Instead of throwing multiple review posts at you each day, I figured I’d do a few review round-up posts with mini reviews! This month I’ve been trying to read a lot more graphic novels, so there are a LOT of reviews to get through!
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
I loved this story of Rose who travels to the summer house every year with her parents. She hangs out with her friend Windy each year, but this year it’s a little different. Rose is on that cusp between teenager and adulthood, but Windy is younger than her so she seems a little young to Rose at points of the story. Rose is also having different feelings, towards boys, towards Windy, towards her parents … it’s really a book that anyone can relate to if they were a teenage girl at some point (which is basically all women). This story is also great because it’s not just about Rose and Windy, but there’s also a storyline going on with Rose’s parents that is completely heartbreaking. I definitely teared up at one point and that is rare for me when reading a graphic novel. The artwork is beautiful and I found myself really starting to appreciate graphic novels with this one. I think part of me always expects full-blown colour illustrations so I tend to shy away from saying anything good about comics that might have beautiful drawings. This one is also Canadian and the authors have released another book, Skim, which I hope to read soon.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
This book is one of those books that has a major cult following. It’s actually a pretty good story and one that I enjoyed a bit. I wouldn’t say that I loved it since I think there’s a part of me that just didn’t get it. Maybe it’s too short? Or maybe it was just too melodramatic for me? I kind of feel the same way when I read stories about young adults who are full of so much angst and I just never find myself connecting with any of them. Is it because I didn’t have a childhood like them that I just can’t relate? I did really enjoy the friendship between the two girls in the story — that’s one thing I could relate to. Other than that, though, maybe it was the humour I didn’t get … I just don’t understand that cynical, teenage humour that’s represented in books. But yeah, still glad I read it. Maybe I’ll check out the movie one day.
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman
I love Matthew Inman’s work, so when I saw that he had a new book out, I didn’t care what the subject matter was, I knew I had to read it! This one was a bit different from the other books I’ve read. In fact, it’s quite the inspirational read! This one is all about running and while it might not necessarily be considered a graphic novel (a graphic humour book?), I still think it fits in this category. It’s still full of some of the great humour you can find in other Matthew Inman and Oatmeal comics, but it also is a bit of a resource on how to start running. And it’s so funny because running is freaking hard. Yeah, it might be the cheapest way to get exercise, but if you want to run long distances, be prepared to hate it a bit. There is a whole lot of honesty in this book, which is perfect for beginners since Inman pretty much says, yeah it sucks, but it’s amazing. I may not be a runner anymore, but I get it. Parts of this book (the lazier parts) were a little tough to get through since I expect lots of illustrations, so they felt a little dense, but it was still a good book.
And an honorable mention to The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman
This one was so very different and so very Neil Gaiman. By the end of the book, I knew that it wasn’t quite a graphic novel, even though it has pieces of it that resemble a graphic novel. Really, it’s an illustrated short story. It’s incredibly dark and full of lore and legends. It only has a few characters and as they make their way to the cave in the black mountains the story gets darker and darker until the very end. It’s really a story that made me think and want to go back and reread it after finishing (despite the fact that it was late at night when I finished and I can barely stay up past 9pm as it is). I’m so used to seeing Neil’s stories paired with Dean McKean’s artwork, so it was quite the change to see illustrations by someone else. They were almost rough illustrations (not like your Sandman artwork), but they paired so nicely with the story. My only complaint was the typography from some of the illustrated speaking parts — I felt those were almost a little too childlike and rough. BUT super good story and a gorgeous book — one I’m happy to have in my Neil Gaiman collection!
Have you read any of these graphic novels? What did you think?