Picking this one up I was not prepared for such a trip into dark and depraved waters. This is more than Scudder has ever gone up against previously an...more Picking this one up I was not prepared for such a trip into dark and depraved waters. This is more than Scudder has ever gone up against previously and definitely the strongest in the series since Eight Million Ways To Die. While we've moved along in years out of the 80's into the early 90's, New York City continues to be a seething trap of anger and violence and desperation with all those ways to die and Scudder has stumbled upon yet another one. This time, he didn't even go looking for it, not really. It sort of finds him in a weird, chilling series of coincidences.
Two words: snuff film. Yeah, like I said, dark and depraved waters.
Scudder is moving along nicely in his life these days. He's sober and regularly attending meetings. He's got his girlfriend Elaine (who one dewy-eyed reviewer wistfully and with no irony whatsoever refers to as Matt's snuggle bunny) no matter that she's a call girl and continues to see clients. He's also forged a pretty meaningful friendship with Mick Ballou, the Irish gangster who may or may not have carried around some guy's head in a bowling ball bag, the man who proudly wears his father's blood stained butcher's apron (and which of those stains are man or animal, nobody knows).
I keep coming back to these books mostly for Scudder. He's such a great character to spend time with. But also for the sense of time and place that Block is able to conjure. I find the Scudder books act like time capsules in a way. So much of the plotting of this story relies on VHS tapes and renting them from a video store. It made me remember what that was like and how long it's been since I've actually done it.
I remember when my family got its first VCR ever and it was this huge exciting moment, like we had finally arrived at a Jetsons' version of the future. And with Block, it's so authentic, because he's not writing these books from a 21st century perspective and recreating 1991, he actually wrote this one in 1991 without the long view and hindsight that we have as readers. I love that. That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to Scudder aging and getting Block's take on a 21st century New York. I can't wait actually.
I'll wrap this up with a note on the ending -- holy shit snacks. (view spoiler)[If Scudder had done this in his heavy drinking days, I would have blamed it on the booze, but to do it stone cold sober, I'm positively shocked. Yet pleased. Satisfied. There was a time early on when I was so angry at Scudder for letting a child rapist walk free (forcing him to donate money to Boys' Town). I was so disappointed with his lack of action then. Well, no one can accuse him of lack of action here. Decisive. Unequivocal. Was this justice or cold-blooded murder? I loved when Scudder tells Ballou about his mentor who told him you don't ever do something with your own hands you can get somebody else to do for you. Well I guess Scudder decided that wasn't for him. If this was going to happen, he was going to have blood on his hands to show for it. I can respect that. (hide spoiler)]
Now I think I'll go for a walk among the tombstones. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I can't believe it, but Negan is growing on me as a character. Despite his psycho tendencies and brutal, Medieval manner, I'm finding him waaaay more...more I can't believe it, but Negan is growing on me as a character. Despite his psycho tendencies and brutal, Medieval manner, I'm finding him waaaay more interesting than I ever did the Governor. There's a black humor that surrounds him that when mixed with his blunt badassery style is just ... well... bloody entertaining.
His confrontation with Rick is tense, exciting as hell, filled with profanity and written on the edge of a razor.
You ever hear the one about the stupid fuck named Rick who fucking thought he knew shit but didn't know shit and got himself fucking killed?
And really, I know Rick is supposed to be the good guy "hero", but I took some small amount of pleasure in seeing him dressed down Negan-style: "In case you haven't noticed...you're fucking fucked you stupid fucker."
It's this confrontation scene which saves this volume from mediocrity and mere filler as we move towards the "big" final(?) showdown with Negan and his band of merry psychokillers. Is Kirkman finally edging closer to a climax that's auspicious enough to end the series on? I hope so. If this storyline is not satisfactorily concluded soon, it will officially become the Coronation Street of zombie storytelling, and nobody wants that. Get out while the blood is still fresh on the page. (less)
Holy moses, I just knew I was being set up in the last volume. I knew it!!! My momma didn't r...more
Holy moses, I just knew I was being set up in the last volume. I knew it!!! My momma didn't raise no fools.
But that hurt. A lot. You'd think I'd be so numb by now that nothing would really get past my defenses anymore but apparently I can still be shivved, right in the back and fall to my knees screaming. (view spoiler)[Watching Glen go out like that was brutal. It really tore me up. (hide spoiler)]
This new baddie Negan is a real piece of psychotic work. He makes the Governor look like a misunderstood, tree-hugging hippie who just wishes the kids these days would stay off his damn lawn.
Where can the story possibly go from here? (view spoiler)[Watching Rick break was tough. I know he's told the community they're rolling over...for now, but he's obviously got something else planned. That last panel when he sends Jesus to follow the baddie back to Negan's camp to spy and gather intelligence tells us that. Living as slaves is no option. Something has to be done, and you can bet it's going to involve A LOT more bloodshed. Even if Rick's group triumphs against all odds over these animals, what would they have really won? Won't there always be another Governor or Negan around the corner? Wiping the zombies off the planet is an easier task I figure than neutralizing all the psychos. (hide spoiler)]
I haven't been patiently consuming this series episode by episode, volume by volume over the course of years. I gobbled down all 96 issues essentially...more I haven't been patiently consuming this series episode by episode, volume by volume over the course of years. I gobbled down all 96 issues essentially back-to-back thanks to the Compendiums (which weigh a ton each and are a bitch to maneuver let me tell you).
This volume -- A Larger World -- is where Compendium 2 leaves off, a bit of a cliff-hanger you might say. I decided to re-read it in preparation of getting to Vol. 17: Something to Fear. I'm all caught up now, and forced to get my dose of Walking Dead shenanigans doled out piecemeal like the rest of you suckers. But maybe that's a good thing, because too much of this world at any one time can really mess with your head.
I get the feeling Kirkman is setting us up to really put the hurt on this time. Hasn't he already? Hells yeah, but something tells me he's just getting started and that makes me both weary and wary. Everything in this issue is glossy with optimism:
(view spoiler)[ the new guy Paul Monroe (a.k.a Jesus) turns out not to be a Charles Manson-esque kook. He's got a normal, functioning community behind him with almost 200 members called Hilltop. They are farming and thriving. What's not to appreciate? Rick goes through his usual "I can't trust you get the fuck out of my face or I'll bite it off" routine, but eventually learns to relax (even after he's forced to kill one of their people in self-defense -- it really was self-defense this time). Glenn is smitten with the community, and Rick is forced to admit it's time to start living again, rather than merely surviving. In the Hilltop he sees that as not just a possibility but a reality, a reachable goal. (hide spoiler)]
BUT... cause there's always a but right? There's a new baddy in the neighborhood -- Negan. After what we've been through with the Governor, the idea of upping the ante some more makes me very uneasy. Rick can talk all he wants about building a new life with meaning and getting back to raising their children, but I can't imagine he's going to get his people to the promised land any time soon, if at all. I've called this story bleak and nihilistic before and I still stand by that. Kirkman wants to show us the very worst of humanity it seems, and I don't think he's finished doing that yet. And that makes me very afraid. Very afraid indeed. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black, Why you never see bright colors on my back, And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone. Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on. "The Man In Black", Johnny Cash
Marvel's ambitious undertaking to adapt King's magnum opus has been hit or miss for me. The first five volumes (essentially a re-telling of Book IV - Wizard and Glass) did not work for me, most likely because Wizard and Glass is my least favorite of the series. While I eventually grew to appreciate the story for what it is, young Roland will never beat out long, tall and ugly Roland. So I actually skipped over Volumes 3-5 and didn't pick up the graphic novel series again until Volume 6 The Journey Begins.
I was so relieved and super-psyched to resume the story as it's finally reached The Gunslinger. Roland’s young battles are behind him, all has been lost, and he is now on the road to the Dark Tower as a solitary traveler, embittered, battle-weary, with no tears left to shed. This is the Roland I adore. This is who I want to read about and see captured in the panels of graphic novel.
In the previous volume, Roland finally meets up with Jake, and I loved how the Way Station encounter is handled. This volume focuses on the slow mutants attack and ends with Roland's palaver with the Man in Black himself.
I did not hate this volume by any stretch, but the series is now venturing into sacred territory and I didn't cotton to several of the storyline alterations. Not to mention, most of the art was just...not good. Inconsistent shall we say. I didn't like how in some panels Jake and Roland are very chiseled and there while in other panels they're barely there at all, kind of just shadowy impressions, blurry lines and all.
While I wanted to love the prolonged and "extra" interactions between Jake and Roland, something seemed not quite right about how they were speaking to each other. I can't put my finger on it really. But my gut just wouldn't leave it alone. And the climatic "go then, there are other worlds than these" scene fell flat for me. I didn't feel the punch or the emotionality I should have.
The last section capturing Roland's fireside conversation with The Man In Black is well executed. It strays little, if at all, from the original source material, a lot of the text lifted right from King's novel. Still, there are gaps even in this pivotal scene that I wish weren't there.
It's probably a mistake to read these graphic novels and judge them against King's books. Different format and all that, but I can't help it. And while I'm desperate for more Dark Tower, I'm probably much better off to just go and read the novels again rather than trying to find solace and satisfaction in the colored panels of a comic. A re-read is definitely on the table, but I will stick it out with the graphic novels too. When and where they've worked, I've been extremely pleased. (less)
Meh. It was okay. But for a trilogy that began so strongly, and appeared to pick up momentum in book 2, I found this final installment to be a tepid a...more Meh. It was okay. But for a trilogy that began so strongly, and appeared to pick up momentum in book 2, I found this final installment to be a tepid affair. From the very beginning this series tantalized me with mentions of Black Wings and sinister, dangerous things. It never quite lived up to that promise for me. There is simply waaaay too much emphasis on the romantic elements to suit my tastes. These books were obviously not written to please me.
The pacing for this one just felt "off" as well, really uneven. The ending feels rushed, and important developments are over too quickly. (view spoiler)[Hell was a few pages. Getting in and getting out should have been a much bigger part of the novel (hide spoiler)].
And *enough* with the love triangles already!! Jeesh. (view spoiler)[Killing Tucker pissed me off (it felt like cheating to suck as much angst out of the plot as possible). This worked in book 2 when Clara's mom dies, but to use this device again felt overly manipulative. Then to *bring him back* from the dead just felt too *deus ex machina*. Oh, it's okay. Haha. Fooled you! He's not really dead! You didn't think I'd kill him for *real* did you? Silly girl.(hide spoiler)]
And now I do feel like a silly girl for having stuck with this series for so long.
I'm going to go read about zombies and the end of the world.
You know, just to cleanse the palate.
If you wish to join me -- you will find me here.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Huh. Well, that was...interesting. Overall, I can say I enjoyed it. But two things chipped away at the star rating: 1) not enough creee-py (though a f...more Huh. Well, that was...interesting. Overall, I can say I enjoyed it. But two things chipped away at the star rating: 1) not enough creee-py (though a few scenes work incredibly well) and 2) waaaaay too much solving of codes and clues and shop-talk about genetics and DNA (oh, and these biological aspects are much more strap on your suspension of disbelief fantastical than this guy's done his research science fiction with the emphasis on science).
There's some crazy ass theories going on in these pages and if you don't commit to just sit back and enjoy the ride you will not. This is j-horror, not a medical thriller nor Isaac Asimov. Reality bends, and bends some more. Just go with it.
For fans familiar with the Ring movies, this is a pretty wild *evolution* of the original premise and curse. It seems overly ambitious to me at this point, without the "meat" to sustain it in a satisfying, credible way. But I'm willing to give Suzuki a chance and see what he can pull off in the final installment of the trilogy - Loop.
One more thing: (view spoiler)[is the identity of the young woman coming out of Mai's apartment supposed to be a "big reveal" moment towards the end of the novel? I assumed immediately this is vengeful Sadako in the flesh. And it also seemed fairly obvious to me that the only way she could be walking and talking is if she's the "thing" Mai gave birth to (because we know Mai gives birth to something). When Ando receives the fax and figures out the woman he's been shtupping is in fact Sadako, his terror and bewilderment is way out of proportion to the reader's. I felt like saying, "d'uh man, pay attention." (hide spoiler)]
Certainly that fax reveal pails in comparison to this fax reveal.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Scudder is three years sober when we run into him again in Book 7, Out on the Cutting Edge. He's faithfully attending meetings, and even leading a few...more Scudder is three years sober when we run into him again in Book 7, Out on the Cutting Edge. He's faithfully attending meetings, and even leading a few when the mood strikes him. He's also still living in his spare hotel room lodgings and with a lot more time on his hands now that he's quit the bar scene and sipping bourbon coffee by the quart. While the vapor fumes of booze no longer waft from his person, there is yet an elemental quality of loneliness that continues to seep from the pores of our favorite New Yorker.
No wonder then that he should take up the case of a missing young woman at the behest of her distraught parents, and that he should find himself taking a much closer look into the sudden death of fellow AA member Eddie. Eddie is a man who dies with dark secrets on his lips, and Scudder's spidey senses are urging him to uncover those secrets no matter what the cost.
The thing I love most about the Scudder books is that they are such fine pieces of place -- Scudder's New York is just as much a character as Scudder himself. We've hit the late 80's where rents are sky-rocketing in the Big Apple and rent control is a landlord's sworn enemy. I find the details Block is able to pepper his books with always fascinating. He drops them into the story like a pro, as they work seamlessly side-by-side with the unfolding mystery. Like when Scudder interviews an actor who, with bitter amusement, comments on all the young men sick with AIDS:
We're all whirling merrily through the void on a dying planet, and gay people are just doing their usual number, being shamelessly trendy as always. Right out in front on the cutting edge of death.
It's a heart-breaking sentiment, and in an instant we are thrown back in time living and breathing the gritty reality of Scudder's city. It's not misty-eyed nostalgia, or even vintage. It's authentic, it's time travel.
This Scudder installment is also noteworthy because it's where we first encounter Mick Ballou, a.k.a The Butcher Boy. Ballou is a giant man with big hands and a bloodstained apron. Rumors abound about his violent prowess, and include toting around a head in a bowling ball bag and beating a man to death with a baseball bat. Despite Ballou's possible homicidal tendencies, he and Scudder hit it off and talk to each other in a way usually reserved only for the confessional or perhaps the man pouring your whiskey. Inexplicably, there is an instant kinship and unbeknownst to either man, Ballou is the key to solving the mystery of not only the missing girl, but Eddie's untimely death. This is a *great* character, and I can't wait to get more of him in the future.
The first time I killed someone I wasn't paid for it. ~Something You Are, Hanna Jameson
Meet Nic Caruana. Actually, you better hope you never meet Nic...more
The first time I killed someone I wasn't paid for it. ~Something You Are, Hanna Jameson
Meet Nic Caruana. Actually, you better hope you never meet Nic Caruana because if you do it likely means you are in for a world a hurt: perhaps some disfigurement...creative mutilation...and only if you're really lucky, a quick death.
Nic is your average English bloke just trying to make a living on the mean streets of London's underbelly. He's not a psychopath, but he is a murderer for hire. He's done some very bad things that he doesn't really feel all that bad about. He can be brutal, detached, ruthless. But he remains human and interesting and sympathetic. He is estranged from his normal, suburban parents, his junkie sister, and a war hero brother flying helicopters in Afghanistan.
Nic was a good kid until something very bad happened to him. Now he isn't good any more.
To all my crime loving GR friends out there, this is a fresh new voice in the genre to make your toes curl. It's noir that's black as night, with pages that bleed violence so in your face you can hear the bones cracking. The dialogue is sharp as razor blades, not only moving the plot forward at an adrenalized rush, but constructing flesh and blood characters right out of the ether one word at a time.
And are you ready for this? In a genre that's predominantly male territory, Something You Are was written by a slip of a girl who drafted Nic's story when she was just 17 years old. Now she's an old maid at 23, but she's got at least two more London Underground books drafted and I can only hope we see them sooner rather than later.
I will warn off more sensitive readers: this book features a lot of graphic violence and is set firmly in London's unforgiving, unsentimental crime scene of amoral people breaking all kinds of laws along with a shitload of bones. But goddammit, it's pretty damn fine storytelling. A punch to the kidneys, an uppercut to the chin, and I think I'll have an Irish whiskey and a fag now, thanks very much.
"I can't be an angel. I'm a librarian. That's absurd."
"You? One of heaven's brutes. Unthinking drones, that's all you ever were, and all you'll ever be. A coward who didn't even have the courage to stand with us and Fall. Now look at you! Neutered. A little puppy dog waiting for its master to throw it a scrap."
I came across this one quite by accident poking around looking for something else. Anything with blood and feathers in the title is going to get my attention. Not because I have anything against birds, mind you; this has much more to do with my on-going fascination with bad-ass angels and when they get to warring with each other in a most epic way and humans are caught in the crossfire.
I could blame all the Catholic catechisms I was forced to endure as a restless child who would have much rather been reading Stephen King, but no. Quite simply, if you extract all of the awesome potential of these creatures away from the sticky, rigid confines of religious canon, what you end up with is a tremendous mythology to fuel a thousand stories and then some. Vampires? Werewolves? Fairies? Shapeshifters? Piss on that. Give me glorious, prideful, warring Angels and their Fallen Brethren any day of the week (and twice on Wednesdays when the CW's Supernatural airs).
This isn't one of the best angel/demon books I've read, but I did enjoy parts of it very much. Lou Morgan has set up her "world" and the rules that govern it quite nicely. I liked her application of angel lore. Figuring out the differences between Earthbounds, Fallen, and Descendeds kept me interested for the first half, and her vision of Hell and its frigid, demented landscape kept me turning the pages for the second half.
Where this one is lacking for me is with character and dialogue. If you're going to introduce Archangels and Lucifer, you better give them some awesome things to say. They shouldn't speak (or act) like anybody else. Just about everything that pours out of their mouths should raise the hairs on the back of your neck. There was a little touch of that, but not nearly enough for my liking. For comic relief, Vin is adorable, but I've seen his character done many times before, and done better. Alice and Mallory should have more chemistry. In fact, for all the main characters I kept expecting to feel more. Even when Alice descends into Hell itself I didn't feel worried or afraid ... just curious, as in ... this should be interesting.
The series shows promise however, and I'll probably seek out the next book. Blood and Feathers is very cinematic and plot-driven. I can see it making a decent movie.
1. Setting: Post-Katrina New Orleans. Swampy, sensual, tragic, dangerous. A complete immersion into the si...more How do I love a book? Let me count the ways.
1. Setting: Post-Katrina New Orleans. Swampy, sensual, tragic, dangerous. A complete immersion into the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a damaged and depressed city, betrayed and forgotten, seeking its redemption.
2. Heroine: Kick-ass, ruthless, complicated, haunted. Claire DeWitt is much like the city of New Orleans itself: damaged and dangerous, tragic and seeking redemption. Neither needs nor desires your pity or understanding.
3. Language: Hard-boiled dialogue that snaps and shows its teeth, married with gorgeous turns of phrase and a robust philosophy about the very nature of solving mysteries.
The client already knows the solution to his mystery. But he doesn't want to know. He doesn't hire a detective to solve his mystery. He hires a detective to prove that his mystery can't be solved.
4. Mystery: I don't read a lot of "mysteries" where there is a genuine, bona fide puzzle to be solved. I'm not a clue junkie hoarding each item the author throws down in an effort to beat him or her to the big reveal. Here, I really felt compelled to sit up straight and pay attention. It didn't take very long before I became incredibly invested in Claire's investigation and its outcome, no mere detached observer but something akin to an actual participant.
Despite the fact that Claire's methods are anything but conventional -- bordering on mystical and clairvoyant -- the investigation remains firmly grounded in reality and logic. I adore how everything comes together in a satisfying "click" "snap" "lock" way that isn't pretty and predictable, but all the more beautiful for that very reason.
Finally, I can't do this book justice on my own so I'm going to call in the big guns. Without these two reviews I don't think I ever would have found my way to Claire. Take it away Carol and Anthony. (less)