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review 2018-01-11 03:39
Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 2) by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis
orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Warning: this manga deals with depression and suicide. You've probably already read the first volume and know that, but this volume goes into more detail and includes a lengthy section from the POV of a character up to the moment he makes his decision to commit suicide.

I enjoyed this but had some issues with it that I’m not sure I can articulate. Well, I’ll give it a shot.

Orange is only the first two thirds of this volume. The last third is an unrelated story with a completely different tone. I’ll discuss them separately in this review.

Orange:

This volume picks up right where the first one left off. Naho is still trying to save Kakeru, but now she knows she isn’t alone - literally all of her friends also received letters from their future/parallel universe selves and are also working to save him. Things have changed enough now that the letters don’t always help, although they can still provide a little bit of guidance. But will it be enough? And will Naho and her friends’ efforts really manage to save Kakeru?

One of the things that worried me about the previous volume was the possibility that Takano might be taking the story into “high school romance saves Kakeru” territory. That worry never quite went away - although Takako thought that Kakeru would be fine even if his romance with Naho didn’t work out, Suwa was so unconvinced by this that he continued to sabotage the future he knew he could have with Naho. That said, the way the ending was written indicated that it was everyone, not just Naho, who was necessary to save Kakeru. What he needed wasn’t specifically romance, but rather relationships with people who cared about him, worried about him, and thought about him enough to try to stand by him through everything, even when he actively pushed them away.

Which brings me to the thing I’ve been avoiding writing directly about: suicide. While I think Orange is very good, it feels like something that was written more for people like Naho, Suwa, Takako, Hagita, and Azu than people like Kakeru and his mother. The section from Kakeru’s POV is part of the reason why.

At one point in the volume, Takano includes a flashback to Kakeru’s POV in the original timeline -

all the things that happened to him and contributed to his depression, as well as the one horrible thing that pushed him over the edge and made him decide to commit suicide. It was a very effective bit of storytelling, setting up a sort of final countdown and showing readers the things that Naho and the others didn’t know about but would somehow have to overcome in order to save Kakeru. And as someone who grew up with a mother who was depressed and who worried about contributing to that depression, I can say that Kakeru’s POV felt painfully real.

(spoiler show)


I probably wouldn’t recommend this series to someone who was dealing with depression and/or suicidal feelings unless they had someone they could go to that they felt comfortable talking to. The ending

was intended to be a happy and hopeful one, with Naho and the others accomplishing what they set out to do and determined to keep helping Kakeru even past the point where their letters could guide them. However, all I could think was that, despite everything they knew and all their daily efforts, they still only barely managed to keep him from killing himself. There was, for me, something deeply horrifying about that. And after all that, Kakeru’s reaction to what Naho and everyone else told him felt kind of...understated?

(spoiler show)



When I first started this series, I said that it could maybe be considered science fiction. After reading this volume, I take that back: it definitely isn’t science fiction, despite its occasional passages about parallel universes. Takano’s explanation for how Naho and her friends managed to send their letters back in time and start a parallel universe where Kakeru doesn’t die was absolutely ridiculous. Rather than coming up with some kind of brilliant plan to save Kakeru, they

literally threw their letters into the ocean and those letters somehow made their way into a black hole (or something similar). The letters then somehow all ended up in just the right time and place.

(spoiler show)


Haruiro Astronaut:

Chiki and Mami are identical twins. Mami’s the cute one that guys are always asking out. Since she can never bring herself to say “no” to any of them, even if she isn’t interested in them, Chiki always ends up being the one to break up with them for Mami. And then they ask her out because they view the twins as interchangeable. Chiki wants to find someone who sees her for who she is, rather than as an acceptable substitute for Mami, and who wants to be with her.

Mami introduces Chiki to Yui, a hot new guy in her class, and Chiki falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately for her, he’s interested in Mami. As if the situation weren’t already painful enough, Mami starts to fall for him too. So where does that leave Chiki?

This one’s light and fluffy tone was a welcome change after finishing Orange. The worst thing the characters had to worry about was whether the person they liked happened to like someone else.

This story had not one, but two love triangles: the one mentioned in my summary, involving Chiki, Mami, and Yui, and one involving Chiki, Yui’s best friend, and a guy who initially says he’s interested in Mami. To my surprise, I actually kind of liked these love triangles. Although they both had aspects that were painful for the characters, neither one got to the point of truly hurting anybody and wrecking friendships. I’m still not sure how I feel about the final pairings, but the fact that everyone could still talk to each other and have fun together after everything was said and done was really refreshing.

(And I wonder, am I the only one who looked at that last page and had a sudden vision of Chiki, Tatsuaki, and Natsuki all going on a date together? Natsuki would quietly and happily soak up the atmosphere, Tatsuaki would be overly loud in a failed effort to hide his nervousness, and Chiki would blush and laugh.)

 

Rating Note:

 

If this volume had included the end of Orange and nothing else, I might have given it 3.5 stars. Something about the way Takano wrote about Kakeru and his mother's depression didn't quite sit well with me - I don't think I've figured out exactly what bothered me, but I don't know that I care to spend more time digging into it either.

 

Haruiro Astronaut really was a breath of fresh air and managed to nudge my rating up to 4 stars, which is a bit funny considering that I probably wouldn't have given it that rating if I'd read it on its own.

 

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

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review 2017-12-18 13:00
Disney At Dawn by Ridley Pearson
Disney at Dawn - Ridley Pearson

There are a few things I didn't care for, but overall, I enjoyed the book.


What can I say about this book? It is a fun read if you are a big fan of anything Disney, but also you really have to take into account that this is written for a younger age. I personally hate saying a book is for this age group, or that age group, but this book does kind of feel dumbed down, so it really fits for a younger age group. Though I don't like when books think they need to dumb things down in order for kids to understand it.

My only problem is that there were parts that I found boring and unneeded. I dragged my feet a lot while reading this. There were so many fantastical things you had to wrap your brain around. I felt the book should have focused on less; it felt like it tried to do too much.

The whole concept is amazing, of course, but also there were bits that were confusing. Maybe because of how unrealistic they were. As a reader, you really need to suspend your belief on some of the stuff this book goes into.

For the most part, I like all the main characters, though I wonder if we really need 7 children. Some of them do not seem to get enough screen time and could probably be condensed into one character.

There were hints of romance, or foreshadowing to romance in later volumes. I did not care for that very much, it felt sudden and out of place.

I also found it so funny how they kept referencing older Disney stuff, like Ashley Tisdale, Raven-Symone and High School Musical. Do doubt who the publisher was for this series. I feel like this really dates the books.

There are going to be kids who are like who the heck are those people. I found it interesting, because I grew up with them, but of course I do get annoyed when books name drop so much. I get why it was done for this book, but it was still a little odd and brought me out of the story. I should expect it a little since they are at Disney.

 


I'm holding high hope for the next volume.

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review 2017-11-25 00:58
The Music of the Spheres
The Music of the Spheres - Milton Chase Potter

3.75 stars, rounded up

 

CW: 

Death, depression, cancer (side character)

(spoiler show)

 

I wouldn't classify this as a romance, though there is a love story. It's more about two boys becoming friends and helping each other through some tough times. Well, it's more Adam helping Ryan through some tough times, but they both fulfill something that's missing in the other's life, as Ryan provides Adam with a surrogate family. Their friendship is wonderful and often put a big grin on my face. 

 

It's first-person POV and present tense, which I know some readers may have issues with. I'm not one who cares about that normally, and while it mostly doesn't bother me here, I did find myself often wanting to see Adam's side of things. This was especially the case in the one brief scene we have with Adam's foster father.

The fact that Adam was in one foster home for three years should tell him that his foster parents are dedicated to him, because that's not very common. And his foster father seemed almost desperate to get to know one of Adam's friends and find out more about him. So why exactly was Adam keeping his foster parents at such a distance when he so readily accepted Ryan's family? And also, why did he so quickly go from "I don't like being touched" to initiating hugs with Ryan?

(spoiler show)

It almost felt like there was something else going on there than the brief explanation that we got, so the choice to do this in first-person does limit how much we get to know about Adam. I also wanted Ryan to figure out his feelings for Adam a lot sooner than he did.

 

I was not prepared for the turn this story made at about the halfway mark. It was very emotional and while I hated what happened, it was beautifully written. The writing throughout the story flowed nicely and I liked seeing how these characters cared about each other and how they "adopted" Adam to their family and helped each other when things got rough.

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review 2017-11-11 21:24
Interim Errantry (Young Wizards #9.3, 9.5, 9.7)
Interim Errantry: Three Tales of the Young Wizards - Diane Duane

Three novellas? More like two short stories and a novel, because the third story is way too long to be a novella.

 

Not on My Patch and How Lovely Are Thy Branches are cute little holiday-centered shorts, the first for Halloween and the second for Christmas. Not a whole lot to say about them, but they were fun and it was nice to see the kids hanging out and being friends without their lives in mortal peril. 

 

Life Boats is entirely from Kit's POV, which is unusual and a nice change up from the shared POVs. Our friendly Earth wizards are off to help a planet evacuate before the planet's moon can fall apart and crash into it. So you know, no big deal. ;) Except that some of the planet's population don't seem able to or willing to leave, and no one can figure out why. This was not as terrifying a story as I thought it would be, given the world-ending premise, and it's wrapped up in a true YW way. There's a lot more hanging out, meeting and making new friends, and quite a bit of ... er, grown up talk as Kit and Nita are still figuring out their new relationship. I do like what this set of stories did for showing their friendship and how much their affections for each other have grown, and went some way to convincing me this is a good pairing and not just forced because of course the girl protag and the boy protag ALWAYS have to end up a couple. 

 

I don't think I've mentioned it much, if at all, in other reviews for this series, because I was so wrapped up in the emotional hangover, but these NME editions are not the best edited. There are a lot of simple mistakes in the text throughout the series, and while the last couple of books have been much better, this one almost seems to be making up for those. Extra words, missing words, misplaced words - if the writing wasn't so strong, I'd be more annoyed by this, but I felt I needed to mention it at last.

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review 2017-11-03 05:29
Solution
Saving It - Monica Murphy

Eden & Josh have been best friends for so long.  They share each other's secrets.  When a new secret arises, can Eden help Josh to solve his problem?

 

Josh wants Eden to help him find a girl.  She does not want him finding just any girl.  So he enlists her help.  Along the way, they see their relationship in a whole new light....

 

These characters are just such a joy to read.  I love their solidarity.  The banter is so much fun too.  I found myself eagerly absorbing every page.  Such a great read.  I give this story a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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