Thursday, May 27, 2010

Living Hell by Catherine Jinks YP FIC JINKS

Cheyney has never seen the Earth. He has lived all of his 17 years aboard the completely self sustaining ship the Plexus. Everything he knows and believes changes after the ship is hit by a strange radiation wave. The ship changes into a biological life-form and the now alive ship sees the crew as foreign invaders in its body. The Plexus uses the technology that used to nurture them to try and kill the crew. Cheyney and his friends must band together and find a way to survive and escape this Living Hell.

With The Enemy and now this we are going to have a seriously scary summer. Jinks is an accomplished writer with several hits like Evil Genius and The Reformed Vampire Support Group and excels at writing action and crafting characters the reader will be drawn to. Living Hell does not disappoint. It is a scary and suspenseful as the movies that obviously helped inspire it (Aliens, Event Horizon,etc.). This is definitely a read for people that aren't too squeamish because it has some pretty icky scenes. If you're looking for a fast paced action/sci-fi/horror book then you won't do much better than Living Hell.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem Illustrated by Farel Dalrymple YP FIC LETHEM

Titus Alexander Island (let me start by saying this may be my new favorite character name!) is not your normal kid. He is hyper intelligent and has odd dreams about an alien super-hero protector that seems linked to him somehow and he just found out his parents were robots after they are scrapped in a car crash. Now a local New York super hero (whose main super power is how great his PR team is) wants to find out how Titus is linked to the strange alien super hero and there is also a plot by microscopic robots to infect and enslave all mankind. And the real bad news is now he has to go to public school. This is all just the start to the strange new vision by acclaimed author Jonathan Lethem.

This is a wonderfully weird and bizarre comic. It starts with loads of strange mysteries and even by the time they are all answered the reader still feels completely mixed up (but in a good way). Lethem has made a world in where robots, alien invasions, and super heroes are about as mundane as fast food, but in a weird way it makes everything so much more interesting. The books characters all have their own motivations and even the faceless aliens that are behind the robot plot are sort of odd tragic. My favorite character besides the incredibly deadpan fish-out-of-water Titus is The Mink. He’s an ego-mad superhero that uses propaganda and deceit to keep the world from questioning his actions. He does so many illegal, immoral, and illegal things and is a giant jerk, but somehow I just kept liking him more and more. The art is very distinct and doesn’t look like a traditional super hero book. Characters are all realistically proportioned and there is a very simple soft and thick line work used for everything. It is absolutely pitch perfect with the strangeness of the story. I hope that Lethem does more comics in between novels because Omega is wonderfully original and deserves to be mentioned alongside works like Jeff Smith’s Bone (YP FIC SMITH) and Alan Moore’s best work (YP FIC MOORE).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foiled by Jane Yolen Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro YP FIC YOLEN

Aliera Carstairs knows that fencing and life are different, but there is one point in which they are exactly alike: you have to defend your heart. Aliera has always been a great fencer but that hasn’t made her the most popular girl in school, so when an impossibly handsome boy joins her class and begins paying a lot of attention to her she starts wondering if Prince Charming is too good to be true. After a first date that reveals that he’s quite the opposite of a prince and that she has secrets even she wasn’t aware of, Aliera ‘s going to find out that her fencing and her life have far more in common than she ever thought.

I have to say the supernatural twist really caught me by surprise in this comic. About 2/3s of the comic is completely realistic until the sudden switchover, so it was a very effective surprise. There is lots of foreshadowing, but I thought Aliera’s interest in role-playing games and fantasy was just there to make her character more interesting. The art is really good with a style that reminds me of indie comics, but with more polish than those comics tend to have. It is entirely in tones of gray until the surprise fantastic elements show up in color, so the art really serves the story’s themes. This one is an absolute surprise gem for fans of girl comics. It is funny, smart, and the art is wonderful. If you like it I also recommend the previously reviewed The War at Ellsmere (YP FIC HICKS).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mythos by Paul Jenkins Illustrated by Paolo Rivera YP FIC JENKINS

Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Captain America, and Ghost Rider are some of the most famous comic book characters around today and have been around for decades. Mythos takes a step back and looks at each characters origin mixing both modern and classic styles for a bold retelling of how these legends began.

Are comic book characters the new Heroes of Legend? Will we be taking about super-heroes instead of Hercules millennia from now? Well, probably not, but that doesn’t mean Mythos isn’t awesome. Most the credit should fall with Paolo Rivera because his painted artwork is absolutely stellar. Comic book fans might compare him to another great comics artist that uses painting, Alex Ross, but Paolo is actually quite different. He mixes realism and the more exaggerated style of classic comic books for a wholly unique take on comics art. This is a fast fun read that comics fans should love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Enemy by Charlie Higson YP FIC HIGSON

A terrible disease sweeps the world affecting everyone over the age of 16, killing most the adults on the planets. They were the lucky ones. The adults that don't die turn into rotting child eating monsters, hunting and killing all they can find. In London small pockets of kids survive by banding together and making fortresses out of abandoned buildings, but the grown-ups are getting braver, smarter even and picking off kids one by one. As hope wanes a new boy arrives with a fantastic story of a place with no grown-ups, a place with food, a place that's safe: Buckingham Palace! Two groups of survivors pull their forces and decide to make the dangerous trek to their last hope of safety, but are they chasing a Fairy Tale? They'll soon find there more monster than grown-ups to worry about.

FAIR WARNING: Like the zombies, this book goes for the jugular and doesn't let go. It is absolutely filled with horror, suspense, and action and the reader (like the books kids) never feels safe. This may be the scariest book I've read all year; like, keep-the-closet-light-on-when-you-sleep-after-reading-it scary. What makes the book so brutal is that it gets you really invested in the characters in the book, but none of them are safe. You get to know and like the characters very quickly and you hope they are going to make it, but all of the sudden BAM: Zombie Food. This is definitely a very gross book with some gore here and there, but it is never graphic enough that it becomes unreadable or offensive. However, I'd definitely say this is more for serious horror and suspense fans than the "Zombies are Funny" type. The book is left open for a sequel, so there are a few unresolved plotlines, but it doesn't end with a huge cliffhanger