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review 2018-03-15 17:18
Land of the Lustrous (manga, vol. 3) by Haruko Ichikawa, translation by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley
Land of the Lustrous 3 - Haruko Ichikawa

In this volume we get a bit more world-building and a new character. Winter is starting, which means less sunlight and therefore less energy for most of the Lustrous. While almost all of them go into hibernation, Kongo-sensei and Antarcticite become everyone's guardians. Antarcticite spends most of the year in a liquid form, but every winter they solidify and gradually grow stronger as temperatures get colder.

Phos is usually the first of the Lustrous to begin hibernation and the last to wake up, but this time around they can't seem to stay asleep, a possible side effect of their new legs. Kongo-sensei assigns Phos to Antarcticite as their new partner. Phos isn't sure they're up to the task, especially after the disastrous incident with the Amethyst twins, and then there's the issue of the talking ice floes that prey on Phos's anxieties.

Although the first volume made this series look like it was going to be a "natural discovery or Lunarian attack of the week" kind of thing, in the last couple volumes it's become more focused on Phos's desire to become stronger and more useful and eventually able to help Cinnabar. There are also hints that Kongo-sensei knows more about the Lunarians than he's told the younger Lustrous.

I wasn't expecting this volume to be as tragic as it was. The panels in which Lustrous (I won't say which ones) were broken into pieces were brutal, and this time around there was more explicit recognition of the horror inherent in the Lustrous's tendency to lose memories whenever they permanently lost a body part.

It'll be interesting to see where Ichikawa goes after this.

Will Phos be able to get their memories back, or will they just make new ones? Are they going to lose more? And I wonder, has anyone ever retrieved kidnapped Lustrous from the Lunarians before?

(spoiler show)


Although I'm very much enjoying the story and world-building details, I do still have some issues with this series. First, I'm just going to say it: the action scenes in this series aren't always very good. They're pretty, and the composition of individual panels and pages is great, but the action often requires a lot of effort to follow and doesn't always make sense. For example, at the beginning of the volume the Amethyst twins cut open another weird pod-like Lunarian. In the first volume, when a similar Lunarian was cut open there was a sequence of panels that showed arrows made out of Lustrous pieces emerging from the Lunarian's...pore things.

In this volume, it wasn't nearly as easy to tell what had happened and how. In one panel, the Lunarian's pore things were just empty holes. In the next panel, giant spiky blade-things has already fully emerged, which no obvious indication of how something so big could have fit inside the Lunarian and emerged from those holes. After staring at the image for a while, I eventually figured out what might have happened, but those pages were really jarring and confusing the first time I saw them.

After the fun I had looking up the properties of real-life cinnabar after reading volume 1, I decided to see if Ichikawa had based Antarcticite off of the properties of real antarcticite. From what I can tell, although antarcticite is just as brittle as the manga said it was, Ichikawa made up most of the character's abilities. A bit disappointing.

All in all, this volume contributed a few more interesting world-building details and continued Phos's transformation into...something. It's definitely looking like this series is going to end in tragedy, at least where Phos is concerned. I plan to continue on with Land of the Lustrous, although limited library availability may mean that I'll have to switch to buying it.

Extras:

Two pages of 4-panel comics - the humor felt a little weird and out-of-place after the events of this volume. Also, a page with two translator's notes.

 

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

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review 2017-11-01 07:49
Land of the Lustrous (manga, vol. 1) by Haruko Ichikawa, translated by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley
Land of the Lustrous 1 - Haruko Ichikawa

Land of the Lustrous is set on a world that has been battered by meteors several times over the course of its history, to the point that all life was driven into the ocean. Some of the surviving beings eventually sank to the bottom and were consumed by microorganisms, transforming them into inorganic substances that eventually formed into crystals (I know, it’s bizarre, but just try to accept it). Those crystals eventually became 28 (ish?) genderless gemstone-based beings that washed up onto the shore. Those gem beings are the series’ good guys. Beings from the moon, called Lunarians, periodically attack the gem beings so that they can capture them and break their bodies down into weapons and decorations.

The series’ main character is a gem being named Phosphophyllite (Phos). Phos desperately wants to become a member of one of the watcher and fighter pairs that protect everyone against the Lunarians, but unfortunately Phos is so brittle that that’s out of the question. So far, Phos has been unsuited to every task they’ve been assigned to, which is why I suspect the latest task Kongo, the group’s leader, has come up with is probably just busy work. Kongo asks Phos to compile a natural history.

Phos starts off by talking to the tragic and dangerous Cinnabar, because that’s who everyone keeps saying they should start with. After that, Phos spends some time with the Diamond fighting pair, Bort and Dia. And then there’s an incident with a giant snail.

This volume was weird. I requested it after reading Katherine Dacey’s review, so I knew going in that it would be beautiful and strange, but reading a review about it wasn’t quite the same as actually experiencing it. I loved it, at first, but then I became unsure, and the whole thing with the snail was just odd, like it was aimed at a different audience than the rest of the volume.

After I finished I let it percolate for a while, which turned out to be a wee bit too long. Suddenly my library due date had arrived and I couldn’t remember enough details about what had happened to write a proper summary. I didn’t quite reread it, but I did flip through the whole thing in order to refresh my memory, and to my surprise I liked it more the second time around. The world info was even weirder after giving myself some time to think it over, and, although the artwork was still gorgeous, the gem characters were still a bit hard to tell apart, but...there was something appealing about it all.

The artwork was a large part of what drew me to this series in the first place. Dacey’s review has one of my favorite sequences, the horrifying and beautiful moment when one of the Lunarians is sliced open to reveal arrows made of a captured gem being. Although the history of the gem beings was just plain bizarre, it was the Lunarians who were truly alien. They were perfect, beautiful, and incredibly creepy. I’m curious about them, but part of me hopes that Ichikawa will opt to keep them a mystery.

Unfortunately, there were times when the artwork definitely aimed more for style rather than clarity. The battles were gorgeous but occasionally difficult to follow. Also, like I mentioned earlier, the characters were sometimes hard to tell apart. Those things are part of the reason why I’d like to see the new Land of the Lustrous anime - muddled manga action scenes sometimes turn out better when adapted for anime. That said, it seems awfully early in the series' run to be turning it into an anime.

The world and characters grew on me, although this volume didn’t exactly give readers much. Phos was one of those borderline annoying characters that everyone just sort of puts up with. I’m crossing my fingers that Phos at least manages to come through for Cinnabar, as unlikely as that seems. Dia and Bort’s relationship intrigued me, and I’m hoping there’ll be more on them in the future. The whole thing about Dia’s arm confused me, though.

Of all the characters, the one that intrigued me the most was Cinnabar. Most of the gem beings are only active during the day because the organisms that hold them together feed off of sunlight. Cinnabar is the only exception, having been essentially banished to night patrol for everyone else’s safety. Lunarians have never attacked at night before, but it’s the only time Cinnabar can patrol without risking hurting anyone - Cinnabar unintentionally oozes (and sometimes vomits) a poison that destroys everything it touches. The poison can even cause irreversible damage to the otherwise immortal gem beings.

The properties of all the gem beings are based on the properties of the real minerals on which they're based, so each gem being’s hardness is based on the Mohs scale (the numbers are even used in the text). Since I knew nothing about cinnabar, I looked that up and was delighted to learn that Cinnabar’s poison was probably mercury. So those tidbits were kind of cool, and I’m wondering what other gem-related info Ichikawa might work into the series.

I don’t know at this point whether this series is one I’d recommend, but I’m intrigued enough to want to continue on.

 

Rating Note:

 

This one was a toss-up between 3 stars and 3.5. I settled (uneasily) on 3.5. I'm letting beauty and intriguing strangeness trump clarity and focus, at least for now. I may change my tune after reading volume 2.

 

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

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review 2014-02-03 18:58
Rocks and Minerals by Sue Fuller
Rocks & Minerals (DK Pockets Series) - DK Publishing, Sue Fuller

bookshelves: published-1995, winter-20132014, nonfiction, treasure, giftee, paper-read, under-50-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: giftee
Read on February 03, 2014

 



Description: new generation of illustrated pocket books. Systematically organized for easy access to information. Quick reference section contains charts, tables, projects, glossary, and index.

A super little full colour, glossy paged pocket book (5" x 4"). My favourite is Blue John, where if my memory serves me well, there was a new seam (or rather the old documented seam whose whereabouts was lost) recently located. Wonder if I can find that news item... BRB

HUZZAH!

Grandson’s found my ‘lost' seam of gems...70 years on

A HUNT for an elusive seam of a rare semi-precious stone has finally ended after a search lasting nearly 70 years.



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review 2013-04-19 00:00
Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals (Smithsonian Handbooks) - Chris Pellant Seriously useful reference book for identifying and learning about rocks and minerals. Excellent color photos with detailed information and descriptions. A useful book and educational.
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review 2012-09-01 00:00
National Geographic Readers: Rocks and Minerals - Kathy Weidner Zoehfeld Great photos. My little scientists love these books.
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