Friday, 21 April 2017

{English} Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

For fans of: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling, Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell, The Magisterium series - Holly Black, Cassandra Clare
Published: 2015 (St. Martin's Griffin)
Pages: 522



Blurb: Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here - it's their last year at Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

Carry On is a love letter to love stories and the power of words - to every 'chosen one' who ever had more on their mind than saving the world...

My opinion: What most people not seem to know is that Rainbow Rowell didn’t just write a Harry Potter fanfiction. First there was her novel “Fangirl” where the main character wrote fanfictions about a fictional character named Simon Snow. A fanfiction in a fictional novel. It was clear that the Simon Snow novels by Gemma T. Leslie were just a play on Harry Potter, even though Rowell mentioned Harry Potter in the novel – if I remember that correctly, it’s been a while.
There were bits and pieces of the fanfiction that Cath wrote in the novel, which made readers (including me) curious. Now I don’t know exactly how “Carry On” came to be, only that the character Cath used a similar title and that Rainbow Rowell did neither write down Cath’s fanfiction, nor Gemma T. Leslie’s story. It’s her own take on this whole “the chosen one”-trope and I think she did a very good job.
The threads between Harry Potter and every other story about magical (boarding) schools are visible, but that’s how the genre is, in my opinion. The “Magisterium” series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare felt more like a fanfiction, despite everything they say. But that’s a different topic.
I sometimes caught myself comparing the characters to those in “Harry Potter”, but they didn’t fit in completely. That’s because they aren’t 1:1 copies and I love how Rainbow Rowell broke some stereotypes. There’s still a lot that could have been improved though.

It took me a few pages (or rather 50-60) to get into the story, because as I said – it’s a classic story about some special school. Just that Watford isn’t in Scotland but in England and that was something that bothered me. Are other countries not magical enough? At least it wasn’t set in some High School in the USA, because I’m not the biggest fan of that.
The kind of spells that are used in this book were fun and different. Of course, there’s no comparison to “Leviosa” and so on, but these were a witty way of variety.
The plot is a little chaotic sometimes, but it managed to keep me guessing about what’s happening next. I honestly didn’t see that ending coming.
What I really liked is that the reader is directly thrown into the story. Simon is already in his last year of school and already went through some adventures. I’m glad that Rainbow Rowell chose this way of telling Simons story, because I’m not sure if I would have read an entire series consisting of seven or eight books. (Not because I don’t like reading long series, on the contrary. Just not if it’s about another magical school.)
Another thing that I didn’t like was the perspective. It was written from the view of at least ten characters and they don’t have very different narrating voices. Why not use the third person in the first place?
The magicians here weren’t as separate from the “normal” world as in other books of this genre, which is something that often bothers me.

To sum things up, I enjoyed this a lot and I will continue to read Rainbow Rowell’s books.

My rating: 5/5 buttons

{English} Avatar - The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part One (The Promise #1)

For fans of: the Nickelodeon series
Published: 2012 (Dark Horse)
Pages: 76

Blurb: The war is over...but the adventure has just begun!

Picking up exactly where Avatar: The Last Airbender left off. The Promise takes Aang to a Fire Nation colony in the heart of the Earth Nation, where tensions between neighbors threaten to shatter the world's newfound peace--putting the Avatar on a collision course with one of his closest friends, Fire Lord Zuko!

My opinion: Why haven't I discovered this earlier? The TV series had always seemed to me to be unfinished, somehow. There were some unknown plot points and loose narration strings. Back then I didn't understand how they could let the series end like that.
After having read "The Promise" it makes a little more sense. It even closes the gap between Aang's story and "The Legend of Korra" in some parts. What we saw in this story is probably the beginning of Republic City.

That Happy End in Book Three didn't really convince me and that's why I enjoyed "The Promise" so much. It picks up right after they all drink tea and Aang and Katara get together (still not a fan of the latter, but that's the way it is). All the doubts Zuko and Aang have about the future of all the nations are pictured realistically. It's good that they all (not only Zuko and Aang) have different opinions on how the world should be like.

All that Aang wants is harmony, but he soon has to learn that it's not easy to reach that goal, despite the war having ended. He might be the Avatar, but being able to communicate with his previous lives doesn't mean he's all-knowing. Avatar Roku seems to think that about himself and I never really liked him because of that.
Then there's Zuko who is sorry for everything he and his people did and wants to become even with each and every person in the world. He's desperately trying not to become like his father and I get why he's scared of that. He (and Katara, sort of) is the first one of the core group to notice that the four nations can live in harmony, BUT they don't have to be kept apart from eachother.
Kori is a great addition to the cast of original characters and perfectly fits into the story. I think she's quite the key character.
Either there's a lot more diversity here or I just didn't notice it while watching the series years ago. Anyways, it's awesome!
That side plot with Aang's fanclub is so adorable. You go, fangirls!

This graphic novel is perfect for fans of the series that weren't too happy with how it ended.


My rating: 5/5 Buttons

Thursday, 6 April 2017

{English} Avatar - The Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures

For fans of: the Nickelodeon series
Published: 2011 (Dark Horse)
Pages: 240

 Blurb: This volume collects the long-out-of-print, fan-favorite comics previously published in Nickelodeon Magazine and with the Airbender DVDs, plus over seventy brand-new comics pages. That's twenty-six stories set in Airbender continuity, by a host of top-notch talent, many of whom worked on the original animated series!
Twenty-six in-continuity stories, plus bonus content!

My opinion: This is a really cute collection of mostly short comics. They're set during the TV series "Avatar - The Last Airbender" and (just like the series) divided into three books. Most of the adventures happened on various travels of Aang and his friends, but some follow Zuko and Co. as well.

Before reading this I thought the stories would be longer and that we'd find out more about the backgrounds of this series. But some stories don't really have much going on and they don't give us really interesting information. Some were only 2 or 3 pages long and had mediocrely funny punchlines. Something that kids would laugh about, perhaps. To be fair, the characters ARE kids.

There were many writers and artists who worked on this and of course, every cartoonist has their own style, but some stories looked very different from the original style. Apart from those few, the others were very similar.

I don't want to go into detail about what's happening in the stories, because that would take way too long. A thing that they all have in common is that they perfectly fit into the TV series. They could be cut out scenes or flashbacks.
So if you were/are a fan of "Avatar - The Last Airbender", you should definitely check this out!


My rating: 4/5 Buttons