A mark of any good graphic novel series is how badly I need the next volume, and this one ranks up there. Lots to love here, even though the story isA mark of any good graphic novel series is how badly I need the next volume, and this one ranks up there. Lots to love here, even though the story is just getting going. Enough happens to keep the interest, but I get the feeling (mostly from the fact that this is called SAGA) that this is going to get way way bigger.
Most impressive is the way Vaughan introduces the world by showing, not telling, which is something that is hard to pull off in fantasy - one runs the risk of either confusing the reader with too much info without explanation, or just pages upon pages of information with no story. The only real backstory is a quick few pages on the history of the two main races/tribes/warring factions involved. But otherwise Vaughan relies on us to pick up things as we move along. When we first hear talk of Freelancers, it's not explained who they are or where they come from, but it's obvious enough that they're bounty hunters to keep reading.
Speaking of Freelancers, I want to see The Stalk cosplay. No joke. Also, because Vaughan has a knack for cliffhanger endings*, I want the second volume. Like, today, pls.
What I like to call, 'soft cliffhangers', not the cruel George R R Martin type. Less of the "omg is he dead" and more of the "oh shit, she's pregnant" kind of deal....more
As much as I wanted to enjoy this book, I ended up only appreciating parts of it, and just couldn't muster the energy to care enough to finish. This iAs much as I wanted to enjoy this book, I ended up only appreciating parts of it, and just couldn't muster the energy to care enough to finish. This is a fascinating subject, and Schiff is no doubt a talented author, but I felt like she got too wrapped up in her style at the expense of a coherent narrative. Going for prose style in nonfiction isn't always a bad decision, (especially when you have a dry, boring recitation of events on the other end of the spectrum), but in a story such as this, with hundreds of characters with similar names accusing each other of all sorts of crimes while at the same time being accused, it's easy for it to devolve into a muddled mess, and that's what it felt like most of the time. It was too difficult to tell who was doing what to whom, and when. That sort of thing can be forgiven in a novel, where sometimes obfuscation is part of the point, but in what purports to be a historical narrative some sort of coherency needs to present itself. It just never really did with this book, unfortunately....more
This is an enjoyable, but hardly necessary, companion piece to Martin's longer, grander (and better) 'A Song Of Ice And Fire' series. I would mainly rThis is an enjoyable, but hardly necessary, companion piece to Martin's longer, grander (and better) 'A Song Of Ice And Fire' series. I would mainly recommend it for fanatics like me who wish to devour anything Westeros-related during the gaps between the books and the show. This books is really just a collection of previously published novellas centering around the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall ('Dunk') and his precocious squire, Egg. There's really not much to Dunk - he's big, not the smartest or the best knight, and most of the action involves him unwittingly getting himself into a political situation that's way beyond him, and then usually being saved by either Egg or someone else, or a combination of both. Nothing spectacular, really, but it's fun to get a glimpse of the world of ASOIAF one hundred years before the action of the books. There are obviously no cameos, but parents and grandparents of familiar characters do make appearances, along with their familiar names - Targaryen, Lannister, Baratheon, Frey, Stark, and so on. Highly recommended as a curiosity if you're a big fan of Westeros as I am....more
This was a case of an author's axe-grinding getting in the way of what could have been a quite interesting true crime exploration. While I would conteThis was a case of an author's axe-grinding getting in the way of what could have been a quite interesting true crime exploration. While I would contest that the particular axe in question most definitely does need to be ground (grinded?), this isn't perhaps the most effective way.
The book at its core involves a grisly murder/suicide in post-Katrina New Orleans that became something of a media sensation, attracting the attention and mild obsession of the author.
The first third of the book is about the background of Zack Bowen, the perpetrator, going from his childhood through his military service in Kosovo and Iraq. Useful info I suppose, and not boring, but not super interesting.
The second third involves his life in New Orleans after he divorced his wife and began a relationship with Addie, his eventual victim. This is obviously the heart of the story and the best part. While the murder is gruesome, Brown does a good job of illustrating Zack's descent into depression and PTSD, while at the same time capturing the mood of New Orleans both before and after Katrina, and how it directly affected the couple. They were both holdouts who remained in the city and held a lot of resentment towards those who left and those who came back. (Which is apparently a very real feeling among the holdouts.)
The final third is the author attempting to make sense of what happened, and why Zack did what he did. This is where the book devolved into axe-grinding for me. Some have accused Brown of attempting to sympathize and justify the killings, excusing them through a combination of PTSD and willful negligence on the part of the US Military to help combat and treat this very real epidemic. I wouldn't go that far, but I can see how someone might feel that way. He doesn't excuse anything that happened, but in trying to make sense of the why, he doesn't exactly do justice to how horrible the what was. Again, this is an important axe, and while he has a point, I'm just not sure if focusing on a grisly murder/suicide involving dismembering and necrophilia among other things, is the best way to go about it.
Overall this wasn't a super great book, and probably would have made a better documentary. I'll admit I came to this with a morbid fascination and hoped it would settle the true crime itch I get every so often, but it didn't even do that. A surprisingly small amount of the book actually focuses on the murder and the immediate fallout. The rest is so-so backstory and ...more
On the one hand, this is a satisfyingly eerie haunted house story, that could likely be read and enjoyed by newcomers to Mitchell's work, provided theOn the one hand, this is a satisfyingly eerie haunted house story, that could likely be read and enjoyed by newcomers to Mitchell's work, provided they enjoy a touch of speculative fiction.
On the other hand, this is a thoroughly enjoyable little companion piece to The Bone Clocks. It becomes a very different book for anyone who has read that, which isn't a bad thing. By the second of five chapters I pretty much knew what was going on, but that certainly didn't spoil the fun, and it adds to the tension in the final chapter when [spoiler] shows up, and you just know that [spoiler] is about to go down. Also in the meantime there are Mitchell's usual references to the world he's created - so-and-so's cousin making an appearance, what's-his-face turning out to be that other guy's friend, and so on.
I would mostly recommend this for Mitchell's fans - it's a quick read that stands up with his other novels, so it's by no means a throwaway. However I'm not sure how this would hold up as an introduction. While it's quick and easy and certainly in his style, there's lots of extra richness and tension brought on when you already know the world where this is happening. Either way, it's a hell of a fun read....more
This was one of those occasions of wanting to like a book, but just not being able to muster up the energy to care. The subject matter of an amateur pThis was one of those occasions of wanting to like a book, but just not being able to muster up the energy to care. The subject matter of an amateur poker player/somewhat notable author entering the World Series of Poker courtesy of Grantland has potential for an entertaining story, and parts of it were. Whitehead is clearly a gifted author, and I wouldn't let this dissuade me from picking up other works by him, but I feel like his eagerness for clever flourishes got in the way more than they helped. By all means add your own flavor, poke fun where it's due, and make it entertaining, but Whitehead often seemed more interested in being clever than telling a coherent story. It was difficult for me at times to tell exactly what he was talking about, since he went off on tangents, and then tangents from his tangents, until I'm off on some tributary having no idea where I am. He bounces from low-stakes weekend competitions in sad Atlantic City ballrooms to poker rules, both written and unwritten, to his training montages, all within the same few pages sometimes. It's ultimately disappointing because I wanted to enjoy this book, and there are moments of clarity throughout where Whitehead's obvious talent shines through, and the book would become engaging for a span, but ultimately I just couldn't muster the energy to try and work through his web of quips and asides to find the real story underneath....more
Colin Woodard's main premise in this book is that America was founded by and evolved from a variety of different cultures, each with their own set ofColin Woodard's main premise in this book is that America was founded by and evolved from a variety of different cultures, each with their own set of traditions, morals and beliefs - differences which continue to this day. Seems simple enough, but when you think of how remedial American History is often taught, it's easy to see the portrayal of America as a homogenous unit, especially in something like The Revolutionary War. Woodward argues that the differences in these cultures are what spurred nearly all expansion and development, as well as conflicts. He explains the Revolutionary War as actually being four separate wars of independence in the different nations (the most obvious one we think of is New England/Yankeedom vs the British, but other factions such as the Deep South were not as keen on independence.) Woodward goes on to explain that these differences and their lingering effects are the reason for all sorts of cultural differences today - why L.A. and San Francisco are liberal while other parts of California are not, why New York is so different than the rest of New England. Why the western 'flyover' states are so fiercely independent and often anti-government, and seemingly most of interest to Woodward, why the South is so damn racist.
Which gets me to the main problem I had with the second half of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half or so, which is mainly about the formation and development of the different nations. However the second half is where he delves into the culture wars between these nations (such as the Civil War, westward expansion, etc.) Now obviously, it's impossible to talk about US history and the South without mentioning racism, because it was a huge part of the culture before and after the Civil War, during Civil Rights, and so on. But while attempting to sum up 150 years of American history in 100 pages, I feel like Woodward painted with too broad of a stroke. It felt like chapter after chapter boiled down to: the South was racist, and the north wasn't, they argued. Yes, obviously this happened a lot. But it's a lot more nuanced than that. Any reference to southern cultures such as Appalachia being anti-slavery or at least anti-secession was nearly an aside, as was any mention of Yankee's aggressive hegemony, or outright racism. (Yes, they wanted to end slavery, but they certainly didn't want to deal with or live amongst black people.)
Maybe it's just me being a liberal who has lived in the south my entire life, but I grew a bit weary of the lack of nuance in Woodard's retelling of American history. That's not to say the South wasn't super racist, and as the author very fairly points out, that's what it was founded on - a rigid class/caste system where slaves were property, but having grown up in the south I know there's way more to it than that - there has been a long history of progressivism in the South dating back decades, so to have that hardly ever mentioned (nothing about Obama's carrying North Carolina or Virginia), irked me. To hear Woodward tell it, The South is The Racist Part of America. But that's not true - it's been everywhere in the country, The South was certainly the most visible and most institutionalized, but definitely not the only ones. (Draft riots in NY, anyone?) But as I said before, this is a 300 page book - a longer more detailed study would hopefully bring out more shades of grey.
That aside, this is an interesting read about an alternate look at America and how it was formed. When thinking of America as eleven different regions, the history of the US does tend to make a lot more sense. ...more