Marvel-ous Mondays: X-Men: Civil War

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X-Men: Civil War

author : david hine

illustrator : aaron lopresti

pages : [paperback] 112

summary :

Enough is enough. The tension between the X-Men, the 198 and the O*N*E* has finally reached breaking point. As Civil War rips apart the Marvel Universe, the X-Men also find themselves crumbling from the inside out. Will they admit defeat, or will they finally start to fight back.

review :

This book wasn’t that great for me. I’m new to the Marvel comics, really new to all X-Men who weren’t featured in the movies. I wanted to read this comic because it’s in the Civil War timespan and I’ve slowly been working through all of those comics. Unfortunately this just didn’t work for me.

It was boring, mostly because it made no attempt to explain what was going on. I understand that there weren’t clear sides in this conflict. Everyone is always changing their mind about whether they support the hero registration act, which is good, because it’s kind of a big decision that they shouldn’t be taking lightly. But there were also personal vendettas in here, and divisions among the mutants, and none of them were ever explained. You just kind of have to go with it.

There were also two issues included at the back of this volume on Mutant Town that were included, I think, because they briefly mentioned the registration act. But, taken out of context, they don’t really make much sense. I had no idea who these mutants were, what their abilities were, why they were all angry with each other . . . And after struggling so much through the more closely tied to Civil War I wasn’t really prepared to muddle through these two issues.

I’d recommend this volume only if you’re really familiar with the X-Men universe and everything that’s been going on in it. Otherwise, by itself, it doesn’t stand as a good volume.

3/5 stars

 

Rocket Girl was a very interested if cliched graphic novel

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Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Squared

author : brandon montclare

artist: amy reeder

pages : [paperback] 120

favorite character : annie

summary :

The NYTPD sent her to 1986 New York City to investigate the Quintum Mechanics megacorporation for Crimes Against Time. Piecing together the clues, Dayoung Johansson discovers the “Future” she calls home–a high-tech alternate reality version of 2013–shouldn’t exist at all!

review :

I picked this volume up from the library because the concept seemed pretty interesting. Even though it’s based on a few science fiction tropes (traveling back in time to save the future, corrupt government, companies taking over seemingly the entire future) there were some interesting and unique concepts in here.

Rocket Girl, aka DaYoung Johansson, is sent back to 1986. Nevermind the amount of technological advances that would have to happen between then and 2013 to not only make this tech but DaYoung’s future possible, it’s interesting. She’s a police officer? For some reason the NYPD decided that teenagers are more trustworthy (a terrible idea, really) and that they should really run the show when it comes to cops. Once you’re 20, you bounce out of the New York Teen Police Department and basically aim for a job in private security. Nothing bad could come of that, right?

It was cool to have the comic set in the 1980s. The hair, the fashion, the atmosphere of NYC. It’s all seen sort of from DaYoung’s perspective, as she zips around the city in her jetpack. The only thing is, for all of the metal commentary done by her (and there’s TONS of interior monologue) she never really comments on the past other than to go on about how there’s no wonder it’s a terrible place because all of the cops are old. It would have been fun to see her showing Annie (a scientist who houses her after DaYoung arrives in the past) future tech, or commenting on Annie’s wardrobe, or . . her reaction to any of this, really, because DaYoung had no prep whatsoever for going to the past. And being stuck there where she won’t even blend in.

To expand more on my thoughts about her interior monologues, there was too much of it for how little we get from it. I would need to read each set of pages twice, once for the actual dialogue of the scenes and again for all of the thoughts in her head because she’d only think a word per panel at some points. Bouncing back and forth between her thoughts and the actual action would have been way too confusing and I would have ended up missing a lot. In the end I was still frustrated because it really lifted me out of the story.

I did like that there were some twists that make me feel like these comics will be even better if these ideas are expanded upon in the future. Other people follow DaYoung to the past. DaYoung seems like she’s finally going to try to blend into society, which would be funny and show a lot about her version of 2013. There are a few other things that I’d prefer not to spoil, if you’re interested in reading this collection. Overall, there’s so much potential. It’s just off to a little bit of a rocky start.

3/5 stars

 

The Woods: The Arrow, a very gruesome and gory graphic novel

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The Woods, Vol 1: The Arrow

author : james tynion iv & michael dialynas

pages : [paperback] 128

summary :

WHY WE LOVE IT: As fans of James Tynion IV’s work in the Batman universe (BATMAN ETERNAL, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS), we were eager to publish his first original comic series. THE WOODS gives us that same eerie, smalltown horror feel we get whenever we read a Stephen King novel.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: James Tynion IV is a former protege of BATMAN writer Scott Snyder, so you know he’s learned a lot about how to craft a compelling tale. If you’re fan of teen conspiracy comics like Morning Glories, Sheltered, and Revival, you’ll immediately be sucked into THE WOODS.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.

Collects issues 1 to 4 of the critically acclaimed series.

review :

I picked up this volume on a whim when I was browsing the graphic novel section of my library. The concept seemed interesting and I liked the way that the artwork is done, so I decided to give it a shot. While this wasn’t my favorite, there was definitely enough intrigue here to get my interest.

This at first reminded me of the Quarantine books, because it’s an isolated high school and kind of shows how teens will begin to build their own society (or crumble under the pressure) when they’re removed from everything they know and find familiar and are faced with a deadly situation. Except in this case, we also have the faculty and principal struggling to decide what to do with the student body now that the entire high school has somehow been transported to an alien moon. As can be expected, nothing is going to go smoothly. Especially when the moon’s inhabitants are lethal.

While I liked the slow build to these issues, where a little more information is teased out in each chapter, there was never quite enough. I was still looking for the original thing that was going to happen here, what would make this series really stand out. I think that I’m still looking for it, even among all the high school drama and nightmarish creatures. Maybe a lot of it is the unnecessary gore? The shock factor wasn’t enough to really impress me.

I do like that there seems to be some kind of underlying conspiracy here that we’ll find out more about, eventually. I know that there are at least four more volumes to come after this, so I hope that the anticipation isn’t built up too much and that the revelations start coming. I’m intrigued enough to immediately reserve volume two, mostly because I’m hoping for more. Particularly because some of the main characters are being mysteriously vague and frustrating. And when the character who’s an asshole starts to seem to know more than anyone else, that’s when I have to begin to worry.

Overall, I liked this volume. It was a super quick read. But it wasn’t anything to rave over, and I’m hoping the next volumes really pick up the spooky conspiracy/alien atmosphere introduced here!

3/5 stars

 

“City of Women” was a disappointment

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City of Women

author : david r. gillham

pages : [hardcover] 392

summary :

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War. With the men away at the front, Berlin has become a city of women.

On the surface, Sigrid Schröder is the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime.

But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman of passion who dreams of her former Jewish lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets—she soon finds herself caught between what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two…

review :

I was really excited to read this book because I have a fascination with reading books that take place during the WWII time period. This was much different from most other books that I’ve read because it was set in Berlin and barely had any mention of any battles or fighting apart from the occasional bombing coming from English planes overhead. Instead, most of the action is fixated on those who have been left behind in the city as every able man has been sent to fight. Most are in Russia, either never coming back to their families or returning as broken men physically and/or mentally. Citizens are starving. The Gestapo is everywhere. Sigrid learns, repeatedly, that there is nothing else more important in this version of Berlin than being a good German woman.

The book’s characters are those apart from the war. The women and children, mostly, as well as men either too old or injured to fight. And, worse than those left behind are those that are hunted. Any Jewish person, as well as anyone who fights to protect them or who speaks against Germany or the Gestapo. Sigrid, in the very beginning of the novel, is only concerned with herself. Her life is very boring. She doesn’t seem to even mildly like her husband and now she’s forced to live alone with his cranky elderly mother. Still, I always felt detached from her, never very sympathetic. Perhaps it was because I never got an explanation as to why she decided to marry her husband. Social pressure? Real love? I had no inkling of what her true feelings were like throughout most of this book.

That was made even more complex when she constantly dreams for the passion and love she holds for the lover she had taken years before, who is Jewish and has disappeared from her life. The things he does and says makes him everything but romantic to me. I felt pity for Sigrid because of her romantic options. There were no good options. But she kept pining after this man who was more terrible to her than her actual husband was.

I feel like this book had some interesting concepts, but the meandering way in which it was told made it seem much longer than it is–and it’s already a huge book. There were some very interesting details about how people would smuggle their friends or even strangers who were on the run and trying to get out of Germany. I liked the intrigue there, the danger. But there was little build-up to the conclusion of this book, which seemed to come out of nowhere. All of a sudden Sigrid was a completely different character, whereas in the hundreds of pages beforehand her character development had been much slower.

I feel like fans of historical fiction will like this book, particularly if you like the historical period like me. I know this is a book that some others will enjoy much more than I did but, for me, it wasn’t good enough.

3/5 stars

 

The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass: A Disappointing Read

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The Cresswell Plot

author : eliza wass

pages : [hardcover] 272

summary :

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

review :

Although I dove right into The Cresswell Plot and it kept me interested until the very end, I couldn’t help but feel like it was missing some spark that would have made me love it.

This book was very predictable. The plot revolves around a cult-ish family called the Cresswells, who live in the woods next to a small town who doesn’t seem to care whether or not they’d all drop off of the face of the earth. The patriarch of the family believes they’re all too good for the world, that they’re the only ones going to heaven, and that he’s a chosen prophet of God. All of the basic cult-ish elements are here, including a home environment of fear and abuse. Castella and her fellow siblings have only been attending public school for a few years, after they failed their homeschooling tests. This is basically the only contact they receive from the world outside of the woods and their father. Unfortunately most of the town is pretty hostile toward them because they consider all of the Cresswells freaks.

The plot seemed to meander toward the final, big scene which I’d known was coming from the very start. Little subplots would start up–small rebellions by the children, pushing the boundaries of their world–and seem to go nowhere. It was difficult to follow Castella’s narration at times, but I think some of that stemmed from the unhealthy mentality she had from her childhood and ongoing abuse. It was interesting to see how she and the rest of the family could make anything her father did seem rational, because that was how he’d taught his children. And, of course, there was the threat that if she disobeyed, it was really God that she was disobeying, and she’d be barred from heaven like the rest of the world. That’s a pretty heavy threat.

Unfortunately, I feel like even though the Cresswell household was pretty well fleshed out, none of the townspeople were very believable to me. They all seemed like empty stereotypes, there just to make Castella feel or act a certain way at parts of the book. None really felt like their own person.

Overall, I was just really disappointed with The Cresswell Plot. I feel like it had the chance to really be something interesting and unique, but the flat characters and predictable plot bored me.

3/5 stars

 

Amulet: The Stonekeeper is a very strange but beautiful graphic novel

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Amulet, Volume 1: The Stonekeeper

author : kazu kibuishi

pages : [hardcover] 192

summary :

Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.

After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.

review :

Amulet: The Stonekeeper is a really interesting graphic novel that sets up an intriguing world, but doesn’t stand well on its own.

This graphic novel is filled with gorgeous illustrations that really stand out more than the text, mostly because the fantastical creatures and world that Emily and Navin accidentally fall into comes into play very quickly in the novel. Besides, it felt like half of the panels had no text to them at all, so you need the illustrations to keep the story moving onward.

Most of the creatures in this other world are terrifying–I’m not sure of the age range to recommend this book to because of how frightening these things are to look at. Plus, they’re intent on either kidnapping or killing these kids–I’m not certain which is truer–and mange to take away their mother in a very gross and horrific way.

Still, one of their closest allies is an adorable robot bunny, so I’m not sure of what angle the author is going for here. So many characters are introduced, and all set up to do . . Something. The plot remains a little mysterious even when this book concludes. I know that there are several more books, and here was enough to interest me just from this first installment, but I feel like the series could have been condensed if we’d just been offered more information here. I have no idea of why the amulet is important or does what it does. Why Emily and Navin are involved. What this world is. What these creatures are that are working against them. There are so many questions that, despite the gorgeous visual world-building, I needed more physical answers to keep me rooted in the story.

While I’d recommend this book, I’d say try to hunt down the first few of the series at the library, so you can read them all at once and see if the story really is for you.

3/5 stars

 

Forget Me by K. A. Harrington

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Forget Me

author : k. a. harrington

pages : [hardcover] 288

favorite character : evan

summary :

An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.

review :

I’ve picked up a few different young adult mysteries lately and have been really interested in getting more into the mystery/thriller genre. I think it’s interesting to see how stories like these can really grip you, shock you, and pull you into the narrative. Unfortunately, though Forget Me had a great start, it ended up being a big disappointment.

Morgan’s boyfriend, Flynn, was killed in a hit-and-run. Worse, she witnessed the accident. But when she uploads a picture of him as a memorial to a website and is asked to tag his picture with some other boy’s name, a boy who looks exactly like Flynn, she wonders if he’s really dead at all. Or if the accident wasn’t what it seemed.

Throughout the book, there are all of these hints at some bigger picture story happening and the pieces don’t fall into place until the finish. Which, y’know, is expected in the mystery. But Morgan’s town has been run into the ground because the big company that used to employ so many townspeople has shut down. I thought that there was going to be a whole conspiracy surrounding that, because it seemed like most of the people working there were scientists. I figured there was some genetic testing going on there or a crazy answer like that would be found in the mystery. What the plot really builds up to, though, is less satisfying.

I won’t give away the ending. But I will say that Forget Me really fell when it came to pacing. So much of the middle of the book fell flat while Morgan was navigating the mystery. And then, in the last 20 or so pages, so much information was randomly packed into them. Pieces that had no build-up to them whatsoever and seemed much too convenient, and unsatisfying, an answer to all of the intrigue and quirky clues we’d been getting throughout the novel.

I’m going to keep on reading mysteries, but won’t be recommending this one.

3/5 stars