This week’s mini review round-up includes:
- adult romance manga
- adult poetry collection
- YA romance graphic novel
- adult nonfiction/humor comics
AUTHOR: Memeko Arii
AGE RANGE: Adult
SOURCE: Amazon Vine
Masahiro Setagawa doesn’t believe in heroes, but wishes he could- He’s found himself in a gang of small-time street bullies who use him to run errands. But when high school teacher (and scourge of the streets) Kousuke Ohshiba comes to his rescue, he finds he may need to start believing after all…and as their relationship deepens, he realizes a hero might be just what he was looking for this whole time.
Eh… the cons definitely outweighed the pros with this one. The biggest pro is that the art is fun and cute, but the immediate downside to the art is that so many of the characters look so much alike that it’s sometimes difficult to tell who you’re looking at. On a similar note, the dialogue is really poorly formatted! Conversations overlap each other a lot and many of the speech bubbles don’t clearly indicate who’s talking, especially when the speaker is “off-screen”, so there were entire conversations in this book where I had no clue who was saying what.
The entire beginning of the book is so confusing, though I don’t know if that’s because this is a spin-off of Hitorijime My Boyfriend, which I didn’t realize until I had finished this manga. On the off case that it’s entirely my fault for missing that, I’m not counting off for how confusing the beginning was, otherwise that probably would’ve been enough to knock this down to 1 star.
The biggest issue, though, that I think a lot of readers will have with this book is the age gap in the romance. You know from pretty early on that the romance is going to be between a high schooler and a high school teacher, which I know is a deal-breaker enough on its own for many folks (I wasn’t aware of it beforehand or I probably wouldn’t have agreed to read and review this, either), but on top of that, the student is 15 years old and the teacher is 27. Any chance I could ever have of rooting for this couple was pretty thoroughly shattered once I realized that.
On a final note, the main character keeps calling himself people’s “underling”, which I take it means he’s their servant, basically. I’ve never heard of this or read a story featuring it before and I didn’t enjoy it. Is this a common trope that I’ve somehow missed in my many years of manga reading?
Thank you so much to the publisher and Amazon Vine program for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
pedophilia, verbal/emotional/mental abuse, manipulation
multiple queer Japanese characters
AUTHOR: Leia Penina Wilson
AGE RANGE: Adult
SOURCE: Edelweiss (print requests)
The wildly unrestrained poems in Splinters Are Children of Wood, Leia Penina Wilson’s second collection and winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, pose an increasingly desperate question about what it means to be a girl, the ways girls are shaped by the world, as well as the role myth plays in this coming of age quest. Wilson, an afakasi Samoan poet, divides the book into three sections, linking the poems in each section by titles. In this way the poems act as a continuous song, an ode, or a lament revivifying a narrative that refuses to adopt a storyline.
I sadly find myself wondering if everyone else got a wholly different book from what I was sent, because as much as I wanted to love this when I first picked it up, it turned me off literally within the first few pages and never got any better — to the extent that I had to skim-read the second half because I was so irritated with literally every single facet of this writing style.
There are entire pages that are just blocks of the word “cunt” (highlight to view — I know a lot of people dislike this word’s existence very much). Just… that word over and over and over and over and… do you get my point?
People complain about modern contemporary poets a lot, and usually I’m on the opposite side of that — I love seeing poets twist and reshape the classic formats of poetry, and enjoy the creativity expressed in the idea — but this was… I don’t know what this was. I felt like I was in a fever dream while reading it, in the worst possible way.
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
swearing, violence, murderous thoughts, mentions of cannibalism, abuse — this may not be the full list since I did skim the second half
the author is Samoan
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks (illustrator)
FORMAT: Graphic Novel
AGE RANGE: YA
Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye. Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years… What if their last shift was an adventure?
Well, this was freaking adorable. I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings on RR for a long time now so I almost didn’t pick up this graphic novel, but the art style was so precious, I finally caved and grabbed a copy, and I ended up really enjoying it.
Deja is such a fun character, first of all; she’s plus-size, black, and queer (MGA — it isn’t stated if she’s bi or pan). We see her interact with a few different exes and potential love interests of various genders and it’s really lovely to see a plus-size character being portrayed as gorgeous and desirable when that’s something we don’t get too often. I also wonder if she’s intended as low-key demi rep, because there’s a line where she says people don’t interest her until she gets to know them, but it’s never really addressed so I’m not going to promote this as demi/ace rep unless anyone knows if it’s been stated officially, as I don’t want to mislead anyone looking for that representation! ♥
My only issue with Pumpkinheads, and the reason I’m giving it 4 stars out of 5, is that I struggled a little with the way the couple in this book comes together. I can’t really explain it without spoiling the story, but it just feels a little deus ex machina and I wish it had been a more gradual build throughout the book. That said, it was still super cute and I’m glad I read it.
a fat-shaming comment from a side character (which is immediately challenged)
Deja is black, fat, and queer (MGA/bi/pan?, possibly demi), multiple side characters are queer and/or POC
AUTHOR: Nick Seluk/The Awkward Yeti
AGE RANGE: Adult
Mysterious illnesses. Freakish injuries. X-rays revealing something weird that got stuck in your foot. These strange but true stories are among the 24 medical tales retold in hilarious fashion by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nick Seluk. Featuring fascinating stories submitted by people all over the world, How I Broke Up with My Colon is an educational and highly entertaining tour through the bizarre workings of the human body.
I love The Awkward Yeti, so whenever I see that there’s a new collection up on Netgalley, I jump to download it as soon as possible. I think this has to be one of my favorite works of Seluk’s yet, even though it totally branches out from the usual style! Instead of a collection of short, humorous, silly comics, this is actually a collection of true medical stories that were submitted (mostly by patients, but sometimes by providers) and then dramatized through comics. They’re still adorable and hilarious (the gallbladder has my heart forever with its little “you don’t wike da stones?” moments), but it’s also super informative and morbidly fascinating. Whether you’re new to The Awkward Yeti comics or a long-time fan, I strongly recommend picking this one up!