Monday, April 25, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/23

I've long since run out of clever ways to open this weekly post, and of excuses why it's the only thing I can manage to post these days. So pretend one or the other of those is in this space.

These two books came in my mail last week, sent by the vast publicity machine that makes American book publishing such a hugely profitable and culturally central industry today. (My sarcasm is not aimed at publicists, in case you're wondering -- they do their job very well.) I haven't read them yet, but here's what I can tell you.

Over Your Dead Body is the fifth novel by Dan Wells about John Wayne Cleaver, a young man clinically a sociopath and deeply worried he will become a serial killer. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily for John, he lives in a world where a secret group of "demons" -- humans who thousands of years ago gained supernatural powers and immortality but became obligate predators on normal humans -- are alive and active in his near vicinity. So far, he's been able to channel his homicidal tendencies in that direction, but killing anyone isn't exactly good for his stability and control. Cleaver narrates all of these books in the first person, and it's a great, conflicted, compelling voice -- I've read and deeply enjoyed the first four books. (See my big review of the original trilogy and my slightly less massive review of the fourth book, The Devil's Only Friend.) Dead Body continues from the ending of Only Friend, and is a Tor trade paperback, available everywhere on June 16th.

The other book I have is a "light" novel, which is a publishing category -- not really a genre, more a style or type of story that can run in several genres -- in Japan, which (at least from this side of the Pacific) seems to roll up into the manga/anime/merchandise media empire world, often serving as a test-bed for concepts that then become eight other media properties. (But I also think light novels are at least mildly author-driven -- they are novels, written by single people, telling stories they want to tell. So the transmedia stuff comes later, for the successful ones.) Anyway, Kazuma Kamachi created a successful series, which has turned into several other things along the way. But it started as a light novel, and here's the latest one to be translated into English: A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 7, with illustrations by Kiyotaka Haimura. The series is usually a magical-school story, but this particular volume seems to be mostly about nuns and their missing magical book (nuns are horrible at library organization, I'm sorry to say), which the series hero needs to retrieve to save the world or pass his Retrieving Magical Books course, or something like that. This is a Yen Press paperback, and you should be able to get it right now.

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