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Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before - David Yoo. Albert Kim is, as he describes himself, an intentional loser. He'd had friends in other schools when he was younger, but when his family moves & he starts at Bern High, for some reason it doesn't work out. By the end of his sophomore year he's honed the skill of purposeful weirdness. That summer he starts a job cleaning a hotel, coincidentally with Mia Stone, the hottest girl at school.

I cringed a lot during this book. Sure, Albert doesn't deserve to be picked on by his classmates, but I also found it hard to empathize with him because he's a jerk. He's a smart & smart-mouthed kid who's been dealt a bad hand for no real reason in teen social circles, but he's also not a really nice person. So it took me a while to work my way through this, also because the burgeoning romance with Mia made me nervous: he certainly didn't know what he was doing, & Mia, only recently broken up w/popular jock Ryan Stackhouse, doesn't really know what she's doing either.

Albert's story drew me in towards the second half of the book; I was relieved to see him develop some more self-awareness (although not after a cringeworthy scene that far surpasses anything else in the book). The ending didn't feel forced; it felt reasonable and a logical progression from where the characters started off the book.

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work - Edwidge Danticat. Danticat's work is always poignant; she has a plain-spoken way of articulating truths that breaks your heart. These essays explore what it means to be an immigrant from a country suffering from despotism, poverty, and colonialism. She writes, of course, of her native Haiti, but her words will resonate with many other immigrant writers. Is such a writer bound to tell the stories of her loved ones, as a way of bearing witness, or is her role instead to keep these truths inside, lest she betray the community and make them look bad to the outside world? What does art do for people living in turbulent conditions? What should it do? Is art worth dying for, in politically repressive times? There are, naturally, no easy answers, but Danticat's thoughts are well worth pondering.

Mechademia 1: Emerging Worlds of Anime & Manga - Edited by Frenchy Lunning. I really liked the second volume in this series; I'm glad I read that one before this one, which left me a bit cold. It didn't feel as thematically consistent, and some of the topics just weren't interesting to me (articles on superflat art & multiplanar images stand out as the dullest to me; there's a reason I didn't study a lot of art theory in college!). Even an article on Utena to me seemed boringly obvious.

I did enjoy an article on the globalization of manga, particularly the section talking about the influence of manga outside Japan but still within Asia. I also liked a piece about the origins of cosplay (mostly in North America), though I scowled at the miscategorization of lolita fashion as cosplay (a misconception no doubt reinforced by many congoers, unfortunately), and one on wolves (including, but not always, werewolves) in anime & manga.

The "Review & Commentary" section consisted of several short book reviews (none of which were very interesting or useful) & a number of interviews with various Western people connected to anime & manga in one way or another. These were just stupidly short: one of them was only two questions! Anyway, I'm glad I read the second volume first because if I'd read this one first, I might've given up on the series, but I intend to read the rest.

Lord Sunday - Garth Nix. Finally, the last in the Keys to the Kingdom series. Much like the other books, this was a fast, exciting read; Nix excels at creating bizarre landscapes & creatures. Arthur, the Rightful Heir, is now completely nonhuman, a Denizen, & struggling to deal with the power-hungry rage this transformation tends to induce in him. He's also got to dispatch Lord Sunday to get the last Key & part of the Will before the Nothing destroys the House. (As an aside, the waves of Nothing coming to destroy the world remind me, of course, of the Neverending Story -- I wonder if this is a deliberate homage or if this is a more common trope in YA than I've happened to encounter.) Arthur's taught a lesson about acting without full knowledge, especially of the motives of your so-called allies. The ending felt disappointing to me. It was bold -- when I saw what was going to happen I hoped Nix wouldn't back away, & he didn't -- but somehow it was still somewhat dissatisfying.

Date: 2011-01-16 09:27 pm (UTC)
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
From: [personal profile] oyceter
Hrm, I think I picked up David Yoo's first book (breakfast something?) and couldn't get into it because it was so... guy-ish, and I disliked the protagonist.

Also, oooooo, the Danticat looks relaly good, thanks!

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