Overall this is a pretty solid read. While Elizabeth has the help of an established writer in telling her story, it's still fairly obvious that this i...moreOverall this is a pretty solid read. While Elizabeth has the help of an established writer in telling her story, it's still fairly obvious that this is her first foray into book writing. She pulls the reader out of the story a little too often for my preference, doing a lot of foreshadowing and telling us things like, "I had no idea just how monstrous this man was, no idea how much worse things would get, no idea how much pain I'd be in..." for paragraphs and paragraphs -- ESPECIALLY in the first few chapters of the book, which drove me a little crazy with how long it took for her to get to the actual story she had to tell.
That being said, I can mostly forgive these writing quirks because I didn't read the book for great literature -- I was extremely interested in hearing Elizabeth's first-person account of her experience, and she delivered. I walked away with an appreciation for her courage and tenacity, and really enjoyed her noting her spiritual growth throughout this horrific ordeal (I can relate to a lot of her religious viewpoints because I, like Smart, am LDS). She provoked a lot of thought about insanity vs. wickedness, which I'm sure I'll be mulling over for some time.
She wrote an overused and, to be blunt, somewhat false Mormon cliche in the last chapter that made me want to throw the book across the room ("I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it"), but as I settled myself down I used this as a means to appreciate that Elizabeth Smart is not some perfect role model with no misgivings -- and she doesn't pretend to be one, either. Despite my disagreement with a few of her viewpoints or ways of thinking, she displayed some amazing qualities that helped her survive in extreme circumstances, and I think seeing her as just another fellow, flawed being allows us to put ourselves in her shoes a little better.
My final, minor criticism is that I wish we'd have seen a LITTLE more of other people's viewpoints in this story. Specifically, I want to know just how the police officers who rescued her came upon her -- were they called to the area by the young man on the bus who had questioned Smart? Were they simply patrolling the area in general and recognized her? There are just a couple times in the story that I want a little bit more perspective. I understand that this is ELIZABETH'S story and thus written from her point of view. However, she pulled the reader out of her own perspective for an entire chapter in the first quarter of the book, describing her family's immediate reaction to her disappearance after she'd been removed from her home.... so it would have been consistent to give little hints of these other perspectives throughout the rest of the book. Anyways, despite the length of my writing on this complaint, it's actually not that big of a deal as the center of this book is Smart's growth, which takes precedence over the story.
I'd actually give this book about 3.75 stars if I could, but am rounding up. I recommend this book to anyone who can stomach the fact that these terrible events and tortures really took place. Elizabeth is a fascinating young woman.(less)
I really enjoyed this approach to studying comics and appreciate the vast amount of research required to present this information.
His foreword emphasi...moreI really enjoyed this approach to studying comics and appreciate the vast amount of research required to present this information.
His foreword emphasizes the importance of reading comics, at least in part, for a sense of enjoyment and escapism, and he mentions how he wrote his book while listening to rock and roll music. Comic books, like rock and roll, certainly have a lot of roots in American culture and reflect/influence our youth's values and morals.
Would recommend this to anyone interested in comics as a cultural survey as well as history buffs.(less)
This book begins with an immediate fallacy: the author gives an introduction claiming that all events that occur in the book are true-to-life (though...moreThis book begins with an immediate fallacy: the author gives an introduction claiming that all events that occur in the book are true-to-life (though shown through fictional characters). This reminded me of Dan Brown's similar claims in "The Da Vinci Code." The problem here is that theological supernature is impossible to prove simply through research. Given that science and other such worldly ventures are based in what limited PHYSICAL proof we have, I don't believe for a second that someone can read a series of scholarly books and claim that his research is completely true. I would have had an easier time accepting his claims of veridity if Matheson had claimed he'd seen it all in a vision, as facts of this nature can really only be learned by divine enlightenment.
What ensues is a weak plot/love story that serves only for Matheson to show how much he thinks he knows on the subject of death and the afterlife. I am not so much concerned about the use of plot as a vehicle for informing, but when the author uses almost 100 pages of almost nonstop TALKING in order to spell out everything he's researched about Heaven, it makes me bored and uninterested. I was better able to feel involved in his writings when the character began moving through the layers of Hell, because in this part of the story things were actually happening WHILE giving the author a chance to explain. Lesson learned: action is a better means of communication to the reader than straight dialogue.
I don't have a problem reading a book like this and suspending my own beliefs and knowledge in order to enjoy a fictional story based on the author's thoughts and insights, but I do have a problem when the author is pompous enough to think his limited methods of research have made him some sort of enlightened priest, and isn't creative enough to drive a story along during almost half of the book. What's worse is that, at the very end of the book, the film producer responsible for adapting this book for the big screen has inserted a letter that praises Matheson as some sort of prophet (for lack of a better word). Please.
The meat of the love story itself didn't really do anything for me, but this could be personal preference. At one point near the end there are literally pages and pages of lovey-dovey flashbacks that I ended up skipping to get back to the pending events of the story during its climax.
I don't regret having read it, as there were other parts that were interesting to read ("purgatory" and, as mentioned above, Chris's journey through Hell), but I would tell anyone who was curious to take it with a large grain of salt. The ending is a cop-out, and as I closed the cover for the last time I couldn't help but say to myself, "Really? That's it?"(less)
I remember reading this in high school with a couple of friends. There are a few letters that aren't as funny as the author thinks, but overall it wou...moreI remember reading this in high school with a couple of friends. There are a few letters that aren't as funny as the author thinks, but overall it would be insufficient to state that riotous laughter abounded -- words simply cannot express how funny this book was.
Perhaps my favorite letter involved the author's proposal to an undergarment producer to create "six day underwear," which was a pair of underwear with THREE holes for the legs, and every day the wearer would simply rotate the garment rather than having to change his shorts on a daily basis. Who comes up with such a comedic gem??(less)
This is a munch stronger follow up to the author's first book, "Understanding Comics" than his second attempt at book writing, "Reinventing Comics." W...moreThis is a munch stronger follow up to the author's first book, "Understanding Comics" than his second attempt at book writing, "Reinventing Comics." While I feel that "Reinventing Comics" is a good segue between the two, "Making Comics" is much easier to follow -- better structured, a clearer purpose, and back to introducing basic principles that help the reader see the world of comics in a different light.
What I enjoyed most about the book is McCloud's ability to show how easily comics can (and should) be recognized for its artistic potential, and how comics can extend into more genres than fantasy or sci-fi by illustrating and categorizing the different artistic schools of thought that different creators hold.
Another highly-recommended read for anyone seeking a greater ability to deconstruct an important part of Western culture.(less)
Until reading this book, I couldn't think of the last time I was actually sad to see a story end. I've read plenty of excellent books in recent years,...moreUntil reading this book, I couldn't think of the last time I was actually sad to see a story end. I've read plenty of excellent books in recent years, but none that have left me feeling so sorry to reach the last page!
I'm not sure why I never read this graphic novel earlier -- I think I was turned off by the promotions, which featured drawings of the Bone cousins so much that I misunderstood what the nature of the story was, assuming it was just a funnybook geared toward kids. That really isn't what it is at all!
Jeff Smith wonderfully takes three cartoon characters and puts them in a land of mystery and adventure, taking the reader from amusing, comedic anecdotes to an epic war for the fate of the world! While the Bone cousins are surely simplistically drawn, Smith develops their characters to a level of richness that blends them naturally with the detailed, flourishing environment that perhaps visually contrasts their appearance. Coming of age, loss of innocence, faith, love, truth -- all major themes of this story.
And it says something about Smith's writing when he takes an insect that is essentially a potato chip with legs and turns him into one of the most charming personas encountered in literature!
I am not generally a fan of medieval/fantasy works, but this is written in such a way that it's pretty easy for anyone to get into. The only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because I felt like the first part of the last third of the book got a little too bogged down in lore, to a point where it got a little hard to follow at times. Also, Smith introduces "ghost circles" as a major plot element, but I never felt like I understood what exactly they were, or why they were so threatening, until the story came to a close, which was far too late. The only other complaint I have is an unsatisfied curiosity as to the apathy of a certain feline in the last scene in which he's featured...
But, those few complaints aside, I can't praise this book enough! Seriously, go pick it up!!(less)
Pretty quick read (it collects four comics books) that chronicles the death of the 2nd boy to call himself Robin. It's a good followup to "The Killing...morePretty quick read (it collects four comics books) that chronicles the death of the 2nd boy to call himself Robin. It's a good followup to "The Killing Joke," in which the Joker turns Batgirl into a paraplegic and almost drives Commissioner Gordon to insanity.
I think the men behind the work did a great job of evoking emotion and letting the reader feel Batman's pain -- this is actually the first story I've read of Robin II and I was left in a pensive state of mind, despite my lack of close familiarity with the deceased Boy Wonder.
I also really liked the continued look at Batman and Joker's relationship, and Batman's constant moral dilemma of whether or not he is justified in ending Joker's life (which is figuratively brought to the forefront of the story's conclusion by a surprise appearance of Superman, whose "boy scout" ways and viewpoints counter those of the Dark Knight, offering some great contrasting and a forum for discussion of the dilemma).
A great read for anyone interested in the psyche of Batman and what drives him, as well as an understanding of just how twisted the Joker is.(less)