Monday, April 20, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/18

Last week I had an epic trilogy, but this time out things look to be back to normal -- an interesting variety of books to write about, but not so many that I need to dole them out over several days.

As usual, these are all books that arrived in my mail over the past week, more or less unexpected. I might not end up reading or loving any one of them, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't, or won't. So I try to describe them more or less accurately for your entertainment and/or edification.

I'll start out this week with the book I'm most excited about, and which has come the farthest to get to me: 14, a new graphic novel by the Philippine creator Manix Abrera. Abrera's last book was the excellent 12, which is currently available only in ebook form in the US. 14 is another wordless comic, about two hundred pages long, and I think it's one story -- 12 was a collection of shorter pieces (twelve of them, in fact), with some thematic connections. The bad news is that I don't think 14 is currently available outside of the Philippines, but the good news is that we live in a big world full of wonders -- like a new major book from Abrera -- and that we can find those wonders with a little work. 14 was published last fall at the Philippine Literary Festival, in trade paperback from Visprint.

And how to follow up a book of comics with no words? Well, how about a book entirely made up of words that's based on a comic? Michael Alan Nelson's new book is Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown, based on the comic Hexed, created by Nelson with artist Emma Rios. Hexed the comic is about teenage supernatural thief Luci Jenifer "Lucifer" Inacio das Neves, and so is the novel: Lucifer here is trying to save a policeman's daughter from the nefarious plots of the Seven Sisters of Witchdown, and maybe get a boyfriend along the way. Sisters of Witchdown is a trade paperback from Pyr, available on May 5th.

Next up is another book about a runaway teen girl surviving by her own wits: The Girl at Midnight, by Melissa Grey. Grey's heroine is Echo, a pickpocket and thief who discovered an ancient race of supernatural beings beneath the streets of New York, and got caught up in a war that touches both that hidden race and humanity. To stop the war, she must find the mythical firebird -- somewhere in the world. Midnight is a hardcover from Delacorte Book for Young Readers; it's officially a Young Adult book, if categories like that matter to you. And it's available on April 28th.

I had a whole lot of books from Yen Press last week, but they're not done yet -- I have another small stack of recent Yen books to tell you about this week. As usual for them, there are some manga (comics from Japan), some manwha (comics from Korea), and a light novel -- they also do comics by people from other places, now and then. All the following books are from Yen, and I believe they're all available this month.

BTOOOM!, Vol. 10 is the nest volume in Junya Inoue's Battle Royale-descended manga about a small group of people trapped on an island somewhere, forced to battle each other with complicated explosive devices for the entertainment of someone unknown.

I believe Umineko, When They Cry, Episode 5: End of the Golden Witch, Vol. 1is nearly the end of this long, complicated manga of murder and mystery, based on a series of computer games of the same name. (I believe each game has a "Golden Witch" subtitle, and that's how you tell them apart.) Like the earlier volumes, this one is written by Ryukishi07 and drawn by Akitaka.

And then there's Until Death Do Us Part, Vol. 9, by Hiroshi Takashige and DOUBLE-S, continuing the story of the blind swordsman and the precognitive girl that he's defending from the usual evil corporate forces of evil-doing evil in this manga.

Park SoHee's series about a lightly alternate history -- Korea still has a king, and he married the heroine of this story, setting in motion of a lot of soap-opera events -- ends in Goong: The Royal Palace, Vol. 18. I'm assuming this is a happily-ever-after ending, because it seems like that kind of book. This one is manwha, so it reads left-to-right the way Westerners are used to.

Now into the light novels -- just like regular novels, but with half the calories! -- with Kazuma Kamachi's A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 3. I'm not sure I'm in favor of novels that have volume numbers instead of individual titles, but clearly that ship set sail in Japan some time ago. This series is about a nebisshy guy in a fantastic city full of magic and super-science, and of course he gets into all kinds of problems focused on cute girls in short skirts.

Last for this week is the light novel Kagerou Daze, Vol. 1: In a Daze, by Jin (Shizen No Teki-P), and, no, I'm not going to be able to explain anything about that interesting author name. This series is about a shut-in young man -- the kind that never leave their apartments for anything -- who has t go out one day to get a new computer and immediately gets caught up in a hostage situation and forcibly inducted into a strange gang. (See, this is why guys like him never leave.) 

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