We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, A True Story-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Fiction/Memoir

Rating: 4/5

This book is a gem in disguise. It is a true story by Josh Sundquist with a few names and words and things changed around for the privacy of those involved and for the sake of writing a great piece.  (A few spoilers in summary portion this review; read at your own discretion).

This story starts off with Josh wondering why he is still a 25-year-old virgin, and if his lack of a leg has anything to do with it, or if there is something else wrong with him entirely. Josh had a leg amputated early in life due to cancer. In 8th grade he experiences his first rejection from a girl after having gone out for less than 24 hours, and to Josh, you are not actually dating unless you are together for over a day. With his religious family and the neighbor girl being of the same sort, he thought it was a good match, but alas, she never called him back and broke up with him through a friend.

After each girl, Josh forms a hypothesis for why he may have been rejected and finds his answers by reconnecting with the girls later in life. Josh was home-schooled until high school, where he goes out of his way to memorize the face of every person in his class and to say hi to them on the first day, especially one girl in particular. When he finally finds her, she explains that he knows about his “situation,” from her youth leader. Josh tends to hide his amputation with a fake leg because he does not want to be a burden and he does not want to be different and stand out in the eyes of others. When he decides to join the youth party, a pumpkin foot race ends it all.

Josh eventually uses logic and statistical reasoning to justify that “We should hang out sometime,” is the best pick-up line, since it is not a yes or no question and does not give means for a girl to give excuses. When Josh applies this new phrase to another girl during his junior year, it works, and they hang out multiple times. When Josh thinks she could be the one, he does not go in for the kiss…

Josh has a few girls in college, one he likes throughout his college career and one who is…well…a stalker, and not what he wants for a girlfriend. After many attempts, he goes to a party and a girl comes up to him saying he is awesome! Just a random girl!

Anyway there are a lot of girls and he finds out that it was more the fact that he never took the initiative or discussed a relationship when perhaps he should have, and it had nothing to do with his leg!

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All in all it was an amazing book. One of the unique qualities about this book is the insertion of graphs and charts to demonstrate his current dilemmas, which gives the book an interesting visual aspect that also adds some political and social humor. From a teacher perspective, it was interesting to see how Josh perceived himself, not wanting to be a burden on or treated differently by his teachers. It was also interesting to see how he felt transitioning from home school to public school, which is something educators may want to be mindful of with their students. I would actually want Josh to confide in me, and any students experiencing, feeling, or going through what he has, but that is just the kind of educator I am!

The question is: should you read it? I would give this book a big, fat YES. The demographic is wide, catering to young adults, new adults, amputees, home schooled people, college age, all kinds, which makes it very appealing and marketable as well!

Harmony-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Japanese Dystopian Fiction

Rating: 4/5

I have had this book on my shelf for years (I believe I picked it up for a dollar at a used book store). It caught my eye, rightly so, but with so many books to read, this one was not high on my list. That is, it wasn’t until I came across the anime movie of the same name based on the novel by Keikaku (Project) Itoh.

This Japanese dystopian fiction takes place many years in the future, after an event called the “Maelstrom,” an event described with nuclear destruction and warfare that has change the way the world works. Now, people do not see or know violence, and their very lives are governed by the “WatchMe” installed when they become adults, alerting them to health needs and basically becoming an internal camera that can scan people or tap into the web or news at will.

Ruled by the Admedistration, three high school girls–Tuan, Miach, and Cian–aim to kill themselves together to demonstrate that their bodies and will are their own. When one supposedly succeeds and the other two fail, life returns to normal.

The events from high school are written as recollections in the novel while Tuan, now a member of the World Health Organization, begins a new investigation, one she recognized must have some connection to her friend who committed suicide. When over 6,000 people attempt suicide worldwide at the same exact time, including Tuan’s friend, Cian, her friends last words begin the lead to find out who is behind the control of the WatchMe: “I’m sorry, Miach.”

With some organization having the ability to tap into each person’s personal tech to control their will, Tuan must find a way to stop it. When the second wave hits, instructions that people must either kill another person or kill themselves before the deadline, or they will all attempt suicide, is a means of having toe world break free from the utopia and to demonstrate that a person’s free will belongs to the individual, not the government.

Tuan’s search to find out if Miach is alive and behind this leads her to her father’s research, and from there, the truth behind the reason for creating chaos to make the word a place of harmony once more.

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This book was interesting and is worth the read for any fan of dystopian. It was a nice comparison and contrast between American dystopian novels and Japanese dystopian novels. The similarities and differences are interesting to analyze. The anime adaptation was also interesting. It was very well animated with vivid visuals, and it followed the book phenomenally. A must read for fans of Japanese or dystopian fiction.

Comics Highlight: The Walking Dead (Part 2)

This highlight will feature the second eight volumes of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, how the story has progressed since the destruction of the prison, similarities and differences between the comics and the television series, and will talk a bit about the artwork within the volumes. Volumes 9-16 are also collected as Compendium Two (Issues 49-96).

Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fiction/Horror/Drama

Overall Rating: 4/5

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Individual Rating: 3.5/5

In this issue, we see that Michonne has survived as she checks out the ruins of the prison and skewers the un-dead head of the decapitated Tyreese, then follows a pair of footsteps leading away from the prison. Meanwhile, Rick and Carl have found a house to lay low in for a little while. Rick finds some antibiotics for his gunshot wound and passes out with an infectious fever. Carl finds his independence, telling his dad’s unconscious form that he can take care of himself. When Rick gets better, they aim to head back to Hershel’s farm, but a phantom phone rings, with Lori on the other end. Rick finds solace in speaking through the phone, even though he knows the conversations are all in his head. He later learns that Michonne speaks to the dead in the way Rick does as well. Before reaching the farm, Michonne has found them. When they reach the farm, Rick, Carl, and Michonne are reunited with Andrea, Dale, Glenn, Maggie, and the three children. They find that they can make a life here until Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita show up and explain their mission to D.C.

This is a pretty decent transitional volume. It lacks in action, but makes up for it with the reunion of the group as well as the promise of an end goal for the group. In this volume Abraham explains how walker herds form, and that defending a farm from a herd that may show up will not work. This theory is reflected in the second season of the television series as a horde is drawn to the farm, making the place unlivable. The explanation is very well thought out and worth looking into, whether your a comics fan or a television show fan.

 

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Individual Rating: 3.5/5

Rick is still having his private phone “conversations” with Lori as he grieves over her death and the death of their daughter, Judith. He and Abraham do not get along well and threaten each other often. Their dislike of each other continues to grow when Glenn finds Maggie hanging from a noose; when he pulls her down she is not breathing, and Abraham aims to shoot her before she turns. Rick and Glenn turn on Abraham. After CPR, Maggie is revived, but still in a wallowing depression at the loss of her entire family. When Rick, Carl, and Abraham go on a supply run to Atlanta’s police station before continuing to D.C., Rick and Abraham learn a lot about each other and how a person just has to kill sometimes. What they become is an undeniable result of the new world they live in. Meanwhile, Andrea and Dale wish to stay at a house just off the highway where they can just live out their days, but when Rick and Abraham return, they are followed by a massive horde of thousands of zombies, making staying in one place an impossibility.

While we get to learn a little bit more about Abraham in this volume, it lacks a lot of elements to keep the reader going. There is some human versus human action, but it is very minimal, and there is not anything too exciting until the end with the zombie horde. Even then, the incentive to keep reading drags in a way that the survivors drag on to find their destination. Intentional in the writing? Who knows. At least they still have a destination and end goal, for now.

 

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Individual Rating: 3.5/5

When twins Billy and Ben are missing, adoptive mother Andrea goes out in search of them only to find that Ben has killed Billy. Ben is too young to understand that what he did was wrong, especially when the world around them only knows killing. The debate of whether or not to terminate Ben is brought up with the group, but eventually Carl shoots Ben without admitting what he did. When priest Gabriel approaches the group, clean cut and not a speck of grime on him, the group become suspicious that the priest intents them harm. He humbly invites them to his church, where the dead have not yet breached. Dale becomes warily tired of the post-apocalyptic life and wanders off in hopes of dying. When Andrea suspects the worst, they find that Dale has been taken by a group of cannibals. The leader of the cannibalistic group explains to Dale that they only survive by eating other survivors. They do not normally attack groups the size of Dales, but this time they thought picking them off would be okay, since food was becoming scarce. Dale chuckles at the fact that he was bitten and that they are eating tainted meat. Of course, Rick, Andrea, and Abraham aim to bring their man back, killing the cannibal group in the process. Andrea is grieved to find that Dale has been bitten and knows what she must do next.

Sorry television show fans, but there is no Terminus in the comics, just a rogue band of cannibals trying to survive. While the group does choose to stay at the church for a little while, ideally they will move on to D.C. soon. With that goal still set in place, the comics are a bit slow-going, but will eventually pick up once they reach Alexandria and enter Negan’s domain.

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

After Carl admits to to Rick about killing Ben, they have a long conversation about the needs of survival in this new world and Rick accepts Carl’s rationalization of killing Ben because the child was a threat to the members of the group. When Rick wants to get things moving along and test the walkie-talkie for the people waiting in D.C., Eugene is reluctant to hand it over. Finding this strange, Rick imposes on Eugene. Their scuffle leads the walkie to fall to the ground, the battery compartment exposed to hold no battery. With this revelation, Eugene admits that there was no one in D.C. He lied to survive, and of course, Abraham is absolutely furious. With no end goal in mind, Rick and Abraham wonder what to do with the group, but then someone new approaches them. Of course, Rick and the group are always wary of new people, and the new arrival is just too convinient with his offer. They meet Aaron and his friend Eric from Alexandria. When Rick finally puts his trust in these new people, a flare goes up. While he expects a trap, it is explained that some of the people from Alexandria were on a supply run and needed help. After aiding the people from Alexandria, Rick and the group finally get to see the safe haven and they all meet Douglas Monroe, who decides their community needs a constable, and Rick is just the right man for the job.

It was nice to finally get away from the D.C. goal. Finding out it was not a true haven made a great deal of tension arise in the group and that tension continues for a few more volumes as the group settles into the new community. It also leads us into the major arc of Alexandria. As some of you who watch the show know, a lot of stuff happens in Alexandria, and in the comics, Alexandria as a safe-haven continues for quite some time. There are a lot of new characters and there is continuing character development from those we already care about. This is a great transition volume to build into the people and expectations of Alexandria.

 

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Individual Rating: 3.5/5

Rick isn’t the only one who has been assigned a job. Everyone who lives in Alexandria must play a contributing part to the community. Abraham is assigned to the work group that aims to clear out and extend the community. When gathering materials, the group is attacked by roamers, and when the group tends to stay in formation, Abraham breaks form to save a woman named Holly. He finds that these people do not really know how to deal with walkers efficiently; had he not broken the formation, Holly would have been dead with everyone guilty of merely watching. Meanwhile, Morgan and Michonne hook up, Rick and Carl grow distant in their relationship, and Glenn sneaks into the armory where the group had to previously relinquish their weapons in the community. The community has a false aura of safety. Rick becomes more and more out of control as he aims for everyone’s safety through violent means. Douglas concedes to allow Rick to do whatever needs to be done to keep the community safe, even if it means killing or banishing. The safety of the community is threatened when a group of people follows Heath and his scavengers from D.C. The community and the group fight each other with Andrea’s sharpshooting saving the day. When Douglas officially hands over the leadership of the community to Rick, the judgement of the community’s safety becomes questionable by its citizens.

In this volume we are introduced to a number of new characters in the Alexandria community and we see how the community is governed. When Rick comes in, we all know he tends to have a different set of politics in the post-apocalyptic world. His group of survivors has a hard time mainstreaming to the air of safety that Alexandria seems to haven, and they find that they were right to keep on guard when other people attacked. The community may appear safe, but they really need to figure out that the world outside the walls is not friendly and never will be again.

 

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Individual Rating: 4.5/5

After Eric is stabbed by a mysterious woman and one of Maggie’s horses is taken by her, Aaron approaches Douglas to instigate Rick as the leader of the town. With the previous attack on the settlement, Carl is excited because not the people will realize that the real world is like and what it takes to live in such a world. The thing that once separated the newcomers and the people of Alexandria is now what will unite them. The gunfire from the previous assault on the town has drawn far too many zombies, and Abraham’s team cannot take them all out; a massive herd knocks at Alexandria’s walls. When the people of Alexandria get trapped in their own homes by the herd, Rick pushed Carl, Jessie, and Ron to make their way through the herd with their good old slice and cover method using organs and grime to scent their clothing. When Ron panics, too innocent to worm through the dead, he is attacked, drawing the screams of his mother. When Jessie won’t let Carl go, Rick chops her arm off to save his son. Douglas, dumb in the art of zombie-killing, shoots at the dead, but when he is bitten, he fires randomly, a stray bullet shooting Carl in the eye. With the potential looming death of his son, Rick goes berserk and realizes that zombies are easy to fight because they are dumb; it is humans who pose a greater threat for their potential to strategize. The whole community bands together to take out the herd.

This volume is packed with action from beginning to end. There are a lot of injuries and death in this one, and a lot of fighting against the walkers as well. The iconic issue in this volume is the one where Rick is trying to get Jessie, Ron, and Carl through the herd and to safety, because a lot of chaos happens there, and we can also relate the events to that part from the sixth season of the show. This volume is fun and heart-stoppingly fast-paced. Too bad not all the volumes are like this one!

 

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Individual Rating: 3.5/5

Rick is worried about Carl and at the same time has realized what the people can really do as a community. To take up arms together is to survive against the dead. Members of the community come up with different defense ideas for the community (reinforcing the walls or building a maze for roamers to get stuck). Rick suggests that the community have regular meetings to make decisions about things. Andrea begins teaching the community members how to shoot, Rosita walks out on Abraham (and stays with Eugene), and Michonne mourns Morgan. Of course, some of the original inhabitants of Alexandria are still not keen on Rick leading them, in which they plot to kill Rick. Of course Rick will not allow himself or his people to be harmed, threatening the original Alexandrian’s with the brutality he used to survive in the post-apocalyptic world.

This is a bit of a slower volume, somewhat transitional. It demonstrates the conflicts within the community itself after both human and zombie attacks, and a reformation is needed to keep the community alive. This communal conflict will lead into reshaping Alexandria and move us gradually into the next main story arc.

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

This volume begins a few weeks after the conflict between Rick and the Alexandria citizens. Carl is awake and active, and the community is beginning to fall under a regular routine of events. Food, or lack thereof, is becoming a major issue for the community. When Abraham and Michonne head out beyond the designated safe zone, they run into a potential hostile who goes by the name of Jesus, who asks to see their leader. Of course, Rick is wary about all strangers, but Jesus brings promise of profitable proportions: he comes from another community called the Hilltop, willing to trade with Alexandria. Some of the main crew–Rick, Andrea, Michonne, and Glenn(along with a hitchhiking Carl)–go with Jesus to check out the credibility of the Hilltop. When the Hilltop leader is stabbed by one of his own men, Rick intervenes and kills the hostiles. At this time, Jesus explains the conflict between their group and the Saviors, a group with a lot of men and firepower, who takes a great portion of their supplies in exchange for the Hilltop group to live and be protected. The leader of the saviors, Negan, is mentioned, and Rick opts for taking out Negan and the Saviors, and Gregory, the leader of the Hilltop, agrees. With this new trade agreement, Rick feels that their own community will finally be able to thrive the way it should.

This volume is interesting in that is the introduction to the Negan arc, and Negan is inherently present for a long time after the main part of the Negan arc. Negan is an interesting character who will greatly shake things up, and this is a great lead-in and explanation of the conflict that has been going on with the Saviors and the Hilltop for awhile now, and in turn, will affect Alexandria, which the Saviors have previously struck.

The You I’ve Never Known-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Poetry

Rating: 4/5

Ellen Hopkins graces us once again with her latest young adult novel: The You I’ve Never Known. This book reflects some experiences that Ellen has faced in her life with her own daughter, so if you know about that or choose to look into her biography, that might spoil this book. While the event with her own daughter happened when the child was three and lasted for three years, the girl in the novel, Ariel, has been going through this so long that she doesn’t even remember or know who she really is.

This novel is about Ariel and her father who travel around a lot. They never stay in one place for too long, which is stressful and hard on Ariel in her academic and social life. When her father meets a girl that might make them stay in one place for awhile, Ariel meets Monica, a girl who she soon comes to love, and Gabe, the son of her father’s new girlfriend, Zelda.

While Ariel experiments with he feelings for both Monica and Gabe, we see a journal-type prose every so often from someone named Maya. Her connection to Ariel is not apparent right away. Maya tells of her time with Jason, a seemingly sweet military man. When she becomes pregnant, she writes a journal for her daughter, Casey, who was taken by her father just to keep something she loved away from her. Why? Because Maya fell in love with another woman.

While I do not want to share too many details and spoil the novel, the twist is definitely one of those Ellen-Hopkins-Worthy twists that connect everything in an awe-inspiring way. The combination of the poetry structure with the prose was an interesting twist compared to her other novels, and it made the reading feel somewhat slower, but switching visual reading structures for each character really differentiated the two and kind of reflects the time gap between the two characters.

While I find this novel to not be quite as interesting and fast-paced as her romance-centered novels, this was a great father/daughter/mother (family) story that we do not see as much focus on in young adult fiction, which was a fresh twist and demonstrates Hopkin’s ability to bedazzle with any content, so yeah, you should read it!

Esteemed YA Author Ellen Hopkins Comes to Barnes and Noble, Huntington Beach

Ellen Hopkins has made an appearance at Barnes and Noble Bella Terra in Huntington Beach, CA on Janury 27, 2017 (7p.m.) to feature her newest young adult novel, The You I’ve Never Known. This is one of her first stops on her roughly two week journey to share her story with high school students and share about her new book as well as the writing process at various book signings.

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As a future educator wanting to teach in the area, I was excited to hear that Ellen Hopkins got to visit two of the high school campuses in the area. Being the iconic figure she is in young adult fiction, it is the real stories behind the scenes that make the novels so true to the heart and real, and that is just what many adolescents need.

Her first novel, Crank, was a close-to-home novel in Ellen’s own experiences, and it is the true story of her and her daughter that she shares with the students at the high schools.

Her newest novel, The You I’ve Never Known, is also based on true events from her life. This is the second time I have had the pleasure of meeting Ellen Hopkins, and both times she has done a short reading of the first few pages of her newest novel (at the time). She is an excellent reader and reading her iconic poetry format is always an enjoyable listen. The novel is based on the experience that Ellen had when her own daughter was kidnapped by a father who did not have custody. The girl was only three and could not have possibly understood what was going on, becoming a victim for nearly three years, until Ellen went into the school her daughter was in, after finally finding her, and stole her back.

While this may give away the novel a little bit, the twist is still one of those Ellen Hopkins-worthy twists that have the reader eating up the last couple hundred pages, but all that good information on the book itself will be in my review of The You I’ve Never Known.

Of course, there were quite a number of young people present, and many in the crowd ask questions about writing and publishing. Ellen offers the same information most authors offer, but with a few acceptations. She recommends traditional publishing if you really want your work to be seen and have time to write more. Self-publishing is hard. It’s an option, but it’s also a lot of work that you may not have time for. She also shared how she edits. Since her stories are written in poetry snippets, Ellen revises very carefully as she writes. Unlike a regular novel where you can go back and add things or take things out as needed, it is very hard to do such a thing with the way she segues her poems with such precision.

The other story she shared was how she was picked up as an author in the first place. She has written a great deal of non-fiction before, but when someone saw her first few pages of Crank, they wanted the whole thing within a certain deadline. Once it was finished, it was a major hit and is still a bestseller today.

It is always a pleasure to be graced with the works of Ellen Hopkins, and I (among many) will continue to look forward to the stories she has to share next.

Highlight, A Pre-release Review: The Jane Austen Project

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Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

I actually had the pleasure of winning this book in a Goodreads giveaway.This is the perfect book to have won because I did my senior seminar on Jane Austen for my BA; I have read every novel and many criticisms on her, as well as studied various aspects of the time period, and this book is excellent for someone with such an interest.

Any Jane Austen fan will find this book amusing, witty, and captivating!

The edition that I am reviewing is an uncorrected proof (not for sale) used for the publisher to get early feedback and reviews on the novel before its release on MAY 2, 2017! This is Kathleen Flynn’s debut novel, and she is worthy of entering the world of authorship. Her writing is intelligent and crisp, and the novel reads just like a Jane Austen novel.

Plot-wise, it is about two people working for the Jane Austen Project–Rachel and Liam–who travel back in time to 1815 to make ties with Henry Austen, Jane’s favored brother. Their goal: steal Jane’s letters to her sister before they can be destroyed as well as the unpublished novel The Watsons. The two play the part of brother and sister having come from a slave plantation in Jamaica, keeping their true identities a secret, but for how long can they keep up the ruse? When Rachel and Henry become a little too well acquainted, their plans may fall to ruin. But what about Jane? Jane, a soon-to-be-endearing friend to these newcomers finds the time travelers to be…well..just not quite able to fit in.

Told from Rachel’s perspective, it is fun to see how the mission takes form and how the duo attempts to not alter history…too much. The end was interesting, but also the reason I did not give it a five out of five rating. I love time travel and the concept of it when it can be presented clearly, which I think it was, but the whole alternate reality thing was a bit of a put off, and so was the way we were left of with our main characters. Of course, this could be changed before the final printing of the book. Like I said, I like where it went, but at the same time it is the one thing that docked points on the rating. The rest of the novel is set in 1815 with minor glimpses every once in awhile of the condition of Earth and how it was at present. Just getting those little glimpses kept the imagination working, but seeing everything in the whole final chapter was somewhat disconcerting.

Overall this was a fantastic read and well researched. I loved the use of carriage by name (the way we address Toyota and Porsche, basically) like Curicle and Barouche-landau, and the description of the attire and the smell in the streets. Flynn left nothing out of the time period. We see the reality of chamber pots, even by the gentry, and lets not forget the boys used for chimney sweeping! It is a novel authentic to the era and worthy of the wit and intellect of Jane Austen. While no one can really know what these people were like when they were alive, the novel really gives them an aura and a character that represents them in a realistic manner. 

 

Comics Highlight: The Walking Dead (Part 1)

This highlight will feature the first eight volumes of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, how the story starts, how it progresses, similarities and differences between the comics and the television series, and will talk a bit about the artwork within the volumes. Volumes 1-8 are also collected as Compendium One (Issues 1-48).

Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fiction/Horror/Drama

Overall Rating: 4/5

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Individual Rating: 4/5

The first volume sets us up with Rick Grimes, a pre-apocalypse police officer. Waking up in a hospital after being shot on duty, Rick is confused at the lack of people. He doesn’t quite seem to get that those around him are all dead. He aims to find his family. He walks to his home and searches for his wife Lori and son Carl, but they are gone. He has hope that they are alive, since some pictures and other personal things are missing. Rick is then knocked unconscious by a boy named Duane and then taken in by the boy and his father, Morgan. They lay out the whole “It’s the apocalypse” thing for Rick and explain that most people headed to Atlanta. Rick thinks his family may be there and heads in that direction, but not before sharing some of the weapons from the police department with Morgan, who wishes to stay home. Rick eventually runs out of gas, but finds a horse and heads right into the heart of Atlanta, where he is swarmed by walkers! After being saved by pizza delivery boy, Glenn, Rick is reunited with Lori, Carl, and their friend Shane at the camp. Shane’s jealousy at Rick and Lori’s reunion causes a fatal incident in the group.

At first I thought the art was not so great and kind of dull, but when I re-read the series, I found myself really appreciating the artwork. It is in black and white, which is an interesting choice that helps reflect the post-apocalyptic world. While the men are done pretty well, the women and children are kind of drawn ugly (they get progressively better as the series continues). The show, of course, is based on the comic and differs a bit. With volume one we see that Daryl and Merle are made for the show only, and there are a lot of survivors at the camp that we do not see in the show. Also, the CDC adventure does not happen in the comic. SPOILERS: We also experience Shane’s death in the first volume (Issue #6) with a 7-year-old Carl shooting him when he threatens Rick’s life. Overall a very enjoyable read and has me itching to move onto the next one, even though it’s my second read-through!

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

In this volume we learn about Lori’s affair with Shane and her new pregnancy. We also meet Tyreese and his Daughter Julie with her boyfriend Chris. They join the group just as the group comes across a seemingly save, deserted town. They find the town to be mostly safe, but when Rick finds a sign that says “ALL DEAD DO NOT ENTER.” With this realization, Rick warns the group about the sign, but it’s too late. An abundance of walkers make themselves known in Wilshire Estates, and a few casualties ensue. After fleeing, the group comes across Hershel’s farm where we meet the great multitude of his family, and of course Glenn and Maggie meet, and they just want to have sex for the sake of sex (leading to some deeper feelings). Eventually, Hershel wants Rick and the group to leave, so they do. Glenn stays behind to be with Maggie. When they come across a prison, the group has hope for the first time, finding a place that they can clear out and call home.

The farm takes only a couple of issues, while the show takes a whole season to play out at Hershel’s farm. The way events progress through the comics compared tot he television show are interesting to observe, to say the lest, and the comics continue to hold promise (although volume two may in fact be the least interesting volume of the whole series).

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

In this volume, the group begins to clear out the prison. When they are running low on food, they prioritize clearing out the cafeteria. To their surprise, the cafeteria is free of walkers, but four prisoners sit at a table safe from the plague of the outside world: Dexter, Andrew, Axel, and Thomas. Dispute arises about living with prison inmates, but they seem okay…until Hershel’s two youngest girls are found in a salon room, decapitated. Dexter is under suspicion and locked away, but really Thomas is the madman as he is found openly trying to kill Andrea. When Rick notices the heads of the girls are animate, even though they weren’t bit, he drives all the way back to dig up Shane, his suspicion correct: they all carry the disease and will reanimate from death, even if they were not exposed (something Rick keeps to himself, for now). This volume ends with the inmates taking guns from the armory and threatening the rest of the group to leave the prison, since they were there first.

This volume was okay. It introduces the reader to the prison and the amount of effort it takes to clear it and keep it safe. Of course, with sharp-shooter Andrea around, the guard towers make safety much easier. We get to become more familiar with the prison, the survivors, and the things that make the prison a potential “home” for everyone, leading up to the desire of others to take the prison  as well, or seek shelter with the group.

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

In this volume we finally meet Michonne. After saving Otis, Michonne is warily welcomed into the group. While Otis and Michonne make their way back into the prison, Rick and the others are fighting off a horde of walkers that got in when Dexter forgot to seal off the armory. Seeing no other way to keep the group safe, Rick intentionally kills Dexter, although he keeps that from most of the group, claiming a stray bullet hit him. Having to clear out the prison again after the incident, Allen is bitten. In a moment of limited choices, Rick amputates Allen’s leg in hopes that the man will survive (he does not). The group finds Ricks choices to be a bid severe, and they seem to think he is beginning to enjoy the violence he reaps. As a group, they decide the pressure on a single leader is too great, and a council will be addressed when making decisions for the whole group. When Rick defends his actions as being what must be done in the world as it is now, he mentions that they will never go back to the way things were. He tells them about his finding with Shane, claiming that they themselves, the living survivors of this great epidemic, are the walking dead.

This volume introduces one of the characters who continues to be with the group for a great deal of time, becoming a major character: Michonne. I like her character quite a lot, but her appearance damages some previous relationships, and the sanity of many characters is questioned in this volume. This volume was okay, but it really helps distinguish leadership and group ethics as well as bring in and remove some characters as we make way for the Woodbury story arc.

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

In this volume, the group continues to clear the prison, finding some useful riot gear in the process. With this gear, they can now go out to the prison parking lot and siphon gas from the cars surrounded by walkers. When a helicopter crashes nearby, Rick, Glenn, and Michonne go to check for survivors and its source. When they follow evidence to Woodbury, they meet the Governor, a person who is just as headstrong as Rick and pains to be contended with. The Governor brutally chops Rick’s hand off, traps Glenn, and tortures and rapes Michonne in the most disgusting way imaginable. The people of Woodbury follow the Governor blindly, but little do they know of his walker head collection or his little undead niece chained up in his home, a deep secret. A smart man, the Governor tricks Rick into exposing the prison, and the Governor makes it his goal to gain that prison for himself. Having been gone for two days, the people back at the prison send Tyreese out to search for their missing people; all he finds is their car stuck in the mud.

This volume is a good introduction to the Governor. We get to see just how brutal the man can be and the wall of lies he uses to make himself look amazing in front of the people of their community. The things that happen to Rick and Michonne are brutal and cringe-worthy as a visual as the art progressively gets a bit better (but still not so great on women and children).

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

In this volume Rick becomes more involved with the doctors and Martinez of Woodbury. When Martinez helps Glenn, Rick, and Michonne escape (along with the doctors), Rick becomes suspicious once they get back to the prison. Michonne leaves the group, seeking (brutal) revenge against the Governor. At the prison, the escape from Woodbury was all planned so that the Governor could find them. When Martinez makes his way back, Rick runs him down and shoots him to keep his own people safe.  The iconic piece to this volume is definitely Michonne’s revenge. She has a number of mutilating instruments and does nearly unspeakable things to the Governor (including chopping his arm off and gouging out his eye with a spoon, graphic details omitted).

With this volume, we really get into the heat of the conflict to come. We are left wondering if Rick’s choice to fight for the prison is worth it as we are led into the next couple of volumes that execute the height of the Governor and Woodbury arc.

 

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Individual Rating: 4/5

With the threat of the Governor on the horizon, some of the group question leaving before the prison becomes a war zone. While the Governor is recovering from Michonne’s assault, Glenn and Maggie are married by Hershel and Lori goes into labor. Dale, still alive, helps keep the generator on during Lori’s giving birth, but is bit by a walker. Rick amputates, saving Dale’s life. With a previous mention of a National Guard station as a source of Woodbury’s artillery, a group from the prison goes out to raid what’s left and blow up whatever they cannot bring with them. The smoke draws the attention of the people of Woodbury, and they grow even angrier at the prison group. As the title ov the volume indicates, everything seems calm and back to normal, but when the Governor rolls up in an Army tank surrounded by a bunch of other cars, we learn that perhaps a great storm is to come.

Despite being a more mellow volume, both the events with Lori and Dale add to the suspense of the graphic novel. The ending image of the Governor ready to ravage the prison with his tank and his people closely following, is a great cliffhanger for the final volume to end the Governor arc.

 

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Individual Rating: 4.5/5

This is the final volume in the first compendium and brings the intense prison/Governor arc to a close with a bang. We get to see a flashback to the Governor as he is healing and riling up his people to fight with him, claiming the people of the prison cannot live, for what they have done to him (and by extension, to his community). We are soon brought back to the current events at the prison. With sharpshooter Andrea in a guard tower, she pops off a great number of the Governor’s men. After a few casualties of their own, the survivors of the prison retreat after the Governor falls back to grow his army. Glenn, Maggie, Sophia (who they adopted after Carol’s suicide), Andrea, Dale, and the twin boys (who they adopted after their father died) decide to leave in the RV, not wanting to wait around for the Governor’s return. With their sharpshooter and their riot soldier having fled, the prison does not stand much of a chance. Upon the Governor’s second attack on the prison, nearly everyone left dies brutally. We see one woman become angry and shoot the governor for forcing her to shoot a mother and newborn child. Rick and Carl escape (barely) and Michonne has escaped on her own as well. The prison falls to ruins and walkers as Rick tells Carl not to look back, just keep running.

This volume is brutally executed as the prison arc comes to a close, and we lose almost all of the characters living in the prison from that arc. The brutality of the whole volume is intense, and it is definitely a hard one to put down. With a last image of Rick and Carl making their way into the woods, we are left wondering if, perhaps, anyone else may have made it and what will they do now?

 

There is also a “Morgan Special” in the first compendium where we get to see Morgan and Duane once more. Morgan has found a Gamboy and gives it to Duane. Being the kid he is, he is soon deeply interested in his game. Morgan tells the unlistening Duane that they will have to pay someday for everything the take and use to survive now. Noticing his son is not listening, he merely says, “Merry Christmas.”