Crime/Thriller/Horror

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland – Hardcover, Deluxe Edition, 64 pages – Published March 19th 2008 by DC Comics (first published 1988)

I went to London Super Comic Con on Friday and bought a few image books/graphic novels (I can’t wait to read them!) and decided to start taking advantage of my boyfriend’s extensive comic/graphic novel collection. As I’ve been intending to read The Killing Joke for ages now, I decided to start with that.

The edition I read included an introduction by Tim Sales, an afterword by Brian Bolland, and a final scene written and illustrated by Bolland.

This is one of the most famous and successful novels – and I can see why. The story is just fantastic – the Joker tries to prove that anyone can go insane after just one bad day, using Jim Gordon as his example. The colour palettes are so cleverly thought out, giving an eerie, creepy tone to most scenes, while the Joker’s (possible) origin story is mostly black and white with just small details in red.

Batman is obviously included, but is not a massive character in this story. The focus is on the Gordons and the Joker.

I really loved this. The origin story for the Joker that’s included can be taken as true or false – the Joker makes a comment about not actually remembering his past, and liking it to be “multiple choice”. This gives the reader the choice of believing it or not. And the Joker’s ways of putting Jim Gordon through hell are definitely in line with his character.

The Joker always fascinates me, and I would love to read all his stories. But whether you’re a “fan” of his or not, this book is definitely worth the read. 5 stars; an fantastic novel.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Advertisements

Book Review: Evil Rises

Evil Rises

Evil Rises (Noah Reid #0.5) by Wesley Robert Lowe – eBook, 42 pages – First published June 10th 2014

This is just a short prequel to Lowe’s Noah Reid series, with a little extract from the first book included at the end. The story itself is only about 35 pages long.

There’s a little intro to the culture and the origin of Shaolin Martial Arts, which is an important theme in this story. It helped to understand the story, so I appreciated that detail.

The beginning of this story is almost a prequel to the prequel; the childhood experience of Wudan, who would later become Master Wu. Why he chose to take up Shaolin training, and then why he decided to leave “Heaven” to teach the art to others.

The protagonist of the series, Noah, is introduced in this story. He’s not a big character here, though – we’re simply given a taste of what he’ll be like and what purpose he will serve. Instead, this story focuses on some of Master Wu’s students: Tommy, Garret, and (presumably) the antagonist of the series, Chin. We see how Chin went from a young student to a criminal businessman, and are even given some of his motives. And then, after a tragic “accident”, we see his former friends and colleagues planning to defeat him when the time comes.

I like the idea of this, and having all this backstory is really interesting. But this was one of those books that just didn’t stand put to me. The writing seemed mediocre, the characters average at best. I didn’t dislike it, exactly, but it didn’t really excite or interest me. 2.5 stars, as it wasn’t awful but it just wasn’t my kind of thing.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Graphic Novel Review: American Vampire Volume #1

American Vampire Volume #1

American Vampire Volume #1 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Stephen King – Paperback, 192 pages – Published November 1st 2011 by Titan Publishing Company (first published October 5th 2010)

I’ve decided to check out more graphic novels at the local library, and have started going through alphabetically. Which is how I found this series, by Stephen King, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque.

It’s an adult graphic novel, complete with tons of action and obscenities. It’s set back in the 19th and 20th Centuries, in – you guessed it – America. It’s about a new breed of vampires; the American Vampire, stronger and less vulnerable than the original European vampire.

Of course, the two groups are rivals. Best friends fight each other, and one person welcomes death instead of becoming a monster. It’s all very interesting and exciting. The art is great, too – it really portrays the action and danger and monstrosity of the vampires.

But I, personally, got a bit lost and confused with the timeline – there are dates and everything, but I often forget them. And all the different characters got a bit confusing for me, too, but that might be because I didn’t have the time to sit down and really focus on the novel.

I’m still planning on reading the next few volumes of this series. It’s really interesting, and I like this new breed of vampires. As for the young girl born at the end….. I wonder where that will go! 3 stars.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – eBook, 126 pages – Published May 17th 2012 (first published March 11th 1818)

This book has been reviewed and studied so many times over the years, so I’ll keep this simple.

It is a classic novel, originally published back in 1818. This does mean that the language is harder to read and understand for some people, and the general culture and ideas are all rather different to what you may be used to. That’s always the biggest problem with reading and appreciating older novels – sometimes we just can’t enjoy the fantastic writing or the unique characters like people would’ve back when it was released.

We are first introduced to Robert Walton on an expedition to the North Pole, writing letters back home. The whole story is, in fact, him recounting what he is told by the man he picks up in his boat – Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s story is a familiar one; he created a monster, who subsequently felt lonely amongst this world of humans. This creature wanted a partner, a mate, but Frankenstein was unwilling to create yet another daemon of this kind. So he took revenge, slowly removing all of the Frankenstein’s loved ones until he no longer held the will to live himself.

It is actually a lot sadder than I ever knew. I didn’t know much, just the generic “Frankenstein’s monster” creation story. But this novel is full of heartache and loss, regret and terror. It’s about a scientist crossing the line of creation, only to suffer drastically for his ambitions.

Yet we are also given the “monster’s” account – his terrifying, lonely entry to the world, his plea for company, even his regret for the lives he took. I never really thought much about the creation himself, didn’t consider his side all that much. But this novel makes you think about him, and even causes you to sympathise with him.

I liked this book, but I feel like it’s one of those books you’re supposed to like. I’m not a huge fan of classic novels, but I can see past the difference in language and lifestyle. I just really appreciated the amount of emotion in this, and also it’s not-so-perfect ending. It isn’t a favourite, and it wasn’t a casual, easy read, but I will give it 3.5 stars.

Check out this edition here.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: The Outs

pro_reader

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Well, this was… an interesting read…

Just gonna quickly put a little trigger warning in here, as there are graphic and emotional descriptions of depression and suicide. But the story isn’t about these things, and they aren’t properly talked about until far later in the novel.

31426570

The Outs by E.S. Wesley – eBook, 365 pages – Published January 24th 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press

You’re thrown right into the deep end from page one, having to put the pieces together as the plot progresses. We meet one of our protagonists, Caleb, in an unfamiliar room with mysterious men and a random little girl. He ends up taking her with him as he runs, trying to figure out what he did during the Outs.

The Outs are kinda confusing. They’re moments in time where electrical appliances all fail, and anything that happens is forgotten as soon as the Outs end. Oh, and anyone killed during the Outs is resurrected from the dead.

I’m really not sure how to describe this book. The plot is super confusing – Caleb and his aphasic friend, Kitzi, take this weird little girl (Amanda) who somehow has powers over everyone and everything, in an attempt to stop Deeds and his army of Deadheaders. Caleb has a psychopathic voice in his head called Crimes, Amanda’s dreams come true, Kitzi’s suicide happens to have taken place at the same time the Outs started, she can smell the truth – and somehow they’re all connected to the Outs? These three individuals – and many others along the way – each have a big part in what is happening. But how?

Honestly, I cannot explain it. There are so many little ties and strings throughout this book that all add up, and I couldn’t possibly include them all.

It definitely is a unique book. The idea is pretty good, too – the whole “nightmares becoming real” and all. But I just didn’t connect; I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but I just didn’t feel involved in it.

I feel like I should’ve been able to sympathise with the characters more – they had good backstories, emotional and family issues that different people should be able to relate to. And the narration following Kitzi often makes references to comic books which I personally really appreciated. But I just didn’t quite feel them. Maybe it’s just me – there’s nothing wrong with the writing in particular, so maybe it’s just personal preference. I don’t know.

I had a few typos in my copy but I received an ARC, not a final copy, so that shouldn’t affect anyone buying the book. I loved the cover, and the art at each chapter start was great. Also, the inclusion of “Notes From Last Night” (a site where people recorded notes during the outs for after they forget) was awesome, too. It added a whole other dimension to the world, an extra little bit of interest.

DSCN8762.JPG

I wanted to like this, I really did. And I didn’t dislike it – but it didn’t feel like anything special to me. 3 stars for The Outs.

If you’re interested, you can check it out on Amazon.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: Lost Girls

pro_readerThis was my first experience of Marsons’ D.I. Kim Stone series, even though it is the third instalment. I love thrillers and crime/detective novels, so I’m incredibly grateful to the author/publishers for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley.

26123233

Lost Girls (D.I. Kim Stone #3) by Angela Marsons – eBook, 442 pages – Published November 6th 2015 by Bookouture

A year ago, two young girls were kidnapped. Only one came home.

Two more girls have gone.
There are several obstacles for the team to overcome: Is it the same persecutor as last time? Will they be using the same location? What do they want? Are the girls even alive still?
Stone knows one of the mothers from her younger years spent in care. They never got on, yet she still requests Kim to lead the investigation.
Marsons gives an in-depth insight to the workings of the case, including the emotional effect on the workers. The use of a “profiler” was a nice touch, even if she was constantly hated and insulted at the start. (I’m looking into some kind of psychological side of crime for a uni course, so it was interesting to see what role she played. My psychology course at A Level also means I understand some of the references mentioned, which made me rather happy.)
With the help of a negotiator, a crazy psychic and the survivor of the last case, Kim manages to narrow down the search location. But the clock is ticking.
Throughout the course of this investigation, Kim is hung up on a previous failure. She’d always blamed a reporter for the death of a young man, but what if it wasn’t her fault? What if someone else was really to blame?
We also see into Kim’s past through small instalments of memories. Bit by bit, we conjure an image of her character, her experiences and feelings. She comes across as bit of a bitch, but shows her tenderness when trying to save the girls. Her relationships with different characters in the novel also reveal different strengths and weaknesses.
While the investigation is going on, the couples go through several different domestic issues. Leads are being found and extinguished all around, and the previous case notes provide little help. The tension builds as they struggle to keep hope alive.
The end includes a few somewhat predictable twists, but isn’t bad. Some non-crime-related developments are quite unexpected, though, proving that this is more than a simple detective novel.
An interesting read, but not particularly outstanding. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Buy it now!

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

s-l500

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – Paperback, 328 pages – Published 2002 by Little, Brown and Company

If my English Lang and Lit class hadn’t chosen to study this book this year, I probably never would have read it. At least, not yet. Not because I didn’t want to but simply because I may never have been motivated to do so. Honestly though, I’m very glad we chose this novel (even if I personally did not vote for it).

As I’m studying it for my exams, I really don’t want to spend too much time writing about it now. But I will do a quick review about the pros and cons of this novel.

So the book is about the death of a girl. Well, not about it, but it’s a very important aspect (obviously). The victim, Susie Salmon, narrates the story from beyond the grave in her “heaven”, recalling memories from her lifetime and also watching her family’s life unravel after her death.

There is an air of mystery to this, but not for the readers. We know from the start who murdered Susie, but her family do not. We follow them as they try to figure out what happened, getting closer and closer to the truth.

This book has an aspect of fantasy and supernatural to it, as well as mostly being a drama-based novel. We learn about Susie, and then we follow Ruth and Ray and her siblings, Buckley and Lindsey. We watch her parent’s marriage go through hell and back, and we even watch her murderer escape the town unpunished.

Everything about this is very interesting. The writing, simple but still detailed and descriptive; the characters, who grow and change as the book progresses; the plot, or multiple mini-plots, evolving around all the different characters.

I really liked this book, and at first I thought it might become a favourite. But it didn’t carry on quite as well as it started, and became more or more of a realistic, dramatic story about love and life. It’s so interesting to see how Sebold portrays heaven, and how the lives of her Susie’s friends and family are affected both directly and indirectly by her death. A good 4 stars for this book!

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: The Disappearances

15826817

The Disappearances by Gemma Malley (The Killables #2) – Paperback, 414 pages – Published October 10th 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton

This is the sequel to Gemma Malley’s The Killables which I read recently. It consists of the same characters as before, such as Raffy, Linus, Lucas, Evie, the Brother, and also some extra characters. It, obviously, takes place after the System has been shut down – this having caused some issues, such as the Disappearances.

This is written in a rather different way to the previous book, in that it is told from different viewpoints and even during different time periods. The reader must piece together what is happening without it being explained to them, and how it’s relevant to the plot. We’re given insights to the start of the Horrors and the past lives of some of the characters.

I was honestly quite surprised with how dark this was quite early on; I was expecting the Disappearances to have a happy ending, not the pile of bodies that is actually given. Personally, this made it more thrilling and exciting, though.

The love triangle is slightly irritating, as all YA love triangles are. But I like that Raffy has his issues – anger and possessive issues, in fact, which is a very real problem for many people. And the backstories of the characters make them so much more real and lovable.

I think I prefer this to the previous novel, if only just a bit. I think 4 stars is a good rating for this.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: Kellie’s Diary #1

17839590

Kellie’s Diary #1 by Thomas Jenner and Angeline Perkins – eBook, 50 pages – Published March 1st 2013 by Survive Entertainment

This was free in the Kindle store and despite not really knowing much about it, I decided I’d download it. It’s the graphic novel version of the first part of this collection, which is also available as an ordinary novel. It’s a short story, as I believe each individual story is.

As this is only a really short part of the collection, and I don’t want to spoil the story, I can’t really tell you much. But it is written fantastically, really capturing the voice of a young child. It’s based in the early nineties, when several children – and then teachers – start to fall ill and disappear. Kellie is later forced to fight for her life against the “monsters” – most commonly known as zombies. Yep, this is an apocalypse diary written by a small child, alone.

Of course, being “written by a child” means that description – even spelling – is not great. But that is obviously intentional and adds to the overall effect of the book. This particular edition happens to be designed to look like a notebook too, as opposed to the ordinary text of a novel.

I am really tempted to look into buying the whole collection. It really ends quite suddenly and unexpectedly, and I do want to know what happens to Kellie. Does she find her family? Does she even survive in the end? I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed this in the end. 3.5 stars!

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: Coraline

1061252

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Hardback, first edition, 171 pages – Published August 5th 2002 by Bloomsbury

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the film based on this book, so I won’t go into too much detail right now. But as is often the case, I definitely enjoyed the book more than the movie!

So Coraline has moved into a new flat with her parents, who are both rather disinterested with her. She likes to explore, and she ends up in the grasp of “the other mother” in some strange parallel world. Upon trying to escape the other mother, Coraline’s parents are taken instead. So Coraline must find and save her parents in order to escape – as well as the souls of other children the creature has taken.

This has a rather nonsensical feel to it, not unlike the works of Lewis Carroll. But it also has an edge to it, that gives the illusion of a Tim Burton creation. I think I would have enjoyed it just that bit more had I read it when I was just a few years younger, but even so, this book came very close to being one of my favourites!

I never would have even thought about reading it if it hadn’t been chosen as a “book of the month” on Goodreads, but I am really happy that I did. It’s a very short read, but it’s so mysterious and creepy and just wonderful! I definitely want to take a look at some of Neil Gaiman’s other books now. 4.5 stars for Coraline.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491