Heartstopper

Heartstopper

by Alice Oseman

This heartwarming collection of comics follows Nick and Charlie as they discover their growing attraction to one another that bloomed from friendship. Both attending the same private boy’s school, Nick and Charlie become fast friends after being placed next to each other in the class seating chart. While Charlie announced his sexuality last school year, Nick struggles to find himself as he discovers his feelings for Charlie are more than friendship. Heartstopper Volume 1 shows their friendship growing as they slowly gather the courage to approach the other about their feelings. Their relationship continues to grow throughout the other volumes as they near the end of their high school experience (there are a total of 4 so far).

Volume 1 of Heartstopper, while short, is the most genuine and wholesome romance comic I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This comic never fails to bring a smile to my face as I follow these two goofballs through their high school experience and watch as their romantic relationship grows. If you are looking for tension and drama, Heartstopper is not the comic for you. This book only contains healthy communication, friendship, bonding, and growing into oneself. It highlights the struggles each character faces and how they overcome them with the help of their friends and families. Each character offers a new perspective and challenges to overcome. The entire Heartstopper series toke me a day and a half to devour and as I eagerly await new volumes to be published, I remember the sweet and touching moments of this story.

This series has even become a Netflix series! Make sure to check that out. The entire Heartstopper series is also available for free on Webtoon and Tapas.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Amazon.com: Dragon Hoops: 9781626720794: Yang, Gene Luen: Books

Dragon Hoops is a graphic novel that follows the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons’ journey to winning the state championship. A graphic novelist, Mr. Yang, is also along for the ride. After losing in the state championship game for multiple years, the Dragons are fed up and ready to make some noise! Their roster is looking stacked, with Paris Austin and Ivan Rabb leading the way as the star players. 

The Dragons experience defeats and victories along their path to the state championship game. There are ups and downs, but they get through those negative moments as a team. 

Gene Luen Yang, the author of Dragon Hoops, wrote about a true story from his time at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Ivan Rabb, Paris Austin, Alex Zhao, and other players are actually real people and not just made-up characters!

I recommend this book to any sports enthusiast. As I read this book, I really enjoyed getting a graphic novelist’s perspective on the team. Since the book was written as a graphic novel, it was easier and quicker to read. Dragon Hoops is a very entertaining book, and if you are someone who enjoys reading graphic novels, you will definitely like this book!

I would give this graphic novel a 10/10 rating because it had a plot to it. It wasn’t like some graphic novels which are just meant to make people laugh and read for fun, but it had a purpose. Dragon Hoops was written to show us the way a high school sports team operates but in a more interesting and entertaining way.

-Mert A.

Dragon Loops by Gene Luen Yang is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Disclaimer: There are two versions of Persepolis: the graphic memoir version and the literary memoir. The graphic memoir version is divided into two parts. I have only read the first graphic memoir book of Persepolis, not the actual memoir. Therefore, there’s still some of Satrapi’s writing that I haven’t been exposed to (yet). I will definitely try to find the second graphic memoir or the actual memoir soon, but for now, this review is based solely on the first graphic memoir.

Persepolis is both a graphic memoir and autobiography published in 2000. With the memoir originally written in French, Satrapi has received numerous awards for her work including the Cannes Jury Prize and the César Award for Best Writing.

The narration is written through the eyes of the main characterMarjane “Marji” Satrapi, the author herselfduring her childhood at the time of the Iranian Revolution. A series of small stories are written in the memoir based on her own experiences, portraying political upheaval and how her own family was affected by the Iranian Revolution, Iraq’s oppressive regime, and the Iran-Iraq War. Marji’s accounts mainly focus on her and her family who live in Tehran, as well as how they attempt to rebel against the regime and take part in Iranian history.

As a daughter of immigrant parents but of non-Middle Eastern descent, I felt like I could connect with aspects of this memoir all while still learning more about Iran’s history. The memoir is a beautiful representation of Islamic and Iranian culture from the first-hand perspective of an Iranian citizen. The illustrations themselves are unique and drawn to perfectly fit the memoir, making Satrapi’s experiences seem more significant.

Although it’s a graphic memoir, I highly recommend Persepolis to high schoolers more than elementary or even middle schoolers. Some topics and drawings can be graphic, making the memoir a difficult read, and there are often parts that simply cannot be taken lightly. However, the book itself is unique at being able to broaden readers’ perspectives on other cultures as a memoir, historical account, and comic book all at once.

– Natisha P.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan

Natalie has always been best friends with Lily. However, when her friend moves away she is upset but is still excited and confident that their friendship will continue into middle school.

However, when Natalie arrives at school on the first day of middle school, she sees her best friend Lily in a conversation with a cool-looking girl. Lily seems to be… FRIENDS with this girl. Lily’s new friendship leaves Natalie alone and confused. What happened to their friendship? Weren’t they best friends? Did Natalie do something wrong?

All of this leaves Natalie feeling like she is not enough. Not enough to be friends with Lily. Not enough to be cool. Natalie feels very wounded. She doesn’t know what to do, and her only thought is to try to win Lily back. One day, after she finds a note from Lily, she gets to work. Natalie devises a plan to get Lily back.

Meanwhile, Natalie is receiving mean notes on her locker from Lily. Natalie feels terrible and wounded but she still wants Lily back. After all, they were best friends, weren’t they? Ignoring all of Lily’s mean acts, Natalie gives up a lot of what she loves to do so that she can please Lily and get her back.

Whatever Lily thinks becomes what Natalie does. However, can Natalie overcome these feelings and move on after Lily? Can she become her true self? Or she is simply not enough?

I really loved this book because it is very fun to read. It portrays how you do not need to be what anyone else wants you to be. You only need to be yourself. I would recommend you to read this book because as you grow older, your friends and you might have different interests, and you might not be as close to them as you once were.

I rate this book a 10/10.

-Peri A

Book Love by Debbie Tung

Do you like books? How about graphic novels? If you are a bookworm who also enjoys graphic novels, this book is for you! 

This is an outstanding graphic novel. It is about a bookworm’s love for books. 

The main character, Debbie, leads a very interesting lifestyle. Books surround her everywhere and almost always. She sometimes finds herself walking into a book store saying things like, “Just a quick browse”, but then comes out looking like she bought a whole shelf of books. She is a huge bookworm. 

It dives a lot deeper into how some people have a different style than others, like how Debbie loves books, but other people prefer other activities. Here is one of my favorite comic strips from the book:

This story is filled with humor, while at the same time putting together an outstanding graphic novel. The main character loves to relax and unwind with a good book. It reduces her anxiety! Also, at certain times, Debbie must decide between either having something else, like food, or books. Her reactions to these situations are amusing!

Book Love is written and illustrated by Debbie Tung. Debbie Tung has also written Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and also recently published Happily Ever After (and Everything in Between). She is an introvert, similar to the character Debbie from her books. 

I really enjoyed reading this book because I love to read a lot. It made me feel happy and I liked how it is funny and easy to read but at the same time filled with great lessons.

I would recommend you to read this book. This is a perfect book for you to read, since it tells the funny and amazing story of a bookworm.

Also, here are some great reading tips:

Happy Reading! 

-Peri A.

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

If you love comic strips, graphic novels, or rad video game graphics that tell the story seen in your imagination, then you will find Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein intriguing. This literary remake of Mary Shelley’s classic work captures attention immediately with on-point illustrations complementing the descriptive narrative, down to the smallest imagined detail. Grimly himself writes in his Afterword, “I wanted to set the tale in a world that could only be visited through my imagination. Dark moral lessons exist amidst a whimsical tone.” (Grimly 195).

The original Frankenstein was published in 1818 by Mary Shelley but the core messages of this chilling classic stand the test of time, especially told through Grimly’s words and pictures. Shelley’s original work was very advanced for its era. For many, the disturbing concept of creating life in a laboratory was difficult to understand. However, Shelley’s lessons about the consequences of what we create continue to captivate and even frighten readers today. As medical science has evolved, we can now transplant organs from one human being to another to sustain life. This is the positive side of such advancement but what are the consequences? Mary Shelley was asking these questions before anyone around her could imagine this kind of science. The problem with Shelley’s telling of Frankenstein is that the novel is long and difficult for a modern reader to get through. Enter Gris Grimly. Grimly is a wildly talented illustrator who was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so much so that he re-wrote the story in a way that would be more understandable to a wide audience. He added captivating, weird, and sometimes horrifying (in a good way) graphics that help usher the reader through the dense and detailed story.

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein’s twisted life. A key component to understanding Victor is learning that he loses his beloved mother to scarlet fever. He is heart-broken and his grief drives him to the brink of insanity. His entire purpose becomes trying to find the cure for all illness, to prevent man’s demise from disease. This transforms from wanting to cure disease to creating life. Through research and experimentation, Victor succeeds in resurrecting the dead and creating life from a dead body dug out of a graveyard. The glory of his creation turns into fear because the life form has a hideous appearance. “For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Grimly 42) Victor immediately flees the creature, his own creation, without even giving the creature a chance to learn humanity. The monster is brought into the world and abandoned by his maker. Grimly’s illustrative rendering of the scene is grotesque, sad, and begs the question, “who is the real monster?” Victor’s abandonment of the monster is a grave mistake. The monster flees into a world he does not understand with no guidance. He is shunned and hated by all manner of person. The rejection destroys the monster. He becomes jealous, hurt, and angry. The monster does not understand why he is treated differently than Victor and he is jealous of the love and acceptance Victor has from his family and friends. The monster’s rage and jealousy turn destructive and then deadly as he seeks to make Victor suffer in the worst way imaginable. With the guilt of his family being murdered by his own creation, Victor sets out to kill the creature and send it back to the darkness. Ultimately, this obsession leads to Victor’s own demise.

Grimly’s illustrations and written word are dark but weirdly drive home sympathy for the monster and disgust with Victor. Grimly writes in his Afterword about seeing the story through Victor’s eyes, “Beware the slippery slopes of acclimating to a life of self-absorbed achievements and fame, lest one falls into the pit of fire and brimstone.” (Grimly 195) Victor’s selfish undoing is not the only lesson of Frankenstein. The damage of ” judging a book by its cover” is another. The monster wants only acceptance and love. Anyone who has ever felt like the outsider or outcast can identify with him. Grimly beautifully draws the monster asking Victor to create a companion for him so he can, “become linked to the chain of existence and events, from which I am now excluded.” (Grimly 117) This drives home the monster’s feeling of loneliness and desire for acceptance and companionship. The reader can’t help but be frustrated by how the monster is treated and ask themselves, “wouldn’t I treat him better?” Ultimately what Gris Grimly accomplishes with his interpretation of Frankenstein is illustrative magic. Grimly draws the reader into his cool, grotesque, and hipster version of Frankenstein’s world, without allowing the reader to miss the key elements and moral questions of the original story. He takes the hard work of Mary Shelley’s immense masterpiece and makes it an easy ride for all readers.

-Johnson D.

Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father by Jonathan Hennessey and Justin Greenwood

I tried and tried and tried, I just couldn’t enjoy this book, I really wanted to, but I just couldn’t.

It started off kind of weird, and If I am being honest, I skipped the prologue, It was very hard to follow. You have to know, I love history, so I assumed I would love this (I mean, how could I not?) but it was really just an odd book.

I thought the whole novel was hard to follow and had moments where I had no clue what was going on.

The book itself looks very nice, it’s a goregous graphic novel and the layout on the back matched it perfectly. I guess what I am trying to say is, that it would be much better as a shelf book then a reading book. I am so bummed I did not enjoy this book.

I thank ‘Blogging For Books’ for graciously sending me an ARC of this novel.

Lumberjanes Series Overview

lumberjanesA summer camp for “hard-core lady types”, filled with bear-women, dinosaurs, alternate time dimensions, and a whole lot more crazy supernatural stuff, is the setting of Lumberjanes. Lumberjanes is a graphic novel series created by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen. Lumberjanes is chaotic and full of the unexpected, and it’s great. It follows five best friends, April, Molly, Mal, Jo, and Ripley, during their time at summer camp, which is way more magical (literally) then they ever could have expected. And for the most part, they just roll with it, which makes for some great adventures.

The characters, both main and supporting, are diverse and well rounded. There is a lot of representation going on in these comics, which is great, especially for an all ages comic. One area of representation that I was very pleased to see was LGBT+ because it’s largely absent from most all ages/kids media.

The supernatural aspect of the story is really enjoyable. It’s a bit random and not always super explained, but it’s always really fun and just seems to work. You never know what kind of supernatural antics will occur, but whatever they are, you know they will be enjoyable, even if they don’t totally make sense.

One thing that I think is a really nice touch is the way they work the Lumberjanes earning badges into the story. For each story arc (which lasts a few comics each), there is a page at the begging detailing a badge they are working on. The story somehow ties into that. It’s an interesting take on the idea of scouts earning badges because with the Lumberjanes, the requirements for getting a badge are never as straight forward as it seems.

Being a comic series, the art is an important aspect. And honestly, I have mixed feelings about this. Their isn’t a constant artist/style for the series, and while I’ve never read an issue where the art was bad, there have been some that just didn’t feel like Lumberjanes to me. Sometimes the art is fairly realistic, sometimes it’s more stylized, so it’s really a matter of personal preference whether or not  you like the art in a specific issue. Overall though even when I’m not  a fan of the art I still love reading the comics because the story and the characters are always great.

Lumberjanes has been around for a little while now, there are currently 33 issues of the main series comic, with the 34th being released later this month, as well as a spin off series and some one-offs. This may be a bit overwhelming for some new readers, but as far as comics go it’s not really all that much, plus it would be pretty great to be able to read that many back to back without having to wait.

Overall Lumberjanes is a really fun read that’s doing some great things in terms of representation and overall is something I highly recommend.

-Angela J.

Comic Review: Orphan Black: Helsinki

orphanblack_helsinkiI’ve got to say, I really liked this. I read the first round of the Orphan Black comics, and while I enjoyed them, I wasn’t all that impressed as they were basically just retelling of the show. Not so here. Helsinki introduces new plot material and serves as a prequel both for the comics and the show.

There are several new clones introduced in this, it has a similar vibe to the show where they are all meeting for the first time in that regard. There are also some familiar characters that make appearances here. The story-line is great at make the reader feel connected to the new characters, and also adds to the existing characters. Being that this is basically a prequel it takes place back in 2001, when the clones are 17. Seeing this past perceptive is really great with the know characters, as it reveals more about how they got to be who they are and elaborates more on what was shown of their past in the show and original comics.

I really liked the pacing of the story, it keep things moving with lot of action, but still made sure to keep an emotional tie to the characters. Not really any bomb dropping new information was revealed in this, but rather it gave more context to the already existing plot line. My one minor grip is that is jumps around a little showing the range of characters, and while it works, it took a little getting used to (but not too much).

Finally given that this is a comic, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the art. I really enjoyed looking at it, it wasn’t the most breathtaking I have ever seen, but this wasn’t due to lack of skill, just personal preference. The art is closer to traditional comic book graphics than some of the modern day computer generated 3Dish stuff that appears in some comics. The artist did a good job of visually distinguishing the clones while still making them look the same. My only real complaint with the art was that in this bound edition each issue runs into the next one with a cover breaking them up, and I always love looking at the covers.

Overall a very fun read that should be appealing to fans of both the show and the other comics. I would recommend these for older teens as their are a view brief scenes involving partial nudity, including some sex scenes (though nothing graphic, more implied than shown), as well as some violence.

*This bound edition will be out in July 2016, but the single issues are already available for purchase.

*The review is based on a free ARC copy of this book from NetGalley, given in exchange for an honest review

Graphic Novel Review: Deadpool, by Poehsen, Duggan, & Moore

deadpoolI should explain why I put full story spoilers in these comic reviews. Because of how short they are, and the fact that comics are a visual book. I try to engross you in the story without the images, of course this isn’t that easy but I do my best. So without further delay, here is DEADPOOL!

This has to be the most interesting part of the comic for me if only for how absurdly stupid and funny it is. It’s a disembodies voice talking over the many noteworthy problems like the amount of homeless people, and overweight people fighting which I will not go into do to this turning into a political rant. Turns out, instead of everything else, it’s a necromancer. (Fun fact: A necromancer is a wizard that uses what is normally but not always considered dark magic to revive the dead.)

Of course, this necromancer LOVES America so he has an idea! He’s going to bring back all of the dead presidents to help fix the country. (An idea that many people that I know think would be cool.)  This of course is a no-no. He brings back a very demonic Harry S. Truman. (Fun fact: The S in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything. Instead of a middle name he had middle initial.) Instead of helping the country he wants to DESTROY it. Happy, right? Some where in all this, Captain America comes in and has to fight President Truman. The next scene skips ahead to the Shield flying fortress.

I can only assume that the person screaming at Agent Preston is Nick Furry. He is of course upset that CAPTAIN AMERICA is using his shield to DECAPITATE President Truman. They have a problem, of course, because the dead presidents are coming everywhere and causing problems; but they can’t send their heroes after them because after all, that would be horrible for the press. Who you gonna call? DEADPOOL. …but that’s later.

The next page is literally a Godzilla spin-off destroying the city. And then stops. You see a small sword go all the way down the front of him and dead pool’s head sticks out going: HERE COMES DEADPOOL. Once again proving Deadpool is the funniest thing in Marvel.

Easily a 8 out of 10. I love this comic series, and this is only the first half. There’s far more to love and I can’t wait.

-Cameron S., 12th grade