves as her story is slowly revealed is fantastic.
She goes from this:
and I loved every minute of it. On that level, it was a great classic ghost story, a creepy story of control and obsession and longing.
But it's not just a ghost story. Anya's Ghost is also a bit of a coming of age story, and an immigrant/Outsider story that makes Anya relatable and lovable (even when you want to smack her). Brosgol created Anya's voice really well, and captured both her desire to be normal and mainstream as well as her awkwardness and insecurity and bitterness about what it means to actually be mainstream.
Do you ever have those books where, when you try to recommend them to someone, all you can come up with is "Just read it"? I know I've kind of rambled, and just shoved pictures in your face, but - just read it.(less)
In the middle of my reading for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I was craving some graphic novels. It had been awhile, and my fingers were itching for them. And...moreIn the middle of my reading for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I was craving some graphic novels. It had been awhile, and my fingers were itching for them. And then I opened up my Google Reader one day, and the Polish Outlander had posted a bunch of graphic novels; I popped over to Goodreads to mark some of them "to-read" and came across another one she was reading that hadn't been in the post: Castle Waiting, Volume Two. The title - and her enthusiasm for the story - hooked me, and I immediately went to my library's request page to see if they had volume One. No. No, they did not. But they had another volume that makes up part of volume one (this series has some of the most confusing, convoluted ordering): Lucky Road. Request this title? Um, ☑
I didn't even really know what it was about. I just wanted a comic and it had a cool title -- it fit the bill. And y'all - it's about fairy tales. No effing joke. I just now got the full Volume One, and Lucky Road is in about the middle of it, so I did miss a little bit of back story about Castle Waiting and how it came to be, but I actually kind of liked just being plunged in. It made for a quirkier read, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Basically, Castle Waiting works in some familiar story lines and characters that will be recongnizable to fairy tale lovers, but it is really its own thing. It uses the fairy tale realm as a base for the world, and expands out from it, bringing in a lot of the side characters and everyday people from the fairy tales we grew up with (I love this, btw. I love that Medley didn't just do a straightforward retelling, or feel the need to explain to the reader -- you know the stories or you don't, but she's not going to hold your hand through them -- it all just is, and I love that.)
Lucky Road follows Lady Jain who, pregnant and fleeing from her husband's home, is in search of the fabled Castle Waiting and the sanctuary it is said to offer. I loved everything about her journey to the Castle, her reception there, and getting to know the odd but lovable castle inhabitants. Medley packed so much personality into the characters in such a short time that I came to love them. And they had me continually cracking up. On top of the fairy tale elements that make up their characters - Henry and his heart caged in bands of iron; the handmaidens who slept 100 years alongside their enchanted mistress - they each have their own quirks that made them memorable.
The story and their interactions were so silly and light-hearted and fun, but not frivolous - the reader is always aware that Jain is running from something - and that they probably all are.
But in the meantime, they're going to have fun and make the most of life, and carry on with their little quirks, making fun of each other and being made fun of in return.
You know that warm feeling you get when you read a new book and you know it was meant for you? You've made a new friend, and you're going to be together forever? As light and silly as this was, that was how I felt. It was exactly what I wanted, even if it was only a fragment of the story.
I just got the full Volume One (and Vol Two is on request), so I will definitely be continuing my adventures with Castle Waiting. I understand that the story as a whole has some feminist aspects, and gets compared a lot to Chaucer, and I can see bits of that in Lucky Road. I bring this up for 2 reasons:
1. If you're thinking, I'm not going to read that, it's fluff - know there is more to it. Feminism! Chaucer! 2. If you're thinking, Feminism? Chaucer? - know that it's fluff! It's fun, and it's not going to beat you over the head just because it's got some subtle heft to it! (speaking of heft - the full Vol 1 clocks in at about 500 pages)
So, to stop rambling so I can get back to reading, I just want to leave you with some of my favorite oddbits from the story, and this last thought: I think this will be one of the few graphic novels I feel the need to buy - if that doesn't recommend it... Enjoy!
I'm so sending this one to my preggers friend, Jenn!
This little guy is one of my favorite characters.
Just another piece of silliness, this one showing the great expressiveness and personality in their faces/the drawings.
A fairy tale princess who wakes up, sniffs a pretty flower, then cracksher toes = my kind of fairy tale princess!(less)