I read a lot of great books and discovered several new-to-me comic book series in August. I only had time to review one of the books for the blog, so here are some quick thoughts on everything I read this month.
Part 1: Novels
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Full Review)
In short: this hotly anticipated companion installment was worth the wait and the read, but not particularly memorable.
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
This was quite good. Nothing particularly special about the writing itself, but it was a well-rounded little gem in terms of plot and character development. It looks so much like a straight romance, it surprised me with its depth and somewhat melancholy atmosphere. It’s a journey of self-discovery first and romance second, which makes it a refreshingly honest YA read. Definitely one to check out before summer is over completely.
Winger by Andrew Smith
The titular character with the strong voice and fascinatingly fucked-up brain is what made this book as good as it is. Other characters fell flat in comparison, particularly Annie, the love interest, and JP, the sort of love-triangle’s third point. It echoed strongly of Catcher in the Rye, with the priveleged and self-involved teenage boy as a narrator, but it was solidly done and very modern and relevant in scope.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
My third foray into Rainbow Rowell’s writing. Landline explores the trials of marriage and also ventures into magical realisim very succesfully. Again, Rowell is incredibly successful at making characters feel real, failings and all, and with creating stronger tension in her hand-holding scenes than most romance authors manage in their steamiest sex scenes. Eleanor and Park will probably forever be my favorite of hers, but this did not disappoint me at all.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
A.S. King is truly a master of YA. Her characters and the situations she places them in are so different from what I see other writers doing. She writes Vera into these situations that real teenagers face every day: from money worries, to geninuely complex love/hate relationships with parents, to the daily threat of sexual menace from the general public. It’s genius on its own, but then she interweaves in a brand of magical realism that adds even more complexity and meaning to the story. King is great, and I am totally baffled every time I walk into the YA section of a bookstore and I don’t see more of her stuff there.
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
This is turning into a string of rave-reviews, but I can’t stop here. Brandon Sanderson is probably my new favorite author. The world of Mistborn is so cool; the magic is crazy cool and unique and the setting is so fascinating in the normalcy of its utter bleakness (Yellow sun? the characters wonder, green plants…no ash everywhere?) The characters are great: Kelsier the hero with questionable motivation and morals; Vin, the untrusting street urchin who must learn to find the good in other people; Elend, the most adorkable love interest ever, and the list goes on. The cliched fantasy theme of the battle between “the Chosen One” and his small band of determined heroes and the all-powerful evil dark lord is taken and turned and twisted into something new and extraordinary. The psychology and machinations of rebellion are handled very thoughtfully as well. I will definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy in September; it’s too good to miss.
Part 2: Comic Books and Graphic Novels
Saga by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples-Issues 19-22
Comic books are my new thing. Saga was the first one I picked up and nothing has topped it yet, though the most recent issues have been totally heart-wrenching. But basically, if you’re looking to get into comics, or you’re just looking for a great story, Saga is for you. Space opera and strong females and spectacular artwork all at their finest.
Avatar the Last Airbender: The Promise and The Search by Gene Luen Yang
I loved Avatar: The Last Airbender when it was on Nickelodeon back in the day, and these graphic novels pick up right where the show left off. (Literally the second after the closing frame of the show.) The Promise was spectacular, portraying a sticky political situation in the aftermath of a century of colonialism, and showing the growth and struggle of the central characters as they find new roles in government. I was even more excited for The Search, which promised to wrap up a mystery left hanging by the show, but I found it’s ending to be a bit rushed and confused. It was totally worth the read, though, and the art is just what you’d expect from the creators of the television show.
Alex+Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn-Issue 1
My last comic of the month was a recent Image release about a man and his AI girlfriend. I really like it so far: the drawings are simple and text is usually brief as well. It’s stark, but very effective. Definitely planning on picking up Issue 2 when I can find it.