Friday, October 19, 2018

Home After Dark


Image result for home after dark cover

Home After Dark

By David Small

Published by Liveright

Summary:
Home after dark tells the story of Russel, a kid growing up in 50s/60s USA who moves with his father to California after a messy divorce. There, Russel has to deal with the toxic climate around him, the drunken stupor his father has fallen into, and the constant social pressure of the age. It gets pretty dark in places.

Art:
The art is monochromatic watercolor and pen. It uses simple, jagged lines and few highlights to show the scene. It works well, and also gives the world around the story along with the characters an edge of meanspiritedness that reinforces the characters. The characters are decent, but the art makes them all seem like bad people, which they are for the most part.

Characters:
The characters can be flat at times, but they serve the story well. There are a quite a few characters that are one note and boring, but there are some strong characters here, like Russel's friends. Russel himself isn't the best, but he doesn't do anything out of character.

Setting:
The setting is the suburbs, and the book really gives them that bleak hopelessness they always try to hide. there were a few interesting choices made, but mostly it was boring and bleak.

Plot:
The plot is pretty heavy at times. It deals with a lot of big issues for this time, especially homophobia. The story gets dark fast, with few of the characters getting a truly happy ending. It is not a fun book to read.

TL;DR:
This is a depressing book for sure. Over all, it's good, but not spectacular. I would recommend it if you need a good dose of heavy stuff.
7/10

Friday, October 5, 2018

World Without Darkness


Image result for the dam keeper book 2 cover

The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness

By Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Published by First Second

This is is a Sequel to The Dam Keeper (review Here)

Summary:
The second book in the Dam Keeper series, we pick up with our three main characters Pig, Hippo, and Fox, guided by the strange Lizard Van, as they try to make it home before the storm. As they traverse across the wasteland, it turns out it isn't as dead as it seems, and there are many small settlements across the land, and the smoke isn't what it seems either, hiding a dark secret.

Art:
The art's just as good as last time. the colors are great, often going for much darker color pallets, with a great variety too it. The character design and composition is still great too.

Characters:
We get to see some growth here as the characters spend time with each other. They all have great chemistry, and the many side-characters are varied and well designed. The main trio has gotten closer, and it's nice to see them all getting along.

Setting:
The setting is vastly expanded in this book, giving glimpses of the world at large, and a few hints about the lore of the world. It's exiting to see all the different places around the wasteland, and I wish a little more time was spent with each of them. 

Plot:
The plot is good, but not the focal point. For the first half of the book it's more of a road trip story, cutting out the travel and showing us a bunch of cool and interesting places, then rushing off to the next one. The second half of the book heats up the story by focusing on one place, and that was great. I would have loved for the story to slow down a bit and spend more time in each place.

TL;DR:
This is overshadowed by it's predecessor. It's great, but it would be hard to live up to the first book.
8/10

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Lost Path


Image result for the lost path graphic novel

The Lost Path

By Amelie Flechais

Published by Lion's Forge

Summary:
During a treasure hunt at summer camp, our three main characters decide to take a shortcut through the woods to get ahead. Unfortunately this doesn't go as planned, and they end up in the cursed forest, where none may leave and all sorts of magical stuff happens. They must try and get out, while pursued by forces much greater then themselves.

Art:
The art is spectacular. It switches between two main styles: mixed medium colored sections that really get the awe of the place across, and black and white ink drawings rich with detail. The two styles really add to the overall dreamlike qualities of the narrative, and help the reader empathize with our main characters.

Characters:
The characters are bland and boring, save the one who thinks he's a robot. It doesn't really play into the story much, more serving as a brief section of comic relief. The characters don't really have agency in the story, instead merely wandering from one spectacular sight to another. Over all they aren't as fleshed out as they could be.

Setting:
The setting is interesting and varied, but underdeveloped. The cursed forest is beautiful and interesting, but we are only seen a very small snapshot of it. It mainly works on fairy-tale/dream logic, where anything goes. I would love to see more adventures in the forest.

Plot:
The plot's kinda bad. It's a railroad of interesting moments strung together by "the characters walk through the woods. You could cut it up and rearrange the pieces and the story would be the same. I would have liked more of a through-line with the characters making interesting decisions, but unfortunately it was just them walking through the woods.

TL;DR:
The book has a bland story and bland characters, but the setting and world make up for it. If you want something pretty for your eyes, this book will do you good.
6/10

Friday, September 21, 2018

Estranged


Image result for estranged aldridge cover

Estranged

By Ethan M. Aldridge

Published by Harper

Summary:
Estranged focuses on the life of Edmund, a changing child in the human realm who's past comes back to haunt him when his counterpart from the fae world comes looking for him. The fae court is in danger, and He can't do it alone. Together with Edmund's sister and a golem named Whick, they delve into the secret underground fairy city, to try and set things right.

Art:
The art is really good. The colors are nice, with a general muted color pallet that gives the bright colors quite the kick. The backgrounds are nicely detailed and are interesting to look at. The characters are also quite well designed. Even the two main characters can be told apart, despite their similarities. 

Characters:
The cast is interesting and fun to watch. They all are different enough, and have decent chemistry. All their actions line up more or less with their characters, and I can't think of any glaring errors. Edmund's sister doesn't have the most nailed down character, but it still works.

Setting:
The setting is a pretty basic fairy world, but I enjoyed how it interacted with the human world. It's built right under a subway, which leads to some interesting interaction between the two settings. The fae world does seem rather small and compact, with location getting a bit muddled in the second half of the book. 

Plot:
The plot was good and entertaining. It flowed decently well throughout the story. It did seem rather oddly passed. The story does have a few dips, where things don't flow as well, and it feels like filler. Over all, the plot was good, even if it did have a few places where it dipped in quality. 

TL;DR:
Estranged is a well put together and enjoyable story. It's great if you really like Fairy drama.
7/10

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Broken Vow


Image result for spill zone book 2 cover

Spill Zone Book 2: The Broken Vow

By Alex Puvilland

Published by First Second

This is the sequel to the book Spill Zone (review Here)

Summary:
Picking up right where we left off in Spill Zone one, The Broken Vow returns us to the plight of Addison, Lexa, and Vespertine, now joined by the character Jae, who was the floating guy from North Korea teased in the last book. Something in the rift is changing though, and it seems it involves our merry band of weirdos. Together, bolstered by Jae's knowledge, they must find a way to fix everything. The plot's a bit all over the place.

Art:
The art is the same as last time. It's simplistic with great uses of shape and color. the characters all have unique designs, even if they are pretty simple. There is less detail in some scenes that could use it, and in general the art seems to be more quickly done. It is still quite impressive, with only a minor dip in a few sections.

Characters:
The cast is decent. While there are a few moments where they seem to act without motivation, though this is could be explained by the characters themselves. The new additions to the cast are bland and boring. Jae adds little to the story and is mainly a way of giving the main character information. Over all, it's basically the same, if a bit worse.

Setting:
The setting is the same as last time, but we get a bit more explanation. It's a bit of a mixed bag. Some of it is really cool, while others is boring, especially the explanation of what the zone is and why it's there. I was severely disappointed by that aspect of the book. 

Plot:
The plot mainly ties up loose ends from the first book. It shifts in places to more of a faction drama, with multiple organisations each jostling for power, with our characters in the middle. These human interactions are much more interesting then what's going on in the zone itself, and I wish it had focused more on that. as I said before, I'm disappointing by the ending. There were many more interesting ways the story could have been taken. Though it does open itself up slightly for a sequel. the main plot seems to be over.

TL;DR:
The Broken Vow just seems like the first book but not as fresh. It is worth it to read if you liked the first and want closure, but it could have been more.
6/10

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Here There Be Gerblins



The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

By Carey Pietsch and The McElroy Brothers

Published by First Second

Summary:
Gonna admit my prejudice right at the start: I love all the things the McElroy Brothers have done. The Adventure Zone is the first graphic novel adaptation of the hit podcast with the same name. It stars our three heroes Magnus, Taako, and Merle, going off on a classic D&D adventure for loot and treasure, while the dungeon master Griffin tries to keep the whole thing afloat. The book is filled with ridiculous moments, great jokes, and an overall upbeat and mysterious tone throughout.

Art:
The art is fantastic. The cartoony style and overly expressive faces work well for the comedy. Most of the art is on the simpler side, but still looks very good, with amazing colors and very varied and interesting colors. All the characters are varied and great, each incredibly expressive. The panels are very busy, but manage to maintain a good flow. A lot of it is text though. Unfortunately due to it being an adaptation from a purely audio medium most of the jokes rely on text, with the images filling in the details. The art does give it a nice flow, giving its fair share of gags.

Characters:
The characters are the best part of the book. They're funny, interesting, varied, and empathetic. You want to see them succeed. The McElroys are fantastic at playing characters, and the visual elements just help it even more, though I do miss their great voices.

Setting:
There isn't much I can say about the setting without major spoilers. It's a mishmash of generic fantasy with an air of ridiculousness too it, like a cave that's styled like an office. Good stuff all around.

Plot:
The plot is also generic fantasy (at least at first), but again with that comedic edge. It's a classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure, but with the McElroys classic spin on it. A lot of the filler is cut out, leaving only the best bits.

TL;DR:
The Adventure Zone: Here There be Gerblins is a fantastic comedic romp. It suffers slightly due to its nature as an adaptation, but is still absolutely fantastic. Well worth the read
9/10

Friday, May 18, 2018

Scarlett Hart Monster Hunter


Image result for scarlett hart monster hunter cover

Scarlett Hart Monster Hunter

By Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor

Published by First Second

Summary:
Scarlett Hart is an underage monster hunter, and the next in a line of famous hunters. With her trusty butler Napoleon, they skirt around the law, hunting monsters to keep their heads above water, all while competing the Count, an older established monster who is so obviously evil it's ridiculous. Together, Scarlett and Napoleon find a dark conspiracy, and the cause of many of the monster infestations.

Art:
The art is simple and cartoony. Nothing particularly impressive. The colors are generic, without much going on in the image. Character designs do reinforce their traits and personalities, so that's a plus. The monster design isn't the best. It goes for more generic monsters, without complex or interesting designs, The last monster especially. Overall the art is okay, but doesn't hold a candle to other things I've reviewed.

Characters:
I don't like these characters. They're one note and boring, and even then some of them don't seem to have their motivations or personalities straight. The Count is a terrible villain. He's such a stock character, it hurts me. The dialog isn't very good. There's an immaturity around it that doesn't work for me.

Setting:
The setting is early nineteenth century Britain, and it doesn't add anything to the story. It provides a look and feel, but this story could have been set on the moon in the future hitting the exact same story beats and it could have worked. There are a few faux Briticisms that rubbed me the wrong way, and over all the setting didn't work.

Plot:
Bland and boring. One note. Nothing I haven't read before. It's the classic monster hunt with slowly escalating tension, except it doesn't escalate until the final fight, and even then a secret skill the main character had is pulled out of the either so that even that doesn't work.

TL;DR:
The cover is the best part of the book. It is mediocre and uninspired.
5/10