Tiger & Bunny, Volume 1

TigerandBunnyVol1Tiger & Bunny, Volume 1 by Mizuki Sakakibara

ISBN:  9781421555614
Pages:  168
Publisher:  Viz
Release Date:  April 9, 2013
Audience:  Teen and Adults

Humans have started to mutate into superhumans called “Next.”  Some of them end up fighting crime as heros in the city of Stern Bild.  These heros all need and have corporate sponsors and are on a reality TV show called Hero TV.  One of these heros, Wild Tiger, has been around for a while but his ratings are slipping.  A new hero came on to the scene and they now have to combine forces and become a team, but neither of them is ready to accept this.

Based off of the anime series of the same name, the manga follows the series pretty closely.  This is a great companion to the anime, although doesn’t really add anything more to the story.  This story was fun to read and watch and it is almost a cross between Watchmen and the X-Men.  Sakakibara did a fine job with the artwork as it feels very similar to the anime.  Some of the panels are filled with too much and it can be overwhelming when trying to read.  Perhaps in future the volumes the manga will add more to the series, but otherwise just choose the medium you prefer and stick with that.

Score:  3 out of 5

Attack on Titan, Volume 1

AttackonTitanMangaAttack on Titan, Volume 1 by Hajime Isayama

ISBN:  9781612620244
Pages:  208
Publisher:  Kodansha Comics
Release Date:  June 19, 2012
Audience:  Teens (16+) and Adults

In the distant future the human race has been decimated by the giant humanoids known as titans.  The surviving humans have built a community encompassed by three walls.  There have been no titans and an era of peace for 100 years.  One day that peace ends by the sudden appearance of the titans.  Eren Yeager is an eager young man who wants nothing more to be on the illustrious Survey Corps, the faction of the military that actively goes out into titan  territory to learn more about them.  The day the titans return is the day that changes Eren’s life, as his mother is taken and killed by a titan.  Eren and his adoptive sister Mikasa are sent with the other refugees behind the next remaining wall to resume their life.  After losing his mother, Eren is more determined than ever to join the military and defeat the titans at any cost.

Isayama has created an interesting and action packed world.  Not all of the rules of this world are known and it is interesting the way pieces are revealed bit by bit.  If you pay attention  you can catch some of the foreshadowed information to see where the story is heading.  There is a lot of action and gore, so if you have a weak stomach you may want to pass on this.  The art has been criticized for not being nice to look at, but I think it fits for the narrative.  I like the stark lines as it adds to what is occurring in the story.  My curiosity has been whetted and I can’t wait to continue on this wild ride and to learn more about the elusive titans as well.

Adaptation:   This spring, an anime adaptation premiered with a rather large following.  The anime brings the story to life and includes an epic soundtrack.

Score:  4 out of 5

Wandering Son, Volume 2

WanderingSon2Wandering Son, Volume 2 by Takako Shimura

ISBN:  9781606994566
Pages:  221
Publisher:  Fantographic Books
Release Date:  January 2, 2012
Audience:  Teen (14+) and Adult

The story continues to follow Nitori Shuichi as he now is in the sixth grade and more people are aware of his secret.  Shuichi and his friend Takatsuki Yoshino have discovered an adult with similar feelings to their own and both continue to struggle growing up and dealing with others who see them as different.  On a school trip Shuichi learns who his true friends are and develops a stronger skin.

Shimura continues to write a fantastic coming of age story.  The characters are well fleshed out that you feel an emotional response to what is occurring in the story.  The narrative has improved in this volume and it has a better flow.  This is not an action packed story, but one that is endearing and worth reading for the relationships and the character growth.  An added bonus to this edition is an essay on being transgendered in Japan by Matt Thorn.

Wandering Son, Volume 2 is on ALA GLBT Round Table’s 2013 Rainbow List of recommended books for young readers.

Score:  4 out of 5

Wandering Son, Volume 1

WanderingSon1Wandering Son, Volume 1 by Takako Shimura

ISBN:  9781606994160
Pages:  202
Publisher:  Fantographic Books
Release Date:  July 5, 2011
Audience:  Teen (14+) and Adult

Nitori Shuichi is a shy fifth grader with a secret – he loves girls clothes.  He is afraid of letting anyone know this secret and it is especially difficult to keep it hidden as he shares a room with his sister.  Nitori has just transfered to a new school and becomes friends with Takatsuki Yoshino.  They each discover their secrets – Nitori likes to dress as a girl and Yakatsuki likes to dress as a boy.  They grow closer as they share their secret with each other and try to live their secret far from home.

Takako Shimura  takes this coming of age story to a not often talked about place.  Not only is this  a story about a boy coming into his own, but it deals with his gender identity.  Shimura illuminates the topics of gender identity and being transgender in a tasteful way.  The characters are interesting, but sort of difficult to distinguish artistically.  The art style itself is rather cutesy, but with bland backgrounds.  However, this just emphasizes the narrative more.  The story can be disjointed at points, but overall a great coming of age story.

Wandering Son is on YALSA’s Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens (2012) as well as on ALA’s GLBT Round Table’s 2012 Rainbow List of recommended books for young readers.

Adaptation:  Aniplex brought out an animated version of this story in 2011.  You can watch the series on Crunchyroll.

Score:  3.5 out of 5

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

IsEveryoneHangingOutWithMeIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

ISBN:  9780307939807
Discs:  3
Publisher:  Random House Audio
Release Date:  November 1, 2011
Narrator:  Mindy Kaling
Audience:  Adults

In this memoir, Mindy Kaling recounts bits from her life and discusses her life and her path to working in television and on stage.

Kaling creates an interesting account of her life from childhood to adulthood.  Generally, authors should not read their own work as it does not turn out as well.  However, Kaling did a fantastic job reading this and really brought her book to life.  It sounded like the reader was having an intimate conversation (albeit one-sided) with her instead of being read to.  This really is a fun read and one not to be missed.

Score:  4 out of 5

Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family, Book 1)

WitchesofEastEndWitches of East End (The Beauchamp Family, Book 1) by Melissa de la Cruz (2011)

ISBN:  9781401323905
Pages:  272
Publisher:  Hyperion
Audience:  Adults  and Older Teens (Especially fans of the Blue Bloods series)

The Beauchamp woman, Mother Joanna and daughters Freya and Ingrid, live on the tip of Long Island, New York.  They seem to be regular family, but they are actually a family of witches who cannot use their powers.  Ingrid, the youngest daughter, is getting married to the wealthy Bran Gardiner, but things do not go as they should at their engagement party.  The Beauchamp women all end up using their powers to help the people around them, but their helping hands seem to have negative consequences.

de la Cruz’s attempt at writing adult fiction falls flat.  As with her Blue Bloods series, she writes about two different types of mythologies together.  Not only are these women “witches” they are actually goddesses from Norse mythology.  However, if you are looking for a book with actual characters (besides names) from Norse mythology  this is not it.  The characters are flat and rather irritating and do not act as adults, but rather a group of adolescents.  It is as if she just looked up the various gods and goddesses from the Norse mythology pantheon and wrote aspects of their characters from some list.  Not much actually happens in this story until the end when the reader is slammed with numerous references to Norse mythology where we discover this really isn’t a book about witches.  There are even characters from the Blue Bloods series that pop in for no reason whatsoever  which detracts from the narrative (what there is of narrative).  This is nothing more than another Blue Bloods novel with more explicit sex scenes in it.  Definitely a novel to skip and no need to continue reading the series.

Adaptation:  There is a television adaptation of this series that came out in 2012 on Lifetime Television.

Score:  1 out of 5

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, Book 1)

I Hunt KillersI Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, Book 1) by Barry Lyga (2012)

ISBN:  9780316125840
Pages:  361
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is not your average teenager.  His father is one of the most notorious serial killers and raised him to be the next best serial killer by taking Jazz to “work” with him.  Now that his father is behind bars, he takes care of his grandmother who is slowly slipping away and tries to be a normal teenager.  As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, bodies are starting to appear in their small town of Lobo’s Nod and the crimes seem eerily familiar.  With Jazz’s firsthand knowledge of the crimes, he lends aid to the local police department but as the case progresses, Jazz begins to wonder if he is more like his father than he thought.

I Hunt Killers takes one directly into the mind of a killer.  Throughout the story, the main character, Jazz, struggles with maintaining his normalcy and questions whether he can ever truly live with “normal” people.  Lyga explores the motives behind truly being a monster and the product of one’s circumstances.  The mystery in the story is intriguing, but not difficult to piece together if paying close enough attention to the details.  A great book for older teens and adults who enjoy a thrilling case of murder.

For those who enjoy I Hunt Killers, the second book in the Japser Dent series, Game, is now available in libraries and where books are sold.

Score:  4 out of 5

Etiquette & Espionage

EtiquetteEspionage

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, Book 1) by Gail Carriger (2013)

ISBN:  9780316190084
Pages:  320
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

In this alternate history tale set in the Soulless universe, vampires, werewolves, and anything else that goes bump in the night is part of everyday life. Sophronia Angelina Temminnick is an inquisitive girl who likes to know what makes things tick. After a disastrous tea with a neighbor, Sophronia’s mother decides she needs to get some social polish. On route to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, Sophronia and her companions are overtaken by Flywaymen who are looking for some kind of object. Once safely on the floating boarding school, Sophronia learns that she has landed in a school perfect for her. Not only will she learn the proper address for a Lord of the realm, but also the best way to pick a lock. Sophronia and her roommates undertake some espionage of their own to discover the secret of the missing device and make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

In Etiquette & Espionage, Carriger continues to create fantastical worlds of whimsy. For those familiar with the Soulless universe, some favorite characters drop in for a visit. However, one does not need to have read any of the Soulless books to enjoy this one. With vivid and well fleshed out characters, one is completely transported to this alternate world filled with dirigibles, automatons, and supernatural creaters. A must read for any fantasy or Steampunk fan, both young and old.

Score:  4 out of 5

Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy, Book 1)

Ruby Red (Rubinrot)Ruby Red [Rubinrot] (Ruby Red Trilogy, Book 1) by Kerstin Gier (2009)

ISBN: 9780805092523
Pages: 322
Publisher: Henry Holt

Gwyneth Shepherd is a rather ordinary girl from an extraordinary family of time travelers. Her cousin Charlotte has been training her entire life for her eventual role as time traveler; however, when the time comes Gwyneth is the one who gets sent back in time. Once it is discovered that Gwyneth is the one with the special ability, she is forced to train with her new partner, Gideon, who is not impressed. Gwyneth is thrust into a strange world with a new set of rules and soon discovers that many things are not what they seem.

Ruby Red or Rubinrot is translated from German by Anthea Bell. Not only are there an interesting cast of characters in Ruby Red, but Gier transports the reader throughout the centuries and makes one feel like they are in that time. The characters are somewhat stereotypical of a teen novel, but interesting nonetheless. As this is the first book in a trilogy, it will be interesting to see how the mystery unravels. A good read full of suspense for teens and adults who like to read teen fiction.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Rubinrot (Ruby Red) is a feature film in Germany with the release date of 14 March 2013.  Check out the trailer!

The Diviners

The DivinersThe Diviners by Libba Bray (2012)

ISBN:  9780316126113
Pages:  592
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Evie O’Niell has a special ability that she tries to conceal. One night at a party, she reveals her talent for reading objects and is forced to leave her small town in Ohio to spend some time with her reclusive uncle in New York. Evie is thrilled to be heading to New York to be where the action is and plans to be somebody. However, things do not go as planned and not only is she the victim of a pickpocket at Grand Central Station, she discovers her Uncle Will is the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult – commonly referred to as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.” Not long after her arrival, a series of occult-based murders occur and the police seek the aid of Evie’s Uncle Will. Evie can’t stay out of the investigation and is the only one who can piece together the various clues left by the killer.

Bray has managed to transport readers straight into the Roaring Twenties. Not only are readers physically transported by the locales but with the language itself. The characters are fleshed out and immerse one into the story. This book has something for everyone with historical, paranormal, mystery, and thriller elements throughout. While a rather large tome, the story is so engrossing one cannot help but continue to turn the page to figure out what will happen next. It may be a good idea to read this with a light on, as the thrilling conclusion to this first book of the series will leave you with chills.

Score:  5 out of 5