Friday, May 27, 2011

Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar Illustrated by Steve McNiven YP FIC MILLAR

Wolverine died with all the rest of the heroes, the night all super villains realized that if they teamed up all at once they outnumbered heroes about like 50 to one. However, Logan the man that once WAS Wolverine DID survive, but took a vow never to SNIKT again and lives a life as a peaceful farmer in an America run and ruined by super villains. He agrees to be the eyes for a now blind Clint “Hawkeye” Barton as they take the Spiderbuggy to across the devastated country to deliver a secret cargo. The trip will test Logan on every level to keep the beast inside.

This one has it ALL! Post apocalyptic future where all heroes were brutally murdered: check. Inbred Hulkbillys (Hillbilly Hulks): Check. The Spiderbuggy (Spider-Man’s ridiculous car he built in the 70s that could climb walls. Really. It was sort of silly): CHECK!!! A Venom Dinosaur: CHECK!!!!! Billions of other comic references punctuated with gratuitous (but gorgeously rendered) ultraviolence: Giant Check. The art by McNiven is detailed, rich, and comes alive in the many action scenes. This book is filled with great surprises, especially for serious comic fans. It’s one of Millar’s best works and one of the best if not THE BEST Marvel set in The Future comics (of which they’ve had about 345,236 by now). This won’t be for everyone because of the aforementioned ULTRAVIOLENCE, but if you like your comics hard and gritty and enjoy action and dark humor, you simply must read Old Man Logan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by Greg Neri Illustrated by Randy DuBurke B SANDIFER

Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was a killer and killed all by the age of 11. Roger was his classmate and is trying to make sense of how it all happened. Yummy was always angry and violent, but he was also sweet and loving too. Was Yummy a monster like they say? Was he a victim? Was he both?

This is a powerful graphic novel. It is a story of ruined and wasted youth and the pain and questions that violence leaves behind. The use of only black and white with no shades of grey is a wonderful storytelling choice and is also very visually effecting. The story itself is not told with a black and white morality. It allows readers to draw their own conclusions about Yummy and his life. This is a great read for fans of Walter Dean Myers (YP FIC MYERS), Benjamin Zephania (YP FIC ZEPHANIA), and other books about kids that get caught up in violence young.

Will Super Villains be on the Final” Liberty Vocational Volume 1 by Naomi Novik Illustrated by Yishan Li

Leah Taymore is just trying to make it through her first day at college without getting expelled. Liberty Vocational is the premiere college for training super heroes, but Leah isn’t so sure she can hack it. She has an amazing power (the power to manipulate atoms, the very building block of all creation!!!), but hasn’t quite mastered it yet. Meanwhile, there are dastardly deeds afoot as the world’s worst super villain is hiding on campus as the new ethics teacher! And worst of all, she totally has a super crush on an older boy and he doesn’t notice her at all!

This is a nice fun and light manga that will certainly appeal to shojo fans. I don’t think most fans of traditional super hero fare will be interested in this one, because the super heroing is done mainly for humor and there isn’t any ‘action’ in the traditional sense. It’s always weird seeing something like super heroes in shojo, because super heroes are usually bulky and muscular and shojo is filled with rail thin pretty boys with gorgeous hair. In fact the author originally wanted Leah to be drawn tall and muscular and her empathy friend Yuzuna to be plump, but the artist let her know that shojo has certain rules. I have to say that’s a little disappointing. I think the book would stand out more if the creators had been braver and taken risks. However, the jokes play out well, the main character is fun and likeable, a super hero school is a fun idea (if not terribly original by this point), and it should please the shojo die hards.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living Edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller 306.7660835 IT

In September of 2010, in response to several stories of teen suicides in response to bullying and harassment made national news, author Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, uploaded a video to YouTube called "It Gets Better." It was their personal story of how they were bullied and how coming out and surviving eventually allowed them to make their dreams come true. They called for other people to upload their stories of how life got better. In 24 hours, someone uploaded a second video. In less than 3 days, there were several hundred videos. By the end of one week, there were 1,000. In less than a month, the White House called with a request to add a video from President Obama. This book is a collection of messages from people of all walks of life and touches all aspects of growing up gay, bi, or trans. Everything from faith, family, romance, friendship, jobs, dreams, and anything and everything in between. It shows that as long as someone doesn’t give in to despair it really does get better.

This is an absolute must read. Not just for teens that deal with issues of sexuality and gender, but their families, anyone that has friends that deal with these issues, anyone that feels like an outsider, anyone that knows what is like to be an outsider, or just anyone that wants to be inspired by stories of overcoming pain, hatred, intolerance, bigotry, loneliness, and confusion to achieve dreams they once thought impossible. This is a truly powerful book and wonderful companion the Youtube channel’s videos. Definitely take a look at both, because they really do complement each other very well. You can find the Youtube channel at

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson YP FIC NELSON

Madeline has anger issues and a drinking problem and is in treatment at 16. In treatment she finds that she actually WANTS to be well. She also finds Stewart and love. When she gets out first she spends a month waiting, but their reunion isn’t as happy as she suspected. Can two addicts ever be good for each other? Can she recover from recovery?

This is the Best! Novel! About! Addiction! for Teens! I! Have! Ever! Read! Far too many novels about addiction either end with treatment or have it as an epilogue. Or maybe treatment will be the final third or half. What about after treatment? That is one of the most difficult (and therefore dramatic) times for addiction! Blake Nelson clearly understands this and delivers a knockout novel about pain, guilt, grief, loneliness, boredom, and all the other horrors of getting better and what (and who) we have to leave behind to do it. Madeline and Stewart are so real it hurts to read about them. Their pain and struggle is true to life and beautifully told. Blake has short straight forward chapters all from Madeline’s view. It is a personal style that feels like a diary or a confession, which fits the recovery plotline perfectly. I love that we get a lot of time after treatment and inside Madeline’s recovery. It doesn’t end too quickly or gloss over how long or difficult recovery is. Finally, besides being an honest and interesting look at recovery it is also a universal look at love and loss. A great read for any fan of realistic fiction.

I am J by Cris Beam YP FIC BEAM

J always felt different, always knew there’d been a mistake. He was supposed to have been born a boy and not have a girl’s body. Now he uses oversize clothes and wraps his body so that he can look how he feels, but it’s starting to cause problems. His best friend just called him a lesbian and threw him out of her life. J decides to start living his life honestly, but isn’t sure he can live with the consequences.

This is a tough and real look at what it is like to be a transgendered teen. J is an amazing character that feels like a real human being and not just a metaphor or stand in for all transgendered kids. His problems and reactions are so genuine that anyone can relate. After all, all teenagers feel trapped in bodies they don’t want or fully understand at one time or another, but J has things even harder. This is a tough sad read. J is rejected by almost everyone he knows after he decides to tell people who he really is. It’s made sadder by how realistic a situation it is. However, the book ends with a positive and hopeful note. I think this is a good read for anyone that would like to understand someone’s life that is different than their own. You may be surprised by how much you have in common.