Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sheltered Volume 1 TPSheltered Volume 1 TP by Ed Brisson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A very average run of the mill pre-apocalypse story that does nothing to encourage you to seek out further issues. This is especially so when it already starts going all 'Lord of the Flies' by the third chapter.
This may be the fault of Image Comics by just releasing just five chapters for the first book as opposed to the writer Brisson, but unfortunately the damage is done and nothing I've read so far would make me read on.

This book was received as a digital ebook for review courtesy of NetGalley.

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This One SummerThis One Summer by Jillian Tamaki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A beautifully drawn and realised coming of age story from cousins Jillian and Mariko Tamaki.
Teenager Rose is embarking on her yearly trip to the family holiday cottage with her family. Once there, she meets with the "sister she never had" the younger, immature and sugar addicted Windy.
What follows is a charming (if predictable) tale of mischief, growth, judgement and misunderstanding. Rose's relationship with her distant and cold mother is at the heart of this story, with the secondary tale of her fixation on the lives of local teens acting as the eventual catalyst between the two.

There are some wonderfully illustrated frames and one-pages in This One Summer and the use of just blue ink really emphasis that 'summer beach' feel. Unfortunately some of the impact is lost when viewing on a tablet, so I would encourage anyone interested in this graphic novel to try and get a physical copy.

This copy was received as a digital ebook via NetGalley and is in no way indicative of the final published edition.

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Shovel Ready: A NovelShovel Ready: A Novel by Adam Sternbergh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Things have gone bad in the New York of Adam Sternbergh's novel, really bad and at the bottom of it all is one man, and his devotion to his job.

Set decades (we're never given an actual timeline) after 9/11, NYC falls victim to another spate of attacks, culminating in a dirty bomb in the middle of Time Square. Combine this almost apocalyptic event with the advent of a new virtual reality system that lets you 'escape' to the World of your choosing, with the rich having the best and the poor getting the scraps, and you have the dystopian nightmare that is Shovel Ready.

Sternbergh has created in 'Spademan' a hitman with a central moral core: only kills adults-never kids, asks no questions-doesn't need a reason and until he gets a job to 'hit' the daughter of a wealthy pastor he's stuck to this code. His ensuing investigations show that this is not going to be an easy job and he's initially wavering away from his rules until a revelation makes his mind up for him. From that point, 'Shovel Ready' becomes a fast, involving, humorous and very bloody race to save the girl and wipe out the bad guy.

With nods to Philip K. Dick, James Ellroy and even a little bit of Elmore, Sternberg puts together a tight little thriller that manages to dip it's toes into several genres, yet never feels messy. By not utilising speech-marks (which admittedly takes some getting used to) the prose flows quickly and sharply, in the beginning having an almost stream of conciousness/personal recount feel to it.

The only reason I haven't given it the full five stars is for it's length. There are a couple of places where I felt a little more depth to a situation or character wouldn't have gone amiss, but I'm hoping this isn't the last we see of Spademan and his gang of survivors.

Review is of an advance ebook copy received via NetGalley and is no way indicative of the final copy.

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Monday, 6 January 2014

Monsters! & Other StoriesMonsters! & Other Stories by Gustavo Duarte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this book as a free advanced review copy via Netgalley.

You know how sometimes it's better to let the pictures speak for themselves? It worked for Chaplin and Keaton and a lot of the time, when it comes to the graphic novel genre, the most effective panels are the one's that let the images do the talking.

This is the case with Brazilian artist Gustavo Duarte's new collection 'Monsters and Other Stories'.

In all honesty, it is only three stories (and the overall review does lose a star due to length) but they are all funny, evocative and very dark with death and destruction as the main theme throughout.

The collection starts with CÓ! a darkly comic tale of a lonely pig farmer who after chasing aliens away from his pigs finds things taking a bizarre turn.

Next up is 'Birds' following two humanised, office-working birds as they try to escape their fate. While funnier than the opener, it's not as graphically impressive, feeling more like a strip from the funnies.

Lastly, comes the best of the three, the extremely enjoyable 'Monsters'. Taking it's cue from the Japanese monster movies it portrays what happens when a groups of seemingly pissed off super sea monsters invade a Brazilian sea town. To say what occurs next would spoil some of the gags, but suffice to say, Duarte gives credit to his influences.

As I said above, the only reason this gets a 4 star review is down to the length. I would recommend loaning from the library upon release as opposed to buying it, unless the final retail price reflects the size of the novel.

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