This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

What a lovely graphic novel. It has beautiful art which is fantastical and perfectly fits the mood of night time adventures. I already liked the style from the cover. It vaguely reminds me of a close artist friend’s style. The book uses really nice paper as well.

This is the second young adult graphic novel that I’ve read recently which I find amazing. I think this is an area of young adult fiction that does not seem to be limited creatively right now. It feels like there is a lot of space for authors and artists to explore or at least styles that I like. I am biased because I am really into children’s fiction these days.

The story is a coming of age fantasy adventure with two boys named Ben and Nathaniel. Ben is quite annoying at times because he is insecure but typically so of a kid his age. Nathaniel is earnest and sweet. You see Ben grow at least. I wonder if there will be a sequel or a series. The ending is left open ended for more adventures.

This novel seems to be set in the pre-Internet era when kids would play outside even at night. I guess nostalgia is a factor here too. I like to read about kids who also didn’t have too many screens growing up like myself.

I’ve read seven books in 2020 so far and half of them have been graphic novels. A good getaway into my reading year and as a reprieve after a long day working.

Read February 20, 2020.

Umbrella Academy Vol. 3: Hotel Oblivion by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá

I have mixed feelings on this series. Like the first volume, I found this one disjointed.

There were at least four separate storylines and over a dozen characters for most of the novel. Keeping track of the plotlines is one thing and I don’t mind it as much in Monstress (which is more confusing and complex than this series). I don’t find many of the characters that compelling especially when they are apart.

While the art here is good, I find it is not as dynamic or interesting as some other graphic novels I’ve read recently. This series is more similar to comic book aesthetic which is an area I’ve never been truly enamoured with.

The second half of the novel and the ending are quite good. There is a character who is a Japanese scientist and is depicted with a strong likeness to Hayao Miyazaki. That was amusing.

I think this is an interesting series. I am doubtful if I will seek out the next volume in the future.

Read February 19, 2020.

Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima

In an attempt to meet new people and read books, I have started to attend some book clubs. I read this book for one. The synopsis interested me right away. I had not heard of this author who is relatively well known in Japan.

This novel from the beginning is beautifully written. Nature in particular is rendered poetically. It sometimes feels quiet but movingly so. The first third or half of the novel is slower than the last half. Death and omens of death do feature throughout the novel.

The beginning of the novel and the subject matter of old world aristocracy reminded me of The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa which is also nostalgic and beautifully written peace about the past. While this novel was written in the 1960s and set in 1912, it does not look at the past nostalgically in a pleasant way so much as showing the various characters of different socio-economic situations and the changing landscape.

The narration is third present omniscient and does give perspective on many of the characters. The women are less developed than male characters which I’ve found is typical of Japanese novels. However, Satoko is rendered well and I can see her agency and development clearly.

The central character is often not likeable, but he did become oddly compelling in some way. Of course, Honda is more likeable and relatable. His relationship with the protagonist Kiyo is the best in the novel. Honda is the central figure in this tetralogy.

Even with some strange elements and slowness, I really liked how this book was written. I think I will read the second book and see how far I get from there. The books are too heavy to be read one after he other though.

Read on Kindle February 10-13 2020.

Monstress Volume Four The Chosen by Marjorie Liu

Another interesting volume of this graphic novel series. This instalment was less confusing than the previous one. I often forget so many of the details of this series between volumes. They come out only once a year so I can’t remember all the details from volume one or two let alone three.

I did like this volume better than the last one. There was some family drama and the little Fox got some things to do. I have to admit there is a lot of details about this series which confuse me because there are a lot of characters and rivalling parties. However, I continue to like the artwork and many of the characters. Maika has really grown on me.

I read a review for this volume and another reviewer echoed all my thoughts here. I am glad I am not the only one who finds this series sometimes confusing and hard to follow; however, I still find it very compelling and well done.

Read February 4, 2020.

Evie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

A bit late with this review. I finished this book almost two weeks ago on a plane.

This book was nice and sweet. I listen to Linda Holmes on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. I remember reading her recaps back in the day when she was Miss Alli on Television Without Pity. I had heard this book got good reviews for a debut novel.

It is a good debut novel. Holmes is a proficient writer and as a first time novelist, it did not feel rough or hackneyed. The main character in the book and I aren’t extremely similar but we are of a similar age so I could relate a little.

I also liked that the abuse in this novel is subtle and not one that you can easily explain to the public or even to those that liked the abuser. I think a lot of people have met That Guy. It’s hard to put into words so Holmes did a good job describing what sort of man Evie had married.

All in all, a good novel. I was not knocked off my feet, but I liked the read. I also want to go to Maine a little after it.

Read January 19-23, 2020.