Monday, May 26, 2014

Artemis Fowl

Do you love fantasy stories? Do you like stories based around Super-Villans? Well than Artemis Fowl is just the book for you! The popular teen fantasy series came out around 2001 and received much well-deserved attention. Eoin Colfer weaves tales of fairies, dwarfs, and trolls with the modern world in a very believable manner.
Journey with Artemis as he kidnaps a fairie from the illustrious LEPrecon unit and watch as the human and fairie worlds collide with what could be devastating results.
The story is very engaging and well written. I will definitely continue to read the series through the end.
Lance Fillmore (PSEUD)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wicked Review: No One Mourns the Wicked

Recently (just this year, even) I really got into the musical Wicked. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a prequel to L.Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which focuses on that story’s main antagonist, The Wicked Witch of the West (or, as she’s named in this story, Elphaba). If you haven’t heard it before, then go pick it up and listen to the entire thing. Because it is BRILLIANT. The music, the lyrics, the story, the characters, the plot. All of it is stunningly dramatic and fantastically memorable. After listening to it about forty thousand times, I decided to pick up the book on which it based and give it a read.

In short, the novel was… supremely disappointing, especially when compared to it’s musical adaptation.

The story deals with the struggles of Elphaba, who is born with green skin, ferocious teeth, and an aversion to water. Throughout the story she is treated like a monster because of the fear associated with her strange condition. She goes to school with Galinda (later renamed to who we know as Glinda), a higher-class student who initially doesn’t want to be even seen with Elphaba. Eventually, though, they become friends, and begin to help each other out in difficult circumstances. The rest of the plot connects periods through Elphaba’s life as she meets others, helps a revolution in Oz, and learns how to approach a world that hates her.

The main theme of the book is the nature of evil. Throughout the entire story questions are asked of the characters (and by extension, the readers), such as

“Are we born good or evil?”

“Do we have the ability to choose our own morality?”

“Do good intentions with bad results equal good or bad?”

While any of these questions could most definitely fuel a story, this book fails to marry the concepts to the narrative. No matter how many different answers or viewpoints are provided, Elphaba never changes as a base character. There are no monumental turning points or arcs for her. Even the musical, which marked it’s very act breaks with pivotal character moments (Think “Defying Gravity” and “No Good Deed”) was able to nail this down.

Besides the lack of character arc, the book is just far too lengthy to really provoke any emotional moments that it might have been able to show. There are some shining parts of the story, I swear, but they’re buried between many layers of wordy and pulpy drivel that they really doesn’t lend itself to being very memorable.

To sum up my opinion, there are far too many books out there to waste time reading this. I certainly didn’t hate Wicked, (Hating anything really is just not a good idea), but there was so much potential here that didn’t amount to anything. I wholeheartedly attempt to dissuade you from reading this.

Instead, go listen to the musical!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics is a comic book about comic books. "Wait!", I hear you interrupting, "Comic books are just for kids, right? They're not *real* literature."

But seriously, if you have ever thought that, this is definitely the book for you. This is a dissertation on the art of the comic, an exploration into why and how we read them, an explanation of what separates them from other mediums.
Comic art is not a recent thing - Scott McCloud in this book takes the reader through the long history of how graphic narrative came to be how it is today - from the ancient Egyptian iconography, to the political illustrations of the 19th century, to the Mass-market super hero stories we often think of.
McCloud explains with an obvious passion for the subject - the entire book is fascinating, funny, and very thought-provoking. It's also fantastic that this book is itself a comic - it allows for examples of the terminology and visual demonstrations of the very message he is trying to get across.
If any of this sounds even somewhat interesting, I encourage you - no, I insist - that you go and give this book a read. Even if you don't think of yourself as a "comic-reader", I still would recommend it. It's truly a must read.
You can buy Understanding Comics here.