This series has finally begun to reasonably drag. Kevin, in a strange reversal, seemed to have all the answers in this story. He had to rush a little...moreThis series has finally begun to reasonably drag. Kevin, in a strange reversal, seemed to have all the answers in this story. He had to rush a little to make everything turn out alright, but the crux of the Liar, Liar books is that Kevin still has a lot to learn about growing up before he can act like a grown-up. I tagged this under the humor heading, but it wasn't that funny. The jokes were few and far between, and the same concepts from as far back as the first volume in this set turned up like a bad penny. Kevin is still trying desperately to impress Tina, who has been his girlfriend for at least the last three books. Give it a rest kid. He also seems convinced he can do it all, even though that is not what he's learned throughout the series. Ah well. Felt like this was the concluding story, and I think it's about time it was.(less)
This was funny throughout, though at times jokes seemed to be the main crux of the story rather than the story itself. A little boring a times, but st...moreThis was funny throughout, though at times jokes seemed to be the main crux of the story rather than the story itself. A little boring a times, but still pleasant enough.(less)
This was a lot of fun. The hapless superhero of the title longs to make a name for herself in the superhero world, though she frequently comes up shor...moreThis was a lot of fun. The hapless superhero of the title longs to make a name for herself in the superhero world, though she frequently comes up short through various pitfalls. While possessed with a lot of talent, Superhero Girl is plagued by skeptics, and she doesn't help her cause by refusing to play the part according to comic book conventions. The story was funny, and I liked the illustrations. This got a little disjointed toward the end, and the story just kind of finished up without exactly concluding. I imagine this is the first in a series, because it needs something more to finish it off properly.(less)
This was the best of the bunch in this series up to this point, though it still dragged in parts, and at times I found there to be too much unnecessar...moreThis was the best of the bunch in this series up to this point, though it still dragged in parts, and at times I found there to be too much unnecessary filler. Cress was the most developed character, who spent much of her life in a satellite (i.e. Rapunzel's tower), only to escape with the help of Cinder and her crew. Cress spent much of her time prior to her escape day-dreaming, but found after her escape that she needed to reconcile her dreams with reality. Cinder grew over the course of the books and has finally begun to embrace her destiny as the rightful leader of Lunar. Wolf and Scarlet were simply stock filler in this book. Thorne was a fairly interesting character, but mostly played a type. Despite the flaws, the author set the stage for a hopefully entertaining conclusion.(less)
Wacky, funny and cute, this book (first in a series) tells the story of the lovable but dim Glorkian warrior and his smarter but much-ignored sidekick...moreWacky, funny and cute, this book (first in a series) tells the story of the lovable but dim Glorkian warrior and his smarter but much-ignored sidekick, a jetpack. The story takes a few pages to kick into gear, but once it gets going, kids will laugh at the silly antics of this cast of characters. Looking forward to the next one. Probably best for Grades 1 to 4. (less)
This got nominated for an Eisner award in the best continuing series category, and there was hype about it being really prog...moreI got this from Netgalley.
This got nominated for an Eisner award in the best continuing series category, and there was hype about it being really progressive in terms of its portrayal of females in comics. That's pretty much why I picked it up. Mostly this comic was decent enough but not super awesome. I didn't laugh out loud or anything.
Don't get me wrong, the portrayal of the main character Suzanne was good. I found her to be very realistic in terms of how women are, whether that's in real life or within the confines of a graphic novel's hyperbolic reality. I guess it's just that I didn't think her portrayal was so amazingly different from any other woman I've seen in a graphic novel written by actual women. I guess Matt Fraction gets an Eisner award nomination because he's a man doing the portraying. That's nice that he sees inequity in gender in traditional comics, but that's not something new. I'm glad he chose not to go down that path himself, but did that make this comic particularly interesting because of that? I'm not sure.
At its heart, this book is pretty sentimental, which I guess is what ultimately made this book only OK. The writer and illustrator tried to disguise the sentimentality by being edgy and mildly provocative. I wasn't especially provoked by Sex Criminals, which is pretty much the story of two people who thought there was no one else out there like them, until they find each other and suddenly everything makes sense for them. See? Pretty sentimental. In light of all these things I'd probably say there's a viable audience for this book in older teens going through the awkwardness of growing up and with no one to talk to about it. (less)
I'm really growing to love Lucy Knisley. Her ability to the elevate ordinary experiences into the meaningful, without seeming pretentious or terribly...moreI'm really growing to love Lucy Knisley. Her ability to the elevate ordinary experiences into the meaningful, without seeming pretentious or terribly overarching, should not be undercut. I really liked her most recent work Relish, but I must say I prefer this work, written five years earlier, about her brief residency in Paris with her mother on the eve of her college graduation. Knisley depicts her explorations succinctly and brightly but not trivially. It is her ability to paint pictures of simple experiences, such as buying the perfect jacket or trying new food for the first time, that make her stand out among other writers, let alone other graphic novelists.
This is a travelogue culled from Knisley's actual illustrated journal that she kept while living in Paris. The entire book is done in black and white outlines, which I first found disappointing. But, the intimate and brisk nature of this method actually gave the story a nice of sense of friendly intimacy. I also loved how Knisley included photographs from her trip throughout. I especially love the author's ability to paint a traveler's wonder amidst a foreign landscape without treating the locale as caricatured or terribly exotic. Everyone is essentially ordinary everywhere, and Knisley is able to effortlessly capture that in the best sense. I look forward to what else she might come up with in the future.(less)
A great little story about a kid who winds up with super powers following a freak accident. Andrew idolizes the superhero Defender and dreams of becom...moreA great little story about a kid who winds up with super powers following a freak accident. Andrew idolizes the superhero Defender and dreams of becoming a masked avenger one day, too. But, when Defender is killed during a fight with his nemesis Magus, Andrew must take up the cause of this fallen superhero. Andrew is not an instant ace at crime fighting, though. He has trouble getting the hang of his new powers, and unfortunately is afraid of heights even though he can now fly. Will Andrew be able to get the hang of his new abilities in time to stop Magus? Readers will have to see in the first installment of this new graphic series.
This story makes use of comic book conventions without being overly cliched. Andrew is cute and easy to relate to. Even though he has super powers, he's awkward in his attempts to use them. But, his tenacity is endearing and readers will root for him throughout the story. For tweens.(less)
Equal to the first in terms of level of depth (there isn't as much as I would like), pacing (which is pretty good for the most part) and level of fun...moreEqual to the first in terms of level of depth (there isn't as much as I would like), pacing (which is pretty good for the most part) and level of fun (fairly high). I like the concept of this series, which riffs on classic fairytales, but thus far the Cinder books don't go deep enough in regard to the themes set forth: what it means to be human, what love is, the nature of oppression. Cinder was primarily about what it might look like if Cinderella was a cyborg mechanic covered in dirt from fixing androids and hover crafts in stead of cleaning the house. The story didn't go much further than that, though it was funny and quick-paced.
Scarlet takes up that same mantle to the same effect: Little Red Riding Hood wears a hoodie instead of a cape, pilots space ships and is not merely tricked by "the wolf," but falls in love with him. This book alternated between Cinder's continuing story as a fugitive and Scarlet's search for her missing grandmother. The wolf in this case is a human sent to kidnap and ultimately kill her. However, he comes to like her and turns out to be a Byronic, conflicted and adoring assassin. The boys in these books are rather flat and underdeveloped, though the girls are just slightly above the mark in that regard.
As much as I find these books lacking, though, I'll be reading Cress to see what happens. The story is so easy to digest, it's ridiculous, and sometimes that's enough.(less)
This was a disjointed story that wasn't altogether bad, but it wasn't exactly good either. The illustrations are fun and probably would appeal to the...moreThis was a disjointed story that wasn't altogether bad, but it wasn't exactly good either. The illustrations are fun and probably would appeal to the intended middle grade audience, but I had trouble keeping track of exactly what was going on while reading. Plot lines were introduced seemingly out of nowhere and then incidents vanished with little resolution. I also found the portrayal of the Russian characters cartoonish, which gave this book an off-color and outdated feel. "Foreigners" are not funny, and I found that distasteful. This book is definitely a realistic portrayal of how adolescents talk and act, though, and that gives some validity to including this in a collection, despite the flaws I mentioned. Characters are 11 and 12, though I'm not sure the intended audience would have the understanding level required to get some of the references and jokes, even if kids do act that way in real life. (less)
This was an entertaining though rather predictable adventure story about a man charged with finding a corpse bride for his dead brother. An ancient cu...moreThis was an entertaining though rather predictable adventure story about a man charged with finding a corpse bride for his dead brother. An ancient custom in China that is still practiced by some people, when a single man dies, the man's family ensures he has a wife buried with him so they can be together in the afterlife. Sometimes this practice merely entails grave robbing or morgue robbing, but sometimes murder is involved.
Deshi must do this for his brother after the brother is killed in an accident while the two of them were arguing. Deshi initially hopes to simply rob a grave, but when the corpse provided for him by a shady character is shown to be well into the decomposition stage, Deshi decides this isn't going to be as easy as he thought.
Meanwhile, Lily Chen is facing marriage to a nasty landlord, who plans to evict her family from their home if she doesn't agree to marry him. Lily wants to escape to the city and start a new life. Deshi crosses paths with her, and they become reluctant companions. Several times throughout the story, Deshi considers killing her, but various circumstances prevent him from completing the task.
This book was delightfully morbid without getting too gross or unsavory and had a lot of black humor to go with it. However, the plot was fairly transparent, and the story lacked depth. I suppose that's a pretty common thing with pulp fiction and gothic novels, which rely heavily on the grim and outlandish and less on character development and realism. I'm not sure I'll read any more by this author, but it was entertaining enough.(less)
This was awesome! Best comic I've read so far that was published this year. Bandette is fearless, funny and loves the uncertainty of life. She finds j...moreThis was awesome! Best comic I've read so far that was published this year. Bandette is fearless, funny and loves the uncertainty of life. She finds joy in this uncertainty and takes risks that would make the greatest daredevils proud. This was a Web comic that was compiled into a single volume and won an Eisner award. It's great. Bandette is a vigilante who sometimes work with and against the police. Set in France, readers can get a cursory knowledge of the local scene that adds just enough flavor to the story. I loved the tone and style, which is very much tongue in cheek and also ironic. There are funny asides from Bandette and also cool retro "zaps" and "kapows" drawn throughout. Very mod, very 1960s, very cool.(less)
Compilation of adapted fairytales by various well-known graphic novel authors. Some are better than others, but I would definitely give this out to ki...moreCompilation of adapted fairytales by various well-known graphic novel authors. Some are better than others, but I would definitely give this out to kids who like graphic novels but don't necessarily have experience with fairytales. A good mix of stuff.(less)
Compilation of comic shorts done in four-panel pages. The illustrations are cute but not thrilling. Ariol is a young little horse who has typical kid...moreCompilation of comic shorts done in four-panel pages. The illustrations are cute but not thrilling. Ariol is a young little horse who has typical kid adventures. Each mini-story in this volume has subtle chuckles, most of which come right at the last second. The laughter is basically cumulatively generated. Probably would appeal to kids with a deadpan sense of humor, as the jokes kind of sneak up on you. Not bad, but the style reminds me of New Yorker cartoons, which people frequently complain about as having hidden or missed humor.(less)
A nice end to this series, though I would say this one is the weakest among the bunch. Unmade finishes up the story of Kami Glass and her screwy frien...moreA nice end to this series, though I would say this one is the weakest among the bunch. Unmade finishes up the story of Kami Glass and her screwy friends and in some cases frenemies with a lot of angst, bloodshed and some humor. I liked how Sarah Rees Brennan riffed on gothic tropes in this series, and the humor, while oddly placed at times, was probably the best thing about the series. Unmade was choppy throughout, and at times I felt certain developments were rushed or even implausible. I also found the ending to be delivered in a saccharine tone and could have been achieved with a bit less ham-fistedness.
I was also reminded a lot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows here. Lots of sacrificing, angst and bloodshed delivered at a break-neck pace. Still, some plot points dragged a bit longer than was necessary, particularly the continued misunderstandings between Kami and Jared, which had been going on since they met in Unspoken. I also found other characters were underutilized, such as Angela and Holly and even Lillian.
This was a really enjoyable book in spite of the flaws though and essential to the series. (less)
Kind of a less exuberant Ramona Quimby. I'd give this to kids who have finished the Beverly Cleary series and need something else to read that's simil...moreKind of a less exuberant Ramona Quimby. I'd give this to kids who have finished the Beverly Cleary series and need something else to read that's similar.(less)
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Georgie Burkhardt is convinced that her missing sister Agatha is not dead, even if the local she...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Georgie Burkhardt is convinced that her missing sister Agatha is not dead, even if the local sheriff has found a body wearing her dress. Despite what others try to tell her, Georgie believes Agatha is still alive. So, as any determined kid with some extra money would do, she procures a mule, a traveling companion and her grandfather's gun so she can set off to find her sister. Along the way, Georgie has encounters ranging from hilarious to dire, and she discovers less about what happened to her sister than she does about herself.
This book is pretty tight in construction, though it got a little choppy toward the end. A few scenes felt a little contrived, and at times it was hard to distinguish whether or not Georgie was telling the story from a distanced, adult perspective. However, the story was satisfying and filled with action and the appropriate amount of self-introspection. Georgie was a great character, and readers will appreciate her tenacity, even if it is at times foolish.
I liked the descriptions, and I also enjoyed the style, which was pretty much evoked the tone and setup of a western, though not the ridiculous, cliched kind of movies and TV. I think adults and children alike will enjoy this.(less)
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Ben Hatke pulls out all the stops in his final installment of the Zita the Spacegirl series. I'm...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Ben Hatke pulls out all the stops in his final installment of the Zita the Spacegirl series. I'm sad to this series go, because the last one was the best yet. The illustrations and how they were delineated frame by frame were excellent and added a great sense of dynamism and pacing to the story. Zita remains indefatigable and courageous to the end. She's a great character, who's instantly relatable. All of her sidekicks, from the flying robot One to the space pirate Piper, add something to the narrative. She even has time to make a couple of new friends before her adventures end, and they're just as necessary to the narrative.
These are great books for reluctant readers who might be wary of longer titles. The illustrations are a great gateway into building reading confidence. Boys and girls alike will enjoy this series, which is inspiring without being over the top or forced. Zita has to make it through one final confrontation in order to save her friends and Earth itself. This is a must for any children's graphic novel collection.(less)
Even better than the first book. Less self-conscious and much more confident in its execution. This book was really just a lot of talking between peop...moreEven better than the first book. Less self-conscious and much more confident in its execution. This book was really just a lot of talking between people, which is my favorite. Mind-bending in its level of surrealism, this book combined the profundity of the scientific, with some crazy world building. The anticipatory nature of the story was perhaps its best quality, maybe even better than when actual resolutions took place. The characters were nicely developed, and while there are mystery elements to this story, I wasn't as focused on those things as I was on the character relationships. Some of the characters from the first book faded into the background in this story, but new characters were introduced who were just as interesting as the pre-existing people. Unfortunately this story ended on kind of a cliffhanger, but not a terribly dramatic one. I tended to live in the moment in each scene anyway, because I found individual scenes and single sentences to be delightful in and of themselves. Super awesome!(less)
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
This graphic novel probably has everything you really need in a comic book - humor, adventure, f...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
This graphic novel probably has everything you really need in a comic book - humor, adventure, friendship, inspiring acts of courage and a sense that the main character has found their sense of self and purpose. What I liked best about this book was the dry humor. Fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy need look no further for a quick shorthand in this graphic novel. The monster in question also eerily resembles Marvin the depressed robot from the Douglas Adams book.
I would suggest this to fans of the Bone series, though I liked this better. It's funnier, and it has a little more heart. Rayburn the dragon hides out in his lair and hasn't attacked the city where he lives in a number of years. He's just not inspired anymore. He doesn't think he's a very good monster, and he does very little aside from sulk. This lack of pillaging on the part of Ray is ruining the town's local economy and lowering the morale of the villagers (other cities have way better monsters).
The town decides to send a poor excuse for a doctor and scientist out to help this dragon. If he succeeds, his license to experiment and practice will be reinstated. The town crier comes along, and the the plot to get this monster back on his feet is hatched. These three unlikely friends head out in search of some of Ray's old school friends to try to get his enthusiasm back, but of course many hiccups occur along the way.
Also, a really threatening monster may be on its way to Ray's town to do some actual damage. If Ray doesn't find his sense of self and purpose, it's going to be bad news for more than just his village.(less)
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Here's a really great book about the difficulty of just trying to be a teenager when the adult w...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Here's a really great book about the difficulty of just trying to be a teenager when the adult world gets in your way. An '80s riff on star-crossed love, this book adeptly showcases the self-doubt, emotion and drama associated with growing up. Eleanor and Park tell the story of their ill-fated relationship in alternating sections. While they sometimes bleed together, their narrative voices never feel inauthentic.
Despite the fact that the title of this book bears two names, I would say this is more Eleanor's story than Park's. Eleanor has more hangups; a bigger chip on her shoulder and a lot more baggage at home that inevitably drives a wedge between herself and Park. Both characters inhabited the domain of the outcast teenager effectively and admirably. I could easily identify with the stuff they went through at school without feeling like their personalities were merely caricatures from the Breakfast Club.
At times the story was a bit gushy for my taste, and there was an undercurrent of TV-show plotting involved throughout. However, the humor cut through these things at just the right times. Eleanor and Park, despite their problems, were pretty funny. What was far from funny was Eleanor's stepdad Richie, who was a real threat to Eleanor for the entire length of this book. The insidious way the depth of that threat is revealed was really brilliant on the part of the author in spite of some of the other minor flaws this book had.
While I think teenagers would thoroughly enjoy this story, the nature of the world the author created seems designed to resonate with adults. This isn't a flaw, and I would liken this book to Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca in that regard: a story that seems to appeal to adults and teens alike, due to the element of nostalgia involved that only adults who grew up during that time could identify with. The fact that Park is a college rock fan before that music was really considered cool or widespread seems to reflect an insider status that has only now been granted to those people who at the time wallowed in social obscurity. Anyway, these are merely reflections on my part regarding aspects of the story I did enjoy; they're just something to think about.
This was good, resonant writing, and the book ends with an eye toward a more positive future, which is really all one could ask for when looking for realistic fiction.(less)
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
This might be the first five-star children's read I've logged on here this year. I'm not going t...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
This might be the first five-star children's read I've logged on here this year. I'm not going to lie — it's been a bit of a lackluster year for children's literature. I've been fine with plenty of stuff, and I've even really liked some of it along the way. But I can't say I've been really passionate about any of it. Of course, Kevin Henkes is a great writer, so I shouldn't be surprised that he's turned out another gem. I've heard this described as similar to Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, and I'd say that's a pretty accurate comparison. If Ramona was a boy, I think she would be Billy Miller. Though I must say Ramona is a little sassier than Billy. However, that doesn't deter from the enjoyment of this book.
Billy Miller is an eager second-grader, hopeful of pleasing his teacher Ms. Silver and his parents. He doesn't quite get his little sister, but he really loves volcanoes and the idea of staying up. all. night. Using the Chinese zodiac as a springboard for finding one's place in the universe, Billy hopes this will be his year when he learns at the start of second grade that this is the Year of the Rabbit (and the Year of the Dragon).
By the end of this book, Billy learns something about the nature of creativity, intuition, navigating relationships and everything else under the sun that's a concern for a kid Billy's age. You don't see many books like this out there in children's literature these days. The Year of Billy Miller rides the line between early reader (designed primarily as a tool to help a child learn to read) and chapter book. Few chapter book readers are young enough to appreciate this story, but those who are past the early reader stage but just shy of stuff for 4th- and 5th-graders will love this book.
Some of my favorite sections included Billy's plan to give "gifts" to his teacher to make up for a perceived offense on his part; his goal to stay up all night while his parents are away because it will change everything; and finally seeing the genesis of his poem about his mom — it begins as an acrostic of the word 'mom' that comes out as 'My Only Mother.' Priceless.
This book is almost identical in scope to the Ramona books, but it's nice that there's a book like this out there for boys. It doesn't read new ground, but Henkes understands young children much in the same way Cleary does. This book isn't patronizing, and it's entirely relatable. Henkes also sees the profound in the life of a child, when problems with poetry and trying as hard as you can to stay up all night mean a great deal. Rather than put them in a teachable perspective, he gives value to these concerns and deals with them in an appropriate and skilled manner.(less)