Monday, November 30, 2015

Mini-Review: Wayward, Vol. 1

I originally learned of this author and this series from a brouhaha surrounding a diversity panel.  What Jim Zub had to say was very articulate and thoughtful, so I confess to having built this comic up in my mind.  It's not bad per se, but it's certainly not a must-read.  Or even a maybe-read.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mini-Review: Velvet Vol. 2

I am tempted to just forgo reviewing this and just scream, "READ VELVET!"

Can I do that?

Oh, fine.  I'll give you some reasons.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Dark Monk (Hangman's Daughter #2)

It's been a few years since I read the first book in this series* (also while on vacation--there seems to be a pattern, here), but it was quite easy to slip right back into the universe of Jakob Kuisl, hangman in a small Bavarian village.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gaslighting, Moral Complexity, and Reality: Musings on the Past Few Days

On Tuesday night, the Twittersphere (at least the bookish end of it) fairly exploded with indignation over a Publisher's Weekly announcement of a six-figure book and movie deal (unsure if it comes with dog and pony show; will report back) for a debut author.  It wasn't out of jealousy or pettiness.

The author of the book displayed an astonishing lack of regard, respect, and awareness for young adult literature when he explained, "The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own."

I beg your pardon?  The implication is that YA literature, which has scads of awesome, kick-butt female authors, is unable to produce a "morally complex" narrative.  By extension, the author wasn't just criticizing an age group (YA is not a genre), but those who write and consume it.  The unspoken, but crystal-clear implication, was that women are unable to generate, appreciate, or desire morally complex novels.

The ignorance and hurtfulness of that statement is really astounding.  I wanted to think that maybe he'd been taken out of context, or that it was a slip-up.  I mean, if I were talking about the overnight success of my debut, I'd be completely incoherent.  Possibly comatose.  I don't deal with surprises very well.

But a link to another interview given by the author, this one more than a year ago, clearly show that he finds current YA literature to be lacking and intends to ride in on a white horse, after having descended from the clouds, beatifically, and save YA by making it morally complex.  He also thinks that the Ukraine uprising was like Les Misérables and that pink things are a "satire of femininity."  Make way for the mansplain train.

To which, the majority of writers, readers, teachers, librarians, and bloggers responded with a resounding, "Nope."

Because by devaluing the amazing works of YA lit out there-the majority of them written by female authors-this new Man Author implies that they've never been able to write anything good.  he's gaslighting them, pure and simple.  And he's gaslighting readers of YA as well.

I read YA for many reasons, but one thing I have noticed consistently is that I am moved to tears by YA books because they've touched something deep inside of me.  I don't ever remember crying because of an "adult" novel.  YA writers are adept at manipulating prose, style, and format to create unforgettable books.

Remember, too, that shorter books often pack even more of an emotional punch than their doorstop counterparts (caveat: I have my share of favorite YA jumbo-sized books, like Illuminae, The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, The Diviners, and Seraphina, to name just a few).  I'm thinking specifically of the Hunger Games trilogy, not only because of the film that just came out, but because I read a review of Mockingjay (the book) this morning that angered me, because the reader had completely missed the point of the whole story.

*Warning: mild tangent approaching*

For better or for worse, I am a very empathetic person.  When bad things happen, I feel as though they have happened to me, and I wish that I could carry the pain of the sufferer instead.  I also have depression and severe anxiety issues.  All of these combine to create a very odd effect: I don't go see movies any more, because I am hypersensitive to every emotion expressed by the characters.  I generally leave the movie theater in tears because a movie in a theater is so in your face and seemingly inescapable.  There's no way to take a break from emotion, unless you get up and leave.  And it doesn't matter what the subject of the movie is: I left Jurassic World this summer and sobbed (the big, body-racking kind) for the forty-five minute drive home.  I have no idea why, exactly.

I had made plans with my best friend to go see Mockingjay Part 2.  As the date approached, I started to panic.  We were supposed to go on Thanksgiving night.  I've spent the greater part of today (the day before the holiday) in a maelstrom of anxiety.  I couldn't eat.  I shook.  I was terrified to tell her that movies, for some reason, terrify me.  But because she is an awesome person, she totally understood.  But I knew that in my current mental state, I could not handle the death and destruction that I would see there on the screen.  I could not do it.

*tangent leads back to actual narrative*

So sure, go ahead and tell me that Mockingjay isn't a "morally complex" book.  Moan about how "we don't see any of the action because Katniss is injured or grieving."  Excoriate her for not leading the revolution proudly--a revolution that takes innocent lives and one that she never wanted.  Katniss became the figurehead of the revolution, but never its leader.

After reading that review this morning, I reread Mockingjay for myself, to confirm my feelings.  My confidence that this was exactly the right ending only grew stronger as I read.  Because while yes, the first two books have page-turning action, particularly in the arena, and yes, Katniss kicks butt, that is not the point.

Collins condemns our media and our society for making death into entertainment*, for involving children in politics, and for humanity's inability to learn lessons from past mistakes.  All of the tributes are children.  They must kill each other for the entertainment of adults.  How can you think that this series will end with everyone riding off on rainbow unicorns?

When your society is that corrupt, vile, and callous, do you think that a revolution will fix things overnight?  Casting Katniss in the role of savior mislabels her completely.  She isn't a savior; she's a survivor.  She's no Career Tribute.  She takes no pleasure in killing, and neither does Peeta.  So after going through two of the Games, what do you think the mental state of this sixteen-year-old is like?  The horrors and atrocities she's seen and even committed tear her apart.  Retreating into the hidey-holes of District 13 isn't Collins "being lazy" and not describing the action--the author is showing us how the violence and manipulation breaks Katniss.  Blaming Katniss for having PTSD is the worst thing that a reader can do.  The spareness of Mockingjay reflects the distance Katniss must keep from reality in order to not completely lose her tenuous grasp on sanity.

I have a very good friend who was in the Vietnam War.  He rarely says anything about what happened, but I know it haunts him.  He just becomes very quiet and says it was terrible, that it still keeps him up at night.  So do you think Katniss, at the end, with her silence and detachment, is unrealistic?

So look at that, Man Author, and tell me that it's not morally complex.  Tell me to my face, without batting an eye, clearing your throat, or backpedaling.

He's not the only one at fault--his agent and publisher, in not correcting these statements, but instead, praising the novel for needing practically "no editing" and for being so edgy and ground-breaking, completely bury the accomplishments of all the female YA authors who have built an enduring, multifaceted area of literature.

The novel's main character (who, remember, is a heroine "who was the opposite of all that—a young, strong female who discovers real heroism within herself.") per PW, goes like this: "Gwendolyn Bloom, a Jewish, slightly overweight 17-year-old, who is transformed into a “lean warrior with hair dyed fire-engine red,” during her mission to rescue her father, a kidnapped diplomat,"  Okay.  So although pink is not good for girls, nor is Barbie, please remember that all heroines must conform to modern (unattainable) ideals of beauty, but also the male gaze.  Also, how can someone be "slightly overweight"?  Why does that even matter???

SPOILER: Your weight has no bearing on your character.  It is a number.  You do not need to lose weight in order to be awesome.  I've written extensively about the negative impact of numbers and body-shaming in stories before, so I'll just say to this: NOPE.  In fact, it merits the nopetopus:

Remember that gaslighting of authors (and especially WOC or non-cis writers)?  It's only gotten worse, because the media coverage has zoomed in on the male voices expressing their ire, and not Kelly Jensen (@catagator), who has retweeted so much pertinent information and has a fantastic article over here at SLJ about gender inequality in the YA publishing world.  Not Justina Ireland (@tehawesomersace), who consistently calls out privilege and who also retweeted loads of pertinent, thought-provoking information.  Not Kayla Whaley (@PunkinOnWheels) who created the hashtag to begin with!  Are you beginning to see the pervasive erasure of female voices here?

I hope that this author learns from this.  I know that people are already tsking about the social media reaction.  "Look at those hysterical females, piling on yet another innocent author!"  It's not a pile-on.  It's the frustrated reaction of people fighting for change, and yet who are painted as dangerous and villainous for having ambitions.

Panem Publishing wants to keep power and validation away from women.  Just remember: "If we burn, you burn with us."

*Yes, I realize by making films, that's totally hypocritical.  And part of why I couldn't go through with seeing the last part.

Mini-Review: Velvet, Vol. 1

In Youth Librarylandia, we all know that to get what we want, we don't call the school principal, we call the school's secretary.  For it is she who rules the school.  She is the gatekeeper, the Heimdall of the Bifröst of Education.

Somehow, the world's smartest spies didn't figure out that Velvet Templeton, secretary in an ultra-secret spy organization running alongside the CIA and MI-5, isn't just a pair of legs to ogle.  And oooh, they're gonna pay for that oversight.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finding Hope

If you want to read a well-written, hard-hitting portrait of meth addiction in teenagers, please read Beneath A Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson.  Or, if you're feeling like a bit of poetry and you don't mind an author mining her daughter's life for fiction material (ahem), Crank by Ellen Hopkins is a perennial favorite with teens.  We definitely need more books about the repercussions of drug abuse in teen lit, but just because they're needed doesn't mean that what we get is necessarily good.

It's a bit like the question that authors, bloggers, editors, librarians, and other bookish folk have been asking about diversity: if you diversify your book, but execute it poorly, isn't that worse than having no diversity at all?

So, should one write a book about meth addiction if the book itself isn't particularly good?

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling

Why doesn't this series get more press?  It's a wonderful readalike for A Series of Unfortunate Events, but in some ways, it's even better for kids.  ASOUE had a lot of wink-wink-nudge-nudge references that only adults would get, like the whole Beatrice and Dante thing.  I don't know of any eight-year-old that's read The Divine Comedy, although I'm not saying no child has.  The latter books in the series got very dark, and depressed me, although as an adult with depression I am ... easily depressed.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


I don't know if I can ever take my vacations slow as the Beach Boys instruct, but I shall try this time. No new posts until I get back, unless it strikes me to write at the beach.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I am very, very skeptical about any book about eating disorders.  The subject is a minefield of possible missteps, triggering concepts, or just downright oblivious offense.  Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls has so far been my one exception.  It had a big hand in helping me realize that I was really sick.  That saved my life.  I'm not being melodramatic.  People think that other people "get" eating disorders for attention and then are "cured" by the therapy du jour.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alas, a DNF: Fight Like A Girl

Fight Like a Girl Volume 1: Learning CurveFight Like a Girl Volume 1: Learning Curve by David Pinckney

I really, really, really want to support indie comics AND diverse comics (and Fight Like A Girl fits into both categories)! It's published by Action Lab, who also do Jeremy Whitley's super-amazing-fantastico Princeless. Needless to say, I had high hopes.

You know how some people have deal-breakers when it comes to romance? I have literary deal-breakers. And one of the biggest of those deal-breakers is: the writer did not use spell check or request the services of a copy editor. And if the writer did those things, then their copy editor sucked. Come on, people. I would have liked to think that a grown-up who says they write as a profession knows which version of who's/whose to use in a sentence. But no. There are random commas everywhere and sentences that don't really make any sense at all. How am I supposed to figure out what's going on when neither the writer nor the letterer noticed that "excitment" needs an extra "e"???

Plus, we're dropped into the story without any sort of background whatsoever. How does Amarosa, the heroine, know that she has to approach this Pantheon of Gods (which is, BTW, super Euro-centric) to get permission to enter this "Wishing Well" which is like Scott Pilgrim meets the Twelve Labors of Herakles? Is it just common knowledge in her world? And when she does enter the Wishing Well, everything goes all Hunger Games, as it turns out her attempt at survival is being filmed for the pleasure of gods all over the meta-verse. Somebody send me a basket of (gluten free) rolls so I can stuff my face instead of thinking about this.

I stopped after the first issue. No "excitment" generated.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Only two new books today (in addition to the lurking titles giving me the stink-eye from my bedside shelf).  I will finish Two Graves ... soon.  Argh.

First up is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery.  Again, I'm listening to this on audiobook, and it is marvelous.  Penelope Lumley and the Incorrigibles go to London and things take a rather dark turn.  Narration is absolutely top-notch.

Next is Halt's Peril by John Flanagan.  This is the ninth book in the Ranger's Apprentice series, and I admit to dragging it out as I don't want it to end.  But I do have The Brotherband Chronicles to look forward to.  Flanagan really has a knack for moving a story along.

Finally, The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore.  This is an ARC from Netgalley, and so far I'm intrigued, but I feel like this could fall to pieces very quickly if the author doesn't ratchet up the tension a notch.  It's certainly not as scary as the blurbs proclaim, unless something gets spicy in the second half.

I honestly have nothing else to say.  I am tired and my back hurts and it's pouring buckets outside.  Hooray.

Mini-Review: Rolling in the Deep

Boooook ... gooooooood.

This was one of those tootling-around-on-Goodreads-what-have-we-here books that I reserved at the library.  It's a novella, and a dang good one too.  I'm not sure if I like this one or We Are All Completely Fine (reviewed here!) by Daryl Gregory more, so I'll just love them both.

I can't write too much about this because, as it is already a short book, I'd probably give away the whole thing.  But here are the salient points:

TLC-esque shady TV channel wants to make a "documentary" about mermaids.
Most of it will be faked.
They've hired a mermaid troupe.

Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire does a fantabulous job of capturing each character's essence in just a few brief sentences.  The cast is large, but I wanted to know more about all of them.  But, this is a horror novella, so things are going to get messy.

Bottom line: I loved it so much I forgave Grant for giving me an earworm for weeks.  I am not joking about the time period.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That moment when you realize your childhood books were fat-shaming...

... and you're at work and you're on a public service desk and it's very possible that you might cry.  It's not a good moment to feel, but it is an important one to note.

Despite a lot of the poopy stuff that goes down there, Twitter is a place that I enjoy being, if a social network existing on some servers in the middle of New Jersey (or wherever) can be a place.  Although I see a lot of ignorant, offensive, and downright vile comments on there, I've learned so much.  In combination with blogging, talking to fellow librarians, writers, and bloggers has honed my reading skills in meaningful ways.  A few years ago, for example, I didn't even notice the cultural appropriation of Native peoples in Weetzie Bat.  I knew that wearing a headdress/war bonnet wasn't cool to do in real life, but I rationalized that Weetzie Bat was just being dumb and exploring her identity.  No.  She had no right to take another person's heritage and wear it as a fashion statement.  I get that now.  I see it.  If anything, Twitter has taught me to listen to various points of view and then see how I can improve the way I talk about the world and the way I read about it.

Today, I was following a fascinating conversation about female characters and size in books, and my fellow librarian R. brought up Bess in the Nancy Drew series.  So I started thinking.

It's a profoundly bizarre feeling to realize that something you thought you loved also caused a lot of internalized pain as a child.

Here's the thing.  If you haven't read any of the Nancy Drew books, there are three main female protagonists (which, admittedly, is pretty cool): the titular Nancy and her BFFs George and Bess.  George and Bess are cousins.  As we all know, the easiest laziest way to characterize someone is by focusing on one of their characteristics and then repeating it a million times in the book(s) so we know who you're talking about.  For George, it's that her parents wanted a boy, but she was born, but they still named her George.  She is slim and athletic and boyish.  Bess is the opposite: she is pretty but "plump," forever just five pounds overweight.  George often shames her cousin for enjoying food that evidently the other two girls can eat with impunity, because they are "slim."

So here I am, like eight years old.  I read the Nancy Drew books all the way into fifth and sixth grade--they were like a comfort toy or blankie, book-style.  I started having to wear a bra at nine (fourth grade was mortifying), and I gained weight.  I didn't eat very healthily, although my parents always cooked really nutritious meals, and I always had to eat my veggies!  I liked snacking.  Specifically on sour, sugary things.  I didn't drink pop (and still don't), so my sugar intake was from things like Sour Patch Kids.  Plus, I was never a team sports kind of kid.  I would ride my bike endlessly, pretending it was a horse, but no soccer or swim team for me, thanks.  But as homework got more intense, and as the neighborhood where I grew up deteriorated, I spent less time outside.  I always felt "thick" next to my classmates and friends, although I probably had just gained the usual puberty weight, plus some extra due to love of snack cakes.

But I was eight or nine years old.  I shouldn't have cared about my weight!  I was a kid!  Even as I got older, yeah, I was heavy.  I had pudge around the middle.  But I looked at pictures of myself and you know what?  This was also a primo time for supremely unflattering clothing.  At the time, I told myself I didn't care what I looked like.  But inside, I completely, utterly, and totally couldn't stop hating my body.  Everyone else was thin!  They ate whatever they wanted and got away with being thin!  (This is, obviously, a ridiculous assumption on my part, but again: I was super immature)

When I read the Nancy Drew books, I wanted to be Nancy.  She was the glamorous, smart, pretty, gracious girl who drove a roadster!  But I knew that I was Bess.  Actually, I was less than Bess.  Bess' redeeming quality was that she was "pretty."  I didn't think of myself as pretty, nor do I still.  I think I look interesting and singular, but not conventionally "pretty."  So, as a pre-teen, I seemed to have precisely zero options for success.  I was "plump" like Bess.  I had pudge around the middle and cellulite on my thighs.  But could I redeem myself by having gorgeous blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes like Bess?  No way!  I thus reasoned that the only way to be acceptably fat was to be conventionally pretty, and since I couldn't be pretty, I was a loser.  As I got older, this kind of reversed itself in a really scary, potentially deadly way.  I reasoned that if I couldn't be pretty, then I could at least be thin.  Hi, eating disorder!

I don't think many readers think about Bess' weight and the books' treatment of it as part of her character when they think about Nancy Drew.  For most people, it probably went by unnoticed.  And to be sure, Nancy was a really groundbreaking character for her time.  She was the one who solved the mystery, not her lawyer daddy or her bland-as-gruel boyfriend Ned.  She took risks.  She showed a lot of girls that you could grow up to be someone other than "Tom's wife" or "the homemaker."  You could solve mysteries!  Barring that, you could write them!  But does that absolve Nancy and George from teasing Bess about eating cookies or not fitting into her dress?  Absolutely not.

I'd like to think that Nancy, if she were born today, wouldn't care a fig about whether Bess needed to lose five pounds or not.  They'd just roll off in her hybrid car and solve mysteries together and eat a metric crapton of chocolate cake when they were done.  And then they'd binge-watch Sherlock and be awesome feminists.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Storified Follow-Up to UnSlut

UnSlut: A Diary and Memoir

UnSlut should be required reading for everyone.  Or strongly suggested reading.  I know there are people who wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot-pole because it has the word "slut" in it a lot.  And those are the people who need this information the most.

Emily Lindin's thorough takedown of rape culture, slut shaming, and victim blaming takes an interesting form: it's her middle school diary with footnotes from Now-Emily.  Since a lot of readers weren't even alive in the late 90s (*insert existential crisis here*), she also explains all of the social and pop culture references.  And as I read, I came to a rather shocking realization.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Intensely Personal, Private Act of Reading

As a librarian and book blogger-type-person, I share my thoughts about the books that I've read very openly.  Yet, there are many aspects of my life that I don't talk about at work or on this blog, because they are mine.  It's important to note that my upbringing, beliefs, and experiences shape how I read and why I feel the way I do about books.  That is the private part of reading: how your past informs what you read in the present.

Today, I had an illuminating discussion with a peer about a book that I unreservedly and unabashedly adore.  She didn't like it so much, and she had really valid reasons for what she didn't like.  I was reading a lot of the plot and character development as metaphorical, while she saw it more realistically.  I love sci-fi books about the nature of humanity, sentient AI, the fate of humans 10,000 years in the future, and all those kind of woo-wah big picture concepts.  She was reading on a more practical level: how does the presentation of these characters affect diversity in literature today.

Unless you've been completely out of commission for the past two years, diversity in kidlit and teen literature is a huge issue.  Huge.  And I am so happy that the book community has begun this massive pushback against the erasure of PoC, non-hetero, or characters with disabilities.  I have certain topics that I'm always looking for in a book, and when they're not treated properly, that is to say, with respect and accuracy, the alarm bells go off and I go Wolverine.  The ones I notice right away have to do with body image, eating disorders, girl-on-girl hate, and mental illness.

But I can do better; I know I can do better.  I've been exposed to so many amazing resources for noting racist depictions of characters in literature, or gaslighting of women, or treating Native people as if they no longer exist, that I am slowly but surely becoming more adroit at spotting those issues in literature.  Certainly, I am not perfect.  None of us are.  I don't have the experience, but I'm working on gaining it.  Soon, I hope that any alarm bells related to any diversity issue will go off just as naturally as the ones I have now.

So, did I gloss over a potentially problematic treatment of bisexuality?  It's absolutely possible.  When I go back and reread the story and its treatment of love, relationships, and sexuality, it makes total sense to me.  But I am not bi.  I have not been violently insulted and harassed because of who I love.  I can't speak for them.  Basically, what I'm saying is, I'm not your go-to girl on that.  My (admittedly sheltered) life experiences shape how I read a book and if I enjoy it or not.

One reason I loved the book we were discussing is that the relationships weren't the sole focus of the plot, although they played a large role in character development.  This was a Big Idea book.  A Big Choices book.  I found that and I ran with it and fell desperately in love with it.  My personal experience meant that I was drawn to this book.  The pleasure of reading it was mine; I couldn't even express my feelings coherently in the review I wrote.

There's that quote by Garrison Keillor that adorns the thank-you cards sent to pretty much every English teacher ever: "A book is a present you can open again and again."  I would go further.  Every time you open that book, there is an exchange.  Parts of the book enter your soul and minutely shape who you are and how you see life.  In turn, you project your personality into the book, imbuing it with a unique reading experience.

I will never see a book in exactly the same way as someone else does, and that's part of what's so wonderful about books.  They're practically quantum in their inability to be concretely pinned down and autopsied.

Here, I should also note that I am a very stubborn person.  I'm not sure how much of that comes out on social media, but anyone who knows me in real life would agree.  Discussing this book that I loved today made me extremely uncomfortable.  To be clear: I was uncomfortable with myself.  And disappointed with myself, just a bit.  Had I missed something that was hurtful or poorly written?  Why was I so out of practice talking about books?

But I am aware enough to step back and say: "This is your opinion.  The opinions of others are equally valid.  Listen to them."  A criticism of a book I love can feel like a personal critique, especially when I've bonded with that narrative, but it's not an attack on me.  Not at all.  I am not the book.  My reading of the book is my personal, private experience to keep and from which to draw, but I am not responsible for the success of any work.  I believe that you can love something while criticizing it, that you can adore something while acknowledging its faults.  Nothing is perfect.  But I'd like to think that some books can come close.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I'm going to just briefly mention my plods of shame: Les Mis and Two Graves, but I keep finding other things to read and it's getting pretty crowded here inside my head.  What's percolating up there?

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant.  If this lives up to the hype, I will forgive Seanan McGuire for my incessant Adele earworm.

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand.  Title says it all: teen boys set out to make the Greatest Zombie Movie ever with like twenty bucks and less than three weeks.

UnSlut: A Diary and A Memoir by Emily Lindin.  If you don't follow the Unslut Project, do it now.  This diary is completely fascinating and really scary.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Guest Starring from Goodreads: A Review of Daredevil Vol. 2: West-Case Scenario

Daredevil, Vol. 2: West-Case ScenarioDaredevil, Vol. 2: West-Case Scenario by Mark Waid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Daredevil was the first superhero comic I picked up after I waded into comics and graphic novels. I mostly read things like Sandman and American Born Chinese and Locke and Key. However, I realized that I'd have to jump into superheroes sooner or later, so I did it sooner.

The thing with superheroes and me is that I can't deal with their constant barrage of whining and the sadistic things that their creators put them through. So I was pleasantly surprised to start with Mark Waid's run on Daredevil. Matt Murdock is trying to be less gloom-and-doom. His relationship with Foggy Nelson was wonderfully built, I love D.A. McDuffie, and Daredevil's got this sort of self-effacing humor that I really dig.

But for me, everything went to pot in this volume. I'm never a big fan of collections that include one crossover issue or one BIG EVENT tie-in issue, and that's what this is. To be perfectly honest, I haven't read any of the Original Sin event comics. I'll probably stumble on a few more, but I get frustrated with the endless events to allow characters to be retconned to kingdom come.

They (sorry to use the mysterious "they" here) also brought back Brian Michael Bendis for the 50th anniversary special: DD at 50 years old. It was ... weird. Does Bendis just enjoy writing wills? I also really dislike the old Daredevil costume. That issue was just ridiculously silly.

Moving back to present-day, Matt helps his buddies out in an Original Sin fight (I don't know what else to call it!) and suddenly these very disturbing memories of his mother come back to him. As it turns out, after she left him and Battlin' Jack, she became a social justice nun, and was just arrested for trespassing and graffiti. Matt doesn't just get it from dear old dad, that's for sure. While the underlying message of this issue was quite lovely--Matt so thoughtfully accepted and explained his mother's PPD--it was unfortunately set in a techno-jundle African country that was formerly ruled by Black Panther, but now by his megalomaniac sister. All of the inhabitants wear loincloths and body paint. They throw spears. I almost choked on all the racism.

*shudders* ANYWAY. Then Matt gets back to good ol' San Fran, where a dude with purple skin and psychic powers has been impregnating ladies and collecting the resulting children to build a family to looooove him. This also backfires and results in a band of angry, psychic kiddos rampaging around and controlling people's minds. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The one good thing that came out of this story arc was the exploration of Matt's depression. It was so spot-on. Waid describes it as it is: a sickness. It is not something you can "snap out of." Those panels are really wonderful. But they can't make up for the rest of this, which I thought was rather a mess.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

A Beautiful Blue Death

I am astonished at how utterly boring this was.  Generally, I love books about clever Victorian people cleverly solving cleverly-committed crimes.  When the books are set in America, they have a grittiness about them that is extremely pleasing, and when set in Britain, a sort of charming quirkiness that makes you feel as though solving a murder is as much of an art as preparing tea properly.

A Beautiful Blue Death has none of these things.  It is neither raw nor refined.  It simply ... is.  And for a book to just exist certainly doesn't mean it's worth reading.