Book Review: Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham et al. (Series, #1) (Graphic Novel)
All the characters from the fairy tales we know actually lived in that folklore world but were forced out into exile in modern-day New York thanks to an enemy known only as The Adversary. Snow White, right-hand to the ruler of Fabletown, seeks to keep everyone in line. But that gets more difficult when her own sister, Rose Red, is murdered. A reformed Big Bad Wolf, now their sheriff, promises to help her track down his killer.
Being a long-time fan of The 10th Kingdom, a story about the characters of folklore existing in a parallel universe to our own that some modern-day Americans accidentally visit, I was intrigued by this idea of a similar story in reverse. Instead of being engaging and a fun escape, though, my experience with it is best summed-up as meh. It’s a cool idea that is saddled to a ho-hum plot and flat characters, thereby rendering it a mediocre read.
The basic idea is some unseen Adversary has driven the fairy tale folk out of their land and into exile in our own. In our land, they’ve all agreed to give everyone a clean slate to start over. So far so good. From here though things go from interesting and semi-unique to basically a noir plot we’ve all read before wrapped up in 2-dimensional fairy tale characters. Big Bad Wolf is the hard-boiled detective. Snow White is his lady assistant. A noir version of a fairy tale could have been good, but instead the flattest elements of both genres are mashed together, rather than the best of each. What you end up with is a wolf without his fangs or a hard-boiled detective without his cigarettes and womanizing ways. The grit is just removed leaving an overly-sanitized world.
I do enjoy a mystery plot but I also expect them to keep me guessing. I knew the solution long before the end, and I’m guessing most other readers would too.
The art is mostly good, although the depiction of the talking pig gave me goosebumps in a bad way. He doesn’t really fit in to the feel of the rest of the art. However, the art is colorful and easy to follow, and made reading the story go quickly.
Overall, if a reader loves fairy tales and graphic novels and likes the idea of seeing fairy tale characters in modern-day New York, they will probably enjoy this book. Readers looking for an in-depth exploration of a fairy tale character or to see them more well-rounded in a non-fairy tale setting will be disappointed. Similarly, readers looking for a tough mystery to solve will want to look elsewhere.
3 out of 5 stars
Source: I remember I bought it at a comic book store, but I don’t remember which one.
Total books read: 54
Average books read per month: 4.5
Month most read: May with 7 (No idea what gave me so much momentum in May)
Month least read: November with 2 (A long cold and the holidays)
Longest book read: The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey with 538 pages
Fiction: 45 (83%)
Nonfiction: 9 (17%)
Series: 28 (52%) (This went up by 11%. You can tell I found a couple of series I really like.)
Standalone: 26 (48%)
–traditional print: 13 (24%)
–ebook: 27 (50%)
–graphic novel: 0 (0%) (I’m in shock that I somehow didn’t read a single graphic novel this year!)
–audiobook: 14 (26%)
–scifi: 20 (Winner the fifth year in a row. It’s clear what my favorite genre is.)
–YA: 7 (I dislike most YA, but when I find a well-done one, I read everything by the author I can find.)
–historic fiction: 6
–urban fantasy: 6
–short story collection: 4
–Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge: 3 (I really should at least get to the lowest level of the challenge that I run! Wish I’d completed one more book for this.)
–nonfiction history: 3 (As someone with a History BA, it surprises me not at all that this is my most read nonfiction.)
–nonfiction cookbook: 2
–nonfiction lifestyle: 2
–paranormal romance: 2
–African lit: 1
–Chinese lit: 1
–Cthulhu mythos: 1
–nonfiction environmentalism: 1
–nonfiction fitness: 1
–nonfiction memoir: 1
–nonfiction relationships: 1
–nonfiction social justice: 1
Aliens vs. Demons vs. Vampires vs. Zombies
–demons: 7 (Demons just barely beat aliens, who definitely got the extra attention I said I thought they deserved last year).
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 9 (17%)
–4 star reads: 26 (48%)
–3 star reads: 16 (30%)
–2 star reads: 3 (5%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
Glancing at my stats, I can see that I definitely achieved my main goal for 2013. I read more books I like and stopped forcing myself to read books I don’t enjoy. My percent of 5 star reads went up by 3%, and my number of 1 or 2 star reads went down by a whopping 11%. I’m really glad to have refocused myself on the joy of reading, instead of treating it as a responsibility.
Overall, my stats make me happy. There is still a variety for the well-roundedness I wanted to hold onto, but there is also a clear focus on the types of books I enjoy. The one thing that took me aback was my complete lack graphic novels. I can’t stop reading the new format I discovered just a few years ago! I also would like to see a bit more nonfiction and at least a couple more reads that count toward the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge. I do run it after all.
Beyond those two minor goals, I mostly just want to continue seeking out books that truly appeal to me, reading at a comfortable rate as one of many hobbies, and continue to expand my horizons a bit with a healthy sprinkling of variety.
Happy 2014, everyone! Any suggestions for my 2014 reading goals?
Book Review: Captain America: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection (Series, #1-9 and 11-14) (Graphic Novel)
Captain America has been increasingly violent and melancholy lately, and SHIELD is worried about him. When his arch-nemesis, the Red Skull, turns up as a corpse, things go from troubled to worse for Captain America. Ghosts of his past increasingly haunt him as the desire for the Cosmic Cube wreaks havoc once again.
I admit that I am new to the traditional comic book characters. I found my way into graphic novels via manga followed by more literary graphic novels followed by The Walking Dead, none of which are really comic book characters, per se. But I, just like most of the world, watched the new movies featuring Iron Man and Thor and loved them. So I decided to try to start reading the comic books, a daunting task for a newbie. I did my best to find a good introductory book, but I admit I probably should have actually watched Captain America before deciding to start with him.
Captain America is my least favorite of the Avengers. He, to me, is so incredibly lame. Whiny and lame. And traditional. I really should have started this comic book adventure with Iron Man.
Anyway, point being, take my review with the grain of salt that 1) I am new to traditional comic book characters 2) I don’t like Captain America.
The story itself is bright and action-packed. Once I understood who the Red Skull and Bucky were, I started to get the feel for the tension in the story. The pages are well-drawn and easy to follow with lots to suck the reader in. Fans of Captain America will probably appreciate the chance to get to know more of his backstory, particularly concerning Bucky, his side-kick, and what happened to him. The Cosmic Cube was amusing as ever to watch corrupt people, and I definitely was surprised by the plot twist at the end. In spite of my distaste for the character, I was a bit tempted to read more.
Overall, then, this is an action-packed entry in the Captain America canon that simultaneously provides character development and backstory. Recommended to fans of Captain America.
3 out of 5 stars
Because life is so incredibly busy, I hadn’t been planning on participating in any of the many wonderful reading challenges in existence around the book blogosphere. (Beyond hosting my own, the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge, of course.) But when I received a GoodReads invitation to Socrates’ Finishing the Series Reading Challenge, I couldn’t resist because it fits in so well with my already established (in my head) reading goals for 2013. It’s incredibly simple. Choose a single (or multiple) book series you’ve previously started to finally finish reading during 2013. I already have a GoogleDoc of all the series I’m reading and was saying to myself, “Amanda, finish at least a few of these in 2013,” and doing that in the context of the fun that is a book blog reading challenge just makes me happy.
I’m currently reading 26 series. I know, I know. I’m not going to challenge myself to all of those, because then I’d only be reading series books all year. 😛 But I am signing up for the highest level of the challenge: Level 3: 3 or more series.
So what am I pledging to finish?
- Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead
#3 Succubus Dreamsreview 1/31/13, 5 stars
#4 Succubus Heatreview 12/25/13, 4 stars
#5 Succubus Shadows
#6 Succubus Revealed
- Y: The Last Man series by Brian K. Vaughan
#8 Kimono Dragons
#10 Whys and Wherefores
- Riders of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Morse Kessler
John Cleaver series by Dan Wells
#3 I Don’t Want to Kill Youreview , 3/2/13 3.5 stars
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
#2 Children of God
Katherine “Kitty” Katt series by Gini KochI will not be finishing this series, due to severe dislike of the third book. It’s a permanent dnf.
#3 Alien in the Familyreview, 10/3/13 2 stars
#4 Alien Proliferation
#5 Alien Diplomacy
#6 Alien vs. Alien
#7 Alien in the House
#8 Alien Research
For the Katherine “Kitty” Katt series, it is not yet finished, so I’m only pledging to books that are projected to be published before the end of 2013.
I also reserve the right to give up on a series if it starts nose-diving before the end. 😉
Phew! That’s a lot of books…but it would also make a serious dent into my series list. So fingers crossed that I have good luck with it.
If the challenge sounds like a good match for you, be sure to check out the official challenge page!
Ok, before I review, the numberings need a bit of explanation. Comic books are issued very similarly to academic journals. So there are skinny issues that come out every few weeks (generally). A few of these bound together make a volume. A bunch of these bound together make a book (what we call in academia a “bound journal.”) I *was* reading the books of The Walking Dead but then I caught up to the author. I decided I didn’t want to buy issues, because they’re flimsy and you read through them very quickly, so I’m now reading the volumes. I hope that makes some semblance of sense. This will probably be the case throughout the rest of the series, because you have to wait a long time for the books, and I just am too impatient for that. My reviews will then be much shorter, because a book contains a few volumes, and I am now reviewing one volume at a time. Moving right along to the review!
This volume is basically cleaning up the mess from the action of the previous one and prepping for the action of the next one. Classic in-between chapter. What this volume really reminded me of is the infamous “Live together or die alone” speech by Jack in Lost. In fact, this volume sees Rick basically trying to turn into Jack and failing miserably. Long-time readers know I’ve never liked the guy, so personally I got a lot of schadenfreude out of seeing him be so pathetic in this volume.
That said, the survivors are definitely going for a new strategy, which will lend itself well to future fresh storylines, which any long-running series needs.
Fans of the sex will be quite happy with the developments in that area. Drama! Intrigue! Changes of partners!
Overall, it’s an enjoyable entry, if not mind-blowing, that perfectly sets things up for the next volume. Fans won’t be disappointed!
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Newbury Comics
Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Four (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Five (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Six (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Seven (review)