Monday, July 31, 2017

Cast No Shadow

Cast No Shadow

By Nick Trapalansky and Anissa Espinosa

Published by First Second

This book was adorable! The story focuses on Greg, a teen who never had a shadow. He was a loner with only one real friend: Layla. One day they decide to go to an old abandoned mansion to explore (cause every small town has one). There, Greg happens upon a ghost named Eleanor, and they fall in madly love. Unfortunately meddling with ghosts has some bad side affects, mainly Greg's shadow getting loose and causing havoc. The plot is really silly and cheesy but I loved it to death (get it?).

I really liked this book. The characters are decent, and interact well with each other very well, even if they don't have the most complex motives or traits. The art is simple, but it works for the story. The character art is great, with their designs reflecting their characters. The plot gets really silly, but it works well enough. This book put its pieces together very well, and I enjoyed it.

TL;DR: 7/10

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mighty Jack

Mighty Jack

By Ben Hatke

Published by First Second.

It's nice to be back in the swing of things. Mighty Jack stars the titular main character and his younger sister Maddy, who never speaks. Together they find a very suspicious vendor at a flea market, who sells them a box of very strange seeds. These seeds turn out to be magical, and with the help of their neighbor Lilly, they must try to keep the garden at bay, while finding out what evil lurks at its heart. Pretty simple story.

There isn't much to critique here. The story rambles and doesn't go very far until the end. It's more of an excuse to show weird and strange imagery while checking a few boxes. The characters are strong, with clear motivations and desires, and all come off as likable. The art is fantastic. There isn't much to say about this book. It puts its pieces together well, and nothing is bad or offensive. The story is lacking due to the dreaded "First book in a series syndrome," but that can be blamed more on the premise, since there isn't much you can do with an introduction story wise. Over all, it was a nice slice of life mixed with fantasy that I enjoyed.

TL;DR: 7/10

Monday, July 24, 2017

Castle in The Stars

Castle in The Stars

By Alex Alice

Published By First Second

My glorious return after a 3 week hiatus. Castle in the Stars takes place at the height of the Victorian era, where along with Africa and Antarctica, the great leaders of Europe also have their eyes set on the stars. The main character is a boy by the name of Seraphin, whose mother tragically died in a attempt to find a magical macguffin called Aether, which is this fuel-like thing that can support interplanetary travel. If the book explained what it was, I didn't catch it on either of my readings. Anyways, After some period of time, his mother's log notes are found by (bare with me here) King Ludwig II, who invited him and his father (also an engineer) to his castle to create working space travel. Unfortunately they get wrapped up in a game of spies and espionage and must try to keep their findings out of the wrong hands.

I think I found a good first book in a series! Instead of using the book to dump exposition at you until you can't breath, it focuses on telling a good story now that can will easily flow into the second book. While this does mean that a few things were left vague, that didn't impact the story. The characters are a range. Some I really like. The 4 main characters are mostly good, and have good chemistry together. Seraphin and his father play off each other well, and the three friends who band together also complement each other, despite the very German character being a bit too stereotypical to work at times. The antagonists were a bit muddled. Their motivation was bizarre and I didn't fully grasp it. King Ludwig II was boring and edgy, but he didn't appear for too long so it didn't change much. The main thing that I really liked was the art. It was beautiful. I am a sucker for steampunk and Victorian architecture though. The characters are all identifiable and match their characters. Over all, I really liked this book.

TL;DR: 8/10

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Silver Six

The Silver Six

By AJ Lieberman and Darren Rawlings

Published By Graphix

The Silver Six stars Phoebe, a girl who's parents were assassinated by an energy tycoon, and now must survive in the dystopian system that has been erected. When she is caught by child services, she is detained. There, she meets 5 other kids who's parents were assassinated by the same people, and thus they must band together to finish their parent's work and take down the tycoon, all while being pursued by its chief henchman. Did I mention this is a sifi dystopia?

This book's plot is very flimsy. It relies on a lot of coincidences and chance meetings, and also expects that a group of twelve-year-olds has enough experiences in robotics and driving to defeat a giant tycoon that only ever sends one person after them. The art is decent. The Characters are simplistic and bland. The backgrounds are very pretty, save for the industrial which is also generic future. The characters have way too much knowledge to seem realistic, and seem to have very flimsy and changing motivations, as well as a tendency to flip-flop between different emotions without a clear reason as to why. The Setting is generic, the plot is meh, and the characters aren't that strong.

TL;DR: 5/10

Monday, June 26, 2017

Digger Vol. 1

Digger

By Ursula Vernon

Published by Sofawolf Press

This book is an interesting one. It stars Digger, a wombat who after five days of frenzied digging, ends up in a temple to the god Ganesh, with the hole back being magically changed, seemingly being removed from existence. Digger must thus explore this strange new world in order to find her way home. Along the way, she meets an interesting cast of characters, including a shadow creature, a slug with the gift of foresight, and a Hyena who's name did not exist any more. 

This book is beautiful. It focuses on contrasting shadow, which gives the world a dark and ominous feel. The Plot is again open ended, but it does this correctly by making its mysteries interesting as well as putting the main character in the same position as us: clueless and constantly learning, despite the many similarities between this world and our own. The Plot does tend to go in a cycles. By this I mean that Digger ends up back at the temple which broke the flow a bit for me. The characters are great. My personal favorite is the shadow creature. Over all, the book has it's flaws, but more then makes up for them.

TL;DR: 8/10

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fish Girl

Fish Girl

By David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli

Published By Clarion Books

Fish girl stars a mermaid who lives in an aquarium by the seaside with a magic octopus. There, she tries to remain somewhat unseen while still letting guests catch short glimpses of her, to keep the aquarium afloat. The aquarium is run by a man going by the name of Poseidon, who found her when she was merely a baby and constructed the aquarium to give her a safe home. As she forms a friendship with a young visitor, she starts to learn more about who and what she is.

I have been a big fan of Wiesner's work for as long as I can remember. This book is his art style, but it isn't his best work. If you compare this book's illustrations to the one in say, Flotsam, this one isn't as polished or detailed. It still has great illustrations, but I've seen better from this author. The story is fine, and works. It's general claustrophobia helps us connect with the character by allowing us to see this world more or less as she sees it. While it isn't very advanced, it works well enough. The Characters are bland, but fine. Over all, it does everything it seeks out to do, and does them well enough for me to enjoy it more then most.

TL;DR: 8/10

Monday, June 19, 2017

Afar

Afar

By Leila Del Duca and Kit Seaton

Published By Image Comics

Afar stars Siblings Abena and Boetema who live in this strange Post-apocalypse world with relics of some ancient civilization scattered across the desert. When their father is revealed to be a fraud, the family is forced to move to a new city. There, Boetema accidentally gets in trouble with a wanted criminal. During this time, Abena gains the power to astrally project and possess entities from other worlds. The two must flee town and find a way to survive. The plot is a bit of a mess and I can only reveal so much before we enter spoiler territory.

I really like the art in this book. The world is well designed, the characters look nice, and the alien worlds and creatures are quite good, even if there is a bit of a bipedal bias. The characters are decent, playing off each other well enough. My main problem with this book is the world. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Now I don't expect my fantasy-syfy books to explain absolutely explain everything, but I want at least a little knowledge about the world and how it works. This does strengthen the alien segments, because leaving a lot of unanswered questions there allows us to better empathize with the protagonist. This is far from a deal-breaker though, and I am willing to look past this for the most part.

TL;DR: 8/10