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.
So, while I found the story a little lacking, the vibrant illustrations and their ability to portray movement and life kept me glued to the novel until the final poignant quote: "Dancing fills a space in me."
With each review I will provide my favourite page, or in this case the three I could not pick a favourite from.
I also thought the added drama between the main character and her "hunky" boyfriend (a renewed love interest from her past) was rather contrived. Her anger at first was understandable, but went quickly to extremes and I found she was far more put upon than she had a right to be.
A lot of side characters were strewn in there, unnecessary to plot, used by the author to highlight the caring nature of the main character, but just making her more emotional and annoying as a whole. Also, there were a lot of repetitive metaphors, or unnecessary explanations of metaphors, as though the author thought the reader was not smart enough to grasp what she was writing.
Tallulah was a character I did not care for. Sudden shows of emotion, anger at inappropriate moments, over-explanation, a "strong" woman who is really weak and needs everyone to do everything for her, shoves herself into everything without a care for consequences. She was unlikable most of the book, and in real life would have been arrested for her bullshit.
Will not be picking up anymore Mystery A La Mode books.
From that point on the plot developed better, the story was more coherent, and it did not drag on endlessly without momentum (as the first half had). The ending was well written, shocking, and back on course with my enjoyment of the first book. I can only hope that magic remains for the next installment of the Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson saga.
Although there was a lot I did not enjoy about the first half of the novel, I loved the addition of the August Moriarty character. What a breath of fresh air, a change of pace from the stagnant moments between Holmes and Watson. He is a morose character with many reasons to hate everyone involved in the novel, but he is still helpful, and funny, and selfless (unlike every other character). I especially enjoyed his interactions with Watson, these two made the beginning of the book tolerable. I wanted more moments between them, and less of the venom being spit between the two main characters. If not for August, this book may have ended up in my DNF (did not finish) pile.
It seems that the second hand characters were the starring points in the novel, not only did August shine, but good friends Lena and Tom make a comeback later in the novel, and they are brilliant. If you are having a hard time with pushing through this book, just know that it does turn around and the writing becomes fast paced and enticing. And the ending...the ending leaves your breathless and grasping for more.
Kai's mother eases her grief with what Kai terms the 'death checklist', busying herself with funeral arrangements and a wake. Kai's father retreats to his study, for drink and to hide within himself. Because of this, Kai feels more alone than ever, with her sister (her main confidant) now gone. When Kai's grief finally devolves into a state where she almost takes her own life, her parent's send her away to a grief camp.
It is at this camp that Kai meets other teenagers who have suffered a similar loss. Their shared experiences help her to open up, to allow others to know what she is feeling and understand it, and to finally forgive her sister. I found it petering a bit at the camp section of the book, where it became a bit on the unbelievable side with how quickly love was formed. However, this book was well written, emotional, painful, and marked with moments of happiness. For Kai, and her family, her sister's death will always play a large part in their lives, but they must learn to navigate life knowing she is always with them, even though she is gone; this is their new normal. Like Marco, the camp counsellor says, "Not moving on, moving forward. There's a big difference."
I like the main characters, but I very much disliked Keeley's brother Zach and her best friend Nicky. Both seemed to be leeches, using Keeley for themselves and angry whenever she did anything for herself. I had no use for either of them, but I understood their purpose in the story. They were there as a means of endearing Keeley to us; making her sympathetic and forcing us to route for her. By the end we are hopeful she will push past her self inflicted boundaries, so she will go after Talon, even with his dark past.
Again, an easy read. A cute teenage romance, a girl and boy from opposing football schools who fall for each other. Some unnecessary drama, but also a lot of thoughtful, poignant moments. And the peeps! The PEEPS! Just the weirdest and cutest addition to the story. But, almost impossible to find when you want to use them for props...