Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

I return after my two-week hiatus with a book that I LOVE. A book that came out last year and isn't nearly as well-known as it deserves to be: Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley, in which Mina Hamilton's parents want her dead. Well, undead. Maybe. They're vampires, and now Mina has to decide if she wants to be one too.

There are boys and dates in it for you Twilight fans, but I'd never say it's a Twilight read-alike or even "like Twilight." It's funny, and touching, and realistic, and there's no wangst. And did I mention how funny it is?

The book starts off sort of boring and pop-y, but hang in there for two or three chapters. There are a lot of pop culture references but they're relevant, the ones I was actually thinking of rather than trying to hard to work them into the narrative in an attempt to be hip. The vampire references are updated and modern: Be honest, when someone says "vampire" you probably think of Twilight and Buffy now, not ghastly specters clawing their way up from the ground. Pauley layers both ideas, and you can tell she really likes the genre she's writing in and she's conversant with it.

There are a lot of great, quirky, realistically deep characters, and the plot is straightforward but detailed. I loved Mina and I think I'd love her just as much if she was a real person, along with all of her friends and family. I'd love to hang out with her and she's an amazingly loyal person to the people she loves.

Let me say one more time that this book is HILARIOUS. It was just under 300 pages, but I wouldn't've minded if it was 3000. Luckily there's a sequel in the works for next year. (Humor isn't something that can be explained easily, so check the book out for yourself. :) )

If you like this you might like ghostgirl, although I felt it was heavily in the camp of "trying way too hard to be cool and failing completely." The book itself is gorgeous though, I want whoever designed that to design my book someday. A slightly younger boy-targeted version of this might be the Vladimir Tod series.

You can read my interview with Kimberly here!

Buy Sucks to Be Me

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No review this week

Just dropping by to apologize for the absence last weekend and saying there'll be another one this weekend. :) I'm flying across the country and just don't have time to get it all typed up. Next weekend you can look forward to a review of the fabulous Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe) by Kimberly Pauley.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dramacon (all three volumes) by Svetlana Chmakova

It seems like I've been giving a lot of negative or iffy reviews... I hope to fix that today!

Dramacon wasn't the first manga I read... that was Hellsing Vol. 1. Flash review: The story and characters were great and I would've loved it if it hadn't been a manga. The manga-ness was really annoying and got in the way of the characters for me.

Dramacon is way better. If it wasn't a manga, I wouldn't like it.

The story is in three volumes, each one a different year for Christie at a manga convention. It was hilarious--one of those books I couldn't read in a public place because of the stares--and sweet, using the melodramatic spazziness manga has to hit all the right emotional notes for the characters and make it realistic and over the top at the same time.

The art is great, switching styles just a little bit to suit the tone of each scene. It's subtle, funny, and it works. It's also easy to follow, which is important for me because without clear art I can't figure out what's going on or who's speaking, no matter what country the comic book's from.

Although I've never been to a real con, I think it captured the atmosphere really well. The first volume is the funniest and simplest, with the only big plotline being Christie meeting Matt, that handsome black-coated guy on the cover. The second volume is more serious, adds more characters and has more real-life-like drama. The third volume doesn't have as much stuff about the con itself because it's keeping track of all the characters, but it's an excellent conclusion. (There may be a fourth volume in the works, but a google search and Svetlana Chmakova's website didn't give me that impression.)

I'm in the middle of Death Note right now and loving it, but these three (or five if you count each volume of Dramacon) are the only manga specimens I've even made it to the end of, and Dramacon is the only shojo. I either don't GET what's going on or I just don't LIKE it. So, got a good recommendation? Leave it in the comments!

Buy Dramacon

Friday, May 1, 2009

Angel: After the Fall by Brian Lynch

That's a nice picture of Angel and the dragon on the cover there, no? There's a nice gallery at the end of the book with more pictures (although I can't remember if there are more dragons in them.)

Some spoilers ahead.

I'm a huge fan of Angel, but I was shy of reading the season 6 comics for a while because I liked the way the series ended and I wasn't much of a graphic novel fan at the time.

It turns out I didn't miss much. I declared this book to be un-canon... not because it was bad stuff, but because it was just so boring and unsatisfying. The things I didn't like about season 5 were still there to be disliked, and while the book was very intense in places, it was all about all the awful things that had happened to the characters since we'd seen them last. Which would be fine, but... nothing terrible really happened. At all. And what things did happen were the things that happened onscreen in the series, there was nothing NEW to deal with.

Also, the story picks up quite a bit after the last scene of season 5, and I was pretty confused for most of the book. (The second volume goes back to just after the series end. While it wasn't any more interesting than the first volume, I think the order ought to really be switched. I spent both books confused rather than neither.)

The best part was probably the art. It really harked back to the visual feel of the series itself, it wasn't hard on the eyes like some graphic novel art is, and I just enjoyed looking at it.

SPOILER: Everyone lives. (Although some by a skewing of the definition.) So, the ending of the series didn't really matter. While some of the things they thought up for the graphic novel were pretty clever, they took away what the ending was supposed to be ABOUT. Not Fading Away. Not backing down, no matter what. Going out swinging, even though you know you're going out.

It was worth reading as an Angel fan, definitely not a waste of time, I just prefer my own mental image of the season 5 aftermath. I recommend it for Angel fans, but I suspect that anyone else might be very confused. For a really amazing Buffyverse graphic novel try Fray; I loved it even when I didn't like graphic novels and didn't know much about Buffy, and I still love it now.

Buy Angel: After The Fall