I have to admit that I am ashamed by my ignorance. How could 'Neverwhere' have bypassed me? It's a novel that started life as a television series, wasI have to admit that I am ashamed by my ignorance. How could 'Neverwhere' have bypassed me? It's a novel that started life as a television series, was made into a movie, as well as a stage production, and has also been adapted into a comic. Yet somehow, amongst all this media saturation, I had never heard of it and perhaps never would have had it not been passed onto me by a dear friend of mine. Perhaps the book bypassing me had something to do with London Below perhaps?!? Ah yes, London Below. If you are not familiar with 'Neverwhere' then London Below is the epicenter of the novel. From the back cover...
"Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is a city of people who have fallen between the cracks."
The inhabitants of this other world are, for the most part, invisible to the people of our world and even though this is a fantasy novel I couldn't help wonder if, at times, they were being used as an allegory for homeless people living on the streets? There's certainly more than a connection there as in the very first meeting between Door, the heroine of the novel, and Richard, the main character, she is looked upon as a homeless person and Richard's girlfriend wants nothing to do with Door. The crux of the story revolves around Door who resides in London Below, with Richard in tow, trying to find out who killed her family and wanting to avenge her family's deaths. As she embarks on this quest we are introduced to other characters all of whom are distinct and add their own certain je ne sais quoi to the proceedings. Gaiman has the balance of these characters, in relation to the story, spot on and each of them is expertly woven into Door's quest for justice. Whether their roles are good or evil, and part of what makes this story so gripping is the mystery surrounding whether certain characters are good or evil, the characterization is wonderful. This novel could have all too easily failed due to the odd characters involved, such as Old Bailey for example who is a human/bird hybrid, but Gaiman brings them to life in a realistic and convincing way. Part of what makes Gaiman such a great writer is his use of description and yet he has this little nuance where he doesn't describe anything at all yet conveys exactly what he wants. Confused? Well, take this sentence for instance from page 265...
"Rats on a high brick ledge, doing the things that rats do when no-one is watching, saw the body go by."
He describes what the rats are doing but doesn't describe what they are doing at all. There are many examples of such sentences throughout the book and I often found their unique subtlety bringing a smile to my face. In fact, this whole novel brought a smile to my face as it whisked me on a roller coaster ride filled with action, adventure, mystery and fun. It truly is a charming and extraordinary romp that reads like a more adult orientated fairy tale. Outside of the novel itself the edition of 'Neverwhere' I was given also contained some added extras, akin to the extras you get on DVD alongside the movie, and it had me wondering why such extras aren't included more often? They were... * An alternate prologue. * An interview with the author * Reading Group Discussion Questions In particular I found the interview to be fascinating reading and found myself wishing more novels would head down this path so I could get a look into the author's mind and learn about how the story idea was conceived and other information one is not usually privy to....more
Hmm, a zombie graphic novel that is more about social commentary than the zombies themselves. It's an interesting concept that has been done many timeHmm, a zombie graphic novel that is more about social commentary than the zombies themselves. It's an interesting concept that has been done many times before in various guises such as movies and prose novels and, to be quite honest with you, it's not what I really look for in anything zombie related. You see, I'm already aware that we are all slaves to Capitalism and that we're more concerned about the next episode of our favorite television programs than the starving and dying children living in the slums of any third world country you care to name. That's the way we are and the way we have been brainwashed raised by the education system...become educated, get a job and join the workforce so you can help the billionaires make more billions and have a few dollars left over to spend on yourself. As you do so feel sympathy for those in poverty but don't let that stop you working for the wealthy company owners otherwise you too might end up below that poverty line. As such we're kept suppressed and we accept our place in the social system and continue shopping at places such as Wal-Mart, as they give us value for our few spare dollars, who keep their prices low by employing teens in India to manufacture their goods, work them 18 hours a day and pay them less than a couple of dollars a week. In essence we are the mindless zombies. So, yeah, I don't need social commentary in my zombie fix and so it was going to take something really special for me to love this graphic novel. The artwork was decent but didn't really strike me as being that "something really special". I must point out though that I don't have a good eye for art as I have no idea why this piece of crap, pictured on the right, 'No. 5, 1948' by Jackson Pollock is the most expensive painting ever sold costing some idiot with more money than sense, $140million. Insane. One thing I do understand about the art is that the guy who inked the cover of this book is a very big music fan. I know that because on the front cover as you look at it there are zombie versions of Moby, Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees and Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach. As for the storyline it was okay. The story follows a guy called Rick and focuses on how he changes and adapts to living in a world that has become infested with zombies and whose society has broken down. I never really found myself caring about Rick though and that's not a good thing considering he's the main character. In fact, I have to admit that I was hoping he would be mauled to death by a pack of zombies. However, he will be the focus of further graphic novels in this series so I doubt he's becoming zombie food anytime soon. Let me tell you about the ending of this book without spoiling it just in case you wish to read this yourself. Never, and I mean NEVER, have I flung a book across the room after reading the ending. I have had times when I have hated endings and others when left with disappointment or a sense of "whatever" but the ending to this story was so corny and cliche that it brought out a volcano of emotion that left me bewildered as to why anyone would finish a story with that final exchange and across the room went the flying book. Heck, even if you don't want to read 'The Walking Dead' just read the last couple of pages next time you're in a bookstore but make sure no-one is around as I don't want you getting thrown out for throwing a graphic novel across the store! One other thing that irked me was the use of nouns such as "BLAM, POW, WHACK" whenever an action scene took place. That type of thing was good for the old Batman tv show but should never be seen again outside of that. Overall, there was nothing in this offering that would make me feel the need to read the next volume in the series and so it was a bit of a disappointment....more
I think I would rather scoop out my eyes with a blunt spoon than ever read this piece of rubbish ever again. Why? Read on...
This is a children's storyI think I would rather scoop out my eyes with a blunt spoon than ever read this piece of rubbish ever again. Why? Read on...
This is a children's story but I doubt very many children actually understand what the heck it's all about. Not even adults agree on its meaning. Personally I think it's a story about S&M and I find that shameful in itself when the book is aimed at a young audience. You see, the tree acts like a submissive in that it does as it's asked and at the end we find out it is happy to be used. The boy in the story is like the master as he just takes what he wants without any sense of moral justice. We also have the classic symbolism of the boy taking an apple and eating it which mirrors the Bible fable of Adam and Eve discovering sex. Then in the middle of the story (there are no page numbers so I can't be exact here) the young man is laying with a woman under the tree just like many masters introduce another submissive into the fold. We're also told he loves the tree and then at the end we have the symbolism of the old man sitting on the stump which I interpret as the tree being beneath him. It all makes sense. Then again many other interpretations also make sense which just adds to the whole confusion as to what the f*ck Silverstein was trying to tell us.
I'm not sure why the tree can speak? And why is its trunk a uniform green? And why, when the boy becomes a man, is he asking it for money and a home and a boat? That's just weird. Is one meant to believe that his actions are premeditated as he knows what the tree is going to offer? He doesn't seem that bright to me. Why did he build his house out of branches? Had he never heard the story about the three little pigs? And what is the man doing with his life when he's not with the tree? Stupid story.
The drawings in the book leave a lot to be desired and they're not even in color. There are also way too many pages for such a short story which is ironic as trees the world over have had to keep giving paper for the multiple reprints of this garbage....more
I used to enjoy Hellboy prose novels more when they were published by Pocket Star Books. I don't know how much say a publisher has in choosing who wilI used to enjoy Hellboy prose novels more when they were published by Pocket Star Books. I don't know how much say a publisher has in choosing who will author their novels but overall the quality was far better with PSB than when the franchise moved over to Dark Horse Books. A good example of the better quality can be found in 'Hellboy: The Lost Army'. We start off the book with a foreword by Hellboy's creator Mike Mignola. Not being much of a fanboy when it comes to authors, artists, actors or anyone else for that matter I'm not beyond criticizing even the guy who created one of my favorite characters. The issue I have is in the drawing he does. Now this story is a prose novel but Mignola did contribute some drawings that appear throughout this mass market paperback. That's unusual in itself and, quite frankly, so is Mignola's style of drawing. I'm not quite sure how to describe his style but, to me at least, it seems amateur and yet professional all at the same time. Hellboy looks good on the cover, and I would expect no less from a drawing by his creator, but the skeletons appear too cartoonish in a way. Yeah, "cartoonish" isn't a word so my writing is amateur and nowhere near professional but this blog is for my opinions you know and if I wish to make up words like "cartoonish" then so be it. If it's quality you're after go read one of my followers blogs. So the story begins with Hellboy having to beat the crap out of a "thing" with tentacles. He hates things with tentacles. So do most of my ex girlfriends but I swear I really do only have two hands...they just move around the female form like there's eight of them. Speaking of such things Hellboy has a love interest in this book. And she's a human female. Thankfully the author spares us any intimate details as even I had absolutely no desire to know how a cloven hoofed, red demon with a stone hand gets his freak on with a human English female. Having a love interest for Hellboy is certainly odd but it does allow for the storyline to play on the age old damsel in distress being saved by her hero subplot. The main plot revolves around the disappearance of a group of British archeologists along the edge of the Great Sand Sea. It wouldn't be much of a job for Red if it was a straight forward disappearance and it isn't as back in 525BC a fifty-thousand strong Persian army vanished in the same place...hence 'The Lost Army'. Golden is a huge fan of Hellboy and it certainly shows through in his writing. He knows Hellboy inside and out...actually I'm not sure if he really does know about Red's insides but it sounded like the correct thing to proclaim. What's for sure is that he knows the character well enough to bring him to life perfectly in the novel and add that to his as-per-usual excellent storytelling ability and what you have is an awesome Hellboy novel. The author even done a great job in making the love story between Hellboy and Anastasia believable and that took some doing as you just don't think about a red demon and sex in the same sentence. I don't anyway although it's obvious from looking at Hellboy's head that he's always horny. With an immortal sorcerer and The Lost Army to contend with this novel is certainly action packed and exciting. Our hero is portrayed wonderfully, particularly his sense of humour, and I couldn't put this book down once I had picked it up. Really, that's the last time I use crazy glue before reading a novel. Even though the "romantic" element was done well I could have done without it but that's being picky on what is an overall excellent novel. Highly recommended....more
With the new Green Lantern movie hitting theaters I figured it would be topical to review one of the few prose novels available for the character. 'HerWith the new Green Lantern movie hitting theaters I figured it would be topical to review one of the few prose novels available for the character. 'Hero's Quest' was actually my introduction to the Green Lantern. Throughout my superhero loving childhood he just happened to be one of those few characters that I never crossed paths with. Before I get into the review I should inform you that there have been several Green Lanterns and this novel focuses on Kyle Rayner who is not the same guy portrayed in the current movie by Ryan Reynolds. The first Green Lantern was named Alan Scott and he was followed by Hal Jordan (the Ryan Reynolds character), Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Jade. Kyle Rayner's chance encounter with an extraterrestrial leaves him in possession of a ring that can be used as a powerful weapon. This weapon takes the form of green energy and can form anything his imagination can conjure with the only drawback being that it needs to be charged by insertion into a special lantern. That's a lantern as in an object and not as in another Lantern. That would make for a very weird charging system would it not? So, the novel begins and it's not long before Kyle is experiencing his first action by willing the energy into a giant boxing glove to punch a would be thief. The whole episode is played for comedy but it is a tad bit silly and that kind of sums up this novel in relation to the ring. Not that this was actually bad just a tad bit left of the middle as the problem with the ring being the focal point is that all situations are solved through a manifestation of energy. As that energy has to take a form we're disposed to an array of objects up to and including a giant umbrella which at times just becomes a tad too absurd and childish. Yeah, I know it's odd to mention it's childish when I read superhero novels but even I have my limits to what I can take and what crosses the line. As the story progresses, and it's written in the first person all the way through as if we're being told the story over a cup of tea by Kyle himself, the Justice League of America disappear and Kyle has to investigate why which leads him to a bigger problem in that the universe itself faces annihilation. The story itself is actually a good one and I did enjoy it. I also liked the voice of Kyle as his character is very quick witted and a bit of a smart ass. He also has a more human element that a lot of superheroes. For instance, there's a part in the book where he's relating an incident with Wonder Woman,
"The Amazon Princess...smiled in a fashion that combined maternity with a hint of flirtatiousness. I guess I should apologize for that last line, but I won't because when I'm around Wonder Woman I half want to ask for home-baked pie and half want to ask what she's doing Friday night (and Saturday, and Sunday...)."
I like Kyle. I can relate to him. Near the beginning of this post I mentioned that this was my first encounter with the Green Lantern and I think that's important because I had no preconceived notion of who he was and how he should act in certain situations. As such, being introduced to him from scratch and learning who he is through this novel was entertaining. However, if you are already a Green Lantern fan then this novel probably won't cut it for you as it has been changed from the original comic book scenario of how Kyle Rayner came to be the Green Lantern. Overall I enjoyed this book. It's not amazing by any stretch of the imagination but I found it to be one of those reads that passed the time nicely and left me in a good mood....more