June 12, 2017

Recent Reads

58. Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
I'll start this review by saying that as a kid growing up in Kenya, I was very pro-Palestinian. As an adult I consulted with a tech company in Tel Aviv over the course of eighteen months or so, and visited Israel a total of five times. It took me actually being on the ground to realize the complexity of the situation, and the atrocities committed by all sides made uncomplicated opinions a relic from my childhood.

The author is an artist and stay-at-home-dad, and ends up in various parts of the world based on where his wife (a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator) is stationed. In this graphic memoir, he sketches his lived experience in and around Jerusalem. He does reportage, and in doing so keeps most of the larger political and emotional issues at bay by simply focusing on what he actually sees, experiences, and learns during his stay in the country. I really appreciated the stranger in a strange land perspective. The juxtaposition of the mundane with the religious and violence is a surreal experience, and I especially loved the sections with the wall. I too was fascinated by it, and I'm not talking about the Wailing Wall here, though that too is fascinating. I continue to like the art, and in my opinion this is his best work yet. Rating: 4 stars.

59. The Dark Flood Rises
Bailed at page 85.

This is the first book I've read by the author, and I'm disappointed that I didn't like it enough to finish it. It started out well enough, and I quite enjoyed being in the head of Francesca Stubbs, who might be old but is certainly not out. There are other characters I also found amusing, but after I put the book down a couple of times I was reluctant to pick it up again. The writing is good and there are really wonderful flashes of insight about aging, death, family, love, and relationships, but those flashes were not enough to pull me through the story. I think if I'd made it to the end of the book I'd have given it 2 stars, but I'm not in the mood to do so, so onto the DNF pile it goes. Rating: 1 star.

60. Saga, Vol. 7
I honestly don't know what to say about this series that hasn't been already said. It's wonderful, the characters are well fleshed out, the art continues to be great, and I want me a L.C. This is an almost self contained installment, and I really enjoyed the exploration of love, family, loyalty, war, and refugees. I'd said it before and I'll say it again - if you aren't reading Saga, what on earth are you waiting for? I'll be waiting impatiently for the next volume, which cannot come soon enough. Rating: 4 stars.

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