I enjoyed the premise of the story very much, the mix of modern world with old folklore. The house spirit was at times friendly and at times terrifying. The two spirits, Katie having brought the spirit from her new restaurant home, fighting over the old restaurant (Seconds) leads to darkness and despair. Both spirits rely heavily on Katie to correct the "mistakes" she thought needed fixing.
This graphic novel fell flat otherwise. All of the characters, other than Hazel, had no redeeming qualities. I could not for the life of me understand why Lis (the Seconds house spirit) ever showed herself to Katie or even offered her the use of the mushrooms. I understand Lis had to deal with the "boss" of the house, but surely Lis wanting to save Hazel from a bad fate was not worth the trouble dealing with Katie would bring.
Katie is a very unlikable protagonist. She inserts herself into everyone's business at Seconds, the place she has already left. Unable to let go, she instead is gripping too tightly, even still being called and considered "boss." This causes rifts and jealousy. Everything that goes wrong for Katie is due to her own selfishness. It is hard to feel sympathetic for her. Sure her new business is taking longer to come together than she would like, but her behaviour towards her former business is laughable.
Katie's boyfriend Max is a real piece of work, and you wish the relationship would end immediately after beginning again. He originally left Katie because he was angry at not being included in her dream for a new restaurant, then when she "corrects" this he takes over her dream entirely and makes it his own. He is a misogynistic asshole, who she just kind of gives in to (which makes you like her even less). Their relationship is self serving, destructive and problematic; in fact, I was disappointed in their ending. I thought it could have, and maybe should have, ended differently.
I did enjoy the drawing style. Very manga-esque; manga meets Western Culture (much like O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim comic). The characterization makes the story more vivid and haunting. The scenes with the tree and the different versions of Seconds, with the red dresser in the trunk, is both poetic and prophetic. The more mistakes Katie corrects the darker the illustrations become. The second spirit is a shadow of Katie, the pieces of Katie she is leaving behind, as though she herself is ripping her world apart.
Even is I did not like the characters, this graphic novel was a poignant look at accepting the life you are living, mistakes and all. Being happy where you are, and with who you have become. It is about owning up to your mistakes, instead of trying to erase them. Embracing your flaws and moving forward.
You can see the illustrations darkening and becoming more macabre as Katie disjoints her world.
Molly, on the other hand, becomes less critical of herself and moves out from under her sister's shadow. She begins pushing herself through the awkward situations she would usually avoid, with mostly positive outcomes.
I really liked her coworker Reid. A bit of a nerd, who loves Tolkien and Game of Thrones! Molly finds it easy to talk to him almost immediately, but dismisses him as a love interest for the same judgmental and inaccurate reasons she thinks people do not consider her romantically.
So, while I disliked the first half of the novel, the second half had me laughing, crying, and pumping my fists triumphantly (for Molly, for Reid, for her moms, and even a little bit for Cassie). Molly's growth throughout the novel really impressed me, and it was at the point when she finally looked at herself in the mirror and saw she was beautiful, that I knew I loved this character and could easily connect with her. Everyone has insecurities, body issues, a need for love that sometimes eats away at us. Her anxieties and her nerves mirrored my own at seventeen. The world looming in front of you, but so centred around you, around who you are and who you will become. You fear change, but you embrace that it is inevitable. We cannot be young forever, we will not always live with our parents or rely on them, we must learn to let go of our loved ones (our siblings) and realize while we may move in different directions, we will always intersect.
I particularly love this quote (spoilers): "I think this is me letting go. Bit by bit. I think these are our tiny steps away from each other. Making not-quite-identical footprints in not-quite-opposite directions. And it's the end of the world and the beginning of the world and we're seventeen. It's an awesome thing."
It's a book very much about the power of family, of love, and of growing up. I have three siblings, and I know just how Molly feels about growing up and away; but while it is not the same, they are still there, always!
Bonus for the mom's tying the knot and Molly's killer Pinterest/Crafting skills. The edible cookie dough though...dying from how amazing it is!
Sad at times, funny at others, and beautifully illustrated by the creator of Fionna and Cake herself! The story kind of ended randomly, but within this world that made sense. Loved the colours, the stories within the larger framework, and the characters personalities. I loved being able to jump into this world, into this story, without having watched or read any other Adventure Time before. I hope to read more involving this dynamic duo, as they are weird, hilarious, nice and full of surprises. Definitely felt the female power Fionna was throwing around.
While the main story was good, my two favourite parts were offshoot tales. The first, the fire woman who creates rock babies with her kiss. She becomes trapped by those same fire babies, when they try to shelter her from the rain; turning back into rock and leaving her to cry lava inside them. Such a tragic story to begin the graphic novel, but a good segway and framework for all that is to come. The second tale is about a river nymph who loves an immortal. She saves a cat from drowning and the cat offers to repay the favour, by finding a way to grant the nymph everlasting life. The drawing of that tale is amazing, very different from the rest of the novel. It felt more like an old fable, with a style similar to a painting rather than a graphic novel. There is emotion and depth, a meaning to be gleamed. The nymph insists on not changing who she is for her love, but the cat tries to grant her immortality nonetheless. This leads to the nymph once again saving the cats life, at the expense of her own. Both the women in these tales are trapped in some way, by their own bodies and limitations. While one yearns to be free of her fate, the other accepts who she is and cherishes that life, no matter how difficult it may be to sacrifice love. Again, powerful stories revolving around women.
Also, enjoyed that the men in the stories seemed to rely heavily on Fionna to accomplish their mission. Prince Gumball is so vain that he falls into a trap that only Fionna is able to resist. GIRL POWER for the win!!!!
Above are my favourite spreads: the fire woman trapped, Prince Gumball caught in flan, Lumpy Space Prince becoming beautiful (funniest side story), the river nymph saving the cat.
The book is an emotional roller coaster. The reader joins Georgie on her quest to rebuild her broken relationship. Wondering is she can fix the marriage, if it is worth fixing, and if marriage and happiness are mutually exclusive.
It was a very interesting narrative, with this one science fiction element in an otherwise ordinary fiction novel. It is so well intermingled, by the end of the novel it seems so ordinary; as though, magic phones should exist, for the sole purpose of healing. Each element of the novel, and each chapter, worked so well together, pushing in to other moments, entwining the story with meaning and subtly changing Georgie's personality and perspective on life and love.
Georgie has many insecurities, most of which are rolled up in her marriage. She knows her life choices are affecting her husband's happiness. That her happiness directly leads to his unhappiness. It is the old choice between career and family; where Georgie is failing to control her time with one, sacrificing time with the other. The reader feels for her, understanding her selfish need for both; why should she have to choose? But at the same time, the reader understands the same could be said for Neal; why should he have to sacrifice so much? Somehow, to make this marriage work, they both need to compromise. They both "need to be better" to the other.
This book nails marriage on the head. It is hard, it is work. As divorce statistics clearly show, love is not always enough. It is sometimes an effort to keep yourselves together, especially after children come along. As Georgie states, children take up all of your time; you would not change having them for the world, but you know they have irrevocably changed the dynamic of your marriage. There is space now between you two, filled with little ones, that you have to consciously move through. It becomes extra important to make time for your significant other, to remember this is the person you love, your best friend, the one you promised 'forever'.
The beginning was a little slow for me, but halfway through I could hardly put the book down. Hence the 4.5, instead of 5, rating. Although, this ranks as one of my top fave Rainbow Rowell reads, maybe because I am at the same stage in my life as Georgie. I have a husband, two kids, and am purposely finding time to be both mother and wife, to be both couple and family. Such a fantastic, and different read, I really recommend it.
Lord Ballister Blackheart used to work for the The Institution and was best friends, hinting at more, with Goldenloin; until he lost his arm due to Goldenloin and was kicked out of The Institution. From there, he vowed to expose for the criminals they are by becoming their "villain". He still has core values that he cannot break, including being unable to kill without cause.
Nimona is a mysterious shapeshifter, determined to help Blackheart destroy The Institution. However, she lacks his core values and is willing to destroy without remorse. Her backstory is slowly revealed, and you pity this young girl for the terrors she has endured. For people's inability to see past appearances to her heart, for fear controlling how people treated her. It is only Blackheart who is able to see past her outward monster to the scared little girl inside. The two of them play well off each other, her making him more cunning and encouraging his abilities, and him instilling a sort of kindness or humanity that she had stripped from her by others.
I loved the illustrations, perfectly capturing the feelings of delicateness, hopelessness and darkness. Nimona is the only rounded main character, the others are all angles; this seems to be another way to express her being different. The comic is so dark throughout, with the only bright spots moments between Nimona and Blackheart, and the memories are drawn in a kind of hazy orange or brown. The epilogue is bright, to contrast the evil of The Institution with the happiness of this new kingdom. The ending was poetic. Sad and beautiful.
Really enjoyed the relationships in this novel. Although, Blackheart and Nimona steal the show, the two of them growing to care deeply for each other; like a father and daughter (hence the moments of coloured happiness in the book). The end of their story is bittersweet, but well thought out, and the only way the two of them could move forward with their lives in this new villain-less world.
The comedic moments interspersed throughout were too cute, helping to lighten the dramatic nature of the story, especially the board games! I also enjoyed the bonus comics at the end, the two Christmas specials. I highly recommend this graphic novel to any fans of comics, of strong females, and of young adult literature.
These were my two favourite spreads. The first being a cute father/daughter moment at the science fare, a break from their mission (brightly coloured); and the second a reddish tinged fight scene with Nimona turning into a Triceratops.
It's disjointed in areas, each chapter introducing Nobody to a new challenge unrelated to the other chapters. However, these will probably be important lessons in other installments in this graphic novel universe. Knowing how well Gaiman's stories come together, I will continue with this series. To find out the story of Nobody, Silas, and even Liza (the ghost of a witch, my favourite character). Of course, also to stare in awe at this beautifully illustrated and strange narrative. Definitely a good read for fans of the macabre, horror, fantasy, and drama; and for fans of all things Gaiman!
My favourite artistic approach was the second half of Chapter 3, 'The Hounds of God'. When he meets the ghouls. This was by far my favourite illustrated page.
Through tutoring, she meets Zenn. She is attracted to him immediately, both his personality and looks. But, because of her 'gift', she closes herself off to others. So, she is rather stunted with him, and unsure of her feelings, and his.
This book is well written, carefully revealing details about both Eva and Zenn. From her ability, his lack of family care, her parents being killed in a car accident when she was a baby, to the twist that changes the relationship of these two troubled teens. Keeps you interested and on the edge of your seat.
Eva's condition makes her reclusive, helplessly relying on the few people who know about her touch to keep her from being completely isolated. This includes her parents, her aunt and uncle who adopted her at four months after she survived the accident that killed her parents (receiving a head injury). Her quadruplet, 3 year old, siblings. And, finally, her best friend Charlotte; who, at the beginning of the novel reveals her crush on one of the students Eva tutors. So, when Charlotte inevitably starts dating Josh, and leaves Eva to fill a space, Zenn becomes somewhat of a godsend.
She finds herself confiding in him, trusting him, connecting to him, and loving him; their relationship is one of those 'meant-to-be' scenarios. They have a connection immediately, and when you learn why that is your mind is somewhat blown.
It is such a heartfelt story, with raw emotion, capturing the teenage mind and spirit perfectly. I could not put this book down. I even liked the somewhat abrupt ending; it felt realistic, vague, but heart warming all the same.
Eva grows and learns, becomes selfless, while also learning to be a bit selfish. Having lived a life apart from all those around her, she is sometimes more childlike than her age. For having the power to see/feel negative emotions, she pushes herself to be positive. I liked her character so much. Her inquisitive nature, her spirit, her being a self made introvert; she was an easy character to like and connect with.
Zenn was wonderful as well. An artist with aspirations, who cares for his mother by keeping three jobs. He is caring, smart, selfless, and genuinely likes Eva and all her quirks. These two could not be any cuter, and even though the hardships they must overcome seem daunting, you are rooting for them. I cannot wait to read more from Wendy Bryant, such a wonderful and unique story.
As a whole, once the small stories become connected to the main, you learn the valuable lesson in narrow mindedness or narrow vision. The characters seeing Linus' imperfection, but failing to see their own. That in the end they all have something they need for comfort against anxiety and fear, something we rely on for contemplation, decision making, and happiness. As we age, these items, or people, may change, but we always need something to provide that comfort. These items, or people, help us to be ourselves, to be vulnerable, to be human.
Wonderfully illustrated, as usual, with comedy interspersed within the grand lesson. The best parts being those with Snoopy trying to steal the blanket out from under Linus' nose, always resulting in chaos. Fun read, which I recommend for both young and old alike.
The novel shifts perspectives between all five of the girls and some of the secondary characters. At first, I found this a bit confusing and disjointed, but eventually I enjoyed being able to "hear" the thoughts of these characters. To understand the reasoning behind the choices they make.
LA affects each of the five girls in different ways, mostly negatively. Although, transporting five teenage girls from the UK to LA (without parent supervision), for the summer, seems to be begging for trouble.
Lucy, the drummer and main character, is the most likable of the five girls. Sturdy, dependable, hard working, caring, and invested in her career as a musician. While she seems to love her friends, she seems to miss the mark in terms of keeping involved enough to know what is going on with them and maybe helping before everything spirals out of control. She is taken under the wing of a music producer and nurtures her music, unlike the other girls. She has a positive enough experience, outside of her friends issues and losing Harper. She becomes the heart of the group, literally and figuratively keeping them on the beat.
Harper, the singer/songwriter, is using the band and the girls to win 'Project Next' so she can move to LA to be with her ex-boyfriend, who moved there for University. Their relationship is destructive and all-consuming. She does not care that he has a new girlfriend, and he does not care that he is cheating on his girlfriend. Rafe is one of the three characters I could not stand in the least, a delusional and bored young man, who uses Harper (does he actually love her?). Harper is brash, with no concern for her own safety, doesn't care about ruffling feathers, and fearless in terms of protecting her friends.
Robyn, the guitarist and composer of the music, is the "chubby" friend, with obvious body issues. Her issues lead her to meet another terrible character, Tomas. He is sleezy and a drug dealer, and he provides her with weight loss pills. Her story is the saddest of the five, managing to go from a passionate composer to a shell of who she used to be, so focused on looks and this boy Tomas. Her story is a poignant look at drugs and their effects on an individual and those around them.
Iza, the pianist, is quiet and unassuming. Her story begins as the most positive of the five, with her meeting a young man Luke, with whom she falls in love. However, she experiences her own share of hardship. Her experience near the end enraged me, although it did help to finally break down her barriers and empower her. She was rather boring throughout, but by the end she was my favourite after Lucy.
Toni, the bassist, is model beautiful and full of sass and cheek. She clashes with Harper, falls for their much older manager, and finds herself in over her head. She is possibly the one who learns the most and grows the most on their adventures.
The book was a great read. It reflected on hardships, fame, the pursuit of happiness and the power of friendship. I teared up near the end, wishing Harper's fate wasn't sealed, or that I could rewrite it. These girl's face so much together; the end is a whirlwind, edge of your seat, angerfest. But you grow too, to love these girls, to share in their triumphs, and to mourn their loss. The ending wasn't picture perfect, which was nice, it made the book more realistic.