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The Wonder of...Ehhh

Wonder Woman by Grant Morrison

3 of 5 stars

This is apparently yet another reboot (or "reimagining") of Wonder Woman. Most of us know the basic story, of course. So my goal in reading something like this is to see if the writer can find something different, add some new tweak to the legend. Looking at it from this angle, the results were definitely mixed. 
 
First, the upside: writer Grant Morrison seems to have a good grasp on the characters of Diana, Hippolyta and the other women of Paradise Island. Diana is very young (she's described by one man as a "teenage swimsuit model who can benchpress a Jeep") and at the beginning of her journey. Needless to say, she gets quite a shock when she first sets foot in "man's world." Etta Candy has become Beth Candy, who is a larger-than-life delight. This writer, at least, does not sugarcoat the obvious: with no men to be found, the women of Paradise Island can and do form relationships with one another. Queen Hippolyta is a complex figure, wanting to protect the daughter she created out of her anger and the seed of Hercules.
 
The most drastic change is Steve Trevor: he is now African-American. As such, he states that "like a lot of people in 'man's world,' my ancestors were enslaved and persecuted by men with too much power." He does not want to see that fate happen to the women of Amazonia. But Diana, the daughter of Hercules, is, as her mother describes her, "proud, restless and rebellious." The final panel shows her taking her robot airplane and setting it down in the middle of a town square, coming out on the wing and saying, "Hola, Man's world--it's time we had a talk." 
 
The art is...well. It could be better. It's way too busy in some panels. The pacing of the story seems a bit uneven in spots. I think this reboot shows a lot of potential, but it's not quite there yet.

 
This entry was originally posted at http://redheadedfemme.dreamwidth.org/166150.html. Comment either here or there.
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You Can't Go Home Again

Feedback by Mira Grant

2 of 5 stars

If I'm to be honest (and there's no point in writing this if I'm not), this book disappointed me. I am a great fan of the original Newsflesh trilogy. The first book, Feed, made me cry (and anyone who's read it will know what I'm talking about). Shaun and Georgia Mason, Buffy and the rest are great characters, and the premise pretty much reinvigorated the standard zombie-apocalypse genre, I think. 
 
This book continues the story of that world, taking place concurrently with the events in Feed. Our narrator, Aislinn "Ash" North, is an Irwin (those who, in this universe, actually get out in the field and kill zombies). She and her team of bloggers are covering the Democratic candidate for President, just as the Masons were covering the Republican candidate in Feed. We get quite a few zombie attacks in this book, there is a conspiracy revealed that is much more straightforward than the somewhat convoluted plotting in the original trilogy, and our team ends up on the run in the wilderness. 
 
All well and good. However, the reason this book falls flat for me is the characters. To put it bluntly, despite the author's best efforts, these people are simply not as interesting as the Masons. Ash marries her Newsie (news blogger on their team), Ben Ross, to get a green card to work in the country, but she's really in love with her Fictional (fiction writer on their team), Audrey Wen, and the three of them are in some sort of fake polyamorous relationship. Then there's the other member of the team, genderfluid Mat, who unfortunately gets offed (or zombified, rather) about two-thirds of the way through the book. Mat's characterization, as far as I'm concerned, is not well done. I realize the author is trying to be consistent by calling this person "they" and not describing them, but the end result of this is that the character came off as vague and opaque, and I didn't care about this person very much. 
 
The writing is as good as ever, but the story just sort of peters out at the end, with an unsatisfying conclusion. To me, this book is ranked at the bottom of the Mira Grant books I've read, behind the original Newsflesh trilogy and the Parasitology trilogy. 


This entry was originally posted at http://redheadedfemme.dreamwidth.org/166037.html. Comment either here or there.
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The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

 The Fireman by Joe Hill

3 of 5 stars

To make a long(ish) review short (and after completing this 747-page behemoth, I have a fresh appreciation of brevity) this book is basically Joe Hill's version of The Stand.
 
The story leans more towards the science fiction end of the spectrum than horror. There are a few elements that might be construed as supernatural, and they seem a bit out of place with the rest of the narrative. Instead of The Stand's virus, we have a spore that inhabits human hosts and eventually, in most cases, results in spontaneous combustion. This inevitably leads to the breakdown of society and the usual attendant horrors; anarchy, mass death and starvation, and roving tribes of people exterminating the "burners," the infected. 
 
Unlike Stephen King's magnum opus, Joe Hill keeps a tight focus on one character, nurse Harper Grayson. He makes it a point to characterize her as an ordinary Everywoman. Harper is not some kind of kickass urban fantasy heroine, but rather someone trying her best to cope with a terrifying time. She becomes pregnant at the beginning of the outbreak (the timeline of the story is the length of her pregnancy), and nearly the entire nine months is spent running and hiding from her crazy, vicious SOB of a husband, who threw a fit when Harper wouldn't join him in his planned suicide pact after they became infected. (Jakob is a bit over the top as a villain, actually.) After her first escape from Jakob, she falls in with a group of infected people who are learning to control the spore; apparently the hormone oxytocin can convince it not to incinerate its host. (Some people, including the titular character, demonstrate an impressive cooperation with the spore, which gives them incredible flame-generating powers. Unfortunately, some of this stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.) This group gradually turns into a rather frightening cult, which takes up most of the middle part of the book. There is a lot of fighting, running and hiding, and a great many character deaths (including the completely unnecessary death of a cat--come on, Joe. That was just gratuitous and wrong). I suppose this is intended to keep the reader on edge, George RR Martin style: none of our supposed protagonists are safe. It got damned tiresome after 700 pages. 
 
In fact, I will say right here that 2-300 pages of the book could have been chopped out with no great loss. This is not to say that Joe Hill is a bad writer. To the contrary, his prose is excellent. He writes good action scenes. I don't think his characterizations are as compelling as his father's; he seemed to be setting a few scenes up to make the reader cry, or at least tear up a bit. I did none of that. (Except when Mr Truffles died, and it's telling that I felt worse over the death of a cat then the demise of the Fireman.) I did finish this book, but it took more than a week and I was dragging at the end. 
 
So: very much a mixed bag. If Joe Hill ever writes a normal-sized book, I might take a chance on that. But I'm not diving into one of his doorstops again.

 
This entry was originally posted at http://redheadedfemme.dreamwidth.org/165801.html. Comment either here or there.
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