Monday, February 23, 2009

babbling about graphic novels

Amulet: Book One The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi.

This was one of those total impulse grabs from the library. Had never heard of it before, but it looked fun. And it was fun, but certainly won't make my top ten reads of the year or anything.

The story begins with a terrible accident in which Emily's father is killed. A couple of years later, Emily's mother moves the family (herself, Emily, and Emily's brother, Navin) to an old family home. She claims that she's just still trying to give them a fresh start. But we come to wonder if, unbeknownst even to her, there's something more going on with this move. The family arrives at the home, and on the very first night, events spiral out of control. The children find an amulet, their mother is kidnapped by a strange tentacled creature, and they all find themselves in a world completely foreign to them.

The downside: The story just doesn't have a lot of depth. But I would like to hope that maybe that will come as the series continues. (And there are hints that this may well be the case.) I realize that this is a series aimed at younger children, but I don't believe that means it needs to be overly simplistic. (I'm actually hoping that I can convince Gray to read this, so I can get him opinion.)

On the positive side: I love the art! I found the "creatures," both the good ones and the bad ones, to be utterly adorable. And I don't quite know how to explain it, but I love the coloring of this novel. I hesitate to use the word "pretty," but I honestly can't think of a better word. It is both subtle and vibrant all at the same time. Oh crap...I'm making no sense at all here. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed looking at this book.

Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess.

I've actually had this on my wish list ever since I read my first graphic novel, Alice in Sunderland. (Talbot spoke of a number of books in Alice in Sunderland that got added to my wish list.) Anyway, when Rose was finally available at the library, I of course, snatched it right up.

It's a beautiful little fantasy story. Just read it's beginning words:

When the world was very, very new, and dreams had not yet receded from the waking day...

The first dragon was a queen named Mim. And Mim was the keeper of all who dreamed.

She cared for the dreaming by encircling the world and holding her tail in her mouth...

As long as Mim held her tail in this way, balance was maintained.

And balance is most important, for the dreaming is a thing of great delicacy.

I don't want to give any of the story away, but I'm sure you can easily guess that something happens to this balance. A balance is regained, but again disrupted. And it eventually falls upon Princess Rose to right things. I love Princess Rose...she's young, a bit naive, a bit impulsive...and who wants a princess that is too perfect, right? It's a story about dreams, and growing up, and hard choices. I really, really enjoyed it.

And hey, it doesn't hurt that Charles Vess created the artwork, huh? It is stunningly beautiful.

I didn't realize until after I'd finished the book that is a prequel to BONE. From the little I know about BONE, I believe this prequel is a bit darker in nature. But I plan to find out for sure...after finishing this book, I had to immediately go and order BONE: One Volume Edition.

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley.

Oh my, what can I say? This is easily my favorite of the three. I absotively, posolutely adored this book! Delightful. Beguiling. Captivating. Enchanting. (O.K., O.K., I'll stop now before I feel the need to dig out the thesaurus.) This was a book that just made me happy. The only other recent book I've read that I can remember making me feel this way is The Goose Girl. Not that the two books are alike, they just made me feel the same. I wish I was better with words so I could explain what I mean. It's just sort of a happy innocence. A being fully transported away into a land of pure magic. Of course, that's not to say that either book is all lightness and fluff. Anyway as I said, the two books really aren't all that similar, other than the fact that a review of each would likely contain the words "fairy tale" at some point. Castle Waiting has much more depth. There are layers upon layers, stories within stories. And OMGosh, is this book funny! And bottom line, it's about how anyone can come together and become a family.

Ahhh, I seriously want to read it again already!


Other viewpoints:
*Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot (Castle Waiting)
*Eva at A Striped Armchair (Castle Waiting)
*Susan at You Can Never Have Too Many Books
*Kailana at The Written World (Rose)

I'd love to add your two-cents, so if you'd reviewed any of the above, please feel free to leave me a link in the comments. Thanks.


Nymeth said...

I'm so thrilled that you loved Castle Waiting :D And Rose sounds delightful too. Somehow I was under the impression it was out of print and impossible to find, but I've just checked and no, it's not. I have no idea why I thought that :P Anyway, I have The Complete Bone and I plan to read it next month...I have a feeling I'll be ordering Rose as soon as I'm done.

Debi said...

I really do think you'll enjoy Rose. And I remembered that you got the Complete Bone at Christmas...even then I was excited to hear what you thought of it. And now I'm more eager! I just got it in the mail a few days, it's an enormous book, isn't it?

Oh, and Castle Waiting...I sooooo loved it. But then you probably could tell from my post, huh? ;)

Scrap girl said...

I have never read any graphic novels. I know a lot of bloggers do enjoy them. I will have to take a look. Thanks for commenting on Tithe, I thought it was me being a bit prudish about scenes in it, I am glad now it wasn't just me.

Grad said...

Is the artwork in Castle Waiting as much fun as the cover suggests?

Dawn said...

I'm intrigued by that first book!!!

Tim just read a book about Aliens for the school book report he needs to write. :) I've tried to interest him in some other books but he just doesn't have the desire.

take care,

Eva said...

Yay for Castle Waiting!!! I felt bad because another blogger read it based on my review and that it was just ok. So I'm happy you feel like I did! :D

Rose sounds really cool. Off to see if la bibliotheque has it.

Debi said...

Scrap Girl,
LOL...I don't think you were being prudish at all! Like I said, I'm not really easily offended by things in books, but in that case it seemed sort of gratuitous, so I just didn't see the point. And anyway, like you, there was a lot I did enjoy about the book, too.
I've only been reading graphic novels for about a year many wonderful reviews by so many wonderful bloggers made it hard to resist. But if you feel like giving it a try, I definitely think Castle Waiting is a great one to start with!

Yes! It definitely is! The author was also the illustrator...and as you saw by the cover, she's wonderful! The inside images are all black and white, however. But she's really talented. I was especially amazed at the facial and bodily expressions she seemed to capture to effortlessly. Totally, totally fun book all the way around!

Tim and Gray sound a lot alike! I think Tim might enjoy Amulet...and I found it at the library. Gray is tough to get reading most of the time, too. He's better about non-fiction than fiction. Though when he finds a book or series he likes, he'll whip right through them. Has Tim read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? Gray loves those. And he really loves a book called Please Write in This Book, too. (In fact, he read it for the third time last night.) He's currently working his way through the second book of the Seekers series...though they are fiction, they're about bears so he loves them. But they're much bigger, so it takes him a little while to tackle them. You'll have to let me know if Tim reads Amulet...I'm interested to hear what he thinks. :)

I can't imagine anyone thinking it was just okay. It's definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far! Seriously, I feel like I should be sending you and Nymeth large sums of money as you're responsible for bringing me such joy!

Ali said...

I didn't review Amulet, but Evan read and it and is very much looking forward to the next one. He thought parts of it were kind of cliche, but overall, it was a good read for him.

Kailana said...

I thought I left a comment on this post yesterday... Must not have posted. I was just saying that I read Castle Waiting at some point this month and I really liked it! I just wish that the sequel was available... I felt it left a lot that I wanted to know more about.