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review 2018-06-24 18:55
"Desert Dark" by Sonja Stone - abandoned at 51%. I am so not the target audience for this book.
Desert Dark - Sonja Stone

I wanted a lighter side to my "Summer Of Spies" reading so I picked up "Desert Dark", knowing from the publisher's summary that it was a Young Adult adventure book about a sixteen-year-old heroine attending a school for spies.

 

It was the light, fast, slightly simplistic read I'd expected it to be. It started at a run with an attempt on our heroine's life, did a "Three months earlier.." flip followed by an up close and personal murder. Then it slowed down so we could focus on Nadia's experience in attending spy school. 

 

The first indication that this might not be the book for me was how I stumbled over Nadia's reaction to her situation.

 

Day One of her new school she's subjected to an aggressive, invasive "psych eval" that seems more like an interrogation, is finally told the kind of school she's been tricked into signing up for and has been threatened with indefinite detention without charge under the Patriot Act if she tells anyone about it. 

 

Her reaction? "So I really get to work for CIA Black Ops? How cool is that?"

The dissonance felt pulled me out of the story. What kind of sixteen-year-old thinks it's cool to work for an illegal, lethal, organisation that sets itself outside of control by the democratic process in order to kill America's enemies?

 

After that, I struggled to muster the required suspension of disbelief.

As the chapters flew by, I began to see the Spy School as a sort of Hogwarts where everyone is in Slytherin and really proud of it.

 

I should have been caught up in a young Nadia's struggle to thrive in an elite spy school, which has been infiltrated by a double agent who has been told to terminate her in a make-it-look-like-an-accident way because she's perceived as a threat. My attention should have been split between figuring out who the double was (not a simple task as there were so many red herrings the plot stank of fish) and rooting for little miss cute but strong to succeed.

 

Instead, I kept seeing bright children being abused by a government agency that grooms them to be blindly obedient in the name of patriotism and then trains them to kill on command. They even use a psych profile to find the children whose backgrounds make them need to please and went to feel part of something larger than themselves. 

 

If this book had been written by Tom Clancy and set in a madrassah in Pakistan, he'd have shown it to the home of evil bad guys, exploiting children and misusing faith and courage. Setting the school in America doesn't make what's happening in it any more acceptable.

I stuck with the book to the half-way point because I was curious about who the bad guy was but, in the end, I couldn't set my distaste aside.

If you can come to this with a "Clear and Present Danger" for teenagers mindset then this will probably work for you. It was too Through The Looking Glass for me.

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text 2018-06-24 14:07
Reading progress update: I've read 35%.-spy novels are supposed to be "through the looking-glass" but not like this.
Desert Dark - Sonja Stone

I'm suffering from culture shock.

 

I'm in a world where Fox News is not an oxymoron.

 

A spy school that's a sort of Hogwarts where everyone is in Slytherin and really proud of it.

 

I'm supposed to be caught up in a young woman's struggle to thrive in an elite spy school, which has been infiltrated by a double agent who has been told to terminate her in a make-it-look-like-an-accident way because she's perceived as a threat. My attention should be split between figuring out who the double is - so many red herrings the plot stinks of fish - and rooting for little miss cute but nice to succeed.

 

Instead, I'm seeing bright children being abused by the State and manipulated into blind obedience in the name of patriotism and trained to kill on command. If this was written by Patterson and set in Pakistan, the school would be the home of the evil bad guys.

 

Now I'm rubbernecking rather than reading. This is a car wreck I can't look away from.

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review 2018-06-23 19:02
Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume 0 by Jason Latour
Spider-Gwen Vol. 1: Most Wanted? - Marvel Comics

Title:  Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume 0

Author: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

Genre:  Action / Superheroes / Drama / Crime / Music


Year Published: 2015


Year Read:  11/11/2017

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Series: Spider-Gwen #0

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 15+ (Some Language and Violence)

 

 

Spider

Introduction: 

Wait a minute…Gwen Stacy is…SPIDER WOMAN!? And who ever heard of a graphic novel having a volume 0? 

Before you get confused about this (as I was), there was an event called “Spider-Verse” that might explain about all this (except that I haven’t read the “Spider-Verse” event yet, so that point might be moot at this time). Anyway, I have been hearing so many good things about the “Spider-Gwen” series that I had to give “Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume Zero” a shot and I must admit that I actually liked this graphic novel!

What is this story about? 

In this universe, it was Gwen Stacy who was bitten by a radioactive spider and possessed spider powers (not Peter Parker). It turns out that Peter Parker was bullied so much at school that one day he decided to transform himself into the lizard and went on a rampage throughout the city and ended up getting himself killed. Because of this, Gwen harbored a lot of guilt over what happened to Peter since Peter was doing all this to be like Gwen. After this tragic event, J. Jonah Jameson had caused the public to turn against Spider-Gwen by stating that she was responsible for Peter Parker’s death and Gwen ends up being on the run from the law, including from her father Captain Stacy (at least until she tells him who she really is). Now Gwen has to prove to the public that she did not kill Peter Parker and that she is a true hero while also avoiding the people after her including Frank Castle (A.K.A. The Punisher), the Vulture and Matt Murdock himself!

What I loved about this story: 

Jason Latour’s writing: Jason Latour’s writing was quite unique and interesting to read as this universe’s Gwen Stacy is one of the most interesting characters I had ever read! I loved the way that Jason Latour made Gwen Stacy into such a strong female protagonist as Gwen also cracks jokes like Spider-Man, but she can be moody at times due to her guilt over Peter’s death and I loved the way that Jason Latour wrote Gwen’s struggles with trying to cope with Peter’s death as it made Gwen into a truly relatable character. I also loved the fact that Gwen Stacy is involved in a rock band as it adds even more dimension to her character and I just loved the fact that we have a heroine who is into music! I also enjoyed the moments between Gwen and her father, Captain Stacy, as while it was quite intense due to Captain Stacy not wanting his daughter to get in danger, it was nice seeing how much Captain Stacy cares about his daughter and only wants what is best for her. Jason Latour also did an interesting job at giving us a Spider-Man universe where Gwen Stacy is Spider Woman as I never would have thought that Gwen Stacy of all people could become a superheroine. But, this version of Gwen Stacy is so well written that I actually loved the fact that Gwen Stacy makes an interesting Spider Woman!

Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork: Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork was quite creative to look at, especially Spider Gwen’s outfit! I just loved the reddish hues that cover the pages whenever Gwen is performing in her rock band as it makes those moments really stand out. But the best part of Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork is Spider-Gwen’s outfit! I think I have fallen in love with Spider-Gwen’s outfit since it is actually white and pink all over and it makes her look like a savior type being within the pages!

Spider

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

The reason why I gave this book a four-star rating was because I felt that the dialogue was a bit disjointed at times. I was not sure if it was because the dialogue was trying to use street slang to make the characters seem more modern or if it was the writing itself. I often had a difficult time trying to understand what the characters are actually saying due to how the dialogue is being written. Also, if you have not read “Spider-Verse,” chances are you will probably be confused about what is really going on in this book (although this is technically an alternate universe of the “Spider-Man” universe).

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume Zero” is a great graphic novel to read if you want to see a different take on Gwen Stacy!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2018-06-23 17:03
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale - Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa,Francesco Francavilla

Title:  Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume 1  

Author:  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa  

Artist:  Francesco Francavilla  

Genre:  Horror / Drama / Zombies / Alternative Universe / Friendship


Year Published: 2014


Year Read:  10/28/2017

Publisher:  Archie Comics

Series: Afterlife with Archie #1

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 15+ (Gory Violence and Some Language)

 

 

 

Afterlife

Introduction: 

Alright, so I will admit that I have not read many Archie Comics where the gang is put into a darker situation that is different from the “wholesale family entertainment” adventures that they are usually in (and this was BEFORE the reboot came along, although the reboot was not as dark as this comic). So, since Halloween is around the corner, I just had to pick this graphic novel up called “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume One” which is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa along with artwork by Francesco Francavilla, where Archie and the Gang end up in a for real zombie apocalypse!

What is this story about? 

The story starts out with Hot Dog, Jughead’s beloved dog, being run over by a car and Jughead ends up going to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, to see if she can help his dog. Unfortunately, Sabrina’s aunts tell Jughead that there is nothing they can do for Hot Dog and that he should let Hot Dog stay dead. But then, Sabrina decided to help out Jughead anyway and she ends up resurrecting Hot Dog. Unfortunately, it turns out that when Sabrina brought Hot Dog back to life, Hot Dog became a zombie dog and he ended up biting Jughead, which turned Jughead into a zombie! So, when Jughead went to the school dance, he ended up affecting most of the school by biting most of the students, with the exception of the main cast, which consisted of Archie, Dilton, Midge, Moose, Reggie, Betty, Veronica and many others. The remaining students ended up going to Mr. Lodge’s mansion in order to protect themselves against the zombies, while also trying to see if there are any survivors from the zombie apocalypse.

What I loved about this story: 

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing: Wow! I never would have thought that I would live to see the day where there would be a graphic novel series that has Archie and the gang getting involved in a zombie apocalypse! Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has done a fantastic job at giving the usual sweet natured Archie Comics a darker and scarier tone in this graphic novel and it never felt so out of place to me that the Archie gang in this story are portrayed in a much more mature and cynical way, since they are stuck in a zombie apocalypse and it is appropriate for this type of story. I also loved the way that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa created a different spin for each of the main characters, such as Betty and Veronica being more antagonistic with each other rather than be good friends with a small rivalry with each other, Sabrina and her family being more realistic and intense versions of witches and Nancy and Chuck…well, I will let you find out for yourselves what is going on with Nancy and Chuck in this comic! I really loved the fact that this comic is much more serious and frightening in tone since the gang are facing a zombie apocalypse and I found myself a bit creeped out by some of the moments in this comic, such as the zombified citizens of Riverdale attacking the main protagonists.

Francesco Francavilla’s artwork: Francesco Francavilla’s artwork fits the scary and serious tone of this comic quite perfectly as the zombies in this comic are quite terrifying to look at such as the images of the zombified Hot Dog. I loved the fact that the art style is much more realistic in this comic as it really captures the mature and serious nature of this story. I also loved the way that Francesco Francavilla did the coloring of this book as the colors are mostly in red, black, orange and grey that greatly convey the horror elements of this story.

Afterlife

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

Anyone who does not like language or gory violence might be a bit uncomfortable with some of the gory violence and language in this comic. The language in this comic is not as strong as some of the more mature comics as only the “h” word is uttered in a couple of sentences and as for the gory violence, there are many images of zombies biting into people which is pretty graphic.

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume One” is a fantastic graphic novel that anyone who loves both the Archie Comics and zombies will easily enjoy!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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text 2018-06-23 14:00
Reading progress update: I've read 12%.- does anyone respond like this?
Desert Dark - Sonja Stone

I wanted a lighter side to my Summer Of Spies reading so I picked up Desert Dark, knowing from the publisher's summary that it was a YA adventure book about a sixteen-year-old heroine attending a school for spies.

 

Well, it's light and fast and very YA. It started with an attempt on our heroine's life, did a "Three months earlier.." flip followed by an up close and personal murder.

 

Yet what caught me by surprise is our young heroine's reaction to her situation.

 

Day One of her new school she's put through a psych eval, finally told the kind of school she's been conned into signing up for and then been threatened with indefinite detention without charge under the Patriot Act if she tells anyone about it.

 

Her reaction?

 

"So I really get to work for CIA Black Ops? How cool is that?"

 

Suddenly, I'm in a parallel universe. Can you imagine any teen reacting that way?

 

I mean, is this kind of patriotic enthusiasm for illegal, lethal, organisations that set themselves outside of control by the democratic process in order to kill America's enemies a plausible response?

 

Yeh, I know, it's ENTERTAINMENT. It's not real. But still. Really?

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