Quite the Saga

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Wow- this is quite the rollercoaster, isn’t it?! For all those unfamiliar with this series, I’d describe it as Romeo and Juliet in space, with some family drama thrown in and plenty of epic battles… have I missed anything? Like I said, there’s *a lot* going on here- in the best possible way.

Now, I don’t expect this to be for everyone. While the artwork is distinct and striking, it is graphic at times. Sometimes I even found the violence bloodier than was necessary- but this will come down to personal taste- and I can’t argue with its inclusion because it certainly fits with the savage aspect of the story. Reading this is truly like entering another universe.

The design and fact the frame structure alone set up the epicness of the series. There’s certainly a lot of scope here- in time, space and cultures. For me, it’s had its ups and downs. I have personally enjoyed some volumes more than others. But when it’s good- it’s good. Often, I have found myself too absorbed to take notes. I really got into it by volume 3; by volume 4 I was gasping at the wild twists. Vaughan has taken the story in so many unexpected directions- despite the fact there’s plenty of foreshadowing, I truly have no idea where it’s going.

The characters are particularly well done. I adore Marko and Alana- their relationship is so compelling and I’ve been rooting for them the whole time. But it doesn’t just stop at the romance. The way the story is handled allows for so much character development. I found this especially the case in volume 5- which both pushed the characters to their limits and drove the plot on. I will say, there were times, such as in volume 6, I felt the narrative got a little side-tracked with its supporting cast. Yet even if the story sagged in some volumes, it always picked up with a dramatic twist or a new turn.

By volume 7 it had gotten *super emotional*. I mean, *oof* that one hit me in the *feels*. And that’s what this series does best: it delivers in each and every volume with the gut-wrenching finale. I have no idea how my heart has coped with this story so far- and how I’m gonna make it through to the end when it comes! This does not shy away from difficult topics.

Fair warning though, there’s quite a lot of ideological stuff in this series. Now, I personally don’t get too bogged down on that when a story is of such a high quality as this, but I know some people might have a problem with that. Still, there were aspects I really liked and nuggets of wisdom along the way- I particularly liked a lot of what Heist’s perspective in volume 3:

“The advice “kill your darlings” has been attributed to various authors across the galaxies… and Mister Heist hated them all. Why teach young writers to edit out whatever they feel most passionate about? Better to kill everything in their writing they DON’T love as much. Until only their darlings remain”

Ultimately, I’ve found this an engaging and unique series- it’s been well worth the read. My average rating (so far) is:

4/5 bananas

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So, have you read this series? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Graphic Novels Wrap Up #2

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One of the *coolest* things about blogging is that it’s introduced me to genres I never would have considered otherwise. The biggest change in my reading since I started is that I now read graphic novels- which now that I think about it makes sense, because I love art and I love stories, so in the words of Joey from Friends…

put your hands together

Anyway, way back when I did a wrap up about my first foray into the graphic novels and now that I’ve accumulated a few more graphic novels in a row, I thought it would be fun for round two!

nimona

Nimona– gosh this was good. It was funny, it cleverly subverted my expectations to add to the humour and had some excellent character development. Somehow, this story about villains also managed to have a sweet ending. I thought the illustrations were a lot of fun as well. My one niggling thought with this though was that it was a little young for me. But I happily gave it:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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sleeper and the spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle– I wasn’t crazy about this Sleeping Beauty retelling. It was basically another *strong woman saves the day* story- and if you’ve been reading a lot of my posts in the last few months, you may be able to tell that I’ve grown bored of this trope. There’s a lot of the typical tropes that go along with that of course like the useless prince- which at this point are becoming worthy of an eye-roll. However, the writing was beautiful and I really liked the evocative world. Evidently, this was not the best Gaiman I’ve read- but let’s face it, even the not-so-great Gaiman is gonna be a decent read. And in true Gaiman fashion, there was a pointed ending with a bold twist.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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Monstress Volumes 1-2– first of all it has to be said: the artwork is stunning. I was *blown away*by how beautiful it is to look at. The imagery also lends itself to some extensive world building. I will say that in volume 1, the story didn’t grab me and I was a little lost at times. However, the expansion of the story in the second volume really grabbed my attention and by the end it left me breathless. So I do think that if you weren’t blown away by the first one, just know it gets better! The one thing I wasn’t keen on throughout was the use of lectures/history lessons to infodump points about the world. I don’t see how talking about trade routes is interesting at the best of times and for me this wasn’t the way to do it. Other than that, it was a compelling graphic novel series I’d like to continue. Also, this was the first graphic novel I tried on my kindle and I was a bit worried about how that would turn out at first- but I needn’t have worried, because the way you can click on panels worked brilliantly for me.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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persepolis

Persepolis– this was another brilliant graphic novel and I think the type I lean towards the most. As an autobiography, it worked superbly well. I appreciated the insight into Satrapi’s life and found it very educational with regards to the Iranian Revolution. Split into two parts, the story of childhood and the story of return, I ended up preferring the latter as Marjane had more room to grow and faced greater personal struggles. By the end, I was engrossed in her story and felt like I’d seen first-hand the conflict between liberation and oppression. What was especially bold was that it didn’t shy away from some of the more unpleasant things she did to stay alive and free- like getting a randomer arrested when she nearly got caught wearing lipstick. While this troubled me deeply, I also thought it was brave to present her flaws, as raw and real as they were. The artwork, while not my favourite style, was solid and did convey strong emotions. Ultimately, I was glad I picked this up.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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wicked and divine

Wicked + Divine– this was another one I unfortunately didn’t love. Initially, I was digging concept and that it was set in London. I also liked Lucy and the chapter titles. HOWEVER I did not like the main character at all- and the fact that she was self-aware about her celebrity obsession didn’t disguise this unlikeable trait. I also felt a lot of characters weren’t characters but reduced to traits. I didn’t feel like these characteristics were blended seamlessly into the story and consequently they ended up feeling gimmicky. The artwork was simple and colourful- but unfortunately not to my taste at all (I’m afraid I can’t pinpoint why, it just wasn’t doing it for me). Ultimately, this is a one and done situation. There are definitely reasons to like it, yet I didn’t connect with it and I don’t feel any urge to continue.

2½/5 bananas

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So have you read these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

My Introduction to Graphic Novels- A Wrap Up

So I mentioned wayyy back in my resolutions for 2017 post that I wanted to try graphic novels this year. Over the course of the last couple of months, I’ve made good on that promise and *finally* checked out some graphic novels! And cos this was such a unique experience for me, I thought it would be fun to share what I thought of them in One Big Ol’ Wrap Up Post!! Many of these were recommended by the lovely Lashaan over @Bookidote– thank you so much for your suggestions!

Volume 1 Days Gone ByeThe Walking Dead– Volume 1- So this was my first experience of a graphic novel and I really enjoyed it. I picked it up on a whim, because I’d seen the show and thought it’d be fun to read. And though I’ve seen a fair amount of the TV show, I ended up getting a lot more out of it than I expected. I loved the design and how action packed it was. Maybe it was the familiarity of the story, but I honestly felt like I did connect with the characters in this. I’ve always liked the deep, dark questions this story asks, so I can happily say this was an excellent way to get into graphic novels and the start of a b-e-a-utiful friendship…

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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V_for_vendettaxV For Vendetta– I can see the cult-like appeal of this one for sure. I honestly loved the artwork. It was denser than the Walking Dead, but it was so cleverly done and I loved the artistic style of it. In terms of characters, I liked the enigmatic and mysterious V (who doesn’t?) but did find it harder to connect with Evey, though I liked how she grew as a character over the course of the story, especially after she was freed from her internal “cage”. As for the story… well, I won’t ruin anything here- I just think it’s fantastic how it captures the feel of an oppressive government.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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sandman volume 1The Sandman– Volumes 1-4- personally, I found this style a bit more surreal and therefore harder for me to follow. And there were other downsides- for instance, in the first volume, for instance, I did find the build-up slow, but that it picked up when the Sandman was released. Plus while very imaginative, it could be a little confusing story-wise at times. Overall, though, I did find the narratives always came together by the end. Some of the volumes had more meat on them than others- but ultimately I enjoyed every single on I read. I also have to say I started with just one volume on this wrap up, but it was so addictive that I couldn’t stop reading this series- I’m certain I’ll keep on with it!!

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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Watchmen_HCWatchmen– I can see some reasons why this is super popular. In particular, I’d say the characterisation is interesting- unfortunately I just didn’t connect with anyone in the story. In fact there wasn’t very much I connected with at all. I don’t know what it was about it- maybe my not being of the comicbook world or finding the illustrations less exciting than the other books on this list, but I’d definitely say, this one wasn’t for me.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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maus completeThe Complete Maus– this was UNBELIEVABLE! I can easily say this was my favourite. The style was incredible, it was phenomenally moving and I loved the interaction between the characters. I liked how it flicked through the timeline, back and forth from the Holocaust to the present day. That technique together with not shying away from anything- not what happened or who is father was- gave this graphic novel its sense of realness and humanised Art Spiegelman’s father. What was incredible about this book was that it not only told the story of those that died and those that survived, but also that of how child of a survivor is affected. It is a story of those left behind- the scope of the tale reaching beyond death, both to the people in the narrative and his father who has died by the time of the second volume. The cartoonist continuing to connect with his father through the tapes of their interviews is one of the more beautiful aspects of this book. Whether you are a fan or graphic novels or not, I can really recommend this book.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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And that’s a WRAP! I hope you enjoyed that!! Do you read graphic novels? Which are your favourites? I’d love more suggestions on what to try next!