December 26, 2016

Recent Reads

186. The Complete Decorated Journal: A Compendium of Journaling Techniques
This is a re-read. I had previously read both The Decorated Page and The Decorated Journal, by the author, and this book combines those two into one fat book, chock-full of lovely examples of journals and journal pages, and tips on how to get started with journaling. There are also sections on how to bind your own journal, historical tidbits about journals and journal keeping, and easy to follow step by step directions to get you started. This is a fun book that is worth picking if you want to keep an illustrated journal, or if you already keep one and are looking for some inspiration. Rating: 4 stars.

187. Plutona
2.5 rounded up.

This volume collects all five of the issues in this completed graphic novel series.

The story revolves around a fallen superhero (of the title), and the kids who discover her body and what happens next. It had Stand By Me tones, without being as good. I liked how the story shows the very different life circumstances of these kids, and the meanness and bulling that many kids experience was well captured. However, the story plot itself was not compelling, and there wasn't really any new ground trod with this one. The art, while not by Lemire, felt like his artwork, so I liked that, and the juxtaposition of the somewhat childish art with dark themes was interesting.

The thing I liked most about this story was the behind the scenes life of the super hero, but don't let the cute cover art fool you, this one is not appropriate for wee readers. Rating: 3 stars.

188. The Unseen World
Will I never learn to stay away from the hyped book of the moment? Apparently not. This one though was highly rated by readers I trust, so it was even more of a disappointment.

At page 55 I was already bored and wondering what all the fuss was about. The writing is pedestrian, the characters not fleshed out, and there is absolutely no emotion whatsoever, and unless the author was doing that for the reason I thought.... I continued reading. At page 255, I no longer cared, skipped to the end, confirmed my suspicions, and then skimmed the rest of the book to fill in the blanks.

This is the story of Ada, who is home/lab schooled by "David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston." David starts to exhibit signs of early onset Alzheimers, and as his mind unravels, so does Ada's life. The mystery of figuring out David's secrets is at the core of this story.

The author explores some interesting topics, the Turing Test is explained in the opening chapters, and sets the backdrop that this story plays out against. As an Electrical Engineer who has worked for several software startups, there just wasn't enough meat on the backbone of this story. The science/business parts were cliched scenes, with little depth or nuance. There is no show, it is all tell: this happened, then this happened, then this. The story jumps back and forth in time, as we learn more about David's history, again all told from an emotional distance, just the facts. His story would have made an interesting book, but this is not his story, not really.

This should have worked. It has an interesting premise, and plays with some interesting ideas, but I was bored for much of the telling. Rating: 1 star.

189. Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family
Let me start by stating that I want someone to make this a TV show. HBO? Netflix? Anybody?

This volume collects issues #1-4, and previously only-available-online, four-page short, "Family: Prelude."

The premise of this graphic novel is what sucked me in. The setting is a near future dystopian world where governments no longer exist, resources are scarce, and territories are governed by wealthy Families. People are categorized as being a member of a family (awesome), being a serf, someone who works for the family in some capacity so has value (not as awesome), and waste, people who add no value, and are useless (not even on the awesome spectrum). Everyone in this world (Earth) is human, but each family has a Lazarus, who is a genetically modified, kick-ass, almost immortal, whose sole purpose is to protect the members of their family, and their holdings. The story starts as Forever Carlyle gets shot up and left for dead. The thing is, Forever, also called Eve, is a Lazarus. Game on.

Seriously, this is so much in my wheelhouse that it actually hurts me to be unable to give it a higher rating. I love Eve (hate the name Forever, yuck!) and her story, and her total kick-assedness (that's a word right?). But, the plot itself is weak. Why, Greg Rucka? Why? This should be a Games of Thrones type saga, but the characters are not well fleshed out, and while the art is dark and moody, I don't particularly love it either. Also, so many things don't make sense. As just one example, why does each family only have one Lazarus? They have unlimited wealth, so why not build multiples? Sure they're expensive, but they've got to be cheaper than paying and feeding those large security forces, who fall apart the moment a Lazarus shows up. Sigh.

All, that being said, I completed the print edition of this book around midnight, and promptly downloaded the rest of the series from my library. So that's what I'll be immersed in for a little while. Keeping my fingers crossed that the writing gets better. Rating: 3 stars.

190. Adulthood Is a Myth
This book is a collection of comic strips/panels about a young woman who is not ready, nowhere near ready, to be an adult. What does it mean to be an adult anyway? You mean you have to get out of your PJs, put aside your books, leave your cat at home, and head outside? Who on earth would sign up for that?

This little book is a fun read, and there are several panels that had me laughing out loud. If you are in the mood for a quick, amusing interlude in the midst of all that serious reading you're up to, give this one a try. I do think though, that it will resonate much better for new/emerging/baby adults - or whatever the heck it is you all call yourselves! Rating: 3 stars.

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