Category: Teen & Young Adult

Rice Boy
April 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Equal parts Alice in Wonderland and the Lord of the Rings with a pinch of politics and religion plus maybe some leftover LSD from the 60s. Rice Boy is a true quest tale with the survival of the world at its core.

The One Electronic, T-O-E for short, is looking for the true messiah. The past 3,000 years have been filled with one fake after another. If T-O-E stops searching for a messiah, he will die. One day after the latest messiah has died, T-O-E asks Rice Boy to be the next messiah.  All Rice Boy needs to do is meet with the Tree Keeper downstream in the Dorlish Wood. Rice Boy refuses and T-O-E leaves. Soon, Rice Boy decides to go on a quest to the Dorlish Wood. He meets Gerund going the same way on a quest to kill the Bleach Beast.  They decide to journey together. There are two sinister foes, Golgo and Dolly on Rice Boy’s trail.

I love Alice in Wonderland and have read a multitude of remixes and updates of it.  Rice Boy is the best of the bunch.  It has the feeling of Alice in Wonderland (everything is just enough similar and just enough off to give a feeling of discomfort). The art is brightly colored.  The tale is just bizarre enough. The mash-up of religion, politics and fantasy really works to create a deliciously different fairy tale.

While marketed as a young adult title, I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys fantasy and especially those who are bored by the similarity of so many recent plots.  Rice Boy is magnificently unlike everything else.  Plus at 460 pages, it is well worth the price tag.

Thanks to the publisher, Iron Circus Comics, for an advanced copy.

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Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

City 1
March 31st, 2018 by diane92345

City 1 is a surreal fast-moving episodic Sunday Comics-style manga.

Nagumo (20) doesn’t have her rent money. She tried to double her money by playing the horses and lost. Her landlady, called the Granny, is insistent. Niikura, Nagumo’s best friend cannot loan her the rent money. Nagumo goes through many schemes trying to pay her rent. Granny is a street brawler (literally).

City 1 contains twelve 12-page stories. All involve city life and build on each other. Some are ironic, some are humorous but all do not seem like traditional manga.

I’m not sure if the problem is in the translation or me not understanding Japanese culture well enough despite my worship of Studio Ghibli and mecha anime. Do Japanese really touch the gills of a shiitake mushroom or rub an eraser to relax? City 1 is clearly meant to be a madcap comedy. It fell short of that for me. However, tastes vary so I’ll give this comic 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Kodanska Comics, and NetGalley for a copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

Damselfly
March 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Combine Lord of the Flies and Mean Girls. Stir in a pinch of the Stanford Prison Experiment and you have Damselfly, a new young adult novel.

A teenage fencing team from an expensive prep school is stranded on a deserted island after the crash of their private aircraft. Soon their society is splitting into factions based on skin color and trying to find a mysterious island inhabitant.

This is a contemporary update of the Lord of the Flies. It includes some interesting backstories of some of the participants’ life before in the prep school. While it is a quick read, I think it adheres a little too closely to the original. It is only recommended to readers not familiar with the original. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Scholastic Press, and Goodreads for holding the giveaway where I won an advanced copy of this book.

Posted in Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Chibi!: Official Mark Crilley How-to-Draw Guide
March 19th, 2018 by diane92345

Drawing chibis (big heads and small bodies) that are seen in manga is easy and cheap if you use Chibi!: Official Mark Crilley How-to-Draw Guide.  All that is needed is some nice bristol paper, a regular pencil, a pencil sharpener, several pens with a variety of tip sizes, a 15” clear ruler, some kneaded erasers and some practice time.

Mr. Crilley starts simply with the basic chibi girl and boy including their hairstyles, clothing and manga emotion symbols.  In Part 2, he includes some more advanced poses like panda, fox, witch, fantasy, kissing and action. The chibi dog, cat and robot are adorable. Part 3 gives 78 ways to use your new drawing abilities including cards, signs, t-shirts, stickers, buttons, rubber stamps, pop-ups and calendars. My favorite, and sadly lacking, ability was to create a chibi that looks like a real person.

Chibi!: Official Mark Crilley How-to-Draw Guide would be an excellent gift for the manga fan in your life.  If they are already into producing art, it would also be nice to include those items listed in the first paragraph that they are lacking.  I have been asking my daughter, an A+ art student in high school, to make my face into a manga character for my blog.  She has let me down for over 13 years.  Now I can do it myself…with substantially more practice.

I would highly recommend purchasing the paperback version of this book.  The kindle version is hard to read on a kindle as some of the illustration break over several pages.  On a larger tablet, the kindle version is fine.  However, if the reader wishes to use tissue paper to copy the chibi examples to get a head’s start on their own drawing (please don’t judge), a tablet won’t be easy to use. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Impact Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

There is also a review of a more traditional art instruction book using pencil located here.

Posted in Non-fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Again Vol 1
March 7th, 2018 by diane92345

With dyed blond hair and a hostile resting face, Imamura is finally graduating from his high school as Again Vol 1 opens. He transferred to the high school three years previously but had neither made friends nor joined a club. Imamura has also made no plans for his future career or schooling after high school ends. After the graduation ceremony, Imamura is thinking about the Ouendan (pep) club that he could have joined but didn’t.  When he tries to climb through a window into the old Ouendan club room, he is seen by Akira, who is meeting her boyfriend.  When Akira sees Imamura, she runs in fear and trips down a staircase.  Imamura also trips and lands on top of her, knocking them both out.

Imamura wakes up with his mother calling him to go to school. He realizes that it is three years earlier and he is reliving his entire high school career.  He realizes that this is his chance to make better choices including joining the Ouendan.  Akira’s tale is also told but in less detail. While berating Imamura for forcing her to fall down the stairs, she accidently joins the Ouendan too. The rest of the novel addresses typical high school rivalries and romances.

The cover artwork using pastels and watercolors is beautiful. The interior art uses cross hashing to make various shades of gray. However, the drawings appear somewhat muddled. There is nothing within the plot to mark it as original. The abrupt end of Again Vol 1 forces me to give this volume 3 stars.  Hopefully, Vol 2 will have a more complete story.

Thanks to the publisher, Kodansha Comics, and NetGalley for an egalley.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , , ,

Not Now Not Ever
November 20th, 2017 by diane92345

A fun “King of the Nerds” meets Jeopardy summer camp is the setting for this entertaining young adult romance.

Ever Lawrence is determined to make her own way in life.  She won’t become a lawyer like her Dad, a local community theater actress who sells real estate like her Stepmom or join the Air Force like her Mom. She loves Octavia Butler’s novels and decides to get a free scholarship to the only school that has a Science Fiction Literature degree, Rayevich College. Taking a test and writing an awesome essay gets her into Camp Onward where at least one attendee will win the coveted scholarship at the conclusion of the camp. The contests required to win vary between the physical and the intellectual. Ever tries not to be distracted by her growing attraction to one of the other campers, her strange roommate and even stranger resident adviser.

Not Now, Not Ever is a humorous take on Much Ado about Nothing.  However, I enjoyed the frequent Oscar Wilde quotes and pop culture references even more. The characters are believable and the finale is great.  The machinations of some of the campers are laugh-out-loud funny. Even though I am far from a young adult, I loved the characters, plot and the setting.  4 stars!

I won an advanced reader copy of Not Now, Not Ever in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review. This book will be released on November 21, 2017.

Posted in Romance, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

Clue in the Trees cover pic
September 12th, 2017 by diane92345

The Clue in the Trees is nostalgic for older Nancy Drew fans and is recommended for mystery-loving pre-teens and young teens.

 

Set in a small Northern Minnesota town, The Clue in the Trees is the story of high school seniors: Francie, Raven and Jay.  Francie recently moved into the small town, where she had only summered with her aunts before. She has a reputation as an amateur detective because of the previous book in this series, Enchantment Lake.  It is not necessary to read the series in order but there are some spoilers in this book about the first.

 

When the leader of the town’s archeological site, is strangled, Francie tries to follow the sheriff’s advice to stay out of it. However, soon she is involved when her brother becomes the prime suspect.  Francie is also given the lead in the school’s play of Antigone. Francie sees some parallels between the play and her life.  There are the usual high school rivalries, friendships and dances. The Minnesota lake setting was unusual and seemed almost like a character in the book by the end.

 

Solving the murder is the main plot in The Clue in the Trees.  There are plenty of suspects.  The clues are fair and not too obvious. However, there are also several subplots in the book.  Not all are resolved by the end of the book leaving some loose ends to be untangled in future books in the series.  It was disappointing because one of the subplots was more intriguing than the main plot but remained unresolved. One of the twists toward the end also seemed rather unfair. I took off two stars for these issues. Overall, it was a good, but not great, teen mystery.  Three stars.

 

Thanks to the publisher, University of Minnesota Press, and netgalley for an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.  This book will be published on September 19, 2017.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,

August 10th, 2017 by diane92345

The rich are different, and not better, than the poor.

Charles Dickens classic novel, Great Expectations, is reformatted into a manga. The result is an excellent way to convince teens to read a classic tale.

Great Expectations is the story of Pip, a pleasant helpful child, who is thrown into high society in the early 1800s. Young Pip is randomly called to entertain and assist rich, old and crazy Miss Havisham. There he falls in love with her stepdaughter, Estella, and even more with the idea of being a gentleman. Once old enough Pip becomes an apprentice blacksmith under his brother-in-law. But greater adventures await Pip as he receives news that an anonymous benefactor is paying for him to become a London gentleman. He has Great Expectations now.

Personally I have tried slogging through the original 500 page novel and never made it even 10% in. This graphic novel makes reading the plot entertaining and faster though it is also over 300 pages long. The artwork makes keeping the multitude of characters easily recognized.

I chose this version of Great Expectations because I have great memories of reading Classics Illustrated comics when I was a child. This manga gives the exact same feeling of making a great story accessible to modern readers. Great Expectations, the manga, is highly recommended for students who want more entertainment and enjoyment than simply reading the wiki. It is also recommended for adult readers who have always been curious about Dickens’ story but don’t want to invest 10+ hours to read the book.

Thanks to the publisher, Udon, and netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

August 7th, 2017 by diane92345

Great teen/young adult paranormal mystery perfect for fans of Beetlejuice and The Good Place.

It was the worst possible day for Echo. She had 70s makeup and 80s hair. Oh, she was also in an open casket at her own funeral. Okay, maybe being murdered was worse.

Sixteen year old Echo wakes up in Middle House not knowing how or why she arrived there. Soon she realizes her goal is to bring her murderer to justice. There is more than just one mystery to solve in Bad Girl Gone. Why does the caretaker, Mrs. Torvous, keep crying? Why doesn’t her best friend, Cole, talk about why he is in Middle House?

Bad Girl Gone was written by a screenwriter and it shows. This book would make a great movie. The author makes the setting feel real. This is paranormal at its best–not frightening but more thought-provoking. How would you handle it if you switched places with Echo? The use of ghosts in a paranormal mystery is not new. There is Bailey Ruth and The Others. However, the world building in Bad Girl Gone seems more organic like a science fiction or fantasy plot. Bad Girl Gone also has some clean romance.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the something different than the usual werewolf or vampire paranormal mystery.

I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that did not impact my review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

July 2nd, 2017 by diane92345

Timely look at teen issues.

This is the story of Genesis, who was left at an abortion clinic by her boyfriend, Peter. The novel also includes many other current teen topics like drug abuse, religion, pre-marital sex, suicide, mental health, alcoholic binges, and deciding on a career. It is a lot to cram into 350 pages. I wish the author had picked one or two to delve into deeper as it seemed like some topics were dealt with too swiftly.

I really liked the story structure. Each chapter was entitled with an aftercare instruction that matched the actions within the chapter. Every couple of chapters a script between Genesis and Peter would flashback to different events in their relationship.

The characters were very genuine and they showed different perspectives of the same event. The plot was good though, as is typical with books marketed as Young Adult, the ending wasn’t much of a surprise.

This would be a good book for an older teen. It is a combination of a family drama and romance.

I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that did not impact my review.

Posted in Romance, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , , ,

cover pic
July 1st, 2017 by diane92345

Young Adult Family Drama more than a Mystery/Thriller

How would you feel if your father’s murder was being covered in a non-fiction podcast? Would you be grateful that someone was looking further into his murder or would you be upset that all the old information is being dredged up once again? That is the premise of this novel. The podcast in this book has a remarkable, and author acknowledged, resemblance to the popular podcast, Serial, in its first season.

Josie, the good twin, and Lanie, the bad twin, are both in the house during the crime. Lanie testifies that she saw Wesley, a goth teenage neighbor, commit the crime. After the murder, Josie and Lanie’s mother left the girls with their aunt and joined a cult. Wesley was convicted of the murder. His mother contacted the podcast in the hopes of getting more information to prove her son’s innocence.

This is categorized as a mystery/thriller but it was easy to guess whodunit. It seemed almost a Young Adult read because so much of the story was flashbacks to the twin’s youth. There are many twists and turns and as many red herrings as there are subplots. It also has complex family dynamics underlying its other themes.

Overall, I think this novel would appeal to older teens or readers that like to read about how families interrelate. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to mystery/thriller readers that are looking, like I am, for the next Gone Girl.

I want to thank the publisher, author and netgalley for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Seconds cover pic
October 17th, 2015 by diane92345

Makes you think what would you do! If you loved Scott Pilgrim, you will love this one more.

I loved this graphic novel. The plot was totally unpredictable. It also mashed together so many genres that it is hard to categorize, which is great. Maybe young adult paranormal mystery sci-fi romance?

I picked up this book because I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim vs the World books by the same author. However, I believe this book is better and it is not a series so you get the immediate gratification of an ending. The magic mushrooms in the plot make you think about how you would change your mistakes well after you have finished the book.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: