Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Today I'm going to be reviewing one of my favorite series ever, Dungeon by JoannSfar and LewisTrondheim. This dungeon is not actually a prison as one might think. It’s more like a big obstacle course which adventurers flock to with dreams of wealth and glory. There are piles and piles of treasure which entice the poor fools to try to brave the dangers that lie within the dungeon walls. They come to steal some of the treasure, but instead get massacred by the monsters of the dungeon. Their weapons and jewelry are added to the treasury.
The dungeon is run by the Dungeon Keeper, a short white bird with a top hat and a pipe that releases smoke in a skull shape, reflecting his mood. He started the dungeon when he was young. His most trusted employes include Marvin, a man sized, very religious dragon who serves as the Dungeon Keeper’s body guard, Herbert, a light hearted duck who has a long descent into evil, and Alcibiades and Horus, the two alchemists of the dungeon.
Over the course of over a dozen books, the dungeon becomes a major political power, and therefore gains all the problems brought by its position. It’s attacked constantly and the system becomes more and more corrupt. They create their own secret police, participate in underhanded dealings, and accept bribes from neighbors who fear invasion.
Dungeon is set during three major time periods in the dungeon’s universe. The Early Years follows its rise, Zenith takes place during the height of the dungeon's power, and Twilight is the story of the dungeon’s downfall into madness. Each one of these time periods has several books devoted to them. Even if you only get the books in one time period, you will have a very full experience. Each is like it’s own little series.
The art in this book is unforgettable. It looks very French, which makes sense considering that Joann Sfar is French (Joann Sfar is not the only illustrator, other artists draw short stories for the bonus books). There are a lot of very broad, flat colors in Dungeon. One of my favorite characters, Marvin the Red, a skinny little rabbit who thinks he’s a brave warrior, who was exiled from his rabbit town because he was born with red fur, is a shade of red that never changes. All of the characters are designed to pop off the page. The world of dungeon look goofily cartoony, but It makes sense considering that all of the characters are anthropomorphized animals, monsters and magical creatures.
You will never find anything even remotely similar to Dungeon. It is its own thing which makes it all the more amazing. I warn you younger readers, there are some quite bloody and sexual scenes. The violence is never scary. Characters get their heads lopped off all the time, but it’s humorous because these awful acts are being carried out by these almost cute little animals. While detailed, the art isn’t very realistic which makes the gore completely un-terrifying. With the holidays almost here, I think the complete set of Dungeon is a perfect gift for anyone 14 to 65. I'm sure you'll all get hooked. I find myself rereading these books at least once every two months. I would give Dungeon 10 vicious red rabbits 10.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Today I will be reviewing Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. It's the story of a Russian-American girl who falls down an abandoned well. In that well, she finds a ghost of a girl who fell down the well in 1918. The rest of the story follows what happens when that ghost comes to live with her.
I really like this book because all of the characters are very realistic. Anya’s mom is friendly but not overly friendly. The six-year-old brother isn't a stereotype of the annoying brother. I really love how the jocks and cheerleaders aren't the stereotypical bullies they're portrayed to be in other stories.
One scene I love is when Anya first meets the ghost. She wasn't afraid, but the ghost was so friendly that I don't think I would have been either. I really love how Anya treats the ghost the same way she treats her little brother. When the ghost tried to touch some of her food, Anya snatched it away and glared at her.
Anya’s view of the ghost changes a lot throughout the course of the book. At first, she's distrustful of the ghost. She keeps her distance and constantly snaps at her, but when she sees the possible gain she could have from being friends with the ghost, she starts warming up to her.
I absolutely love the art in this book. It's thick like it was painted or drawn with a marker. It looks somewhat like the art style in Scott Pilgrim. The ghost is one of the best looking things in the book. She has hair that looks like a dandelion and big blank eyes. I also like the way the little brother looks. He has a big grin and huge shiny eyes, which is perfect for someone of his clueless character. He looks like a puppy dog trying to figure out what his master wants him to do.
I think that Anya's Ghost is appropriate for all ages. There is no violence or inappropriate scenes. The art is beautiful, the characters are interesting, and the story is intriguing. Halloween is coming up, and this is a ghost story different from any you've heard of before. MUAhAHAhaHaHA! I would give Anya's Ghost 8 spoooooky ghosts out of ten.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
I'm sure you've all heard of the extremely famous Astro Boy series by Osamu Tezuka. Well believe it or not, he also made an eight volume biography of the life of Buddha!
At first I thought it would be boring. I already knew the stories, how he was a Hindu prince and he sat in front of a cobra without being bitten. It was old news. But these books turned out to be a lot more interesting and entertaining than I ever could have imagined. I'm sure that some parts and characters are fictional, but that doesn't make them any less great. I love the evolution of the characters, specifically Buddha. I love how he doesn't just go from being an inexperienced teenager to being the all knowing and enlightened founder of Buddhism overnight. It takes him four entire volumes to become enlightened and three more to become the droopy eared icon we all know today.
A scene I really like is in Book Three when Buddha/Siddhartha,who has just become a Hindu monk, meets a well trained young monk named Dhepa who has an obsession with undergoing ordeals. (Hindu monks would cause intense pain to their bodies for long sessions because they believed that lives greatest secrets are discovered while suffering. These sessions would be called ordeals). One of the first ordeals that Dhepa underwent with Buddha was walking through a field of thorns. Dhepa is able to walk through the thorns like they are nothing, but Buddha buckles over in pain after each step. This foreshadows Buddha making sure that the religion that bears his name has nothing to do with extreme physical ordeals, and I'm a big fan of foreshadowing.
The art in Buddha is very beautiful. It looks like a less cartoony version of the style Tezuka uses in Astro Boy. Buddha’s appearance is always changing as he ages from child to young man to middle aged man to old man. Other characters evolve visually too, like his first disciple, Tata or Naradatta, a monk who was condemned to roam the world as a beast. I love the way the animals are drawn, specifically elephants. There are a ton of elephants featured throughout the story, and each one looks different.
The eight book Buddha series is not appropriate for all ages. There is quite a bit of nudity and heavy violence. There are no sex scenes, but I think that if you are a parent you should read it over to determine whether or not you want your children reading it. I was hooked on Buddha from the first chapter on. It is definitely my favorite series I've read all year. I would give Buddha 10 Brahmins out of 10.
If you are interested, there was a movie adapted from the series. You can watch it free at this link.