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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three graphic novels

I'm gearing up for a booktalk with 7th graders about graphic novels, so I'm trying to plow through a bunch. Just recently I read Stitches, by David Small. We don't have that one at our library, but it's powerful! You can read that review here if you missed it.

Last night I read The Dreaming by Queenie Chan, a manga book; Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, and Marc Hempel; and To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, a memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel.

Although they are all graphic novels, the three are very different kinds of books, so that made for an interesting evening. The Dreaming is a manga book, with they typically big-eyed girls and has the least text of the three. I think I liked the manga's drawing style best of the three I read, but it was too light on text for me. Also, it was classified as a drama/horror, and although there was nothing horror-ific about it, I didn't really enjoy the story line because it was kind of creepy. It's set in a boarding school in Australia that's supposedly haunted and has some weird rumors about twins (which the two main characters are) There just wasn't enough development in this particular story to draw me in. There are three books in this series, so I'm sure there's more development in that second book. Fans of creepy, eerie, horror-type books and Manga fans will probably enjoy this.

To Dance is a non-fiction graphic novel, so that was interesting because it was like reading a quick autobiography. Anyone who loves dance is sure to love this story. The drawings in this one are much more detailed and were my second favorite drawings. There was definitely a lot of sub-text in the drawings of this book, which is what graphic novels are all about. Also, these drawings are all in color, so I liked that better than The Dreaming. While I thought the storyline in this GN was much more interesting, than that of The Dreaming, and it had a lot more text, it was still too short for me and seemed a little choppy. The ending was all wrapped up in about two pages also. I would have liked a little more fleshing out, but I guess that's what regular biographies and autobiographies are for, right?

Re-Gifters is the most "typical" graphic novel of the three I think. It's what most people expect, anyway, when they think of comic books. Lots of panels, lots of drawing, lots of word bubbles. I found myself a bit overwhelmed by all the "stuff" coming at me. I've just this second realized that perhaps that's why I don't love graphic novels as much as I love regular books. I find reading regular books to be calming and relaxing,even when they story's intense. I find graphic novels to be a little frenetic. There's so much going on that my brain gets overstimulated and I can't focus. Which also explains why most young people, who are quite used to being visually stimulated and who are generally quite good a multi-tasking find them so appealing. Ack, more evidence that I'm old!!

Anyway, Re-Gifters is about a young Korean American woman who does hapkido, an ancient martial art. And she's super good at it until she lets a boy get in her head and it throws her game off. She makes some stupid choices and next thing you know she's almost ruined her chances at getting into an important tournament. I liked the cultural references in this book ,although they could have definitely included more, and I liked the self reflection the character showed in the end. If you're a fan of martial arts, or just a fan of graphic novels in general, you will probably enjoy this one. There is a little bit of swearing in this book, but not a lot.

These three books are available at our WOMS library.

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