Literary Grand Rounds

Books, graphic novels, movies and television

Pride and Prejudice (Marvel Illustrated) by Nancy Butler, Hugo Petrus

Pride and PrejudiceTitle: Pride and Prejudice (Marvel Illustrated)

Author: Jane Austen, Nancy Butler, Hugo Petrus

Publisher: Marvel

Genre: Graphic Novel

Format: Paperback

Release Date: September 2010

Source: Personal Copy

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of my personal favourites. It is also a great place to start if you are new to the Austen verse. After having read all her novels, their modern adaptations and retellings, watching all the movies, I was pretty sure I had seen it all. Then I chanced upon Marvel’s Pride & Prejudice by Nancy Butler. It is a Limited Series which means it is a serialised version with 5 books in total. I read the collected paperback version of the book.

Sticking to the original story and dialogues in most parts, Nancy Butler, Hugo Petrus and Alejandro Torres have attempted to bring the story of Bennet Sisters to a newer demographic of readers. While the story does remain more or less faithful to the original, it is somewhat bogged down by the other elements, mainly the art and sometimes the dialogues.

I have issues with this adaptation. For starters, the panels are too brightly coloured for my taste and the illustrations, a tad disappointing. Mrs Bennet and Lizzy look scary in most panels. For that matter all the characters look startled or confused most of the times. At places the expressions are out of sync with the dialogues which can get frustrating after a while. Well, these are my observations. There are readers who have loved this adaptation but then again it is an art form, very subjective to likes and dislikes. Each one to his own, I guess.

I went in wanting to immerse myself in Austenland and came out wanting to read the original to undo the damage. The saving grace is by far the cover art which is absolutely wonderful.

Thankfully, Nancy Butler has worked on rest of Austen’s books for the Marvel Series with illustrators Sonny Liew and Janet Lee. Sonny Liew is the one who is responsible for the cover art of Pride and Prejudice. So, there’s hope. Also, I have read some wonderful reviews for Sense and Sensibility which makes me want to give the Marvel Illustrated Classics Series another chance.

Julia’s House For Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Julia's HouseTitle: Julia’s House For Lost Creatures

Author: Ben Hatke

Publisher: First Second

Genre: Graphic Novel

Format: E-Galley

Release Date: September 2014

Source: Publisher

Julia and her cat have settled in their cozy little house by the sea. However, they are in need of some company. You see, it’s all too quiet for Julia. So she puts up a sign inviting lost creatures into her house. Very soon, the house is filled with sad trolls, moody mermaids, fire-breathing dragons, excited goblins and many such. What started out as fun has now reached the level of chaos. Only Julia can set things in order and that she does.

Julia’s House For Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke is one perfect picture book for children. I knew I would love Julia the minute I laid eyes on the most adorable cover art, in the First Second catalogue. Those beautiful watercolor illustrations will make the young readers super happy.  Sticking to a subtle but very impressive colour palette, Ben Hatke has made sure that readers, irrespective of age, will want to read and re read Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.

The creator of the universally loved Zita The Space Girl knows his intended audience well and in keeping with the sensibilities of his young readers, this book which is basically about sharing and caring, succeeds in making a point while entertaining kids and adults alike.

If you have younglings with bookish tendencies, go ahead and read this book with them. A guaranteed hit.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A J FikryThe Storied Life of A J Fikry is a book for book lovers. It’s about books, book stores, book clubs and book people. The best kind of people if you ask me. Filled to brim with literature, this is a must read for all you bookish people out there. Too much of ‘books’ did you say? That’s exactly what the book is all about. BOOKS.

A J Fikry’s Island Books, on the fictional Alice Island, isn’t doing well. Even though it is the only book store in town, with A J’s standoffish and sometimes snobby attitude, the future looks bleak. Can’t blame him much. He lost his wife recently and has never been much of a people person. Books are all that matter to him. That is until his prized possession, a first edition Poe, is stolen and in a short duration of time, another bundle is dropped off at this book store. A determined reader with strong likes and dislikes, two year old Maya might just be the making of A J Fikry and Island Books.

I loved reading the way A J’s reader and book seller mind worked. He stocks books that he likes. Which means, no YA, especially no vampire books and a really small selection of children’s books. Isn’t that how we fill our home libraries? Why would we buy an erotica or poetry if we do not read them? While that may be bad for business, AJ’s logic is understandable. He may not be much of a sales person but A J Fikry is an epitome of all the book reader quirks.

For those of you who may have read a review or two, yes, it’s somewhat close to Silas Marner in its basic plot. It has the look and feel of it until you get so engrossed in the story of the bookseller and his daughter that you forget where the resemblance ended. A J’s letters to Maya are observant and critical pieces on literature (short stories in particular). Some of which are funny and some of which will leave a mark.

To me this book was more like a biography of a book lover. Perfect in every sense. I have read a few YA titles by Gabrielle Zevin but this book falls in a different league entirely.  I do not know the reason why the titles are different for the US and Indian edition but that hardly makes any difference for the reader. Right?

Rat Queens – Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery

Rat QueensRat Queens was an accidental discovery while browsing the inter-webs for my next read. Though the reviews for Rat Queens were highly positive, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

After I caught the Saga bug1 last year, the wish to find another comic book series with diverse characterisation and mind-boggling plot twists led me to try any thing that showed promise. I discovered many good series this way but it was Rat Queens which came anywhere close to Saga, especially in the story and art department.

Writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch have created a sensational bunch of characters who make the reader happy just by existing. It takes about two or three panels to warm up to the mayhem created by these Rat Queens and then it’s just the wait between two issues that is hard to bear. The sassy dialogues are another thing entirely. These women are smart, brave and complete adrenaline junkies. When they are not totally drunk they go on adventure quests. Usually they succeed in their quests but if they do face trouble they know how to get out of tricky situations, one way or the other.

Their friendship isn’t all sunny and adorable. They have issues, personal ones, with each other, with their families etc. They know how to handle them and if they don’t, then there’s always booze that can magically solve everything.

I love the direction in which the story is moving. Wiebe is giving his readers ample amount of time to get to know the Rat Queens. Slowly the major story arc is creeping into the picture and if the first volume is any indication, there are interesting times ahead.

Also this TPB cover was designed by the phenomenally talented Fiona Staples of Saga fame. Another reason to go and buy it NOW!

Footnotes
  1. That shift in paradigm is what happens after you have read your first issue of Saga. It is an amazing  series and if you haven’t read it yet, you should consider doing that straight away []

Graphic Novel – Comic Books Update #3

Last week was a busy one.  I hardly got time to read but I did squeeze in an audio-book. Cooking and work outs become so much more interesting if there is a good audio book to keep you company. I am currently listening to Shane Kuhn’s The Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller. Based on this enjoyable experience, I am considering splurging a bit on audio-books real soon. My Audible wishlist has way too many titles, so I’ll definitely have a tough time deciding.

I also have some great books lined up for reading this week especially graphic novels. A good book mail always ensures that fab reading material is always at hand. Here’s what I received courtesy First Second Books

On the comic book front, I have gone back to reading some of the older issues of Fantastic Four and X-Men. They may not be as flashy as the newer versions but I can certainly see what made them such a hit with the readers. Also noticeable is the fact that the storyline was much simpler back then.

Also reading Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. This book has forever been on my Wishlist. I am somewhere in the mid third of the book and let me tell you, it’s a really good read. If you have ever read Marvel Comics, you shouldn’t miss out on this book.

That’s it from me. What are you reading this week?

Reado – The Audiobook Store

Reado is an online audio book store based in India and I have frequented the website for my audio book cravings for a while now. They have a range of titles from Indian as well as international publishers and their catalogue grows each day. There is some thing for everyone. I especially like their Fiction and Memoir sections which have some great titles. The navigation is smooth and they bring out some amazing deals from time to time, which is an added bonus.

reado

What makes me really glad about Reado is that they have titles with Indian narrators! If I am listening to a Ruskin Bond book it only makes sense to have a narrator who can get the pronunciation of Deoli or Garhwal right.1

Go and have a look at their catalogue. You might find something that would make your work commute enjoyable. Did I mention they have One Free Audiobook offer on signing up?

Footnotes
  1. The Night Train At Deoli is a delightful audiobook. You should give it a try. []

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R.Carey

the girlWhen there’s a book that is universally liked, it’s not easy to write a review.  Also how does one write a spoiler free review for such books? I have been through multiple drafts of this review but every single time I ended up writing a little about the plot which as a reader you would be better off not knowing. For a book such as The Girl With All The Gifts, the less you know, the better. Don’t go by the cover of the book or the blurb. This is not a book about talented little kids. It’s sinister and all sorts of messed up world from the first page.

Why is a little girl Melanie placed in a cell? Why would anyone need to point a gun at her just to move her around? Also, why is there a sudden increase in apocalyptic/dystopian fiction with kids, with power shudders down your spine? While the last question needs further analysis, the answers to the other two are what makes for a gripping introduction to The Girl With All The Gifts .

It’s given that characters are secondary in this genre. Plot always trumps characters. Characters get sacrificed to make for an appealing plot. Sometimes the focus is so heavy on the thrills that as readers we do not connect with the characters on any level. Knowing this well, I prepared myself to be blown away by the plot with all the gore . Surprisingly, I came to care about these characters,a lot.

Somewhere in the first third of the book, there comes a point when the lead characters are right in the middle of nowhere. It is in this chapter that Carey makes it a point to give us a play by-play of what’s running through their minds. Thoughts full of fear, guilt, anger, confusion and utter surprise. This chapter humanized the dystopian thriller. Made it all the more interesting.

It has been a good year for dystopian/apocalyptic/horror genre so far. M R Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts is no doubt one of bests.

A Must Read

Review copy provided by Hachette India

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