Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To is told from the perspective of Darren Bennet, a sixteen year old boy whose dream is to create a series of films and novels based on a futuristic world of his own invention. One day, he is drawing in class when a strange boy named Eric Lederer asks what he’s drawing and becomes interested in the world created by Darren. After weeks of sleepovers, hanging out, video game duels, and brainstorming to expand and improve the imaginary world, Eric reveals that he physically can’t sleep. Of course Darren is incredulous at first, but then realizes that if Eric can exist, there is so much potential for other things thought to be fictional. After this revelation, their relationship goes as normal, until they stop being friends because of a fight over a girl. Out of anger, Darren tells someone about Eric’s secret, leading to a search for Eric by an unknown organization and the adventure of a lifetime.

The pacing of this book was weird in both a good and a bad way. The majority of the novel is about the meeting of the two boys, their relationship, the evolution of their fictional world, and their everyday lives. Even though not much plot happened during this portion, I still enjoyed it a lot. My normal reaction to slow, stagnant passages in novels is boredom, but I was oddly engaged with their lives. It read more as a peek into a real teenager’s life than a science fiction/fantasy novel. The only weird thing in it was Eric’s inability to sleep. I had some similar likes to the two boys, which made me easily relate to them. I liked Eric and Darren and grew concerned when they were pursued by obviously malicious forces.

At this point in the novel, it goes a little downhill. I felt it could have been extended a hundred pages or more without dragging to properly explore an added perk to Eric’s condition. In comparison with the previous portion, this part felt rushed and underdeveloped. I would have loved to read more and delve deeper into Eric and Darren’s adventures. The closing pages were poignant and I both hated and loved it, which is the mark of a complex, meaningful novel.This novel was really funny and a blast to read. It had its flaws, but at its core was a wonderful journey with a couple of unlikely heroes.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jane Bites Back

Jane Austen, author of classic literature still loved today by millions, died in 1817. Little do these readers know that Jane Austen is still alive (er...undead) and well in New York. She has taken the pseudonym Jane Fairfax and is the proud owner of a bookstore. She has been trying to get her book Constance published for around 200 years. Unfortunately, it's been rejected by 116 publishers. Plus, she's constantly surrounded by the hype of spin-offs and sequels to her own books and she doesn't see one penny of royalties for any of it. Her life starts to turn around when her novel is finally picked up by a publisher. Things get complicated again when a darkly handsome man from her past returns to her life and anti-Austen, pro-Bronte blogger Violet Grey accuses Jane of stealing the manuscript. Can Jane preserve her peaceful life with these obstacles plus being thrust into the limelight in the wake of her new novel?

All of the characters were detailed and realistic. I either loved them or loved to hate them. My favorites were Lucy, Walter, and Jane. Jane was exactly how I imagined her to be if she lived today. She is familiar with technology, but doesn't entirely trust all of it (like airplanes). She's a little old fashioned, but is basically just another normal modern person. She loves dark chocolate, wine, reading, and her cat. I can totally relate to her even though she's over 200 years old. I liked that the vampires in this novel really didn't have many supernatural powers. They can glamour humans, heal fast, and don't age. That's about it. I think this is part of why Jane was so easy to relate to. Even though she has a human side, she's still a vampire. And not the Twilight-esque vegetarian variety either. I admire how she unflinchingly embraces her nature and feeds on people, but not enough to kill them. There are no self-hating, brooding vampires in this story. (That means you, Angel and Edward.)

Jane Bites Back was awesome. It was a fast paced, fun read. Parts of the novel were laugh out loud funny. The characters all had dimensions that made them This concept could have gone horribly wrong, but Micheal Thomas Ford succeeded with wit and humor. I look forward to the next book in the series.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Meet Tony Chu. He is a cibopath, which is a fancy name for his ability of getting psychic impressions when he eats things. For instance when he eats an apple, he sees where it was picked, what pesticides were used on it, what tree it came from, etc. You can probably see why he doesn't like to eat meat, considering what he would see with every bite. The only food that doesn't leave a psychic impression is beets. After being caught eating a serial killer that killed himself instead of confessing his crimes, Tony was roped into working for the FDA, investigating some of the most bizarre crimes. This isn't the FDA of today; it has become the most powerful government law enforcement organization. This is because there was a bird flu that killed literally millions of people. This, of course, means that chicken is outlawed. Many people, including Tony's brother, believe this flu is just a cover for government nastiness. Will Tony stumble onto the truth behind the flu? Will he be able to restrain himself from killing his horrible, horrible boss?

I really love this graphic novel. I first heard about it from a friend a while ago and was intrigued about the cibopath concept. I had no idea that it was actually a dystopic story. (I am such a sucker for those.) The story starts off in a very funny way. Tony and his idiotic police partner are staking out a chicken speakeasy to capture a murderer. The fact that chicken is outlawed really cracked me up, until later in the book when you find that they probably killed millions of people. There were so many things that made me laugh and were also very dark. If you have a twisted sense of humor, this is definitely a read for you.

This novel was a mixture of so many things: crime drama, futuristic dystopia, romance, comedy, and action. This mix really makes this graphic novel stand out about most others that I've read. The story moved fluidly and I read it in about an hour. The art of Rob Guillory really complemented the story very well. It was surreal and cartoony, while still being beautiful and surprisingly detailed. The book ended with a surprising revelation. I can't wait until the next book comes out!

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins