Outcast: A Darkness Surrounds Him by Robert Kirkman

Monday, 24 April 2017

Outcast: A Darkness Surrounds Him
Robert Kirkman
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Horror, Supernatural
Published: January 15th 2015
Pages: 152
Rating: 4 stars

Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Outcast promises demons, horror, and the impending apocalypse. I'd expect nothing less from the creator of The Walking Dead, and the first few pages are enough to raise your hopes for the rest of the series. They're sufficiently horrible and compel you to read on.

Our main character, Kyle, is first introduced as a brooding slob, and rather than put me off, it made me curious. Just what have the demons in his life done to make him live in such squalor? Are these demons inside him? Those he loves? Or are they just in his head? We get answers when he has a run in with the local reverend, but they still manage to create more questions. Just what is up with Kyle?

The artwork is fairly simple and I can't quite tell if I like it or not. It's not overly cartoonish, but at the same time it's not totally realistic, either. There's minimal shading when it comes to clothes, and some larger panels lack finer details. The full pages, however, do deliver more in these departments and the landscapes in general seem to have more detail than the people. Mixed feelings aside, the colour scheme throughout this volume is fantastic. Each issue seems to have a different main colour which is nice as it gives you more of an idea of when things begin and end, but as a whole nothing feels out of place.

There's a lot of talking and a smattering of action in this volume, but it doesn't drag or come across as boring. Yes, some of the speech is rather deep and philosophical - which seems out of place in a graphic novel but actually ties in nicely with the theme of demons - but it feels somewhat necessary. While this is set in our world, it feels like a world of its own and some degree of setting up is required.

Overall, this is an interesting volume and a good set up for the rest of the series. I'm excited to read more.

York Castle Museum

TBR Feature #50

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler

Monday, 17 April 2017

Read Me Like a Book
Liz Kessler
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published: May 14th 2015
Pages: 297
Rating: 2 stars

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It's enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents' marriage troubles. There's just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn't it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

When you can't stand the main character in a book, it's hard to like the book as a whole. This was the case for me when reading Read Me Like a Book.

Ash was one of the most annoying characters I've ever come across: dumb, self-centred, one-sided, and far too arrogant for my liking. There was nothing redeeming about her and she continually made stupid decisions in order to seem cool and fit in. She made everything about her, completely ignoring the fact that other people can also be affected by things and have their own problems. I can't be overly critical of her, though, as the rest of the characters were just as bad. Cat and Dylan were cookie cutter stereotypes of the badass friend and slick player, respectively.

I had issues with the writing as well; it was very simplistic and nothing felt like it was coming from teens. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't badly written, it just didn't feel like it was written for young adults as there was no challenge or complexity

Being in my fourth year of studying A-Levels and in the process of applying for university, I also couldn't help but notice some discrepancies and falsehoods about the whole college situation. Kessler did a good job at trying to capture the essence of Year 13, but it felt very much like an adults perspective of what goes on at sixth form. Yes, you have the typical parties and drunken escapades, but you also do have tutors cracking down and handing out disciplinaries for not attending or completing work. However, I did appreciate the way Ash turned things around in the second half of the novel. If it had come a little earlier it would have worked better for me, as it was too little too late.

I also took issue with the fact that the LGBT elements only really started to come into play when the book was nearly over. I went into this expecting a strong, if taboo, lesbian love story. Instead, I got an afterthought. I felt no real connection between Ash and Miss Murray - or even Ash and Dylan, for that matter - and did not buy into the idea that Ash was struggling with her sexuality.

Going into this I really wanted to like it - I mean just look at the cover! - but sadly it didn't live up to my expectations at all. For a younger audience, I feel like this could be a good gateway into realistic and LGBT young adult literature, if taken with a pinch of salt. The intention was there, which I appreciate, but it just didn't work out.

Ruler of Books Tag

Friday, 14 April 2017

It's been a good while since I last did a tag so I thought one was due. The Ruler of Books Tag was originally created by Ariel Bissett on Youtube and it basically asks you what you would do if you ruled the bookish world.

If you were the Ruler of Books…

TBR Feature #49

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Monday, 10 April 2017

Fans of the Impossible Life
Kate Scelsa
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published: September 10th 2015
Pages: 336
Rating: 1 star

Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

This book may be called Fans of the Impossible Life, but I wasn't a fan of it at all. I was hoping it would be good, seeing as it has quite a diverse cast of characters and tackles mental health, but it wasn't to my taste at all.

My biggest problem with it was the fact that I couldn't stand the writing style or the main characters. The story is told through multiple perspectives - not an issue, when done well, but this was just plain weird. Jeremy's chapters were in first person, Mira's in third, and Sebby's in second. While certainly unique, it didn't work, and I did not appreciate being turned into my least favourite character from the story. 'You did this, you thought this' no, I didn't, because I couldn't stand Sebby and didn't relate to him.

While the writing was unique, I felt that the rest of the book wasn't. It felt like every other young adult novel that tries to tackle mental health and more serious topics. The humour was very John Green and All the Bright Places-esque and I couldn't stand the pretension and try-hard behaviour of the characters. Sebby in particular felt very like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl - holier than thou, better than everyone else, selfish, full of himself, and above everything in life. The adults in the story felt very absent, too, and very dumb when they were included. It was as if the teens knew best and didn't have much respect for anyone other than themselves, especially not their bumbling parents.

Overall, things just felt very cliche and trope-y. Call me cynical, but I couldn't shake the feeling that this was written just for the sake of shoving as much typical young adult stuff as possible into one book. Kind of like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Nothing felt real or genuine, and I couldn't even get excited about or appreciate the diversity because it all felt so fake and 'look at how inclusive I am!' Don't waste your time on it.
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