Archive for the Young adult Category

iZombie and a romantic digression

Posted in Books, Comics, Fantasy, Horror, Young adult with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2012 by Cara Marie

In things-I-haven’t-been-following-issue-by-issue, iZombie has turned from just reasonably entertaining to zomg why can’t I have more now? I think it’s the sort of thing that will really pay off reading in full, and rereading it, there’s lots of moments that don’t come to pay off till later. Also, you want to reread previous volumes before starting a new one – the overarc is a multi-volume one, and it’s easy to forget things.

A thought: it is possible to portray rapid-fire romances that do work for me. (I read an interview with Clive Barker that was all, the people who are wtf about Gazza just don’t understand my art, and it annoyed me. I refuse to believe I just fail as a reader, thanks for that suggestion CB.)

So: iZombie doesn’t conflate insta-attraction with insta-love. The romance comes from the fact Gwen and Horatio spent this awesome evening really connecting. You know? I can buy the speed of the intensity because you can see the way they click.

Tamora Pierce’s Mastiff, which I read recently, does have a really rapid falling in love – but it still happens over the course of the book, we explicitly see how Beka becomes comfortable with Farmer, we see enough of his personality to understand the attraction and why she would come to love him. Plus intense circumstances and all.

Maybe Gazza would have worked better for me if we’d spent any time with him before he met Candy? I feel like it’s important to understand why both partners are attracted to one another – and we the reader already like Candy, but we know nothing about this Gazza fellow or whatever charming qualities he has. Candy doesn’t have any time to see them. And maybe you want to make a point about their trans-lifetime connection but if you want me to buy two characters being in love I have to know what there is to love.

Horatio takes down a bunch of men in black.

Even if it’s something really shallow like he’s a badass monster hunter.

A moment from Generation Hope #11

Posted in Comics, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , on November 2, 2011 by Cara Marie

Laurie says to Hope, 'Yeah? And Idie's fourteen. Think what she's already done. Forget how he looks--Gabriel's sixteen. Sixteen!'

I kind of have to wonder how much Hope’s actually told the Lights about her life. Because I don’t think Laurie would be telling Hope how young their teammates were if she realised what Hope was doing when she was even younger.

I’m not entirely sure how old Hope’s meant to be at the moment – I want to say seventeen. But she’s not as old as she looks either. She spent two years in cryosleep! Went through puberty in cryosleep!

So she’s essentially fifteen. Laurie doesn’t realise, and it’s easy to forget, but Hope’s still a child herself.

(Idie has been aged up since her first appearance, where she was twelve. Maybe just as well. Laurie’s gone the other way and is eighteen when she was nineteen. Oh, comics.)

So Hope can’t be that sympathetic towards Idie, because Hope’s been fighting since she was four years old. Four years old and she knows the signal to set off her father’s booby-traps.

Laurie says, “We are children. We’re not soldiers.”

Hope says, “You’re eighteen, Laurie. You’re old enough to be a soldier. If you want to be.”

Hope’s never had the choice. And I find it quite telling that when Hope first met Idie, when Idie sets fire to the men who had them surrounded, she tells her, “My dad would’ve loved you.”

Hope has a lot more in common with Idie, who is one of the crux points of Schism, than she does with Laurie. (And I guess that makes Cyclops a lot more like his son than either of them would like to think.)

Sorry, Runaways

Posted in Comics, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , on October 30, 2011 by Cara Marie

I feel extra sorry for Runaways now, because it turns out it is the only Marvel comic about teenage superheroes that I don’t adore. I have recently read through Young Avengers and really enjoyed it

There are a couple of crossovers with Runaways, thus my thinking about it – I prefer the solo arcs. On the other hand, the Civil War crossover did give me Tommy, who is meant to be the bad boy of the group, keeping Molly entertained, and it is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Tommy seems like he should think of himself as too cool for the Avengers, but no.. He describes the other Young Avengers as being ‘these brilliant, lovely guys’, and it’s charming. He does, genuinely, like and respect them, and is willing to play within the rules for their sake.

Kate is my favourite though. She basically strong-arms her way into the group, despite having no fancy powers; she stares down Captain America and tells him he’s wrong. (Why couldn’t she be in the Avengers movie instead of the original Hawkeye? Why couldn’t she just be in everything?)

Spider-Girl: Family Values

Posted in Comics, Superhero, Young adult with tags , on October 26, 2011 by Cara Marie

This made me cry. I am really impressed with what of Paul Tobin’s I’ve been reading lately. I hope he writes lots more teenage supergirl comics.

I sort of got snuck into Spider-Girl. First I read her in Ms Marvel. Then she’s in stuff with Rikki Barnes, whom I was hoping for more of when I got Avengers Academy: Death Game. No such luck, but I got more Anya. And turns out she’s really grown on me.

For most of what I’ve read her in, Anya has no powers. So she makes up for it by using her brain. (Also by being really fit and generally awesome.) Spider-Man might have his spidey-skills, but Anya’s quick thinking means she’s more than capable of holding her own when they team up. And they have a nice friendship too (for, you know, people in masks).

I like her relationship with Sue Storm, too. (I’m a little bit scared at how fond I’m becoming of Sue. Damn her mentoring of teenage girl superheroes! I’m so determined to always be too cool for the Fantastic Four, but she may be winning me over.)

So much of Spider-Girl isn’t about crime-fighting, and I love it for that. It’s about Anya dealing with her grief, and about her relationships with others. Her friend sharing with her the story of how her mother died. Getting a roommate. The small conflicts that makes, where people offer to help her paint, but that was something she and her dad were going to do together. It’s a world where ordinary people matter too, and are as deserving of story time.

(Okay, I would’ve liked more Rikki. I love Rikki, and I love the way they bff it up in Young Allies, I’ll take all the bffery please. Too bad she’s not around any more ;_;)

Comics in brief

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Horror, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , on September 10, 2011 by Cara Marie

Hexed – Michael Alan Nelson + Emma Rios

In theory, I should have eaten this right up, but in practice, I was underwhelmed. I think I might have prefered it as a novel – I don’t think there was enough development for me to really connect with Lucifer as a character, even though all the pieces were there. (I did like her employer, art curator Val, a lot, and am glad she survived. I’d read the series all about her.)

Hellblazer: Hooked – Peter Milligan + artists

Dear Peter Milligan, I would prefer not to think of one of my favourite characters attempting to rape women, by love potion or not. Just because it didn’t work out that way doesn’t mean it’s not introducing skeeviness that wasn’t there.

So, uh, I think I’ll be skipping the rest of that run.

Nomad: Girl Without a World – Sean McKeever + David Baldeon

This, on the other hand, I really liked. It’s about Rikki Barnes, the girl Bucky from an alternate universe, stuck in our world with no Captain America to call her own! I like that we skipped the origin story, so she’s starting from a place of confidence. She might not be sure of her place in the world, but she’s sure of her own abilities, and doesn’t hesitate to step up and be a hero.

Basically it’s a really good YA comic, the sort of thing I wish the Minx line had come out with.

Also, I love that Black Widow gave her her Nomad costume (even though I liked her original costume better) and was all sneaky about it. It was like in the Protector of the Small books where Alanna was Kel’s secret benefactor. Except not completely obvious!

Generation Hope – Kieron Gillen, Salvador Espin & Jamie McKelvie

Posted in Comics, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2011 by Cara Marie

I made a mistake when I bought this: I assumed that the first trade in a series would actually be the beginning of an arc. More fool me. So my first readthrough was a rather bewildered one, having missed all the introductions.

The trade starts with Hope and the other new mutants going to find the next ‘light’, a young artist named Kenji who’s about to go all Akira on Tokyo. His art might be pushing boundaries, but his influences are clearly a little more populist.

It mightn’t be the best entrance point, but on the other hand, Salvador Espin’s work on the first four issues is stunning enough that it was worth reading on his account. I am especially fond of the inks, which I think are what make Kenji’s scenes so effective.

Jamie McKelvie does the art for the fifth issue, with colours by Matthew Wilson. This is the same team which produced Phonogram, which I love, but the combination doesn’t work so well here. Maybe because it’s so different from Espin’s art, or maybe because in my head the combination of McKelvie’s art + Wilson’s flats-style colouring = story about hipsters, and anything else my brain can’t process. (I did like McKelvie’s art for the Seige: Loki one-shot, where Nathan Fairburn did the colours.)

The fifth issue is downtime compared to the nonstop battle in Tokyo, with Hope and the kids coming back to Utopia. I like Hope a lot here, her willfulness and determination, and it’s great fun seeing her assert herself against the Scott and Emma. I also love the scene where Magneto introduces her to Xavier, for, Xavier suggests, “The pleasure of seeing me get lectured by a teenage girl.”

I found I appreciated the whole thing a lot more on reread, with more context – enough that I think I’ll carry on with the series. I’ll still have to catch up on the lead-in, though.

Digest-sized awesome

Posted in Action/adventure, Comedy, Comics, Middle fiction, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2011 by Cara Marie

So I have been achieving very little outside of work lately. But I have managed to read a great deal of comics. Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed most have been the little digest-sized collections put out by Marvel: X-Men: First Class, Wolverine: First Class and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. They’re low on angst, high on adorability.

X-Men: First Class I find quite interesting because of the ways it deals with the limitations of its source. The series is pitched as untold stories from the original X-Men comics, which is Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel. The other character in every issue is Professor Xavier: so you’ve got one female character against five male ones.

And First Class is aware of this, and it finds ways to show f-f relationships anyway. Probably my favourite issue was one where Jean is trying to use her powers to fly: she’s been practicing in secret, and when the boys find out, things get frustrating. (This made me feel very fond of her, because I don’t like people seeing me trying new things either.)

So, Prof X is like, well, it must be tough for Jean, being stuck with all these annoying boys and no female mentors. Let’s send her to go hang out with Sue Storm!

Jean is pretty psyched about this, and she and Sue have some good bonding time, and some ass-kicking time, and the boys are convinced Jean’s going to leave them and go make it the Fantastic Five. It’s totally charming.

No, actually. They fight crime.There are also these little side-strips, illustrated by Colleen Coover. which they’ve reprinted at the end of the digests. Some of these are making fun of Magneto. Some of them are about the adventures of Marvel Girl and the Scarlet Witch. Together they solve crime!

Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, appears in some of the other issues, and immediately became my favourite. I sadly do not think I will find much else with her and Jean being buddies.

(No crime-fighting, but here is another one of the strips, with Jean and Xavier using their psychic powers for hilarity.)

I love school stories, so these are more satisfying to me than a lot of the other superhero comics I have been reading. Part of it’s the positivity: they are learning to be the most awesome people they can be! There is a story in Wolverine: First Class where Kitty and Logan are investigating a mutant presence: they end up being attacked by the townspeople. “Th-they’re not making any sense …” Kitty says, and Logan says, “Fear does that to people. Whatever mutant presence Charlie sent us to run down has scared the sense right out of ’em.”

Kity looks at a photo of a mutant girl with white skin and hair, elven ears, and pupilless eyes, dressed up for prom and holding the arm of an ordinary-looking young man. The photo has been smashed, as has the next one we see Kitty holding: the girl with her football team. The narrative text reads: 'This girl--clearly a mutant--didn't look like she lived in a town filled with prejudice. In fact, it looked like this tiny town completely embraced her strangeness, in a way tiny towns sometimes do. So what happened? What changed? How could everything have gone so horribly wrong so horrible fast ... unless ...'But this is not a story about how it sucks to be a mutant (though obviously peoples’ fear of mutants forms a backdrop). Kitty ends up in the house of the girl they’ve come looking for. There, the evidence is clear that her community has not been driven mad by fear, and that something else is going on.

Which was quite nice after House of M.

Wolverine: First Class is basically all about Kitty saving the day. And also being a teenage girl. The second story has Kitty trying to convince Logan he wants to chauffuer her and her friends to see the amazing *Dazzler*. Begging and cajoling doesn’t work, so she throws him a special surprise party and arranges him a date with his lady friend Mariko. This rather gets spoiled when some guy from Logan’s past turns up. There’s some fighting, then said evil guy then tells Logan he has to choose between saving Kitty and saving Mariko. Hmm.

Logan chooses Mariko, because of course Kitty can get herself out of anything, but as it turns out, by the time the men have finished their scrapping, Kitty has already saved her. See, evil guy, maybe Logan will never transcend your skills in beating people up, but at least he has an awesome student.

After that Logan really has no choice but to play chauffuer.

Kitty is fantastic in this, and the part of me that loved her in the cartoon as a kid feels redeemed against all the other, blander versions of her I’ve seen. She feels realistically young, without being annoyingly so, and the teenage squabbles are countered by the adorableness. Despite Wolverine’s name in the title, Kitty’s the star of the show.

(I still don’t get her crush on Piotr though.)

But the most charming digest of them all is Thor: The Mighty Avenger. A lot of this is to do with the art, I feel – there’s something very appealing about the inking, and the simplicity of the style.Jane looks all concernedly at Thor, before saying, 'I ... I don't know if you want to hear this ... but this is my world, and I'm sort of ... fond of it. Thing is ... right now, this is your world too.' With amazing pictures!There are fights and things, people to be rescued (and sometimes it is Thor that needs to be rescued), but the heart of the comic is the relationship between Thor and Jane, and the ways in which Thor comes to love Earth.

There are two volumes of Thor: The Might Avenger – I’ve read the second one, and I’m waiting for the first. It’s just such a warm-hearted comic. Because it’s an AU from the rest of the Marvel universe, it’s easy to rec to people too; it might crossover with characters from other titles, but it’s still very self-contained.

Comics in brief

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Horror, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , , , on June 6, 2011 by Cara Marie

Hellblazer: City of Demons – Si Spencer & Sean Murphy

This is definitely on the horror side of things, and on the disturbing, I-wonder-if-I-could-throw-up side of horror. And it does it effectively, and for the most part without going over the top. The one part I thought was overkill came as the end, and while I see the narrative need for that trick at the end, (skip) I thought the [prelude to] sex was unnecessary – particularly him finding her closet of BDSM toys directly prior to the reveal that, hello, she’s EVIL. Because the two things are connected …

But asides from that, I enjoyed it very much. I was expecting a more nihilistic ending than we got, so that was a nice surprise.

Runaways: Dead Wrong – Terry Moore & Humberto Ramos

I’ve read the first trade of this, but none of those in-between – I didn’t like the first enough to bother, and only got this because I thought it might be worth trying again with a different author. However, while this volume might encompass a complete arc, it is in no way a self-contained story, and it was difficult to get the backstory from context. My memory of who the characters were was also very vague, and while I was intrigued by the the f/f couple, I really had no investment in any of them.

Which is kind of sad, because there’s aliens and apparently galactic wars with entire planets getting destroyed, but maybe I’ll just have to stick with rereading Starfleet Academy for that.

Iron Man: The Inevitable – Joe Casey & Frazer Irving

This was a self-contained story, on the other hand, and even with my knowledge of Iron Man being limited to a) the movies and b) the X-Statix/Avengers crossover arc, it was easy to follow. I may not be entirely sure what happened, but I was never actually confused :D As long as I can tell who won, it doesn’t matter what power-up they used to do it.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, mostly because Tony Stark is ridiculous (and that little moustache he has in the comics never fails to entertain). ‘Oh, woe is me, my name is Tony Stark and I keep getting people killed. No-one believes me that I’m not Iron Man anymore! Oh well, I can still beat you in a fight!’

I’m exaggerating, he wasn’t nearly that angsty. And the woman he gets killed at least died out of professional curiousity, not as a way to get to him. Alas, she pushed the boundaries of pseudoscience too far.

Bride of the Water God: vol 1 – Yun Mi-kyung

This is very pretty, but the story didn’t grab me – girl gets sacrificed by her community to fulfill the title role, god turns out to be in the form of a somewhat bratty young boy, except for at night, when he is older. He keeps this a secret, even after she meets him in that form. I feel like, been there, done that. I don’t think I’ll bother checking out the rest.

0.4 – Mike Lancaster

Posted in Books, Science fiction, Young adult with tags , on February 13, 2011 by Cara Marie

Four people are hypnotised during a village talent show. They come to and find everyone else in their town is frozen. All telecommunications are down. The whole world could be frozen, for what they know. But there is something scarier than this: what happens when everyone wakes up?

0.4 reminded me somewhat of Bernard Beckett’s Genesis: they share the frame of a future society looking back at its inception, and in both, the guts of the story is the mystery behind it. But 0.4 is far more readable, told as one boy’s lived experience, rather than a studied recount of history. It feels more genuine, less self-awarely clever. The frame is that of an editor presenting this story to the public, and Lancaster uses this to introduce not just wry humour, in the explanatory notes to terms like ‘reality TV’, but also compassion. 0.4 tells a very disturbing story, but the frame leavens the horror. The reveal was surprising and unnerving.

Although it’s very ideas-based, the characters are strong, their plight engaging. The idea is the pay-off, not the draw. It’s also nice to see some YA science fiction that isn’t set in a dystopia for once. 0.4 is short and extremely readable; it’s also very rewarding, and so well worth checking out.

Maybe I should retrain in taxidermy

Posted in Books, Crime, Young adult with tags on February 6, 2011 by Cara Marie

A Pocketful of Eyes is the first book by Lili Wilkinson where I actually get the appeal. It seems I have been waiting my whole life for a book set in the taxidermy department of a museum. With added make-outs on the backs of stuffed tigers.

I think it helps that the crime-solving distracts somewhat from the protagonist’s emotional unintelligence – Bee reminded me a bit of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Bindy MacKenzie. Wilkinson’s previous books have made me cringe a lot, but in this one I was better able to concentrate on the mystery and the cute pop-culture references (it made me laugh out loud a few times).

There were occasions I felt my credulity strained, but none of them related to the central mystery – that was well-thought and well-played. The characters were a lot of fun, if occasionally over the top. I particular enjoyed Bee’s D&D-playing mother, and Bee herself was an interesting head to be in. After all, how could I not love a girl whose part-time job is in taxidermy?

It’s a solid light read: it’s got mystery, it’s got romance, it’s got humour. I am still not wildy enthusiastic about Lili Wilkinson, but I see better now why people are.

A Pocketful of Eyes is out May in Australia and New Zealand.