The Sculptor (Scott McCloud, 2015)

sculptor

Why did you choose this book?

My office-mate purchased this graphic novel and said he couldn’t put it down.  As he started telling me the plot I became more and more intrigued until I had to read it for myself!

What’s it about?

David Smith is a struggling artist, who runs into his favorite uncle in a diner.  As they talk, he remembers that his uncle died years ago.  It turns out that his uncle is Death.  David makes a deal with Death and is suddenly able to sculpt any material with his hands as though it were made of clay.  The catch?  He only has 200 days to live.  And in those 200 days, many things go wrong, but some also go right (such as meeting the love of his life).

Categories?

Graphic novels, fiction

Other recommended reads?

This is a challenge, because this is the first graphic novel I’ve read for adults that is fiction rather than autobiographical.  I think you’d enjoy this novel if you are part of the art community or like superhero-type comics.

Review

The story did draw me in, but I don’t know that I loved it as much as my coworker did.  There were parts that I wish had taken a different path, but there were also some twists that I loved.  I didn’t find David’s sculptures as impressive as I wanted to – they were kind of weird.  I also think that there were some philosophical underpinnings that I missed and in order to fully grasp the story I would need to read it again.  My favorite part was a scene at the end where a person’s life flashes before their eyes.  The artwork is stunning, as scenes start slowly and then fly by more and more quickly.  It was breathtaking and beautiful.

Up next?

We have several options.  It could be A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady, Deep South by Paul Theroux, or All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani.  Guess you’ll just have to check back and see!

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The Marvels (Brian Selznick, 2015)

the marvels

Why did you choose this book?

I thought it was about time that I read one of those giant Selznick tomes.

What’s it about?

This story can be roughly divided into 2 sections.  The first is substantially longer (about 400 pages) and is entirely composed of sketches.  The second is about 200 pages and is written as a traditional novel.  The sketches tell the story of a young boy who stowed away on a ship where his older brother was a crewman in 1766.  The two boys put on a play but the ship is caught in a storm and the ship breaks up, with the older brother falling from a very high perch.  Though they both reach land, the older boy dies and the younger one is eventually rescued.  The family is traced through 3 subsequent generations of actors in the same theater, which boasts a picture of the deceased brother as an angel on the ceiling.  The story section tells of a young boy who runs away from school to the home of his uncle in the 1990s.  His uncle, though, is quite the character and lives in a manner befitting the 19th century.  Do these two stories relate?

Categories?

Graphic novels, jfiction

Other recommended reads?

The acting family, to me, echoed a theme of circus families that has been present in books for both young readers and adults recently.  Examples include The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley and The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler.

Review

I wasn’t expecting so much of the novel to be graphic, but those portions drew me in more than the text-based sections did.  I also couldn’t put this book down, finishing it after a marathon reading at about 1:30 AM.  In its defense, I didn’t start it until around 10:30.  I wanted the resolution of the novel to be more magical than it was, but it was still a satisfying read.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me know what you think if you read it!

Up next?

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

Lumberjanes (Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson)

lumberjanes

Why did you choose this book?

I had heard a lot of buzz about this one on websites and in library catalogs.  It won two Eisner awards this year.

What’s it about?

It’s a graphic novel for middle-grade readers.  Jo, Mal, Molly, April, and Ripley are all attending a scouting camp with a very complicated name.  But every time they leave their cabin, they run into strange, dangerous, and magical creatures.  What’s going on at this place?

Categories?

JFIC, fantasy, graphic novels

Other recommended reads?

This novel appeals to readers who like strong female characters, and enjoy reading stories packed with adventure, but who also don’t mind that adventure having a magical twist.  It’s kind of like a graphic novel, female-centric version of Percy Jackson (Rick Riordan) or The Thirty Nine Clues (which is my FAVORITE JFIC series for so very many reasons).

Final thoughts?

I thought the idea of a hipster yeti was awesome.  That being said, the parts of the book that were from the scouting manual needed to be proof-read (for typos) and edited (they didn’t make much sense).  The illustrations were well done, but the book didn’t read as a unified story, just a bunch of disconnected adventures with a cliff-hanger ending.  I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the next one or not.

Up next?

The Zhivago Affair by Peter Finn