In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber…2/7
In this 17th Century Japan the Shogun is a woman…and the harem is full of men. R to L (Japanese Style). Curious about why female lords must take on male names, the Shogun Yoshimune seeks out the ancient scribe Murase and his archives of the last eighty years of the Inner Chambers–called the Chronicle of the Dying Day. In it’s pages Yoshimune discovers the coming of the Redface Pox, the death of the last male Shogun, and the birth of the new Japan; In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen to a quarter of the total female population. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber.
The House of Mystery has been temporarily relocated to the Space Between, where death rules and the body count continues to rise. Meanwhile, Fig, Peter and Jordan venture out into the city of ghosts to visit the long-abandoned Pathfinder’s Academy where the most desperate specters wail and gnash. But the Pathfinder’s Academy holds more than ghosts – it also contains ancient dark secrets that will change Fig’s life forever.
Will Fig and Peter find a way out? And to make matters even worse, the House of Mystery’s previous owner has returned to reclaim what’s his.
Joe’s mother has gone out to attempt to prevent the bank from foreclosing on the family home that the two have been living in alone since the death of Joe’s father. Joe heads up to his room in the attic, forgetting his backpack on the stairs. This wouldn’t be a problem for most people, but Joe is extremely hypoglycemic and the nearest sugar is in his bag. After hanging out in his room for awhile, he begins to either hallucinate from the hypoglycemic shock or his toys have all come to life. Either way, he begins an epic quest to save the “kingdom” from evil forces. Accompanied by his pet rat and various other “heroes” he picks up along the way, Joe is armed only with his wits as he begins the long and arduous journey downstairs to the kitchen where salvation awaits in the form of carbonated high-fructose corn syrup.
The artwork in this is amazing. Joe’s bedroom is filled with all the toys one might expect a teenaged boy to have accumulated over the course of his short life. All of these details inform the auxiliary characters that Joe encounters throughout his journey. On occasion, the panel will show Joe in his own house, looking increasingly worse for the wear. Joe himself is unsure what is real and what isn’t, but he knows he’s on a mission and he’s determined to follow it all the way through. I love that this is a self-contained comic (it was originally printed as a mini-series); it’s a refreshing change to read the whole thing in one sitting rather than having to wait for each subsequent installment to come out. The story feels fresh and original all while paying homage to the classic adventure stories we all grew up with.
Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?
With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.
In volume two of the American Fairy series, we catch up to Callie LaRoux in Hollywood, the seat of power for the Unseelie Court. Callie and Jack obtain jobs with MGM studios, which seems to be the best way of going about finding Callie’s parents and settling this whole prophecy business. Things start to go awry when Jack and Callie witness a young starlet, Ivy Bright (think Shirley Temple), about to be kidnapped by fairies. They rescue her with the aid of a well-known singer, Paul Robeson, who, in spite of being human, seems to know an awful lot about fairies. In the meantime, Shake is back, but not nearly as powerful as he was. Callie and Jack know they must be getting close to Callie’s parents, but there’s so much going on with Callie’s arrival in Unseelie territory that they get stalled just trying to keep themselves alive.
I was really excited about this sequel since I loved the first book in the series. This one just fell kind of flat for me. The plot has a lot of action, which will surely keep many fans entertained, but it seemed to lose some of the historical detail in exchange for action sequences. I’m still more than a little confused by the Paul Robeson and his role in the whole thing. He appears near the beginning of the book and then disappears from the plot for nearly half of the book. The Ivy Bright storyline is predictable at best, annoying at worst. Overall, the heavy reliance on action makes the book feel convoluted and considerably less magical than its predecessor. Here’s hoping the third book can manage to pull everything back together; I would really like to see the series redeem itself, especially since the concept is so good.
In spite of the fact that “Burned” was not my favorite of Hopkins’ books (a statement which will likely get me in trouble with many of my teens, for whom this is a much-beloved favorite), I was still anxious to read “Smoke”, its sequel. It had never occurred to me that there might even be a sequel to “Burned”, which so clearly stood on its own, but then, well, Ellen went and wrote a sequel.
This picks up more or less where “Burned” left off. Pattyn Von Stratten is now on the run after the death of her father. She has nowhere to go and no one left to turn to. She meets a girl her age who agrees to put her up for the night. There, Pattyn meets the rest of the girl’s family- all immigrants. In spite of the cultural differences, Pattyn begins to feel more at home with this new family than her real one.
In the meantime, Pattyn’s sister, Jackie, is still at home with the rest of the family and dealing with the aftermath of what happened in the family garage that fateful night. With Pattyn gone, Jackie has no one left to turn to. She’s not even remotely upset about what happened to her father, but she cannot accept her mother’s failure to acknowledge the trauma that Jackie has endured. The family’s continued adherence to the LDS church means that the family secrets are not to be discussed. Gradually, Jackie’s pain turns to anger as she begins to heal with the help of a new boyfriend.
This is a relatively tame book for those who are familiar with Hopkins’ oeuvre. The main themes center around the aftermath of abuse. This is, ultimately, a survivor’s tale. Pattyn and Jackie each have very different approaches to healing their psychological wounds, but each does so in a way that feels true to their character. There are times when the narrative drags, but readers who loved Burned will undoubtedly love meeting back up with the Von Stratten sisters and will rejoice in their triumphs over their troubling family situation.
I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference. Smoke officially publishes in September 2013.
When it comes to serial killers, few are as well-known as Jeffrey Dahmer. To the author, “Jeff”, was much more than a face on the news. Backderf grew up in the same town and went to the same school as Dahmer. Long before the name “Dahmer” entered public consciousness, he was an awkward and troubled kid. Through the eyes of a friendly acquaintance (Backderf never genuinely appears to consider Dahmer a true “friend”, but more of kid on the periphery of his social circle), we meet a boy who was certainly unusual and somewhat anti-social. Readers will follow Dahmer from childhood to his teen years and, while it paints a slightly more sympathetic version of Dahmer, it never explains or excuses the actions he eventually takes. In hindsight, the signs were there, but it was clear that, at the time, Dahmer was simply regarded as the resident odd-ball and few thought little else about him.
What makes this graphic novel particularly interesting is the inclusion of both photos and documents from Backderf and Dahmer’s school years, as well as the detailed, page-by-page annotations provided by Backderf. This graphic novel is morbidly fascinating. Readers with any interest whatsoever on the topic will find themselves sucked in with no chance of escape until the end of the book. I was intrigued, horrified and even occasionally amused by Backderf’s story.
Tom Parking is an average guy who’s always dreamed of being the next Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. His life is pretty mundane until he is approached by a curious looking fellow named Gark who tells Tom that he is the Chosen One. Against his better judgement, Tom follows Gark into a dumpster which actually does turn out to be a portal to another kingdom. Believing his wildest dreams have come true, Tom gets pretty excited at the prospect of saving a kingdom. Until he actually gets a good luck at it. The whole civilization is more or less constructed out of trash. The denizens all don mismatched thrift-store clothes and the drink of choice tends to occasionally set its consumers on fire. Tom quickly discovers that this kingdom is kind of, well, crappy. The King is exceedingly cynical, to say the least. He also hates Tom. As it turns out, Gark, though tasked with tracking down the chosen one, is also about the least popular citizen of the kingdom, mainly because he has hope for the future. The rest could care less and have no inclination to change. In fact, the kingdom doesn’t even bear a name; when circumstances require, one can simply “mumble unintelligibly for the length of the average kingdom name”. Tom is less than impressed. In fact, he turns them down as his life proves easier without the nameless kingdom in his life (he was told he could be in charge of the Rat-Snottery, but it wasn’t enough to clinch the deal). So they find someone else: Kyle, Tom’s best friend. Kyle is everything Tom isn’t; athletic, focused, good with girls, etc. Kyle excels where Tom failed to impress and Tom finds himself actually starting to regret his initial choice to turn his back on the crappy kingdom.
While the setup is definitely amusing and unexpected, the rest of the book isn’t as funny as I had hoped. The moral of the story becomes a bit heavy-handed and the pace lags substantially in the middle of the book. Tom can be an irritating character at times, while Kyle is kind of bland. Nevertheless, readers will still be able to relate to Tom’s sense of opportunity lost. After all, haven’t we all regretted turning down an opportunity at some point in our lives? Overall, however, an entertaining read for teens, particularly any teen who has ever dreamed of becoming a “chosen one”.
Colette is the daughter of a major Hollywood actress and has developed a knack for lying to escape from her mother’s shadow. She’s known for lying about anything and everything. Colette and her little brother even make a game of pretending its their birthday at restaurants to score free desert. When Colette’s summer plans are abruptly cancelled due to her mother’s filming schedule, Colette is convinced it’s going to be the worst summer ever. On the way to the middle-of-nowhere town that the filming is taking place in, Colette spots a gorgeous guy on a motorcycle and decides that maybe summer won’t be so terrible after all. She is even more pleased when biker-guy begins to pay attention to her. Colette worries, however, that her mother’s fame will ruin this relationship just as it has so many others, so she lies about her age and background. What Colette doesn’t count on is that her new boyfriend may be hiding a few secrets of his own.
This is the quintessential fun summer read. Since it’s written in verse, the story moves extremely quickly. Colette is fun and sarcastic, if a bit naive. Her little brother is charming, though his lisping quickly starts to feel like a cutesy convention. Readers may see the twist coming, but will likely be entertained enough by the humor and pacing to forgive the somewhat cliched ending.
This novel comes out in late August. I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference.
A new vision based on Astro Boy – “The Greatest Robot On Earth” R to L (Japanese Style). Pluto… Sahad… Goji… Abullah… Mysterious figures somehow involved with the serial murders of the great robots of the world. Europol’s top robot detective Gesicht has been put on the case, and he’s mere steps away from discovering the horrifying truth behind the killer and his motives… Little does he realize that he’s also steps away from discovering a horrifying truth of his own… Masterfully crafted science fiction and suspense at its best! In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something has destroyed the powerful Swiss robot Mont Blanc. Elsewhere a key figure in a robot rights group is murdered. The two incidents appear to be unrelated…except for one very conspicuous clue – the bodies of both victims have been fashioned into some sort of bizarre collage complete with makeshift horns placed by the victims’ heads. Interpol assigns robot detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case – and he eventually discovers that he too, as one of the seven great robots of the world, is one of the targets.
So, I know there are more volumes to go, but seriously, there aren’t many characters left! I’m still fascinated by this series, probably because I’m not sure where it’s headed.
A robot may not harm or kill a human being. Article 13 of the Robot LawsAdolph, a member of a robot hate group, is being used as a pawn and hunted down by the members of his own brotherhood. He must now turn to his worst enemy for protection–Gesicht, the robot who he believes killed his own brother.
A powerful, destructive force in the form of a tornado is killing the great robots of the world one by one. Who or what could be behind this whirlwind? Be it man or robot, it now has its sights set on Atom, the most advanced robot ever created–and Atom is ready to dive right into the eye of the storm.
The Lighthouse in the Wasteland Lag finds his long-lost hero Gauche Suede! But Gauche’s heart is so depleted that he has no memory of his former self, and now goes by Noir the Marauder. Lag’s only hope to recover the real Gauche is a special letter bullet that will convey Lag’s heart to his friend. Lag’s not sure how to go about writing the perfect letter, but his Letter Bee duties offer some good lessons in connecting hearts.
Amberground is locked in darkness. A man-made star casts only a dim light over the land. The pitch-black wilderness is infested with Gaichuu–colossal insects with metal exoskeletons. The Gaichuu make travel between the cities of Amberground extremely dangerous. But thankfully the Letter Bees, a brave corps of messengers, risk their lives in order to keep the hearts of Amberground connected.
The Man Who Could Not Become Spirit In the town of Honey Waters, Lag seeks out “the Man Who Could Not Become Spirit,” who might have information on the missing Gauche Suede. Lag’s disappointed to find out that he’s a charlatan. However, the heart of this strange man in this strange little town yields a surprising clue. Lag might be closer than he ever imagined.
A Letter Full of Lies Lag, now a Letter Bee rookie, meets Dr. Thunderland, Jr. a peculiar man who collects and catalogs the various Amberground species. When the doctor takes a particular interest in Steak, Lag and Niche have to hustle to keep him off the doctor’s dissection table! The ensuing chaos pays off for Lag when the doctor reveals that Gauche—Lag’s missing hero—paid the doctor a visit before he disappeared.
I read this volume shortly after finishing viewing the Black Butler anime series. I was feeling all sad and missing the characters and then was like, “oh yeah! I’ve got another volume laying around that I haven’t read yet!” and all was good. Though I noticed that this whole circus story arc wasn’t in the anime. Too bad, ’cause it’s an intriguing little story.
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key unwinds into its fourth volume in Keys to the Kingdom. With more keys making themselves known, and the depths of the Locke family’s mystery ever-expanding, Dodge’s desperation to end his shadowy quest drives the inhabitants of Keyhouse ever closer to a revealing conclusion.