Showing posts with label Graphic Novel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Graphic Novel. Show all posts

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Review: Thornhill

"I froze as I heard those sounds. Fear tingled into my neck and down my back as the old feeling seeped into my bones. I don't believe it. What will I do now?" - Pam Smy, Thornhill

In 1982, Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children just as it's getting ready to close. In 2016, Ella has just moved to a house next door to the closed Thornhill where she keeps seeing the ghostly image of a girl. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella begins to learn about Thornhill's past--uncovering its shadowy secrets.

The prose and graphics in this book work together to tell the story of Mary and Ella; Mary's story is all in prose, Ella's story is all in images. The format works really well to show how these two stories are parallel: both girls are incredibly lonely, just looking for someone to be their friend. They're both isolated, though in slightly different ways. Their loneliness and isolation is emphasize through the images and the text, making the reader empathize with both girls.

Though this graphic novel is intended for children, the overall tone of the story is really dark for the intended audience. Especially once you get to the ending. Mary's story in particular shows how terrible children can be to each other, with all the other girls at Thornhill turning against her, making her existence there miserable. Even when she tries to reach out and get help, she's thwarted by the girl in charge.

The images created by Smy also emphasize this dark story; when you look closely at a lot of the images, there are hidden gems that add to the tone of the story. Everything works together seamlessly to create the story of Mary and Ella. 

5/5 stars

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: Speak the Graphic Novel

"When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time."
-Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Melinda starts out high school as an outcast; she was the one who called the police at the summer's biggest party, and no one is going to forget that. But she's afraid to speak up about the reason why. Her art is the only way she's able to express herself and finally get her story told.

Speak was first published in 1999 and has long been considered a classic of young adult literature. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote about rape before the time of the #MeToo movement, and she did so effectively and accurately. Reading this story, you feel immense empathy for Melinda--you just want her to be able to get the help she so desperately needs. You want her to find friends; you want her to fit in. Anderson creates such emotion with this story, and it's important that everyone reads it.

The graphic novel version just came out this year, and the images compliment the text beautifully. Emily Carroll does an excellent job with her artwork and does justice to the love Melinda has for art in the book. One of the things I liked the most about the art is the way that Carroll plays with shadow throughout. Melinda is haunted by what happened to her at that party, and this is portrayed through the shadow of her attacker. Everything works together really well in order to bring this story to another level.

After reading the graphic novel, I definitely want to revisit the book. I'm interested how close the text is between the both of them. Overall, I absolutely loved this and believe it's a great adaptation of a great book.

5/5 stars

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: March

"Fury spends itself pretty quickly when there's no fury facing it."
-John Lewis, March

These three volumes follow John Lewis's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, book-ended by the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Lewis starts when he was in school and shows the reader how the Civil Rights Movement was created and worked against the power structures in the United States. Lewis himself had a large role in the movement, eventually earning a position in Congress.

A graphic memoir was a really effective way to tell this story, as the images really help to portray the significance of the Civil Rights Movement. Utilizing the Obama's inauguration also put into perspective all the work this movement did--and, in a current context, all the work it still needs to do. 

If nothing else, these books show that young people have the power to create change. Many of the first participants in the Civil Rights Movement were college students, and their fight created the change they wanted to see. It reminded me of the high school students arranging a march for stricter gun control; marches were partly how the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum as well.

This book would be an effective tool to use in schools because of its style and the amount of information that is packed throughout. Giving a first hand account of the Civil Rights Movement in a history class in high school would definitely help to give students perspective.

5/5 stars

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: Spill Zone

"People think there's something hidden in the Spill, fairies in those wisps of light. They're wrong...The Spill Zone shows everything."
-Scott Westerfeld, Spill Zone

No one really knows how the Spill came about. Since no one can figure out its origins, only government scientists are allowed inside. But Addison knows how to get in, and she uses the images she creates to her advantage. It's the only way she can support herself and her little sister. She's desperate to find out what happened the night the Spill Zone was created.

I was intrigued by the concept of this, and it definitely was a quick read. You're thrown into the world almost immediately, and are forced to use visual clues in order to figure out what's exactly happen in this dystopic universe.

On its own, I don't feel like much happens in this volume. You're introduced to Addison's world, and introduced to future conflicts, but that's pretty much it. I was frustrated with the lack of explanation we got in this volume, explanation that I know will probably come later. There wasn't much wow here for me, but there is enough interest for me to pick up the next book and see where it goes.

Overall, there were too many threads that weren't tied up here, and while I'm usually a fan of that, this felt too incomplete to me.

3/5 stars

Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Watchmen

"All we ever see of stars are their old photographs."
-Alan Moore, Watchmen

Superheroes have been banned from the US, forced to go back to their lives as civilians. But a killer starts to stalk those who have previously lived lives as vigilantes; and Rorschach is determined to find them. As he tries to unravel the mystery behind the killer, the lives of other superheroes are brought to light.

This is a layered narrative that absolutely deserves all the praise that it gets. All of the layers work together in order to give you the full picture of the characters, and of the desperate situations that they're facing. The influence of the narrative is absolutely apparent, given that the book itself was written in the 80s. We owe a lot to Watchmen, especially if you're an avid graphic novel reader.

As an exploration of the superhero genre, much of the story is dark and doesn't include much hope. All of the characters are psychologically complex, and none of them can be labeled as completely good. Adding all the elements together, the narrative is complex and it's clear why this graphic novel is studied so much more than all the others.

5/5 stars

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: Superior Spider-man


In Superior Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius) switched minds with Peter Parker on his death bed. Now he's determined to be better than Peter Parker ever was; he goes back to school, starts his own company, and configures a way to keep eyes on the entire city for crime. But those close to Peter quickly notice that something's different--will Peter be able to fight his way back?

This is one of my favorite Spider-man stories so far. I've been reading a lot of Spider-man comics lately, as my ultimate goal is to eventually catch up from the original comics to the current run. Doc Ock is probably one of my favorite villains thus far, and being able to get into his head within this run was fantastic. 

Superior Spider-man also complicates the notion of heroism and villainy. Otto takes a different strategy as Spider-man than Peter Parker, as he's more ruthless than Peter ever was. He does things for Peter that Peter never would have done himself, like earning his doctorate and beginning his own company. But Otto also alienates people that Peter deeply cares about, like MJ and Aunt May. While things look up for him for awhile, Otto's ruthless nature as Spider-man paired with his narcissism and loss of Peter's memories causes his empire to start to crumble as Norman Osborn gains control.

For me, volumes 3 and 4 were probably my least favorite, as they felt like they dragged a bit to me. I loved how Peter Parker was still incorporated ghost-like within the text, and we know that he'll eventually regain control of his body and make things right once again. The ability to see another side of Doc Ock makes him a well-rounded villain, and by the end, we can almost call him a hero. The introduction of different story lines throughout also makes me want to find out even more about the universe.

Definitely a must read for any Spider-man fans.

Volume 1: 5/5 stars
Volume 2: 5/5 stars
Volume 3: 4/5 stars
Volume 4: 3/5 stars
Volume 5: 4/5 stars
Volume 6: 5/5 stars

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Sex Criminals Vol. 1

"The bank'll take everything you love sooner or later."
-Matt Fraction, Sex Criminals

Suzie discovered her gift when she was in middle school: when she has sex, she stops time. After college, at a party, she meets a guy who has the same gift: Jon. To save the library that Suzie works at, the two decide to use their gift in order to rob the bank that Jon works at. But doing so opens them up to a whole new world they were never aware of.

I've loved Matt Fraction since I read his run on Hawkeye, and this is a comics series that I've been meaning to get to for a while. I read this first volume in one sitting while visiting friends in Detroit one weekend, and it definitely didn't disappoint! Fraction's writing is witty and exiting, and in Sex Criminals, he quite often breaks the fourth wall, directly addressing his readers. After reading the Unwind Dystology, which is quite dark, this was definitely a breath of fresh air.

The artwork by Chip Zdarsky was also phenomenal, fully immersing the reader into the story. The visuals were goregous, especially when Jon and Suzie stop time, moving about in a frozen world. The way Zdarsky does this makes the reader feel like time has actually frozen.

Overall, this is an original story filled with entertaining dialogue and plenty of funny moments. Since I've only read the first volume, I'm excited to see where the story will go after this one.

4.5/5 stars

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review: Blankets

Blankets cover
"How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement--no matter how temporary." -Craig Thompson, Blankets


If you're looking for a book that contains beautiful artwork and an even more beautiful story, you will find it in Craig Thompson's Blankets. Every little detail of this book creates a story about first love that is sure to continue to linger in your mind after you read it. Blankets deserves all of the awards it won back when it was first published.

Blankets follows the story of a first love and a sibling rivalry, placed among the backdrop of a blistery Wisconsin winter and fueled by a young boy's questions of faith. A coming-of-age story that's sure to strike a chord with many of its readers.

First of all, the artwork in this novel is just stunning. Thompson creates the landscape of Midwestern winters so artfully, and intermixes it with designs and symbols that help to create an almost magical feel. I mean, just take a look for yourself:


The artwork creates a setting that engulfs you in the story, that almost makes you feel like you're there with the characters.

The combination of the art and the writing here create a truly artistic experience for the reader. For example:


These types of quotes are interspersed throughout the book, focusing on growing up, first love, family loyalty, etc. They make the story relatable, they engross you in the story. I just can't say enough good things about this book. If you haven't read it yet, go and read it. Immediately.

5/5 stars

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World


So usually I'm not the type of person to read graphic novels. I love getting engrossed in a novel where you have to imagine all of the images in your own head, instead of having them all on the page. However, I do read graphic novels once in a while, and now is one of those times! I just finished the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, which I mostly read because a guy on my quidditch team is absolutely obsessed with these books. They were all at the library one day when I was there, so I figured that I would give them a whirl.

Scott Pilgrim follows the story of a 23-year-old guy named Scott Pilgrim (I know, shocking!) who is in a band, and just started dating a girl in high school. But then he meets Ramona, who might possibly be the love of his life. Thus begins Scott's journey to date Ramona. Little did he know that it would be a difficult feat, given that he has to defeat Ramona's seven evil exes before they can actually continue their relationship. Through all this difficulty, will Scott and Ramona's relationship survive? You'll have to read the books to find out!

Admittedly, I had watched this movie before I read these books (which I usually try to avoid. I like to read the book first), so I already had a general idea of what was going to happen before I started to read the books. I was happy at the beginning, when comparing the book to the movie, because they actually seemed pretty close. However, getting further into the series, I noticed that the ending was actually changed quite a bit from the book to the movie. I think I liked the book's ending better. I think it gave a better explanation of why everything happened, much better than the movie. So once again, the book rules over the movie, which doesn't surprise me. That's what usually happens.

So is this a worthwhile series to read? I'd have to say yes, it was pretty well written and the images were pretty good. And it was definitely creative. But would I classify it as one of my favorite series of all time...probably not. It was a good summer read though, and a quick one. I'm glad I read it.

Next I will be reading Shine by Lauren Myracle, who I actually got to see speak when I went to the ALAN conference back in November, so I'm pretty excited for this one! Until then, happy reading! :)