Book Journal, Bookish Tuesday, Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Favorite Graphic Novels

In Sunday’s review of Mythos, I mentioned I was struggling with writing reviews lately. I don’t know what’s been going on with me – maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been reading parts of so many books and haven’t finished as many as I’d like, or that the independent bookstore I work at has been going through major changes, the fact that I’m always at work (today is my 9th straight day and I’m working every day through Saturday for 13 total), or that I’ve been at odds with my reading interests of late – my brain wants nonfiction and my heart wants fantasy. But whatever it is, I appreciate every view and every like while I muddle through and it is my hope, in switching gears completely for today, that I’ll spark my review writing once again.

After blowing through the most recent volume of Giant Days, I realized it’s been a long time since I did a graphic novel post/review! While I know they’re not for everyone, there are a few I’ve found that I well and truly love. I’m definitely an Image Comics and Boom! Studios comics kind of girl (I haven’t read many DC or Marvel comics) and these selections are mostly outside the typical “comic book” genre. I’m incredibly lucky to have a local comic book shop with guys who always recommend great comics to me and who always hold things for me, even if I only get in every couple of months.

Giant Days by John Allison

Synopsis from the back of volume one: Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of hand-wringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive. Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.

Review: I LOVE Giant Days. There are few new books to come into the bookstore that I audibly squeal over and Giant Days is one of those rare few. For years I yearned for books set in college that accurately portrayed college life and Giant Days is the answer to all of my yearnings, just a few years later than I initially really needed it in my life. While it’s been nearly a decade since I graduated uni, I love reliving the happy parts with Susan, Esther and Daisy, as well as the challenges that face them over their years in school. And I’ve always been fascinated by the British university system and Giant Days offers a great insight for this nosy Yank.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Synopsis from the back of volume one: Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Review: Yes, definitely for adults. There’s a full page spread at one point of a very naked protagonist. But that aside, I have never seen an artist convey so much emotion in their characters so consistently over many volumes. Fiona Staples artwork is masterful and Brian K. Vaughan is responsible for me finally having any interest in science fiction. Alana & Marko’s love story is one of the best I’ve ever read, and I love all the crazy characters that have come after them, but have also grown into more than just secondary and tertiary characters – I find myself really looking forward to their sub-story lines.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

Synopsis from the back of volume one: Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, Monstress tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.

Review: I was absolutely ecstatic to get to meet Marjorie Liu at BookExpo this year – I stood in line to see her while all the other booksellers fretted over Rachel Maddow and Malcolm Gladwell. I fangirled over Marjorie Liu, author of Monstress, told her I’ve been reading Monstress issue by issue since the beginning, and thanked her for writing such a kickass heroine. And Sana Takeda’s art, while very different than Fiona Staples’, is so detailed and intricate, I find myself pouring over every panel and going back and rereading, just to find new details in the artwork. It’s a great steampunk fantasy series with, again, terrific secondary characters.

Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Synopsis from the back of volume one: Who are the Rat Queens? They’re a pack of booze guzzling, death dealing battle maidens-for-hire and they’re in the business of killing all the gods’ creatures for profit. Meet Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee theh Atheiest Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent, monster killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

Review: As a person who spends most Monday evenings playing Dungeons & Dragons, I was turned on to this series by another player who thought I would love it. And I did. And it’s just a great fantastical fun series. Definitely another adults only one, the friendship between the queens is empowering and I fell so completely for Betty that I based my current D&D character on her to some extent. Even if you’re not a D&D player, if you love any sort of fantasy books or graphic novels, Rat Queens is for you.

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