Tag Archives: graphic novel

The Gods Lie. by Kaori Ozaki

Title: The Gods Lie.
Author: Kaori Ozaki
Publisher: Vertical Comics
ISBN: 978-1942993360
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Pages: 216
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

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This was the first book read this month and it has stuck and how. I never thought a Manga could leave me all emotional and almost in tears, but this one did and in the most wondrous way. “The Gods Lie” is about everything I think, as you are growing-up, it is also more than just a coming of age tale and yet the innocence and charm of the book isn’t gone at all, no matter how dire the circumstances. There is always some hope and light at the end of the tunnel and maybe that is why I could connect with this read.

Natsuru Nanao is a 6th grader who lives with his mom, loves soccer and isn’t what you’d call the popular kid in school or maybe he is. Enter Rio Suzumura and the both of them have an unlikely friendship, given how different they are. The soccer coach changes and Natsuru hates the new coach (there are several instances) and decides to not to go soccer camp. In all of this, he ends up staying over at Rio’s house with her kid brother. He does find it strange to see these two children living alone but then secrets start tumbling out of the closet – including a dark one which will test his love for Rio.

That in short is the plot of the book. It is a coming-of-age story for sure but there is so much more to it – the harsh realities of modern life, how one just hangs on to hope no matter what, and of course the bittersweetness of first love. It is a short-read. There is not much dialogue but I think when you are dealing this strongly with emotions, the need for dialogues doesn’t really arise. At the same time, you are vested in the story of Natsuru and Rio, that you just want it all to be fine for them. That to me is the power of a great book. When it engages you to this extent. I can’t recommend this book enough. Do read it.

Hostage by Guy Delisle

Title: Hostage
Author: Guy Delisle
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House
ISBN: 978-1911214441
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pages: 432
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Guy Delisle’s graphic novels deal with humanity on a grand scale. When I say humanity I mean the issues we deal with not only on a day to day basis, but also the ones that sometimes go unnoticed – the events that go unspoken of, the people who get caught in unsuspecting circumstances and whose stories aren’t told as much. Delisle’s graphic novels till now (at least the ones I’ve read) have dealt with his life as the spouse of a Médecins Sans Frontières (literal translation: Medicine without Frontiers) physician in different cities. “Hostage” is different from these.

“Hostage” tells the story of Christophe André and his kidnapping in early July 1997 from his Doctors without Borders office in Nazran, a small town in the former Soviet Republic of Ingushetia. His kidnappers took him to Chechnya, where they tried to get a ransom of a million dollars. The story is of his captivity and how he managed to survive in the face of a hopeless situation – when he was moved from one place to another, when he didn’t know if he would live to see the next day or for that matter a random act of kindness from a captivator meant so much.

Delisle recounts André’s harrowing experience in hostage and not once the reader (of course me in question in this case) gets bored. Delisle conveys the psychological effects of solitary confinement through some brilliant use of colours, paneling and muted colour washes. Hostage had me hooting for Christophe and all I wanted was for him to go scot free without any injury. Your heart goes out to him as he is cuffed to a radiator, doesn’t know why he is here, doesn’t know whether his organization would pay for him and whether or not he will be able to attend his sister’s wedding or ever see her (heartbreaking in my opinion). I for one had goosebumps while reading this because I started wondering how I would behave in captivity. Would I be able to have any hope? Would I give up too soon?

The topic is grim and something that perhaps most people may not digest well. It being in a graphic form, in fact sometimes makes it only too real. Having said that, the book is compelling. Christophe managed to keep his sanity (you have to read to find out how he managed that) in an environment that was not conducive at all and yet is alive and managed to tell his tale to Delisle, which now is in the form of a brilliant graphic biography (I might even call it a memoir because all experiences are of Christophe after all and were narrated to the author). “Hostage” is a book that filled me with a lot of hope, troubled me at times and also made me see how easy it is sometimes for common folk to get into situations beyond their control. I also for one wouldn’t be surprised if someone decided to make a movie out of it.

You can buy the book here: http://amzn.to/2sZXYpo

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

ghosts-by-raina-telgemeier Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0545540629
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Another graphic read of the month. A tear-jerker of sorts, well not really, but it did choke me up for sure. Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels hit home. They are not just graphic novels, but the ones with a lot of heart and soul. Whether it is “Sisters” or even “Drama” for that matter, and the same goes for her latest release “Ghosts”. It is the kind of book that will make you laugh, perhaps even make you identify the sibling behavior you shared with your brother or sister and most of all, it will make you want move to a ghost town for sure. At least, it did that to me.

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her sister Maya is sick. Maya has cystic fibrosis and the air that comes in from the sea will do her good. Cat hates leaving her friends and the town she was used to, but Bahia de la Luna will be good for her sister and Cat loves her sister way too much to make this change. The new home and new town come with one caveat though: There are ghosts in the new place and Cat wants nothing to do with them but Maya loves the idea of interacting with them and Cat would have to look at doing one more thing for her sister.

The book is simple. It has a simple plot and it doesn’t reek of the usual graphic novel smartness which some people have come to expect. There is cheer, sadness, courage, fear and love in this book for children and teens like no other graphic novel I’ve read in the last couple of months. It is a heartwarming book and that’s that to it. I would urge you to read it, smile and give it to someone else who could use a smile or two.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN: 978-0062278227
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novels
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Nimona is a refreshing comic debut. Noelle started it as a web-comic, till it was a rage and voila, then a book! I am disappointed that I waited this long to get my hands on this one, but I am also quite glad that I read it perhaps way at the end of the pile, so I could enjoy it so.

Nimona is a comic book anti-hero like no other. She is a shapeshifter and the comic itself is set in the near future. There is a regime at work and they want the law and order situation to be maintained as per them. Nimona is the new sidekick to her super-villain boss Lord Ballister Blackheart. Ballister Blackheart has a history with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (you will also know of the twist there once you read the book) who works for the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. It is up to Nimona and Ballister to prove to everyone that the institution is not really what it stands for. How they do that forms the crux of this graphic novel and more than anything else the past of Nimona and the terrors she holds. Might I also add that Nimona is barely a young girl with a knack of villainy.

The entire shapeshifting angle in this graphic novel worked superlatively. It is hilarious and often terrifying. The plot is taut and as a reader, I am so looking forward to the sequel (hoping there is one). The comic is delightful and also the scientific angle is explained quite simply. There is plenty of action, adventure and incidents that follow throughout the course of the book. Graphic novel and superhero lovers will simply adore this book. I know I did. “Nimona” is the one graphic novel you cannot miss out on.

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka Title: The Book of Human Insects
Author: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical
ISBN: 978-1935654773
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novels, Comics
Pages: 368
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 Stars

Osamu Tezuka was my introduction to Manga and I will forever be indebted to him for that. I remember the first time I read Tezuka. It was 2007 and the Buddha series had just released. Landmark was the only store that stocked it then and I became a fan. A true blue fan of Mr. Tezuka’s work. Since then, the love has only grown stronger – book by book and will not end anytime soon, because there is so much ground to cover.

Having said that, the book I read this time and absolutely loved was “The Book of Human Insects”. It is about so much that I don’t know where to begin with this review. Toshiko Tomura is a genius. She is everything anyone would want to be – intelligent, famous, a stage actress, a prestigious award winning writer, and also an up and coming architect. She is all this because she has the rare talent of emulating the skill of others.

She is also behind a series of murders – whether she committed them herself or led those people to doesn’t matter, a series of men, blackmail, treachery and loneliness as she climbs the ladder of fame. This in short is this graphic novel. It is edgy, sharp, witty and takes you to the extremes of despair and loneliness, but every turn of the page is worth it.

Now to the writing and the illustrations. The manga as visualized and incepted by Tezuka is beyond brilliant. Tezuka clearly knew what he was doing and this is evident in almost every manga of his. He made me a fan (Oh my God I say this with no reference to the recent movie) for life (even though he sadly isn’t around) and there is so much of him to discover through his works. Thank God for that.