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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-08 03:00
The Tensorate novellas - JY Yang
The Black Tides of Heaven - JY Yang
The Red Threads of Fortune (The Tensorate Series) - JY Yang

It's not often I pre-order stuff but I made an exception for this pair of novellas, The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, by JY Yang. I've liked this writer's short fiction so I was interested to see what a slightly longer format would provide and wasn't disappointed, though I liked the first of the two novellas slightly more. The covers look great too, which makes the fact they're ebooks a little frustrating!


Both novellas are set in the world of the Tensorate, which is a place where people can manipulate energy to do all sorts of things (known as the Slack) and which is ruled by the mother of our two main characters. She's a distinctly ruthless individual, for example giving birth to Akeha and Mokoya in order to give them to the temple which had provided her with support during an attempted rebellion, in 'payment' for help received. After that, in The Black Tides of Heaven, she shows minimal interest in their welfare until Mokoya begins to demonstrate prophetic powers and the rest of this novella is the aftermath of that dynamic.


The Red Tides of Fortune is set a few years after the end of the previous novella, with Mokoya struggling to come to terms with the death of her daughter - despite her prophetic powers, she had been unable to see that incident coming and has now lost those powers, as well as being significantly physically affected by the same incident. Akeha and others have joined a would-be rebellion against The Way Things Are and Mokoya is also hunting a naga which threatens to destroy the city where her twin brother is currently living. 


Anyway, the world-building is something I liked very much about both these, including the use of gender terms - this is a world where people declare they are male or female when they feel certain about it, using they/them until that point. In the second novella, Mokoya spends some time trying to figure out her relationship with the power she thought she'd lost and also testing the boundaries of what she can do with the Slack. All in all, I enjoyed them and would very much like to read more set in this universe. 

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review 2017-08-14 03:56
New Super-Man, Vol. 1: Made in China
New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made In China (Rebirth) (Super-Man - New Super-Man (Rebirth)) - Gene Luen Yang,Viktor Bogdanovic

This book had a weak start, but a stronger finish. It started off with Kong Kenan bullying a classmate. When that classmate was attacked by a supervillain, he threw a can at him and managed to save his classmate. This was caught on camera and Kenan pretended to be a hero to impress the cute reporter interviewing him. Based on this action alone, Kenan was chosen by a secret government organization to be turned into the New Super-Man and be part of the newly created Justice League of China along with the Chinese Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man. The two people chosen to be Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man were both vetted and trained before given powers, but not Kenan. For some reason it was deemed a good idea to give him the powers without any further research into him.


Kenan then had difficulties controlling his new powers, understandably, so was told to research the original Justice League members to learn more. When Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man were sent out to save someone, Kenan convinced the leader of the project to let him go to because he knew the passcode to get into the place the woman lived. I didn't understand why they didn't just make him tell them the passcode or even just have Wonder-Woman fly herself and Bat-Man over the gates since she can fly. Kenan's powers were unstable and he'd had no training at this point. And he did indeed proceed to mess things up in a huge way. The secret organization just made a lot of highly questionable decisions in the beginning of the book that had me wondering how they'd managed to get this far.


Luckily things improved once the story focused more on Kenan's relationship with his father and his maturing as a person as he began to realize the new responsibility he suddenly had with these powers. Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man were a good balance for him as more veteran heroes who have a better handle on their powers and the responsibility that comes with it, while still having room for character growth as they bonded with the New Super-Man. I liked their group dynamics.


I do feel like there were too many characters introduced in just one book though. In addition to the 3 superheroes of the Justice League of China, there were 2 opposing teams introduced, resulting in about 20 superheroes and supervillains introduced in just 6 issues. And that's not counting the non-supers also in the book. One of the teams didn't get fleshed out at all, so I'm guessing they'll get more focus later, but it was just hard to keep everyone straight with so many people getting introduced.


Despite a weak start due to a lot of questionable decision-making from the government agency giving the powers to the New Super-Man, the 3 members of the Justice League of China made an endearing team that were fun to watch work together. And with Kenan's relationship with his father, this book created a nice foundation for Kenan's journey to being a hero. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next.

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review 2017-07-30 05:16
Secret Coders: Paths & Portals - Gene Luen Yang,Mike Holmes


This is book two in the Secret Coders series. 


Hopper, Eni, and Josh meet Professor Bee, founder of the Bee School, which has been mostly demolished and replaced by Stately Academy (the school all three friends attend). Professor Bee teaches them to code (program a robot turtle to follow specific paths). But Principal Dean and the rugby team are following them and trying to discover a secret.


The Secret Coders series follows the friends as they learn coding and try to solve the mystery of Stately Academy. Gene Luen Yang, along with being a “graphic novel superstar” taught high school computer programming.


The website (www.secret-coders.com) offers videos, activities, information, and coding lessons for interested readers.


This book is fun to read and kids could learn something too. 

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review 2017-06-06 00:00
Saints (Boxers & Saints)
Saints (Boxers & Saints) - Gene Luen Yang I love Gene Luen Yang's work. It always hooks me right away, keeps me wondering, and sticks with me long after finishing. Saints is no different.

I felt so bad for Four-Girl! And I was really hoping for a different end, even though I knew better. I honestly wasn't expecting the prologue at all though.

Like I said for Boxers, this is a much better way to learn about history, IMHO.

No matter what's next for Luen Yang, I can't wait to read it!
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review 2017-06-05 00:00
Boxers (Boxers & Saints)
Boxers (Boxers & Saints) - Gene Luen Yang Reading Saints Now!

I read American Born Chinese first and loved it so when I saw Boxers & Saints, I knew I had to read them. This comic confirms Yang as a must read author.

My library has them in two installments instead of a single volume which is sad because Boxers ends on such a cliff hanger! If you can make sure to have both on hand or go with the combined edition.

History is fascinating but often bogged down in tedious details, dates, and memorization requirements. If history in schools were taught like stories, brought to life in different formats like this, then it wouldn't be so dull and difficult..
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