It seems like things couldn't get any worse for Anya. She hates her family - the greasy food her mother makes, her church where no one bothered to lea...moreIt seems like things couldn't get any worse for Anya. She hates her family - the greasy food her mother makes, her church where no one bothered to learn English, and the way her little brother gets away with everything. She's unpopular at school - maybe it's her body, or the remnants of her Russian accent, or that everyone thinks she hangs out with the one other Russian kid at school, a nerd named Dima. And Anya has no friends - no one to confide in or hang out with. So yeah, perhaps things couldn't get worse for Anya... until she storms off campus one day and falls down a well.
But somehow, at the bottom of that well, is the answer to all her problems! Well, sort of. There's a skeleton at the bottom of the well and attached to it is a ghost. Emily died ninety years ago and has been stuck in the well all those years. At first, Anya is terrified of her. But when Emily follows Anya to school and helps her cheat on tests and get noticed by her crush, well... maybe having an undead best friend is pretty awesome.
Except there's more to Emily's past than she's letting on. And pretty soon she's controlling more and more of Anya's life. Yeah, Anya was looking for a BFF, but Emily isn't kidding about the "Forever" part.
This book is amazing! The art is excellent - no stereotypical rail-thin girls with gravity-defying boobs. Brosgol represents lots of different body types and looks and Anya sports a chubby and pretty body. Her body image issues are worked out in the art and some of the storyline without ever being heavy-handed. The dialogue is spot-on. Anya's wit and sarcasm are perfect for a teenager and I never felt like Brosgol was trying to hard. And the story - I did quite the turn-about on how I felt about these characters as the story progressed. There's enough spookiness to appeal to fans of ghost stories, but I think this would be a story that's an easy sell to almost any reader.(less)
Yay, Amy Reeder is back! I love her work and this is no exception. I thought the story was good - a big improvement on volume two, but not quite as go...moreYay, Amy Reeder is back! I love her work and this is no exception. I thought the story was good - a big improvement on volume two, but not quite as good as volume one. This volume focuses on the relationship between Nimue/Madame Xanadu, and her sister Morgana. We get a lot of backstory about the two sisters. It comes in the midst of the main story, dealing with a 1950s housewife struggling with her life and - quite suddenly - with the supernatural. She seeks help from Madame Xanadu and this leads to a confrontation between Nimue and Morgana. Oh, and throw in John Jones, who's investigating a little Satanic cult! Yeah, seriously.
I enjoyed the main storyline, but I didn't know what to make of the secondary story, dealing with the sisters' pasts. You come away from that plot feeling sort of sorry for Morgana. She's not as talented as her sisters when it comes to magic and she's part of a family who's power is diminishing and who's time has come and gone. Nimue is depicted as the perfect sister and Morgana as the bitch. And she is... she's violent and crazed and vicious. And she's grieving the death of her son. But we have to reconcile this with her new appearance in the 1950s, where she's bursting people, Violet Beauregarde-style, as she gets her feet rubbed. So yeah, that's a little strange.
I did like the way that Madame Xanadu is and isn't a part of the 1950s lifestyle. Talk about a decade where she just doesn't fit. And yet, Wagner makes it work. I would recommend this volume... though I would recommend solely on the artwork, even if the story sucked. Which it didn't.(less)
If you had told me that Creature Tech would combine a man's search for his faith in God, space eels, ghosts, aliens (including an alien Jesus!), demon...moreIf you had told me that Creature Tech would combine a man's search for his faith in God, space eels, ghosts, aliens (including an alien Jesus!), demon cats, giant praying mantis heaven, romance, and a heavy dose of sass, I would've tell you that it's not possible. You just cannot fit that much stuff into one graphic novel and have it make any sense! Well, for the most part, Creature Tech makes sense and is a moving, fun exploration of Dr. Michael Ong's journey through life.
Dr. Ong is the lead researcher/director of Creature Tech, an institute dedicated to cataloging hundreds of crates of alien, paranormal, and just plain weird stuff. Think of the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Creature Tech exists in the tiny town of Turlock (ah, alliteration), a place full of hillbillies, church picnics, and museums devoted to the campy and mysterious. When Creature Tech opens a crate containing the "Shroud of Turlock," a vengeful ghost (are there ever other kinds?) named Jameson uses it to bring himself back from the dead, complete with his demon hand, and sets his plan in motion to resurrect the alien that killed him... a giant space eel! Yeah, see what I mean?
This book seems like it should be shaky. It's covering a fairly wild story mixing sci-fi and horror. To complicate matters even more, Dr. Ong struggles with his father, a pastor, and his own lack of faith. Science has become all-important to him, though what he sees at Creature Tech often defines explanation through science. Ong himself is transformed during the examination of the Shroud, when an alien destroys his heart and attaches itself to him. He and symbiote must work together and this unexpectedly brings up his lost faith.
I felt like this book could've been divided into a few volumes and really taken the time to explore some of the heavier issues TenNapel brings up. The one-liners spouted by Ong and Jameson are funny but lighten the mood too much. The artwork is excellent, particularly anything involving Blue, the praying mantis sidekick. While I don't think this is the greatest graphic novel of all time, it's one I would happily recommend.(less)
Let me preface my review by saying that I first read this series when I was in high school and I loved it. My best friend recommended it and we refere...moreLet me preface my review by saying that I first read this series when I was in high school and I loved it. My best friend recommended it and we referenced it all the time... though with some knowledge that this was somewhat cheesy writing. There were lots of jokes about guys with beautiful, steely blue eyes. But I remember thinking that the books were somewhat scary, contained a great mix of fantasy and reality, and Julian had that bad-boy/demon thing going for him, like Jareth in Labyrinth, but without the weird age difference!
So when the series was finally reprinted, I was really excited to read them again and see how my adult-self compared with my teen-self. I'm sorry to say that I don't think this series aged that well. It's not just the early 90s references... I felt like there were a lot of problems here. Like the characters feeling like stereotypes for the first half of the series. Or the language that they used sounding like it wouldn't come out of a teen's mouth now or 16 years ago. And Jenny... what did she see in Tom? She feels so flat throughout the books, which I suppose is somewhat the point. She does develop somewhat and becomes more independent, less reliant on her friends' strengths and Tom being her protector. I suppose I just got annoyed with her incredible "goodness" - I mean, who's really that good?
I should balance this review out by saying that I still did enjoy rereading this series... it just felt more like a guilty read! I think that for those Twilight-readers this is an excellent collection to move on to; even though it's populated with the troubled, beautiful, immortal bad boy, it revolves less around being obsessed by this boy and more about friendship and inner-strength. Jenny's not the strongest of heroines, but she still becomes "her own master." As a librarian, I'll be recommending this book to those still looking for something after Twilight, but also to those looking for a good haunted house story, something to do with nightmares, or something that doesn't include vampires! (less)
Miranda is a slight girl who is easily lifted and carried by the wind. It deposited her next to Bourne Manor, an imposing house that is home to the wi...moreMiranda is a slight girl who is easily lifted and carried by the wind. It deposited her next to Bourne Manor, an imposing house that is home to the widow Wysteria and the four Hounds. Wysteria takes Miranda in - the girl has no memory of where she came from before the wind took her - and puts her to work mending nets for the local fisherman. She also makes Miranda wear a pair of weighted shoes, to keep her from flying off again. As the years pass, Miranda learns some of the secrets of the Manor, hearing rumors of a lost treasure and discovering an attic full of beautiful kites built my Wysteria's dead husband. After the appearance of a friendly boy named Farley, Miranda realizes that the Manor has an insidious hold on her and seeks a way to escape.
I don't know how a book that is relatively short can come across as taking too long to develop, and yet still not completely tell a story. This is a fairly intriguing plot when you boil it down to its basics: Miranda is a mysterious girl who can be carried by the wind, she's trapped in Bourne Manor by the house or by Wysteria, the house is cursed/haunted and corrupts its inhabitants, and there's a mystery about Wysteria's husband that Miranda and Farley solve. A third of the book is dedicated to explaining the daily life of Miranda and Wysteria, and this is just way too long. It's difficult to tell if Wysteria is supposed to be a villain (she has trapped Miranda in the house and works her pretty hard) or just an old woman who's trying to get by (they're often starving) and has succumbed to the house's influence. You feel sorry for her, particularly when she gets pneumonia. The house itself is a confusing character - it's only in the last couple of chapters that it becomes malevolent. It would've been much more effective to show the house's influence over the seven years (which pass in the first 28 pages) Miranda lives there, rather than the few weeks at the end of the story.
The plot really picks up when Farley becomes a regular character and he gives Miranda some of her background. The language is pretty and on the verge of being purple prose. However, for all the descriptions we get, I had a terrible time understanding just how small or how old Miranda was. I also couldn't tell who the intended audience is for this book - professional reviews suggest tweens, but the language is just so proper that I think it would be a hard sell. The cover (which is probably the best thing about the book), the length, and the plot make me think it's for children, but I think the language works even less for that crowd.
Overall, this just feels like a very underdeveloped story. If you chopped out the first third of the book and gave more depth to Miranda, Wysteria, and the house, this would be much better.(less)
Phillipa takes off in the middle of her dad's wedding to pastel-loving Krystal, in order to head off to her summer job - being a nanny who "loves blac...morePhillipa takes off in the middle of her dad's wedding to pastel-loving Krystal, in order to head off to her summer job - being a nanny who "loves black" to ten-year-old twin girls at a luxurious but creepy spa in Maine. The spa has all the latest amenities, including a hot gardener named Geoff, a bossy, a ghost-obsessed business-women named Lady Buena Verde, an absent-minded father, and a prissy assistant, Laurie, who may or may not be dating Geoff. However, the twins and their new nanny are not to be seen or heard by guests, despite orders for Phillipa to make the twins have "fun" so that they can get over their mother's death. Phillipa is still grieving her own mother's death, but she's ready to take on the challenge.
So... sound kind of crappy? That's because it is! This is a relatively harmless fluff-book, but the writing is weak, the characters don't develop, the ending is abrupt, and a major plot-point - Phillipa getting over her mother's death - just gets dropped. She starts out still mourning her mother (and it's been several years since she died in a car wreck that it's hinted was caused by Phillipa's cat... WTH?) and hating the idea of having fun. But she throws herself into forcing the twins to have fun, like going to the arcade, swimming, or hanging out in the butterfly garden. A few ghosts appear in the story with absolutely no consequence, even after one of them tries to kill Phillipa. There are hints that Lady Buena Verde could help her contact these spirits, but absolutely nothing comes of it.
The romance complication between Geoff and Laurie is explained away in one sentence and he'll probably be visiting Phillipa after the summer, who I guess will be going back to her unhappy life with her dad and new stepmother. These are the classic YA adults who hardly care that their teenage daughter will be spending the summer in a strange mansion as a nanny, or that she takes off in the middle of their wedding, after throwing away her bridesmaid dress.
You'd think that maybe the positive of this book is that it's a light, quick read... and it is. But the language is so dated, I have a hard time imagining teens would want to read it. There are references to Dragnet in this... Dragnet! Which last aired in 1959. Very relevant to today's teens. There are just so many good books out there, there's not much a reason to waste your time on this. (less)
This book was just wonderful. I'm having such a difficult time finding things to say about it besides the fact that it was amazing. It's sweet without...moreThis book was just wonderful. I'm having such a difficult time finding things to say about it besides the fact that it was amazing. It's sweet without ever being saccharine. There's hilarious moments (I loved the ghouls), sad and scary moments, and the ending is just right, leaving you hoping for another book *please please*. I have to agree with Leila, this book feels very similar to Sandman, but without some of the horror content. Adult themes lurk around the edges of the story - after all, this is about growing up - and there are plenty of frightening characters in and out of the graveyard (mostly out). The characters are all so full of life (forgive the pun) - all around, this book was amazing.
I have to say that the audio version of this is just brilliant. I listened to Neil Gaiman read Coraline, and he did a great job there - but this blows that reading out of the water. The characters, the accents, everything is so developed, you forget you're listening to just one person reading. Just listen to the chapter with the ghouls and Miss Lupescu and Bod's adventures through the ghoul gate... you'll be hooked! I know I'm going to have to check out the paper copy of the book, to peak at Dave McKean's illustrations, but I'm going to be recommending the audio version to everyone. (less)
Allen Walker, an exorcist sworn to destroy evil spirits called akuma, is once again sent out to collect "innocence," a weapon against akuma. This time...moreAllen Walker, an exorcist sworn to destroy evil spirits called akuma, is once again sent out to collect "innocence," a weapon against akuma. This time he and fellow exorcist Lenalee are dispatched to a rewinding city, where it's been October 9th for more than a month. Only one woman in the city, a klutz named Miranda Lotto, is aware that the day keeps repeating itself. But there are also akuma wandering the city, and a mysterious girl who claims to be part of an organization called The Clan of Noah.
So I wasn't too happy with the last volume of D. Gray-Man. The third volume was an improvement, though there's still a lot of silliness in the first chapter. Once the story actually settles down and gets started (boo giant robots going crazy!), you begin to feel comfortable with the characters and the artwork. There are less of the constant jumps between fighting and dialog, unlike volume 2. The characters also develop more, particularly Miranda, who moves from being a side character to someone we'll see further in the storyline (I hope!). Road Kamelot, a member of the Clan of Noah, was something of an eye-sore to me - she looks a lot like Sora from Kingdom Hearts, in his Nightmare before Christmas attire, but with a mini-skirt and black-and-white socks. The umbrella and some of the weapons/doors that Road uses look like they were taken straight out of Kingdom Hearts, so that bugged me.
Overall, I think the storyline progressed more and the artwork really improved - though I still don't think it's as good as the very first volume. Miranda was the character in this book that really kept my attention, and I hope to see here again. Onward to the next volume, I suppose!(less)
This volume was an awful lot of action with not a lot of plot. I found the fight scenes difficult to follow, simply because it was hard to identify wh...moreThis volume was an awful lot of action with not a lot of plot. I found the fight scenes difficult to follow, simply because it was hard to identify who was doing what. The use of sound in the fight scenes was funny, but also added to the confusion. I really enjoyed the first volume and the amount of backstory it gave for Allen, but I feel like this volume decided it wasn't going to give anything away except for annoying little lines that seem really cliche ("I can't die until I find that person"... dun dun dunnnnn!). Yes, I get Kanda has a past that makes him a hardass, and yes, he has some sort of limited time to live. These lines weren't subtle.
Volume 1 reminded us that, even though these akuma are monsters, they're also victimized souls. This volume just showed them as giggling, creepy monsters. I think the only touching part of this storyline was between Lala and Guzol, and even that was a little overdone.
I'm hoping that volume 3 will pick up with the character development of volume 1.(less)
I think I started this on the wrong foot... You Suck was recommended to me, but I've never read anything by Christopher Moore, so I didn't realize tha...moreI think I started this on the wrong foot... You Suck was recommended to me, but I've never read anything by Christopher Moore, so I didn't realize that this was a sequel until about halfway through. It works just fine as a stand-alone story, but I'll definitely be picking up Bloodsucking Fiends.
This was one of the funniest books I've heard in a long time. It's vampires, it's romance, it's San Francisco. Abby Normal, the perky goth, makes this book worthwhile on her own. Moore clearly knows his setting and I got pretty nostalgic for the Bay Area. I've read some reviews complaining that there's a lack of plot for the book... and it really is more of a character piece. Of course, these are incredible characters with well-developed backgrounds, personalities, and voices.
I'd have to recommend the audio version of this - Susan Bennetts is the best narrator I've ever heard for an audiobook (that includes Tim Curry, which I feel guilty about). She can go from naive, midwestern Tommy to gangsta to goth to refined vampire, without you ever feeling that it's a stretch for her.
This book will make you want to steal a homeless guy's huge cat. And maybe shave it. And give it a sweater. Fair warning.(less)
Violet, the youngest of the triplets, wants nothing more than to be just like her sisters. But to the rest of her family, she will always be Baby, the...moreViolet, the youngest of the triplets, wants nothing more than to be just like her sisters. But to the rest of her family, she will always be Baby, the one who needs looking after because of her weak heart. And, now that a series of earthquakes is hitting the Bay Area, she’s the one that’s terrified of quakes. However, when each quake hit, Violet receives a mysterious message written during the months surrounding the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Each letter takes Violet a step closer to solving the mystery of “V” and Hal’s romance. As Violet gathers more clues, she becomes more confident and self-reliant. In the end, Violet must prevent a tragedy from happening and face her fears.
PaperQuake is a slow-paced mystery that takes some time to really capture the reader’s attention. Violet is somewhat flat at the start of the book, focusing only on her sisters and how she compares to them. However, as the plot develops, we begin to see more of Violet’s relationships with other characters – her parents, her best friend, and her new neighbor, Sam – and as a result, Violet grows as a person. Readers may have trouble with the dialogue, if only because it seems somewhat forced at times. The mystery, which has supernatural elements, is intriguing and will keep readers guessing. The ending is also somewhat open, leaving readers to decide for themselves about Laela’s actions in the past. Though it has its weak spots, PaperQuake is a fun read and an involving mystery. (less)
I'm still not quite sure what to make of Black Dossier. I'm happy to see more LoEG, and pleased that where the comic is interrupted with diaries, book...moreI'm still not quite sure what to make of Black Dossier. I'm happy to see more LoEG, and pleased that where the comic is interrupted with diaries, books, and travel guides, these are not the same somewhat-dull walls of text that rounded out volume two. The majority of them are fascinating and entertaining, and bring much more life to the League's history than vol. 2 did. My favorite was the recounting of how Mina got Nemo to agree to joining the League.
However, I'm missing the old league members (Nemo and Hyde seemed so much more interesting than Allan and sometimes even Mina). It also feels like we've missed out on so many amazing adventures, which we get to hear about secondhand through the diaries, comics, and book-segments. Moreover, I was not in love with the plot. Allan and Mina basically steal the Black Dossier, a series of documents that outline the history of the League and the generations who have served in it (before and after Mina's League). What follows is a long chase story that involves James Bond, Bulldog Drummond, and the remnants of an Orwellian government. For a series that can be so smart, this plot seemed rather blah - I felt like this was mostly an excuse to give us League history and less about Mina and Allan's latest adventure.
If you've read all of vol. 1 and 2, there are lots of references and visuals that you will get, and be pleased that you get them... just expect to spend a lot of time poring over the book. While this volume has skads of references to other literature and films, it's become just as much a self-referential piece. The artwork is, as always, amazing. And that brings me to another thing... expect lots of sex and nudity. But shouldn't you expect that from any work that includes a Tijuana Bible? Particularly an Orwell-inspired one? The 3-D section worked surprisingly well. (less)