Graphic Novels #1

138398138396You’re probably wondering what drove me to pick up these two since they don’t really correspond to what I typically read.  I guess it was good old-fashioned curiosity.  I’ve heard so many things about Walking Dead that I had to give it a try.  It’s one of the hot American tv series at the moment and I tried that out too.  I only watched the first four episodes of season one to get an idea.  I left off where the guys saws his hand off to get out of some handcuffs.  I’m good.

Now I have to say I’m no zombie expert or anything but I found the graphic novels not so bad.  The story begins with the main protagonist Rick waking up in a hospital bed to find no living beings left there except some zombies in an enclosed operating room.  He then ventures out of the hospital searching for his wife and son. He grabs a bike and rides to his home which he finds abandoned.  As he leaves and is searching for anyone who can explain what’s going on he’s hit on the back of the head with a shovel and the post apocalyptic adventure begins.

I read these stories in French because I was enticed into buying them while in the manga section looking for a birthday present for one of my daughters.  I could read more of these but I’d really have to be in the mood, not to mention there are about 16 volumes in this series for the moment.  I’ll be hitting up my local library for the others at some point.  Reading Walking Dead in French didn’t change much to the story.  It read very much like a film.  However, they were extremely different from the television series.  In my opinion the graphic novels had a better story line, while the television series is more sensationalist and the characters are pretty despicable.  There is more emphasis placed on blood, guts, and shock value.  The graphic novels seem to study the aspect of survival and how people behave in these extreme situations.  Fidelity, love, family, and killing are other recurring themes.

The artwork in book one Passé Décomposé, which is called Days Gone By in English was beautifully executed.  The detail in the faces and shading in the scenery was fantastic.  It was a joy to look at.  As for the second book Cette Vie Derrière Nous, which is called Miles Behind Us, I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to the artwork.  All the characters from the first book looked different in the second one and some even looked older than what they were in the first one. The utilisation of black ink sort of made everybody look a little crazy in book two.  Walking Dead is written by Robert Kirkman who started in comics in the United States around 2000.  The artists for book one are Charlie Adlard, who is a British comic book artist and debuted his career in the 1990s and Tony Moore another American comic book artist who worked with Robert Kirkman on another project called Battle Pope.  The artistic combination was a success but in book two the artwork isn’t as personal and detailed as in book one, which is done solely by Adlard.

417d+cvNYUL._SL500_This next graphic novel was a real surprise.  I must admit that what attracted me to it was the beautiful cover and its title.  How could I pass on a story about Cairo, the place where I lived for three and a half years.  This is an adventure involving an Egyptian journalist, an American girl, an American/Lebanese boy, a hashish smuggler, a woman Israeli soldier, and a jinn.  There’s magic, humour, fantasy, adventure, and a bit of religion. The hunt for a magical hookah which can lead to immense power.  Cairo was cited as one of the Best Graphic Novels for High School Students in 2008, one of 2009’s Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens by American Library Association and named one of the best graphic novels of 2007 by Publishers Weekly.

I found this story interesting and an extremely quick read.  I almost wished the story would have been a bit more complex and lasted a bit longer, maybe a part two.  I enjoyed the snarky personalities of Ashraf, the drug smuggler and Tova, the Israeli soldier.  The ambiance of the story was complete with references to Arabic literature and enough Arabic words to make you feel Egypt.  The artwork was beautifully detailed and loved the way the mis en page was done.  I liked the way there were some squares that were upside down.  That really added to the story.  M.K. Perker was the artist of Cairo.  He is Turkish and started comic book drawing at 16 years old.  He really does have a perfected technique that showed throughout the story.

G. Willow Wilson has written other graphic novels such as Air a four-volume graphic novel, Mystic: The Tenth wilson_1Apprentice, Vixen: Return of the Lion, Alif the Unseen, and The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and  Islam.  Wilson was born and raised in New Jersey.  She was studying Arabic and history at Boston University where she eventually converted to Islam.  She then moved to Cairo where she taught English and furthered her writing career.  At 21 years old, she was the first Western writer to interview the current Egyptian Mufti.  She was also longlisted for the Women’s Prize for fiction 2013 for her first novel Alif the Unseen.  It’s a story about a young Arab-Indian hacker who protects his dishonest clients. I suggest you check out something by G. Willow Wilson because I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about her.

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Warm Bodies

7619057It seems as if my reading experience at the end of January has gone down slightly.  I strayed from my intentions of sticking to really good sure thing four-star and five-star books.  I was enticed into reading Warm Bodies – 1. because it was the YT book club pick for the 2nd of February, 2.  because I’ve never read a zombie book before, and 3.  because of the description on the back of the book was tempting and I was sure it was going be a good read.

Warm Bodies is a story of R, a zombie who cannot remember his name, his age, or how he’s become what he is.  He and other zombies spend their time wandering aimlessly in an abandoned airport, which is ruled by the terrifying  Bonies.  Bonies are zombies in the most decomposed state, essentially skeletons, that are vicious and dangerous.  R is a different kind of zombie because he has dreams.  One evening while R and some other zombies are out on a “food” run, he meets a “living” girl named Julie.  She is the total opposite of what he knows and an affectionate relationship grows between the two.  Sounds pretty interesting, but in essence reading about it was a total bore for me.

The best thing about this book is the writing style.  Isaac Marion is a talented writer.  He does an excellent job of describing situations and especially the feelings of R, however I found some parts of this story uninteresting and very slow.   Another good thing about Warm Bodies is the Vintage Originals paperback cover, white with the red raised nerves.  I also loved how each chapter begins with a labeled sketch of a part of the human body.  The sketches at the beginning of the chapters seem to correlate with what happens in the chapter where it appears.  There is a strong underlying theme from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette and I found that a little cliché at times.  It was as if he was trying much too hard to intellectualize this zombie story.  Since Isaac Marion apparently wrote this book for adults, he was surprised that his book is being shelved in the Young Adult section and thinks that adolescents aged 16-19 should be reading what he reads and that these classifications shouldn’t need to exist.  He believes this is mostly because of the quote from Stephanie Meyer on the back of his book.  Needless to say, they put Stephanie Meyer’s quote on the back and the front of the Vintage Originals paperback edition.  Marion feels “the YA label is reductive to any book.”  So there are probably a lot more adolescents picking this one up than adults, moreover I can’t see this story really  appealing to adults.  Who knows?  I could be wrong, certainly when you read Audrey Niffenegger’s quote on the back cover:

“Warm Bodies is a strange and unexpected treat.  R is the thinking woman’s zombie — he could be the perfect boyfriend (though somewhat grey-skinned and monosyllabic).  This is a wonderful book, elegantly written, touching and fun, as delightful as a mouthful of fresh brains.”

“Monosyllabic and grey-skinned “are not the only problem, R is a walking, smelly, rotting corpse for Christ’s sake.  Warm Bodies was published in 2010 and I don’t think I remember hearing anything about it before now, but the movie was released yesterday in the States and next week in Europe.  It is evidently more comical than the book, at least from what I can tell from the movie trailer.  It did well at the box office this past weekend, but will it be classified as another movie about love between a living being and an undead, like Twilight.  I’m sure the masses will be attracted to this film because of the comedy and I’d say go see the movie because you’ll have a better time than reading the book.

The New Hunger is the prequel to Warm Bodies, which is the beginning and ending of R and a few other characters.  It foreshadows the second part to Warm Bodies.  Isaac Marion has written since he was 14 years old.  He has done lots of different jobs, including delivering death beds to hospice patients and supervising parental visits for foster-kids.  Isaac Marion is the writer who has reinvented the zombie story, without really wanting to. He’s currently working on a sequel to Warm Bodies, which is due to be released in 2014.  Check out the clip below to find out more about his path to success.

Title: Warm Bodies

Genre:  Zombies/Horror/Fantasy/Romance

Published:  2010

Edition: Vintage Originals – Cool cover!

Pages:  240

Language:  English

My rating:  

My favorite quote:  ” ‘Why is beautiful that humanity keeps coming back?  Herpes does that, too.’ ” (Warm Bodies, p. 147)

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