Conduit (The Swamp Thing #2) by Ram V.
Ah, the DC Universe firmly has its claws in this one. Now there’s Peacemaker in here, and John Constantine. Fun? Kinda. I mean, Peacemaker is fun as a TV series. But overall, crossovers do take away from originality. And overall, it’s too much of traditional superhero fare for me – a constant reminder of the fact that this is only one aspect of a huge universe and you must read them all to really know what’s going on, only it’s impossible because there is so much of it and it’s always changing and rebooting and….
The writing is still good. And the art still awesome. In fact, the art is the real star of the show here. Plus, I like Swamp Thing, he’s a terrific monster. So the result is a mixed bag, but enough fun was had to potentially read more.
I’m not really. fan of traditional superhero fare, but then again, Swamp Thing isn’t all that traditional. Plus, I’ve read and enjoyed Ram V. before. To be fair, the books I’ve read of his were very different–standalone original stories. So this is quite a departure. But he still features an Indian protagonist, and his writing remains the same: very strong and possibly too lyrical for a superhero comic. Just possibly.
Maybe that is just the tone of Swap Thing. Or maybe that’s just the direction Ram V. and the comic universe powers that be wanted it to go.
Either way, you get a moody and brooding creature and the reluctant man behind him. Then again, you can’t blame him, carrying the green mantle is a heavy thing. With so much at stake.
Swamp Thing is likely the most environmentally conscious superhero, so there’s a lot of meditation on that.
And then, there’s the art. This book is Oh Wow striking. The artist did that spectacular of a job. Because Swamp Thing doesn’t cut the traditional supe figure, the art here is by and large above and beyond a typical supe comic. Absolutely gorgeous. By far the most striking Ram V. book I’ve read thus far.
So yeah, good writing, awesome art…there’s much to like here. Even for those who, like me, prefer original stories and characters. Because there’s still a present comic universe – DC Universe – I can’t say I loved it, but it was fun. I’ll read book two.
A Likely Story by Leigh Abramson
I love books and I love books about writers. Lately more so since they’ve acquired a strongly relatable side. This debut novel fits both of those categories and for those and many others reasons it is easy to love.
This is a tale of a family whose lives revolve around writing, albeit for each of them it’s a completely different story. Some of those stories are less likely than others.
And so we have a patriarch – Ward, a preeminent writer, allegedly the voice of his generation, albeit his fame has possibly more to do with cultivation than talent. We have his almost unbelievably tolerant wife, Claire, who has nourished his talent and ego in simply stupendous ways over their long marriage. And we have their only child, a thirty-five-year-old Isabelle, who desperately wants to be a writer good enough to impress her father – at the expense of all other things in her life.
Overall, this stew of a family is somewhat toxic. There’s love there, but the balance is off, especially, once Claire passes away, leaving Ward to obsess over his dwindling career and Isabelle to obsess over her non-starting one. Throw in a catalyst and watch it all unravel.
So…is it kinda sorta reminiscent of Meg Wolitzer’s Wife? Yeah. Is the ending of it wrapped up too neatly with a bow that slightly perfumes-stinks of women’s fiction? Slightly. Does Claire come across as too much of a martyr? Yes, kind of. But the rest is just so freaking good, it obliterates the detractors.
The writing is so strong, so finely emotionally attuned, so propulsive. And the characters…Abramson has a real knack for writing unlovable people lovingly. In all their numerous faults and foibles, they still engage you, still make you care. And her meditations of success, fame, and talent in this book are absolutely terrific. All of which makes for a first rate literary novel and a first rate reading experience. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Everyone probably has that one classic movie or book they just never got around to. Maybe more than one. For me that glaring omission has long been 1984. Why? No real reason. I love dystopian fiction. I appreciate classics. I know all the pop culture references from the book.
And still the novel remains elusive until I came across a graphic novel adaptation of it at the library. That’s when I knew the time has come.
And so, now I have read it. And I’m happy to report, it is as good as everyone says and very much a classic in the real meaning of the word – timeless.
What I didn’t expect as how terrifying it was. Positively horrific, and I’m a longtime genre connoisseur so I say that with conviction. For my money, 1984 of the grandest works of psychological terror.
It’s also very well-written, engaging, and emotionally devastating. And very, very smart. Viciously clever. Still strikingly relevant all these decades after publication in its estimation of the world and people in it, social order, authoritarian regimes, and power delineation.
The graphic adaptation featured art very well suited to the story, with almost cartoonish faces but really heavy scenery, reinforcing the tone, the ambiance, and the message of the novel.
Overall, a powerhouse and a masterwork of dystopian fiction. Of fiction in general, really. It really ought to be required reading. There’s more sociopolitical education here that in several college courses put together. The sheer breadth of ideas here…The way it explains and anticipates the world. This novel is likely to remain a cautionary tale for a long time to come. Recommended.
The Last Songbird by Daniel Weizmann
They say you should never meet your heroes. Adam Zantz, the protagonist of this novel not only meet one of his but he gets to drive his. Well, technically he meets her through his LYFT driving but soon becomes his hero’s exclusive set of wheels.
Adam is a failed musician, a thirty-seven-year-old man with no plan. Annie Linden is a seventy-three-year-old musical legend on par with other ‘70s famous songstresses; her fame has declined over the years, but that only gave her a sort of cult status. An early feminist icon, etc.
For Adam she quickly becomes a mother-figure, sort of girlfriend replacement, plus, someone with connections who can potentially make all his music dreams come true.
And then, Annie is found dead. Murdered. And Adam, in his grief and his anguish, falls back onto his former experience as an investigator to try and figure out just what happened.
He begins poking around and, before he knows it, his journey is taking him right behind the curtain of Annie’s life (fraught, complicated, messy) and music business (much the same) itself.
Like many people, Annie Linden was more likeable and admirable when shrouded in mystery, but Adam can’t stop, won’t stop. Not until he finds out who killed the last songbird.
A very solid debut from Daniel Weizmann. Well-written, character driven, exciting. A very LA story–drive all night, bright lights, outsized personalities sort of thing. A very solid neoNoir tone to the narrative. A very solid suspense thriller that has you guessing until the very end. This one works on all levels and entertains plenty. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie
Wow. That was just…wow. And how often do you finish the book and walk away in pure awe of the author’s talent?
I’ve been impressed with DiLouie since is Children of Red Peak, so I was excited to check out his latest and he certainly did not disappoint. The opposite, in fact. Well, ok then, now I’m very, very impressed.
There’s been a slew of novels lately that tell a story in found-footage style. It’s often surprisingly effective, and I saw surprisingly because I don’t much care for the found-footage style in cinema. It might just be something more suited to written word.
At any rate, DiLouie does it justice, utilizing camera footage, journal entries, interviews, etc. to present us, the readers, with an unforgettable episode of fictionalized television.
Fade to Black is another one of those ghost hunting shows, striving to distinguish itself by primarily utilizing the strong dynamic of its married cohosts–he’s a believer, she’s a sceptic. Together they investigate the paranormal.
And they find the best place to do it; a site of a long-abandoned psych experiment that seems to have been sitting around waiting just for them, untouched and shrouded in mystery. Sitting around all the way from the 60s and 70s, when groovy psych experiments were all the rage. Only this time, the experiment might have actually grazed upon something…in a way, though there’s no one left to tell the tale–the scientists have vanished, the subjects (mostly) didn’t make it.
So yeah, a perfect setting to hunt some ghosts, make some fun tv, distinguish oneself from a million similar shows.
Fade to Black team goes in. What they find in the place…well, you just have to read to find out.
If you dare.
It’s one of those trips–a terrifying descent into darkness and madness, where supernatural and metaphysical blend and distort all reality. A classic case of abyss gazing back. As mentioned, pure wow. Nearly impossible to put down, electric ride of a story. Bravo, author. Must read for genre fans. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
The storm is here. The battle between the old and the new will be waged right in the center of America. Perfect for a novel with such strong Americana undertones.
It’s all set to go, but then again, there’s Shadow. The wild card. Played, sacrificed, but never quite beaten. Not even all that predictable. Shadow, the unwitting participant, who is strong enough, smart enough, and determined enough to tear up the rulebook and change the game.
Trippy (trippier than its predecessors) but a potent resolution and a perfectly appropriate ending to the epic adventure.
All is explained, all loose ends are tied, all done in a satisfactory manner that a reader (after that much time and emotional investment) deserves. Very, very good.
Does anyone else see Paul Newman’s face in Shadow’s? Why does Fabry’s idea of Shadow varies so much from the other artists? It’s like he draws a different character, one, oddly enough, darker and darker skinned as the story progresses, when Shadow is clearly described as ambiguously multiracial, a crucial description–a mix and a melting pot in one man to echo the multiracial makeup of the country itself.
Also, weird to learn just how much the artists relied on Photoshop. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned enough to find it weird.
But at any rate, what an adventure. Categorically an epic. A very good adaptation of a great novel. Very much worth a read. Recommended.
The great adventure continues, but this time Shadow is given a made up name (or one should say another made up name) and stuck in the small town so far north it’s like it’s never heard of seasons. Winter is all around, but the place seems quaint enough. Albeit, of course, there’s something lurking beneath its peaceable surface, something not quite right.
And then there’s Wednesday who continues to scheme and continues to require a driver.
So lots going on. Getting used to the art too. Noticing likeness and inconsistencies more. Like Bliquis looking very different from book one. And Shadow looking different in Fabry covers each and every time, from one another and from the Shadow of the main book.
But also, ta-da, I finally realized who Shadow looks like. Exactly like young Paul Newman but with darker skin. Same eyes, even lots of the same expressions. Now I can’ unsee it.
Anyway, the storm is brewing. Moving on to the last book in trilogy. Let’s see them duke it out.
I read this first when it came out. Ages ago. Even met Gaiman for a signing of it. Even watched Starz’ mess of an adaptation. Well, some of it, anyway, Before it became utter caca.
American Gods is the last time Gaiman did proper adult fiction. Which boggles the mind because he is so, SO good at it. But for some reason he seems to prefer children and YA writing, even though he occasionally passes the latter for adult. So then, it’s special.
So then, naturally I was interested in checking out the graphic adaptation. Yes, it’s three volumes, but the book itself is huge. Plus, I like Russell’s art, and the guest artists are just as good.
Reading volume one was a trip down memory lane. I don’t usually remember books very well because I read so many, but some are more memorable than others. Plus, the TV show did get some things right. Not Shadow, not really. In my mind he’s forever kind of like young Vin Diesel.
I actually do prefer him as Russell draws him to the Starz’s casting, but in the graphic novel he doesn’t look that huge. Not like he’s meant to be. Tall yes, but quite slim, actually. Nice face, though. And faces are kind of weird in this book at times, weird angles, anyway.
The book itself though does the original justice. There’s a lot of material to process there. It’s why the TV adaptation likely failed, but books are a different beast. And Gaiman is no stranger to comic book writing, so this works. This works very nicely.
Even knowing the story, I found myself completely drawn into the mysterious world, much as Shadow Moon does. Completely admiring the author’s skill and imagination. The artist’s talent.
All in all, a very good read. Now all I want to do is read the rest of the books. Long as they are. I suppose that’s as much of a compliment as one can pay to a book. Recommended.
I’m a fan of both Snyder and Lemire, so naturally I was very interested in seeing what the two of them might come up with together. Turns out it’s this…which I would best describe as a modern reimagining of one of my all-time favorites, a story that gave us Shangri-La, an ageless paradise high up in the mountains.
In this book such a place exists too. After Death. After science figured out functional immortality.
And we, the readers, are following a protagonist who questions it, in a similar manner as Conway does in the original.
Is it a compelling journey? You bet.
Snyder does fiction writing in addition to comic book writing, though I was only familiar with the latter. Well, until this book. This book combines both, prose and comic. Plus, Lemire’s expressive ink and watercolor art. (Which actually looks so very much (too much?) like his Roughneck book). But back to Snyder…he’s obviously talented in either form. And this book alternates seamlessly between an illustrated novel and a graphic novel, all in service of a story.
And it’s a really good story too, interesting, emotionally potent, and with a great plot twist in the end to boot.
Thought provoking too. Since people fancy themselves to be the only animals aware of their mortality, this certainly is a worthy meditation on the subject.
All in all, a very, very good read. I enjoyed it very much. Recommended.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.