Saturday, May 25, 2013

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

The Dark by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen: Laszlo is quite familiar with the dark.  It lives with him in the same house and he sees it each night.  He is also terribly afraid of it.

This story is about how he overcomes that fear.

Saw this listed as a new item for my local library and picked it up right away.  I like Lemony Snicket's books and a picture book for children was sort of new territory for me with this author.  

When I was a kid, I totally used to have a fear of the dark and my parents and older brother constantly made fun of me for it.  This book does not do any of that. It  does not shame Laszlo for his fear of the dark, which I think is important.  It presents the dark as a character, something that has to be met and not ignored.  By the end, the terror that had been building with the spreading of the dark disappears.  It is a comforting story and I loved that.  

I really liked this little book and I recommend it to all parents who like to read to or with their children.  The text of the book is also something worth noting because it is simple yet poetic. Lemony Snicket (I do know his true name.) writes a story that is both suspenseful and in the end heartwarming. The text varies from page to page and there is some repetition, which is important when learning to read. The artwork by Jon Klassen is wonderful, fantastic, and all those other complimentary words.  He's great.  His work is great.  It complements and fits the story so well.  I cannot say much more than that.

(Title quote is by Anne Frank)

Friday, May 24, 2013

"And the boy they called...number 28..."

So this is just a quick update on my reading of Katsuhiro Otomo's manga series Akira.

The first two books had a lot of action and movement and so I thought maybe it would slow down in the middle set but it didn't.  If anything the action only increased and the situations became much more dire for the characters in Neo-Tokyo.

As a side note, these two books also confirm that I was right to slap on that 18 years of age or older recommendation because a lot of the content (especially in book 4) turns towards the more mature.  There has literally been a breakdown in society and with that comes violence (in its various incarnations) and the groups of people who rise up to take advantage of that chaos.

I am still enjoying the series and cannot wait to see where it all goes next in book 5.

Title source: 
Otomo, K. (2001). Akira. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics.
(But to be super specific, the title quote can be found on p. 185 of book 4)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

“For the alchemist the one primarily in need of redemption is not man, but the deity who is lost and sleeping in matter. "

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa: Alchemy is about equal exchange, where to gain something you must also give something in return. The Elric brothers learned this the hard way. Now they travel their war ravaged and poverty stricken world in search of answers and a way to make up for the mistakes they have made.

From the first few pages of this manga, Hiromu Arakawa gives you so many reasons to stay and read.  The story is mysterious, funny, gut wrenching and sometimes totally scary.  Basically, it has all the elements of something that should get you hooked instantly. It also has these unexpected themes that I never saw mentioned in a lot of the reviews I read.  They make this manga something that should not be ignored.  It makes it more than its medium of expression, which some still view as criteria for passing it over.

While I did enjoy the first two volumes and I will continue reading this series, something has been bothering me.  This manga is in part about a quest for Edward to get back the pieces of his body that he has lost.  I understand trying to figure out a way to fix his brother because Alphonse doesn't really have a body (i.e. soul stuck in a suit of armor) but I do not get why Edward feels the need to fix himself.  It is as if him having prosthetic limbs is a bad thing that needs to be corrected.  

It makes me uneasy to see this especially with how advanced his arm and leg are compared to what we have in our reality. How would readers with prosthetic limbs feel when reading this series?  They already have so much to deal with so would this somehow offend or upset them?  Many readers of this manga will probably not see it this way but it was a thought that crossed my mind and would not leave.  

At the same time, it does present a prominent character with prosthetic limbs as being powerful not just in spirit and mind but also in body.  I think that is definitely something wonderful and rare.

I do warn though that there is quite a bit of violence and blood in this manga but it is not especially gory or gratuitous .  I recommend this series for teens 15 years of age or older.  

One final note before I end this post.  If you're reading this and you're a girl and you're thinking to yourself, "This manga is not for me.  It looks like it's for boys."  I am here to tell you that this manga is actually for everyone.  Not only are there some awesome female characters in this series but the writer and illustrator, Hiromu Arakawa, is also a woman.  So please do not let that arbitrary notion prevent you from reading things you are interested in.

(Title quote is from C. G. Jung)