Monday, August 24, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/21

First, the obligatory explanation: since I review books, publishers send me books to review. I appreciate that, and -- particularly since I'm a book marketer myself, though for things much drier and useful than fiction and comics -- I want to do what I can to help those books find the readers that will enjoy them. But I know that I won't manage to review them all -- and I'll certainly dislike, even loathe, some of those books, so they wouldn't all get positive reviews.

But I can mention them all as they come in, which is what I do. These Monday-morning posts list what I saw the previous week, with as much as I can figure out (or already know) about them from a cursory glance. Some will get real reviews eventually; others will not. Only time will tell.

This week's list is short, which is good, because I will/did fly to Chicago at 4:00 PM tomorrow/yesterday -- tenses are difficult when you're writing something on Saturday to be posted on Monday morning -- and I should be packing now. In other words: if you're reading this on the day I posted it, I'm currently in Chicago, engaged in high-level, nail-biting meetings about the future of accountancy itself! (Or something like that.)

Anyway, first is X-Men: Misfits, Vol. 1, an attempt to turn the very popular American superhero property X-Men into something like the very popular Japanese manga format and style. It's written by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman (both of whom are cartoonists in their own right), with authentically Japanese art by Anzu and her studio. (There's the usual manga page in the back, where Anzu introduces her helpers, apologizes for missing her deadlines, promises to do better in the future, and all the rest.) In this version of the X-Men, the focus is on teenage Kitty Pryde, who's enrolling in a special school for people with extraordinary powers -- so far, so very similar to many manga, right?. But this school, before she got there, was all-boys -- another very manga-style concept -- which I take to mean that Phoenix, Storm, Rogue, et. al. don't exist in this continuity. I know just enough of the X-Men basics to be interested in this very different version, and have been out of the loop long enough that I doubt I'll care (or necessarily notice) the things Telgemeier and Roman have changed. So this looks like fun to me. Del Rey Manga published it, in the usual manga format, on August 18th.

Next is something very unlikely; the 11th book in a series I've never read and never had any thought I would read -- Babymouse: Dragonslayer. (If my children wre girls instead of boys, I'm sure I'd know this series well -- but they're not, so I don't.) As I understand it, Babymouse is a very popular character with tween girls (I may be overstating the age of the target audience, actually), and her graphic novel adventures have led to various other products with her image on them. This book is one part fantasy quest -- all in Babymouse's head, as far as I can tell -- and one part math-is-tough-but-worth-it school story. It's by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm -- the brother-and-sister team that created the character and did the previous ten books -- and will be officially published tomorrow by Random House.

I reviewed Jack O'Connell's The Resurrectionist when it was published in hardcover last summer; it's now coming out in a trade paperback edition this September 22nd from Algonquin. I didn't entirely like the book, but it's full of interesting bits, and plenty of other smart readers liked it much better than I did.

And last this time out is the third book in the debut trilogy by that reclusive, "off the grid" pseudonym John Twelve Hawks, The Golden City. The first book, The Traveler, came into the SFBC back when I still worked there, but my boss (World Fantasy Life Achievement Award-designate and upcoming Worldcon Guest of Honor Ellen Asher) read it instead. And that's fine -- it's a metaphysical thriller set in the modern world and a secondary one, which isn't usually my thing. But it does mean I can't say much about this one. It is the big finish to the series, which presumably means that the heroes will win and the villains will be defeated -- that's what makes it fiction -- but I don't really know who either of those groups are. Anyway, this is a big book for Doubleday, coming in hardcover on September 8th, and they really hope that you, or someone like you, will go out and buy it.
Listening to: The Rosewood Thieves - Los Angeles
via FoxyTunes

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