Batgirl of Burnside Vol.1

23164970Batgirl of Burnside is great for many reasons.

The art is fantastic with awesome facial expressions, a practical but beautiful costume design, diverse characters, and exciting action panels.

I liked how the social media was incorporated into the page. Seeing the texts, e-mails and dating profiles helped the story move forward without too much exposition and gave the comic a more contemporary feel.

Babs is the perfect combination of smart, heroic and fun. She is a great role model for young women. She isn’t perfect and her vanity gets her into trouble but she is well meaning and she uses her wits and strength.

The narrative strays from the old Barbara Gordan timeline I’m familiar with but DC’s new comics have done that with many heroes and for the most part I’ve liked the changes.

I liked that the comic included the police perspective and that a young woman with a disability was able to use her technical skills to help fight crime.

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Ms. Marvel Vol. 1

20898019I heard great things about Ms. Marvel and it lived up to the hype.

G. Willow Wilson  writes some of the best character development I’ve seen in a graphic novel.

This is a perfect comic for a book club because it opens up discussion about subtle prejudice, feminism, body image, religion and more. Even though it ties into the Marvel Universe readers don’t have to be familiar with previous comics to follow the story- it serves as an introduction.

I think this is particularly important in my community right now where I’m hearing a lot of negativity about Muslim refugees. The main character is a young Muslim girl with a strict but caring family. She wants to find a way to fit in while maintaining her culture and it is challenging for her to find acceptance.

I have already ordered Vol. 2 and look forward to reading it.

Unspeakable

cover artCaroline Pignat brings to life a historical tragedy and fictional love in Unspeakable. Similar to the story in the film Titanic, but undeniably original, this novel captures the fear, pain, and survivor’s guilt from the shipwreck of The Empress of Ireland.

“No, the waters didn’t take me that night, but I was drowning, still, in survivor’s guilt” (pg 176)

The friendships and romances are memorable. Learning about Jim’s perspective gradually as Ellie reads his journal is heartbreaking as we see the lost opportunities that so many people suffered.

The class divide on the ships makes you think about society and priorities. In shipwrecks, and in life, it is more dangerous to be in the lower class. Having a protagonist who grew up wealthy but is disowned and needs to work as a stewardess (in a time that was like serfdom) allows readers a view of the larger picture. She sees the contrast all the more starkly, making the transition.

“We write our lives by the choices we make. Like it or not, that becomes our story”

Ellie is a strong character who keeps her integrity through hardships. She experiences more hardships than many could bare but keeps her wits about her, stays true to herself, and fights for what is important to her. She is ostracized for her teen pregnancy, hounded by reporters for being one of the few survivors of disaster, and judged for following her heart. She makes mistakes, but the way she deals with them make her a good role model for readers.

A fantastic read for fans of adventure, survival stories and romance.

The Death Of Us

Alice Kuipers does something very well in The Death of Us that few authors succeed at in my opinion. She gives voice to several characters in first person narratives, and they each have a distinct and believable voice.

I adore Callie’s nerdy musings as she jogs “I feel like Odysseus travelling to exotic lands, and I wonder where the Lotus-Eaters are, or where the Cyclops lives” (29). The way phrases pop into her head, the way she struggles to write down her myriad of ideas, and almost everything about her resonates with me. The way she describes her surroundings and the people is so creative and observant that I want her to be real so we sit and people watch, because I think hearing her describe what’s around us would open my eyes.

cover artIvy isn’t someone I would be friends with but she still feels more real than someone like her usually does in the story. She may be the gorgeous, impulsive, center of attention but she also has a darkness in her, and an insecurity that Kuipers makes convincing. She does what she can to avoid becoming her mother, embracing life to the fullest. The wild streak this brings out in her leads her down her mother’s paths though.

I enjoy that each girl tries to emulate the other. When they get stuck they imagine what their friend would do and act it out. It’s interesting that it works both ways. There’s a strange bond between them, they are so different but fit well together. There’s also a sexual tension that is explored in a subtle way that I think demonstrates the difference between being sexy and being crude in literature for young people.

Kurt is in a unique situation of experiencing two worlds. He knows what it’s like to come from that dark place, like Ivy… but he also knows even more luxury and sophistication than Callie. He struggles with balancing these sides of himself. I think each of the girls represents a side of him, and his attraction to them both represents that inner struggle.

The novel is a tragedy, but despite my sadness at the events that take place in it-I am left feeling inspired. It’s the kind of novel that makes you want to hug someone you were angry at, to really live, to write poetry… I think Kuipers has done a fantastic job at creating realism. You can’t help but care about her characters. You can’t help but hang on her words.

Sea of Shadows

Kelley Armstrong has created an exciting fantasy world in Sea of Shadows. The first couple of chapters lagged a bit but by midway through the book I was completely hooked.

The twins are strong female characters with very different strengths. Moira is tough, brave and bold- a character that will be loved by girls who admired Merida the most out of the Disney princesses. Not that this is novel is Disney-esk. In fact, it’s often grotesque with gruesome death, scary monsters, and suspense.

Ashyn is intelligent and sweet, although a tad too naive for her age. She lives in her powerful sister’s shadow but isn’t spiteful about it.

The action is well done. Mythical beasts that are a nightmarish cross between fairy tale creatures and monsters from a horror movie.

The only thing that disappointed me was that the novel does not stand alone. I’m happy it’s a series because I want to experience more of this strange world and the wonderful characters in it, but I don’t like that it’s a cliffhanger. It would be great to have a series where everything was connected but each book left you with a sense of completion.

I think the undertones of class struggle and prejudice will be explored further in the sequel.

Earth & Sky

cover artIn her novel Earth & Sky Megan Crewe combines adventure and philosophy. This is a thrilling story that will grip readers. When science fiction is at it’s best it doesn’t just wow us with interesting technology and exciting action, it also sheds a critical eye on humanity and society. Crewe does this with Earth & Sky by grappling the concepts of free will, colonialism, and otherness.

“It’s easy to see other people as hardly people at all when you’re watching them from a distance” (225)

Using time travel glitches to explain a character’s anxiety attacks is clever and original. The closest thing to this I’ve seen is the explanation for deja-vue in the Matrix.

This novel has a brave protagonist with interesting quirks. She is compassionate and determined.

Earth & Sky could inspire a series but works well as a stand alone. There is a great balance of fun adventure and thoughtfulness.

If you like the plot of this you may enjoy:

The butterfly effectYesterdayBattlefield Earth

If you like the writing style you may enjoy:

Blood red road

*I received Blood Red Road by Moira Young as a submission for the YABA

I thought the overall plot was good and I enjoyed the action. I wanted to see what would happen and really liked one twist.

I couldn’t get past the terrible grammar and spelling. I know it was intentional to demonstrate that the characters were uneducated but since there were no sophisticated characters juxtaposed, it felt sloppy and was painful to read. It’s actually quite remarkable that she came up with a dialect and stuck to it, I just have trouble with such things.

The lack of quotation marks or spaces indicating dialogue was also difficult on the eyes and caused some confusion.

A decent story but it lacked the social/ political depth and eloquence of its most distinguished dystopian peers.