Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 10: The Wake

With The Wake, I have finally reached the end of the Sandman series. The first three chapters conclude the events from the previous volume and serve as a truly fitting finale to a brilliant series. It was great to see several characters reappearing for Dream's wake, some with their absolutely moving eulogies; there were even a few cameos thrown in. I also really enjoyed seeing the new Dream take shape and finding his place in the Dreaming. Personally, I didn't really care much for the epilogue and it didn't resonate with me, but it doesn't matter; overall, with just the first three chapters alone, The Wake brings a satisfying end to the Sandman series. I am glad I made the decision to seek out these graphic novels and I look forward to reading them again in the future.

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

The Kindly Ones is the climax of the Sandman series and is truly an epic tale. For me, it's the best one out of the series. I also really liked the artwork in this particular story arc; it's very different from the usual comic book style and it really appealed to me visually. Even though the previous volumes prepared readers for Dream's death, I was still incredibly saddened by the loss of Morpheus. Yes, technically, Dream of the Endless does not die; he has existed since the beginning of time and will continue to do so for a long time, but Morpheus is no longer and I was truly sad to see him go. To fully appreciate this volume, it is definitely necessary to have read the previous volumes as several storylines from earlier books get tied up here. What an incredible story, and one that I think will just get better and better each time I revisit it.

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 8: World's End

I always find it hard to give my opinion on the Sandman books; partly because I think I will sound like an idiot, but also because it's hard to find the right words to adequately describe them. In World's End, a whole bunch of people/supernatural beings find themselves stranded in an inn because of a reality storm and they share their tales with one another while waiting for the storm to pass. I really liked this volume, which effectively was a collection of short stories, with Dream (and Death) making an appearance occasionally. I was completely intrigued by what was revealed towards the end and appeared to be the cause of the reality storm: a funeral procession in the sky involving the Endless. It feels like a set-up for the next volume; what is going to happen in The Kindly Ones? I can't wait to find out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jeff Lindsay - Dexter by Design

Hmm... I am not quite sure what to make of this. I felt like I was waiting to get into the thick of it but before I knew it, I finished the book - and I don't mean that in a good way. I think it's an improvement over Dexter in the Dark but I still don't think it's as good as the first two books in the series. It lacks that dark, twisted humour that makes the Dexter books such fun, despite the fairly grim subject matter. I know a character needs to evolve and change, but I'm not liking much the new-ish Dexter. I mean, he pretty much whinges in this book, and that is just so unlike him. The event involving Deborah was pretty drastic as well and came out of the blue, and even though it would explain the change in her, it didn't feel quite right either. As for her partner, it felt like he was thrown in just to be a substitue Doakes, and then he was just as easily taken out. Look, it probably wasn't that bad overall; I was just hoping for more after the disaster that Dexter in the Dark was and I so wanted to see more of that delightful wickedness from the first two books. Well, there's definitely Book 5 coming, so I guess one can only hope that Lindsay will deliver in that one.

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives

A whole book featuring the Endless? Perfect. Delirium decides that she needs to hunt down her missing brother and the only sibling she can convince to go with her is Dream, who needs to snap out of his own misery following a broken heart. Change is the main theme in this volume, and because of the events that take place, there is much change coming to the Endless, especially for Dream. As usual, the storytelling is impeccable and it is great to see storylines from previous volumes weaved into this one and as well as borrowing from the various mythologies and integrating that into the Sandman story; all things that make this series such a unique one. Another great addition to the Sandman collection that I thoroughly enjoyed.

William Sleator - The Beasties

I picked this up at a library book sale, thinking I would be in for an old-school horror treat, especially after seeing the endorsement by R.L. Stine on the back cover; I was sadly mistaken. The book starts out okay but quickly develops into a strange mix of gory horror with an environmental agenda. I guess kudos to the author for trying something different and attempting to use this medium to convey a serious message about environmental issues and its impacts to his young audience, but in my opinion, it didn't work at all. I didn't particularly care for the characters either, so in the end, nothing much about the book really appealed to me, which is a true shame as I had been rather looking forward to this one. Oh well... moving on!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Julie Gregory - Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood

When I read stuff like this, I am truly horrified at how parents can be so brutal and cruel to their own children or to any other human being. Sometimes, I wonder at the irony of people requiring permits to keep specific breeds of dogs, yet people who are obviously unsuitable to be parents don't need a licence to reproduce when the responsibility is so much greater. Not that I'm saying this is something that should be regulated but it is painfully heart-breaking to read about child abuse, especially at the hands of their own parents. Julie Gregory's story is amazing; she not only survived a beast of a childhood but has put together the broken pieces of her life and moved forward. While it was a long, painful and arduous process, she has emerged stronger and wiser, with the courage to face up to her mother and prevent her from hurting other children, as well as spreading awareness of Munchausen by proxy. As a reader, I would have liked proper closure and to know more about what Julie did to stop her mother. Did she get prosecuted in the end? Did she get psychiatric help? It's a bit uncertain what actually happened in the end, although I would like to think that Julie was successful. Apparently, updates were previously available on her website but there's not much information on there at the moment. Regardless, I applaud Julie Gregory for courageously sharing her difficult tale with the world and using her experiences to help others in MBP cases. I wish her all the best.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Agatha Christie - The Clocks

Even though my mother was a fan of Agatha Christie, for some reason, I never read any of her books when I was growing up, despite being a fan of the mystery genre myself. When the video game, And Then There Were None (which was based on Agatha Christie's novel) was released, I decided to seek out a copy of it to read before trying out the game. (The book has been read but the game has only seen about 10 minutes of action so far...) I found And Then There Were None strangely compelling, even with the old-fashioned writing, and I did not hesitate to pick up The Clocks when I saw it at meet-up. Once again, the set-up here is very interesting and the mystery and suspense was sustained throughout, although I did find some of the dialogue quite dreary, especially when it was not related to main plot. However, I thought the ending was quite weak and a bit of a cop-out when everything leading up to that point was really excellent and had me completely hooked. A disappointing finish, but overall, still a fairly exciting and enjoyable read.