This book started strong and sucked me right into Starr's life. The detail of her schedule, her over-achieving personality and her aptitude were well written. And, while the premise seems a bit far-fetched, it was believable in the way the author wrote. I loved her calculated escape from the Organization, and every explanation of her plans following.
However, once she met up with Christian I think the novel spun away from it being about a strong, independent, smart heroine, to a naive, emotional wreck, who was dependent on a boy. It seemed as though Starr's character altered drastically when this cute young man came into the picture, and it left me feeling disappointed.
I also did not understand why the scene involving her Grandparent's was added. It felt like they were thrown in just as a means of showing off Starr's keen logic and problem solving skills. Which this story line did, but it also came out of nowhere and seemed unnecessary to the plot. Felt very V. C. Andrews all of the sudden.
The novel picked up again after her Grandparent's disappeared from the page. Starr began behaving more like her previous self, but I still found her need for Christian to be annoying. Granted I am sure this is all explained throughout the three book series. It just seemed like their relationship advanced way too quickly for a young woman who, until recently, scheduled, planned and mapped out her life in immense detail. I also hope in the next two novels in the series that there is more description of Christian, and that his character is fully flushed out.
This novel started the ball rolling, with an intense, dramatic and thrilling beginning. Hopefully the next two in the series iron out the kinks. Starr has the potential to be a phenomenal heroine, when she is not continuously deciding between leaving Christian for his own safety and staying with him because his kisses win all arguments.
Book 42/50...8 to go.
There were just two issues I found with the book, which I want to get out of the way, as they were minor. The first was the use of over-explanation. Several paragraphs went too long into detail, to the point of being annoying. Or, in some cases, confusing. This only happened on occasion, then the novel was right back on track.
The second issue, and one I found more frustrating, were the lack of strong female characters, or more specifically the generalization of the existing female characters. Beautiful = weak/prone to following orders, ugly = strong, but still in need of a man to save you. John also lost me for a moment when all he could think about was getting laid by hot women, because he was possessing the body of a rock star (ugh); however, he clawed his way back into my good graces with other actions (even if his love of Faith came out of no where).
This book took me a while to read, not because it was bad, but because of the high concepts it presented. It provoked a lot of thinking, re-reading and moments where I had to put the book down to let my mind take a break. It did not help that most of my reading happens just before bed, when I am already half out of it. I will tell you this though, I never thought I would love an adult book where two of the main characters are talking pigeons. This novel was funny on several occasions and terrifying on others. The reader is as confounded as John by what he learns about the world around him and, as he changes, so does your perspective.
The world that Tony Moyle has crafted is well thought out and detailed. What he describes of life and the afterlife if so believable that, by the end, you are beyond shocked by the truth. The last few chapters had me hooked, I could not put the book down, I was so invested in John winning that I felt as personally affronted as he was by the situation he eventually found himself in. Without going in to too much detail, the end is a horrific plot twist which leaves you contemplating how John can possibly go on, will there ever be a good outcome on the horizon? Is this all there is?
I look forward to the sequels, as I have many unanswered questions. Does FBI Agent 15, Victor, have a vendetta to settle against John? What happened to Prime Minister Byron? What is the fate of Faith and Herb, who have been affected by Emorfed (the spirit sucking drug)? Will video footage of the Prime Minister hanging upside down from a parachute over a cliff ever surface? Who is the Devil?
Great first novel by Tony Moyle, full of promise for his next works. This book is very religious/philosophical, while also being driven by science, so be prepared for the two worlds to collide on several fronts. Pick it up if you want to laugh, to think and to have your beliefs and allegiances tested.
Book 41/50...9 to go!
I am down to my last 10 books to read before I have hit my goal of reading 50 books in 2017. Wow, I cannot believe I have come this far so quickly. What should I do once I hit the 50 mark? Should I up my goal, should I continue going past my goal, should I start fresh? Should I change up how I choose my books, for example, focus on one author, one genre, take suggestions for reads? What are your thoughts readers?
See the 40 books I have read in 2017 so far. Blown away!
It reminded me heavily of Stranger Things, but with more action, more female power, and a more ominous atmosphere (as much as that is possible). Pays homage to all those 80's flicks, about kids who have to go out on their own to defeat some kind of darkness (ie. The Monster Squad, Goonies, Legend). Even with all of the bright colours, the comic was able to purvey excitement, horror, loneliness and fear. The bright colours often contrasted the emotions, making it stark and confusing, but in a good way. The drawing perfectly captured the era they were conveying, and reflected well the 80's preteen.
I especially enjoyed the pink colouring within, it was genius. Flipping gender stereotypes on their heads is my jam, and this comic took pink from being feminine, girly, fancy and annoying to being in your face or subtle, calm or terrifying, it was used as a weapon (or the essence or force behind the weapon), and it was a harbinger of doom. There was nothing safe about the colour pink in this graphic novel, it was meant to be overwhelming, overbearing, and bled throughout like a sickness. Pink was power and possession. It made me appreciate a colour I truly despise!
I am excited to open the pages of the next graphic novel; with the fate of our four heroines up in the air, what happens next? What does Apple have to do with world destruction? Why are teenagers labelled criminals? What are these terrifying flying creatures and their knights? Who is good and who is bad? What is with Erin's crazy nightmares about hell?
I am invested, intrigued, and a fan. This graphic novel is electrifying, neon-tastic, and a perfect read for both young girls and guys. Strong young women, a powerful storyline, great messages, so glad these kinds of graphic novels are becoming more popular. This is what I craved as a kid, not the superhero women that I had nothing in common with, who seemed less powerful then all of the superhero dudes. Luckily, I had Robotech, which I collected in abundance, something about robots and space...haha.
I encourage everyone to grab this thrilling read, if for nothing else but the amazing drawing, colouring, and thrust of nostalgia it produces. Seriously though, you will stick around for the characters and this powerfully written scifi saga!
Some of my favourite pages below, showing off the vivid colour.
I really enjoyed that many of the stories focused on female protagonists overcoming almost impossible odds. This anthology was not just story after story of deranged male killers, it was interspersed with women who weren't afraid to kill (for survival or pleasure). This book had something for every horror fan; ghosts, zombies, serial killers, beasts, demons, monsters, and even death itself.
The story that clings to me, days after finishing the collection, is In The Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan. A twisted and sinister homage to Alice in Wonderland (both novel and film), especially referencing the March Hare. We are introduced to our young heroine at age 7, a wild girl with little supervision and no friends. She finds a clearing in the woods and creates her own tea party, soon to find out it is inhabited by a monstrous hare (with the furry body of a man and the head of a rabbit). It jumps between her 7th and 17th year, on the cusp of her birthdays. We learn, at 17, that she survived a traumatic event, a horrific tableau, at age 8 (involving some girls on her street who where mean to her at her birthday party, her clearing, and the march hare). From there we fall down the rabbit hole, as the story becomes clearer and clearer, and by the end we are entranced, gagging and defeated by the atrocities that have occurred. How can we now trust the protagonist?
Many of the short stories have fun turning the readers on our heads, causing us to second guess our loyalty to the narrator, our conclusions, our assumptions, and our overall understanding of the horror genre. As these short tales have shown, there are several ways to breathe new life into an old tale.
Felix is as fierce as ever, and he is becoming more and more devoted to Astra and her cause. He finds himself drawn to her, to her warmth and humanity, unaware what this need for her really means. His waking heart beats to life when she is around.
Having found this bunker and all of its wonders, Astra and Felix are able to live the childhood they never had. They read kids books, laugh, play games, throw snowballs. They are experiencing a lifetime in a matter of days, trying to load as much into their possible last moments of life, and the reader is right there with them, feeling their passion and excitement.
Astra is as kick ass as ever, exploring with abandon, roaming the bunker freely. She is afraid, but at the same time resilient and willing to sacrifice herself if it means exposing the corrupt Government. She has nightmares of her time in prison, 'the Box' (a terrifying place where people are placed for the smallest of crimes, her punishment was being related to a rebel). Her vibrant personality, even after all of her hardships, endears her to Felix and to the reader.
The second half of the novel revolves around clock preparation. We learn what is meant to happen when the clock strikes in the year 2525; Felix and Astra are now determined to prevent it and to create their own awakening (opening eyes to the injustices around the world). This is where new characters come in to play, and the solitary existence of Felix and Astra is broken by the arrival of Felix's soldier friend. Astra moves on to the rebels, and Felix begins working on his soldiers. Operating on both sides, they are convincing their groups to work together; if they can accomplish this, they may be able to survive long enough to stop Kun and the Council.
There is more exposition in this novel, with information on Steadfast (Astra's father), Ulysses, Felix's father (be ready to be shocked by this one), our intrepid heroes childhoods, mother's, and the meaning of love. We begin to delve into their growth and understanding about love and why it is so important for humanity. We learn along with them that health pills, food pills, segregation and complete control over a population does not make a utopia, but breeds a crumbling dystopia. By the end of the novel you are on the edge of your seat, wondering if Felix's plan for the clock will help prevent the end of the Earth. I cannot wait to read No Vain Loss, the conclusion to this fantastic scifi trilogy.
Our resident ghost, Jenny, had her character fleshed out in this novel. We experienced trips into her past via Abigail, being possessed, and found that she was stronger than she ever imagined, to the point of being able to move outside of her home on Augur Lane (via a brick). I really enjoyed the insight into this generous, kind, and sometimes scary character. A formidable woman, who just happens to have met her end by evil means. We see that she was as smart, if not smarter, than certain male engineers. We also learn about her fiancée, and see the jealousy Jackaby harbours for their relationship.
Abigail was once again my favourite character, continuing to impress by facing her fears for the sake of her friends, and sometimes just for humanity's sake. She is by far the star/hero of this tale, outshining Jackaby. Although, Jackaby's growth has really come along since the first novel. Abigail seems to be a positive influence, and we see that he has a soft spot for outsiders like himself (protecting those who need someone on their side). There are also revelations about how he came to inherit his gift/curse; a sad tale, but one that shows us why Jackaby is so standoffish, it explains his inability or unwillingness to connect to others. It brings his entire purpose into sharp focus, and endears him to the reader a little more.
This story did not intrigue me as much as Beastly Bones; however, it was well formed and a perfect segue into the fourth and final installment of our stalwart detective and his intrepid assistant, The Dire King. We know a looming and incredibly strong foe is on the horizon, like nothing these two have ever faced before, and we begin to worry whether our sleuths will make it out in one piece. How can mortals defeat evil Fae folk???
My favourite part included Charon and the river through the afterlife, as it included several mythologies and religions being mixed together. I loved the approach this novel took in explaining the afterlife and how it is different for each person/creature. It also gave insight into Abigail's character, and showed how willing she is to sacrifice herself for others. She was ever the inquisitor with her questioning, Charon answered what he could, but when he became stumped on one question he actually went out of his way to find out for her on the return journey. Loved it!
All our favourite characters made appearances once again, including Charlie (who was as dear and protective as ever) bringing along his dog, which was placed in the care of a certain feathered friend at Augur Lane. It will be hard to part with this perfectly imagined world; so, while I am excited to read The Dire King come August, I know it will be bittersweet.
It was...okay. Since it has been years since I picked up an Archie comic, or reread any of my old ones, maybe some of the issues that bothered me were already there. I mean, let's face it, there were a lot of issues in old Archie comics...Archie was the worst!
The illustrations were amazing, I will give the graphic novel that at least. The styles were all very different, but well suited to the character that comic was depicting. The illustrations are what caught my attention, and kept me captivated, even when the story was lacking.
What I didn't like...
Let's start with Betty physically assaulting Jughead without anyone seeming to care. Why does no one care? Is it because she is a woman, so they believe her to be weak? Or that it doesn't matter if a teenage girl enacts violence on another? I mean, we see her toting bags that weigh 30kg, and Jughead struggling with that same bag, so we know she is strong. Do they believe Jughead deserves to be abused and man handled by his friend? I could not wrap my head around this, and no reason made any sense, it made me angry.
Then came Betty and Veronica #1, I started to see red. First of all, why is it that all the male characters receive their own comics, I mean even Reggie has his own gig. Betty and Veronica are major characters and they have to share space. Not only that, but their comic was so distasteful. Sure, you can say it is tongue-in-cheek, that it was poking fun at itself; but let's be honest, there's a chick fight, a dog is narrating (he does not even know anything about Veronica), their stereotypes are over exaggerated, there is blatant sexism (which they purposefully allude to), and their bodies are talked about sexually (I mean Betty's Mee Maw talks about boys and men ogling Betty's breasts) when they are teenage girls. It all felt too forced, going beyond the joke and becoming the joke. Betty and Veronica deserve more than this, and it feels like the author could not think of something better for these women than putting them in bikinis, fighting each other, and being so text heavy that I kept wanting to skip ahead. It felt cheap, these two powerful characters, that young girls looked up to and idolized, were trivialized and made second string in a story that was supposed to be about them. The pinup art of our writer/artist only added to the distaste for me, especially with some of the more jarring and unrealistic facial expressions (on Betty particularly). Am I awful for thinking that they missed out by not having a woman write this comic? Does that make me too feminist, or not feminist enough? At least the colours were nice, autumnal, you can almost, almost forget the rest.
The comic I liked the most was Reggie's, to be honest. Another dog narrating, but very focused on Reggie and not everyone else (ahem see above re: Betty and Veronica). It was interesting to have the narrator be Reggie's dog who loves him, as you often only see the bad in him and not the softer side. I liked following along behind the scenes of Reggie's life, finding out why he is the way he is, why he hurts the people around him. To be honest, when I was younger I wanted Betty to end up with him, as a giant FU to Archie (he does not deserve her, and Reggie is the antihero, so why not).
Jughead #1 was also well thought out, even if there was more Betty violence against him. It was a good focus on his character, his love of food, and his lack of interest in romantic relationships (yes, he is asexual). I love that about his character, although in the show I am a huge Betty/Jughead fan (so conflicted).
There were some fun nods to the original comics, and Archie #1 had me wanting to know more about the Lipstick Incident; however, this book did not hit enough high moments to rate higher than a 3; especially when Betty and Veronica #1 left such a bad taste in my mouth. Glad the show took a different approach (which is funny, as this was supposed to reveal how the show came to be, but I could not see any connections).
Below are my favourite spreads from each of the new comics, with two spreads from Reggie and Me #1.
With this novel, I did enjoy the chapter changes, from Lincoln's point-of-view to email threads between Jennifer and Beth. I loved the Lincoln character, a big, brawny, nerd with a heart of gold. There were several of Rowell's patented heart churning conversations, about life, love, family and independence. But, for some reason, I felt like I was trudging through. That it was taking too long and I wanted to move on to a better book. Sorry Rainbow, I feel like this is sacrilege!
Maybe it was the Jennifer and Beth characters. I found them kind of annoying, I could not figure out why Lincoln liked them, and honestly found they were unnecessary to the entire story. Sure, they cracked jokes, but not my kind of humour. At some points I rolled my eyes and thought 'snap out of it.' They both came off as selfish and needy. I mean Beth literally tries to make her sister's wedding all about her, and continuously degrades her sister and her sorority friends. Where Lincoln loves her for her words and personality, she first likes him because of his looks...ugh.
Thank goodness for Lincoln. Sure, he was a creeper, but he knew he was and genuinely felt bad about his role at the paper. He hated his job, did not like being able to look into people's personal lives via their email. His moments with his mother though, they really made the book better for me. It could have been a book about a man learning to become independent from an overprotective and overbearing parent. His and his mother's growth throughout is tender and heart warming, her eventual acceptance of his moving out is the highlight of the book. Looking back, maybe I am wrong, maybe this whole book is about a relationship between a man and his mother; and in that case, I wish there had been less Beth and more of this dynamic.
This passage...this passage between Lincoln and his mother hits home:
'"It's so strange...,"she said. He couldn't tell from her voice whether she was sad or angry. "I can remember a time when you needed me for everything.
"You were just this little kitten, and you cried if I set you down even for a second. I don't know how I managed to ever take a shower or make dinner. I don't think I did. I was afraid to hold you too close to the stove."
Lincoln stared down at the eggs. He hated when she talked like this. It was like accidentally seeing her in her nightgown.
"Why do you think I can remember that," she asked, "why you can't? Why does nature do that to us? How does that serve evolution? Those were the most important years of my life, and you can't even remember them. You can't understand why it's so hard for me to hand you off to someone else. You want me to act casual."'
So, for me, the book was meh. Because there was not enough of the moments I loved, and too much of the moments that I had to push through. Although, some of the quotes from Lincoln sure did raise the book a point:
'"I pictured you," he said. "I just didn't know what you looked like.
"And then, when I did know what you looked like, you looked like the girl who was all of those things. You looked like the girl I loved."' - Lincoln to Beth
So many great jabs at historical figures, no one is safe. Sir John A. Macdonald, Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, writers, politicians, random criminals; everyone's story can be made humorous. It was no holds barred at some points.
Some jokes had me scratching my head, due to my lack of the historical knowledge behind the strip. However, Kate Beaton often had a paragraph at the beginning of each strip giving you a bit of much needed background. Useful for historical simpletons like I was some of the time.
It was definitely funny to put a modern spin on historical events. Like brooding over guys with 90's speech, but dressed in Victorian garb. Very sharp witted, with obvious disdain for certain people, like those who claimed creation of an invention when they obviously stole it (looking at you Edison!).
The Pirate and the Nemesis were just perfect. Pirates are overdone, but we cannot help but continue to be sucked into their stories; especially when two adversaries appear to clearly exist only for the other. Ha!
If you are not a fan of having your favourite classics ripped to shreds, than avoid this book. Especially those staunchly in love with Jane Eyre. Although, you should be aware of how creepy an wrong that story really is (no matter how wonderfully it may have been written). Looking back and remembering the jokes, I keep flip-flopping my rating between 3.5 and 4. There are some real zingers in there, but at the same time there were several where I got the joke but it only bought a smile, not a full laugh. I was not a fan of the Mystery Solving Teens, but I could understand why others might find it amusing and how it pokes fun at several novels that follow this very distinct structure involving teen detectives.
Every Poe reference, though, hit me right in the gut and had me rolling with laughter, because it is so out of character to equate Poe with humour.