Mini Reviews Reviews

Saturday Smalls — August 24th, 2019

August 24, 2019

This week’s mini review round-up includes four graphic novels/manga:

  1. adult m/m romance
  2. adult bizarro horror
  3. adult horror
  4. MG contemporary


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10 Dance, Vol. 1 by Satoh Inoue

TITLE: 10 Dance, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Inouesatoh
GENRE: Romance
AGE RANGE: Adult

Shinya Sugiki, the dashing lord of Standard Ballroom, and Shinya Suzuki, passionate king of Latin Dance: the two share more than just a first name and a love of the sport. They each want to become champion of the 10-Dance Competition, which means they’ll need to learn the other’s specialty dances, and who better to learn from than the best? But old rivalries die hard, and things get complicated even further when they realize there might be more between them than an uneasy partnershp …

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First of all, if you’re a big fan of professional dancing, let me go ahead and say I strongly believe you’ll enjoy this more than I did. It’s clear that the creator knows what they’re talking about, as there’s a lot of detail spent on both the technical details of dance as well as the world of professional dancing competitively, and the impact that world has on its residents. I was impressed, but it was overly detailed sometimes to the point where it fully removed me from the story, and that wasn’t enjoyable for me.

As far as the story goes, however… I honestly don’t even know half of what was going on because this was so difficult to follow. It jumps from scene to scene with weird transitions, the characters are constantly randomly changing the topic too abruptly to make any sense, and I swear it took the first half of the book just for me to keep track of who’s who because the two leading men’s names are almost the same (Suguki Shinya and Suzuki Shinya). What a strange (and inefficient) writing choice…

Even if I had been able to fully get into the story, the characters don’t help. Suzuki Shinya is horribly unlikeable and an absolute brat, while Suguki Shinya is bland as hell (and has a few really problematic remarks near the end about Latinx people). This entire manga was a bit of a disaster for me, sadly. I definitely won’t be continuing the series and I can’t see myself reaching for anything else by this author, either.

Thank you so much to Amazon Vine for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
1star

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BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels

TITLE: BTTM FDRS
AUTHOR: Ezra Claytan Daniels
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult

Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home. Like a cross between Jordan Peele’s Get Out and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Daniels and Passmore’s BTTM FDRS (pronounced “bottomfeeders”) offers a vision of horror that is gross and gory in all the right ways.

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Hmm… this is a tough one to rate. I think I’ll go with 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for GR.

The pros: first of all, I heard this graphic novel referred to as gentrification horror, and that sums it up incredibly well. It’s horror, it’s spooky and it’s weird, but it also deals with a lot of commentary regarding gentrification, POC lives being pushed aside and erased for white comfort, etc. There’s a ton of good commentary going on here, including the black MC’s best friend having a meltdown over how “white people’s opinions never seem to matter anymore”, etc. (but she’s not racist, you know! how dare you?!). Parts of the book are very subtle while others are brutally on-the-nose, and it’s all done very well.

The cons, however: first, this art is… well, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s visually interesting and I think it’s neat, how certain “scenes” are color-coded to different colors to separate them from the scene before. It’s an easy way to show time-skips, location jumps, etc., without devoting any of the actual storyline to letting you know. That said, the monochrome aspects made it a little tough for the finer details to come across sometimes, and the drawing style itself, while this is totally subjective, is not one that I personally enjoy.

The other issue I had is that the story just doesn’t make any sense at times. I know a lot of people enjoy semi-bizarro horror that doesn’t have a lot of rhyme or reason to it, and if that’s you, DEFINITELY grab a copy of this one, but that’s not me. I wanted to know why these things were happening (more than the iota of backstory we got) and how the entity in the story became so powerful, but I didn’t get any of that. I think BTTM FDRS would function much better as a novel or novella than a graphic novel, but that’s just me.

I received this item for free from the Amazon Vine reviewing program in exchange for my honest opinion. My review has not been influenced or altered in any way.

4stars

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Gleipnir, Vol. 1 by Sun Takeda

TITLE: Gleipnir, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Sun Takeda
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult

Shuichi Kagaya is a smart kid, and most smart kids his age would be thinking about college. Shuichi Kagaya is also a monster, and he’s smart enough to know that monsters don’t go to college. But after he uses his monstrous form to save his classmate Claire Aoki, it doesn’t matter what his plans for the future were, because he’s not the one making the decisions anymore. Now that the seductive, sadistic Claire knows Shuichi’s secret, she’s got her own ideas about what a monster is good for – because he’s not the first one she’s met…

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First of all, don’t go into this expecting anything anywhere near “wholesome”; not only does it offer some fairly explicit violent imagery, it also includes an unfortunate amount of fan-service via underwear shots, cleavage, etc. (which is why I’m only giving it 4 stars).

That said, once I got past all of that enough to check into the storyline, I was actually hooked. I would say that I wish we got more backstory as to why Shuichi turns into this weird mascot-looking “monster”, but the cliffhanger ending tells me that must be coming in the next volume. It’s a really strange plot at its core, but something about the weirdness of it coupled with Claire’s terri-bad personality is really intriguing and I’ll most likely be picking up the next volume soon.

I received this item for free from the Amazon Vine reviewing program in exchange for my honest opinion. My review has not been influenced or altered in any way.

4stars

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Stargazing by Jen Wang

TITLE: Stargazing
AUTHOR: Jen Wang
GENRE: Contemporary
AGE RANGE: MG

When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs. But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?

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Jen Wang has such a way with storytelling that always manages to make me smile and laugh while still punching me in the heart with feels (in a good way), and Stargazing followed that trend beautifully. I absolutely adored this graphic novel! Moon and Christine are both so precious, and they feel like real kids, you know? The diversity represented is so sweet and the commentary on biracial and/or Asian-American kids feeling “not Asian enough” made my chest ache for friends who have told me they’ve gone through similar things.

On top of the story itself being so precious and offering up such a lovely story of friendship and overcoming insecurities and loneliness, there’s also the art, which is iconic and stunning and sweet. I adore how expressive the characters are and the color palette used — Jen’s style is one of my all-time favorites.

I can’t add this to my library’s order list fast enough and know that I’m going to be recommending this book to anyone and everyone who will listen to me rave about it!

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
5stars

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3 Comments

  • Reply evelynreads1 August 25, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Stargazing sounds cute, definitely have to pick that up!
    (www.evelynreads.com)

  • Reply Sunday Post — August 25th, 2019 – howling libraries August 25, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    […] ✨ WWW Wednesday ✨ Made for You (adult m/m romance review) ✨ Stacking the Shelves ✨ Saturday Smalls ✨ TBR Lows & […]

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