Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Romance/Mystery/Magic Realism
This was a cute book portrayed through the three characters Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. Wink is a girl living on a farm with her mother and many siblings with a dad who left long ago. Uniquely, Wink and her family are able to read tarot cards efficiently, giving a mystical element to the character. Midnight had sex with Poppy once and has been in love ever since, but Poppy was pretty much just bored, waiting for Wink’s brother, Leaf, to return her feelings for him. When Midnight meets Wink, he finds her different and unique and even caring in a way that Poppy could never be. When Poppy tries to convince Midnight to play a prank on Wink, Wink and Midnight turn the prank back on Poppy, scaring her mentality thereafter. The disappearance of Poppy sets Wink and Midnight on a quest to find her and make amends for what they have done, but who is the biggest prankster in the end?
I enjoyed this book as a young adult piece about finding where you fit in and knowing yourself, being who you are and not taking anyone else’s crap for it. Wink is seen as odd by many people, and Poppy and her posse do a number of mean and insulting things to the girl, but Wink doesn’t bat an eyelash because she is content with who she is, a message that should be conveyed to a young adult age reader to be who they are. The air of mystery about this book and the subtle magic realism within is a fun touch. The pacing is excellent and the character development and what the reader sees through each character’s perspectives and how the reader learns the little quirks of the characters makes for a fun read as well. I would recommend this book to a young adult audience, male or female, because they would be able to relate to some of the conflicts the characters face and maybe even learn how to solve their own problems in life by adding their own unique mysticism and being proud of who they are as a person.
This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
This very short story connects Kaufman and Spooner’s These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, two amazing novels in space. This short story is free on Amazon Kindle , which shows the authors’ devotion to their fans. The story is a conversation that takes place after the events of the first novel, but the story Tarver tells takes place six months before the crash of the spaceliner, Icarus. Throughout the first novel, the reader learns a bit about Tarver being a war hero, and this is the story that brings his heroism to light. When stationed on a planet to stop some mercenaries, Tarver learns a lot more is going on at a research facility than meets the eye. His aim is to save the scientists within. While recounting the tale to Lilac, the two discover some connections between the facility Tarver was at six months prior to the facility found on their deserted planet, which isn’t a good thing.
I liked the length of this overall, but the story itself was lacking interesting aspects in the same way the novel draws the reader in. It was a bit slow to start. The dialogue between lilac and Tarver was more interesting than Tarver’s heroism at the research facility. Only toward the very end did it start to pick up, and that is because the connections between the novel and the short are revealed nearly at the last digital page. It was an interesting connector to the second book in that it shows there is more going on with LaRoux Industries than Tarver and Lilac first discovered, and it is bridged to events in the second novel in a subtle way that makes me glad I read this. I could have not read it and have still enjoyed both novels, but it was a fun little connecting piece.
Olympos by Aki
A relatively interesting manga featuring Apollo, the sun god, along with some others (such as Poseidon, Zeus, Hades, and Artemis). Apollo has taken a young boy from Troy and keeps him in a special garden belonging to Zeus. The boy, Ganymede, can never escape the garden, even through death. At the beginning of the manga, a young archaeologist makes an appearance, but is not in the rest of the manga, which seems like a wasted character. At some point, Apollo visits a temple where people have crafted a statue in his image (although it looks nothing like him). When conversing with a girl that is meant to be a sacrifice, Apollo learns what people really do and expect from the gods, something he was not really very aware of.
While the art in this two-volume omnibus is very stunning, the plot is rather lacking. There are characters that have the reader questioning why they are even used at all, and there’s not anything linear to the story, for the most part. There are various tangent plot lines that do not seem to match the initial story. While the art is stunning, the plot could have been developed further. The most interesting plot line is when Apollo converses with a girl who is meant to be a sacrifice to him. If the plot were more about the gods and their interactions (or lack thereof) with humans, it would have been more interesting. Overall, worth a one-time read but not something I need to keep or read again.
Deadman Wonderland (Vol. 1) by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou
This horror manga has some interesting fantasy elements to it. Ganta Igarashi thinks he’s going to another normal day of school, but when the “Red Man” appears and slaughters a number of students, Igarashi is accused of the crime and sent to Deadman Wonderland, a prison with deathly tasks that citizens of the city may go to watch for entertainment. If the people die during the “games,” what does it matter, since they are all inmates on death row anyway? When a strange girl in white saves Igarashi with a strange power, Igarashi finds that he might just have a special ability that will keep him alive in Deadman Wonderland.
For those who like gore, this is a pretty graphic manga when it comes to head slicing and body chopping. The story has some interesting pieces that leave intriguing questions by the end of the volume, and draws the reader to find that there is much, much more going on in Deadman Wonderland than meets the eye. Igarashi is targeted by inmates and regulators alike, and some notice something special about him, wanting to challenge this strange ability of his. The art is portrayed elegantly, especially the gore, and the pacing is quick, which works well for the novel, leaving a cliffhanger that urges the reader to continue the series. My only warning: if you do not like gore/horror, avoid this one, because some of the graphics are cringe-worthy in their vividity.
My Little Monster by Robico
Haru Yoshida gets into fights and skips out on school often. When Shizuku Mizutani is asked to bring his work to him, he attacks her like a monster, accusing her of trying to drag him to school. When he realizes that Shizuku had no intention of trying to get him to come to school, he realizes she’s a bit different than the average girl. Shizuku sees him as a monstrous, crazy person with no good qualities, but when she sees how much he cares for animals, her perception of him somewhat changes. But then Haru continues to claim that he is in love with Shizuku, reinforcing her opinion that he must be insane and there’s no way a guy like him could ever love a girl like her., not to mention it can never work.
This seemed like a manga with promise, but it was rather disappointing. The art is relatively decent, but the story is generic and lacking. There is nothing that really makes this stand out from any other shoujo manga that I have previously read and there is no driving factor for me to want to keep reading. As a first volume, it has its funny and cute moments, and ends with the heroine coming to terms with how she truly feels about her crazy pet monster boy, as well as an appearance of a new character that leaves the reader questioning just who he might be (he looks like Haru a bit…hmmm).