The colour scheme was vibrant when there was happiness, but dark and muted when Canada is captured. The main hero is a young woman wearing all white, very symbolic in terms of a saviour to her people. She meets up with a ragtag group, led by a strong woman (who later betrays them).
There are several strong woman in this graphic novel, in fact most of the significant characters are women. From the leader of the rebels, to the head of the U.S. armed forces, to Canada's saviour in white. Women play a significant role in the progress and power throughout. In fact, it is the saviour's mother who was one of the original targets in the first wave of America's assault on Canada.
There were faults throughout, which led to my lower rating. For one, I found the story to be lacking in meat. The graphics were wonderful, but there needed to be more story attached to the panels. I felt bereft at times, that I needed more, that I wanted to spend more time with the characters and their histories and less with the fighting and violence. I know it was meant to be shocking and extremist, but at the same time I could not empathize as well, since I was only receiving once back story and lacking on all of the rest. The end was also quite abrupt, for all of the drama and accumulation of suspense previous. So, there was quite a bit of action, which is good, but it was lacking in development.
Overall, it was an interesting story line, both provocative and powerful. The graphics were compelling and the colouring whisked you into a county, once beautiful and light, which has been darkened by devastation. I liked the character dynamics and interaction, and I enjoyed there being so many powerful women, but I would have enjoyed it more with a little more plot, character development and purpose. How can I empathize when I am only witnessing gore, violence and conflict?
Several of my favourite pages did turn out to be the beautiful two page spreads, which highlighted the powerful machines that the United States had at their disposal (so visually stunning, and horrific all in one). No words necessary to convey the dread.
What follows is a trip down the rabbit hole. Filled with pop culture references, quick wit, laughter, and lots of fear. This was edge of your seat reading. The beasts reminded me of something out of a Lovecraft novel, with ties to the ever elusive Necronomicon of pulp horror infamy.
I loved the imagery splashed throughout. It was beautiful, frightening, alarming at times, but it painted a vivid landscape/portrait of the world the Blyton Summer Detective Club lived in. With side characters that begin as one-dimensional plot devices, who shift dramatically into developed characters that help to move plot forward and create more sympathy and empathy for our main characters. Favourite imagery goes to Kerri's hair, the amount of descriptors about her being a redhead were impressive, expressive and overpowering. The hair became an entity in and of itself by the end of the novel.
The story made fun of itself, while portraying the realities of becoming an adult. The changes we all must face; returning to our past only to find it has shrunk, or that our minds have made it scarier, grander, or more protective than it really ever was. There were moments when the descriptiveness became too convoluted or too forced, which made me cringe, but was quickly offset by another funny or important moment meant to further the plot or break the tension.
This novel was spot on, shifting the characters into something other than what you would normally find. No more tired, nerdy, unattractive girl (now we have an attractive and fashionable nerd), no more attractive and fashionable girl who plays arm candy to the rest of the team (now we have a self-professed tomboy, who can take care of business on her own, not afraid to throw down or 'woman up'), and finally we lose the lanky, drug addled teen (in favour of a geek, who can show strength and courage in the face of fear). And the jock everyone loves, easily replaced. The group dynamics have also shifted, bringing our tomboy to the forefront, and adding in her eternal love for the nerdy redhead, Kerri.
A startling read, with a twisty plot that throws you for a loop a few times; and, when the final "mask" is pulled off, you cannot help but love these dysfunctional "meddling" kids.
Book 50/50...doing a happy dance. Now on to book 51...
Abigail is as determined, smart, strong-willed and capable as ever. She has become Jackaby's conscience, his crutch, and his weapon. She can both tell him squarely when he is being wrong, or build him up with confidence when he needs a push. She is one of the best female characters written of late, a feminist with hopes and dreams to accomplish that do not include familial obligation or a man (unless she decides that man will not overshadow her own desires). She is full of potential and Jackaby knows this and is determined to see her fulfill everything she is meant to be. While she fears many of the tasks or confrontations they face, she jumps into every situation without a second thought, willing to risk life and limb for humanity and those she cares about.
Jackaby and Abigail have formed an unbreakable friendship. He has grown into a decent human being with her at his side. As well, as more of his character is revealed, the reader realizes that often times his brashness, his pigheaded determination, and his self-involvement are all a mask. A guise to make himself, and others, believe he knows what he is doing at all times (when really he is frightened and confused and befuddled half the time).
Charlie and Jenny were back, full of spunk, loyalty, and laughter. Those two are splendid sidekicks and amazing characters in their own right. Both have given so much of themselves and their pasts for a city, a cause, and a new family.
This novel was so well written. There were several thrilling scenes, dangerous escapes, and quick thinking. My heart raced throughout, wondering just how our group of heroes would manage to avert disaster this time. There were so many twists in the plot, so many jaw-dropping moments, and instances where I shouted A-ha! It was hard to choose my favourite twist, but I suppose the ending for me was it, because it was pure perfection. I will not spoil it, although I wish I could quote the last line of the novel here, as it was so poetically beautiful. Again, it was a wonderful and fond farewell to a place, people and wonders that, as a reader, I had fallen in love with.
These novels were the perfect blend of Victorian mystery and young adult fantasy. With a strong heroine and a somewhat clumsy, but charming hero (neither playing second fiddle to the other). As well, the main characters were completely platonic friends, no romance between them. Just mutual respect for one another and absolute trust.
This novels themes are so intrinsic to the state of the world today. Pushing the idea that we must all come together, no matter our differences. That we must set aside hatred and fear in favour of love, respect and learning. It is so easy to hate, or to allow others hate to dictate our actions, but it is so much more amazing when we can change our viewpoint for a moment and see life from another perspective; when we allow ourselves to grow and change, to open our minds, to push past our prejudices and find common ground.
Book 49/50...only 1 more novel until I reach my reading goal for 2017, woohoo!
Her world is shifted significantly when she saves the life of a young girl, after a boat explodes off the coast. She changes both their destinies in this one instant. Diana must take this girl, Alia, to a spring in Greece (where Helen of Troy rests) to cleanse her of her warbringer heritage (when she reaches 17 her blood will incite world war). Diana does this to save her people, save this young girl so similar to herself, and to prove there is greatness inside of her, that she is more than her mother's daughter.
The beginning of the book was slow, I found it very hard to place myself in the story. Even with all of the interesting background of the Amazons. Do not get me wrong, I love the idea of an Island of strong women who govern themselves; but, I was bored until Alia and Diana made their way off of it and to New York. I also found I could not connect with any of the characters, until I was introduced to Alia's best friend, Nim. Nim was fantastic, made everyone else seem more human, cut tension and filled the pages with laughter. She was by far my favourite character.
I believe the problem with this novel is that Leigh Bardugo is such a master creator. She is so imaginative when it comes to fabricating worlds and characters; so, her taking on a well known, pre-crafted character felt wrong. She had to confine herself to a pre-existing history. I much prefer her own spin, her own tales.
There were some amazing quotes in the novel, some genuine Bardugo gems that were beautiful, poignant and powerful. That is why I had a hard time rating the novel. By the end I was loving the mix of mythology and reality, the friction and the symmetry. But you cannot love a novel for a few amazing quotes and a fascinating and fast paced ending.
I will say that I felt the truth behind the race, the young girls' voices, the idea that at some point every young girl must face losing her innocence (whether to cat calling, to body image, to perceptions of how we must act in a man's world). Bang on, Bardugo, bang on; innocence is so easily exchanged for repression, for fear, for responsibility, for guilt, for shame.
This was a novel about strong women, those not afraid to fight for their beliefs, for truth, who were not afraid to lay down their lives for others. These moments of strength and truth were a win, and I do encourage young women to take those instances of learning from this book, even if the story otherwise fell flat most of the time.
Book 48/50...2 to go.
Felix, a soldier all of his life, is different. Somehow he can shed the skin of oppression, of tyrannical dictatorship, somehow he can still find the individual inside of himself. Despite all of the odds stacked against him, Felix can find a voice for change, for freedom, and for hope. His character is ferocious; however, underneath it all, he harbours a soft spot for a certain red headed rebel. If he is meant to be a leader, he means to be one who is not afraid to show weakness, to seek support and to trust in others (the opposite of the current regime). Felix has changed so much from his introduction in the first novel; from a "drone" with no emotions and a still heart, to a man who wears his beating heart on his sleeve.
Astra has always been headstrong. She fights for everything, and against everything. She inserts herself recklessly into dangerous situations, but does it without thought for herself, more as a strategy to protect those she believes are key to the revolution. Her character is amazing; a young woman who has suffered immeasurable pain and abuse, but who continues to push back. In this book, we see her strategic mind, her careful heart, and the softer side of this fiery redhead. While Felix learns to show his emotions, Astra learns to share hers, to share her burdens. They blend so effortlessly together, a beautiful love story you wish would never end.
The reader's fear for our intrepid heroes never abates, as they face one obstacle after another. At some points the novel felt unbelievably cyclical, repetitive in actions, but it is smoothed over by Felix actually saying what the reader is thinking, "how is this happening again?" Too funny! This lightens the mood in an otherwise chilling action sequence and endears him to the reader even more.
This is an epic love story, one that completely changes the reality surrounding it; so, be prepared to be heart broken, then healed, to fall in love with these two characters. Two beating hearts, whose lives have been about pain, loss, separation, loneliness, betrayal and death. Their ability to hope and love inspires.
"You have become the most brilliant star, even though you grew up in the fiercest of nights." - pure poetry
"If we don't think about them, we won't ever be able to be better than them." - profound
Book 47/50...3 to go!
We fear for her younger sister Phoebe (sick with pneumonia), we worry for her missing brother (who disappeared during the Mississippi flooding), there are too many secrets that could lead to trouble. Something is brewing and it will not be long until it bubbles over and scalds Caroline in some way. When the worst comes, it leaves the reader reeling, speechless and saddened. You are not quite sure how this family, how this 14 year old young woman, can fight past this new ache. Having endured so much, how can they possibly rebuild?
A new voice, burning with wisdom and hope, during one of the most tragic eras in American history, Susanna Lancaster is an author to watch! Her characters felt real. Caroline was strong willed, against all the odds. Even in a time when women were considered less than men, she hitched up her dress and pushed herself to take on the responsibilities and the burdens of the farm. She became the adult, when all the adults around failed her. Her only relief came from her endearing Aunt June (who fostered her reading and encouraged her to enjoy life and her childhood) and the ornery Miss Evelyn (an elderly neighbour, who changed Caroline's perspective on how she views and treats others).
There is a lot of growth in this novel, for all of the characters, but especially for Caroline. She slowly realizes that even if people move away, or out of your life, they are still a part of you and continue to influence who you are as a person. She gains understanding of others, accepts their faults and flaws, often forgiving instead of begrudging. Her realizations are genuine and honest, and by the end of the book you see the adult she has become in such a short time. The truths she reveals hold meaning for all of us. People may leave our lives, may face their own journeys, but they do not leave our hearts. Instead, they fill our hearts before they go; and, while they are gone we hold them close and love them just the same. They take pieces of us with them and we must learn to accept this and continue to live our own lives, to be happy as we are, with what we have, and with the knowledge that they are out there living as well. Caroline learns that growing up often means growing apart; however, this is not a bad thing, it is just a part of life.
Book 46/50...4 to go!
I loved this graphic novel, it was gripping and the three girl's character development was effortlessly done. Each with a bit more back story, showing their defining traits and abilities, as well as shifting previous views. Mac, the tough chick, is hit with some traumatic news which completely throws her character out of proportion. She becomes reckless, fearless, but is still so clearly a scared child who does not know how to accept or express an emotionally charged situation. Tiff is the character who most comes into her own; she is self sacrificing, caring, a voice of reason, but also a bit of a desperado. She is the glue keeping the girls together and on track. Erin has grown into a leader, the one the other girls listen to, respect and expect to know the answers. She is both hard and soft, she does not let confusion distract her. She also makes sure to hide truths until they are absolutely necessary to reveal them. These girls are amazing, and the more I read about them the more they grow on me and earn my respect.
This graphic novel is how a coming of age story is done right. We see these young women growing and learning, aging without the use of sex or inappropriate behaviour. They rely on each other, and have no need for romantic interests or distractions. This is a graphic novel about friendship through hardship. The plot is at once easy to understand; while also being complex, intricate and pushing the use of the reader's own imagination.
The colours were more muted in this volume, which seemed to highlight the bleak future. The future was darker, more reserved, shadowed. Pinks were once again used during times of duress, ie. the introduction of two large monsters battling each other, or when Mac finds out something tragic about her past. In the final panels of the graphic novel, the reader is treated to the most vibrant and idyllic colour scheme yet, and right away my guard went up. Something is off, these colours tell me to be weary and worried for our girls. What might they be greeted by in this beautiful place?
Favourite scene: when young Erin tells older Erin to love herself and lists all the points about older Erin that make her think her future looks pretty good. One of the most bizarre cases of a self confidence boost. So perfect, some quick words off the cuff that lead to a wordless few panels that really shine. Made me smile, even with the ever dreaded pink warning that something horrific lurks and where they are headed may well be a trap. Well done! Cannot wait to read Paper Girls 3.
Book 45/50...5 to go!
The amount of skin was unreal, and the fact that these inbred humans all still managed to be vivacious, curvaceous, beautiful, sexualized women or ripped men with only a slight problem in regards to their teeth and their intelligence, made me groan in annoyance. Our heroine's best friend, a male, is a sex fiend, whom every female character is throwing herself all over for sex. However, we can look past this because our heroine seems immune, but as we progress we see her whole person seems to be based around his approval and acknowledgment.
I became quite displeased with the continuous mention of female body parts, and the unrealistic proportions and facial expressions throughout. The colouring was exceptional, with both bright and dark at precisely the right moments, colours shifting depending on atmosphere, location, and mood. Purple and green for space; pink, red and orange for the planet, etc. However, the colouring could not make up for the rest. The story had potential, but seemed so rehashed from other comics, movies and books I have seen or read before. I mean, a cult of beautiful men and women, lead by a crazy Goddess, with thoughts of world, or in this case, galactic domination.
There are loopholes in the story too; for example, Astrid walking around freely as a slave, Astrid entering a sacred chamber with no one around or in it, breaking rules when her personality expressly rejects not following them. These inconsistencies and shifts in character personalities were drastic and unbelievable. Plus, for a stickler for rules, Astrid had no qualms about throwing her garbage out all around space. There was also a lot of obvious foreshadowing, where I would think, "well this was clearly put in just because something similar will be happening later on..." ugh!
My favourite character was her computer, or artificial intelligence, Itzak. It was much needed comic relief, in a graphic novel that was quickly degenerating to a bunch of pin-up images with an unformed story line within...was the story and dialogue an afterthought?
Not my kind of tale, to be honest. I prefer my scifi comics to contain heroines whose identity is not based around male characters and her body. Sure, Astrid can hold her own at times, but this felt more like one of those check out this big butt girl comics, focused on a female in desperate need of being accepted by an organization lead by a faulty patriarchy, to please her dead parents, and without thought to their ability to dismiss her so easily. No, thanks!
Book 44/50...6 to go!
Here are some of the panels I liked, based solely on the colouring and not the story. As well as, one of the panels with an emphasis on over-sexualized characterization.
I enjoyed each of the characters, and could clearly place myself in Anna's shoes. It is hard to like someone and not know how to express yourself, let alone someone who is your best friend and in a devoted relationship with someone else. There are bound to be complications, because teenagers cannot have rational, truthful conversations with each other.
There was a lot of detail, in character and location. In fact, by the end of the novel Paris has become a main character in itself. Its street are a map work of form, the buildings an echo of voices, the theatres the windows to the soul, even the people within have become a warm memory for Anna. Anna paints an image of Paris, and the painting shifts as she grows and learns to be herself in this utterly alien/foreign landscape. By the end, Paris is as much a friend as Mer, Rashmi and Josh.
I loved the idea that home was less of a location and more a person. Home travels with you, in your heart. It was neat to see this down-home American girl realize that roots can grow and encompass more than just family.
There was maybe a little too much drama, and I know they are teenagers so there was bound to be some, but I felt sometimes it was just too in your face and over the top. For example, Anna's anger at her friend for dating a boy she had a 'crush' on; although, I understand this was foreshadowing her own experiences to come, it felt so forced and a creation of conflict to tighten the bonds between Anna and Étienne.
I also have this dislike for novels where characters continuously talk about the other persons looks. Anna and Étienne are guilty of this trait. Beautiful this and beautiful that. This was the reason I could not stand the Twilight Saga, stopped at the first book because Bella was the most superficial character I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. Luckily, this only happened a few grating times and these two talked about other characteristics they loved.
There were plenty of angsty moments and several moments where you wish you could slap Anna or Étienne and say "get over it!" However, this endeared the characters to me more, because they were so flawed and human. They showed their vulnerability and their naïveté. They are the epitome of who we were in high school, secret crushes and all. They were us as we were leaving high school, with a whole future in front of us, no idea where it will lead, fear and excitement surging through our veins.
Book 43/50...7 to go!