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Quarterly Challenges > 2019 Fall/Winter Challenge - Graphic Novels and Dystopian Fiction

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Our last quarterly challenge for 2019 is Graphic Novels and Dystopian. Selected books can fit either category or both, and if you opt for the dystopian theme, your sense that it fits the theme is all that matters.

We've set up a challenge widget available at the group landing page so that you can use that to set and track goals, or share your goal in this thread, or, at your option, eschew a specific goal and read as many books as you choose that fit these themes.

Who's in? Let's use this thread to discuss books we are consider reading for this challenge.

For dystopian, I'm starting with The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, an author I really like. I'm also super excited that no less than 3 of my GR groups are reading it in October, and their members take very different approaches to book discussions so I will get the benefit of diverse insights.

I'm also getting more comfortable with graphic novels and have several checked out of the library at the moment. Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers will be first, but I'm also going to see if I can find a copy of Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal.

You?


message 2: by Liesl (last edited Dec 03, 2019 11:46PM) (new)

Liesl | 486 comments I'm in for this challenge. This quarter is a little hectic so I have selected 3 Dystopian novels. I can always add some extras if time permits.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
Vox by Christina Dalcher


message 3: by lethe (new)

lethe | 234 comments Sounds good. I have to think about this a bit more, but one graphic "novel" that immediately came to mind is Heimat: A German Family Album (a.k.a. Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home) by Nora Krug.


message 4: by Cam (last edited Oct 01, 2019 03:05AM) (new)

Cam | 95 comments This is a great incentive to get back to reading graphic novels, I grew up in a house full of bande dessinées and devoured them, manga and graphic novels growing up. Unfortunately the genre is not well represented in UK libraries...

My aim is 6 books for this challenge. I will start with Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and (if manga are allowed) Gate 7, Volume 1 by CLAMP. And like Liesl I'm hoping to read Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

If anyone is looking for great graphic novels across different subgenres I really recommend The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Aya of Yop City, anything by Catel but especially Olympe de Gouges, Embroideries and Blue Is the Warmest Color.

I've read a few dystopias by women of colour recently, which surprised even me as it's not a genre I seek out. The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz really stood out, like Kafka without the eye-watering boredom. A few others had really intringuing premises that didn't quite deliver (like Vox unfortunately), but I'd still recommend them if you're trying to read in that genre: An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King, and Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich.


message 5: by Franklinbadger (new)

Franklinbadger | 52 comments The last challenge was a real struggle for me, for some reason, but I think I can manage three graphic novels by women. Some great recommendations there, Cam!


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
lethe wrote: "Sounds good. I have to think about this a bit more, but one graphic "novel" that immediately came to mind is Heimat: A German Family Album (a.k.a. [book:Belonging: A German Reckons ..."

I highly recommend it. Would love to hear your thoughts if you read it.


message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Thanks, cam. I really appreciate the graphic novel suggestions in particular because I find myself reading predominately male authors of them. I’m weary of memoirs and avoid series (in manga/GN), and that leaves me with what feels like a guy-heavy set of remaining options. Which also means the burden is on me to seek out women authors and your suggestions are a great start for me.


message 8: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) I'll be reading Agnes, Murderess, a graphic novel about the bloody folk legend of Agnes McVee, a roadhouse owner, madam, and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia during the gold rush.


message 9: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
I have been saving books all year to my tbr just for this challenge, Carol! I also want to read The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, and I have Aquaman, Vol. 1: Unspoken Water by national treasure Kelly Sue DeConnick on my nightstand.


message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Storyheart wrote: "I'll be reading Agnes, Murderess, a graphic novel about the bloody folk legend of Agnes McVee, a roadhouse owner, madam, and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia ..."

This is so completely me. Thanks for spending my money for me, storyheart :)


message 11: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Anita wrote: "I have been saving books all year to my tbr just for this challenge, Carol! I also want to read The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, and I have [book:Aquaman, Vol. 1: Uns..."

You’re my hero, you planner, you.


message 12: by Story (last edited Oct 02, 2019 05:18PM) (new)

Story (storyheart) Carol wrote: "this is so completely me. Thanks for spending my money for me, storyheart

Glad to be of service, Carol :D


message 13: by Franklinbadger (new)

Franklinbadger | 52 comments Storyheart wrote: "I'll be reading Agnes, Murderess, a graphic novel about the bloody folk legend of Agnes McVee, a roadhouse owner, madam, and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia ..."

This looks fascinating but I can't find it in stock anywhere!


message 14: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) It's a small press Canadian book so it might be tricky to get, I guess. You can direct order it here, Franklinbadger

https://broadviewpress.com/product/ag...

or here

https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/...


message 15: by Franklinbadger (new)

Franklinbadger | 52 comments Storyheart wrote: "It's a small press Canadian book so it might be tricky to get, I guess. You can direct order it here, Franklinbadger

https://broadviewpress.com/product/ag...

or here

h..."


Thank you!


message 16: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
October's "Libraries Transform" bookpick (#LTBOOKPICK) happens to be a dystopian, After the Flood by Kassandra Montag. I've just downloaded it myself.


message 17: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
And... memory police is everything I could have hoped for. Just FYI.


message 18: by Anita (last edited Oct 11, 2019 08:06AM) (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "And... memory police is everything I could have hoped for. Just FYI."

I'm still waiting on my copy, but eager to read that one too! I finished Aquaman by ksd and it was alright for an intro arc, but really I had to say I read the graphic novel The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang and I absolutely loved it and the story was so sweet and pure. If the blurb sounds good to you (and by "you" I mean anyone reading this) then yes read it!


message 19: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
I just finished Stargazing by Jen Wang. I have a new author crush. This graphic novel is a Chinese American coming of age. Loved it. It touched me more personally than The Prince and the Dressmaker, but... I'm not sure I loved it more. Or less. They both got 5 stars from me but they're different stories. Both great. Now I will try for 3 dystopians


message 20: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) I just finished and very much enjoyed Agnes, Murderess. My review here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 21: by Franklinbadger (new)

Franklinbadger | 52 comments Story❤ wrote: "I'll be reading Agnes, Murderess, a graphic novel about the bloody folk legend of Agnes McVee, a roadhouse owner, madam, and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia ..."

Thank you for the recommendation! I just finished this and it will stay with me for a long time.


message 22: by Cam (last edited Oct 29, 2019 10:53AM) (new)

Cam | 95 comments I have to agree back with Kristin - Saga, Vol. 1 is excellent!!

This challenge has been a great excuse to rekindle my love of graphic novels (I sometimes feel like a "cheat" for adding a comic to my book count considering some of them barely take a couple of hours to read, if that). I ended up with a varied bunch which I've grouped in themes:
* Dotter of Her Father's Eyes and Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine were both talking about pushing against patriarchy and gender norms, with the former reminiscent of (but not as good as) Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic mixed with snippets of Lucia Joyce's life. Bitch Planet is a lot more comic-y (sweary, brash, vivid drawings, occasionally cringe-worthy dialogues) than I would normally read but the flashes of very funny social commentary pushed it to 4*
* Three different takes on historical and social issues in France -> Bleu pétrole is a beautiful story around the family of a young mayor in Brittany who fights to make polluters pay for the damage caused by oil spills. Chroniques du 115 une histoire du samu social is an interesting overview of the creation and daily runnings of the Samu Social in Paris, an NGO which supports homeless people. It's quite a traditional graphic-journalism with the author drawn in, definitely more Guy Deslile than Jo Sacco. Mont-Blanc was the story of the first ascent of the Mont Blanc in the late 18th century. A bit disappointing.
* Cassandra Darke and Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 1 both featured female protagonists who have to deal with their life being upended. Cassandra Darke was supposed to be riffing off A Christmas Carol, but was mostly boring, with undeveloped characters and unbelievable plot twists. Witch Hat Atelier is a lovely YA manga, I'd happily read the following volumes but I didn't exactly run to the library to get them.


message 23: by Anita (last edited Oct 31, 2019 09:00AM) (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
I did finish After the Flood and found it pretty alright. I was right in the middle with it.

The Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine series is still one of my favorites, even though it is on hiatus for whatever unknown reason. I'd also recommend Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu. (I'm also a big fan of the Saga series.) Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike is also very very good, the illustrations in that and Monstress will entice another read through to appreciate.

For others who aren't really into traditional comic books, I might recommend Sarah Andersen. She's hilarious and these are more like newspaper or blog one shots that you can read quickly or in very small bits. Or if you like YA, any Raina Telgemeier will be a quick graphic novel read.

As for dystopian books, a couple of my favorites are The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, and Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. I read Severance by Ling Ma and it was pretty good, and many people glow about Station Eleven, which was pretty middle of the road for me. Unfortunately a lot of the modern dystopian I'm finding leans towards YA, and I seem to have had my fill of that for the moment.

I saw a couple recs from Cam I will check out, thank you!


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
I second your recommendation of Sarah Andersen.


message 25: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
I read City of Ash and Red by Hye-Young Pyun and I've got to admit that it took me for a spin. The story is an uncomfortable character study on the nameless man as he navigates a work transfer to an unknown country. The fact that he doesn't have a name and the countries are unnamed adds to an increasingly unmoored atmosphere. I wouldn't call it a typical dystopian, although it is billed as one - taking place after an outbreak of some sort of disease. It's... crazy. He's an unreliable narrator, and there is a lot of chaos, as he doesn't speak the language well and really everything is confusing to him, and the book is a series of disastrous events that lead him down a ridiculous and depressing path. He even reflects at one point that at his lowest point in his life before he didn't know how happy he really was. Coupled with the fact that he isn't even a likeable character... it was a heck of a read. I think I gave it 3 stars, but it still stays on my mind which is the sign of a good book imo.
I finally got The Memory Police, but unfortunately it will have to wait for me to finish a few others first.


message 26: by lethe (new)

lethe | 234 comments Kristin wrote: "Belonging is much more difficult as it explores Nazi Germany and Krug's family's involvement and possible involvement. It is one of the most visually stunning graphic novels/memoirs I have read though.

Glad it didn't disappoint! I hope to read it for this challenge as well.


message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Kristin wrote: "I read The Prince and the Dressmaker and Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, two books I had on my TBR list and was reminded of by Anita and lethe res..."

I read Belonging earlier this year and can't recommend it highly enough. Agreed.


message 28: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
Kristin wrote: "I read The Prince and the Dressmaker and Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, two books I had on my TBR list and was reminded of by Anita and lethe res..."

I'm thrilled you loved The Prince and the Dressmaker too! With all these recs, I will add Belonging as well.


message 29: by lethe (new)

lethe | 234 comments Carol wrote: "I read Belonging earlier this year and can't recommend it highly enough."

I must have missed your comment #6 upthread. Great to hear you loved it and I will definitely let you know my thoughts.


message 30: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
Ok I've added another graphic novel, Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu and illistrated by Sana Takeda. And now I've finally started The Memory Police!

That puts me at 4 graphics and 2 dystopians read so far.

@Cam and Liesl, have you read Woman on the Edge of Time yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Anita wrote: "Ok I've added another graphic novel, Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu and illistrated by Sana Takeda. And now I've finally started [bo..."

@Anita - 6 so far is amazing!


message 32: by Liesl (new)

Liesl | 486 comments Anita wrote: "Ok I've added another graphic novel, Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu and illistrated by Sana Takeda. And now I've finally started [bo..."

Not yet, Anita. It is next on my reading pile but [book:The Mill on the Floss|20564] is taking longer than I expected.


message 33: by Franklinbadger (new)

Franklinbadger | 52 comments Another one here reading The Memory Police.


message 34: by Liesl (new)

Liesl | 486 comments I took a break from my other reading today and managed to read The End We Start From by Megan Hunter. It was quite an interesting read. I feel that the author really captured the numbness and lack of comprehension of a natural disaster that leaves people homeless, without food or any form of the life we have come to be accustomed to.


message 35: by Cam (new)

Cam | 95 comments Anita wrote: "Ok I've added another graphic novel, Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu and illistrated by Sana Takeda. And now I've finally started [bo..."

I still haven't started it as comments from IRL friends on how frustrating a read it was have slightly punctured my enthusiasm. As the introduction to the 2016 edition mentions something about breeding/birthing, I might sneak it into the "motherhood" theme next year if I can't finish my current books / find enough motivation in time...


message 36: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) Two New Graphic Novels (by Women) Ask: Why Have Children in an Uncertain World?

https://lithub.com/two-graphic-novels...


message 37: by Liesl (new)

Liesl | 486 comments Cam wrote: "Anita wrote: "Ok I've added another graphic novel, Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu and illistrated by Sana Takeda. And now I've final..."

Oh that is an interesting idea in case I run out of time to finish it.

The End We Start From would also make a good work for the Motherhood theme. The narrator has just given birth as the apocalyptic event takes place so there is a very clever melding of her feelings as a new mother and her reaction to this event.


message 38: by Cam (new)

Cam | 95 comments Thanks for the recommendations Story❤️ and Liesl!


message 39: by Liesl (new)

Liesl | 486 comments I finished Vox by Christina Dalcher last night. I was pretty excited about reading it as I had seen some wonderful reviews on it. The beginning is excellent and there were moments where I started to feel a little stressed thinking about how this could actually happen (much like reading The Handmaid's Tale). Unfortunately, Dalcher is not Margaret Atwood and this story does not finish as strongly as it began. I gave it 3 stars as it was still an enjoyable read.


message 40: by Cam (new)

Cam | 95 comments I completely agree with you Liesl, very strong start but then the story petered out (similar to other dystopic novels with a great premise but the author seems unsure about where to go once that's done). I actually think it might have worked better as a short story, only keeping the set-up.


message 41: by Liesl (new)

Liesl | 486 comments Cam wrote: "I completely agree with you Liesl, very strong start but then the story petered out (similar to other dystopic novels with a great premise but the author seems unsure about where to go once that's ..."

I'm so glad it wasn't just me! To be honest, I think the downfall of the story is the love triangle. The story was much more interesting when Jean was struggling with the (view spoiler). I felt the (view spoiler) made her character less sympathetic and the episode with the gorilla was unnecessary. I also thought the ending was too neat.


message 42: by Anita (last edited Dec 04, 2019 07:58AM) (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
Liesl wrote: "Cam wrote: "I completely agree with you Liesl, very strong start but then the story petered out (similar to other dystopic novels with a great premise but the author seems unsure about where to go ..."

I had similar views on Vox. I remember thinking the ending was rushed, and too neat as well.

I'm reading Red Clocks right now, but I can't decide if it fits in with this challenge or not as the only thing that ended was Roe v. Wade, which seems like the end of the world for women's rights, but... I don't think it's dystopian? Either way, this one started a little meh for me, but I'm burning through the second half.

I also have Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home up next since it is highly recommended in this thread.


message 43: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Anita wrote: "Liesl wrote: "Cam wrote: "I completely agree with you Liesl, very strong start but then the story petered out (similar to other dystopic novels with a great premise but the author seems unsure abou..."

Red Clocks has been/is described by all and sundry as feminist reproductive dystopia, notwithstanding that it's contemporary, so don't feel any guilt if you include it in this challenge. Of course, your thoughts on it are the only thing that matters.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertain...


message 44: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
I'm likely going to be unable to finish any more books for this challenge in 2019, but this LitHub list gave me a couple of new TBR additions for 2020.

Best Reviewed Books of 2019: Graphic Literature

https://bookmarks.reviews/the-best-re...

Women authors featured:

Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers

The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib I Was Their American Dream A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley Kid Gloves Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley

Making Comics by Lynda Barry Making Comics by Lynda Barry


message 45: by Lara (new)

Lara Maynard | 2 comments I read Anne of Green Gables graphic novel adaptation in the fall and again this month. Enjoyed it. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 46: by Liesl (new)

Liesl | 486 comments I'm currently on my final work for this challenge but I don't think I will get it finished before the 31st. I'm reading Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. At this point I'm not loving it but I am only around 100 pages in. I am not enjoying the writing style and I have not connected with the character.


message 47: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
Liesl wrote: "I'm currently on my final work for this challenge but I don't think I will get it finished before the 31st. I'm reading Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. At ..."

That’s a bummer. For some reason, I’m also less patient with books that aren’t right for me at the end of the year. I hope your next read is more satisfying.


message 48: by lethe (new)

lethe | 234 comments I finished Heimat: A German Family Album yesterday, just in time :)

I thought it was very good, glad to have read it.


message 49: by Anita (new)

Anita (anitafajitapitareada) | 969 comments Mod
I think it's safe to say this was another successful challenge. Congratulations to everyone who participated and thanks for the amazing recommendations I've gleaned from you and your lists on two of my personal favorite genres, and thank you to Carol for introducing us to these quarterly challenges. Happy new year and may we all have many more good reads together, though there is still plenty of time for a graphic or two this year :)


message 50: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2185 comments Mod
lethe wrote: "I finished Heimat: A German Family Album yesterday, just in time :)

I thought it was very good, glad to have read it."


So glad to hear this. I read it early in 2019 and thought it was really special.


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