Story: (5/5) Seifer Tombchewer has always dreamed of leaving his small town and exploring the outside world. One day, he's kidnapped and told that he must take Prince Talon's place, the Lord Defender of the Realm, as he has an uncanny resemble to the prince. Forced to do it, Seifer takes the responsibilities of Prince Talon, all the while trying not get discovered. The graphic novel was light and humorous and I really enjoyed reading through it as Seifer tries to fool the princesses and the nobility as well as deal with an impending war.
Main Character: (3/5) As far as main characters go, Seifer Tombchewer didn't stand out very much, but he was goofy, laid back, and kindhearted enough to be very likable.
Other Characters: (4/5) Lumbago: The old, stern, and grumpy man who ordered Seifer to be kidnapped. He is the Royal Adviser. He watches over and instructs Seifer, though he doesn't seem to have much faith in him.
Princess Sarcoma: Prince Talon's older sister and the heir to the throne. She sees her brother as a good for nothing.
Princess Hypoxia "Min-Min": Prince Talon's sweet little sister.
Lady Carcassa "Cassie" Malefica: Siefer's love interest. Daughter of a count, she's come to the Royal Palace to plead to Prince Talon to give back her father's land.
All the characters were fun and quirky and I enjoyed their growing fondness for Seifer and vice versa.
Setting: (4/5) Pandemonium is set in the Darkling Realm, which seems to be home to a race of bat-winged and horned people. Some are even able to use magika (basically magic). There are also other nations and creatures. Characters had some weird names, like Snaggleface, but I think that was part of its charm. The setting wasn't necessarily detailed or even original, but I really enjoyed the light, Gothic, quirkiness of the graphic novel.
Artwork: (5/5) In full colour, the graphic novel's art style suited the story's quirkiness very well.
Overall: (21/25) A retelling of The Prince and the Pauper mixed with a quirky setting and lighthearted tones makes this a graphic novel I recommend for someone looking for a quick, fun, and fluffy read. I wouldn't just recommend it to middle grade kids but older teens as well.
There are enough possible plot lines and hints for there to be a sequel, which I hope to see, because I really want to see Seifer's continual adventures of trying to impersonate Prince Talon. (less)
Setting: (3/5) Set in New York, the graphic novel chronicles the lives of the high society and elite blue bloods. In the book series, I really enjoyed the setting because I liked the authors descriptions. Unfortunately, while I believe the art was pretty accurate, the graphic novel just didn't feel the same. I suppose I felt it just paled in comparison. However, I did enjoy the mix of high society and the supernatural. Sort of reminds me of the Gossip Girl series, except with fantasy/supernatural added to the mix and the high-class are less catty in that annoying Gossip Girl way.
The supernatural aspect of this series was a sort of a mix of overused paranormal ideas that surprisingly worked well when paired with high society. I don't want to go into detail about the "blue bloods" as it will ruin much of the graphic novel (and book) if I say too much.
Story: (2.5/5) I think only fans of the book series will really enjoy this. The graphic novel felt like a quick skim of the book that only kept important plot points. It's a great refresher of the first book if you can't remember anything, though.
Artwork: (4.5/5) The style suits the story very well; it really gave that "elite vibe" the series has. Also, the characters designs were spot on.
The only thing that annoyed me was how huge everyone's lips were. Sometimes when they talked, it made them look like they have this giant mouth.
Main Character: (2.5/5) I don't really have much to say about Schuyler. Her being so different from the other Blue Bloods is probably what sets her apart (that and her horribly spelled name. Apparently it's pronounced: Sky-ler. Unpronounceable names are a pet peeve of mine in books).
The graphic novel really skimmed so much that I couldn't really get a good fix on her character.
Other Characters: (3/5) Mimi: Mimi is my favourite character in the Blue Bloods book series and that remains in this graphic novel. Never thought I would say a queen bee character is my favourite, but she was amusing to watch. I hope the later graphic novel adaptations keep the depth of her character that is revealed as the series progresses.
Jack: Mimi's twin brother and Schuyler's love interest, your typical golden boy. Probably the most boring character.
Bliss: One of Mimi's friends (and later Schuyler's). All I can say about her is that I liked her kindness that was portrayed, it felt genuine.
Oliver: Schuyler's best friend, he was just meh. Typical nice best/childhood friend.
Cordelia: Schuyler's grandmother, I liked their relationship.
Dylan: Bliss' love interest, who I wish we saw more of. He was in it way more in the book.
Overall: (15.5/30) I only recommend this for fans, as it doesn't do the books justice and leaves a lot of things out. The art and character designs are great though, and I think fans of the series will enjoy it. (less)
Cover: I love the covers for this series. They suit the particular fantasy mood of the story so well. This cover features Ronan who, if you haven't guessed by now, is the character this book focuses on. I wonder if the next books will also feature only one boy. I hope one of them features Blue though. I really want to see how they would illustrate her.
Writing: (5/5) Once again, Stiefvater left me completely captivated and immersed in her writing. Since this one focuses on Ronan, a large chunk of the chapters are from his point of view. Usually when authors introduce a new point of view in a later installment, I feel like they end up butchering the character. With Ronan having such a strong personality, I was dreading that Stiefvater wouldn't give his point of view justice. Unsurprisingly though, Stiefvater did a wonderful job of writing Ronan's perspective. His point of view was edgy and disorienting, much like Ronan himself.
I'd also like to make clear that although there were a lot of chapters from Ronan's point of view, there were also chapters from Gansey, Blue, and Adam's point of views, like the last book.
Setting: (5/5) I continue to love the setting like I did in The Raven Boys. The setting has a unique tone that Stiefvater created so wonderfully. She mixed fantasy with modern and somehow made it something new and different in the process. I loved the small town of Henrietta, the Aglionby Academy, and the fantastical elements of the ley lines and Glendower.
Plot: (4.5/5) The plot had the same pacing as the first book. This one, however, focused more on Ronan. We learned more about his thoughts, powers, and family. The chapters from Ronan's point of view felt "dream like", which I guess is a good thing, considering Ronan's power (this is what I meant by his point of view being "disorienting"). It wasn't a bad thing though; I don't think the book or Ronan's point of view would have been the same without it.
Now, something I didn't like was Ronan's secret (not the dream secret, his "second secret" mentioned in the prologue). For one, despite Stiefvater placing subtle, yet deliberate, hints throughout this book, I still felt like I was hit by a truck. There was no warning or indication of this from the last book. If there was some solid hints in the first book, I wouldn't have minded. Surprises and twists are all good and well, but when you feel like you've been hit by a truck and are senseless to what's going on, you know something is wrong. I also didn't like the implications of this to Ronan's characters (which I will highlight below).
Gansey is still trying to find Glendower, well I guess the whole gang is actually. Adam is still dealing with his issues from the last book, and Blue struggles with her feelings. Although the other characters' storylines weren't as focal, they did continue on from the first book.
Main Character: (2.5/5) I have quite a few problems with Blue. First, though, I'd like to point out that she's not that of a bad character. I feel like the book's concept would have been somewhat less appealing if Blue was stripped away from the story and what remained was four boys in a private academy dealing with their issues...
A small point, but Blue Sargent is a ghastly name. I like Blue, but not Sargent. Wouldn't something like Blue Darling be cuter? Her family being called "the Darlings" would also have been pretty amusing.
Blue would've been OK as a side character, but as a main character, she's quite terrible. She blends too much in the background and you hardly notice her. Gansey, Ronan, and Adam are far more compelling characters than she'll ever be. Blue doesn't hold a candle to them. While they're worrying about important issues, she's worrying about kissing and which guy she wants to date. Really!?
All four boys come off as extremely mature and older than their actual age. They've been through a lot, so they have to be. Blue, on other hand...seems like a teenage girl. I also don't like how she wants to be different so badly, and how she wants to worm her way into the boys' group. That's sadly what I felt despite them accepting her with, more or less (in Ronan's case), open arms.
Also, we keep being told Blue is practical over and over. If this is a form of brain wash to make me believe Blue is practical, it's not working. Why did the author even choose to heighten the practically? It's an extremely boring trait to begin with, unless it was taken to exaggerated levels. The author clearly loves the boys more than Blue. I feel like Blue was made the main character because she wanted a girl main character, not because she wanted Blue.
Villain: (4/5) I wouldn't really consider them villains, just antagonists. The Gray Man was an interesting character that I thought the author pulled off well enough. His point of view, however, was less interesting than the others, although the pacing was good. After the ending, I'm more interested in the Gray Man in the next book than I was in this one.
The other antagonist, on the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed. He was beyond amusing. I can't spoil too much about him though.
Other Characters: (4/5) Ronan: As I mentioned above, I felt Ronan's secret somewhat damaged his character. For one, he doesn't seem like the type to keep secrets. It was explained why he kept the dream secret, but I don't understand why he would keep this one. I thought Ronan was the type who doesn't care what others think of him.
Another thing was that I liked that he had no interest in Blue whatsoever. I liked that there was one boy who wasn't fawning over her, because Ronan doesn't fawn, period. Apparently, though, there was a very specific reason why he didn't care about Blue, and it wasn't because he was simply Ronan and didn't care about others in general...
Overall, I did like learning more about Ronan. His obsession with cars was amusing, I think he has a fetish. The author wrote it in way where I, who has absolutely no interest in cars and believe them to be metal death traps, found it to be enjoyable. I also enjoyed learning more about Ronan and his relationship with his family.
Gansey: Gansey's my favourite character. Despite him being seemingly perfect, Stiefvater wrote him extremely well. He came off as charming and very likable. He didn't come off as bossy or overbearing either. The others would naturally make him the leader, considering he's the only one willing to shoulder so much responsibility.
Adam: You see how much Adam changes in this book, but I hope Stiefvater doesn't turn his story into a tragic one. It's sad to see someone grow up in his situation with no chance at a happier life.
Noah: Noah was barely in the book. I really wish that Adam and Noah didn't have such similar names. Both are four words long and biblical. I easily confuse them. I think Adam's name is fine, but Noah would have been better off having a more old-fashioned sounding name. The name Noah has become really trendy lately.
Out of the boys, Noah is my least favourite, but I hope he'll be the focal point of the next book since Stiefvater always surprises me when it comes to the boys. The Raven Boys focused more on Adam, The Dream Thieves Ronan, and I'm guessing the next one Noah, and the last Gansey.
Joseph Kavinsky: An Aglionby student. He was so wild and deranged that Ronan seemed like a puppy in comparison. I really enjoyed his character, he was creeptastic. No I mean it, I really did enjoy his character. He was as good a character as Gansey, Adam, and Ronan.
Blue's Family, "the psychics", and Helen, or as I collectively call them: "The Females": You know, it's not about the male to female ratio. It's about presence. If there was one female character as good as Gansey, Adam, and Ronan, and now Kavinsky, I would have been happy, but there isn't.
It's sad that I consider Blue's family collectively "The Females" (Blue included). The boys on the other hand, who go to the same school and wear the same uniform, I would never mix up, because of their strong personalities. If that doesn't mean anything, I don't know what does.
Romance: (4/5) The romance was paced well. If there was any more romance, then we would get a lot of Blue, which might not be a good thing. With this book, less is more when it comes to the romance.
Now, I understand why Blue would like Gansey, or even Adam, but I don't understand why they would like her. Is it her supposed "practicality"? That's not a very attractive trait. It's not that she's particularly kind, nor that she's the heart of the group (as cliché as that sounds, it would have made her belong and she would have added something more to the group. It would be funny if she made them all friendship bracelets).
Overall: (29/35) Although I didn't enjoy The Dream Thieves as much as The Raven Boys, it was a close second. I did love it despite having flaws, one being the main character. Once again, I love Stiefvater's writing, which crafted a fantastical setting and tone, some extremely dimensional characters, and a wonderful story. (less)
Story: (4/5) Yuki was abandoned as a baby in an orphanage. He has a strange power where he can look into the deepest and darkest thoughts of a person by touching them. One day, he meets a strange man named Zess and a group of people called the Giou Clan. The Giou Clan has had a thousand year war with the Duras (demons). They have the answers to his power and perhaps a meaning to his existence.
Now from the get-go, the story doesn't seem very original or particularity interesting. It doesn't help that the back summary is so vague. Though what I found to be the most different in this story - about a group fighting otherworldly demons - is they're the same people reincarnated over and over. Personally, I love stories about reincarnations. The whole reason to why they were reincarnated, their past, the people they knew, if they differ from their past lives or not, etc - all these things really appeal to me and are chock-full of potential story lines and mysteries to be uncovered. Add that to an entire group that's been reincarnated over and over, and you can count me in!
The first couple of chapters started off really slow, but after the revelations about the Duras and Giou Clan and the introduction of the other characters, the story started to become good! The Betrayal Knows My Name volumes are pretty huge (this one was 365 pages long and larger than your stranded manga). These volumes are actually two volumes in one of the Japanese edition. That was good, considering the first volume was pretty slow and unsatisfying, but added with second volume, it was very satisfying.
Main Character: (4/5) Yuki Sakurai is our main character. He's gentle and kind to a fault, but he's also very lonely. He questions the reason why he was born and if he was unwanted, as he was an abandoned child. He always helps others because he wants to feel like someone needs him.
I've seen my fill of pure main characters in manga (especially in shojo), but Yuki didn't offend me. Maybe it's because his kindness seemed slightly selfish, in return he wanted to feel needed and not be alone. But Yuki seems like the type to help even if he gets nothing in return, so maybe not. Or maybe it's because it's understandable growing up in an orphanage, your life will never be stable, one day you'll have to leave the people behind.
Something I didn't like was his name, Yuki! Ugh. I can't count how many characters I've seen called Yuki, it's as overused as Sakura. I thought the reason the author used it was because it was a unisex name (according to bonus pages that was why she used it) since Yuki was a girl in his past life.
Overall, I liked Yuki (despite the clicheness of a pure main character) because he wasn't irritating, he was even sweet. He had flaws and wasn't in your face and I can see why people around him would like him.
Other Characters: (4/5) Zess: I have to say, his first appearance was pretty funny in its stereotypical-ness: His black coat flapping in the wind as he muttered ominous words. I did enjoy Zess though, his aloof personality was a nice contrast to Yuki's friendless. I also like that the two major characters are more on the quiet side as opposed to the quiet and loud-mouthed duo I often see.
Takashiro Giou: A man who claims to be Yuki's brother. I hope Yuki's parentage and their family will be explored in future volumes.
Tooko Murasame: A member of the Giou clan. She is a sweet and energetic girl and Tsukumo's older sister. I initially got confused about how Tooko's name was spelled. Reading it in English, you'd pronounce it as: Too-Ko. The name's more like this: Tōko; there's emphasis on the O, but you would pronounce it as "Toe-Ko".
Tsukumo Murasame: Tooko's younger brother. He's straight faced but pretty kind and seems to love eating snacks.
Hotsuma Renjou: A hot-tempered and foul mouthed member of the Giou clan, who dislikes Yuki.
Shuusei Usui: Another member of the Giou clan. Not much about him was revealed, but I'm pretty sure the next volume will explore his character more.
Kanata Wakamiya: He lived in the same orphanage as Yuki. It seems kind of obvious to me that he'll be a villain.
Reiga: I'm guessing the main villain of the series. He summons demons to destroy the Giou clan. It seems way too obvious to me that Kanata is Reiga. I hope I'm proven wrong though.
I loved the Giou clan's interactions with each other and hope to see more of it in future volumes!
Setting: (4/5) Duras (Demons) exist in a different dimension. I'm not really interested in them, the concept doesn't seem very original to me. But we're still vague on the details, so maybe they'll be more intriguing in future volumes.
I did enjoy the idea of the Giou clan and how they're all reincarnated to preserve their powers so they can fight the Duras. They work in twos because their abilities work better in pairs: Tooko (really hate spelling her name like that) and Tsukumo are partners and so are Hotsuma and Shuusei. I'm guessing Takashiro's partner was Reiga (the hints are way too obvious about this guy), but I hope I'll be proven wrong.
Artwork: (4/5) The artwork was nice and clean. I do think that some of the faces look a bit dis-proportioned because the author was trying to make everyone pretty, but overall, I liked the characters designs and cleanness of the art. The volume also includes eight nice coloured pages.
Other Comments: By the cover, some might think that this is a BL (Boys' Love). Even though it has slight tones of that, I wouldn't really consider it one, as Yuki was a girl in his past life who was lovers with Zess. I'm pretty sure the manga will not go in that direction because it doesn't quite fit its genre placement. I would just consider this manga a fantasy shojo.
Also, if you liked the manga (or vice versa), I recommend trying the anime. You can watch it free legally on Crunchyroll here.
Overall: (20/25) Although The Betrayal Knows My Name isn't the most original manga out there and might not be anything necessarily new, I did enjoy the lovable cast of characters and their interactions with one another. The story was enjoyable and I liked the idea of the Clan's reincarnations and past lives. I'll be continuing with this series and I look forward to the next volume!(less)
Plot: The arc from the previous volume continues. Yuki and the Zweilts investigate the recent disappearances of high school boys and the "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome", believing there's a connection. The whole arc lasted for about nine more chapters (including a couple of chapters from the last volume). This arc was really dedicated to Hotsuma and Shuusei. The villain, Reiga, was also revealed. There was a lot of character development in this arc, which I loved.
As far as the plot went, I really did enjoy it, but I don't find it original, especially with the climax of the Zweilts vs. the Duras. Where the battle takes place, the actual fighting, the mystery - if you've read manga, I'm pretty sure you've seen all this before. I'm glad this arc was wrapped up in this volume. As much as I enjoyed it, any more would have been too much.
Also, the rules for the reincarnations were stated. I thought that they would remain vague, so I liked that it was cleared up early in the manga.
Main Character: What happened at the end of this volume was a test of Yuki's character. Although he seems perfect at times, near the end he proved he can have doubts and flaws like any other human.
I also like how the author is gradually telling us about Yuki's past hint by hint. I hope she continues with this and doesn't just info dump later in the series. I'm curious to learn more about Yuki's past and I hope the author doesn't withhold information for too long. An arc dedicated to Yuki's past life would be really good!
Also, something brief that Yuki seemed to remember implies the title of this book. Then again, there were quite a few mentions of betrayals in this volume.
Other Characters: Hotsuma and Shuusei: This volume was dedicated to these two. Their pasts were revealed and we saw the depth of their bond. More development and light was shed on both their characters. While I knew Hotsuma would get development, I wasn't so sure about Shuusei. Near the end though, I think I glimpsed Shuusei's character and I like how he really gives off a different vibe than the rest of the Zweilt, them being more cheerful and light-hearted and all.
Tooko and Tsukumo: More insight was given to Tooko and Tsukumo's relationship. There were also some small hints of their past. There was also a bonus chapter titled "It's Not a Kind of Love That's Easily Explained". I found the chapter really cute. If I had to pick a favourite character, it would be Tsukumo. I like his quiet kindness and I find him adorable.
Luka: A lot of Luka's history was revealed and I actually hope his previous master will appear. I'm curious to see how that would go.
Reiga: I saw this coming from a mile away. His revelation was beyond obvious. I wish he had been more mysterious and that less obvious hints were dropped. That would have made the revelation be more of a twist.
Kanata: Honestly, I really don't see Yuki and Kanata's bond. He only appeared a couple of times and we saw the rest of his relationship with Yuki through flashbacks. Not to mention he was boring compared to the other characters.
Takashiro: Takashiro seems to be hiding many things from Yuki. I hope his intentions and secrets are revealed soon and they don't end up being anticlimactic or over the top.
I do wish more female characters were introduced, but the author mentioned that there are more female characters waiting in the wings. I hope we see them soon.
New Characters: Kuroto Hourai: A prodigy shogi player (Japanese Chess) and a Zweilt. I liked that another Zweilt was introduced. He was serious and had a no-nonsense personality, quite a contrast to the rest of Zweilt I have to say.
Senshirou Furuori: A zweilt-in-training, which I didn't even know was possible. It's interesting to learn more about the Zweilt and that a new one, who wasn't a past reincarnation, can be added. As far as his character goes, I haven't seen enough of him to make an opinion. I'm pretty sure I'll know more about him in the next volume.
Art: Like the previous volume, this one also had a couple of colour pages. I found the first one to be very spoilery though. It was actually a page in Chapter 18 (7th chapter in this volume).
Although I don't quite mind it, all the Zweilts are pretty. There is no good reason why. Is it part of being a Zweilt? I doubt it. I think the author drew them pretty just for the sake of drawing them pretty.
Other Comments: The Duras girl we saw in the first volume is called Ashley. Really, a demoness called Ashley? It might sound exotic to Japanese readers, but not so much to English readers. I also didn't like that the Duras twins were called Jekyll and Hyde. I hate when Japanese manga use English names. I wish they would just use Japanese names. There was a manga I read where a character was called Banana. Banana... really? Really!? Jekyll and Hyde are a masterpiece in comparison, but I still don't like the novel reference. It really takes you out of the world.
Also doesn't Betrayal Knows My Name sound better than The Betrayal Knows My Name?
Yes, I'm a name snob.
Overall: (4/5) The plot wasn't very original, but combined with a lovable cast and some great character development, it was very enjoyable and quite a lighthearted read.(less)
Plot: The Kamakura Arc continues in this volume. We discover Takashiro, Kuroto, and Senshirou's pasts.
I've been curious about Takashiro's past since he was first introduced. I have to say though, Takashiro's past was pretty lackluster. It just didn't seem to be quite enough to spurn him and motivate him so desperately for such a long time. I later remembered that Takashiro never forgets, but the fact that this slipped my mind proves that the whole thing was poorly done. Not to mention the whole story was overused. For a millennium year old battle with the Duras, I was expecting the “Sunset of the Underworld" to be more intriguing. A couple of key elements to why this even happened is still a mystery, so perhaps this will go in a more interesting direction later on.
I really did enjoy Kuroto and Senshirou's past. Their reason to fight was quite different from the rest Zweilt. I'm also happy that the author showed us their past right from the beginning, otherwise their characters would have not been very substantial. The only relationship we haven't seen in depth yet is Tooko and Tsukumo's. I hope we see an arc exploring their relationship in more depth soon.
This series thrives on angsty characters and pasts, but that's part of its appeal. The angst never seemed childish or too much for me. It has a slightly sad note mixed with lightheartedness that I've come to know as The Betrayal Knows My Name (Ha, even the title sounds angsty).
Main Character: I feel like Yuki is finally on equal ground with the rest of the Zweilt. He hasn't learned everything, but he knows why this long battle with the Duras happened and what is exactly at stake. The rest of the Zweilt can talk more openly with him.
More light was shed on Yuki's parentage and some of his family members were introduced. I'm glad the author didn't withhold this information for too long, though there seems to be a lot more to Yuki's parentage than what was revealed. I hope we learn more soon since I'm so curious.
Also, it's much more noticeable how much the Zweilt are attached to Yuki (obsessed?). I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one side, it's understandable, because their attachment to him is integrated in their blood and the Zweilt need Yuki in order to fight. On the other hand, it seems they can't function properly if Yuki isn't around them for long periods of time (come on, he was only gone for a day). I found their attachment sweet to begin with, but too much in the future can pose a problem.
Other Characters: Kuroto and Senshirou: I enjoyed Kuroto and Senshirou's relationship because it was a different than the rest of the Zweilt. Because they didn't have a history with their past lives, we got to experience their relationship from beginning to end. The rest of the Zweilt have such a vast history that we really can't explore the full scope so fast.
Tooko: There was a side story titled "A Beloved Melody" that focused on Tooko's feelings, which I enjoyed. I hope we discover more about her so she can have a larger presence, since she's the only real major girl. Although she already did have a large presence, now that Kuroto and Senshirou are added, it's getting overcrowded with males. If we just count the Zweilt (and Luka), the male to female ratio is 7 to 1.
Also, another slight thing I noticed was that Tsukumo and Tooko are both the "Ear of God". At first I didn't understand why they had the same name, but then I figured there's usually a pair of ears. That doesn't explain Shuusei though, who's the "Eyes of God". I just don't like how Tooko, being the only girl, has a power that's too similar to someone else's.
Art: I don't like the cover very much Kuroto and Senshirou look scary and disproportionate. What's up with Kuroto's eyes and Senshirou's freakishly small head and long neck?
Overall: (4/5) Takashiro's past and the whole event of “Sunset of the Underworld" was lackluster. I did however enjoy Kuroto and Senshirou's past arc and I liked that this volume focused more on character development (which is the manga's strong point) as opposed to too much action. (less)
Plot: The last volume ended off at a good cliffhanger and I was excited to see what would happen next. The first half of this volume ends off the Kamakura Arc. The other half of the volume introduces some new characters and is the start of a new arc. It was also more of a breather from the Kamakura Arc (I especially enjoyed this half).
I was surprised that Kuroto and Senshirou had a confrontation with Cadenza early on. I thought they wouldn't see him again until far later into the series. Besides Cadenza, some more of Reiga's Duras were introduced as well as the final Zweilt pair.
This volume seems to have introduced all the big players of both sides and I feel we can finally get into the flesh of the series. Quite a bit more was hinted about Yuki's past and now that all the Zweilt have assembled, I'm sure we're going to get into the heart of Yuki's past life (hopefully in the next volume!).
Main Character: As I mentioned, more hints were given to Yuki's past. In particular, there was a connection to one of the new Zweilt introduced. I feel we'll be learning tons about Yuki's past from here on out.
Other Characters: Kuroto and Senshirou: I was surprised by how well Kuroto and Senshirou fit in Twilight Hall. I thought it would end up being overcrowded. Quite the contrary: if they were taken out, the place would feel far emptier.
Reiga: Reiga still seems to have some lingering attachments to Yuki. I'm curious about how that will play out in the future. I have a feeling that it won't turn into a cliché, over the top, good vs. evil final battle sort of thing (or I hope it won't).
Cadenza, Elegy, and Luze: Reiga's summoned Duras. I found Elegy to be pretty amusing and I liked that they had personalities and weren't just goons. If you count Ashley, Jekyll, and Hyde, I wonder if those are all Reiga's Duras.
Fuyutoki Kureha: The steward of the Giou Clan main residence. We learned more about him in this volume. He's my least favourite character. He's such a cutout manga character, even in this series where the characters aren't very original. Good thing he's such a minor character.
Masamune Shinmei: An apprentice necromancer of the Giou Clan. When he was introduced in the last volume, I found him to be a waste of space. After we learned about him in this volume, I liked him more.
New Characters: Lia Otona: A Zweilt and an idol singer. Finally, another female was added to the group. I liked her energetic and bubbly personality and her interactions with Tooko.
Sairi Shinmei: Lia's Zweilt partner and an actor. He's a "Ladies Man" (playboy). I don't like playboy characters and I really hate his design. He seems more serious than he lets on, so hopefully I'll start liking him more later on. He also has some kind of history with Yuki. I'm guessing he was maybe in love with Yuki in his past life? Luka seems to dislike him. I'm pretty sure this is not going into some weird love triangle territory.
Odagiri always makes me like her characters eventually, so there's hope for him.
Art: So far this series hasn't dropped in art quality. I hope this keeps up. I see many other manga series lose quality over time. To be fair, most series that drop in art quality are very long running, and this series hasn't had much volumes released.
Overall: (4/5) Everything has moved into place and we're finally getting into the flesh of this series!(less)
Plot: The first half of this volume is the Hot Spring arc, which is about Yuki and the Zweilt taking a trip to the Giou Clan's purifying Hidden Springs. I enjoyed this arc. It was less serious and dealt more with the characters interacting with each other, which I always enjoy. It was a breather arc and the author even described it as a "side story" sort of thing in the bonus pages.
The plot gets more serious in the second half of the volume. The second half is similar to volume two's missing high school boys and "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome" case. This volume deals with a different case concerning a string of deaths.
I've felt that the Giou Clan (besides the Zweilt) were always in the background. We didn't see much of the other members besides the staff. In this volume though, we learned more about the Clan families and how they marry to carry the strong blood and reincarnations. With that explanation, I felt the Clan had a larger presence.
Main Character: Yuki takes the initiative to regain his memories in this volume. It seems like he's getting somewhere with that. The most interesting bit we learned was how his previous incarnation died. I wasn't expecting that to have been her fate. I thought it was more melodramatic and had to do with Luka. I'm hoping something similar will happen to Yuki, despite it sounding cruel (I don't want to spoil, you'll know what I mean if you read the volume). I find that the story might take a more interesting direction if that were to happen. It'll also be more interesting if Yuki's personality started to slowly change because of this.
Now, I don't really hate Yuki at all, but me wanting his personality to change implies that I'm getting a little tired of him on some level.
The main problem with a pure main character, I realized, is that it's an incredibly cheap plot device. Difficult characters will easily be swayed, you don't have to deeply explain why characters feel attachment to the main character, and I feel like it's easy to make a plot with one.
Now, I want to make it clear that I don't hate Yuki. I kind of even like him, but I know he'll never be my favourite. I also don't appreciate his unoriginality. That's why I hope that Yuki's personality might suffer through changes, considering what was revealed about how he died in his past life. This would break Yuki from the stereotypical, pure, shojo main character. I don't think I've ever seen a manga go in the direction of the fall of a pure character. It would make the story really really good, though it has to be paced very well and can't hit you out of nowhere. I don't have much faith that this will happen (this manga isn't known for its great surprises and plot twists), but here's to hoping.
Other Characters: Hotsuma and Shuusei: I've noticed this in the previous volume too, but Hotsuma and Shuusei are getting far too much screen time. From the bonus pages, the author explains that this is because they're such fan favourites. I don't hate them, but I feel all this page time is wasted on them and should be used on the other Zweilt that we haven't explored deeply, like Tsukumo and Tooko (I'm still waiting for an arc!) or Lia and Sairi. Hotuma and Shuusei already had a whole arc dedicated to them. If they get any more screen time, I'll probably start getting irritated with them. Considering how this volume ended off, I'm pretty sure we'll see a lot of screen time with them...sigh. This is what happens when you let fans dictate what you write.
Sairi and Lia: I'm surprised we still haven't learned much about these two yet (I wonder whose hogging page space...).
Tachibana: I feel like we've learned more about him in this volume, despite him trying to fool you.
New Characters: Shizuka Usui and Rou Reizen: Shizuka trained Tooko and Tsukumo, while Rou trained Hotsuma and Shuusei. I'm glad more of the Giou Clan were introduced. The Giou Clan felt empty to me, like they were just for show, but this volume proves otherwise.
Art: I've noticed that the pages in this volume are mostly faces. What I mean is the panels mostly contain closeups and no backgrounds or full body shots. It doesn't really annoy me, but it's just something I'd like to point out.
This volume's cover (and the next one) are probably my favourites. I like the colour and the characters don't look awkward. I think it's because it's a girl and a boy. The author drew them more naturally. I felt like she was trying too hard to pose the male Zweilt pairs in the previous volumes. Those covers came off as trying too hard and were way too awkward looking.
Overall: (3.5/5) I found flaws concerning some of the characters, but I really enjoyed the plot in this volume.(less)
Plot: First I'd like to point out that this volume is way shorter than the other ones. The previous volumes were omnibuses that contained two volumes of the Japanese edition. Since they caught up with the Japanese release, they're going to start releasing single volumes instead of the huge omnibuses. I'm so used to the large volumes that this one felt pretty unsatisfying though.
The search for Tooko and Shuusei continues with this volume. I'm glad that finding Shuusei didn't take too long. I don't think I can bear any more Hotsuma/Shuusei drama. They have the most screen time of any of the Zweilt. Their screen time doesn't even help with character development and it doesn't add any exciting plot points, so I'm glad that was done with pretty fast.
The rest of the volume was more centered around Yuki discovering a few shocking things. One concerned how the Light of Gods are born. The whole thing made the clan seem darker and I don't think it's right of them. They're no better than Reiga when you think about it.
Yuki is slowly untangling all the lies. We also met an elder of the clan (I've wanted to see the elders for a while now) and there seems to be some unrest between him and Takashiro. So the Giou Clan isn't as united as we are led to believe. This volume was unsatisfying because I felt like we were really getting somewhere, but then it quickly ended.
Main Character: Yuki learned more about his mother and the circumstances of his birth. He's starting to remember his past life too. He's also starting to confront people about whether or not they lied to him and demands (well as much as Yuki can) to be told the truth, which I'm happy he took the initiative to do. I'm still hoping that all these incidents combined with the fate of the Light of Gods (what will happen if they keep using their power over time) will make Yuki darker, maybe even unhinged. Yeah, this manga will take a darker turn, but you can't say it's not interesting.
Other Characters: Hotsuma and Shuusei: I'm glad we ended the drama with them fast and I hope the author lays off them for a while. They already had an arc dedicated to them and their screen time was unnecessary and a waste of space.
Tooko and Tsukumo: I wish this incident focused more on the siblings than Hotsuma and Shuusei. They're the first Zweilt we met (and my favourites) and we still haven't learned much about them. In the bonus pages, Odagiri said that she's adding a back story about them in the Japanese musical theater production of the manga, but will probably not be adding it to the manga. WHY!? I really get annoyed when creators feel the need to add important details to spawns of the series, but not to the original series itself. I was fooled by the cover into thinking that this one focused on Tooko and Tsukumo...
Takashiro: We know Takashiro's been telling many lies, but we learned the extent in this volume. I'm pretty sure he has a truckload more. I feel like the next volume will untangle more of his lies.
Art: The art is still the same and it hasn't lagged. This cover and the previous one are my favourites (and no, it's not just because Tooko and Tsukumo are on it). The colours are nicer and it looks less awkward than the previous ones.
Overall: (3/5) I'm glad that Yuki learned more about his parentage in this volume and that his memories are slowly starting to return. The overall volume, however, was pretty unsatisfying. It ended just when it was getting somewhere. (less)
Cover: I really don't like the cover redesigns. The old cover suited this series better and made it stand out more. These new covers make the series look like another YA paranormal. It gets lost in the mix with hundreds of others. The silhouette doesn't even resemble Kami. With that build, I'd expect it to more likely be Angela.
Writing: (2/5) The writing quality just took a huge drop in comparison to the first one. Sentences were hard to understand and I had to look over some more than once to see what the author meant. The analogies made what was described more confusing and only seemed to be put there for sake of an analogy, not to help readers gain a better understanding. Here's an example:
"Their breathing and their crashing footsteps were almost the only sounds she could hear, a tiny moving island of frantic noise in the midst of a spreading sea of silence."
Setting: (2/5) I really liked the town Sorry-in-the-Vale, but I didn't feel its presence in this book. I didn't feel that charming/Gothic feel as strongly as I had in the first book. Although the story was all about Sorry-in-the-Vale, weirdly enough, the setting didn't feel very present. It was a little above a loose backdrop and I would have liked if more depth was added and more time was spent learning about it, not just some historical trivia thrown at you.
Plot: (3/5) The book was slow in the beginning but picked up nicely around the middle, around 50ish - 60ish pages or so. I really enjoyed the middle, but I have to say the ending ruined it all. It was so anticlimactic. I expected a lot of things to happen, but nothing really did. This was such a second book and suffered from an extreme case of second book syndrome. The whole thing felt like the rising action to the last book and I can probably guarantee you that you can skip this and understand the last book just fine. Nothing happened and if anything did, it will probably be briefly stated in the last book.
Another thing that was annoying, was that Kami happened to overhear or see something a little too much for it to be believable.
Main Character: (1/5) Kami irritated me. The perfect description for her is: All talk and no bite. She always says how she can handle herself, how she can end the conflict, how she's made to be such a perfect female role model blah, blah, blah, but when push comes to shove, she accomplished NOTHING. Nada. She kept snapping at the boys because she thought they were sexiest or something, but they had no real malice or any kind of bad intention. She's only the main character because everyone follows her.
Wait, why does everyone follow her again?
Because her group has an assortment of pushovers and people who don't care one way or another who's in charge. Not to mention that Kami is exceptionally pushy. I don't see Kami as strong. I don't see Kami as kind. I don't see her as intelligent. I don't even see her as a character. It's like she was made based on a set of ideals and beliefs as opposed to to being a CHARACTER. Make a character people, not a set list of what you think females should be like. I think Dolores Umbridge is an awesome character. Why? Because she's Dolores Umbridge! She's entertaining, she's a character you love to hate. She doesn't follow a set of rules about being female. Her identity is Dolores Umbridge, not FEMALE!!!
Sorry, for the rant.
Villain: (1.5/5) You know the problem with Robert doesn't just lie with Robert. There seems to be a misconception that you NEED a villain to write a story. No, you don't. Antagonist, yes. Villain, no. When you understand the difference, that gets you closer to writing an epic tale. A lot of classics didn't have villains, a lot of Shakespeare's play didn't have villains. I find Hayao Miyazaki's concept on good vs. evil to be very interesting.
I guess you're wondering what my point is? Robert doesn't seem to be a beloved character by the reader or the author. He was made that way. He was made to make you take the side of the hero. Separately, Robert and Kami don't stand on their own. They rely too much on each other. They themselves are not very good characters, they use each other as crutches.
This isn't a problem with just this series, but with most series I read or watch. It was, however, more noticeable in Untold. Robert was not as much as a beloved character to the author as Kami's group was, and because of that, he can never be likable. He's a villain made purely to be a villain. He's unloved so much that I feel the story could have been better without him. A different story about Sorry-in-the-Vale, with sorcerers and Kami's group, could have turned out much better. It reminds me of The Mortal Instruments where the story just ran away with the characters as opposed with the villains, because the other characters are just more interesting. We only go back to Valentine and Sebastian (villains from The Mortal Instruments) when they themselves get more depth to their character besides being the villain, the direct opposing force to the hero (because that's how life works, I defeat the villain of my life and I live happily ever after...*eye roll*).
Robert was doomed to fail as a villain and as a character from the moment of his creation. Point is, I think this story could have turned out better if there was no real villain. They only thing I probably actually liked about Robert was the family drama.
And, again sorry for that long post.
Other Characters: (2.5/5) Jared: Jared improved a lot in this book. I felt he became more independent from Kami and I loved his growing fondness to Lillian and Ash. At the end of the book, he does so much that I think he's more suitable to be crowned the main character than Kami.
Ash: When Ash's perfect mask was revealed in Unspoken, I thought this was a chance to add depth to his character. What lied under that mask was a puppy. He gets too attached to other people, follows them around like a lovesick puppy, and can't think for himself. It didn't help we got to see all this from his point of view in a couple of chapters as well. I actually preferred the perfect Ash. I also hate the development that happened to him at the end of Untold, please NO. I don't want see that drama.
Angela: The only thing that really annoyed me about Angela is how she is so beautiful. You have to care about your appearance to a certain extent to be as beautiful as she apparently is. She doesn't care about what people think about her and keeping up your appearances with pretty outfits, make up, etc takes a lot of time. It would seem that it would be more in her character to use that time more wisely, like taking naps. And don't tell me she's naturally beautiful, you don't naturally have pretty clothes on, wear make up, and put perfume on yourself.
This quote was what made it most apparent:
"I'll be right back," Angela promised, and gave her a ferocious hug before she went, Angela's hair and perfume blocking out all the rest of the world for a moment.
And this was right after a big battle. Angela should smell like blood, sweat, and perfume.
Holly: Holly was my favourite character in Unspoken. I thought her air-headed, bubbly personality was really cute. The chapters in Untold from her point of view were a real disservice to her character. Holly was made to be a supporting character, and reading from her point of view proved that all the much more. There wasn't much to go by and it made her seem like such a cliche character.
Rusty: It's hinted that Rusty has feelings for Kami. I hate that. She has three boys (all the boys in the book around Kami's age) fawning over her, really? Really!? I preferred their easy friendship with no hints of romantic interest.
Jon Glass (Kami's Dad): What a useless adult. He relies too much on Kami, his child. He should be protecting her, not the other way around.
Lillian: I have to say though, Lilian takes the crown of useless adult. The Adults Are Useless trope is taken to such extremes with her. I was almost fooled into thinking that she could have accomplish something, if nothing at all. But she failed in the most epic, brutal, and stupid way that you can think of.
The jokes in the books were out of place with the serious atmosphere (not to mention downright bad). Where it worked very well in Unspoken, it didn't in Untold.
The only character that really improved in Untold was Jared. Everyone else just became worse.
Romance: (4/5) I give the author props for not dragging out the romance. I expected it to be dragged out until the last couple pages of the last book. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't and I enjoyed it. The ending with Ash, though, threw an unwanted wrench. I hope there's not too much drama about it in the last book.
Overall: (16/35) If you know how pointless some second books can be, you'll probably know what Untold was like. Nothing really happened, almost all the characters got worse, and I think you can skip this and understand the last book, Unmade, just fine. A big disappointment considering how much I enjoyed Unspoken.(less)
Setting: (2/5) Nick Gautier lives with his mom in the meaner streets of New Orleans. This manga is based off the Chronicles of Nick series, which is a prequel to the author's Dark Hunters series. I have never read any of Sherrilyn Kenyon's books, so I'm not very familiar with the world.
The supernatural world seems to based around "Dark-Hunters", which I assume to be some type of warriors that apparently fight Daimons? There are also has zombies, were-hunters (which I assume to be were-wolves or some other type of shifter), and demons. The Dark Hunters also serve the Goddess of the hunt, Artemis, who seems like she will play a big role in the series.
There was some other stuff mentioned that went over my head. I have no idea what exactly Nick is supposed to be, some sort of "Malachai" who controls demons?
Basically, the whole explanation of the supernatural world was choppy and I didn't understand most of it (not to mention that it wasn't very original). I'm assuming since it's based off a novel, a lot of stuff got cut out.
The only thing I'm really interested in is this "Malachai" the manga talks a lot about and what being one exactly means.
Story: (3/5) The story felt awkward and even chaotic at times; you could tell quite a lot of stuff was left out. Nonetheless, it was still enjoyable enough.
Nick's whole world changes when he is saved by a man called Kyrian Hunter. He discovers a supernatural world he never knew existed. After many students in his school turn into some sort of zombies, Nick is thrown into the conflict and tries to stop it.
Yeah, I know it doesn't sound very original, but I really enjoyed it and got through the manga pretty fast. The story also had glimpses of Nick's adult self, which I found pretty interesting. I'm curious to learn more about adult Nick in the next volume.
Artwork: (3/5) The artwork was OK; nothing particularly spectacular or hideous. The shattering glass effect on the cover was pretty neat though.
Main Character: (3/5) Nick Gautier is raised by a single mom and they have a hard life because of this. Although this is nothing new, I honestly enjoyed their relationship and I hope to see plenty more of it in later volumes.
As for Nick himself, there isn't much to say about his character expect that he was made out to be very kind, and I liked that. It wasn't obnoxiously done and was believable.
Nick's future self on the other hand seemed to be an entirely different person, but we're not quite clear on the details yet.
Other Characters: (3/5) I particularity liked Nick's mom Cherise. She had a sharp tongue and protected Nick fiercely.
Kyrian was an intriguing character and I hope we learn more about him. I also hope we see more of Caleb, Nick's protector.
I enjoyed Bubba, a grumpy man who knows a lot about the supernatural world. I liked his gruff manner in comparison to the other characters.
There were two characters I didn't like: the stereotypical bully Stone (Stone - really?) and Nick's love interest Nekoda. At first I thought she was a weak female lead that served no other purpose than to be Nick's love interest.
Then you find out she's not quite what she seems. She still annoyed me though. I don't feel like her character will be anything interesting.
Originality: (1/5) As I said in the setting section, I didn't see anything original or even a new twist in this series.
Other Comments: The art and summary made it seem likes it was for kids, but after reading a couple of pages, I was surprised to see that it was very gritty and not for young children.
Overall: (15/30) The Dark-Hunters: Infinity manga is nothing new nor special. The world wasn't anything particularity good and the plot felt choppy at times. Despite that, the manga was enjoyable enough. I recommend it to those who want a quick read with a decent plot, or those who are already fans of this series. (less)
Setting: (1/5) There are so many manga that are based off Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Pandora Hearts and Alice in the Country of Hearts are some examples. I don't mind settings based off Alice in Wonderland - in fact, I loved Pandora Hearts. They just have to have a new twist or be interesting or mind boggling in some way. Are You Alice?'s setting was poorly done. For one, it was confusing and didn't have a charming surreal feel to it at all. It was just plain confusing. The Queen of Hearts was male. What was the point of that, exactly? Characters like the White Rabbit and Cheshire Cat were just people with animal characteristics.
I don't know about you, but I've always hated this in manga. It doesn't even make sense! What's the point of those tails and/or ears? How do they function? I suppose the only point is the look, which always looked terrible to me.
Some original concepts to the manga were The Regrets, who are dark creatures born from human regrets. I thought they were confusing and out of place. I'm not very interested in them, although they seem central to the series.
Overall, the entire setting was poorly done and felt like the author was being thoughtless and went with whatever came to mind.
Story: (2/5) The story was very confusing at first. It became more coherent by the end of the volume, but it was still boring and not very gripping. A lot of the story depended on the mystery aspect of it. I predict that the manga will drag out all these mysteries and then BAM!, hit you with some ridiculous plot twist you didn't see coming.
Artwork: (2/5) The artwork was very generic. It doesn't stand out in any way.
Main Character: (2/5) Alice (who's a male, by the way) knows nothing of his past, only his name. His backstory could prove interesting if the author does it right.
I really couldn't get a fix on his character though. Sometimes he felt angry, sometimes bold, sometimes meek, and a lot of times just bland.
Other Characters: (2/5) The Mad Hatter was OK. I liked his solemness in comparison to the rest of the cast. The others were just irritating though. They were empty shells with a very thin layer of a personality trait.
Originality: (1/5) As I mentioned above, Alice in Wonderland is an overused concept in manga. This manga didn't add a particularly new twist or element. All elements just felt like they were recycled from other manga.
Other Comments: Something I noticed was that the sound effects were written in Japanese and translated in small brackets into English. It was hard to read and sort of ruined the idea of them.
I looked at my other Yen Press Japanese licensed titles, and they were all like this. When you consider how time-consuming it would be to edit them and how far that would push back release dates, I understand why Yen Press doesn't translate them.
I'm not sure if I'll read the second volume. If I decide to read it and it doesn't get better, I'm I'm probably dropping this series for good.
Overall: (10/30) If you're looking for an interesting new take on Alice in Wonderland, Are You Alice? is not the place to go. The whole thing felt very generic and the story was more confusing than gripping.(less)
Cover: The cover is pretty disappointing. It's boring and not eye-catching. Considering the summary and the world, I feel like they had a lot to work with.
Writing: (3/5) The writing was really good, I liked how it felt like it was narrating a legend, an epic quest. It had that folklore/legend feel to the narration. But while the writing was very good, I didn't feel that it worked with the novel format. It became tedious and even distracting from the story. It didn't blend into the book very well, despite the story actually being a legend-like sort of tale.
Setting: (5/5) The setting was unique. It was an alternate United States where people worshiped Norse gods and followed Norse traditions and customs. It was obviously very well thought-out and I have to say, I have never seen a setting like this one. I just haven't seen many alternate modern settings in general.
Plot: (2.5/5) Legend or folklore stories tend to be short, and if they're not, they're written in verse. In a novel, you have to get the pacing just right if you were to do that kind of story. The Lost Sun's pacing was very slow and tedious. To be fair, I managed to finish the book and even enjoyed a couple of parts, but the main character's adventure, his quest, was drawn out and wasn't exiting or suspenseful. The parts I ended up enjoying had to be the ones where the Norse gods made appearances because they were intriguing and I wanted to see what would happen and what they would do.
Main Character: (1.5/5) I was very disappointed with the main character. I love the legend of the Berserkers. That was the whole reason I picked up this book. Sadly, Soren was flat. He had a lot of emotional baggage to why being a Berserker torments him and why he wishes he wasn't one. That whole emotional baggage felt like a cheap motivation. Although being a Berserker didn't exactly feel like a tack-on, Soren had no personality besides being a Berserker. I didn't love Soren, I didn't like Soren, and I didn't hate Soren. He inspired nothing from me. The only thing he had going for him was that he was a Berserker, but with a better character, that could have been more interesting and complex.
Other Characters: (2/5) Astrid: Soren's love interest who's about as boring as he was. She was a pretty stereotypical idea of a Seer character.
Baldur: I didn't really understand why everyone was so in love with him. Sure, the book gave plenty of reasons, but I didn't see it. It annoyed me how much everyone was hanging off his every word. The only real reason I can see to why people love him is because he's supposed to be so beautiful.
Vider: Vider was probably the most interesting out of Soren's group. I'm especially interested to learn more about her past. I was hoping that the next book would be told from her point of view, but apparently The Strange Maid is told from the point of view of a new character (who has to solve a riddle to become a Valkyrie).
Norse gods: I wish the Norse gods appeared more because the parts they appeared in are the ones I enjoyed the most.
Romance: (1/5) The romance happened way too fast. I hate insta-love. The two had no connection and just gravitated toward one another for no apparent reason. It was poorly done and my least favourite part about the book.
Overall: (15/30) The setting was very well thought-out and unique; however, the plot, characters, and writing just weren't good enough to pull it off very well. I'm at least glad this book works as a stand-alone, so I feel like I actually read a whole book. I probably won't be continuing with this series, even if each book is told through a new protagonist's point of view with a new story. I don't feel like the characters or plot in the next book will be able to suddenly impress me.(less)
Cover: The cover looks epic and I love, love Amano's art style. I also think this particular piece from the book suits the story the best!
Writing: (3/5) Many people know Yoshitaka Amano from his work for Final Fantasy and some might know him from his illustrations for Vampire Hunter D. In all his years, Amano has never written any books, only illustrated. Deva Zan is the first book he illustrated and wrote. It's an understatement to say that I was curious. Yoshitaka Amano is one of my favourite artists, so I had to read Deva Zan.
As far as the writing goes, I felt it was pretty good. The storytelling had this "folklore" feel to it, as if it was recounting this epic tale, which I loved. The only downside is that I felt the translation was bit awkward and that maybe a lot of good stuff got lost in the translation, as these things tend to happen.
The writing wasn't really the focal point of the book, it was more to compliment the artwork than anything.
Art: (5/5) The highlight of the book (obviously) was the art. It had over 200 brand new paintings by Amano! As I mentioned above, the writing was meant to complement the artwork and I found that the balance between the two was done brilliantly! Like always, I love Amano's style. It's unique and has this Gothic tone to it. If you haven't seen his artwork before, Google it up!
I'm not very good at describing art, so here are a couple of pages from the book:
Setting: (3.5/5) The setting did feel awkward, jarring, and even confusing at times. I'm wondering if this was because of the translation.
One of the book's main concepts was the different worlds. The main character travels to quite a few of these worlds on his quest. I really enjoyed the mythology of this book, the concept of how the universe was created, the 12 General Zodiacs who serve under Lady Mariu, and even the chaos god Moma.
I loved the concept of one's will and how that tied so much into the entire world of this book.
Plot: (2.5/5) I'm not sure if it was because of the writing or the pacing, but the plot was very dry. It was sort of dull and at times it felt tedious. It's not that it lagged on (on the contrary, there was always action), but the whole thing felt awkward and probably could have been done better.
I enjoyed how the whole thing felt like an epic legend though and that the action wasn't all over the place.
Main Character: (3.5/5) Now because I thought Deva Zan had a more folklore feel to it, I'm not putting too much strain on characterization, because there wasn't really much. When you read folklore, legends, or a fairy tale, characterization isn't really there or even important. That's what I felt with Deva Zan.
Our main character was Zan. Zan is a samurai who, throughout the course of book, tries to regain his memories and figure out who he really is. He meets others along the way and goes on a quest to defeat Moma, who's trying to swallow every existence into darkness.
Zan felt that his life was chaotic and meaningless. I liked how he figures out what he is and his purpose. In the end, this is what the whole story is about. As I said, the concept of one's will is very important in this book.
Villain: (3/5) Moma seems very similar to your typical villain, wanting to swallow everything in darkness and all. But like the rest of the characters, I felt it was more part of this legend than anything. Plus, Moma put a lot of interesting insights on why he does everything he does that I believe make him quite different than your typical evil lord.
Other Characters: (3/5) The other characters were really nothing special, but I enjoyed the part they played in the story. I enjoyed seeing and learning about the 12 zodiac generals. Only half appeared, so I wish I could have seen the rest.
Other Comments: Apparently, Deva Zan is somehow connected to a film that Amano is producing. There really haven't been much details, but I did find a trailer.
Overall: (23.5/35) The writing and plot felt awkward to me, but I loved Amano's stunning new paintings (honestly, the artwork is more than enough reason to get a copy) and the whole folklore/epic legend feel of the story. It had a really fascinating world and concept that I wish I could learn more about. I recommend this to all Amano fans and even to new ones who are interested in his work! (less)
Cover: I love illustrations, so I really like this cover. It's in the shape of a playing card, which is a good touch, as playing cards are very important to the story. The only problems with it is that Viktor and Romulus are supposed to be fourteen, and they don't look fourteen on the cover. The author's name is also printed too close to the bottom on the print copy.
Writing: (1/5) The prologue was decently written, but after that, the writing quality just dropped. Don't get me started on the dialogue... the soldiers' speech had to be pulled from every cliche line you can think of: "Seize that boy!" or "Wait...No, it cannot be!". The chapter titles basically described everything that happened in that chapter: The Hanging - Now, I wonder what happens in this chapter? It felt like I was reading a very early, unpolished draft.
Setting: (2/5) The book is set in the Russian Empire in the town of Aryk. What I liked about the setting was the mix of gypsies, criminals, miners, boxers, etc. It gave the setting a unique, edgy feel. What I didn't like was how the setting felt confusing at times. In the beginning, a lot of Russian things or words were mentioned and I had no idea what they were. There is a mix of English sayings the characters say with Russian proverbs that made it confusing. I'm also not clear on what exists in this world - magic, mythological creatures, alchemy, etc, or all of it.
Plot: (1/5) The prologue was probably the highlight of the book (never thought I would be saying that). It was intriguing enough, if not a bit cliche.
The plot line basically has to do with two boys, Viktor and Romulus, as they try to discover why playing cards are banned in their town. Everything happened like a row of dominoes, one thing led to another that led to another. How Viktor and Romulus got from point A to B was way too convenient. It picked up in the last fifty-ish pages of the book. All the revelations were unexpected and I don't think you could have guessed anything, though that in itself was annoying. With how the author presented the story and plot points, it would have been impossible to guess any of the twists.
I have to say it was hard getting through this book and I wanted to drop it so badly. The only reason I kept reading was because I hate not finishing books, but reading this book made me reconsider that. I will say this: it was a pain to get through The Silent Deal.
Main Character: (1/5) Viktor was nothing... I mean, I've seen my fair share of bland and flat main characters, but he was beyond that. Maybe it's because this was a plot driven story, but Viktor just reacted and made the plot move to suit the book. He had no character or personality to speak of and his motivation for everything was beyond flimsy.
Villain: (1/5) We didn't see much of the big honcho, and he was probably the best character because of that. We did see a sub villain though - Captain Ulfrik, head of the guards. As I mentioned above, the soldiers had the most cliche lines imaginable, and Captain Ulfrick was the worst offender. He was an annoying, stereotypical villain that lacked any depth. Don't get me started on his dog "Major Canis".
Other Characters: (1/5) Romulus: The wild forest child who started out interesting enough, but his personality became more shallow and I kept confusing his dialogue with Viktor's. It was also frustrating how nothing was revealed about his past.
Evenova and Charlotta: Two girls who seemed more like tack-ons. They were only there to be the boys' love interests. Charlotta, Viktor's love interest, was confusing at times. She's supposed to be shy and quiet, but does things that are out of character. Not to mention she has such a stereotypical look: blonde hair with purple eyes.
Belch: A wannabe actor who spouted random Shakespearean quotes. He was supposed to be annoying, so I suppose something was done right. But maybe it was done too right, because he was so annoying that he had me considering dropping this book numerous times.
The Crossbones Clan: A group of young gypsies who only had one flimsy character trait each.
Overall: (7/30) The Silent Deal had an original setting and plot idea that could have been something really good, but the whole thing felt like a very early rough draft that needs a lot of polishing. (less)
Cover: While the cover redesign does suit the books (possibly more than the original), I'm tired of young adult books getting cover redesigns in the middle of a series. Often, it seems to happen because publishers follow a trend instead of selecting a cover that best represents the book.
Writing: (5/5) The descriptions of the action and setting were done perfectly. The action was gripping and never felt annoying or all over the place. It wasn't difficult to follow like a lot of books. I find that good action is one of the hardest things to write. It's not a movie, so how do you do it well? I think the best way to write action is to keep it simple but still intriguing, and the author did just that. The setting was described in moderation but still manged to give a rich picture.
Overall, I think the writing was very pleasant. It had a nice sort of pleasantness that gave me a good feeling, which I've only seen in a couple of other books.
Setting: (5/5) I loved the setting of Chicago in Cold Fury and I'm happy to say that the setting was just as rich in Flicker & Burn. The author knows his stuff and described the city wonderfully (well he does live in Chicago, but hey, I've seen authors who live where their book is set and still do a poor job). We learned more about the Chicago Outfit, since Sara Jane is forced to serve as Counselor-at-large. I enjoyed learning about the Chicago Outfit and how they're all over the city in plain sight. The setting was done so well that I still feel the same as when I read Cold Fury: wondering if there's a Chicago Mob exactly as the author described.
We also learned more about Sara Jane's Ghiaccio Furioso, her Cold Fury. I love how it runs in the family and how, because of that, there's plenty of family history.
Plot: (5/5) There was a lot of action. I don't usually enjoy a lot of action because it's either poorly described, all over the place, or there's no time for breather, but Flicker & Burn managed to have a lot of action and was none of these things. The pacing was also done incredibly well, there was never a dull moment. Most importantly, this book did not suffer from second book syndrome (where the second book in a series has a noticeable drop in quality and contains almost nothing substantial). I would even go as far as to say that Flicker & Burn was even better than Cold Fury (how I wish more second books where like this).
I also liked how the mystery was slowly revealed with all the clues. Sara Jane made some errors and the whole thing was revealed in a pretty realistic way.
Main Character: (5/5) In Flicker & Burn, you see how far Sara Jane is willing to go for her family. She wouldn't put anything or anyone above them. It seemed cold and cruel of her, but at the same time, I understood and wouldn't have done differently. How Sara Jane developed in Flicker & Burn was realistic and I liked that. I don't know what it is, she's not a particularity original character nor necessarily stands out, but she's charming in a subtle way.
Villain: (5/5) The Ice Cream Creatures at the beginning of the book felt out of place, like they were some sort of demonic creatures that shouldn't exist (which is good, since they were meant to be that way), but as the plot continued, they made more sense. The villain's identity was pretty good and unexpected, and worked well with the entire series and setting.
Other Characters: (4/5) Doug: I love Doug, and his development in Flicker & Burn was heartbreaking, but I'm more than excited to see where he goes next in the sequel. I really did love his and Sara Jane's friendship.
Heather: Sara Jane's cousin. Heather really threw a twist I didn't see coming. I also enjoyed her and Sara Jane's relationship and liked that another girl character was added in Flicker & Burn.
Tyler: Though he didn't appear much, I enjoyed Tyler's interactions with Sara Jane in Cold Fury. We saw only a bit more of him in Flicker & Burn, which was disappointing. Well, maybe he'll appear more in the sequel, but after how Flicker & Burn ended off, maybe not.
Max: Max was just boring and kind of flat. In my review of Cold Fury, I said I hoped there would be more depth to him in the sequel, but sadly, I didn't see that in Flicker & Burn. There was more information on his history and family life, but no depth to his character.
Romance: (3/5) Max was a flat character, which is why the romance could have been better. Their relationship felt pretty realistic though, and had none of the nonsense that seems to litter YA. It dealt with realistic issues and was not all about how deeply they loved each other.
Overall: (32/35) Another action-packed book with a great plot, rich setting, and a charming heroine. I'm happy to say it was even more enjoyable than Cold Fury!(less)
Cover: I think the cover stays true to the book and gives you the general tone of it as well.
Writing: (5/5) Like The Assassin's Curse (Clarke's previous book), the novel was wonderfully written and has this voice that I believe suited the story well.
Setting: (3/5) Set in the distant future, the main thing that was talked a lot about was robots. Robots are the main idea of the story. Besides robots, which were interesting in themselves, the world wasn't talked about much. I don't feel like I had a great grasp on it. Was it like ours, but with robots? There were mentions of other things, I admit, but it was pretty vague. I did enjoy everything about the robots though, especially Finn, who was a unique one.
Plot: (3.5/5) The book is split into three parts. Each part tells a point of Cat's life: childhood to young adult, adult, and her later adult life. I enjoyed the firs part immensely, which was definitely a page turner, but the second part was a let down. It just dragged on and on and was so dreary. That definitely helped you grasp the state of Cat's life, but it really did drag on. As far as pacing went, it could have been done better. The third part, I believe, picked up nicely after that.
Main Character: (3/5) As many people have said, the given summary is a bad one. It makes you think that the story is about Finn, when it's really centered around Cat. When Cat was young, her parents introduced her to her new tutor, Finn. He was a robot like no other, as he appears to look very human. The whole book is about Cat growing up with Finn, her feelings for him, and the rising robot rights demands.
When Cat was younger, she was adorable. As she grew, Cat became more and more shallow and empty. She was such an empty shell that you sometimes wondered who the real robot was. This was not unintentional on the authors part. Cat knew and felt that she was empty, that something was wrong with her.
Despite Cat knowing that, this didn't make her a very likable character. It was dreary to read and seemed to be self-inflicted. She did realize her wrongs by the third part of the book and was trying to change herself. She didn't completely change, but I felt like she was on the right road.
Other Characters: (3/5) My favourite character had to be Finn. Watching him interact with Cat was very fascinating because I was wondering the whole time, is everything he feels a program? Does he have that spark of life, that consciousness, that make us human?
I also liked Cat's father, he was just very endearing to me. Maybe it's because how the author portrayed his kindness felt realistic to me, if felt real.
Cat met a lot of other people, although they did not have big roles and Cat didn't care for them much. They were very flimsy and underdeveloped things...except one or two that played bigger roles.
Romance: (4/5) I'm rating this a four because I didn't care much for Cat's other relationships; they were flimsy and boring to read about. Cat's romance with Finn was interesting because (obviously) he was a robot. It was a mix of shock value and wondering if he had a consciousness. At the same time, I really liked Finn and wanted to see him in as much as possible.
Overall: (21.5/30) I'm pretty sure most will have mixed feelings about Cat. Although not likable, you could say that she was still a good character. Another low light was that the plot dragged on during the middle and a lot of the side characters were flimsy. But The Mad Scientist's Daughter, at its heart, was a love story with a robot and that whole concept in itself was fascinating and where the book shined.(less)
Cover: The cover is actually the reason this book caught my attention. A skeleton diagram with, apparently, wings? What could this possibly be about? After I read the summary, I knew I had to give this book a try. The size of the book was perfect. It was big enough so that you could see the art book section in detail, but small enough so you could read the biography section with ease.
Plot: (4.5/5) The book is a fictional biography about Dr. Spencer Black. The first chapter fooled me into wondering if Dr. Spencer Black actually existed in real life. It tells the tale of Dr. Black's life from a medical prodigy to his downfall and descent to a mad genius. The book started off on a slightly dark note and it just got dark and darker and even light horror. I loved reading it and enjoyed it so much. It was so different and I was so captivated and horrified by his life story. It's really a macabre story for those who are fans of that (I am!).
The only thing I didn't like was how many times his evidence and research was accidentally burned or lost. It was too convenient and made you realize that this is a work of fiction. I felt it could have been implied more subtly.
Main Character: (5/5) As a stand-alone character in a novel format or series, Dr. Spencer Black would never have been very good. But told from a biography point of view in a more dark tale, it worked very well. The whole thing was about Dr. Spencer's fall into madness. His fascination with mutations as he believes:
"How can the body, being designed and charged to a specific task, mutate and abandon its function without the fulfillment of another one? These are fundamental principles that cannot be merely glanced at and then disregarded while using barbaric words like “deformed” or “diseased.” Simply stating that an object is in disrepair does not allow that object the benefit of a new identity. I now set out to examine the very seed that is the cause of my vexing: Why can the body mutate?"
His theory, the basis of this entire book, was very interesting and goes as:
"Among the paper’s most controversial claims was the idea that many so-called mythological creatures were in fact real species that once walked the earth. Black further argued that remnants of these creatures sometimes manifested themselves in latent traits, that is, genetic mutations."
The scary thing about him was that he wasn't exactly crazy. His claims, were they true? Or were they not? The things he could do as the book progressed became terrifying and he became a terrifying person.
Writing: (5/5) The book was written in a biography format, but felt it like a story as well. I felt like I was reading an actual biography but it was easy to understand and I liked how it sounded like it was actually giving you information on a creditable scientist. It was written in a way where it felt like it was detailing the life of a scientist and his studies but wasn't too complicated or flowery to understand.
Art: (5/5) Throughout the biography section of the book (the first 65 pages), there are a few sketches by Dr. Black sprinkled out. The other half of the book is all illustrations and is Black's illustrated The Codex Extinct Animalia where he draws different mythological creatures and shows their anatomy and how it could work. They're wonderfully drawn and go so well with the book:
The art book section takes about 126 pages of the book (with the biography being 65 pages). It was fun to flip through and it was so obvious that a lot of work went into drawing them.
Overall: (19.5/20) Part fictional biography, part art book, The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black was a truly fun read. If you like quirkly/interesting books or just want to read something different, then I recommenced The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black. Also strongly recommend it to fans of macabre, dark, and light horror tales. I would even get it just for the illustrations (but I did really enjoy the biography part as well). (less)