November 2017 Wrap-Up

 

November was a big reading slump month for me. So how did I solve that? Graphic novels, of course! In fact, it’s entirely due to graphic novels that I’ll be reaching my reading goal this year. Fortunately, I wound up discovering a new favorite series, so it worked out for the best. This month I read four novels, one novella, one poetry/parody book, and eight graphic novels for a total of fourteen things read this month. I also made a sizeable dent in The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and hope to have the whole trilogy finished by the end of the year. Now let’s get into the wrap-up:

 

The first book I read was Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore.

This book can best be described as a third-person choose-your-own adventure novel where all the diverging stories intertwine. It follows Jane, a young artist and college drop-out who has recently lost her beloved aunt. Before her death, Aunt Magnolia made Jane promise she’d never decline an invitation to the mysterious Tu Reviens. So when Kieran Thrash invites her to a gala, she attends. This book is super weird, but in the best way. There are several mysteries in this book, each explored in their own section. This novel is very clever and well-thought out. The characters are also fascinating and quirky in a realistic way. Some things may come across as fantastical, but this book isn’t quite contemporary. It’s not quite fantasy or science fiction either. It’s its own thing. This is a great book to read if you’re looking for something unpredictable and different, free from tropes and clichés. It’s also incredibly diverse. For my more in-depth thoughts, check out my review. I gave this book a full five out of five stars.

 

The next book I read was Milk and Vine: Inspirational Quotes from Classic Vines by Adam Gasiewski and Emily Beck.

Like everyone else, I desperately miss Vine. This book, a parody of Rupi Kaur’s poetry collection Milk and Honey, takes some of the most popular Vines and turns them into poems. It’s a pretty cute idea, and funny too. However, a few things were pointed out to me that I hadn’t previously considered, causing me to lower my overall rating. First, even though Rupi Kaur’s style is plagiarized from black female poets, her collection is still about her very real trauma. This parody books (however unintentionally) mocks that. Additionally, none of the Viners responsible for the content were compensated or even credited. Because of this, I wound up giving the short collection two out of five stars.

 

After that, I picked up the greatly anticipated The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin.

This book picks up several months after the end of the Mara Dyer trilogy and is told from Noah’s point-of-view. When people with abilities keep committing suicide, the finger is soon pointed to resident killer Mara. The gang teams up with another group of Gifted teens to solve the mystery. This book involves a lot of talking but little action, and yet I couldn’t stop reading. Reading from Noah’s point-of-view was difficult because of all the self-loathing and depression. But the humor is on point and the mystery intriguing. Despite that (and the alarming and vaguely confusing ending), this book was still a letdown. I plan on continuing the series, but it’s not all I hoped it would be. If you want to know more about my thoughts on this novel, check out my mini-review. I gave this book three and a half out of five stars.

 

Next I tried Deadpool: World’s Greatest, Vol. 1: Millionaire with a Mouth by Gerry Duggan.

I’m about to out myself as a fake geek, but I just saw Deadpool for the first time this month. (I know, I’m way late.) I really liked it, so I decided to read one of his solo graphic novels. This one was recent and rated well, so I picked it. That was a mistake. This comic follows Deadpool as he hires a bunch of heroes and antiheros as mercenaries to dress up like him and save people. Sounds like great hijinks potential, right? Well, it wasn’t. Deadpool has apparently recently joined the Avengers, so he doesn’t quite feel like Deadpool. There are also a lot of characters I wasn’t very familiar with. In fact, the whole story pretty much requires you to have read previous issues of other comic series. I don’t mind interconnecting series, but this one was far too reliant on other canon. I think each graphic novel series should be able to stand on its own, and this one did not. Plus, it wasn’t funny. The art was good though. In the end, I gave this graphic novel one out of five stars.

 

Next I read Renegades by Marissa Meyer.

This book follows Nova Artino, a villain who dreams of tearing down the Renegades. She gets her chance when she goes undercover and joins a Renegade team. It also follows Adrian Everhart, a young Renegade who dreams of being the kind of superhero his dads once were and invents a suit to do so. It was well-written, but was oddly lacking in action for a superhero story. Also there was a forced (albeit budding) romance. The plot twists were good though. I never saw them coming (with one acceptation towards the end). I’m definitely reading the next book, but this one wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from Ms. Meyer. If you want to hear my thoughts in more detail, check out my mini-review. I gave this book three and a half out of five stars.

 

After posting a request for graphic novel recommendations on Twitter, I got quite a few suggestions. I decided to start with The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

This graphic novel series follows a bunch of characters. Like, a lot. Basically, it takes place in a world where every ninety years twelve gods from various religions and mythos are reborn as rock stars. Once they reclaim their godly identity, they have two years to live. Among the gods reborn are Lucifer, Amaterasu, the Morrigan, and Baal. In the middle of all of this is superfan Laura Wilson. I actually really wound up enjoying this one. I’d been putting off reading it for a while, but I’m so glad I finally did. I gave it four out of five stars.

 

Next I read X-23: Target X by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Mike Choi.

This graphic novel is Laura Kinney AKA X-23’s origin story. Cloned from Wolverine’s DNA, Laura was raised in a cruel testing facility. The whole story is told in flashback and recounts her escape and brief stay with her aunt’s family. Overall, the comic was just okay. Laura seems like a cool character, but her development was rushed. The art was fantastic though, and I love her abilities. While I don’t want to continue this series, I might try a different X-23 solo series. But I gave this one three out of five stars.

 

Since I loved the first volume, I continued on to The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium.

Naturally, I can’t give much away about this volume or any of the subsequent volumes. I will say the art remained exquisite and the ending was one “holy shit!” after another. I gave this volume four out of five stars.

 

After that, I gave Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine by Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Jim Cheung a shot.

This graphic novel follows the newly anointed Vader, directly following the events of Revenge of the Sith. Emperor Palpatine sends Vader to find a Jedi lightsaber to turn into a Sith saber. I was so eager to get into this one because not much is known about Vader’s life in the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but I felt let down. The story was bland and boring. The art was pretty good though. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be continuing this particular series. I gave it two out of five stars.

 

Then I went back to The Wicked + The Divine and read the third volume, Commercial Suicide.

I wasn’t as crazy about this volume as I was the previous two. For one, Laura wasn’t in it. She’s my girl. It was also focused more on killing than actual plot. The art style also kept changing, which was disorienting. I vastly preferred the original art style. It had a great cliffhanger ending though. Unfortunately, I could only give this one three out of five stars.

 

Given the ending of Commercial Suicide, I immediately jumped right into The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4: Rising Action.

This volume had me losing faith in the series. The things I liked about the first two (art and characters) were back, but the story started getting really difficult to follow. Once again, I had to give a volume of my new favorite graphic novel series three out of five stars.

 

Then I took a quick break from graphic novels, since I felt like I wasn’t reading enough books. I chose Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor (with illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo AKA Laini’s husband).

This novella takes place about midway through Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It follows Zuzana as she plans a scavenger hunt to win over Mik. We also follow Mik as he completes said scavenger hunt. This book was so sweet and soft. I love Zuzana so much. While it lacked some of the magical quality of Laini’s other works, it’s still wonderful and great for fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and even people who haven’t read it yet (though I highly recommend you do). This was such an adorable read. Also, the art? Such a great touch. Laini’s husband is so talented. In the end, I gave it four out of five stars.

 

But then I needed to finish catching up on The Wicked + The Divine, so I read the fifth volume, Imperial Phase I.

The story finally felt back on track with this one. In fact, I think it may be my favorite volume so far. I really liked the mock magazine articles and interviews with the gods. That was a neat and offered further insight into the characters. I gave this volume the first five out of five stars of the series.

 

And then, after months of picking it up and putting it down, I finally finished Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab.

I can’t give too much away about the concluding novel to the Monsters of Verity duology, but the story picks up six months after the end of This Savage Song. It takes place in a world where monsters are born out of violent acts. It follows Kate Harker, a human who tries to act monstrous, and August Flynn, a monster who longs to be human. I’m sad to say I didn’t love this book, mostly because Victoria is my favorite writer. This series just doesn’t strike a chord with me and I don’t love it as much as her other works. But the choices Victoria makes at the end really give this story weight. Ultimately, I gave this novel three and a half out of five stars.

 

What books did you read this month? Tell me about them in the comments!

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