Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review ALL the Books: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Vol 1

I basically took a gap year off mangas for my 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge 2012, because it didn't count mangas. Now I've read this series before but the last one was about 2 years ago and it was volume 11-12-13-14-ish where it had fallen into a slump, either way, I can't remember so I restarted the whole series. I can't remember the original reason I picked up this series, I just knew my library had plenty of volumes of it and the cover art was coolio (shame on me, judging books by covers, but like art matters in mangas) also I had finished reading Chobits recently, so checking out more CLAMP seemed good. I remember the first time I read this volume I was literally hooked from page 1, this pretty much happened to me the 2nd time around but not quite as strong because it was a re-read. It was legitimately the best start to a manga I had ever read, now that position goes to Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom, but regardless the first volume is exceptional! The rest of the series(that I have read so far) is great (except the aforementioned slump), although I like the start better, and is the best work by CLAMP that I have read. This time I do intend to finish the whole series and we'll see what my recommendation is then. Reasons why this volume was so fantastic are mainly the art, and the strong hooking storyline. 

General Info: 
Title: Tsubasa Resrvoir Chronicle, Vol 1
Mangaka: CLAMP
Date of Completion: 6/1/2012
Rating: 5 stars

The Plot:
The story starts here so a lot of important events to the overarching storyline take place here, in the slump mentioned above the important events get few and far between so its less likeable). I know each world has its own plotline, which I think can carry away from the overarching story as on the whole these stories are not important unless a significant fact to the real story is in there, they only display the groups skills and knowledge, and the lengths Syoaran would go to to save Sakura. But since this is located in the start not the travelling between worlds, its more concentrated and that I really like. The actual story itself is pretty impacting, its fascinating to see how much Syaoran will do to get Sakura back. And don't you go thinking Sakura's some personality-less damsel letting Syoaran do all the work, she isn't given much of a choice she's unconscious for the most part of the volume. You're also left wondering what's the reason behind Sakura's reaction and Fai's needing to leave (I liked Chi's cameo).  I didn't notice the first time around but Syoaran and Sakura's love dialogue can get a bit cheesy at points, but that might be due to translation. What you see of the characterisation so early on is great, and you can't help but to be impressed by Syaoran's determination. 

The Art:
The art only strengthens these traits and really exoresses it, I really like the art style used by CLAMP in Tsubasa and Chobits (better than the art style in their other works) the facial features are simple but very effective in looking good and expressing emotions, while the clothing and hair can be as detailed and delicate as they like. A great example is in the prologue, that's where my hooked feelings began and they only grew throughout this volume. You can really see the pain, longing and desperation on their faces, the simplicity of the fingers trying to touch, then you see the glass wall, then the tube, and when she falls, you have got to know whats going on. Even if the only word said in the prologue is a name, it still makes an impact, even more so in my case. Although the anime gets that sequence pretty much accurate but in colour, the movement and colour takes away from the simple but powerful prologue in the manga.

Review ALL the Books: Wonder

Ahh I completed my 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge!!! and if I made this the last book of the Challenge instead of The God of Small Things (I had both already borrowed) I would have probably finished the challenge on Christmas as opposed to the last day :/ in fact I probably would have picked this if it fit in my bag. Instead I saved this book for the long drives to and from Melbourne, but it took less than a car trip to finish it (leaving me bookless for the return D:). But the 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge is finished, and 2013 brings a new challenge and this is the first entry more info on the challenge here. Unless you have a problem with heartwarming and happiness in books, I recommend this book to everyone. 

General Info:
Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Date of Completion: 1/1/2012
Rating: 5 stars

August 'Auggie' Pullman is just an ordinary kid, or he would like to be. No supernatural abilities this time, its an extraordinarily disfigured face that's stopping him. We join him and the people close to him through his first year in the real world, year 5. Its a heartwarming tale of adjusting and accepting: Auggie and his sister to a new school, his classmates, and the school staff to him, and Jack, Summer and Miranda to new social standings. And although its technically a childrens book, its suitable for all ages, I read it, enjoyed it and immediately passed it onto my sister (aged 11), I have also heard adults who've liked it, one of which is the brilliant Rick Riordan.

The Characters:
Auggie - an great lead character, who isn't unusual in personality but still interesting to read about. He has his quirks and all his decisions and reactions are understandable and realistic. His perspective on his adjusting to his new situation is great to read about. He acknowledges that people change around him, and no one is unaffected, but he doesn't always realise the extent of this.Its great that he isn't just a regular character + a deformed face, he has his own interests too. 

Via - A very understanding and understandable character. Her acceptance that her brother might be rushed off any second and her defensiveness of him is incredibly mature for her age. But she's not going to be pushed over by him and wishes to be her own person not "August's sister", and all of this is very relateable. I completely understood her feelings and reactions to her brother, Miranda's transformation, infatuation with the shy boy, and wanting to refresh her image with the new school.

Jack & Summer - Both break the status quo and become August's friends. This both leads to negative outcomes with their social standings. Summer is your friendly girl, who's wondering when did everyone suddenly grow up? (totally relateable for me, like seriously what happened to Halloween) quite mature for the people she's surrounded with, and all round cool beans. Jack is a well-crafted character who has multiple sides to him, he falls socially even harder than Summer, and he's resilient enough to cope with his mistakes. Both his fallouts and reactions to them are realistic and understandable.

Miranda & Justin - Miranda is Via's ex-bestie, who came back all different after camp. I was a bit irked when she said she had earned the right to call Auggie her brother, like you can say "he basically like my brother", but the way she said it just seemed like "I was great to this kid, Via and I were buds, now I am inserting myself into the Pullman family". I enjoyed her "but no one there to see" chapter, it was really sweet and you emphathize with her. When she explains it all its just like "oh my god! couldn't you just tell her?!?!" but you know, people make mistakes, and this book has that a lot. Justin, ermahgerd, reading his chapter was infuriating, he's not an bad character, the things he says aren't annoying, just the way its written, which is why I'll cover it in the writing section. But I think his part should have been skipped because it doesn't bring much to the table and its a pain to read. Otherwise fine, also his portrait thingy looks like Harry Potter. 

Julian - When you read about the stuff he does, you're just like "He is just a douchebag. Why does he even bother being so mean?" and then you realise there are a whole lot of jerk kids who are unnecessarily mean in all real schools. His character is relistic, his actions are completely feasible, no over-the-top business, no brainwashing of classmates or just trying to off Auggie when he gets too much, it works. He's one of those kids you want tell their parents to teach them better. 

Others - You get Mr Tushman's struggle with trying to keep everyone happy with Auggie's arrival, what a sweet dude. Eddie totally fits the High School bogan to a T. Julian's Mum should just accept the world is not perfect instead of trying to sugarcoat it. And nawww I just adore the supportiveness of the Pullman family, its just so great, they think of whats best for each other :)

The Plot: 
I don't want to be spoilery, but like the plot has a lot of events within that school year, so there's more than the summary. The Bleeding Scream thing made me want to hug Auggie, no one wants friends bitching behind each others backs, but it happens. The Plague thing makes you want to slap some people, because its sick (no pun intended). I felt like crying when **SPOILER ALERT** Daisy died **END SPOILER**. But most of the time I felt like smiling, they all go through a lot they all grow and learn things through these experiences. They learn what matters and I'm just a major sap ok. 

The Writing:
Its split into 10 parts, written in first person from the perspectives of August, Via, Summer, Jack, Justin and Miranda, and somehow the writing from 6 different points of view actually works. All of them are realistic, even though I would imagine an adult writing from 11 yr old's point of view would be hard. It gives a good range of voices and it works well. The except to that is Justin's POV, I mentioned above, it's infuriating to read, like seriously I'd take whiny crappy perfection compaining young adult heroines over this any day. Why u no use punctuation and grammar Justin? Grammar nazis (like myself) will be in agony reading this part, I'd probably just skip it, it doesn't add much, if I were the author I would delete his part, same goes if I was the editor. Its well paced too, like a lot of books I've read seem like 'woah so many things have happened, what?!?! Its only been 2 months, if not less' but this feels like its actual gone for a year. Regardless of its timeframe, it keeps you turning the pages.

Quotes: “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” 

“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you wil try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” 

“Now that I look back, I don't know why I was so stressed about it all this time. Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.” 

“The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they've died. They're like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they're made out of the memories people have of you.” 

Other: The cover's really interesting, but Auggie won't tell you what he looks like (Via does it for him) I assumed his facial abnormality would be like Prince Zuko's scar.

Unrelated Extra: For them easily amused like myself this is the thing for you, I never knew something so simple could be so entertaining: Koalas to the Max! also the pictures change and are all cute.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Review ALL the Books: About

In 2013, I SpasticSquirrel will be attempting to review every book I read this year. My first year in college and many other things may stop me, but regardless I will try to complete this challenge and you can follow my reading adventures right here, or on my Goodreads account which will be a bit more up to date. Fictional books, mangas and written plays only. Books assigned from school also count.

All reviews for this challenge will be titled "Review ALL the Books: <insert book title>". All spoilers will be warned with either large bold writing or <hide spoilers>. The layout for my Review ALL the Books Challenge reviews is pretty much the same as it was in my previous 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge but I'll give you a recap (given the short size of mangas and plays their reviews won't follow this format and be 1-2 paragraphs long):

Book Cover: Will be of the edition I have read.

Introduction: Me talking about the book in general, why it took me so long to update, etc.

General Info: (not available on Goodreads version)
Book Number:
Date of Completion:
Rating: Out of 5 stars

Why I Read it: Reason for reading (on Goodreads this will be the 'Recommended to SpasticSquirrel by' section)

Summary: Plot summary and genre of this book. This will not be on the Goodreads version of my review as the blurbs of the books can already be viewed.

The Characters: I will be talking about my reactions to the characters individually, in groups or as others.

The Plot: My review and feelings towards the plot (different to summary)

The Writing: My review of the writing style and editing of the book.

Other: Optional. Any other comments about this book.

Recommendation: Who I recommend it too, assuming I actually recommend it to someone. (On Goodreads it will be in the 'Recommends it for' section.)

Quotes: Optional. Quotes from the novel. (on Goodreads you can view the quotes I've liked when you 'see review')

Unrelated Extra: Optional. Some unrelated cool thing that I have been getting into recently and wish to share.