Thursday, August 29, 2013

Batman: Death Mask by Yoshinori Natsume YP FIC NATSUME

Is Batman really Bruce Wayne? Or is Bruce Wayne a mask the Batman wears for the public? There's a demon from Japan in Gotham stealing faces and taunting the Dark Knight; a demon straight from Bruce Wayne's time training in Japan before he was Batman.  He'll have to find the answer to who Batman is and face his own dark shadow to stop this deadly new threat.

How can you not love BatManga? It's got Batman and Manga! That's chocolate and peanut butter levels of greater than the sum of its parts! This definitely isn't the best or most original Batman story or the best manga, BUT it is a fun and stylish Batman adventure.  I love the face stealing baddie best of all.  He's a super cool masked assasin with the same silhouette as Batman, but in a traditional Japanese style.  It works really well for the  book, because he is super creepy and a great visual counterpoint to Batman.  The visuals are by far the strongest selling point of the book, as Batman really pops in a manga style.  i also like how the book kept me guessing about whether the villain is REALLY a demon or if there is some sort of scientific explanation behind the mystery.  They have several fun twists with this and I love it when Batman stories are also mysteries.  The only real down sides are that these ideas have been looked at before in loads of other Batman comics and that the dialogue is a little wooden.  I think the language barrier probalby explains the latter, and it's never so bad that it's unreadable.  As for the story covering old ground, many readers won't have read quite as many Batstories as I have and the book will feel fresher to them.  Also, the great visuals more than carry the book to being a can't miss Batbook.  It's Batastic! Batrific! Batstanding! Okay, that's probably enough bats for...ever.  So if you like Batman or manga, definitely give this one a read.  If you like Batman and Manga then you are pretty much legally obligated to love it!  

You can find Batman: Death Mask in our catalog here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Going Vintage YP FIC LEAVITT

Mallory Bradshaw is happy with her current state in life. She is in her junior year of high school, and she has been in a steady relationship with her boyfriend, Jeremy Mui, for a little over a year. All of this changes when, while helping Jeremy with a homework assignment, Mallory discovers his secret life on the Friendspace game, Authentic Life. Jeremy even has a "cyberwife" (screen name BubbleYum), which he has been in contact with outside of the game, with no mention of Mallory or their relationship. Mallory makes a declaration about Jeremy on his FriendSpace page and then goes off the grid.

Mallory is heartbroken and wonders how she will cope with all of her heavy feelings. Then, while helping her father clean out her grandmother's house, she finds a list of accomplishments that her grandmother made when she was sixteen years old (in 1962).

1. Run for pep club secretary.
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree.
3. Sew a dress for homecoming.
4. Find a steady.
5. Do something dangerous.

Mallory really enjoys making lists (they are at the beginning of each chapter, by the way), and by also completing this list of five goals, Mallory feels that she can figure out how to accept things and move on. She also decides to give living like it's 1962 a try (no cellphones or computers, especially Friendspace, awesome time in fashion, easier time to be a teen). Mallory's sister, Ginnie, is skeptical but supportive. Ginnie is even willing to fulfill number four, since Mallory does not feel up to it.

The first item on the list requires going before the Associated Student Body with the idea of starting a pep club. The members are ready to veto her idea when Oliver Kimball, Jeremy's cousin, comes to her rescue and talks the ASB into giving Mallory her pep club. Oliver even joins the club, and Mallory makes him the president (she is the secretary, of course). Ginnie also joins that club and also decides to complete item number two, doing tons of research on what food was served at a dinner party in the sixties. They both plan to host the party before the homecoming dance. The third item is a bit tricky, since Mallory has no idea how to sew a dress (or even sew), but she talks her grandmother, Vivian, into helping her. Mallory also wants her grandmother to tell her what is was like to be sixteen, but her grandmother shuts the conversation down each time, leaving Mallory to wonder why her grandmother is not being supportive of her choices. (There is a good reason, by the way, that Mallory does not see coming). Working with Oliver on the pep club (designing and decorating a float for the homecoming parade) gets a bit stressful, though, because he understands Mallory in a way that Jeremy never bothered to, and being Jeremy's cousin, Mallory sees him as "off limits" to think of in romantic terms. As time passes, more and more things come up that threaten Mallory's resolve to continue "going vintage," and so she starts to wonder if maybe "going vintage" is going too far.    

I really, really enjoyed this book. Mallory is sarcastic but focused (and funny, too), and I was rooting for her the whole way to reach her goals, when I wasn't laughing out loud at her thoughts and comments.  I also found it interesting that Lindsey Leavitt brought up the issue of what is considered "cheating" while doing things online. I want to say that I can see where Jeremy is coming from, when he believes that he was not doing anything wrong. I don't agree with him, however, because he crossed the line with the outside emails and lack of mentioning Mallory to his "cyberwife." If it was just innocent fun, Jeremy would have told BubbleYum about Mallory. I also enjoyed Oliver, and the way that he really didn't care what others thought about him (even while dressing up like a member of Motley Crue to play basketball). Oliver was also really supportive of Mallory and her aspirations, and he was willing to call his cousin out on his behavior.

Overall, this book is a enjoyable read that won't take you long to read, will lift your spirits, and have you chuckling out loud.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff YP FIC ZADOFF

He's always the new kid.  every few months, new town, new school, new name, new target.  He is Nobody, and when you meet him it means someone you know is about to die. He is a highly trained 16 year old assassin for The Program.  One job and new life bleeds into the next until he finally gets a job that feels too real.  A target that feels like a family and a place that feels like home. Now he's remembering the 12 year old boy The Program killed to make Boy Nobody, now he's asking questions, now he's the target.  Can Nobody become somebody again, and will he be able to face the truth when he finds it?

This is an amazing spy thriller. Not only does it have suspense, really well crafted action scenes, and twists and turns galore, but it also has an excellent main character that is both alienating and fascinating.  A soulless teen killing machine isn't the most likable or relateable person, but even before he decides to fight the man, rage against the machine, or whatever it is the kids call it these days, he's still a very human monster.  He's conflicted about the cold blooded murders he commits, but has been trained and conditioned to follow orders above all. I think the idea of a teen assassin makes for a great read.  They can slip in and out of places adults aren't allowed and their overlooked by most adults. Also, they can be made to be very loyal. It also works well in a storytelling sense.  I've always had an issue with the romantic portrayal of hitmen and hitwomen in fiction, because let's face it murder isn't very nice.  Making a teen hitperson gives a lot more leeway in understanding how and why he or she might get caught up in it. Zadoff clearly understands this and keeps the reader hooked with Nobody's amazing skill set and ruthless cunning, but also continually questions the justness of his actions.  That way the reader really gets put in his shoes.  We feel the thrill of all the cool cloak and dagger killing, but have to be reminded of the wrongness of it all. Like our poor Boy, we look to the action to distract us.  It's super smart storytelling and elevates the book from being way more than just an excellent action read.  But hey, it also is an excellent action read, so you're covered there too! Zadoff uses short clipped sentences to keep the plot moving and get inside the regimented mind of our narrator.  I highly recommend this to anyone that wants something exciting to read and to anyone that likes books with plenty to read between the lines.

You can find Boy Nobody in our catalog here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson YP FIC SANDERSON

Joel has always wanted to be a Rithmatist, but Rithmatists are born and not made.  Joel, undaumnted, pured his life into knowing everything about Rithmatics he could and won a coveted scholarship to Armedius Academy.  there he secretly sneaks into classes and learns as much as he can about the magical skill he can never use.  When a new professor shows up and upsets the order of the academy, Joel learns there is more at stake than academic standing. Now he and a young Rithmatist named Melody are on the case and must find the secrets that will change their world forever.

FINALLY!!! A fantasy book that avoids the C.O.D. (Child of Destiny, foretold since the before times that will come to save the world from darkness and blah blah blah) trap.  Joel gets where he is from intelligence and extremely hard work, not birthright!  Also the magic in  this world is super well thought out, excellently described, and very exciting.  Rithmatists draw specific chalk lines that protect or attack the two dimensional monsters known as chalklings. There are excellent schematics explaining the magic at the start of each chapter and they really give the reader something to look forward to.  I really loved how driven Joel is.  It not only makes him someone you want to root for, but also keeps the plot moving very well. I liked Melody a lot and felt she really complemented Joel, but she wasn't given a lot of time to expand as a character.  Fortunately this is a series, so there is time for expansion on all fronts.  For instance, the world is very different with America a series of islands under various nation's control, but a lot of this is background and not fully explored.  However, it is very interesting background and givers the reader something to look forward to seeing more of in the sequels.  This is a unique new series with a wonderful magic system and a sparking plot.  If you are a fantasy fan then you just might have a new favorite series!

You can check our catalog for The Rithmatist here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto YP FIC MATSUMOT

The story of an orphanage in a small Japanese town, the kids that live in it, and a broken down Nissan Sunny 1200. Their hopes, dreams, and loves seem are all shown in vivid relief next to the shame and stigma of being cast offs. 

This is not a fighting giant robots, magical girl, comic love romp, or any other of the well-worn genre staples.  This is a completely unique work. It has a striking visual style that mixes manga and European comic art to create something unlike any other comic being published.  it has it's own slow, wan style that feels more like a Japanese art house film than a comic.  It is an at turns sad and funny look at growing up when you're cast off.  There isn't a grand over arching plot, instead there are short vignettes with each chapter looking at either a different character or a different facet at growing up surrounded by people that are all alone.  It's a beautiful look at nostalgia, loneliness, longing, and the ache of hope.  I think it might end up being his finest work when it's completed. Which is saying a great deal because I absolutely LOVED GoGo Monster (reviewed here) and Tekkonkinkreet (reviewed here).  If you enjoy comics as a valuable artistic medium, then you just have to give Sunny a try.

You can find Sunny in our catalog here.