Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The first line of this book is "There is no war, but peace has not yet graced the land... This story is about the stage in between..." I found that a fascinating idea, as few books and even fewer comics deal with this messy situation.
It manages to be very serious and even grim, but not get bogged down into depressing, angsty melodrama. The unpleasant situation the country is in is something the characters don't waste more than a comment or two complaining about, instead they are doing what they can to help without expecting much in return except that people will be better off because of it.
The art is a definite strong point as well, it's heavy and varied yet graceful and smooth line art with solidly drawn, substantial characters give it a weight and depth that I find rare in shōnen series. It's almost more seinen in that aspect. The amount of screen tone is very balanced, not too heavy and crowded as in many mangas with an action element, and so are the speedlines and crosshatching. The character designs stand out without resorting to ridiculous and unrealistic additions tacked onto a bland base. The panel layout makes for a nearly effortless, smooth read, with excellent visual pacing to show you where to stop and pay more attention or glide through fast-paced fight sequences. It's very easy to just keep turning pages.
A few spots in the translation seemed a touch rough grammatically and sounded a little off, although I had trouble figuring out exactly why in some cases. I think this is not uncommon for translated stories, as the arrangement and structure of each language is different and they don't always easily match up.
I admit that at the end of this book I still didn't know why the group calls themselves "Pumpkin Scissors" which bothered me a bit. Perhaps I missed it or it isn't explained until a later volume. There were also a few spots where I had to turn back a couple pages and re-read to make sure I didn't miss something because of an overly fast transition from place to place.
All in all, I highly enjoyed this and will keep an eye out for more. I may also have to try the anime, I know FUNimation streams at least some of it online at their website. However a look at screencaps from the show seems to indicate very typical, normalized, CGI artwork without the same weight of the comic, which is a touch off-putting. It doesn't have the same distinctiveness and looks the same as a hundred other series.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 5:41 PM
This is a simple tale without complicated plot twists resulting in long, tricky explanations. It is about a little kitten and her family. It follows her day-to-day dramas, including the ones around a large, pushy black cat from around the neighborhood.
The art is too cute and perfect for expressing the dramatics of feline emotions. There were times (like during Chi's tantrum about having her food eaten by another cat or her excitement over the "muilk") that I was laughing out loud simply over the perfectness of the artwork. There were several panels that if someone printed them up poster-sized I would have an really hard time not buying. Definitely a book filled with "awww" moments and a few that will tug the heartstrings of cat-lovers. Those familiar with manga may be surprised to notice that it is in color rather than the more common black-and-white.
I haven't a single complaint about this book other than it makes me want more!
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 5:27 PM
Sunday, November 28, 2010
This was an interesting tale of two sisters and their ideas of modifying themselves. It also had some interesting and thought-provoking info about people's perception of plastic surgery. It is wrapped up in a cute, teen chick-lit-sounding cover description and story beginning which I imagine drags in readers who might not pick up a more serious seeming book about the same subject.
It was very well written considering it was the author's first book and that some of the characters are rather shallow people. This isn't the same as the author not creating proper 3-D characters, instead it is a case of the author skillfully showing that some people are just interested in things we consider shallow in our society, yet encourage young people to obsess over.
An enjoyable read, and one I would recommend to many people who like a quick read mixed with some hefty subject matter.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 2:07 PM
This was a gripping story, and difficult to put down once you start reading. However, I didn't find it as inspiring or wondrous as some reviewers apparently did. I was rather appalled by how weak most of these characters were. They seemed all to willing to simply throw their hands up and flush their life down the toilet. I was frustrated by this, and rather angered. I know I am more stubborn than most folks, but I still found it unbelievable that all these people just sat back, got a drink, and watched things fall apart. Then they had the nerve to whine about how hard everything was and how unfair, which mostly all worked out happily in the end. Shouldn't a family try to help one another through these incidents rather than sticking their heads in the sand and saying "It will go away. Just wait a little longer."? How often does that work?
My problem wasn't as much the decision to send away the little girl, I know that was common in the time period this was set in, but with the inability of these characters to do anything for each other rather than themselves. (Even Caroline has some selfish reasons for keeping the little girl, although hers bothered me the least.)
The writing is solid and the characters are varied. I did feel sometimes that the author was trying too hard to write something that could be called "literature" rather than mere "fiction." It felt a little forced and lofty sometimes, while the actual language and sentence structure weren't always strong enough to support all of what the author dumped on it. Despite it's flaws, I enjoyed this book. I thought it did a good job of showing that things we consider completely unacceptable (giving away a child) isn't necessarily an act of evil.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 1:57 PM
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Although certainly entertaining, this manga has nothing that really stood out in the first book. Each chapter felt isolated, there was not even a hinted plot arc, which leaves me wondering what the rest of the series could consist of. Is it all just a "case of the week" approach? That is the feeling I get, and the characters simply aren't strong enough to hold my interest for more of this. I did think the translation was excellent, there was only spot that seemed drastically "off" in terms of grammar and word use.
The art is basic, standard imported manga. The character designs and style decisions are pretty much the same as a hundred other horror/mystery stories. There is no real sense of the author having her own flair, the whole story seemed formulaic. The panel layout is clear and simple, but rather uninteresting.
This is an entertaining read if you have a little time to waste, but don't go in expecting a masterpiece.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 3:03 PM
I am not usually a fan of modern paranormal fiction, but I am very fond of this series. Kitty is a great character and actually develops throughout the series, which is rare in this genre. The witty, often sarcastic voice the author writes Kitty in makes for a fun read. I also enjoy many of the supporting characters, and those that reoccur experience the same character growth as the main character. I have read and re-read this a lot of times, and it still makes me laugh.
As a side note, I find it impossible to read Alette's character and not picture Olivia Williams as her. Alette's brisk, no-nonsense attitude paired with a serious, elegant air reminds me of Williams very much.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I love Firefly. I tend to curse in accented Mandarin, spontaneously re-enact or recite scenes with friends and family, and sometimes drawl Broad Browncoat so badly that I have been asked if I come from down south because it is the closest real dialect to the slang featured in the show. I mention these facts because it means I am a very biased reviewer when I say that this is an excellent comic.
I have been very disappointed by most comics that are based on a TV show. The mediums are very different and the "feel" of the show is almost always lost. Not so in this case, this still feels like the 'Verse fans know and (obsessively) love. There are some things lost; readers will find a lack of striking scenery, gritty "wild west" styling seems to mostly be abandoned in favor of a harder sci-fi story and the comic layout feels rushed and crammed, even a touch claustrophobic. The art is some of the highest quality I have seen in American comics, from the expressive, yet technically solid line art to the well-balanced colorization. Characters are instantly recognizable and the dialogue is spot-on.
This is definitely a book no Browncoat should pass up.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 3:58 PM
This book felt very fragmented and scattered, perhaps this is an attempt to show Sethe's confused state of mind, but it makes it hard for the reader to follow what is going on. The characters felt inconsistent and I was often confused by what the relationships were between them. The writing is solid, if occasionally sliding t'wards purple prose.
I admire what the author was trying to do, and she wrote something that is very powerful at points, but the scattered feeling of the overall book detracts from her message.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 3:50 PM
Monday, September 20, 2010
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 2:19 PM
Monday, September 13, 2010
Not a particularly interesting book, and although the characters have promise, they never quite achieve a high enough level of life (or un-life) and personality to hold the reader's interest. The author also couldn't seem to decide if she was writing a story about classically evil vampires or the now-popular nice vamps, meaning it feels scattered and the reader is left scratching their head, trying to figure out what the author is trying to accomplish. The writing is dull and is hard to follow due to convoluted sentence structure.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 10:05 AM
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 3:00 PM
The back of this book made it sound more like an examination of good and evil and the grey area most of us are in, however it is definitely a "battle of Good Vs. Evil" book. This is very typical of fantasy and an overly common plot. There really wasn't anything in the initial book that made it stand out. Even the art is very typical (might even go so far as to say unoriginal) for early 1990's manga. This style might be more eye-catching in today's market, as it is different then most newer manga.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 1:36 PM
The artwork is stunning! Akino is at her best with these lush, complex scenes and the detail on each of the chapter pages will leaving you staring and wondering how such intricate work was done. The plot does a wonderful job wrapping up just enough to give the reader a slight sense of closure, while giving an opening for the imagination.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 1:17 PM
Monday, August 30, 2010
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 11:37 AM
Having read Lestat, which is not a masterpiece but not bad either, I guess you can tell what an advantage 10 years of practice gives. I recommend those interested in Anne Rice's works skip this one and just start with Lestat. You don't need the torture.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 10:54 AM
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This short book is a very compelling read. It alternates between what happens after the baby, named Feather, is born and while Nia is pregnant. It doesn't come off preachy or as a morality tale of why teen pregnancy is evil. Bobby's no nonsense, "just the facts" attitude is conveyed well, but so is the fact that he really cares for his daughter and her mother.
Posted by Tompkins County Public Library at 3:17 PM