First time reading manga - for my book challenge. Even though it's in English, you read it back to front and follow right to left! _____________
I've re...moreFirst time reading manga - for my book challenge. Even though it's in English, you read it back to front and follow right to left! _____________
I've read a few graphic novels and graphic memoirs, both of which have captivated me with the intersection of writing and graphics. Really good ones tell part of the story not just through images but also through their layout on the page. It can be mind-blowing and brain-bending when done well.
This is the first time I've tried manga, and I'm quite disappointed. The graphics and layout were pretty good, but the writing and dialogue leave a lot to be desired. Too much of the story is in dry, teenage dialogue, saying the same things over and over again, usually in the bedroom of the protagonist. "The world is a rotten mess." "The world needs to be cleaned up." "Change the world." "The world will start to become a better place." Oh, and ellipses as dialogue? Overused and not helpful.
Overall, the story falls into the bad-book pattern of telling instead of showing, which is surprising considering it's, you know, a graphic novel.
The good news is that the story got a 2nd star near the end of the book. The clever way that the protagonist, Light, uses all the rules of the Deathnote to accomplish at least 4 different objectives in one fell swoop was impressive. Sadly, it was one of the only times where the reader gets to see action and work out what Light had planned.(less)
Two stars because lots of SF/F writers have been inspired by The Little Prince. Inspiration should be respected, even if I'm not inspired by the same...moreTwo stars because lots of SF/F writers have been inspired by The Little Prince. Inspiration should be respected, even if I'm not inspired by the same sources.
Otherwise, it's such a disjointed, piecemeal, overly-symbolic, pseudo-deep story that Saint-Exupéry must have been drinking some tainted Absinthe while writing & drawing this book. Honestly, would modern-ish kids like this book?
The best part of the story, though, was the little ditty about the Turkish astronomer. It made me laugh out loud, only because I have been to many, many large astronomy conferences. I can say without a doubt that if a turkish astronomer gave a talk at a large AAS or RAS meeting in a Fez and billow-y I Dream of Jeanie-esque clothes, his talk would be the most popular session of the week!(less)
I'm wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this Crichton-esque brick of a sea-thriller.
On one hand you have whales, crabs, dolphins, sea worms, shoals, an...moreI'm wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this Crichton-esque brick of a sea-thriller.
On one hand you have whales, crabs, dolphins, sea worms, shoals, and sharks galore. All awesome. Oh and the top fru-fru Parisian restaurant infested with gooey lobsters. Right on. Also, there's some interesting thoughts on life-forms, consciousness, collectives and intelligence. I'll be thinking about those ideas for a while, even if they aren't anything new. The thriller and horror part of the story was plenty interesting to keep me turning the pages quickly.
On the other, much angrier sullied hand, you have obscene amounts of political, environmental and philosophical/religious pontification, aimed both directly at the reader and through the super-genius-beautiful-yet-one-dimensional cast of characters. Gah. I was so looking forward to a scientific thriller in translation that presented a multi-national cast and world view. The Swarm has this in spades, but also is incredibly one-sided in its vehement anti-US stance. The rest of the world is beautiful, intelligent, and rational. The US, however, is the source of all the world's woes, including inventing conspiracy theories?! I have lived for over 4 years in other countries, and it's dead easy to vilify the US. But the thing is all countries and their citizens have both bad and good virtues. No one is perfect, just like no country as a whole is pure evil. To portray the US as the latter is lazy characterization, an cheap shot and frankly just immature.
Finally, last gripe: the science is beyond sketchy. Schätzing clearly has done a ton of research (he packed every last detail of it in the book - that's why it's over 800 pages!). Yet he gets so much of the science wrong. Methane does not smell like rotten eggs - it's odorless.
I really like Jay's review that said that: The Swarm:Science :: Da Vinci Code:Religion
"What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose... his own soul?"
Honestly, I knew very little about the story of The Picture of Dorian...more"What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose... his own soul?"
Honestly, I knew very little about the story of The Picture of Dorian Gray before reading this. The creepy horror tale is very Poe-esque, but with more description and emotion. It's brilliant!
The dialogue is excessive (more talking than doing) and frequently turns to very long monologues. I read in the reviews here that The Picture of Dorian Gray is really a play written as a novella. Very true. Except the dialogue, while frequently witty, is not particularly natural. My only other quibble is that there are frequent railings against women. Most come from the bawdy Lord Henry, though, so I can forgive him these.
Wilde was clearly obsessed with: flowers, perfumes, fancy side-tables, precious gems, and tapestries. Wilde was the Lawrence Llewelyn‐Bowen of his day! It also appears that Wilde was obsessed with obsession, and describes infatuation to a T.
Oh and this story deserves four stars alone for the most awesomest diss I've ever heard: "Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty,"
A few more awesome Wilde-ish quotes:
"The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves. The basis of optimism is sheer terror. We think that we are generous because we credit our neighbour with the possession of those virtues that are likely to be a benefit to us."
"When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy."
"There were in it metaphors as monstrous as orchids and as subtle in colour."
"Oh! anything becomes a pleasure if one does it too often," cried Lord Henry, laughing. "That is one of the most important secrets of life. I should fancy, however, that murder is always a mistake. One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner."
"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."(less)
A fun, fantastical YA story about standing your ground especially when you are at a crossroads, and a strong analytical girl who needs to be brave eno...moreA fun, fantastical YA story about standing your ground especially when you are at a crossroads, and a strong analytical girl who needs to be brave enough to help the people she loves. _________________
Thirteen year old Natalie Minks loves bicycles, clockwork gadgets, solving puzzles and listening to her mother's endless stories about their town. Growing up in rural Missouri in 1913, she lives near a major crossroads with the ruins of the former town left perplexingly in-tact down the road. One day a travelling medicine show arrives and Natalie is both fascinated and perplexed. She senses that something just isn't right at the Doctor Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show. Can she work it out in time to save the town and her family?
One of the best things about The Boneshaker is Milford's detailed descriptions of the settings:
A Nostrum Fair, it turned out, was very similar to a Technological Medicine Show: frying foods, syrupy sugar smells, penny amusements. Bursts of odd, discordant music from the One-Man Band. Sudden appearances and disappearances of the harlequin in its costume of velvet triangles and bells, capering and somersaulting and then vanishing in a flash of tarnish and motley.
A quick note about the genre: Most of The Boneshaker is historical fiction with supernatural elements with a big helping of mystery and tiny dash of scary ghost story. What's even more fun is that Milford has included lots of steampunk details in the various clockwork machines that pepper the story. It's really fun to imagine the old-fashioned gadgetry.
There are several mysteries happening simultaneously in the story, which makes this an unexpectedly fun, complex read for a young-adult book. (The official recommendation is ages 10 and up, but a book-nerd might do okay with this at 8 or 9 as long as they don't mind slightly scary stories.) The mystery doesn't end with the perplexing charlaitans at the Nostrum Fair. There are also strange happenings in her town, unusual old residents and travelers, Natalie's weird visions, and difficulties in her own family. What's very clever is that Milford gives you just enough clues to solve a few mysteries on your own before they are revealed while others are left as little twists. As a reader, you feel clever while being entertained with surprises.
Each character has unusual quirks. Natalie's mother is absentminded and burning food in the kitchen while her dad is clumsy but mechanically gifted. Doctor Limberleg has fascinating red-peppered-with-gray hair that sticks up and appears to move about on it's own. Natalie herself is simultaneously afraid and brave while she works out how best to confront difficult situations.
My only little nit-pick is that a few characters that were important at the beginning of the story disappear by the end. A couple of those are ancillary characters, but without spoiling anything, one is a fairly major character.
Finally, the line-drawing art in the book is lovely. Make sure you look at a large version of the cover. I could imagine my child-like self examining and re-examining all the details looking for clues. Oh wait, my adult-like self already did that! The handful of full-page images that pepper the book are as rich and detailed as Milford's prose. It's a lovely accompaniment.(less)
I read this at a certain five-year-old friend's birthday party this weekend. Okay, so I had more than a few margaritas, but a few of the lines were ge...moreI read this at a certain five-year-old friend's birthday party this weekend. Okay, so I had more than a few margaritas, but a few of the lines were genuinely funny. The illustrations were lovingly cringe-worthy but amusing. I'm thinking a lot of kids without dogs might start calling their dad "Walter!" (less)
I love all the anatomical drawings and scientific explanations. Lots of humor, too!
I also want to add that Goodreads has just let me know that people...moreI love all the anatomical drawings and scientific explanations. Lots of humor, too!
I also want to add that Goodreads has just let me know that people who've read The Gas We Pass have also read: Einstein: His Life and Universe and Middlesex. Clearly this book is most popular among kids of smart people! Therefore, flatulence implies intelligence.(less)
It sure took me a long time to finish such a simple airport-bookstore-worthy book. It really wasn't very compelling. The "clues" were like a kick in t...moreIt sure took me a long time to finish such a simple airport-bookstore-worthy book. It really wasn't very compelling. The "clues" were like a kick in the head. Or like in Blue's Clues. I did get one or two little surprises - but the big mystery? Almost completely given away in the first few pages.
I think what was most irritating is that the writing is so simple that it reads more like a screenplay. It's not nuanced, it's packed with similes, metaphors and alpha-male grunt responses. I can forgive an obvious plot with some good, evocative writing. Likewise I can forgive un-nuanced writing with a killer plot. This just isn't it.
I'm thinking this book is best for people who love mystery-thrillers. When you're a huge fan of the genre you can forgive lots of defects. If you don't think too hard about the story-line or the writing, it's probably a compelling read. If you're looking for something stand-out, something special -- this probably isn't the book for you.(less)
Only after finishing James and the Giant Peach did I discover that it is one of the most frequently challenged books in US libraries. I was straining...moreOnly after finishing James and the Giant Peach did I discover that it is one of the most frequently challenged books in US libraries. I was straining my brain and twisting my creativity to even imagine why. So I found some explanation on deletecensorship.org. Apparently the objections are that it contains the word “ass” and “promotes” the use of drugs and whiskey, and “encourages children to disobey their parents and other adults.”
Sounds like the makings of a great book! Heaven forbid a book encourages the children to think and live independently. Oh and books can't mention whiskey, because children should only see that from Uncle Jim. And only mom is allowed to say the word ass.
Seriously, this was banned from a US school in 1995. Geesh. All the more reason to read this book!(less)