May 29, 2009

Better Days by Jay Naylor

Better Days by Jay Naylor
Date Started: April 18, 2003 Date Finished:May 29, 2009

Summary: The story chronicles the life of two cat furries, Fisk and Lucy Black, who are fraternal twins. The story starts when they are around middle school aged when love just starts and life lessons are being learned. The story ends when they are adults preparing to take on new responsibilities such as going to college, joining the military, getting married, getting divorced, finding new love, and preparing to start a family. 
Likes: There is a wonderful cast of characters that surround Fisk and Lucy. From their shy but loveable mouse neighbor to the different cast of characters that both characters meet as they grow up, the cast is mostly all likeable and if they aren't well liked, it's mostly because they are an antagonist to Lucy and Fisk and prevent them from getting what they want. Even so, the antagonist isn't a character that is just set to play a role, but most often get side stories that center around them. The story has dark themes such as child abuse, date rape, racism, and more -isms and is presented, for the most part, in a tasteful way. The story is well drawn and the furry aspect is actually works for the story. If the characters were humans, I'm not sure I'd find it at as interesting. I suppose the story would just be a little average if they were humans, but the furry aspect (at least for me) always gives something a little more than just an average story. The characters were never really defined as belonging to a specific race (or species for that matter), and that was one thing that I actually enjoyed. Their behavior didn't follow a set pattern of stereotypes and race or species was never an issue, so I never wondered what race they were meant to be, only that they were characters that lived in this world that is like our own, but different.

Dislikes: I kind of don't like the fact that hyenas are the only ones assigned a race. It's not that I was offended by the use of the "n" word, but given that the characters weren't defined by any predetermined race (i.e. Cats are equivalent to White people), it was a little awkward that they would be used as the stereotype. There were also a few storylines that were started, but never completed. If you read the story, you'll see what I mean. It's an awkward storyline that was completed, but never really fully realized or given any sense of closure.

Overall: I've been reading this story since Sophomore year of high school and now I am going to be a Senior in college. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed reading this comic on Mondays and Fridays. I am sad to see it go. The author has stated that he is continuing these characters stories through their children. The new story is called Original Life and I can't wait to read it.

May 24, 2009

The Far Sweet Thing by Libba Bray

The Far Sweet Thing by Libba Bray
Date Started: May 6, 2009 Date Finished:May 24, 2009
Summary: The story picks up right where Rebel Angels left off. The girls are back from their vacation to London and ready to go into the realms. They meet Pippa and a small group of factory girls who died in a fire. The Tree of All Souls is a mysterious place in the Winterlands, a place that may hold the key to restoring the magic and maintaining the balance within the realms. As Gemma learns to control the magic, she must pay a price for her power.
Likes: I also like the ambiguity of who is on the good side and who is on the side of evil. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book and every scene needs patience and scrutiny to figure out what small clues or minor details are important to the overall plot of the book. Bray carefully weaves in clues, and because we are reading from Gemma's point of view, we might not pick up on them until she does. Gemma's point of view is a refreshing read, it is snarky at times, romantic, and every emotion inbetween. Bray knows how to authentically (in my opinion) represent the many aspects of a girl without making her overly feminine and wispy like some stereotypical female characters or making her an anti-sue that no one can relate to at any level. I liked the relationship between Kartik and Gemma even more in this book. Things start to get pretty deep between them, even if there is a betrayal. Gemma's descent into madness is trippy and insane, but well written and heart pounding. The ending was sad, but bittersweet. It was a little predictable (aside from me reading wikipedia...), but it was well written and enjoyable.
Dislikes: There was a string of coincidences that just seemed entirely too convenient. There were some scenes that could have been cut out, though I'm not entirely sure which scenes those would be, but it would make the book a bit shorter. There are just some points where I wish I could start skimming because some of it is kind of boring to read about. I couldn't tell you which parts where unnecessary because I suppose they fit into the novel as a whole. If you were to dissect the novel apart, it might be easier to tell what parts need to be cut out. Obviously, this is just my personal tastes since I like more action than some of the fluff. During the part with the war between the Borderlands and the Winterlands, there's almost a bit too much going on to focus on just one thing and all the chaos that is going on. I suppose that's what the author wanted, but there are too many characters and too many events going on that it's hard to keep track of.
Overall: This was a fitting end to such a nice and wonderful series. It's sort of hard to end a series that has been going on for so long in a proper manner. It is sort of like Harry Potter, The Ironside Series (or whatever it's called), where it has to end on a pleasant note. You know these characters don't have a "happily ever after", but they are content. Very few people have a fairytale ending due to the choices that we make, the things that are thrust upon us. As they say in the book, you can only move forward.

May 12, 2009

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Cohn and Levithan

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
Date Started: May 11, 2009 Date Finished:May 12, 2009
Summary: Naomi is in love with her gay best friend, Ely. Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend and sets off a chain of events that eventually lead to a dissolution of a once strong, life-long friendship that has lasted through the roughest of times. This is a story about growing up and realizing that people love the way they know how, even if it's not the way you would define love. Just because they don't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean that they don't love you.
Likes: At this point (152/240 pages), it's really sad to see friends drifting apart. It's a different kind of drifting that I never had to experience, being that close to people and sharing drawers in their rooms. I like that aspect of the story even though it's a sad aspect. It's very real, the grief that comes when you lose a friend (not through death though). The characters so far are very real, although they are little bit stereotyped. . These characters aren't exactly likable and Naomi is probably one of the most unreliable narrators you'd ever read about. I will be honest and say that I like very few of the characters, but that doesn't make me any less engaged in what is going on in their lives. The story and the characters are engaging. The authors can take unlikable and somewhat annoying characters (Naomi is fucking annoying and a bit insane) and make them interesting to read about. I never thought about giving up on reading about Ely and Naomi's dissolving friendship.
Dislikes: Naomi is annoying. She reminds me of a lot of girls who are just so wrapped up in their own fantasies, that they forget to look out and see reality. She's a real character and interesting to read about, but if this were real life, she'd be the girl that I would go out of my way to ignore. The most interesting characters are the side characters, Naomi and Ely only seem like types to me. Naomi, the bitchy fag hag, and Ely, the stereotypical "queen". The side characters are the only ones that seem to not be put into a role within the story.
Overall: It's an odd little book, but an interesting read. This quote sums it up everything perfectly. "Friendship is love as much as any romance. And like any love, it’s difficult and treacherous and confusing" and this one as well. "It’s a total lie to say there’s only one person you’re going to be with for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky—and if you try really hard—there will always be more than one." Such a sweet and odd story, but a cute ending. (sounds vaguely familiar a la Sophomore year drama)

May 1, 2009

Ironside by Holly Black

Ironside by Holly Black
Date Started: April 20, 2009 Date Finished: May 1, 2009
Summary: After getting drunk on mushroom wine, Kaye makes a declaration to Roiben. He sends her on an nearly impossible task: Find a fairy who can tell a lie. During this time, the war between the Seelie and Unseelie courts is getting more heated and things are looking bad for Roiben and the Night court.
Likes: The prologue is great. I like all the secondary characters and Roiben. I like Corny and Luis and all the characters presented in the book. It's a great continuation of the last book and it's a sad, bittersweet ending of the trilogy. The action was entertaining and quick pace without slowing down the story. I enjoyed how much the characters have grown up since the first book (with Kaye being the exception). I enjoyed this book well enough and it was an entertaining read.
Dislikes: Kaye. She's annoying and I'm not sure why. She's kind of hysterical and has a tendency to overreact. She always coincidentally comes up with the solution to the problem at the last minute and saves the day. She's really irritating to read about opposed to the other characters. The language is still a little awkward, but not as bad as it was in the first book. Things that I want to see as a scene are only skimmed over.
Overall: My favorite is still Valiant because it's so gritty and dark, whereas this one wasn't so much. I think I might have liked it the same as the first one, maybe a little bit more. I'm not really sure, Kaye is just an irritating character that I just read through to get to the better points of view such as Roiben's or Neil's (Corny).


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