Book Review: Tales of the Zodiac: The Goat’s Tale

Note: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: Tales of the Zodiac: The Goat’s Tale

Author: P.J. Hetherhouse

Publisher: Createspace

Release Date: December 6th, 2014

Genre: Young Adult, Action/Adventure, Dystopia

Pages: 467

Synopsis:

It is the distant future. Time has seen humanity rise and fall many times, seemingly unable to learn from the mistakes of the past. Now, on the brink of another decline, twelve people step forward to change the course of destiny. Each of them has a tale to tell…

The tales of the zodiac is a series inspired by Celtic mythology, Arthurian legend and, most importantly, astrology. Living in a time when Mother Nature has resumed control, the human race has regressed back to its feudal past. It is here, in two civilizations gripped by political intrigue and religious fanaticism, that the tales take place. We begin with Capricorn—The Goat’s Tale.

A boy of sixteen, Gruff is old beyond his years. He is a dour, dogged, determined character driven by competitiveness and his rigid moral code. Unsurprisingly, this attitude wins him more enemies than friends and, eventually, earns him the most powerful enemy of all—the king.

This royal enmity sets him on a quest that will change his life forever. With nothing but sheer belligerence, and the help of fierce companions (including Cancer and Scorpio), he defies the king and ultimately achieves an unthinkable personal victory. Above all things, The Goat’s Tale is a tribute to the indomitable soul of the Capricorn.

My First Thoughts:

Astrology, in general, doesn’t really interest me all that often. Most of the time I find it to be quite annoying actually, especially when people use it as an excuse to make terrible decisions. But I really like Celtic mythology and Arthurian legends, so I thought I would give this book a go!

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

It took me well over a month to read this book, it actually took me almost two months to read this. Granted, some of that time was taken up by a busy work schedule, but overall this book took so long because it actually drained me to read it. I had to read this book when I was in the mood and normally I couldn’t read it for more than an hour before I had to take a break. I believe in total this book spans about two years, but in the middle of reading the story it felt like it actually lasted a lot longer than that.

If you can’t tell, one of my first complaints is that this book is incredibly slow. It takes forever to get to the action or even the main objective of the story; I believe it took almost 100 to get to the very beginning of the quest and then another 20 before the characters actually set out on the quest. Even on the quest there are several pages between big points of action, that don’t even last that long in hindsight, before there’s another long drag of really nothing. When we did get to the action it felt too drawn out, and not by long fight scenes, but by the hyper attention to every single detail by Gruff. The pacing was just terrible and inconsistent. There were times when the author would spend tons of words and pages on little things, but then do massive skips in time and summarizing them in long boring passages. The author really needed an editor, if they had one then this book would be at least 100 pages shorter.

I like world building as much as the next person. In fact, it’s something that I look forward to when starting a new series. However, it is not something that I wish to drown in when reading the first book. While a lot of the world building was very interesting in this story, there was just too much of it to handle at times. As a writer, one needs to focus on the important information that the reader needs in the moment to understand what is happening and why. If there’s an adequate space for expansion, then do so sparingly and in ways that don’t hinder the storytelling. At times in The Goat’s Tale, I felt like the story was suspended to have a history lesson of the current status of the world and its people. Sometimes, it was very interesting and actually added some to the story. Other times it felt like it didn’t actually belong and the author just shoved it into the story because they wanted to show it off. There were even passages about people and places that we briefly meet or visit, but the passages were longer than the time spent in the location or with the people.

For the most part, the characters were alright. The one that gets the most ‘on-screen’ development is Gruff, which is a little bit of a shame. The story is in his point of view, so it makes sense for him to get the most development but I felt like we spent too much time focused on Gruff. The other characters that he encounters just sort of disappear and then reappear with slightly different personalities and viewpoints. For instance, there are arguably two other main characters in this story who at one point disappear for several chapters. When these characters reappear again they’ve changed in ways that don’t make a whole lot of sense. Then there are other characters that change along the journey but we’re told about it rather than shown, and I felt that it would’ve been nice to actually see these developments unfold. For someone as observant as Gruff seems to be, when it came to details regarding other people he was uncharacteristically quiet about it—and this kid had a lot to say about almost everything else.

The last thing I’ll touch on here is the conventional story structure of The Goat’s Tale. Most stories are told in the shape of a hill, there’s a rise to the top and shortly after we get to the top there’s a fall to the bottom. I honestly had a hard time telling where the ‘top’ or the climax of this story was, I can narrow it down to two events but they didn’t feel very climatic just more so than the other noteworthy events. But after those two events I didn’t feel like I was reading the falling action, or the decline, of the story. To me, after what I could argue was the climax the story just kind of sputtered until it ran out of pages. Even the ‘end’ didn’t feel like an actual ending because it was an obvious setup for the next book. If the series suddenly ends at that point then the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and feels uncompleted. I understand that nowadays books are written with the idea of a series in mind, but a good author ends each book like there might not be a next one while leaving unfinished threads that could expand on the story.

Final Thoughts:

This book wasn’t really for me. There were several times in which I thought about putting it down and reading something more enjoyable, but I wanted to get to the end to see how the tale unfolded. But when I got to the end I felt a bit let down. My favorite character isn’t in the story anymore, and my next favorite character I feel might not get an interesting story because of how she was handled at the end. And on top of all this, I felt like this story read more like a long-winded fantasy rather than a dystopian. If you take out any references to plastic, muskets, or anything related to technology I would’ve believed that this story was set in some sort of fantastical setting. Instead it’s a dystopian that doesn’t really read like any other that I’ve read so far, which may not be a point against it—just depends on the person I guess.

I would recommend this story to anyone who is looking for something a bit different and wants to get into a new series. While it honestly wasn’t my cup of tea, I can see how other people might enjoy it, especially if you are into long stories with a ton, and I mean a ton, of world building.

Rating:

2/5

I don’t think I’d want to continue the series, especially with how this book ended. There was no real resolve to this story, just a short lull before a big lead into the next book. I don’t really care for stories that end like this, but I understand that other people are different. I felt like the narrative of this story was too long winded, I felt that I could cut 100 pages from this book and the story wouldn’t have suffered the loss. However, I’ve always been rather picky about the length of my books only a few rather lengthy ones have ever been able to hold my complete interest all the way through. For those who love long stories, this one may be a breeze for you to read. I really enjoyed a lot of the world building, but at times I felt like it was too much and could’ve been saved for other books later in the series. The characters are alright, though I found the main character, Gruff, to be a bit unemotional and extremely pessimistic. The one line of thought I didn’t care for of his, was that when he becomes maimed he views himself as an invalid due to his acquired disability. While this is an arguable thought for the setting of the story, I feel like this can become hurtful to some readers, especially since it felt in some cases that the author went out of their way to make Gruff that way.

Overall, it’s an okay story. It’s not one that I will continue, but I found the premise of the story to be quite interesting. I believe what made me not want to continue the most was actually Gruff, because I spent too much time in his head. There’s a chance that the next book will be led by a different character, but with how this one ended and with the cast so far, I doubt I can pick up the next one.

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Graphic Novel Review: Black Squadron (Star Wars: Poe Dameron vol.1)

Synopsis:

Poe Dameron, former Republic flyer turned Resistance fighter, is the best pilot in the galaxy. Hand-picked for the resistance by General Leia Organa to lead a squadron on a top-secret and vital mission, Poe sets off to investigate sites of historical importance to the Force — revealing backstory leading directly into The Force Awakens! Follow Poe and his X-Wing squadron on covert missions against the First Order, brought to you by writer Charles Soule (STAR WARS: LANDO, DAREDEVIL) and artist Phil Noto (STAR WARS: CHEWBACCA, BLACK WIDOW)!

Collecting issues 1–6 from the ongoing series

First Thought:

In the last two movies I have absolutely loved Poe Dameron! I have found his character to be quite charming and hilarious—I wanted to learn more about this rough, roguish flyboy. But, I was a little afraid to jump into his comic series when it first came out. At the time I was just getting into comics and I was 100% sold on the character, not enough to warrant buying into the series. However, after The Last Jedi and the whole General Hugs scene I decided it was about time to get into the comic series, and thank goodness my partner has been keeping up with the series because I just borrowed his!

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

I haven’t read very many Star Wars stories yet, and I certainly haven’t read any of the work done by either the artist or the writer, but I felt like this story was pretty entertaining. I start off by saying this because I read a handful of the reviews for the first part of this series and they’re not that stellar. Most of them are rather unexplained bouts of “Soule can’t write to save his life” and “this was boring”, while a few were long diatribes that pretty much said the same thing. In this case I’d have to disagree. I’ve read enough comics, in general, now to understand for myself what is and isn’t good writing. I’m not saying that Soule is the greatest of all time, but I noticed that his writing style for this series is a bit soft-spoken. When I read Doctor Aphra the story telling was very flashy and exciting, always going for the big BOOM! But Poe Dameron seems to be taking a different approach, some of the key plot points in this story were revealed in off-handed remarks that some readers might miss. Not everything is on display for the whole world to pick up in one glance, some things are hidden in plain sight and can be found through thorough reading.

I actually found this story to be quite interesting and entertaining. Since seeing The Force Awakens, I was curious about the old man in the village on Jakku that I now know as Lor San Tekka. Now I may be able to learn more about the old explorer, how he came upon the location of Luke, and how Poe and BB8 got involved. By the looks of this first trade, the journey to finding Tekka is going to be a long bumpy ride full of encounters with the First Order. I’m not sure how I feel about the villain, Agent Terex, he seems to be a surviving soul of the Empire who made himself useful to the First Order, but isn’t completely sold on the First Order agenda. But, the story doesn’t revolve around the villain. Instead, Terex is just the necessary evil that Poe needs to create urgency for his quest to find Tekka, I just hope the agent gets more depth than that as the story continues!

I really enjoyed reading about Poe’s Black Squadron. So far they seem like an interesting group of individuals that are really loyal to Poe, and it’s neat to see some familiar faces from the movies, like Jessika and Snap. I’m also a huge fan of meeting the astromechs behind the piolets, because it makes BB8 less of an oddity and more normal. The astromechs were also an interesting way to add humor to otherwise hair-raising situations, and I rather enjoyed how the writer was able to communicate what they were saying without using actual words. It was a nice team-up between writer and artist to make those characters easy to understand.

Ratings:

Art: 4

The art isn’t the greatest that I’ve ever seen, but I still appreciated it. Noto did a fantastic job of sticking to what we knew of the movies in terms of various character, alien, and ship designs. I enjoyed spotting the aliens that I recognized from the previous movies and the ones that I’d never seen before, like an interesting game of Where’s Waldo. My one complaint was that at first it appeared that Noto was putting too much emphases on the faces, giving them details that while accurate didn’t really seem to translate well for me on the page. It seemed like he withdrew some from that in the later chapters, but for a little while there seemed to be an imbalance of detail in the characters’ faces—some hade more than others. But I actually really enjoyed most of his design work, especially when it was used subtly to throw in some symbolism. The coloring was also very pleasing, a nice mix between light and dark tones matching the moods and the action of the sequences. The shading work was also fantastic, I have a problem with most hard shadows because they just look off-putting, but the shadows in this are very gradual and match the lighting quite beautifully. They also do a wonderful job using the shadows to add depth to the characters’ designs.

Story: 3

Soule’s writing style appears to me to be very subtle, maybe a little too subtle for some people. Read carefully when you read Poe Dameron, because some important information is either mentioned briefly or as a forethought. Their writing isn’t very flashy, so the action scenes may come off a bit dull for some people, but honestly I found them to be quite enjoyable. I really only have two major complaints about his writing so far. One, in the first chapter they make reference to another Poe Dameron story from one of the media-tie in novels, which is fine but I feel like a great writer can loosely relay the important information to the reader without forcing them to go elsewhere for the information. Two, I felt like Poe’s personality from the movies is a bit watered down in this story so far.  I understand that this is a prequel story to The Force Awakens and that there is plenty of time to see that Poe develop. However, I had to laugh when Jessika made mention that Poe could charm the pants off a Hutt because I had yet to really see that charming Poe yet, but there’s still hope!

Overall: 3.5

It’s a nice read that I would recommend to anyone who is a big Poe fan and needs something to tie themselves over until Episode IX. It also provides some good development for his team, the members of which don’t get a whole lot of dialogue let alone screen time! And overall, it looks like a fun action/adventure race against time sort of space quest that should provide some entertainment. I know it made my morning rather fun!

Details:

Title: Black Squadron (Star Wars: Poe Dameron)

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-6

Publisher: Marvel

Writer(s): Charles Soule

Illustrator: Phil Noto

Colors: Phil Noto

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramgna

Released Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 144

Genre(s): Space Opera, Science-Fiction, Young Adult, Action/Adventure

Graphic Novel Review: In Real Life

Synopsis:

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author (Little BrotherFor the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash

First Thought:

I remember grabbing this book at a comic book store near the beach a few years back; I believe I read it then but I’m not 100% sure on that. I do remember what caught my eye though, girls and gaming. I’ve played video games since I was seven years old and my older brother wanted someone to play Halo with him. While I’ve never been personally ostracized for being a girl gamer, I’ve had friends who were made fun of and criticized for it so I was interested in the content of In Real Life and I wanted to see what it was about.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

I think this story was trying to bite off more than it could chew. In the descriptor it talks about tackling adolescence, gaming, poverty, and clashing cultures but it only does one of those really successfully and the others in declining order. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story for the most part but I have to recognize that it was flawed and in some ways that really hurt the storytelling.

So the one thing that I really liked about the story was one of the focuses of female empowerment in gaming. Like I’ve said before, I personally have always been treated respectfully as a female gamer and have never been made to ‘prove my worth’. However, I do know that people are criticized for being female gamers. Hell, I’ve even witnessed male gamers be made to feel worthless by their peers for doing what they love. In Real Life’s first message is to show that girls can feel empowered by being themselves in both the real and virtual world. We see this through Anda’s development through the story. At first she appears to be this meek girl that enjoys making games and playing D&D with her friends, but by the end we see a more confident individual that even tries to make friends with someone from the ‘popular’ crowd. They even drive home the message further with the physical change to Anda’s appearance, giving her the opportunity to make herself look more like the virtual character she created, showing that her virtual and real selves were becoming the same. I also enjoyed some of the little things they did as well with this message, including dialogue showing that the other female characters weren’t sticking with Anda for her gender but because of her skill and reputation in the game. I’m all for girls sticking together, but I find it more organic if it’s out of respect and not shared genitals, just my personal experience.

I liked a lot of what they did with the gaming element of the story, in a way it kind of reminded me of Sword Art Online but more modern day than futuristic. I haven’t actually participated in a lot of MMOs, in fact, that’s not really my gaming of choice because internet connections have always been too terrible for me to try, so I’m not sure how well In Real Life portrays it. From what I understand of that style of gaming, the graphic novel does a fine job showing the positives and negatives. However, I felt like it could’ve done a better job at explaining gold farming and why it’s so bad for gaming, because in my gaming experience farming has a different meaning—and not just that it means to grow/raise plants and livestock. I also felt like it could’ve explained more about guilds and why they’re important for community building and such, but this didn’t really impact the story like the gold farming does.

I’m not sure how this story tackles poverty, other than the whole lack of health care for the Chinese characters. I mean this story does bring to light the fact that a lot of Chinese workers don’t get paid very much so they have to work long hours to make things livable. But I don’t feel like that was a main focus in the story, it was mostly about Anda trying to help a stranger from another country and learning that not every place is like the U.S. With that said, I really don’t think she had a hard enough lesson because the author sacrificed a more realistic ending to make it a happy one. Her ‘punishment’ for interfering in affairs that are beyond her comprehension are laughable and non-existent, she doesn’t really learn anything. She complains about how unfair reality is, but then gets an unrealistic happy ending that is supposed to help her feel good about herself. I get that the biggest point the author was trying to make is that through unity, which we can accomplish more of and on a grander scale now that the internet makes communication easier, we can bring positive change to the world. However, I felt that with the storyline the author was going with the greater lesson would’ve been shown through failure. Yes, not every place is like America, but not every place can become like the U.S. especially not using the means we can to get what we want. The better lesson would’ve been taught through failure because it would’ve shown that the best communication comes through understanding both sides, not by injecting your own values into everything.

Ratings:

Art: 4

I really enjoyed Jen Wang’s art! The character designs are great, each one is unique and really helps make each character notable. There wasn’t a single time in which I confused one character for another, except when it was important to the story. I loved the coloring job as well, everything is so bright and soft—like it was done using water colors! The most detailing was done on the characters, not so much the story sets. The backgrounds for the characters were fine, there’s enough detail to know that they’re not just floating in place. Personally, I like to have more details in the backgrounds especially if it’s a setting like in a video game because I LOVE scene setups in video games. But I understand that the main focus was the characters, so they got the most detailing. The one thing that did bother me was that occasionally the panels looked a little blurry, I don’t know if that’s an art style and done on purpose, but it really stuck out to me in a bad way. Otherwise, the art is fantastic and one of my favorites!

Story: 3

I felt like the author bit off more than they could chew with this one. I can enjoy social commentaries, but this one tried to tackle girls in gaming and social issues in China. When I put it like that it doesn’t really fit, right? Yea, it really doesn’t. The first half was great because it focused on girls being girls in gaming, that if you be yourself in a virtual world you can better embrace yourself in reality. That’s all fine and dandy, and hey it brought some positive light to gaming, that it could be used in a way to build community with others and to build one’s self-esteem. The second half was kind of a mess, and mostly because the ending just didn’t fit. Some people might find the second half to be offensive because Anda deals with characters from outside the US, specifically China, and she tries to help them better their lives by using American means. Her intensions, while pure and misguided, lead to terrible consequences that get her and others in a lot of trouble. However, the author sacrificed good writing and character development to give the story an unrealistic happy ending, and to applaud Anda for her screw-up so she doesn’t really learn from the consequences of her actions—just how to fix them. I also didn’t really care for some of the character development, especially Anda’s mother who was so against online gaming in the beginning and then did a 180 by the end for no real reason.

Overall: 3

While the art was fantastic the story didn’t live up to it. The author wanted to comment on too many issues at once and I felt like it burdened and weakened the story as a whole. The story is still an okay read if you’re looking for an empowering story about a girl trying to come to terms with herself through gaming. But if you don’t want to read about social issues in other countries, especially when an American tries to get involved by themselves, then I would suggest you skip this one. Overall, I find this graphic novel to be quite polarizing. On the one hand I really like the beginning and all the bits in between that doesn’t deal with poverty and just sticks to gaming; on the other hand all the parts dealing with poverty and culture-clash is just poorly written and disappointing to read.

Details:

Title: In Real Life

Publisher: First Second

Writer(s): Cory Doctorow

Illustrator: Jen Wang

Released Date: October 14, 2014

Pages: 175

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Virtual Reality

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn vol.9

 

Synopsis:
Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

Zeno, the Yellow Dragon, joins Yona’s party, and now the Four Dragons are finally assembled! Yona and her friends head to Yun’s birthplace—the land of the Fire Tribe. The people in the area not only have to deal with famine, but are forced into poverty by heavy taxes. What measures will Yona and her friends take to protect the town from oppressive government officials?

Rating:

4/5

Volume 9 is an odd volume when it comes to passing because it spends most of the time laying down the ground work for the next arc, which it appears will spend a good number of chapters in the land o the Fire Tribe. What’s a girl to do when she has the extraordinary might of four legendary warriors and an experienced war general? Yona can’t take over the kingdom, especially not in the way Su-Won did, because she knows that wouldn’t make her any better than him. So she goes for the next best thing, helping the forgotten people of the kingdom, the ones who suffered under her father’s lax rule.

This new role that she takes up is helped by her nurtured protective behavior towards those who can’t protect themselves, it also helps her to grow as an individual more as well. In this volume one of the main focuses is Sinha’s development as a character and a dragon warrior, which I hope leads to him excepting more of himself and his power. There’s also a bit of development in the relationship between him and Yona, not so much on the romantic front but in a generally supportive platonic sense. No, there’s definitely some more romantic tension between Yona and Hak, especially as Yona continues to push him to teach her how to fight using a sword. Except for those two main focuses, it appears that this volume is mostly setting up Yona and company’s new protective role over the kingdom as The Dark Dragon and the Hungary Family. And I also hope that it sets up some character development for Tae-Jun, the young Fire Lord from one of the earlier volumes when Hak and Yona fell off the cliff.

Overall, it’s a fun volume with various switches in tone. There are times when it’s just too adorable for words, but those are often followed by moments of real serious danger. I didn’t feel like the shift in tones really hindered the story, it just showed how their life as fugitives helping the bottom rung people will be. The one thing I do want to complain about is the lack of new information on Zeno, our newest addition! I want to know more about him and he didn’t really get an introduction arc like the others!!!

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 9)

Chapters: 48-53

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  December 5th, 2017

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance

 

Graphic Novel Review: Star Wars Doctor Aphra vol.1

Synopsis:

Following her time in the clutches of Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra has barely escaped with her life. If he ever learns of her survival, he’ll hunt her to the ends of the galaxy. But for now, it’s time for a return to what she does best. With the droids 0-0-0 and BT-1 in tow, she’s off in search of rare artifacts from the galactic center to the Outer Rim and everywhere in between. Aphra’s got debts to pay after all. Just as long as she can stay one step ahead of the Empire, some Bounty Hunters and just about everyone else in the galaxy!

First Thought:

After watching the last three Star Wars movies my love for the franchise has reawakened, so of course one of the first things I did was hit the shelves. While I like the idea of the force and the whole Jedi/Sith dynamic, I actually really wanted to read stories that were centered around non-force users. It may seem strange, but I find that non-force using main characters have cooler stories than Jedi and Sith. Anyways, so I found this trade a while back when the comic book store was doing a big sale, so I decided to grab it because who doesn’t like morally grey characters with questionable allies?

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

I don’t know what it is about killer droids that make them so interesting to me. I think it started back when I was younger and playing Knights of the Old Republic, one of your companions in an assassin droid called HK-47 and he was one of my favorite characters in that game. In Aphra I thought her droid companions were going to be like R2-D2 and C3PO, and I thought they were going to be a little campy. Oh I was wrong—I fell in love with them the moment they started talking about torture. Weird, right? In reality, if a robot started talking torture to me I would flip table, but for some reason when Star Wars droids talk about it I think they’re super adorable. I think my favorite scene with the droids has to be when 0-0-0, a rather dark protocol droid, gets permission to torture someone and he has some sort of torture device in every figure that’s different from the last that he whips out of nowhere!

Anyways, while I already hoped this story would turn out fantastically it did more than just that! The art was alright, there were some minor discrepancies that I’ll discuss later. But the story was fantastic! Set sometime after A New Hope, the story makes references to the events of Rogue One and Episode 4 that quickly allows readers to orient themselves in the timeline. We also get to see new aliens and some that have made brief appearances in Rogue One.

The story is not your typical father-daughter adventure. Instead, they’re forced to ork together to chase after ghosts and legends—something that all archeologists should love to do, right? Wrong! Because of her debts, Aphra has to take on the emotionally charged adventure with her father and killer companions in toe. While I haven’t read her introduction in the Darth Vader Marvel comic, I felt like it wasn’t necessary. Maybe, if I have the money, I’ll buy the trades that she’s featured in and learn how she acquired her killer droids and her companionship with a Wookie Gladiator. But for now, I’m content with what I have because the author did a fantastic job writing the story so that you could pick it up without any prior knowledge to the characters. You could even read this comic without ever watching Rogue One or A New Hope, because the author doesn’t rely on you knowing that information, instead they give it to you in necessary pieces that don’t clutter up the main story with backstory.

Ratings:

Art: 4

My biggest problem with the art was some of the detailing—it was too much at times. I love it when artists can make characters come to live with detailing, but sometimes there’s a thing called too much. Like I don’t need to see every hair on a stubbly chin, with the right use of shadows and a few lines you can accomplish a similar look that’s less cluttered. I also so like a lot of unnecessary lines on people’s faces, especially if the picture looks almost the same without the lines there. It’s too distracting for me when there are weird lines on the face that aren’t part of the actual design, I know it’s a styling choice but it’s one I don’t care for. Other than those, the art was pretty good! I liked the mix of colors and that it wasn’t all one tone. The character designs were pretty cool, in fact it looks like the artist had a lot of fun drawing some of the concepts!

Story: 4

Overall the story was fantastic! The author did well to introduce Aphra and her companions, along with their relationships, in a timely manner that didn’t leave me feeling confused. Obviously, if people want to know more about her work with Vader they can easily find the trades she is in, but they don’t have to be read to understand this story—which is nice. My one complaint about the storytelling is that in some of the action sequences it jumped from one event to the next so quickly that I had to go back and read what had happened again. But the action sequences were pretty cool, I liked how they handled and didn’t take up to much of the storytelling like in other comics I’ve read.

Overall: 4

I definitely can’t wait for the next trade in this series to come out! I’m curious as to where Dr. Aphra’s character is going and what adventures will come her way. And as weird as it is, I’m excited to read more about a pair of psychotic astromech and protocol droids.

Details:

Title: Aphra (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra)

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-6l

Publisher: Marvel

Writer(s): Kieron Gillen

Illustrator: Kev Walker & Marc Deering

Colors: Antonio Fabela

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramgna

Released Date: July 3rd, 2017

Pages: 144

Genre(s): Space Opera, Science-Fiction, Young Adult, Action/Adventure

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn vol.8

 

Synopsis:
Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

Jaeha, the Green Dragon, joins Yona’s party after their harrowing adventure together in Awa. Now the group must find the Yellow Dragon—the last dragon from the prophecy that Ik-su told Yona! Meanwhile, Su-won visits Chishin Palace and tells General Geun-tae, chief of the Earth Tribe, that he should hold a mock battle and festival. But what could be the true intent behind Su-won’s proposition?

Rating:

4/5

So I have mixed feelings about this volume. Overall, it’s wonderful and totally worth reading. It’s not as fantastic as the previous volume, but not every volume can be written in gold. What has me on the fence are the three chapters in the middle of the volume that are Su-won centric. We haven’t seen that guy since the first few volumes, except for briefly in some of the flashbacks and in one of the last few chapters in volume 7. So I felt that it was weird for his short part of the story to suddenly appear, especially since it looks like it chronologically occurs before the events of the last volume. It felt a little random, to be frank, and while it wasn’t bad writing in itself I felt that it broke up the flow of the volume.

The chapters with Su-won are very well written. I love the characters that are introduced, especially those from the Earth tribe like the general and his wife! I don’t really like Su-won, I feel like his character has the least amount of explanation for any of their actions, especially when his personality seems to flip-flop. We haven’t really seen much of him or his development since the first few volumes when he forcefully took over the palace, and I think that’s why I dislike him so much. In the volumes that followed we see a lot of development with Yona but hardly any with Su-won, except when he was a child in the flashbacks. The three chapters that he’s in in volume 8 really try to help develop his character more, making him seem more likable to those who might’ve hated him outright (like myself). I only wished that these chapters were in their own volume because I felt like they didn’t mesh well with the Yona-centered chapters. Really, the mangaka could’ve added a couple more Su-won chapters and made a Su-won dedicated volume right after the battle at Awa Port, but that’s strictly my opinion.

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 8)

Chapters: 42-47

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  October 3rd, 2017

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn (vol.7)

 

Synopsis:
Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

In order to free the port town of Awa from an evil tyrant, Yona and her friends team up with Jaeha, the Green Dragon, and his fellow pirates. While Hak and the others are fighting on other ships, Yona and Yun infiltrate a human-trafficking operation! When the enemy closes in and things look dire, what will Yona do?

Rating:

5/5

With volume 7 comes the end of the Awa/Green Dragon arc, and by does it end with a bang! The final battle is a nice mix between fighting and story development. There aren’t any huge fight scenes with dramatic action sequences that take several panels to complete. The action is confined to a few panels at a time as the story hops between the various groups of people that are running around. Some people might not like that kind of narrative, but I’ve never been one for drawn out action scenes that take up several pages. If there’re well done, fine, but most of the time they’re nothing special and they don’t interest me as much. In this volume, the action is there, you know the fight is happening, but it isn’t the main focus of the story, instead it’s an instrument used for development of story and characters.

Speaking of character development. If you haven’t been convinced by Yona, this volume may be the one to win you over. I absolutely loved her in this one, not that I didn’t before but this one definitely made her one of my favorite heroines yet. She isn’t the same girl you met in the first few chapters. No, she’s something different and I love it! And Yun gets some development in this volume too that just made me want to scream. I liked it from the beginning, but the handsome boy genius has definitely grown a lot on me in this volume and actually deserves the self-given title!

The thing that I loved most about this volume, though, is that the mangaka hasn’t forgotten about Yona’s trauma. What happened to her should stay with her forever and unlike other mangas that I’ve read the writer knows that too. In this volume you see that trauma come back, you see how it haunts her, and most importantly you see it physically manifest itself. It doesn’t make her weak. Instead it’s another instance that shows how far she’s come and it makes me so happy to see it. I’ve read/watched too many stories that have characters with traumas that just drop them when the story doesn’t need it anymore and it’s never done naturally; they just wake up one day and are 100% okay. So it really makes me happy to see that the mangaka hasn’t forgotten about Yona’s suffering and instead weaves it into the story as part f the main design and not just some accent.

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 7)

Chapters: 36-41

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  August 1st, 2017

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance