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review 2020-02-01 16:35
Clover (manga, vols. 1-4) by CLAMP, translation by Ray Yoshimoto
Clover Omnibus - CLAMP

Kazuhiko, a former government agent, is roped into doing one last job for General Ko, one of the heads of the government. She tells him he must deliver a package, which he soon learns is actually a young girl named Sue. In the first two volumes of Clover, Kazuhiko does his best to take Sue to her destination despite opposition from multiple sources. He gradually learns who Sue is, why people don't want her going free, and how she's connected to him. The third volume of Clover is a flashback to the time when Sue and a beautiful singer named Ora first met, the beginnings of Sue's desire to leave her cage. The fourth volume of Clover is yet another flashback, even further back in time, to the days when Ran escaped his own cage and met Gingetsu, a friend of Kazuhiko's.

Clover's biggest strength was that it was very beautiful. It came across like an art experiment on CLAMP's part - lots of negative space, interesting things done with panel placement and usage, etc. And since this is one of those tragic CLAMP series, there are lots of beautiful people looking sad. A few of them get to be happy for a little bit, but it fades into bittersweetness at best.

Unfortunately, this series is style over clarity. Scenes felt disjointed and didn't always transition in ways I could easily follow. The first couple volumes technically had quite a bit of action in them, but it didn't always feel like action because of the way CLAMP drew things. It was weird, and I struggled to follow everything that was going on. The end of the amusement park portion was especially confusing, and instead of giving me more of that story, volumes 3 and 4 turned out to be flashbacks. The story never returned to its present.

One thing I didn't know until after I started reading was that this series was originally intended to be longer. I don't know why it was halted, but it was, which explains why, after two volumes of flashbacks, the story just...stopped. It was immensely frustrating.

The story had song lyrics repeated frequently throughout, at least two or three different songs. I did my best to pay attention to any lyrics the first time they showed up, but I generally found them difficult to read (in a fancy font, often white text on black backgrounds). Also, song lyrics are just disjointed text to me - I can't even vaguely imagine them put to music unless I've actually heard that music before. After a while, I just skimmed any lyrics that came up, which was probably not what CLAMP was aiming for.

I was left with so many questions. On the one hand, the government acted like Clover power was a simple matter of math (a two-leaf plus a three-leaf would equal five and therefore be too powerful to oppose). On the other hand, it was clear that some Clovers' powers wouldn't be a problem not matter how many of them got together, so it really wasn't just a matter of adding up the total number of leaves. And did people like General Ko technically count as Clovers? The world-building didn't make much sense to me.

All in all, this is one of those series that I'd probably only recommend to CLAMP completists or comics creators. As much as I liked the visuals, the story itself was more difficult to follow than it needed to be and didn't have a proper ending.

Additional Comments:

Supposedly each of the different levels of Clovers got a different tattoo, but the one character who was a one-leaf Clover had a four-leaf tattoo. Was that a mistake on CLAMP's part? It confused me.

Extras:

A few pages of full-color images at the beginning of each volume in the omnibus, as well as a full-color bonus gallery.

 

Rating Note:

 

I struggled with rating this. The story is probably more 1.5 stars - it's unfinished, will likely never be finished, and is structured oddly for something that stops at the point it does. The artwork, however, is lovely, more in the 4-star range (the clarity issues make me reluctant to rate it higher).

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2019-05-02 21:16
Reading progress update: I've read 137 out of 342 pages.
Vurt - Jeff Noon

"Doorman at the Slithy Tove was a fat white rabbit.  He had a blood-flecked head protruding from beer-stained neck fur and a large pocket watch in his big white mittens."

 

OK, now I know that there's Lewis Carroll involved.  A reference to Jabberwocky plus a white rabbit like in Alice.

 

I'm not usually so entertained by cyberpunk lit, but I'm liking this one quite a lot.

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text 2019-05-01 21:22
Reading progress update: I've read 87 out of 342 pages.
Vurt - Jeff Noon

 

 

This is totally Jeff Noon channelling both Lewis Carroll and Philip K. Dick.

 

It goes quickly....

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review 2018-11-30 19:13
Agent G: Saboteur by C. T. Phipps
Agent G: Saboteur - C. T. Phipps

Note: Even though this is Book 2, it works just fine as a stand alone.

This was a lot of fun. Set in a near future, G is an enhanced assassin. He’s got cyber enhancements, bio enhancements, perhaps even… uh… personal private enhancements. But he also has a limited shelf life. He was created to be used and then discarded (and his realization of all that is in Book 1 but is summarized for this book in bits and pieces). The International Refugee Society (IRS) is a front for a world-controlling power-hungry gang. They’ve been successful for many years but now things are falling apart and G has enemies coming at him from every corner and perhaps even from within his small circle of allies.

The action never ends for G and Marissa Sanchez (another shady character with hidden motives). Along the way, he picks up James (who he has to convince to come over to his side where they at least have paid vacations). There’s also the AI riding around in G’s head. She has a to-do list as well and not everything on there will jive with what G wants to accomplish.

One of the things I enjoy so much about any Phipps novel is that there is usually a reference to his other works tucked in to the tale. In this novel, the term ‘bioroid’ is used, which is a reference to this Lucifer’s Star series (which is great space opera stuff).  Then there’s the Supervillainy references as well (which is a great superhero/supervillain series). I love that it’s a TV show in G’s world. Ha!

The ladies are just as diverse and deadly as the men in this series, which is a thing I always love finding in spy & cyberpunk stories. One of the big baddies here is Persephone who has been running things from the shadows for some time. Coupled with Dr. Gordon and his black tech from the Karma Corp, G needs to bring his A game if he’s going to survive to the end of the book!

I was glad that we got to see Lucita Biondi again. She was key in Book 1 for bringing down the Carnivale and she’s still a player here, just not as big a part. Being transgender has brought her all kids of grief from her family, but she’s persevered. With a handgun.

The story also has plenty of references to other cyberpunk tales, including the classics. I loved this! I know I didn’t catch them all but it makes me want to go binge a bunch of cyberpunk and then come back to this series with that on my mind. Action and mayhem keep the plot moving forward even as G and others, like the AI, contemplate what it really means to be human.

All told, it’s a great sequel but it also stands well on it’s own. I was never bored with the tale and I like the few moments of seriousness. I look forward to seeing what Agent G does next. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is always a treat to listen to and I love his voice for Agent G. It’s perfect. Also, Kafer’s delivery of the humor is so well timed! Kafer’s female character voices are feminine and each character has their own distinct voice. There are no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-10-18 16:16
Ancient Rayguns: "Mirrorshades" by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling et al
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology - Greg Bear,William Gibson,Paul Di Filippo,John Shirley,Bruce Sterling,Pat Cadigan,Rudy Rucker,Lewis Shiner,James Patrick Kelly,Marc Laidlaw,Tom Maddox



(Original Review, 1985)




Isn't that just the thing? With the digital world, social media and the online life, comes an entirely new kind of creeping, monolithic conformity. When everywhere you go cookies are recording your choices, advertising companies can predict your needs and your boss is your friend on Facebook, you need to be careful about what you download on Kindle. Writers and publishers too are constrained by this social coercion and so we end up with a homogenised world. Writers are only allowed to be creative within strictly policed generic parameters.

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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