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

Friday, May 4, 2018

The City on the Other Side



The City on the Other Side

By Mairghead Scott and Robin Robinson

Published by First Second

Summary:
There is a war in the fairy world between the Seelie and Unseelie involving this week's macguffin, a powerful amulet, created as a weapon by the Unseelie. Due to a lot of things, it falls into the the hands of our main character Isabel, a quiet girl from San Francisco who lived through the great earthquake. With the help of a Mushroom named Button and another human named Benjie, they must work to establish balance in the fae world, and depose the evil king of the Unseelie.

Art:
The art is playful and imaginative, with very nice colors and design work. It is pretty simplistic at times, often with inconsistent levels of detail. It can look jumbled at times. Character work is great. All of the fairies are unique and very well designed. The human characters are expressive and work well enough.

Characters:
The characters are okay. The main character is thrust into the story, merely following along with what the other characters tell her to do. The antagonist's motivation seems unclear at first, though it does make sense at the end. I liked the supporting cast. They could be funny and interesting, if one note.

Setting:
The setting is wonderful. It isn't just generic fairy forests, it has whole modern cities of fairies, and takes designs and ideas from cultures all around the world. It is hugely varied and interesting. The central tension of the world is pretty generic (light vs dark) but it has an interesting spin put on it. Over all, the setting is one of the better parts of the story.

Plot:
The plot's okay. It meanders a bit, characters often reacting instead of acting. It does what it set out to do, hitting all the necessary beats. It does get a bit muddled at times, but over all it's okay.

TL;DR:
The City on the Other side is a pleasant story with a great setting and art. It's plot is lacking, but it's still a pleasant read.
7/10

Friday, March 30, 2018

Losing the Girl


Image result for losing the girl cover

Life On Earth Book 1: Losing the Girl

Written by Marinaomi

Published by Graphic Universe

Summary:
Losing the Girl stars a group of high school kids named Nigel, Emily, Brett, and Paula, as they experience high school. This involves breakups, pregnancy, and parents being really really bad at their job, while in the background some strange possibly extra-terrestrial weirdness is going on. These teens desperately try to mend bridges while they continuously burn them down, and not everything works out..

Art: 
This is another book that uses multiple art styles for each character's chapter, but it isn't as drastic as some other books (say, Home Time for example). They all look visually similar and go together. The art can be off putting at times with a very abstract way of drawing the human characters that shifts depending on things like their emotions and who else is there. In the end, the art really helped the story and gave more depth to these characters.

Characters:
This is the best part of the entire book. The characters are all very well written and play off each other nicely. They fight and bicker and try to mend things, and it's all well written and believable. Someone finally was able to write good teen characters! The adult characters were a bit off at times though, seeming hyperbolic flawed, but over all, they were good.

Setting:
The setting isn't important or interesting. It's suburbia and high school. While it is reasonable enough, it neither adds nor subtracts from the story.

Plot:
The plot acts more of a through line between character moments. It is entirely driven by the characters and their actions, and is more of a slice of life drama with hints of something strange and otherworldly with a missing girl and aliens. It acts as more of a character study of these four, and the strange place they have all found themselves in.

TL;DR:
Losing the Girl is a great slice of life story about relationships in high school, and I am excited for the sequel.
8/10

Friday, March 16, 2018

Anya's Ghost


Image result for anya's ghost cover

Anya's Ghost

By Vera Brosgol

Published by First Second

Summary:
Anya's ghost is another book about ghosts and high-schoolers getting involved in shenanigans. This time it stars our titular main character Anya, a Russian immigrant to the US and high-schooler struggling to get through while existing at the bottom of the pecking order. When she trips and falls into a well, she finds a ghost. After they get out, they help each other out. Anya helps the ghost see the world again and the ghost helps Anya with grades and talking to boys. But things slowly start to morph and twist as the story goes on, and not everything said is entirely true.

Art:
The art is good. It's monochrome with a bubbly design which allows for more expression in the characters. The backgrounds are pretty bleak, with the art style reveling in the banality of the setting. over all, it's fine. Nothing I haven't seen before though.

Characters:
The characters pretty good. Most of them are pretty cynical at times, and the main character can be a little irritating in her selfishness, but the arcs are good and some of the characters have very good chemistry. I enjoyed the interactions between Anya and the ghost especially. There were a few characters that were nothing but tropes, but over all they were good.

Setting:
The setting is bland and boring. It's suburbia with some forests, and looks and acts the part. Of course, not much can be done with a setting when it's supposed to mimic the real world, so points for realism. It does feel pretty hyperbolic at times.

Plot:
The plot is quite good. After a slow start, it gets much more interesting as our two leads interact more, and Anya begins to learn more and more about what's happening around her. In the second half the story the cynical darkness is turned up a lot, especially in the party scene. I won't spoil it, but it really sells the story. The ending feels rushed, but over all, the story was good.

TL;DR:
Anya's Ghost is a pretty good story about ghosts and high-schoolers. It is bland and boring at times, saved by the second half.
7/10

Friday, March 9, 2018

Diesel Ignition

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Diesel Ignition

Written by Tyson Hesse

Published by BOOM BOX


Summary:
Sorry for not posting for three months. Diesel Ignition stars Dee, a hot headed aspiring leader who's bound to be the captain of her late father's flying city, but isn't much of a leader or an engineer. When he home is destroyed by a marauding band of bird people, she finds that he father might be alive, and that a war is brewing between the bird people below the clouds and the humans who banished them there. In her struggle to try and find her family again, Dee must use her special powers to try and stop the bird invasion. That wasn't the most glamorous of a plot summery but I've lost my knack. It's really interesting and complicated.

Art:
The art is great! Colors are good, contrasting the characters and the two different worlds (Above and below the clouds) and is varied, giving the reader something interesting to look at. The characters are all very varied, matching their personalities and powers. The steampunk-ish aesthetic works well for the setting, and looks good over all.

Setting:
The setting is very complex and isn't explained very well. At the start of the book you are thrown into this new and complicated world, and have to figure out what and where everything is. Eventually, you can learn enough to get a basic understanding about everything, but a lot of it remains unexplained. the clouds separating the two worlds is an example. You know it exists and acts the way it does because of how the characters interact and talk about it, but you never learn why it's there. Over all, I like the setting, but I'd love to see more of it and learn more about how it works and where everything is. A map would be nice, for example.

Characters:
The Characters are all nicely varied and have good chemistry. I enjoyed seeing their interactions, and wanted them all to succeed. The main character was rather despicable at times and was very mean-spirited at times, but by the end of the book I thought she got much better and improved. Her arc worked well, and I came to like her as a character. Over all, they were well fleshed out and had good arcs, helping with the world and the story.

Plot:
This is very much the first book in a series, but I am excited to see where it goes. It has a good smaller narrative within it, but has a great open ended structure that allows for the continuation of the story. The narrative is well contained, with well placed flashbacks that help us understand the characters and don't break the flow. Over all, it works well.

TL;DR:  Over all, I very much enjoyed this book. It does have a lot of death and complex themes, but it is worth the read.
8/10

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pashmina

Pashmina
  By Nidhi Chanani
  Published by First Second

Pashmina stars Priyanka, a young woman who's struggling to find where she belongs in the world and how she feels about her family. When she finds a magic shawl that can show her the future, she tries to find more of its secrets, thus slowly seeing the dense weaving that makes up her family, and how it has been shaped over the years.

This is a good book, nothing spectacular. The main character is fine, but sometimes acts immaturely in a way that seems out of character. The rest of the cast is fine, without anything spectacular, all fading into the background unless information needs to be dumped. The art is okay. It's simple lines and monochrome color pallets, which helps give the scenes with magic more flair, adding color and much brighter lights. The real life myths from Hindu folklore give the book a unique thing that makes it stand out, but that's the only thing that stands out. I've seen similar plots, characters, and art styles. It's still good, but it needs something more if it wants to be better.

7/10

Friday, December 15, 2017

Home Time


Image result for home time whyte cover

Home Time

By Campbell Whyte

Published by Top Shelf

Home Time stars 5 friends who just got out of school, and are looking forward to spending the off days with each other. Unfortunately due to an accident, they all fall into a river and are transported to a magical land, where they are believed to be spirits send to save the world. Over the course of the book, they try to get accustomed to this new society, while arguing about weather they should stay there or try to find a way to get back home.

I love this book. The art switches styles throughout the book with each character's chapter having its own art. All of them are great! The world is incredibly rich with detail and very fleshed out. The characters have good chemistry and mostly act in ways that make sense. Over all, this is a great book and I highly recommend it!

TL;DR: 9/10