I've always enjoyed Thor for its ability to shift easily between tales of contemporary superheroics and high fantasy based in Norse mythology. In thisI've always enjoyed Thor for its ability to shift easily between tales of contemporary superheroics and high fantasy based in Norse mythology. In this short novel, veteran tie-in writer Keith R.A. DeCandido focuses on those mythological adventures, telling the tale of Thor and his Asgardian friends dealing with an invasion by Frost Giants. It's a fast-paced, exciting tale that also sheds some light on the complex relationship between Thor, his adopted brother Loki, and their parents.
I've been a fan of DeCandido's writing for quite some time now, both his tie-in fiction and his own original works. His books have a lightness to them, and a fast-paced energy as well as gentle humor, but his real strength--to me--lies in his depictions of comfortable friendships between his characters. Since the Asgardian warriors who often accompany Thor on his adventures are also his closest friends, those qualities really need to shine in a story about them. That is absolutely the case here.
Whether you are a fan of Thor from the comics or the movies, or just looking for an exciting fantasy adventure, I really recommend this book....more
I'm always interested when someone whose work I know from collaborative media (film, comics, etc) produces something more personal, like a comics artiI'm always interested when someone whose work I know from collaborative media (film, comics, etc) produces something more personal, like a comics artist writing their own scripts for the first time, or a comics writer or screen writer writing a novel on their own. In this case, one of my favorite filmmakers, Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon) is still working in collaboration, this time with his wife, Jessica Steele-Sanders, but it's a concept and story that is completely theirs, not filtered through hundreds of animators, storyboard artists, and studio executives. Their story, which is hopefully the first in a series about mermaids working as lifeguards in Miami Beach, is a lot of fun, and has a lot of the hallmarks of Sanders' film work.
The book sets up an interesting mythology, about the origins of mermaids and their connections to regular land-humans. It then sets up a quest, to find the first mermaid in centuries born as a human: an atavist. However, for the most part, the book focuses on the interactions between the characters, in much the same way that Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon, despite their genre or adventure elements, have at their hearts the stories of developing friendships. There are some exciting action sequences, but they don't get in the way of the characters.
We also learn a lot about lifeguards and how they work. The authors go to great pains to show how lifeguarding is hard work, and very different from popular depictions in other media. (They particularly take Baywatch to task, which is fine by me.) By explaining what lifeguards do, and why the mermaids are working as lifeguards, they make some good observations about the sorts of people who take on those kinds of duties.
Steele-Sanders and Sanders give each of the characters distinct personalities, and that helps determine how they work together. They also have added the neat conceit that mermaids don't necessarily all have fish tails; here, one has a dolphin tail and another has the tail and flippers of a seal, and that affects how they swim. While Sanders doesn't provide the illustrations, the book does include a gallery section of his character designs. The actual artwork in the story is by animator Genevieve Tsai, and it is gorgeous and expressive.
While the characters are all distinct individuals, I hope that in future volumes, we get into their heads a little more and see who they are beneath the surface (pun intended). Also, at times, the writing was a bit exposition-heavy, but hopefully that stuff won't need to be repeated in future stories. Overall, this was a really fun start to what I hope will be an ongoing series from Sanders and Steele-Sanders. It would make a nice movie or TV series, I suppose, but I would really like it if it stayed a personal project by the authors (they published it as well). ...more
Once again, Paul Cornell does a fantastic job juxtaposing modern-day Britain with its ancient gods, mythology, folklore, whatever. This is a beautifulOnce again, Paul Cornell does a fantastic job juxtaposing modern-day Britain with its ancient gods, mythology, folklore, whatever. This is a beautifully written book, a small epic about a small group of characters in a small village, with global ramifications to their tale. The highest compliment I can pay it is that when I finished, I wanted more....more
While based in Polish folklore, Uprooted takes an approach to character and plot that feels very fresh and contemporary. Every time I thought I had aWhile based in Polish folklore, Uprooted takes an approach to character and plot that feels very fresh and contemporary. Every time I thought I had a handle on where things were headed, it took a turn into unexpected territory. Naomi Novik's writing has a very magical, fairy-tale quality to it, but that doesn't stop the story from taking some extremely dark turns that helped give me nightmares! Ultimately, I was won over by the ending (no spoilers), which wasn't what I was expecting, but ultimately felt like the only kind of ending the story could have reached. ...more