This book illustrates the power of the graphic novel. Words are few, but their sparsity increases their impact, and the illustrations carry the story...moreThis book illustrates the power of the graphic novel. Words are few, but their sparsity increases their impact, and the illustrations carry the story easily. To tell this story in normal memoir form would destroy much of its power. Because the author is telling the story of his childhood, prose narrative would take away the sense of his innocence at the time and cause him to constantly say "What I didn't know but now realize or later found out is..." which is a messy way to tell a story. When we are children, we don't see or fully understand a large portion of the world. The graphic novel format here allows us to see from the child's perspective as well as our own.
This book is shocking and heart-breaking, not for the faint of heart. It reads very quickly, though, and would be a good bet for a reluctant reader with a strong constitution. It does contain medical imagery that is sometimes graphic and always conveys a sense of violence.
Recommend to: Age 14+, reluctant reader
Don't recommend to: The highly sensitive, my mother(less)
Barbra Thorson has it rough. At school, she has no friends and is alternately bullied by larger kids and counseled by a therapist who'...moreRead this book.
Barbra Thorson has it rough. At school, she has no friends and is alternately bullied by larger kids and counseled by a therapist who's trying in vain to break through the shell of Barbra's denial. At home, she must face her disgruntled siblings, all of whom are dealing with the family's problem in different ways. With nowhere else to hide, Barbra mentally escapes to the fantasy role-playing universe. Unfortunately, she takes her coping mechanism too far, to the point of making herself "the weird kid," which only exacerbates her difficulties.
As heart-rending as this book can be, it's also one of the funniest things I've read this year. The heroine is as fierce and deadpan as she is tiny and strange, and when she frankly tells her teachers about her giant-slaying in a "you can't handle the truth" manner without even lowering her book, you feel equal parts terror and admiration for this miniature person who wears bunny ears as part of her daily outfit. Her transformation in the eyes of the reader from sad case to super girl is ultimately not due to the fact that she faces a real danger in the end of the comic. Her wit, resilience, and stubborn commitment to herself will astound you. She's the best-made character I've seen in a very long time.
And it doesn't stop with her. Her family, friends, and enemies are equally well-crafted, and much attention is paid to how they all interact. This book contains love, friendship, betrayal, grief, humor, hate, trust, redemption, and some really cute fairies.
I can't say enough good things about this comic. Find out for yourself!
Recommend to: Age 13+, troubled kids, reluctant readers, anyone looking for a good pick-me-up (less)
This book had so much potential but completely turned me off. The recap at the beginning was extensive but necessary to explain the plot to anyone who...moreThis book had so much potential but completely turned me off. The recap at the beginning was extensive but necessary to explain the plot to anyone who hasn't read . I prefer authors who can weave backstory into the main plot and create a story anyone can love, regardless of whether they read a related work. I loved the idea: Pinocchio lies, cuts off his nose-growth, and sharpens stakes from it. Inspired! However, the art style is cartoonishly unexciting, and the plot is cute but not strong enough to carry a book. The laughs fall flat and the surprise twist is no surprise at all. However, this book might do well with younger readers who are on a lower level, provided they're mature enough to deal with the statement that Gepetto molested Pinocchio.
Recommend to: 14+, low-level readers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, anyone who absolutely loves all comic books
I thought this book effectively accomplished its goal: it showed a small cross-section of the horrors of life in and out of New Orleans right after Ka...moreI thought this book effectively accomplished its goal: it showed a small cross-section of the horrors of life in and out of New Orleans right after Katrina. I think it's less important at this time than it will be in the future, when it can serve as a reminder long after the news footage has been forgotten.
That said, oh, wow, the use of color was atrocious. The illustrations are done in a single color at a time, and the colors alternate every few pages. At first I assumed each character had their own color to keep the 5 different plot lines easily distinguishable, but I was mistaken. The colors are unnecessarily garish and intense, and I felt like the artist was trying to give an adrenaline punch where none was needed.
The character development is fairly minimal in most cases, but the contrast between the different characters and their social stations is great enough that it almost does the job on its own. Of course, the characters are simply there to illustrate the tragedy of Katrina: the danger, the fear, the misery, the waiting.
While the book never directly makes accusations against the Bush administration or any government arm, it still features dialogue slanted in that direction that made the author's views of the situation pretty clear. I wish he had just come out and made it more obvious, because it comes off as clumsy as is.
Recommend to: 14+, general audience, anyone you think needs inspiration to buy flood insurance/flotation devices.
Don't recommend to: The migraine-prone - Those colors! Ouch!(less)
What a delightful comic! Spunky, likeable heroines, quirky robots, possessed toys, hot gym teachers... There's a little something for everyone in this...moreWhat a delightful comic! Spunky, likeable heroines, quirky robots, possessed toys, hot gym teachers... There's a little something for everyone in this unique story. The giggles and action never stop except to interject the occasional sobering note of tragedy when the heroine recalls her mother or bitterness when anyone brings up her absent father. Still, she never gets maudlin or whines but shoulders on with sarcasm and practicality. The supporting cast are hilarious and mysterious by turns, and the beautifully rendered physical book is a pleasure to hold and read.
While I've seen this story compared to , the similarities actually end at the heroine attending a boarding school with a few magical elements and a threatening forest. The magic is matched by equally whimsical science fiction, and the more serious plotlines are balanced by seriously amusing filler pages at the end of each chapter.
I cannot wait to read ! I'm going to request it from my local library right now.
Recommend to: Age 13+, webcomic fans, shojo manga fans, reluctant readers, possessed plush toys.
The art in this book is phenomenally beautiful and is its one saving grace. The dialogue is either poorly written, poorly translated, or both. The plo...moreThe art in this book is phenomenally beautiful and is its one saving grace. The dialogue is either poorly written, poorly translated, or both. The plot is whisper-thin: Orange is a teenage girl who wants to jump off a building because life is lame and being a teen is hard. The author also makes it clear that Orange has a deep aversion to all things sexual, but gives no reason for including this detail and no background on why the character feels this way. Included as a sort of appendix are more beautiful pictures by the author as well as a few strange, near-suicidal rantings of his own that left me confused and uncomfortable.
In a nutshell, what could have been an excellent story is left undeveloped, causing an odd pairing of transcendent pictures and teen angst that makes Bella look mature and well-adjusted.
Recommend to: Art fans
Don't recommend to: Younger teens, the highly impressionable(less)
I approached this book with a deep fear of drowning in waves of Disneyfied cuteness. Having read it, allow me to say...SQUEEEEEE!!!
I'm glad I got that...moreI approached this book with a deep fear of drowning in waves of Disneyfied cuteness. Having read it, allow me to say...SQUEEEEEE!!!
I'm glad I got that off my chest. Anyway, while the artwork is candy-shop sweet, it actually fits right in with Carroll's Wonderland: magical and fun on the surface, but full of asymmetry and danger just below the surface. I never felt that the art became sweet to a commercialized extent.
Most of the major Wonderland characters are present here, with the welcome exception of Alice. Personalities are preserved and accurately presented in a way that allows the characters to steer the story, rather than bending the characters to fit a new plot. The new heroine Mary Ann is a delightful, yet not saccharine, girl who remains practical and cheerful but also gives the occasional glimpse of her own dark side. In the end, this story even has a sly be-true-to-yourself moral built in, without being preachy or losing the Wonderland atmosphere.
My advice? Forget Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. Spend your time with this skillful reimagining instead.
Recommend to: Carroll fans, female Homo sapiens ages 10+, anyone who loves a good comic.
Don't recommend to: Horrid judgmental purists.(less)
This book would be nice to have on the shelves in a junior high social studies classroom. It gives a brief overview of the Battle of Gettysburg withou...moreThis book would be nice to have on the shelves in a junior high social studies classroom. It gives a brief overview of the Battle of Gettysburg without ever going in-depth, and then an illustrated reading of the Gettysburg Address.
I felt that the book lacked detail. The pictures definitely outweigh the story. It's a Union-biased work, giving plenty of attention to the abolitionist aspect of the Civil War and none to its other causes, such as States' rights. Lincoln is made out to be an entirely sympathetic character. All of the leaders of both the Union and Confederacy are drawn as dignified, respectable men. The Union soldiers all are drawn with the same care, but the Southern troops all look like hayseeds in mountain man attire. Also, the artist paid so much attention to the black troops in the Union army that the reader could come away with the impression that black men made up a huge portion of the Union forces, which is historically incorrect.
Readers are given a cast of characters at the beginning of the book, which led me to expect a complicated work with a lot of dialogue. However, the list is unnecessary; the reader can easily work out who the important players are.
Overall, despite the bloodshed and amputation, I found this version of events highly sanitized and simplified. I loved the panels depicting the march for rights: abolitionists blending into suffragettes blending into many other movements all the way up to Chicanos and gay rights activists. However, I didn't feel it was appropriate to include that panel without ever mentioning that Lincoln didn't even free all the slaves in the Emancipation Proclamation, only the ones in Confederate states who would be hurt by the loss of slave labor. The book never mentions the crimes committed against the American Indian population under Lincoln, either, even though there is a Native American rights group in the freedom march.
I waited until I read Vol 8 to review this series because I felt like it should be considered as one large work instead of volume by volume.
I LOVE thi...moreI waited until I read Vol 8 to review this series because I felt like it should be considered as one large work instead of volume by volume.
I LOVE this series. It's wonderful. Mystery, action, the ever-present question of how far AI can evolve... I got very attached to the robot characters and found the multiple deaths saddening, but I think that just means the authors did their job.
This series was my introduction to Astroboy. I knew the history of the anime and manga, but had never seen or read them. I did watch a little of the anime after I read Vol 1 of Pluto, and I think some familiarity with the original helps, but isn't truly necessary. This series can stand on its own feet.
Recommend to: Age 14+, graphic novel/manga fans(less)
This light-hearted spoof on high-fantasy looks at what happens when the mystical Chosen One turns out to be an obese video clerk who lives in his mom'...moreThis light-hearted spoof on high-fantasy looks at what happens when the mystical Chosen One turns out to be an obese video clerk who lives in his mom's basement. As one might expect, intense hi jinks ensue. The action never stops, nor does the brow-beating (oops, pun) from the magic Helm our hero steals at a garage sale. Pure fun.
Recommend to: Mature readers (strong sexuality), high fantasy fans
Don't recommend to: High fantasy fans who can't take a joke(less)
The brilliant concept (graphic novel meets photojournalism)is worthy of a glance, but ultimately this book disappoints in other vital areas.
I had to l...moreThe brilliant concept (graphic novel meets photojournalism)is worthy of a glance, but ultimately this book disappoints in other vital areas.
I had to laugh when a character in the book said he pitied children learning to read in Afghanistan because the Qu'ran had such little print on such big pages, because that was my exact complaint about "The Photographer." A magnifying glass is needed for the tiny print and minuscule photographs. Perhaps color photos the same size would have been more easily visible, but the black and white low-contrast landscapes fail to pop. Neither do the interspersed comic-style drawings provide any appeal; they are merely khaki-and-olive line drawings. I suppose this style was chosen so the drawings wouldn't upstage the photos.
The story fails on many levels, as well. The narrative is cold and dull, meandering through pointless details until halfway through the book. Part 2, in which the photographer actually makes rounds with the doctors and chronicles their work and the suffering of war-torn Afghanistan, shines with its graphic pictures of what war does to human life, and in this section, the photographer seems more human. However, he promptly erases any sympathy the reader might have built up for him by then deciding to continue to Pakistan alone, in a country at war, whose language he does not speak, where Russian helicopters are searching the landscape. By the end, I felt sorry for his horse, disgusted with him, and deeply frustrated that the project was not more heavily devoted to the work of the doctors, the real heroes.
I think the formatting decision was important, and I hope other authors will try similar projects. However, I felt the important aspects of the story were glossed over in favor of the photographer's self-focus, and I am very disappointed in this book.
Recommend to: People with strong stomachs, as this book has EXTREMELY graphic photos in places; anyone who needs to realize how good life in America really is (less)
It has great art and an interesting concept, but the story jumps around so far and so quickly in the first volume that I was lost at times. Still, it'...moreIt has great art and an interesting concept, but the story jumps around so far and so quickly in the first volume that I was lost at times. Still, it's captivating enough to cause a reader to pick up the next volume and see where the world-building goes, because it looks like it could be fascinating with some development.