Kasahara goes to meet Satoshi, Tezuka's brother, who promises to pull some strings and call off her inquiry if she joins his faction. Kasahara refusesKasahara goes to meet Satoshi, Tezuka's brother, who promises to pull some strings and call off her inquiry if she joins his faction. Kasahara refuses him, but not before Dojo appears to "rescue" her. (Not that she really needed it but what else does a secret princely admirer do?) Kasahara is cleared from suspicion without any outside help but Satoshi isn't done with her. He sends her a letter that reveals Dojo is her "prince," a Library Defense Force member who saved her from pro-censorship forces 6 years ago & who she's idolized since. Terrified of the implications, Kasahara snaps at Dojo when he tries to find out what Satoshi's letter said & Komaki intervenes, allowing her to reveal her fears to his sympathetic ear. But all of this heartache & romantic trouble takes a backseat when Marie has a pervy encounter with a creepy patron. The task force assembles, determined to trap the offender with Kasahara & Shibazaki as bait.
While readers can finally breath a sigh of relief, Yumi is determined not to let us get everything we want just yet. Kasahara finally knows the truth, but Dojo doesn't realize it yet, creating a conflict straight out of a romantic comedy--you know, the kind that involves judo-flipping your crush into a table so he won't find out your secret. Kasahara's conversation with Satoshi displays every quality that we love her for: loyalty, firm belief in her ideals, determination to think the best of people. But she's matured nicely into someone whose not so brash as to immediately resort to brawling. (Which makes her freak-out with Dojo funnier & a little sad too.) Her lonely realization about Dojo's true identity is kinda heartbreaking, especially after all the bonding & support that the team has offered one another lately. But Komaki steps in at just the right moment& makes sure Kasahara doesn't totally pull away from the others.
I'm not entirely sure how the plotline with the library perv is going to play out but I guess we'll see in the next issue. Satoshi--there's something particularly creepy about him as well. His efforts to win Tezuka over to his side are, um, maybe just a little fetish-y. Like it's not just about proving his side is right or getting his brother to see his point--Satoshi seems to want to dominate him or at least win Tezuka's idolization back. I don't know; I'm just getting this weird vibe off of him & he seems kind of gross to me, not matter how cute he's drawn. Issue #9 promises to be interesting!...more
A librarian trainee that writes harsh, opinionated book reviews is only the start of the Library Defense Force's troubles. After both Kasahara & TA librarian trainee that writes harsh, opinionated book reviews is only the start of the Library Defense Force's troubles. After both Kasahara & Tezuka separately confront trainee Sunagawa, the troublemaker reveals that he is a sympathizer for the pro-censorship cause. This faction growing within the library supports' ranks is led by Tezuka's older brother Satoshi, who believes that giving into the MBC now will end the war & pay off in more autonomy for the library later. But as the Defense Force finds out, Sunagawa's nasty reviews are just the tip of the iceberg. Shibazaki gets a tip that Sunagawa's been burning books & when he's called before a review board, he names Kasahara as an accomplice!
Trouble! Intrigue! Yelling at jerks who don't take responsibility for their actions! While this issue does have all of that, I joke about my excitement. (Kasahara putting Sunagawa in his place is very satisfying though.) The relationships that readers began exploring in issue #6 deepen here. With the arrival of Tezuka's brother, I thought for sure that Tezuka himself would start to isolate and begin to break off from the group, especially since pride is such a large part of his characterization. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had guessed wrong: the team pulls together in different ways from Kasahara trying to draw him out to all of them brainstorming to figure out what Sunagawa is up to to Tezuka coming clean about his estrangement from his brother.
This new sense of belonging for Tezuka is well-contrasted with Kasahara's isolation during her inquiry before the review board. Her teammates support her just as whole-heartedly as before but her ostracization among the other recruits is painful, especially with her determination to bear it without complaint. In short, the author zigged when I thought she'd zag & the story was definitely more satisfying as a result. I'm curious now if the original novel is as good as the manga series....more
A fictional interpretation of Rasputin & his life, where the fantasy of Russian folklore & the divisive climate of his time collide. Told in fA fictional interpretation of Rasputin & his life, where the fantasy of Russian folklore & the divisive climate of his time collide. Told in flashbacks from the fatal dinner party hosted by Felix Yusupov, Rasputin reimagines the starets as a gifted, sensitive mystic trying to reconcile his perception with the harsh realities of Russia's poverty. He heals the wounded, speaks to faery creatures & is supposedly the heir to a mythic hero. His talents lead him from Siberia to a monastery where another monk recognizes his power & convinces Rasputin to seek out the tsar's family in order to ground the worldly rulers. This particular issue ends with a key meeting between Rasputin & various figures of power on a WWI battlefield.
This graphic novel is not unlike Enchantments by Katheryn Harrison--there are interesting ideas here supported by some knowledge of the historical context. But the execution can be uneven. I like the idea that Rasputin absorbs some aspects of the people he heals but this can also act as a narrative hand-wave since some of his actions happen when "he's not himself." One example: after healing a swash-buckling Frenchman from wounds sustained in a bar fight, R soon has an orgy of sorts with his newfound friend, presumably under the influence of his absorbed personality traits. While this moment sets up Rasputin's lustful appetites, it also comes a little out of the blue since the preceding scenes give no indication of this. The section is literally bar fight, trip to monastery, orgy & then, oh well you absorbed some Frenchness you might want to keep an eye on that.
I also enjoy the conflict of Russia's folkloric past & technological future mirroring Rasputin's main internal conflict here as well. Grecian does capture the essence of that period while simplifying the multitude of factions at play. Rossmo's art is impressionistic & expressive as well. One gripe: they've made Rasputin more conventionally good-looking. This sort of undermines the natural mystique of the Rasputin legend--that he could influence people greatly despite his intense repellent appearance. But I can understand the stylistic choice. There's a Sandman vibe to this fantastical story & this is definitely aided by the look they've chosen.
Recommended for readers who enjoy a fantastical flavor to their historical fiction or those who wanted Petrograd to be a little more mystical....more
**spoiler alert** Tyler comes for Marla, but this time she's not up for any of his games. With one of her friends from the progeria group, she heads o**spoiler alert** Tyler comes for Marla, but this time she's not up for any of his games. With one of her friends from the progeria group, she heads off on her own search for Junior, a winding journey that includes a visit to Chuck Palahniuk's own writing group. After stumbling across a militant-like Quilt Club, Marla & the progeria support group decide to march off to war in distant countries, looking for any trail Rize or Die has left behind. (Yeah, by the way, Fight Club is part of a PMC now called Rize or Die.) Sebastian Narrator works like a good little monkey back at the Paper St. house & meets up with Angel Face, who has 10 years of seething resentment to pay back.
Last issue, I was growing increasingly frustrated because I didn't know how seriously I was supposed to take the tone of FC2. This issue finally gave me some answers. I had been dreading Palahniuk's appearance in his own story because creator cameos can really come off wrong. While I'm not yet sure what exactly his purpose is, Palahniuk-the-character is also not entirely in charge of the story if Marla's reaction is any indication. (She appears when Palahniuk says so, but won't say the words he's written for her.) Around this time, the readers are also clued in on another mystery: the dead Robert Paulson has appeared on Palahniuk's porch & is ghost-calling other characters. So as far as I'm concerned, all bets on this being a serious story are off.
The Make-A-Wish sequence where the progeria kids ask to be sent to war zones all over the world is touched with Palahniuk's familiar insightful weirdness. Hopefully, it's also an indication we're ramping up for some action. While I'm sure that this sequel will be seen as an ambitious attempt to tell this story, the serialized format does not seem to suit the author's style. Readers familiar with his other stories know that there's always a big payoff in the end, but all of the stylistic stuff in between--the weird facts, the repetitive descriptions, the odd conversations--all have to accumulate in order to lead to the action. The comic format seems to stall or cut out the build-up & it seems like the story is moving in fits and starts.
This issue is the one that won my attention back so I'll continue reading. Just a few more weeks until the next issue!...more
Love is in the air--Kasahara & Dojo have a charged moment together in a snowfall after she mistakes an encounter between Dojo & a secret admirLove is in the air--Kasahara & Dojo have a charged moment together in a snowfall after she mistakes an encounter between Dojo & a secret admirer. Shibazaki is pursued by a curious, guileless admirer & ends up reflecting on her past relationships. But the frivolity doesn't last long as the Task Force must protect patron access to the latest controversial issue of Weekly New World. As a result, the new head librarian makes a startling decision at the beginning of his tenure. And Taiga, one of the two pranksters from issue #3, crosses paths with the Task Force again, causing both Kasahara & Tezuka to remember their own brothers.
While the previous issues have touched on relationships outside of the obvious romantic ones, #6 has been much more satisfying in really exploring the history behind the friendships & family ties. This is a nice inversion, especially since this volume opens with Valentine's Day--readers might think that the focus would just be on the romance. Instead, Yumi takes the idea of pursuit to highlight what actually motivates the various characters. Shibizaki's admirer not only allows her to reflect on how she's built up being a social butterfly into a form of deflection but nicely sets up her further investment in her friendship with Kasahara. I especially loved the side-story with Taiga & his brother setting up Kasahara's & Tezuka's flashbacks--Yumi's story structure is impressively balanced with action & character development. The author mentions in one of her footnotes that Tezuka's brother will be more prominent in the coming issues. All I can say is bring the drama, this should be fun!...more
I came across this book unexpectedly while shelving & checked it out when I realized my reading list of Poe fiction was short on female perspectivI came across this book unexpectedly while shelving & checked it out when I realized my reading list of Poe fiction was short on female perspectives. I am pleased to say that Bride is a competently written work of historical fiction that explores Virginia Clemm & Edgar Allan Poe's domestic life from their first encounter up to and after her death at 24.
First, I'll list a few things that I think Hart got right. Her handling of Virginia's & Edgar's marriage when she was 13 grows first from Poe's desire to gather the scraps of his family around him & Virginia's childish ideas about what marriage entails into a relationship between two dreamers. Hart's pairing of Virginia's ignorance about adult life & her domestic dreams suit Poe's literary ambitions & his very real shortcomings. The couple's struggle between the extremes of poverty & abundance are well-defined as well as some of the ugly emotional realities of the codependency between the lovers. The anxious & tiresome pattern of keeping vigilance over a husband's bad habits have poignant consequences.
But the story does have its flaws as well. Virginia's tone is a little too measured throughout the story. This can be partially forgiven since she is narrating her life as a ghost & has no emotional attachment to anything anymore. But add a few of her impromptu actions & Virginia comes off as Pollyannaish at times. Two specific moments come to mind: her judgement of the bar crowd she performs for & her perception of the poor Irish homes in the notoriously bad Five Points neighborhood. In the first instance, Virginia decides that the rough crowd she's playing for isn't so bad without actually interacting with anyone or witnessing anything to inspire this realization. In the second instance, she simply happens to be passing by the neighborhood & remarks on how charming the houses seem without any recognition of the surrounding area or how similar she is in circumstance to these people. These naturally good thoughts just seem to occur to her. I can appreciate Hart wanting her protagonist to appear tolerant & kind-hearted, but this would have worked better if she had actually experienced something.
As I mentioned, I did enjoy the portrayal of Virginia as a dreamer & having her own intense interior life, but there are certain moments that could have used some oomph. Virginia is supposed to spend a year resting under the influence of morphine in the hopes that her initial symptoms of TB will be mitigated. But this section passes within a few pages & the glimpses of Virginia's own darkness just tantalizes readers with what could have been. Overall, I think Hart's characterization mixes a good ratio of immaturity, romanticism, & artistic sensibility that develops through the story. I just wanted a little bit more heart from her.
A decent addition to my Poelandia reading list & could work as a companion to Nevermore as an introduction into this sub-genre....more
Kasahara's visit with her parents winds down, but not before a family argument leads to Kasahara's father uncharacteristically defending her choices.Kasahara's visit with her parents winds down, but not before a family argument leads to Kasahara's father uncharacteristically defending her choices. After the parents have left, Dojo finds a copy of Weekly New World (the copy that featured Kasahara at the debate in issue #3) in their room. At least one of Iku's parents suspects more than what they will reveal. Readers also get a peek into Instructor Komaki's life with the introduction of Marie, a deaf friend of his from childhood who comes to visit one day. After Komaki recommends a book to Marie that features a deaf character, an anonymous source reports him to the Media Betterment Committee for emotionally abusing a minor. Komaki is arrested & the Task Force must pull together to find him.
The addition of Komaki's story is a nice addition to the series so far, especially after the last issue ending on his perspective. The rumor that leads to his arrest could almost have been culled from the more reactionary parts of today's internet. One critique: while I am aware that there are plenty of stories about one character being worshipfully in love with another since childhood, something about Marie's mental refrain of "See me as a woman" kind of reminded me of Emma from the Metal Gear series. That's probably just my own personal associations at play but it did lend a certain cringe-worthiness to my reading. Tezuka has been in the background a little lately, so the hint of his background complications in this issue is a welcome addition. Also welcome was Shibazaki actually helping Kasahara to execute a plan instead of just listening to her talk about her relationship troubles & flirting. This series has completely charmed me & I enjoy it more & more with each issue!...more
The second volume of Rat Queens speeds along as we pick up right where volume #1 left off: the morning after the Queens' raucous victory party. But noThe second volume of Rat Queens speeds along as we pick up right where volume #1 left off: the morning after the Queens' raucous victory party. But not much time passes before the group is back in the field killing monsters & bickering about each others problems. Sawyer's search for "Old Lady" Bernadette leads him straight to Gerrig Lake & his fiendish plan to avenge his wife's death at Sawyer's hands. Coincidentally, Dee's husband shows up looking for a stolen artifact--the kind of mystical trinket that summons tentacled monstrosities. . . like the ones coming out of the sky over Palisade. Huh, how about that? The Rat Queens band together to save both Sawyer & Palisade once again, but not before a few ghosts from their pasts reemerge.
So, first let me say that even though I'm still completely captivated by this series, the story structure in this second volume is a little lacking. Gerrig's plot to avenge his wife & destroy Palisade ramps up fast, and I often felt like the rest of the story was trying to catch up. Entire pieces of story are missing like how Gerrig got the mask away from Dee's people, why Sawyer killed Gerrig's wife in the first place (I know, he was an assassin but who hired him & what was the objective?), & where Betty disappeared to in the last few chapters. The reality-bending aspects of the tentacle monsters provided an interesting way to introduce the Queens' backstories, but other than providing some spooky color, I'm not entirely sure what the tentacle monsters' powers are otherwise. Also, Tizzie, a secondary character, gets a flashback but not Betty, a major one? Huh?
With that said, I love Dee's arc here & how her struggle with her faith becomes a real test for her to endure. In the moments where she psychs herself up with, "I'm Goddess enough" & "I have to know" I was cheering her on each time. There's still plenty of humor to carry the story forward, and the rebuilding of the town should provide plenty of opportunity for future rollicking adventures. Looks like Hannah is next in the plot complications department & a visit from her necromancer parents should make things interesting. Let's just don't forget Betty next time, ok? I know she's small, but she has a big presence that was sorely missed this issue....more
Kasahara & General Inamine are rescued from the pro-censorship group Bakushu by the Library Task Force without casualties & Dojo & his teaKasahara & General Inamine are rescued from the pro-censorship group Bakushu by the Library Task Force without casualties & Dojo & his team celebrate their return. On the way to the rescue, Dojo's thoughts reveal he is Kasahara's "prince" who saved her from the pro-censorship forces 5 years ago. (I mean, you probably figured that out a few issues ago, but it is nice to see his POV for once.) The happiness is short-lived though when Kasahara's parents come to visit & her colleagues are pressed into helping her keep her secret. Despite the familiar disagreements between a headstrong daughter & her disapproving parents, Kasahara's father reveals in a conversation with Dojo that he might have a change of heart.
Issue #4 brings a lot of new perspectives into the mix, which I enjoyed. Not only do readers get to see Dojo's side of the story so far, Instructor Komaki, the tease that nettles whatever character he across, dominates the last chapter. While he does sort of serve as a voice of the audience cheering Kasahara on, we also get a few insights into his wry, odd sense of humor. Seems like Dojo is not the only one who feels protective of their newest member.
This issue also feels like something of a breather after the tense volume 3 but I'm sure things will be ramping up again soon. Kasahara's struggles to be her tomboyish self & yet please her parents will be endearing to readers who have read any story with a similar protagonist. Library Wars has becoming a total indulgence for me this summer!...more