Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CURRENT: You by Charles Benoit

So, as a nice unexpected break from my graphic novel reading SLJ has sent me a chapter book by first time YA novelist Charles Benoit. The book is called "You" - which, is... well it's weirdly titled. I'm about halfway through it two days after I got it. It's a quick read at just 200+ pages. Reading a book fast for me is a good sign. I want to find out what happens. There's a weird kid in a sports jacket. The main character is in love with a girl named Ashley, but is really too scared to tell her. And you know something bad is going to happen. I usually don't like books that are all ominous, but this one is definitely doing it correctly. The book is coming out soon, and I really recommending heading to your local library and checking out a copy.

I know I promised a review of "Countdown" - I did finish it. I loved it. It's a cute book, and I'm talking to anyone who will listen about it. I'm taking some time to make the rounds at Book Expo America 2010. Following SLJ's Day of Dialog tomorrow, I have four new books that I picked up by the end of the day. The most promising is "Annexed" - a sort of re-telling of Anne Frank's story from the perspective of the boy she liked. While this might make some people pause conceptually, as no one wants to mess with that particular source material, I have a feeling this upcoming YA novel might be great. With me finishing up "You" so quickly, I might need something to read ASAP.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

VINTAGE - Wolverine & Punisher: Revelations

As promised, it's time to talk about comic books collections you'd love to buy, but are currently out of print. I've decided to dust the ol' girls off on my bookshelf and share a little bit about them.

My primary reason for reading our first selection was the fact that Christopher Golden had a fair hand in writing it. After penning The Punisher's rebirth as a "weapons of heaven" reborn supernatural creature, the next step was obviously pairing him with Wolverine for a fun save-New York City adventure. Wolvie, who just got a brand new gal pal named Caley, is uncharacteristically happy when we begin our story. He's dressed to impress as he meets his new beau, a museum curator currently working on excavating on old forgotten subway station, for a fancy dinner. While the pair flirt on their night out, Caley is interrupted with news of a cave-in at the dig. Wolverine has his trusty motorcycle, so they both scoot off to see whats wrong.

Meanwhile, Frank Castle (the aforementioned 'The Punisher' just in case you kids didn't know) is also hanging out with his new platonic lady friend from his previous rebirth story. You don't need to read it, but it was a nice nod from Mr. Golden just in case you did. He's eventually whisked away to meet something called The Council of Thrones. Who are these kidnapping jerks, you ask? Well, they oversee all of the activities of angels from Heaven on Earth. Obviously. The Punisher was brought back to life by an angel and retains some of his supernatural mojo, so the Thrones have decided they oversee his activities, too. Castle isn't impressed by how weird they look or how powerful they seem to be, so he basically peaces out. The Thrones warn him something bad is coming...

Which brings us to Revelation. Not the biblical event, mind you, but a young girl who was awakened by the aforementioned excavation mishap. A former Morlock (you WILL be lost if you don't know the Morlocks were underground sewer-dwelling mutants, too ugly for the world above. Wolverine tries to explain this to Frank later on, but in Logan''s typical style, it's sort of hard to decipher since he's trying to sound too cool), Revy was cryogenically frozen by a Morlock scientist with a really cool name. Turns out our girl has the power to kill people with a 'death aura' - an airborne virus she can't control. She was frozen until a cure could be found, but in a separate story in X-Men related comics, all the Morlocks were killed and everyone forgot about her. Being in the big chill for so long warped her mind, so she believes the sewers are Hell and the surface above, "the light" is Heaven. Both Wolverine (mutant healing factor) and The Punisher (angel-enhanced powers) are unaffected by her powers, so the pair race to stop her before she kills most of Manhattan.

The manga-inspired art is beautiful to look at in this trade paperback, but doesn't necessarily go with the gritty story Golden and his co-writer Tom Sniegoski were originally going for. Pat Lee is drawing things almost too beautifully, too heavenly if you will, for a story that essentially takes place in the "hell" of the New York City sewers. While Wolverine insinuating about his "family" during his date (an obvious nod to how he feels about the X-Men) is cute, the very notion of a "Morlock scientist" who could design technology as sophisticated as what Lee's artwork shows is almost preposterous. The Morlocks were stealing food and wearing rags in early X-Men stories; you're telling me one designed a cryogenic freezing chamber along with "failsafe" robots capable of ramming rebars through Frank Castle? WHAT? I would imagine all of the design stuff would be a little less sophisticated, which would have made more sense with the "malfunction" that set Revelation free. I guess no one really loved the angelic-inspired Punisher; in this story, he doesn't do a whole lot in the beginning part of the story besides kind of wander around. Wolverine really shines here, and he looks pretty good. It was fun re-reading the story and I'm glad it is still part of my permanent comic collection

Friday, May 7, 2010

CURRENT: Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Every so often, a book comes along and all I want to do is sit down and read it cover-to-cover. Once you start reading it, you know it's something special, and there just won't be anything more fun that finishing it.

Countdown by Deborah Wiles is one of those books. At least, for me. Set in 1962, this is the title that managed to get me excited about young adult fiction all over again. It focuses on Franny, a young 11 year old girl who, along with all the assorted family drama, is literally facing the end of the world. The Cuban Missle Crises looms on the horizon. Her father is in the Air Force and she lives just off an army base. I'm about a third of the way through the book- Chris Cavas, Franny's long lost neighbor, has just returned to the street she lives on. She's in love with him. And I'm in love with this book.

School Library Journal recently published one of my reviews for all those graphic novels they've been sending me. For the record, I do not get paid for writing them (people have been asking me that a lot). Getting published is it's own reward. That said, if you would like to pay me for reviewing your book here, you know there's a comments section below.

If you are looking for something to read this month, I recommend picking up Philip Roth's The Human Stain. I hear there is a really cool online book discussion group focusing on it this month. Hey! Who's that running that discussion? I feel like I know him...