Videogames are becoming an integral part of pop culture, which is funny because they used to be a part of the counterculture. But isn't that what happens? When the counterculture becomes popular enough, it's assimilated into our pop cultural "Borg", and just like that the underdog becomes the spoiled lapdog we all take for granted.
I, for one, was terribly excited to see HOW TO TALK ABOUT VIDEOGAMES on Netgalley because I'm somewhat of a pop culture junkie. I like learning about how the various media and technology we take for granted now came to be, and the paths the founders took that brought them to success (or failure).
HOW TO TALK ABOUT VIDEOGAMES isn't a linear history so much as a collection of essays that talk about various facets of game culture and why they are relevant. He talks about app games at length, which was welcome because app games are often overlooked or ignored by snobby purists who prefer to focus solely on console games. Bully and Grandtheft Auto are mentioned, and so are artsy games like Proteus and Flower, bizarre games like Goat Simulator, classics like Tetris, and popular games like Bioshock, Metal Gear Solid.
I found most of the essays engaging. My eyes glazed over a bit on the essay about sports games and Madden and EA, because I don't really care about sports, but he did make some interesting points about how sports games being treated with respect benefits both the sports games and the sports they are playing homage to, in some sort of Gestalt logic coup about their being a part of pop culture (or something like that--like I said, eyes were glazing over, and I only got the basic argument of what he was saying). He brings up an interesting account of a possible racist moment in Scribblenauts (which you can probably look up. Just add the word "sambo" to your search and see what happens).
HOW TO TALK ABOUT VIDEOGAMES would have gotten a much higher rating from me if not for the last essay and the epilogue that followed it. The essay in question was a criticism of Going Home, an exploration game developed by some of the same people who helped create Bioshock. His main criticism is one that I actually agree with in principle: stories should not get "brownie points" for what they are trying to achieve; the medium in which they tell these stories is what ought to count. The controversy in question comes from the fact that Going Home has a lesbian protagonist and a huge part of the game storyline is her coming out and figuring out her sexuality. Bogost takes issue with the apparently unequivocal praise this book has received, claiming that embracing the book for being LGBT cheapens the game industry and story-telling in general.
Here's where he lost me. He compares this cheap storytelling to young adult books and graphic novels. His argument seems to be that graphic novels and young adult books are low-brow works that aren't as mature as other, more sophisticated forms of storytelling, and their emergence in pop culture has damaged storytelling or, as he puts it so charmingly:
the modest, subtle pleasures of the literary arts [are] melting under Iron Man's turbines, impaled by Katniss Everdeen's arrow (195).
Are comic books and young adult books high literature? No. But that doesn't mean that they are without merit, nor does it mean that they are causing "the literary arts" to suffer. However, Bogost seems to have an idea that many gamers are illiterate bumpkins, because he makes a rather snide and nasty comment that Bioshock players almost certainly wouldn't know who Jeanette Winterson is.
The epilogue left an even worse taste in my mouth. As he wraps up this videogame manifesto, he starts making comments comparing gaming and the purchase of videogames to what he calls "unseemly" enterprises: liquor stores and sex shops. First off, what the actual fuck. Sex shops and liquor stores are not unseemly in and of themselves. In fact, some of them are quite nice. Second off, why is gaming unseemly? Why are we using puritanical moral compasses to gauge said unseemliness? Why are you trying to make playing videogames out to be a bad thing after spending almost 200 pages writing out a fairly balanced edict that weighs both the pros and the cons?
Videogames in a bookstore are different from video games [sic] in a videogame store. In a bookstore--even a mall store of questionable cultural virtue--they become on kind of media alongside others...[t]he bookstore cuts the lewdness of games just as the pub cuts the decadence of drinking (197).
Apparently buying videogames in a bookstore makes you a better person.
Then there's this whiny comment he makes, about knowing that this book wasn't going to sell a lot of copies because nobody wants to read about video games (because all gamers are illiterate bumpkins?) and that books about video games aren't marketable. He finishes with this thought:
you can't sell a trade book on games like you can sell one on social media or even on Star Wars, because games are considered to have no audience (200).
ON WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE?
Games are considered to have no audience. Fucking really? If you've ever been on Tumblr or Twitter or any social media site of any kind, you would know that this is simply not true. There is a HUGE audience for games and gaming, and a lot of those gamers are interconnected. Many of them are quite intelligent and very literate, and I can think of a number of them who would happily purchase a book about gaming and game culture and the history of video games just because of the sheer novelty reading about their subculture would provide. In fact, there's a number of books about games that have achieved modest success. Exhibits (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), etc.
Maybe the reason gamers aren't buying your books in droves isn't because there's no market or interest in it. Maybe it's because they've read your articles elsewhere and have decided that you're kind of a pedantic asshat who enjoys insulting them a little too much. That's certainly the impression that I've gotten from reading this book in full. Now I've got to wash out the bad taste in my mouth...
Well, this was a surprise. After disliking my first introduction to Šejić's work, I randomly found myself reading SUNSTONE, and--surprise, surprise--actually found myself enjoying it. I know a BDSM graphic-novel about two lesbians sounds like it's going to be pure exploitation, but the story was actually quite funny and cute, and managed to accurately capture a lot of the angst that revolves around starting a new relationship and acting out your deepest, darkest sexual fantasies with someone. Well, I thought so.
My problem with SUNSTONE was that it seemed a little too flip. Sometimes the dialogue was too colloquial, as graphic-novels are sometimes wont to do, and all the slang kind of made me side-eye the book. Was this a speed-date? Was this book desperately trying to woo me in under five minutes? What the heck, book? What?
Also, lesbian love stories don't really do anything for me. I appreciate them--especially if they aren't exploitative--but it's not something that I would go out of my way to seek out.
SUNSTONE VOLUME 2, however, surprised me yet again. Suddenly, we have all these new characters: Chris, Cassie, Marion, Anne. Alan gets more of a back story in this book, which was exciting, because he was one of my favorite characters from book one and I was sad that he didn't have a bigger role in that storyline. He has a much bigger role here. Just FYI.
The story also gets a lot darker. Book one was about exploring your sexuality and finding appropriate outlets and partners for it, while also being psychologically healthy. Book two builds on that, but also shows how and why two people with the same fetish might not always work out, and also emphasizes the need for physical safety and being safe, sane, and consensual. The lesson is a painful one (although not as horrific as it could have been--I admit, I was a step away from biting off my nails).
I'm really starting to enjoy this series. Šejić has clearly found his niche, and SUNSTONE does a wonderful job giving the BDSM community a much-needed human touch. I know I'm going to have to put another quarter in my FIFTY SHADES OF GREY jar for making this reference, but I have to say that those books and others like it have seriously poisoned society's ideas about what BDSM actually is and how one goes about doing it. FSoG put BDSM into the mainstream and brought it to light, and created an interest and a market for other books and movies like it, so in that sense it did do something useful, but I also feel like it has also given people a very warped and potentially harmful concept of what an actual D/s relationship looks like, and how it should be carried out.
There are different ways of approaching an urban fantasy novel dealing with the usual trifecta of paranormal creatures: you can write a book where everyone already knows the creatures exist and the world exists with them already incorporated into it; you can write a book where everyone doesn't know the creatures exist, and the bulk of the conflict comes from them trying to hide it; or, you could write a book where the world is in the process of discovering that these creatures exist, and how the status quo changes as that knowledge seems into the populace.
The latter is more unusual because it takes more effort and skill. One of the few books that comes immediately to mind in this genre is Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series, a collection of books about a female werewolf who is also a radio personality, and uses her media platform as a way to get sympathizers, as well as educating society about what paranormal people are really like.
MENAGERIE seemed promising because it's by an author whose work I generally like (I've read Vincent's adult and YA books, and enjoyed both). Also, it takes place in a traveling circus. Honestly, you can just tell me a book takes place in a circus and that's usually enough to make me want to read it. This book is about a circus and a dystopian future world where paranormal creatures are treated as second-class citizens because of a terrible series of incidents that occurred in the 1980s.
Delilah Marlow has always been fascinated by cryptids, the beings and animals who slip through the cracks because they aren't normal. There are no laws regulating their treatment; they have no sanctuary, no protection, no preservation. People abuse them, torture them, kill them--and whore them out for entertainment. Metzger's circus is one of these venues, reminiscent of Mommy Fortuna's traveling carnival in The Last Unicorn. The entire cast of FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM are kept in chains, for the general public's perusal (at a nominal fee, of course).
But then Delilah realizes something about herself that changes her situation drastically. Suddenly, she learns intimately well what it means to be sub-human. And her world will never be the same.
Delilah took a long time to get in my good graces. The first hundred pages basically consist of her being a big fat hypocrite. In regards to the cryptids, she just keeps saying, "I feel sorry for them! I'm an amazing human being!" To the point where I just wanted to slap her. In the second half of the book, she starts becoming a more sympathetic character, although she remains a hypocrite for a while after that. She is also a bit of a special snowflake. Even in a carnival where the extraordinary is common place, she still manages to suck up all the attention of pretty much everyone. Uh-huh.
I liked the world-building. Sometimes in books like these where lots of different mythologies and paranormal creatures are incorporated all at once, in a relatively short period of time, the book has a jam-packed feel that makes it seem like much heavier reading than it actually is. I actually felt like the reader was integrated in the world in a fairly gradual way, without too much info-dumping or hand-holding. However, MENAGERIE raises more questions than it actually answers, and while I am willing to tolerate some amount of that in the first book of a long story arc, I would like at least some closure, especially in a book that comes close to being five hundred pages long. We never really learn what surrogates are, even though they're referenced half a dozen times, and I'm still not quite sure what, exactly, The Reaping was, or what led up to that. It's clear from various events in the story that at least some humans knew cryptids existed, so before they became sub-human slaves, what was the world like? What were their respective roles in it? How did they become bêtes noires?
I should also point out that this book did something that I almost always dislike in fiction: POV swaps. Lots and lots of POV swaps. I am not even kidding; nearly everyone in this book gets their own POV. Delilah's mom, the handlers of the circus, a cop, the owner of the circus, nearly every cryptid being held captive in the circus. Everyone. Only Delilah's is written in the first person view, and this annoyed me too, because it seemed so twee, and only served to underscore the "specialness" of her role in the story.
Gallagher also annoyed me. I'm trying to figure out if he's meant to be a love interest or not. I'm suspecting that he is, and if so, he's a condescending patriarchal hero right out of a Lauren Kate novel. I wanted to slap Delilah, but I wanted to deck "My Word Is My Honor" Gallagher.
Overall, this was only okay, but I expected better from this author. Rough opening, mediocre characterization, good world-building. Decent ending, but it ends on a cliffhanger. Meh.
Saved by the Bell ran from 1989 to 1993. A bit before my time, although I know I've seen reruns of it before. It's one of those TV shows that comes immediately to mind when people talk about after school specials: it's sappy, heavy-handed, and tries way too hard to be morally (and pop-culturally) relevant. Now it seems like a relic, an antiquated part of the 90s zeitgeist.
SAVED BY THE BELL, the graphic novel, is a modernized version of the TV show. Screech uses an iPad. Lisa has a fashion blog. Jessie is a third-wave feminist. And Zack and Slater are...kind of creepy in how obsessive they are about getting Kelly to go out with them. Like, really creepy. Restraining order creepy.
I could appreciate how the authors attempted to bring the storyline up to date to make it relevant to modern audiences, but that took a lot of the magic out of the story for me. With "retro" soon-to-be cult classics like these, part of the charm comes from how dated they are; like bodice rippers and boy bands, they're fun because they're a product of their times, and a lot of the entertainment comes from the warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia exposure brings.
I felt like the stories in here were a bit lackluster. Most of them consisted of Zack and Slater fighting over Kelly in poorly concocted schemes. The TV show at least dealt with some pretty serious issues, like what happens when you strike oil, or what happens when you get involved with drugs.
Also, I never really understood all the hate for Screech. I kind of thought he was cute. I have a thing for nerdy men, and he was actually pretty confident in his dorky, awkward way. He had his own thing going on and didn't care what the haters thought. That's pretty sexy.#TeamScreech
But yeah, this was a miss for me. Hopefully the JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS graphic novel I got will be better. Here's hoping, yeah?
I like the idea behind this book in theory, but the trouble with expectations is that sometimes, my ideas for what the book is are actually better than the actual book. I'd hoped that this was going to be a collection of quotes from Hillary that coincidentally happened to fit the 5-7-5 meter of the traditional haiku.
HILLARY CLINTON HAIKU is just a collection of observations about Hillary Clinton that have been formatted into haiku. I think they are supposed to be clever and tongue-in-cheek but sadly, too many of them seem mean-spirited or even just crude. Example, numerous speculations about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and an ill-conceived obsession with Hillary Clinton's cankles.
I don't know, guys. With the election coming up, I thought this would be a useful little guide that might give me some insights into the controversial figure that is Hillary Clinton. It could have been so much more than it actually was, which is something you would expect to find in the bargain bin of an airport gift shop.
So this is actually my second encounter with Mr. Šejić. I received an advance copy of RAVINE a couple years ago for review, and I didn't like it. It had some great art work, but it wasn't consistent across the graphic novel as a whole and it subscribed to some very unfortunate medieval fantasy tropes that I'm not really fond of.
SUNSTONE is different. It looks and sounds like it's going to be another fantasy novel, but it isn't. It's actually a graphic novel about BDSM, revolving around the stories of two women who start a sexual relationship with one another over the course of the story. They are Lisa, the submissive one, who is playful and very childlike, and self-publishes books. And then there is Ally, the dominant, who is a young professional, who is a little shy and a bit of a worrier, and also compulsively buys sex-related items.
I think SUNSTONE is actually a perfect example of why it is good not to write an author off completely just because you have had a bad experience with one of their books. Authors--if they have any modicum of talent and agency in their blood--learn and grow from each book. The art in SUNSTONE is so much better than in RAVINE, and the characters are more fleshed (heh) out. I felt like the story-telling in this book was done on a totally other level from RAVINE. I could actually identify with the characters.
Even though F/F doesn't really do it for me, in a matter of speaking, this book approaches BDSM in a way that is relatable and shows that a couple can still be enthusiastic, caring, compassionate, excited, and unashamed about their relationship with each other and their own sexual identity. That makes this book sexy, I think; it takes a lot of unfortunate stereotypes propagated by mainstream fiction and subverts them. There's an entire panel that discusses the importance of aftercare, and Šejić did something else that really surprised me, too--and showed me something that I had never really thought about before: that there can be a playful, fun side to bondage. That it doesn't have to be scary. The phrase "sexual geeks" is actually used to describe people who participate. :)
When I thought about why the events in SUNSTONE surprised me later, I came to a rather grim and depressing conclusion: in the books about BDSM that are so popular on the market right now, there is often a lot of anger and angst and fear in the books that actually makes these activities seem...unpleasant and shameful and dangerous. Which they shouldn't be. If you are engaging in those types of activities with someone and feel those feelings, you are probably doing it with the wrong person or in the wrong way. I've made that mistake myself in some of the books that I have written, and I think that's partially because people expect books about the subject to be written that way, and because those expectations are internalized in so many people.
I think SUNSTONE is a great introduction to a very misunderstood lifestyle. Fans of F/F will love SUNSTONE, but I think even straight people who are interested in BDSM or at least curious about it will benefit from it as well. The artwork is lovely, and it has some really witty dialogue and well placed pop culture references. I was pleasantly surprised. I think I'd be interested in reading subsequent installments, especially learning about some of the other characters' stories. ;)
I was a strange little kid. I was obsessed with Bill Nye and Eyewitness, and would happily sit down and watch NOVA with my father. Once in a while, I would even steal his issues of Scientific American--until the fateful day that I came across an article about brain-eating ameobas. Shit got way too real that day. But for the most part, I enjoyed my childhood dabbles into science. I think it's because science taps into that part of you that still feels wonder about the world. Science tells you that it's okay to be amazed, and it gives you facts that you can use to rationalize your wonder.
Science is the bomb.
I took one look at the cover of BIOLUMINESCENCE and knew that this was a book right up my alley, just like ODD COUPLES. I love books about animals, especially weird animals. And it doesn't get much weirder than these critters.
Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that produces light in living organisms. The key word is living. Some of the animals, like fireflies, do this through internal reactions involving the enzyme, luciferase, and the protein, luciferin, and, of course, bucket-loads of ATP. Other creatures have symbiotic relationships with bioluminescent bacteria, like the Hawaiian bobtail squid, which is also really cool because it maintains a bacterial equilibrium through the use of quorum sensing.
The mantis shrimp is probably one of the coolest animals in the world. Its little claws pack the force of a .22 caliber bullet and with enough force that the water around them not only heats up to a boil, but also produces bursts of light called sonoluminescence. zefrank1 does a video about mantis shrimps, and it's way cooler to see all of this in action.
The last few chapters talk about the real-world applications of bioluminescence. They're cool when they show up in nature, but scientists, being scientists, like to dink around with bioluminescence. They use it to "mark" bacteria or viruses in order to study how they are transmitted, and what their life cycles look like, which could potentially help us find a cure for things like HIV.
I've read a bit about bioluminescence before, and it was really great to see all the examples of creatures who exhibit this phenomenon in nature. I think deep-sea bioluminescence is fascinating. Actually, I think deep sea life is fascinating, period. There is no light in the lower levels of the oceans, and one of the compelling arguments that this author made is that the creatures down there all have eyes, despite there being no light. He suggests that this is probably because of bioluminescence; the creatures evolved eyes to see the bioluminescent lights of other animals (80-90% of deep-sea life are bioluminescent). In fact, one of the oldest bioluminescent creatures--a jellyfish--is over 5 million years old.
BIOLUMINESCENCE is a really great book. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about really weird animals and/or totally random facts.
One of the best military science-fiction novels ever, they said. You know what, though? This reads like a slightly less sexist version of Robert Heinlein's work. Slightly. Less. Sexist. Actually, it left me with the same icky feeling that Heinlein's work did, because this book also has something of a "sexual manifesto" in it.
So basically, this is STARSHIP TROOPERS, except with less fight scenes. Mostly it's just our hero, William Mandela, preparing to fight against an enemy we never actually see him fight against. Far more important is the (mandatory) sex with his bunkmates, and his "stranger in a strange land" syndrome when he comes back to earth several lightyears later, to find that everyone around him as aged.
Just in case you don't get how weird and off-putting this is the first time around, Haldeman does it a couple more times.
And Future Earth...is weird. Uncomfortably weird. Overpopulation has brought the earth's population to a staggering nine billion. So the government's friendly eugenics department has decided to turn everyone gay. With science! (I sense a problem here.) Now heterosexuality is considered sociopathic and a symptom of mental illness. Heterosexuals are sent to reeducation facilities, or, failing that, castrated! Because breeding leads to overpopulation.
Considering that this book was written in the 70s, I'm surprised that all available copies of it weren't torched. I mean, that is some serious inflammatory stuff right there.
I appreciate the book daring to break new ground in spite of the conventions of the time at which it was published. However, the overall execution left much to be desired. I didn't care much about Mandela because he just wasn't very interesting. All he did was have sex and whine. I would have liked more action sequences, and more descriptions of the aliens and their ideologies and culture. Mandela had an interesting observation towards the beginning where he pictured the aliens as human-like, but rapacious, with all these xenocentric thoughts (they're going to be attracted to our women, and they're going to rape them! we must defend the homestead) that were highly reminiscent of the racist, fascist campaign posters put out during war-time in the 30s and 40s. That thought seemed worth exploring, but Haldeman never chased it.
Grace grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home. Her dad quotes scripture at her daily, and even made her sign a celibacy contract. Growing up, she and her family went door to door trying to get converts. She is a sheltered girl with an oppressive father and doesn't know much about anything, let alone S-E-X.
One day, at a school assembly, she sees a guest lecturer from a nearby college named Michael. They lock eyes in the auditorium and it's attraction at first sight. It isn't long before their first kiss and then, their first time. Michael says he's in love with her. That he wants to marry her. It's everything that Grace ever wanted.
I'm trying to figure out where I stand with this book. It tried to combine so many tropes into one volume: the wild best friend, the rich girl fallen from grace, teen motherhood, abortions, religious nuts, student-teacher relationships, quirky pixie-dreamboys, mawwiage. I think I might have been able to tolerate some of them, but in an overwhelming melting pot like this? Maybe not.
Like others, I also didn't like Michael at all. He struck me as incredibly condescending and not very smart. Since he was a professor, I was hoping for more enlightening insights into the literature that he allegedly taught, but mostly he just quoted them and seemed to think that this made him brill. He was also very clueless. Telling Grace to "dress nice" for one of his parties and then getting mad that she didn't understand that this was code for "black-tie." Making condescending comments about how wine is an acquired taste (although what's this about chardonnay being strong-tasting? a chardonnay is no cabernet or a zinfandel). And then there's this incredibly bullshit about how it's okay to have sex without condoms because he can just pull out. Um...where did you get your doctorate again?
HOW IT'S DONE has some great points about unbalanced relationships, and I like how Grace struggled to find her footing with a man who was so clearly not her equal, and how Michael abused this inequality to his advantage. This was very realistic, and often isn't shown in books about student-teacher relationships, which often try to take the more romantic way out.
The problem was that there was just so much side drama. Especially Liv. I honestly did not see why Grace was friends with this girl. In the beginning she seemed cool, but then it all regressed into the "my best friend is a slut" stereotype that I hate so much. Liv was a terrible person by the end of the book, and all of her peripheral issues where just too...much. Plus, the way abortion is brought up in this book is incredibly vague. I'm guessing the author didn't want to offend anyone by taking a concrete stance, but the result just makes it awkward. Also: the dead baby exhibit. o.o
I probably would have rated this higher if I were in high school & still starry-eyed and naive. But now that I know how the world works (at least, a bit more than I did when I was eighteen), I can't give this a super high rating. It is well-written and has some interesting--even valuable--ideas, but as a whole, is incredibly flawed. I have no regrets about reading it, but I wouldn't read it again.
THE TOKYO ZODIAC MURDERS is one creepy story. It's about a murder by the same name that happened in pre-WWII Japan. The story opens with the last testament of a man named Umezawa, artist and psychopath, who wants to create the perfect woman...by chopping up the bodies of his daughters and nieces. Each of them possess different astrological signs which are, in turn, responsible for governing different parts of the body. This recombined whole, which he calls Azoth, will be the perfect woman.
However, things go wrong. Umezawa is killed, along with his wife, and all of the young women he planned on using for Azoth. Forty years later, and still nobody has been able to solve the mystery, which has elevated it to cult status in pop culture.
The story is narrated by Kazumi, a hapless but intelligent man who is forced to play Dr. Watson to his brilliant friend Kiyoshi's detective skills. After getting in trouble with the police for obtaining a piece of critical evidence under dubious means, they find themselves with a very scant timeline: just a week to solve the case. But Kiyoshi remains confident...
This story was incredibly violent and fucked-up, especially that prologue. I have to say, though, that it hooks its claws into you and doesn't let go. The pacing of TTZM is also really well done. I loved the gradual unraveling of the mystery, and the reliance on clues to set the pace. Apparently, THE TOKYO ZODIAC MURDERS falls under the honkaku genre of mysteries in Japan, which means it focuses on...guess what...plotting and clues instead of deception and deus-ex-machinas.
Readers are encouraged to solve the mystery before the characters. In fact, Shimada includes two notes at climactic moments, urging you to solve the case because the clues are right there. It made me feel like Shimada was a Japanese Steve on an episode of Blue's Clues, urging me to FIND THE CLUE.
One of my friends warned me that the ending was a bit weird, and I'll definitely agree with that. It was. I didn't understand the motivation myself, but the plotting was genius. And who doesn't like a locked-room mystery? This was something straight out of the Crimson Room series...
Atsumi is a high school girl who looks like she's ten. Atsushi is a ten-year-old who looks like he's in college. They're siblings, and they're total opposites. Get ready to laugh!
Sometimes you read a book, and you just know it's going to offend people. RECORDER AND RANDSELL is one of those books. Their appearances raise some very uncomfortable issues, and this book goes about them in the wrong way.
Example 1: Atsushi has a little girlfriend in his class. When he walks around with her, he is repeatedly arrested by the police because they think he's an adult man making off with a child. The first time this happened, I laughed a little on the inside. I felt guilty about it, but I was amused. But then this happens 20 more times. (Seriously.)
Example 2: Atsushi has a very uncomfortable relationship with adult women. They all want to bang him--even though he's a child. His teacher, especially, often finds herself very flustered in his presence because of how attractive he is (*shudder*) and there are some unpleasant scenes involving the two of them in some...um...awkward moments that have her getting all hot and bothered.
First off, EW.
Second off, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH U.
Example 3: Atsumi is often sexualized in the panels, which veers into the uncomfortable territory of school girl porn. There's one "cover art" scene featuring her and her brother. Atsushi is dressed up as santa and Atsushi is in the gift he's unwrapping--naked, except for some strategically placed ribbon.
Example 4: Atsushi is also sexualized. He is constantly taking off his shirt (to reveal a very muscular chest, of course), much to the dismay of the women around him. He has an unemployed neighbor who lends him clothes and at one point, he's dressed in a very low-cut shirt that reveals most of his chest, tight pants, and an ID necklace. Atsumi tells him to take it off because he looks "too good."
The sexualization and fetishization in this manga made me very uncomfortable, and so did the way that it made light of child sexual abuse and sexual predators.
Just in case all that weren't enough, RECORDER AND RANDSELL forces you to read the panels in an odd order: left to right, down from the leftmost panel, then up to the top right panel and down again. It gave me such a headache on my e-reader, scrolling up and down constantly.
ARKHAM MANOR is a really weird book. Bruce Wayne "loses" the family fortune, and his mansion defaults to the city. Since Arkham was destroyed, they need a new place to house inmates and Wayne Manor is redesigned as the new Arkham.
Batman decides to investigate Arkham by becoming a John Doe (Jack Something), and living in his own house as an inmate while investigating sketchy behavior. His disguise is laughable. It literally consists of a mustache.
The upside to ARKHAM is that, usually, in most comic books, only a handful of Batman villains are featured--but this one has tons. Not just the typical ones, like The Joker or Harley, but weird ones, like Mr. Zsasz, Clayface, Dr. Crane, and Victor Freeze.
I'm a little confused by the character roster on the Goodreads website, though, because it says that Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Black Mask, and Killer Croc were in here, but I didn't remember seeing them...?
Anyway, yeah, ARKHAM MANOR was weird. It was an interesting storyline, but also very violent and not super emotional. With Batman stories, I usually expect to see a lot of really meaningful insights about what it means to be a hero who has to do bad things to people, but here Batman seemed to revel in hurting people, even gloated about it. It was kind of icky.
P.S. Thank you, DC, for giving me an ARC of this, along with so many other comic books. I'm actually super excited about that, because DC never used to approve me for anything, but now I almost always get approved. This makes me happy; I love comics. So thank you!
I must be an Epic because my super power is wanting this book. The wanting is powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations. There's only one way toI must be an Epic because my super power is wanting this book. The wanting is powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations. There's only one way to stop me: