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Book Review: Y: The Last Man: Paper Dolls by Brian K. Vaughan (Series, #7) (Graphic Novel)

Summary:
Our trifecta of heroes have successfully crossed the Pacific Ocean and are now on the seacoast of Australia.  Yorick naturally insists on looking for his long-lost girlfriend in the drug-infested city of Sydney.  Meanwhile, Dr. Mann gets wooed by the one-eyed sailor rescued from the pirate ship in the previous book.  We also learn more of Ampersand the monkey’s backstory.

Review:
It probably comes as no surprise that I am still loving this series, although I am super-grateful to have one containing so many issues to be holding up so well!  Although I’m not a big fan of the Dr. Mann being duped story, the other two more than make up for it.

Seeing Sydney torn apart by heroin provides a different scenario in this post-apocalyptic world.  We’ve seen the women fall to violence, over-monitoring, and chaos, but we haven’t seen the self-medication reaction yet.  The scenes with the women on heroin are sad and poignant.  The perfect backdrop to Yorick’s story.

Naturally as an animal lover and animal rights person I love Ampersand’s backstory.  Originally abused and destined for a research lab, his shipping got mixed up and wound up with Yorick to be trained to be a helper animal instead.  How this ties in with Dr. Mann is disturbing and the perfect set-up for the next issue.  After seeing all he’s been through, I really hope they find Ampersand the next issue!

Overall, the art and story are consistently good and in spite of being the seventh in a long series the storyline has not gotten out of hand or become dull.  This is an excellent entry that will leave fans craving more!

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (review)
Y: The Last Man: Cycles (review)
Y: The Last Man: One Small Step (review)
Y: The Last Man: Safeword (review)
Y: The Last Man: Ring of Truth (review)
Y: The Last Man: Girl on Girl (review)

Book Review: Y: The Last Man: Girl on Girl by Brian K. Vaughan (Series, #6) (Graphic Novel)

March 6, 2012 1 comment

Two women holding each other.Summary:
We catch up with Yorick, 355, and Dr. Mann on board a freighter headed for Australia by way of Japan.  They seem to have abandoned their hunt for Ampersand the monkey for now.  The captain of the ship is gorgeous and has the hots for Yorick, but trouble arrives in the form of an Australian submarine.  Is it the freighter or the submarine that is the pirates?

Review:
So the title is sort of a double entendre.  We do get an excellent lesbian sex scene (inter-racial no less!), but we also have the war between the submarine of women and the ship of women.  Haha, well played, Vaughan!

The great thing about this entry in the series is that by itself it has a lot of very cool elements, but it also moves the plot forward.  We find out some about what’s been happening on the other side of the globe since the men died, characters hook up, and we get some really good action.  It gets us places (specifically moving across the ocean), but it doesn’t feel like a filler book the way #4 did.

Plus, the Pacific Islander ship captain is really hot and badass.

Overall, this is an excellent entry in the series that is entertaining and moves the plot forward.  Fans will not be disappointed.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (review)
Y: The Last Man: Cycles (review)
Y: The Last Man: One Small Step (review)
Y: The Last Man: Safeword (review)
Y: The Last Man: Ring of Truth (review)

Book Review: Y: The Last Man: Ring of Truth by Brian K. Vaughan (Series, #5) (Graphic Novel)

February 2, 2012 1 comment

Woman staring at test tube.Summary:
Yorick, Dr. Mann, and Agent 355 (not to mention Ampersand) have finally made it to California, which surprisingly has managed to mostly avoid the chaos taking over the rest of the US.  Dr. Mann is hard at work attempting to figure out why Yorick and Ampersand have survived for so long.  Meanwhile, the crazed assassins who broke off of 355’s Culper Ring are in hot pursuit of the whole bunch.

Review:
I’m pleased to say that this entry in the series returned to the former glory of volume 3 and avoided the oddness of volume 4.

Perhaps what’s best is how much Yorick is growing as a character. Finally!  He actually has sex!  And makes plans. And thinks things through.  But not always, so he’s still him.

There is a lot of productivity in the storyline too.  I like that Dr. Mann actually considers a fantastical explanation for Yorick’s survival so far.  It adds another aspect to her character and the storyline as well.  In fact this choice of believing known fact or believing in a fantasy is a recurring theme in this entry in the series, and one that I really enjoyed.

The art continues to be good, the storyline moves right along, Yorick is less annoying, plus sex!  Definitely a worthwhile entry in the series.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (review)
Y: The Last Man: Cycles (review)
Y: The Last Man: One Small Step (review)
Y: The Last Man: Safeword (review)

Book Review: Y: The Last Man: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan (Series, #4) (Graphic Novel)

Man floating in blue water.Summary:
Agent 355 and Dr. Mann drop Yorick off at another agent’s house while they bring the monkey, Ampersand, to an animal hospital to see after his cut.  The agent forces Yorick to confront his own inner demons.  Then the band continues on toward California, having to take a side-trip through Arizona where they run into a band of militant, anti-federal women.

Review:
The two plots contained in this entry in the series don’t flow together as well as other entries do.  Although the two plots are equally interesting, they feel odd being packaged together.

The first half features an…unconventional therapy method to get Yorick to confront his inner demons.  This section is excellently done and necessary to better understanding him.  So far, we’ve only seen him within the situations, but really have no idea what’s going on in his head.  That’s one of the interesting virtues of this particular graphic novel.  We see Yorick interacting and hear him speak, but we only rarely glimpse inside his mind.  Better understanding what is up with the, surprisingly abstinent, last man is key to continuing the plot.

The second half is far more humorous.  There’s something eloquent and smart about the Arizona state militia of women who even go so far as to call themselves “The Sons of Arizona.”  The strong reaction in the southwest to the plague with the idea that it was all arranged by the federal government is a very astute observation of the mentality of that area of the country.

So, although the two individual storylines were good, the plot just didn’t flow as smoothly this time around.  It feels like that classic in-between book syndrome.  It’s there to set things up for the next one.  We’ll see with the next entry if I’m right.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (review)
Y: The Last Man: Cycles (review)
Y: The Last Man: One Small Step (review)

Book Review: Y: The Last Man: One Small Step by Brian K. Vaughan (Series, #3) (Graphic Novel)

December 28, 2011 1 comment

Skeleton in a space suitSummary:
Our trio of the doctor, Yorick, and 355 have resumed their attempt to reach the west coast, but get side-tracked when they stumble across the Russian woman looking for the spacemen.  Upon learning of the imminent arrival of the astronauts, they decide to join her in journeying to the landing location, which just happens to be nearby.  Meantime, the Israeli soldiers, unbeknownst to them, are hot on their tails.

Review:
Many different plot lines collide in this entry in the post-apocalyptic series.  We finally find out why the Israelis are following Yorick and meet the astronauts.  We get to know the Russian lady, as well as a couple of new scientists at the secret government location.

Most interesting in this book is Yorick’s growth as a character.  Although he, to a certain extent, has that slacker mentality that can be so difficult to change, it appears an apocalypse just might succeed in doing so.  He takes more assertive action and starts to doubt maintaining his loyalty to his girlfriend/fiancee on the other side of a world full of just women.  In a way the story feels like a coming of age one.  Yorick going from a boy to a man.  Which is kind of hilarious given the setting, but it also works.

The Israeli soldiers storyline question a lot of gender norms thinking.  I watched a lot of war movies in my childhood, and here we have soldiers doing basically the exact same thing, only they’re women.  Just seeing that impacts gender norm preconceptions of the reader.

Finally, we have the astronauts who have developed an interesting relationship in their extended time away from earth.  Their presence and the surprises they bring are the final kick that makes this the best entry in the series so far.

The art continues to be colorful and easy to decipher, plus the last chapter is a bit of a meta romp featuring primarily Yorick’s monkey that ends the book on a light note, but also moves the plot forward in a key way.

Overall, this is a well-drawn, creatively plotted entry in the series that manages to amuse and cause thought-provoking responses simultaneously.  Readers of the series will be instantly begging for more.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (review)
Y: The Last Man: Cycles (review)

Book Review: Y: The Last Man: Cycles by Brian K. Vaughan (Series, #2) (Graphic Novel)

November 30, 2011 1 comment

Giant Y with man in front of helicopterSummary:
Yorick and his monkey, Ampersand, (the last males on Earth) continue their reluctant quest to help the government find a way to fix the disease that killed all the other men or at least to clone new men.  Their train trip from Boston to California is caught up in Ohio, though, where they stumble upon an oddly utopian town of women.  Meanwhile, Yorick’s sister, Hero, and the Amazons continue their quest to rid the Earth of the last man.  Plus there’s a mysterious Russian woman who keeps insisting a spaceship with men on it is going to land.

Review:
Now that the premise of the post-apocalyptic world is set up, Vaughan’s story really picks up speed.  There is much less explaining and far more action this time around.  There are now multiple plot lines and mysteries beyond Yorick’s main one going as well, which helped, because let’s be honest, Yorick isn’t that likeable.

About 1/3 of this entry is set in Boston, primarily around Fenway and the train station.  I think having the Amazons duke it out in front of Fenway Park was a pretty nice touch too.

I don’t recall laughing with the first entry, but this one had me laughing out loud on the bus then having to explain to my companions around me what was so funny.  The line?

Killing’s easy. Like….like doing laundry!

It is a random, quirky sense of humor that I really enjoy, although I do expect that it might not strike some people as humorous.

The artwork continues to be bright and easy to follow.  I really appreciated the preliminary sketches featured in the back of the book.  It was most surprising to see that agent 355 originally was white and gradually was changed to black.  I’m glad Vaughan made the move, but I do wonder what brought it on!

Overall, if you like a post-apocalyptic graphic world with biting wit and gender commentary, you’re going to enjoy this book.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series:
Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (review)

Book Review: Y: The Last Man: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan (Graphic Novel) (Series, #1)

November 10, 2010 7 comments

Man with a monkey.Summary:
The world is changed overnight when all the men and boys in the world mysteriously drop dead.  Factions quickly develop among the women between those who want the world to remain all female and those who would like to restore the former gender balance.  One man is mysteriously left alive though–Yorick.  A 20-something, underachieving magician with a girlfriend in Australia.  He desperately wants to find her, but the US government and the man-hating Amazons have other ideas.

Review:
As soon as I heard the concept for this series, I knew I had to read it.  Plenty of scifi books have explored other planets consisting entirely of women or an Earth of just women decades after the men died out, but very few go to the immediate after-math of the loss of men.  I like that one man is left alive.  It lends a scientific mystery to the social aspects of a planet suddenly full of just women.  Yorick’s characterization is perfect.  He’s laid back enough that there’s not constant angst over the situation, but intelligent enough that he gives the different factions a run for their money.  I also appreciate that Vaughan didn’t have all the women suddenly singing kumbaya and holding hands.  The fighting, violence, and disagreements among the women are honestly a far more accurate representation of how things work.  Women are people, and people fight and disagree.  That certainly isn’t a realm that belongs to just men.  Vaughan gives an even-handed, fair representation of women covering everyone from women mourning the loss of rock stars to women set world domination and everything in between.  I commend Vaughan for that.

The art work is full-color and impactful.  Periodically there are full-page illustrations instead of panels.  This apocalytpic world isn’t dark.  It’s full of light, passion, and energy.  Everyone is drawn consistently, and it is not at all difficult to tell people apart.  One of the most impactful pages features a close-up of one of the Amazon women with one of her breasts cut (or burnt) off.  It’s a very powerful image.

I also appreciated that around 1/4 of this issue takes place in Boston, and Boston is accurately drawn and represented.  I love that Boston is key to the story for the scientific community here.  It’s tiring always seeing us represented as just the center of the Irish-American mafia.  I hope Boston pops up again in future installments.  It’s nice seeing my city in print.

Unmanned does an excellent job of quickly setting up the dystopian world where only one man is left alive.  The artwork is compelling, and the storyline fairly represents the broad spectrum of female personalities.  If the basic concept of this dystopia intrigues you at all, I highly encourage you to try it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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