May 23, 2016

Recent Reads

56. Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope
This volume collects issues #1-6.

I love the premise of this graphic novel series, but am so disappointed with the execution. So check this out, at some point in time our Sun changes, and the 3rd rock is not longer a comfortable habitat for humanity. I still remember with glee talking to my 7th graders about all the ways the Earth might end - it is not a question of if, but how and when. That sure sparked a fun class, but I digress, back to the premise. In order to escape the dangerous radiation, humans have moved to the deep oceans, but resources are running out, and soon there will be none left. Will humanity survive?

See what I mean? An aquatic sci-fi/fantasy series should be right in my wheel house. However, the story is rather thin, and the art is so chaotic as to not leave my eyes a place to rest comfortably. I really like the creativity at play here, but it did not work for me. I have the next volume in the series in hand, and hopefully things will get better. Rating: 2 stars.

57. Low, Vol. 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us
This volume collects issues #7-10.

I started of this series by complaining about what I did not like in my review of the first volume, and I liked this one even less. So, this story now has underwater thunder dome like scenes? Puhlease. And while I have absolutely no issues with nudity and scantily clad women, why the hell are all the men dressed as if for the Siberian winter? What's good for the goose is good for the gander no? There is also too much of a preachy, quasi-religious, positive-thinking-will-solve-all-problems tone to these books for my tastes. So while I love the premise of this series, it does not work for me on any level, and after this one, I'm out. Rating: 1 star.

58. H Is for Hawk
There are many readers who have loved this book and raved about it all over the place, but unfortunately I am not one of them. I listened to the audiobook, which is really well narrated by the author, but about half way through it, 43% to be precise, I have decided to DNF it. Let me try and explain why.

It is quite clear that the author can write, and I would try her work again, but this book is all over the dang place. It is a grief memoir about the death of her father, it is the actual training of a goshawk, it is a memoir of her childhood experiences, it is about the author's connection with the author T.H. White through his writings, it is part nature writing, part history, part biography, part, part, part. All those parts did not work for me. While I am not particularly interested in falconry, I would have enjoyed a book on the training of a goshawk and the history of falconry, or I would have enjoyed her training juxtaposed with a biography of White, or I might even have enjoyed a straight up grief memoir, but this book is too much of a mashup to work for me. So, while I do think this one has some lovely prose, it felt rather too work-shopped and unfocused to make it an interesting read. Rating: 1 star.

59. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
I'm a person who has kept a journal since I was a young girl, and I am convinced that to non-journal keepers, keeping a journal for long periods of time must feel like a Jedi Knight skill. It might well be, I don't know. I'm too close to the pages to be able to make an objective assessment. I know many people who struggle with keeping a journal, and personally I cannot imagine why they do. But then, I also cannot imagine why people who can read don't. All this means is a lack of imagination on my part maybe. I am a reader, and I am a journaler. Oh sure, we could use that lofty term "Writer", and it would apply, but why be so formal when we're among friends?

Journalers write for all sorts of reasons, and I love reading published journals - May Sarton's for example are wonderful - so I was expecting to love this one. Alas, I did not. The author has kept a journal for twenty five years with this objective: "I wanted to end each day with a record of everything that had ever happened." Well, as those of us who keep journals know, that is a tall order indeed. This little book is not a published journal, it is more an essay on keeping a journal, and not even an essay, but a collection of very short musings on the topic.

What I did like was that the author goes back and looks through all her entries, and in these musings meditates on her personal journey. There are some wonderful insights, and some well crafted sentences that are made me catch my breath, but overall, this one just left me wanting more. Rating: 2 stars.

60. Identity Crisis
This volume collects Issues #1-7.

Let me first say that I'm not a big superhero fan. I did not read those comics when I was a kid, and do not often read them now. The reason that is important for this review is that I read this book not knowing these characters, or their back stories, relationships, feuds, etc., and I think that might be the reason I felt lost and bewildered most of the time while reading this graphic novel. Elongated Man! Was he even a real thing?

I really liked the premise of this story, and it was fun to go home with the super heroes and villains - after all what did you think they did when they clocked out and were not busy saving the planet or a kitten? They have lives, and parents, and spouses, and when a serial killer seems out to hurt the heroes by killing their loved ones, who do you call? I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected humor in parts, and the art is really good, but I think not already being familiar with these characters might have been the reason this did not work for me. Rating: 2 stars.

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