Book Review: Saga Vol. 4 – Vol. 6

I am not in a reading slump.  If I just keep telling myself it will be true right?  It’s a little difficult to blog about books if you haven’t read anything in two weeks.  However, over the weekend I did force myself to sit down and read the three graphic novels I think I’ve had checked out from the library for, I kid you not, nine weeks.

Rating:  ★★★★

I’ve reviewed a lot of books, and I like to think I leave decent, well-rounded reviews.  However, for whatever reason, it doesn’t translate well to Graphic Novels.  I think because there is less to comment on?

For anyone unfamiliar with this series, Saga is about two people who fell in love while they were at war against each other.  Everyone with a stake in the war wants them dead because it would be bad for people to know that there’s a chance that maybe they could all get along.  To top it off the couple gets pregnant.

I won’t spoil too much about the plot- it’s an interstellar adventure with some very tense moments.  I do think these last three volumes were significantly darker than the first three.  We see the deaths of some characters that I managed to get pretty attached to, and some of the characters arcs take hard turns into the darker side of things.

Along the way we are introduced to a few new characters here and there.  Some of which I enjoyed and others less so.  The representation Vaughan includes is pretty thorough.  There are characters of color and plenty of LGBTQ rep.

Fiona Staples is the artist and her work is amazing.  I love the way she uses color, and it’s always a treat when there is a full panel drawing or concept included.

I did have to wonder a little bit, with Hazel starting kindergarten and all, why the governments are still looking for them.  It seemed to me Alana, Marko, and Hazel would have fallen to the wayside what with the war going on and all.

One of my complaints about some of the previous volumes was that Marko talks in his own language which I’m pretty sure is made up.  That trend continued here.  I still don’t understand those panels, I’m not sure what they contributed, and I’m not sure why they were included.  There’s no other explanation of what might be going on.

All in all it’s a small complaint, and Saga is very much worth checking out.  I’m excited to see where these stories go in the next few volumes.

Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan, Illustrated by Fiona Staples

Saga Vol 2 by Brian Vaughan

Rating:  ★★★1/2

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first one.

Vol. 2 does a good job of explaining some of Marko’s personal backstory but also explaining how his relationship with Alana started. I think they are so cute together- but I don’t think they have quite as much chemistry as Yorick and 355 did in Y: The Last Man.

We still don’t know why the war started- except that it’s senseless and stupid. I did like the insight we were given into the book Alana loves and it’s writer and what it was all an allegory for.

Things I didn’t like:

Granted, readers of science fiction and fantasy are much more willing to suspend disbelief than perhaps readers of non-fantastical fiction. But there were two things in this book that I was really not willing to believe. (Minor spoilers ahead.) The planet that was an egg that hatched a giant death baby (time suck I think they called it?) in outer space. Secondly, that Lying Cat was ripped into the vacuum of space with no suit and no oxygen, The Will used his lance to save her, with no suit and no oxygen, and did in fact rescue her. I will freely admit I am no scientific expert, but in literally every book I’ve read, every movie I’ve seen- people floating out in space unprotected are pretty much DOA. There’s no heat. There’s no air. I get that this is also a fantasy and there’s magic and some of these species are aliens, but The Will seems human and there is a limit to how far I’m willing to go with this.

Lastly- there are some panels written completely in another language. It seems like a romance or romance based language- but I didn’t understand it and I wasn’t sure why they were included because I got literally nothing from them.  If I had been reading on a kindle or other electronic device and it wasn’t a graphic novel, it probably would have been fine, because translation is easy on an electronic device.  However, I’m not even sure it was an actual language?  I didn’t recognize it as one and I wasn’t going to spend time agonizing over it.  The imagery really didn’t give me any clues because it was clearly a flash back and aside from recognizing Marko I didn’t recognize the other character.

Aside from some odd narrative choices- it was quick and I still enjoyed it for the most part. I will definitely continue with the series.

Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan; Illustrated by Fiona Staples

Just dropping a quick review in here today.  It’s a graphic novel so I tend to have less to say about those.  I’ve read Brian Vaughan before and I like him quite a bit.  (I read the entire Y: The Last Man series last year and loved it.)

S_BVFS

Rating:  ★★★★

This was pretty good and not at all what I expected. Judging by the cover I had expected something more along the lines of fantasy and instead I got a blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Alana and Marko once fought on opposite sides of the war, but they fell in love and defected and are now starting a family. Now both sides want them dead and the baby alive. We follow both them, Prince Robot IV (whose name cracks me up) as he chases them, and another bounty hunter (called freelancer in the book), The Will, as he chases them also.

I loved the different races that were introduced. The Stalker was super cool. I’m also really intrigued by The Will and his story line. He’s a guy with shades of gray even though he’s pretty obviously an antagonist in this book. Alana and Marko’s banter was great and I love that Hazel narrates some scenes.

I do wish we’d been given more information about the war. It just didn’t really make sense to me why the two sides were fighting. One lived on the planet and the other lived on the moon, but it doesn’t sound like they were fighting over resources or anything. It’s just: there was a war and then it started destroying people so they moved it off planet.

Umm….

Okay.

Anyway- the art work was pretty cool and I’ll definitely continue with the series.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona Rating: ★★★★

Blurb from goodreads.com: “Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.”

“I’m not a kid- I’m a shark.”

No really- she’s a shark. This was a lot of fun. There was plenty of humor and it kept me laughing almost all the way through.

The ending turned a little dark, which is why it wasn’t a full five star read for me. But otherwise I enjoyed it.

The plot kept me guessing- nothing on the surface was quite what it seemed.

I loved the mashup of medieval fantasy and modern technology. I would definitely check out more Nimona!

Locke & Key Vol. 3 by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke-Key-3-Crown-Of-Shadows-w-logoRating: ★★★★

Blurb taken from goodreads.com:

“The dead plot against the living, the darkness closes in on Keyhouse, and a woman is shattered beyond repair, in the third storyline of the Eisner-nominated series, Locke & Key! Dodge continues his relentless quest to find the key to the black door, and raises an army of shadows to wipe out anyone who might get in his way. Surrounded and outnumbered, the Locke children find themselves fighting a desperate battle, all alone, in a world where the night itself has become their enemy.”

I enjoyed this- but not quite as much as the first two. It felt less creative somehow- I won’t spoil the keys that are discovered in this book, but I imagine it would be hard to live up to (spoiler for vol. 2): a key that literally opens your head and allows you to add or take away memories as needed.

The characters are still the shining stars and we get to meet a few new ones who I liked. I am a little worried for Mrs. Locke- I keep thinking she must be stronger than this. I wouldn’t mind seeing her story advanced a bit in the next book.

The artwork is growing on me as the stories go on. It’s still not my favorite style- but there have been a few featured silent 2-page spreads in the past couple of books so rich and full of detail it’s hard not to be impressed.

I’m sad I’m halfway done with the series already- I have a feeling I’ll be checking out the next few books very soon!

Locke & Key Vol. 2 by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

L_K_HG Rating: ★★★★★

Blurb taken from goodreads.com:

“Following a shocking death that dredges up memories of their father’s murder, Kinsey and Tyler Locke are thrown into choppy emotional waters, and turn to their new friend, Zack Wells, for support, little suspecting Zack’s dark secret.

Meanwhile, six-year-old Bode Locke tries to puzzle out the secret of the head key, and Uncle Duncan is jarred into the past by a disturbingly familiar face.

Open your mind – the head games are just getting started.”

I think I enjoyed this even more than the first. With the world and the concepts fully established Hill was able to put down whatever amazing ideas floated into his head (or were stuffed into his head?). The idea of this magical house continues to be built upon with this book, adding new ideas and also some new history to the story.

I still adore the characters, especially Kinsey, who came into her own in this one. I didn’t feel that this one was quite as dark as the first- there was plenty of violence, but it was a bit removed from the characters and made for a slightly easier read.

I can’t wait to see what magical keys he comes up with next!

Locke & Key Vol. 1 by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

L&K1Rating: ★★★★★

Blurb taken from goodreads.com:

“Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them. Home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all…”

Read this today and loved it! It is really, really dark though, so I’m not sure I’d recommend it to everyone. This is the first graphic novel that’s truly sucked me in.

Hill uses an alternating timeline, so it takes a little bit to piece the whole story together, and by the end of book one you still don’t have the whole picture. But everything becomes pretty clear quickly enough.

The characters are fantastic. They have unique voices and I liked that they all dealt with their problems in different ways.

The artwork isn’t really my style, but they fit the tone and theme of the book so it didn’t bother me too much.

The house is a wondrous, amazing concept. It could almost qualify as being another character in the book, and Hill’s ideas and plans for the house don’t waste an ounce of his creative talent.  I have never read Lovecraft, so I’m not sure if Hill borrowed that idea or came up with it himself, but there are elements I definitely recognized as Lovecraft’s original ideas.

I would recommend to fans of Hill or Lovecraft, or someone looking for a good horror story.