'Oblivion Song, Chapter 1' by Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici
I don't know why I chose the shortest possible book for my Bingo pre-read, but there you go.
'Oblivion Song' is a new comic series by Robert Kirkman ('Walking Dead') that puts us in Philadelphia ten years after an unexplained phenomena wiped out a huge portion of the city, replacing it with horrific monsters and alien vegetation. 300,000 people vanished with the land. The monsters were defeated and the plants died, leaving a barren wasteland that the government built a wall around as a precaution.
It was soon discovered that the 300,000 were not dead, they were somewhere else. A scientist, driven by the loss of his brother, figured out the frequency to go to that other place and endeavored to bring back as many people as he could find. The government supported him and his team, but after many years, have shut down the program. Nathan Cole refuses to give up on his brother, making solo expeditions to Oblivion, avoiding the deadly creatures and rescuing those he finds.
The art is vivid, and the story hooked me right in. This is a promising start to a great series.
While 'Oblivion Song' hasn't gotten into the biology of the creatures of the zone, Nathan Cole expresses compassion for them, even objecting to their being killed out of hand. The alien landscape and its native inhabitants is an essential part of the series.
This book follows a creative child when he begins to paint everything and I mean everything! This book puts an emphasis on colors, but also on words that rhyme. An excerpt from the book provides a great example, "...So I take some red and I paint my...HEAD!..." Before this wild artist is finished, he will have painted his whole body and even some of the house. This book would be so engaging for students, because it has a song-like tune when read. I would read this aloud and have students recognize the rhyming words in the story with a clap and then have them come up with more words that could fit in that place in the story.
Fountas and Pinnell: L
Characters wandering about the landscape, sometimes in circles. Plotlines unresolved while new characters are created and new plotlines set off. In one of them (can't remember which one now) it ends with a strange postscript explaining that the reason that so many previously important characters did not figure is because he could not find space for them in this vast tome, er, sorry about that. I have never seen anything like that in a book series. So why keep creating unnecessary new characters? It looks to me like the series had at one point a cataclysmic ending in view - Ice and Fire, the White Walkers coming down from the North and the dragons coming from the East, no doubt to meet in some Westeros Ragnarok. The trouble is that that doesn't fit well with the idea of a Wars of the Roses type feuding families and shifting alliances and that he got more interested in that.
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
According to his afterword, this non-Banks story from Peter Robinson, though published in 2003, was written in the late '80s (it's copyrighted 1990), and he made a conscious choice not to try to update it into the internet age. The 1980s setting is, in fact, one of its selling points for me; I have a curious nostalgia for the days when it was the norm to be unhooked from the rest of the world, and operating purely independently and often in the absence of definite information on any number of minor topics. It was actually possible not only to get lost, but to be lost to other people.
This is a two-stream narrative, both in the third person but very much focused on a single point of view, and both tracking a young woman. It becomes evident early on to an attentive reader that both streams are about the same person; what is unresolved until a little later is just how close in time the two narratives are, one detailing a horrifyingly traumatic sexual assault just barely short of murder by an established serial killer, and the other telling about the cascading ethical (and physical) horrors of seeking revenge. Unlike a detective novel, this one does not concern itself with the legal consequences of the three murders that the protagonist commits on that journey. In some ways, having found ourselves in her head all through the novel, that's a bit of relief. We get to decide for ourselves (or fail to decide) what justice might look like in the horrifyingly unjust world in which Kirsten first finds herself, and to which Martha and Sue eventually contribute. (The multiple names refer simply to successive disguises the woman takes on during her journey of revenge, not to multiple personalities in the "Sybil" sense, but certainly there is a resonance with that general notion of the traumatized fractured self).
I have seen mixed reactions to this novel on the review sites, partly attributable (of course) to that bane of series novelists, frustrated expectations, but partly with reasoned criticisms of what was in fact a first work, though not first published. Myself, I liked it very much, enough to give it my standard Robinson four stars. It already shows some of the strengths that make his mature work so compulsively readable: psychological complexity, a keen eye and ear for the details of the world, and a solid grasp of narrative progression and structure.