Monday, January 14, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/12

Assuming I can keep it up (always a problematic assumption), my weekly "Incoming Books" posts will turn into more in-depth "Reviewing the Mail" posts. (I still won't have actually read the stuff in question, since it just came in, but I'll give the books a bit more time and space.)

This week brought four books for review:

Black God, Vol. 2 by Dall-Young Lim and Sung-Woo Park, from Yen Press. From the author's names I'm going to guess this is manwha rather than manga. The back-cover copy talks about the protagonist trying to balance a normal life and "an unbreakable pact with a divine being," which could mean anything from Death Note to Oh My Goddess! It's rated for Older Teens, coded LSV for Language, Sex, and Violence. (Though not N for Nudity, for those scoring at home.)

Zombie-Loan, Vol. 2 by Peach-Pit. I know I've heard of this, but I can't recall anything specific. It has another one of those amusing manga premises -- teenage schoolkids working for a loan office as bounty hunters slaying vampires. (I have an image of three giant wheels on the wall of some Tokyo office, and this is where they came up in this case.) I'm presuming that these zombies somehow took out loans, which they're now delinquent on, but that might just be my SF-trained mind trying to make sense of a premise that doesn't work that way. Still, "Zombie-Loan" is an undeniably catchy title, and I always like that. It's also from Yen, and also aimed at Older Teens, with their love for LSV.

Hell Girl, Vol. 1 is by Miyuko Eto, though the book also notes "Original Story by The Jigoku Shoujo Project." (A quick Google doesn't give me much information on said project, though I have a sense that "Jigoku Shoujo" probably means "Hell Girl," and that makes the whole thing very circular and even less clear.) I'll guess that this is a shoujo version of Death Note, since the plot involves a "strange website that appears only at midnight," and typing one's enemy's name into that site sends the Hell Girl to drag that unfortunate off to hell. (However, the person entering the name is also damned -- it looks like a perfect opportunity for "Let's You and Him Fight," to me.) This one's from Del Rey Manga, also aimed at older teens (though Del Rey doesn't break down what aspects of the book might be objectionable).

The Museum Vaults is by Marc-Antoine Mathieu, and comes from the Louvre in France via NBM's ComicsLit program. An art expert descends deep beneath the Louvre to "appraise the vast collection of an antonym of the Louvre." It's the second of four graphic novels (by different creators) commissioned by the Louvre and all co-published by NBM -- it's an interestingly quirky idea, and the kind of thing comics needs more of.

I also got the word that the library the next town over (the one I use the most) had a couple of my reserves for me:

Flora Segunda, the Norton-nominated first novel by Ysabeau S. Wilce, with the enticing subtitle "Being the Magical Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House With Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog." I'm a few pages in already, and I'm finding the narrative voice engaging and the world-building distinctive and individual. From the author's note, and my vague memory of Wilce's novella "The Lineaments of Gratified Desire," I believe all of her major work to date is set in the same setting -- if that entices anyone.

Nick Hornby's Slam is also a YA novel -- the author's first for that audience, but obviously not his first entirely.

I guess I'll be reading YA books this week. One of the things I love about YA novels, which both of these books have, is that immediate first-person narration. It's not a requirement for YA, but I find a lot of the best YA are written that way, in the pure voice of a real teenager.

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