So this year, I think I’m going to try doing my wrap-ups on here in groups of five rather than waiting until I have a group (such as YA) to post about. So here are the first things I read in 2017!
The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 2 by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell – 5 stars
I’ve had this volume for nearly a year now, but I kept putting it off for some reason. When I was looking at my 2016 challenge, I saw that volume 1 was my first book of 2016, so I thought it would be *significant* to have volume 2 be my first book of 2017.
I’m fairly removed from the story at this point since it’s been a year since I read volume 1 and over a year since I read the original novel, but I found that I had no problem picking right up where the graphic novel begins.
The artwork was gorgeous and really helped me visualize what I had trouble with when I was reading the novel the first time round, which is part of why I didn’t rate it terribly high. I really enjoyed the story and that this novel focused on the last two chapters of the book because I feel it gave those chapters the time they deserve to unfold. I like that we really see Bod grow up in this volume and that he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. I also love that Bod’s selfless side is shown when he steps in to stand up to the bullies when he goes to school.
This really was a great first read of the year and I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any more graphic novels to spend with Bod, Silas, Scarlett, the Owenses, Liza, and the rest of the graveyard family.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 5 stars
I’m not sure how to put my feelings into words.
This was such a beautiful story told in such simple language. But that simplicity doesn’t take anything away – if anything, it adds to the story because it’s just you and Conor and the monster and all of the emotions that you’re all experiencing.
The illustrations by Jim Kay are simply haunting and perfect for the story. But the story in and of itself is not scary at all. Unless you count facing the truth to be scary.
I love that the stories that the monster tells shows that there are two sides of everything. No one is all good or all bad. Letting go of someone is hard. Wanting someone else’s pain to end can be difficult because you can feel guilty when it does (at least, that’s been my experience). I just love this story and look forward to re-reading it in the future.
*Side note: I went and saw the movie the day after I finished reading this and the movie absolutely broke me. It is hands-down 1 of my favorite movies of the year already and 1 of the best book-to-movie adaptations I have ever seen.
The Force Awakens Graphic Novel by Chuck Wendig – 5 stars
Yes, this is exactly the movie in graphic novel format. But you know what? I don’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed this and loved seeing The Force Awakens in yet another form of media. The artwork is gorgeous (though there were a couple depictions of characters that could have been a little better). Would it have been nice to have a little bit of extra content? Yes. Was I disappointed that there wasn’t? No. If you haven’t seen the movie (you should, by the way), this is a great alternative.
Winterspell by Claire Legrand – 3 stars
I have a long history with The Nutcracker and it’s something I hold dear to my heart. I performed in it for 12 years and could probably put on a one woman show with the roles I was cast in (minus, ya know, Clara, the Snow Queen, and Sugar Plum Fairy – minor details). I start listening to the music every year in November and see it at least once a year (either wherever I’m going to school or the one put on by my old ballet company). So when I heard about this dark re-telling, I was so there for it.
Until I started reading it…then I wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten into.
Yes, there were elements of the story that were here in this re-telling. And yes, re-tellings don’t need to be, nor should they be, a direct copy of the original work. But other than the statue coming to life, the fact that Clara has an odd Godfather, the battle in the ballroom, and the fact that Anise is a faery, I didn’t see much of the original fairy tale.
There were several times that I was just plain uncomfortable reading this. I didn’t understand the need for all of the sexual tension and focus on nakedness that happened whenever Clara was with Anise. I’m not against exploring one’s sexuality and I love that it’s implied that Anise is bisexual, but it felt unnecessary and sometimes forced just to be edgy. I get that this is supposed to be a dark re-telling, but I don’t get where this aspect fits in with regards to the original tale. Also, I swear the word “belly” appears approximately too many times in this novel.
And the weirdness with the statue in the beginning was a little too out there for me. I just couldn’t get behind a little girl basically having wet dreams about a statue. It also creeped me out that Nicholas was essentially 18 years old when he is cursed and then proceeds to watch Clara grow up to the age of 17 but they end up together. The scene on the porch at Pascha House enraged me to no end and I could not forgive Nicholas for his actions. Let alone what he did after it was revealed that Clara had her powers. I just never really saw the romance between Nicholas and Clara and thought there was way too much baggage for them to overcome to get their happy ever after.
I also didn’t understand the point of Dr. Victor. I also loathed the fact that he victim blamed her for his perverse thoughts about her. It was never her fault, but he made it so that she internally blamed herself for everything that he did towards her.
However, I thought the world building of Cane was fantastic. And I love seeing Clara explore her powers, though she really is annoying for the majority of the book. I really loved the character of Bo and would gladly read an entire novel about her life in Cane.
I think if I had gone into this story not knowing that this was supposed to be a re-telling of The Nutcracker, I would have enjoyed it more (though the scenes with Nicholas I pointed out above still would’ve pissed me off) and could get behind some of the more bizarre aspects of the story (and not be confused as to what they were doing in it, if that makes sense). That’s why I rated it at 3 stars rather than something lower.
Homecoming (Winterspell #1.5) by Claire Legrand – 3 stars
I read this because I was curious to see what happened after Clara goes back since for her it’s only been 2 years but for Nicholas and the rest of Cane it’s been 8. I liked seeing how Cane was rebuilding itself after the war and how the humans, faeries, and mages were all working together (at least for now). But I still wasn’t there for the romance between Clara and Nicholas. Their already huge age gap just got even bigger and that made me even more uncomfortable. I just feel like there will always be a power imbalance between the two. However, I loved seeing Bo again, and what I said in my review of Winterspell stands – I would totally read a book all about Bo and Afa and her entire family. But mainly Bo. I feel like this did give the story a bit more closure than the book did, but I’m still not 100% behind Clara and Nicholas together.