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review 2017-07-22 12:44
“Ms. Bixby’s Last Day” by John David Anderson
Ms. Bixby's Last Day - John David Anderson

I’m tempted to keep this review really short:

“Read this book. It’s wonderfully written, perfectly structured and shares the lives. problems, passions and fears of three young boys in a way that feels real and true without ever getting schmaltzy or maudlin.”

Except that doesn’t do just to the impact this book had on me. It was one of the best reading experiences of the year so far.

 

I bought “Ms. Bixby’s Last Day” in the hope that it might be good but the expectation that it would turn out to be too saccharin for me to make it to the end of. The reviews used words like “heartwarming” and “uplifting”. These terms have been so degraded by Disney and Hallmark that, to me, they scream “phoney”.

 

My wife read the book first. She recommended it but warned me that it was sad and that it had someone in it with cancer. I can’t always cope with sad and we’ve both lost too many people to cancer to approach it casually.

 

I waited for a sunny day when I was feeling relaxed and then tried the first hour. After that, I was committed. I needed to know more about the people and what they were up to. I found myself unwilling to stop for necessary but inconvenient things like work, food and sleep. I wanted to get back to the boys and their journey.

 

The book is told as three first person accounts, with each boy getting a chapter in turn. The pace of both plot and character development are perfect. There is a quest structure that is amusing and exciting and sad in turns but never leaves the real world behind.

At the centre of the book are: three very different boys who each have a particular take on friendship, a teacher they all love but who is neither a saint nor a super hero and their mission to provide her with a perfect last day.

 

What I liked most about the book was the way the character of each boy was slowly built up through a series of interlocking events and insights that deepened my experience as the book progressed.

 

I was glad to see that, while the book did deliver a big finale that actually meant something, it didn’t pull any punches and the main focus remained on the boys themselves.

 

I strongly recommend the audiobook version of “Ms. Bixby’s Last Day”. Each of the boys has their own narrator, which emphasises their individuality. The performances are pretty close to perfect.

 

One last thing. My wife was right. It is sad. It will make you cry. Life is like that.

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video 2017-06-17 02:04
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review 2017-05-18 21:58
Review: Ms. Marvel Vol 6
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II - G. Willow Wilson,Takeshi Miyazawa,Adrian Alphona

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Kelly Sue Deconnick isn't writing Captain Marvel any more? Her appearance in this installment of Ms. Marvel is a complete stranger to me. Maybe I'd have enjoyed it more if I didn't find the difference so jarring.

 

There's some great stuff that happens around the Minority Report riff that makes up most of this volume. (Also, delighted that a character references that movie at one point, because, yeah.) There is also some stuff I'm struggling with. In Vol. 5, Kamala's the cause of her own problems because she's trying to do too many things, and be too many people. In this volume, she lets her hero worship for her namesake override everything else. It's a far less interesting, less appealing arc saved only by not pressing a specific reset button at the end. 

 

I loved the last issue in this. I hope she keeps up with her new friend. And I hope there's minimal contact with Captain Marvel from here on out. 

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review 2017-05-16 19:15
Review: Ms. Marvel Vol 5
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous - Nico Leon,G. Willow Wilson,Cliff Chiang,Takeshi Miyazawa,Adrian Alphona

Probably my favorite Ms. Marvel installment so far.

 

Kamala is just such a great character. Watching her screw things up is hard, and wow does she screw some things up in these issues. Not by not trying hard enough, but by taking on too much and not wanting to ask for help. Her desire to prove herself while burning the candle at both ends is just so familiar. There is no work, school, life balance when you give 110% to each of them.

 

Great series!

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review 2017-05-09 07:16
Ms Marvel, Volume 6
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II - G. Willow Wilson,Takeshi Miyazawa,Adrian Alphona

I'm torn on how I feel about this volume. I still love the story and the characters, but I feel like parts of this one were really tied into another series (one I don't read) and it felt confusing at times. I mean,

Rhodey's dead, Captain Marvel's really upset about it but Tony Stark seems unaffected?

(spoiler show)

What's all that about? I have no idea.

 

Kamala's origin arc seems to be over, and I'm excited to see where the series goes from here. I just hope the next volume is lighter on the crossovers.

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