Wednesday, September 24, 2014

YA Wednesday: Graphic Novel Review: Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Last week I posted about the Printz Award Nominatee Boxers. This week, I'm posting about the second book in the series, Saints. I believe they were nominated together as one volume. To see last week's review, click here.

Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2)Saints by Gene Luen Yang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been on a graphic novel kick lately, so I grabbed this in an armload of them from the library. I saw it was nominated for a Printz award, which made me take it out of the stack and read it first.

It was pretty good, but nothing exceptional. For one, the graphics aren't as lovely as many of the graphics I've read. If I'm going to read a graphic novel, I want to be as captivated by the illustrations as the story. Otherwise, why not just read a novel? I didn't feel this was enhanced in any way by being a graphic novel. In fact, I'd rather read a novella about this supposedly based-in-history girl.

I did like the story quite well. Four-Girl was such a sad, confused child. I felt for her and was glad she finally got a name and found a place where she was welcome. It was so sad and amusing when she thinks she's a devil and goes around making ugly faces so everyone will know. It was at once tragic and ridiculous. I'm going to read the companion novel, but I can't say I'm holding my breath waiting for it.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

YA Wednesday: Graphic Novel Review: Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1)Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up both Boxers and Saints at the same time, and I couldn't tell which came first, so I guess I read them in the wrong order. But, they are each stand-alone books, and I don't think one necessarily needs to be read first. However, this book did clarify a lot that I didn't know in the second, so I would try to read this one first. While reading Saints, I didn't know exactly who The Righteous and Harmonious Fist was, etc (my knowledge of Chinese history being pretty much nonexistent).
I really enjoyed learning about the Boxers rebellion, although the book was more fantasy than history. I found myself wondering if people had given accounts of the fighters turning into gods, or where the idea came from. However, the graphics in this one were more enjoyable for me. I've read 3 of Yang's books now, and although they have good stories, I feel that a graphic novel should be equally strong in both story and graphics, or else why not just write a novel? I guess I feel that if a writer uses this format, the illustrations should add to the story, and in the case of this author, this is the first book I thought his story lent itself well to the format.

I enjoyed this book more than the other 2 I've read by this author, and I think the reason is the illustrations. The gods were all vivid and colorful, and those places in particular were enhanced by the artwork (if you told me 'then he turned into a god' I would not have imagined the colorful, striking images of their gods but a more austere, western version of god).

Overall, this was a very good graphic novel and an excellent story.

Content: lots of war violence.
Recommended for: Age 10+ for violent scenes.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

YA Wednesday: 2 for 1 Graphic Novel Book Review: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1-2)Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This had the thing. You know, the THING. The thing that makes you all swoony while you're reading. That makes you sigh just remembering it, like an amazing first kiss that still makes you shiver when you think of it years later. The thing that makes you fall in love.

I had seen the movie version of this book a few years ago and it was excellent (if you haven't seen it, go get it immediately), and I'd wanted to read the books ever since. Well, I'm so glad I did. I was not disappointed. It's only rarely that I can love a book and a movie both so much, equally. This book is worthy of attention and not to be missed. Absolutely powerful, brilliant, and stunning.

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Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (Persepolis, #3-4)Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know if it's possible, but I may have loved this book even more than the first one. Such a wonderful, heartbreaking example of what it means to be an outsider.

Displaced from her homeland, our heroine never feels at home in Austria. But after spending years there, when she goes home, she no longer fits into their conservative culture, either. I ached for her as I read this half of her story, maybe even more so than when I read the first part.

Amazing story that everyone should read. Recommended for anyone who's ever felt like an outsider.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

YA Wednesday Graphic Novel Review: Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi

Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If for some reason you think graphic novels are shallow and devoid of emotional impact, think again. Amulet had me in tears within a few pages of sparse dialogue. Don't underestimate the power or emotional impact images can have on us, moreso even than words, and in such a small space.
Once I dried my tears and began chapter one, the book flew by. The plot picks up, the characters are realistic (yes, I require this even in fantasy, perhaps especially in fantasy), and the author's imagination is a wonderful mix of the odd, the fantastical, the touching, and sometimes the absurd. It has the whimsy of something like The Never Ending Story. If adorable pink robotic bunnies are your kind of thing, grab this book and don't let go til you've drunk in every last magical image and read every last thought bubble. I know I did. And I can't wait to grab the next.

Amulet, Vol. 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse (Amulet, #2)Amulet, Vol. 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful illustrations, another wonderful story. My son and I can't get enough of these books. There is so much to see that he'll look at them for hours.

Amulet, Vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers (Amulet, #3)Amulet, Vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These book are fantastic! The artwork is so amazing--haunting and eerie, comical, tender. I absolutely love it. It makes the story multitudes better. The story is pretty good, too. But the illustrations are what really keep me coming back for more. Plus, I love Miskit!

Amulet, Vol. 4: The Last Council (Amulet, #4)Amulet, Vol. 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once more, beautiful artwork, as in every book in the series. I enjoyed the storyline in this one a bit more than in the last. And was overjoyed to see the return of Miskit, the pink robot bunny.

Amulet, Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves (Amulet, #5)Amulet, Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this was the last book in the series, but a lot was left up in the air, so I really hope Kibuishi will wrap things up with another book. I haven't read a lot of graphic novels before, but this series was so beautiful and breathtaking. I wish there were many, many more of them. 

I saw that Book 6 was out and I can't wait to read it! Exciiiited...