It is an age old question.
Zombies or Unicorns?
Are you on team Zombie or team Unicorn?
I assumed going into this collection I would definitely fall into the team Zombie category. I love zombie stories and movies and unicorns have always just seemed to girlie to me. And I have to admit that I am still on team Zombie, but the unicorns might have turned my head just a little bit.
This is a pretty solid collection of stories from some of the best teen authors of today. I love the back and forth banter of our team captains before each story. Yes, it could seem annoying to some but I thought it brought a lightness and a sense of fun and illustrated the challenge of the book. Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black were clearly having fun with this book and we should too.
As for the stories…some were better than others. Some were great short stories, some were not that great and a few I wish were the start of an actual book. So bring on the zombie apocalypse or the invasion of the unicorns. I am ready!
This short story collection contains “Fire in the Hole” the short story that the TV series Justified is based on. The characters and setting are taken from the short story but not all the details. Boyd Crowder is a more likeable fella in the tv show than he is in this story. Marshall Raylon Givens is still his laid back western hero-self trying to live and work in modern day Kentucky.
Some of the other stories are mysteries in that there is a crime involved and someone figures it out but others are just narratives of life. I think I liked Sparks the first story in the book the best. All have believable if not likeable characters.
What an amazing book. For the uninitiated, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a picture book sort of illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, Caldecott winner for The Polar Express and Jumangi. I say sort of because in the preface of the book, Van Allsburg says the pictures are really from a fellow named Harris Burdick who dropped off 14 drawings that he said that he had written stories for at a publisher’s desk to see what the publisher thought of them and then Burdick, and the stories to accompany the drawings, were never seen again. The publisher then gave them to Van Allsburg years later. To this day, Van Allsburg’s official story is that Burdick indeed does exist and the story behind the illustrations is true. Regardless of the ownership, the pictures are weird and magical and often menacing with cryptic quotes. Over the years, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick has served as the inspiration in countless classrooms when students create their own stories based on the drawings. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is an extension of those projects. Written by top flight writers; Stephen King, Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, ect and introduced by Lemony Snicket, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is a collection of short stories that capture the mysterious wonderment of the original art. Highly recommend this book.
Well you really ought to read this after you finish the last in the Wicked Lovely Series….because it finishes or picks up individual tales/plotlines from the various protagonists in that series, as well as having a couple of other short stories unrelated to the Wicked Lovely series. The first one I read, about Donia & Keenan was a little fluffy with Not much happening, but I did enjoy hearing more about Irial and Niall – though, I am bored to tears with Leslie, please give her a rest. The story The Sleeping Girl was in some ways a redo or Wicked Lovely, but in other ways it was fresh. I didn’t like the vampire story Transition, it was a bit too much negative deja vu (and gross). I liked the Selchie tale, it had an interesting twist.
I really liked some of the tales. His Wolf by Lisa Tuttle, was my favorite – what an idyllic life (well sorta). I wasn’t thrilled with Neil Gaiman’s The Thing About Cassandra (but at least it wasn’t another woman being victimized), but I need to remember that he can do horror, not all he writes if purely fantasy. Jim Butcher’s Love Hurts had more of that romance with Harry Dresden and Murphy (should be Susan Gonzalez – argh). Robin Hobbs’ Blue Boots was very nice – quaint, everything ringing true for the setup. I didn’t quite understand “After the Blood” unless it was basically the same “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson (on which Omega Man movie was based). Tanith Lee’s Under/Above the Water seemed to resonate with Asian notions of life and rebirth.
So, this book isn’t really a graphic novel or part of a series of comics. Instead, it’s a compilation of Bill Willingham’s work from his early days. Before “Fables”, that is. In it, we have a wide variety of tales (and a wide variety of artistic talent), all of which are prefaced with introductions by Willingham. Particular favorites of mine are the stories set in the world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Merv Pumpkinhead as a spy? Yes, please. Not one, but two arcs involving the inscrutable Thessaly (a character I always wanted to hear more about)? Absolutely! Top it off with some entertaining vignettes spanning comic genres and you’ve got one heck of a fun read.
Shaun Tan is extremely talented. His work just blows me away. I thought this collection of stories was very powerful. and the illustrations are magnificent. Tan is like a strange cooky version of Dr. Seuss; he is whimsical and there is just so much going on in the pictures. You want to pour over them for a long while. The three stories in this book are all variations of loss and finding your place in the world. The first “The Red Flower” deals with a girl’s depression and the darkness and loneliness she feels, but there is hope in the end. The second story “the Lost Thing” is my favorite about a lost something that is found by a boy. He wants to take care of it and find it a home and he eventually does find it a place with others of its own kind. This story deals with conformity and pushing things into the dark if they don’t fit in. “The Rabbits” is probably the most obvious allegory tale of the three. It deals with a population being invaded by colonists. It is a perfect story to go with lessons on Native Americans. They are driven from their homes and lands and pretty much decimated by the invaders. Tan’s strength really lies with the illustrations though. They bring the stories to life in their own whimsical way. Very enjoyable book that you want to read over and over.