One of my favorites. The paranormal-detective thing is commoner now than it was in the early '90s when this first came out, but Hellboy is still fairlOne of my favorites. The paranormal-detective thing is commoner now than it was in the early '90s when this first came out, but Hellboy is still fairly unique in that genre. The story--the whole series--has a primal feel to it that's part story and part Mignola's distinctive, blocky artwork....more
This fifth volume picks up the main storyline from Hellboy: Seed of Destruction and Hellboy: Wake the Devil and represents a big turning point in theThis fifth volume picks up the main storyline from Hellboy: Seed of Destruction and Hellboy: Wake the Devil and represents a big turning point in the series, one which resulted in the "spin-off" series B.P.R.D. The story moves away from the original paranormal-detective concept and starts to take on some of the more mythic aspects explored in the short stories. I like the change. The thing that drew me to the series originally was the paranormal investigative agency idea, but what kept me reading was that Mignola seemed to be reaching for what lay beneath the common and uncommon creatures Hellboy and his companions fought. I'm a fan of archetypal fantasy, and that's where the series seems to be going from here....more
I got the book from the library, and therein lies a tale. The first thing that struck me about this book was the weight--originally published in threeI got the book from the library, and therein lies a tale. The first thing that struck me about this book was the weight--originally published in three volumes, the complete novel tops out at over 900 pages, which was not bad but certainly unexpected. The second was that the library's plastic cover, essential to protecting the unusually thin dust jacket, also destroyed the effect the book's designers intented. You can see from the cover photo that the dust jacket is translucent, letting the cover images (female on the front, male on the back) show through the "clear" cutouts; the spine is the same. But in a library edition, the white paper that wraps around behind the dust jacket makes the translucent cover opaque and kills the effect.
Why does this matter? What's the point of discussing the physical book before its contents? Because the design of 1Q84 is a part of the story, a subtle reminder of how the two worlds are connected in barely noticeable ways. This is not so much about alternate or parallel worlds as it is about how things balance, and how some things can only happen in one place or another.
It's Tokyo, 1984. Aomame is a special type of assassin, an otherwise ordinary woman who kills abusive men otherwise outside the law. On her way to an "appointment," she takes a maintenance ladder out of a traffic jam and ends up in a world almost exactly like her own, but with a few crucial differences, a world she names 1Q84. Tengo is a would-be writer who takes on an unusual and legally ambiguous task: rewriting a brilliant but stylistically flawed novella by a dyslexic and socially awkward teenage girl. Her strangely compelling story opens the way for him to enter 1Q84. In alternating chapters, Tengo and Aomame's stories converge, bringing them together--or back together, because in an impossible coincidence, they first met in fourth grade and haven't forgotten each other in the twenty years since.
I read this in about three days, didn't want to stop, and yet I can't really say I liked it. It's brilliant, of course. I never felt frustrated at the changes in narrators, never had trouble keeping track of the characters (though the Japanese names may not be easy for Western readers), and enjoyed working out the details of the various mysteries. I think it helps not to read this as straight fantasy, even though I wouldn't call it magical realism. Murakami has a good handle on the tropes of archetypal fantasy, very impressive in a writer of what otherwise might be considered literary fiction. On the other hand, the question of whether the Little People are real or metaphorical isn't answered (though in my opinion, they are real, given the way Aomame and Tengo make a physical escape from 1Q84).
This should have been 3.5 stars. I'm giving it four stars instead of three because anything I feel compelled to finish in less than three days must be something I was attached to. The problem is that this book has a number of very explicit sex scenes--not, in my opinion, titillating, but definitely explicit--and I don't really care for that. Since they almost always serve to further the plot or explore character development, I can't say they were unnecessary, but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy them. There are a few other things I'm not sure about: for example, why is Tengo referred to exclusively by his first name, but Masami Aomame is only ever called Aomame? (The names in this translation are given in Western style, surname last, and it wasn't until the investigation into her family is revealed that we learn Aomame is a surname.) Is Fuka-Eri dohta or mata, and does it matter? The kind of book this is, I go back and forth between seeing this as cleverness and annoyance.
Thanks to the sex scenes, I don't know if I can recommend this to any of my friends. I do recommend it to readers of complex literary fiction who aren't put off by explicit descriptions of sex, some of it violent....more
Oh, Eric. I mean--Oh, New Eric. I like Eric anyway, and this amnesiac version is so different and sweet...I don't know what to make of that. What's upOh, Eric. I mean--Oh, New Eric. I like Eric anyway, and this amnesiac version is so different and sweet...I don't know what to make of that. What's up with the whole "I lost my memory and now I'm a good person" thing? Why isn't it as likely that someone could lose their memory and become an amoral jerk? In this case, though, it influences Sookie's attitude toward the real Eric and, I think, makes a romantic relationship with Real Eric more likely. There's really no way to keep New Eric around, of course, but he is just so sweet.......more
I'm only rating this down because it's awkwardly constructed. It's like two novellas smashed into a single book. Each one is good, but couldn't they hI'm only rating this down because it's awkwardly constructed. It's like two novellas smashed into a single book. Each one is good, but couldn't they have been blended better?
I especially liked the story set in Dallas, with its new vampires and culture that Sookie hasn't encountered before. And why, why do I like Eric so much? I really shouldn't. He does that whole "I'm sexy and you WILL want me" thing that bugs me, except...maybe it's Johanna Parker's narration, maybe it's just Harris's craft as a writer, but I find him funny and attractive instead of obnoxious. It's like he's behaving that way to cover the fact that he really is interested in Sookie, and maybe that's a little disturbing to him.
The story about the maenad was less interesting, though Harris did an excellent job making the orgy episode creepy and sensual. I felt as oooked out as Sookie did. The discovery of who killed Lafayette, though, felt like an afterthought, especially after Sookie had so much trouble finding the murderer in the previous book. I'd like to see the next book be less disorganized. And have more Eric....more
This is a good, solid mystery/suspense novel in the noir tradition, and Felix Castor is a good representative of the flawed but noble detective. It'sThis is a good, solid mystery/suspense novel in the noir tradition, and Felix Castor is a good representative of the flawed but noble detective. It's also a pretty good dark fantasy, brutal in places, but with some unique ideas about the supernatural, particularly Castor's use of music to bind and exorcise ghosts. I felt it dragged somewhat, mostly because Carey puts a lot of detail into beefing up scenes that would be irrelevant except for one tiny piece of important information. They're interesting in themselves, but weigh the plot down. I admire Carey's work here, but ultimately this isn't the sort of book I love, so my 3.5 rating gets dropped to a 3....more