Min-woo Hyung, Priest, vol. 5: Ballad of a Fallen Angel (Tokyopop, 2003)
The second part of the diary of Ivan Isaacs storyline has Temozarela walking t...moreMin-woo Hyung, Priest, vol. 5: Ballad of a Fallen Angel (Tokyopop, 2003)
The second part of the diary of Ivan Isaacs storyline has Temozarela walking the earth, and we get the beginning of the story of his creation of Belial as he faces off with a fanatical Inquisition priest. A good deal of tension in this volume. I wasn't expecting this storyline to hold up nearly as well as it does. *** ½ (less)
Min-woo Hyung, Priest, vol. 4: Harbinger's Song (Tokyopop, 2003)
At the end of vol. 3, a contemporary researcher found the diary of Ivan Isaacs, and he...moreMin-woo Hyung, Priest, vol. 4: Harbinger's Song (Tokyopop, 2003)
At the end of vol. 3, a contemporary researcher found the diary of Ivan Isaacs, and here we have the first part of it. We learn about Ivan's home life as a child and the beginnings of his time in the priesthood, as well as his researches into the crusader who would eventually becomes his arch-nemesis, Temozarela. It's all backstory, but it's good backstory; not much action but a lot of solid character development in this storyline. *** ½ (less)
Hideshi Hino, Hino Horror, vol. 1: The Red Snake (DH Publishing, 2004)
I've read some of the Hino Horror series before, but I've never attempted a syst...moreHideshi Hino, Hino Horror, vol. 1: The Red Snake (DH Publishing, 2004)
I've read some of the Hino Horror series before, but I've never attempted a systematic approach; this is the first time I've read the first volume in the series, and of those I've read, it's the one that seems most like Hino's earlier, more graphic/misanthropic work. The narrator of the tale is a young boy who lives in a house with his crazy family, including a grandmother who believes herself to be a chicken, a father who raises chickens (so mother can use the eggs as a treatment for a huge growth on grandfather's face) and bugs to feed them (for which his sister has a sexual fetish). They live in a small portion of the house, the rest closed off by a huge mirror that, grandfather says, holds back demons. And one night, our humble narrator has a dream that he goes beyond the mirror...
If you're not used to Hino, who made his mark with such brutal manga as Panorama of Hell and as a director of extreme gore films (he was the director on the first two movies in the infamous Guinea Pig series), then you may find this pretty shocking. (One way or the other, there's something in here to gross you out.) Veterans of Hino's earlier work who know what they're in for won't have the same reaction, but he's still at least reaching for, if not pushing, the envelope at this point. *** ½ (less)
Holly Black, The Good Neighbors: Kind (Graphix, 2011)
Black finishes up her Good Neighbors trilogy of graphic novels, illustrated by Ted Naifeh, with a...moreHolly Black, The Good Neighbors: Kind (Graphix, 2011)
Black finishes up her Good Neighbors trilogy of graphic novels, illustrated by Ted Naifeh, with a kind of anticlimactic volume. Note that I don't mean this in a bad way; the whole series has had that kind of off-putting feel about it. It's risky, but since it mirrors the psyche of the series' main character, the half-faerie high school student Rue Silver, it makes perfect sense. In this volume, the war is over, the city has been taken over by faerie, but with a number of humans, including most of Rue's high school friends, trapped inside. There's unrest simmering very close to the surface between the humans and the faeries, and none of the ruling faction seem to care. So when a militant human group aiming to liberate the city comes to the fore, it's up to Rue and her closest friends to avert the apocalypse. Good stuff if you haven't been faerie-d out, given the oversaturation of the market. Worth reading. *** (less)
Carrie Ryan, The Dead-Tossed Waves (Delacorte, 2010)
NOTE: this review necessarily contains spoilers for The Forest of Hands and Teeth. If you haven't...moreCarrie Ryan, The Dead-Tossed Waves (Delacorte, 2010)
NOTE: this review necessarily contains spoilers for The Forest of Hands and Teeth. If you haven't read that one yet, proceed with caution through the synopsis, as it is impossible to give any sort of synopsis of The Dead-Tossed Waves without giving away the game for the first book.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth was an amazing little book, bringing the zombie apocalypse to the YA market in a way that managed to be both commercially accessible and still not dumbing (or cheesing) down the subject matter in a way so many recent zombie novels have (and not only for the teenlit market). The Dead-Tossed Waves follows it up in a rather unexpected, and almost as wonderful, way; while the book does have a few minor problems, it ranks with The Forest of Hands and Teeth pretty darned well.
Fast-forward a number of years. Mary, the protagonist of the first book, is now a lighthouse-keeper in the small town in which she found herself at the end of the first book. Gabry, the protagonist of The Dead-Tossed Waves, is her daughter. Like Mary before her, Gabry is straining at the boundaries of the little self-contained world of her village. She has never been one to blatantly disobey the rules, as many of her friends do, by going over the wall and playing at night in the abandoned amusement park nearby that is a seeming magnet for the dead. But, as is often the case, a member of the opposite sex is the game-changer here. A glint in the eye, a rakish smile, and Gabry, in the throes of infatuation, finds herself on the other side of the wall with a bunch of her friends...when the dead arrive. Not everyone makes it back across the wall alive, and the punishment for those who do is exile. It is always exile. But Gabry finds that life outside the village is vastly different, and more varied, than she has always been told—and when a rash act by an outside entity threatens her village, Gabry and a small cadre of her friends and compatriots discover that their best hope for salvation lies on the paths of the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
The good parts of the book are easy to define; just go back to my review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and graft those paragraphs here. Carrie Ryan's strengths as an author remain; it never felt to me as if she'd honed her skills, but then her starting point is well in front of much of the pack, and coming off a big-selling first book, the rush and the pressure to get book two out may preclude taking the time for getting from 90% good writer to 94% good writer. Completely understandable. The places where the book is weaker are expected for basically the same reason; in fact, if I had to throw a wager on it, I'd say Ryan's first draft to the publisher lacked most of the weak bits, and the publisher came back and said “you know, this book is missing explicit references to the first book.” There are a few of them here, and they all feel grafted on more than things that grew organically from the narrative. Given that there's a generation between the first book and this one, again, that's not a surprise. But you know publishers.
Short answer, which should hopefully be obvious by now: if you liked The Forest of Hands and Teeth (and was there anyone who didn't, really?), then you're going to want to read The Dead-Tossed Waves. And if you haven't read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, well, what are you waiting for? *** ½ (less)
George Rodrigue, Are You Blue Dog's Friend? (Abrams, 2009)
Cute, if gimmicky, pre-lit read-along attached to (according to the product description on A...moreGeorge Rodrigue, Are You Blue Dog's Friend? (Abrams, 2009)
Cute, if gimmicky, pre-lit read-along attached to (according to the product description on Amazon) “international pop icon” Blue Dog's seemingly ubiquitous branding. And, really, it's kind of tough to go wrong with Blue Dog when it comes to the kiddies (unless said kiddie has a dog phobia); Rodrigue's text is a little on the simplistic side compared to authors like Sandra Boynton, for example, but the pictures are striking. My little guy was fascinated with the vibrant colors. Doesn't hold up hugely to repeated readings (again I find myself coming back to Boynton, as I've read and re-read Pajama Time! on a three-digit level in just the past month), but that's not as much of a problem as it might be; he's just content to look at the pictures. *** ½ (less)
Amanda Noll, I Need My Monster (Flashlight Press, 2009)
I'd had this book on my to-read list for years by the time I actually got round to taking it ou...moreAmanda Noll, I Need My Monster (Flashlight Press, 2009)
I'd had this book on my to-read list for years by the time I actually got round to taking it out of the library, so my memory of what I was thinking when I added it all the way back in 2009 is probably faulty, but I expected this one to be for a younger audience than I think it is actually intended for. The bean (now twenty-one months old) enjoyed it until about halfway through; he doesn't yet have the attention span for a story of this length and complexity. I'm going to try him on it again when he's three-ish, because it's a fun little story in the subgenre of “let's make the monsters under the bed not scary”, which is a subgenre I am quite fond of. And I like Noll's take on the tale: the monster under the bed is our hero's pal, and when said monster takes a week's fishing vacation, our hero auditions a series of ever-more-bizarre monsters as a substitute. Fun stuff for kids around first-reader age. ***(less)
Sandra Magsamen, Peek-a-Boo, I Love You! (LB Kids, 2009)
Very cute lift-the-flaps animal book with a preponderance of heart designs; this one's all abo...moreSandra Magsamen, Peek-a-Boo, I Love You! (LB Kids, 2009)
Very cute lift-the-flaps animal book with a preponderance of heart designs; this one's all about the illustrations, and they're lovely, childlike without being childish. Very nicely done for the pre-lit set; we got to this one a bit later, but I'd say it would work just fine for the nine- to twelve-month-old range and up. ***(less)