Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, Reviews

Maus by Art Spiegelman


Title: Maus

Author: Art Spiegelman

Goodreads Plot: Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I thought it was really clever that the author portrayed the different nationalities in using animals. For example, the Jews were mice, the Polish were pigs, and the Germans were cats. Overall, Art Spiegelman offered a fresh take on the the WWII concentration camp memoir. Not only was it a graphic novel, but the flashbacks from and to the present gave you a more holistic view of why Vladek turned out to be the way he was. The dynamics between Vladek and Art added additional layers to the complexity of the story. The author did an amazing job of retelling the story of his parents and family as they experienced WWII in Poland. I didn’t give this a 10 out of 10 because I could not connect to modern day Vladek who is the main character in the book. For some reason, I could not relate to him. However, I still highly recommend this book to anyone.

Acquired: Library

My Rating: 8/10


Graphic Novels, Reviews

Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori


Title: Ouran High School Host Club Vol. 1-18

Author: Bisco Hatori

Goodreads Plot: One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the ‘Host Club’, a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it’s there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.

My Thoughts: This is probably my favorite Manga series of all times. I think this is the second I have read the series in its entirety. The characters and character development in this series is AMAZING! You immediately fall in love with these vibrant, engaging, and super unique characters. Over the course of the series, Hatori makes you fall in love with the host club through flashbacks and Haruhi’s astute perception of who they really are. The plot is also absolutely bewitching. You can’t help but continue reading the adventures of the Host Club as they conquer high school and discover who they truly are. Of course, my favorite part is that everything is resolved at the end. No cliff hangers. If reading manga is not your deal, you could watch the anime version of it on Netflix. It deviates from the story slightly, but it’s still pretty true to the series.

Acquired: Library

My Rating: 10/10

Amazon Goodreads

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Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Reviews

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler


Title: The King’s Dragon

Author: Scott Chantler

Goodreads Plot: In this fourth installment of the award-winning Three Thieves graphic novel series, Captain Drake remembers his dark past as a young knight in the service of King Roderick. Long-ago intrigues may hold clues that will help Drake capture the three thieves — and could spell the end of Dessa’s quest to find her long-lost twin brother.

My Thoughts: This was an absolute delight to read. I think I read it in one sitting. The book is part of a series, and I haven’t read any of the previous books. However, I was able to pick up the main story fairly easily. The illustration style was wonderful. The pictures were colorful, clear, and entertaining. Scott Chantler also does a great job developing intricate and complex characters that you would be able to find in any classic novel. Overall, Scott Chantler tells a wonderfully delightful story in this installment of the Three Thieves series. I am curious to read the previous three books.

My Rating: 9/10

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Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Reviews

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Title: Boxers & Saints

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Goodreads Plot: (Boxers) China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers–commoners trained in kung fu–who fight to free China from “foreign devils.” Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of “secondary devils”–Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

(Saints) China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity.  But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

My Thoughts: I absolutely enjoyed this series. The illustrations were beautifully done and very clean. The production and quality of this series was superbly done. A++ for you. I was immediately drawn into the stories of both characters, Bao and Four-Girl. You are able to create an attachment with both of them even though they are on opposite sides. I actually checked some of my old history textbooks from college (I was an Asian Studies Major), and the books were historically accurate for the most part. I love how the author hinted at the main problem of the Boxer Rebellion which was a fundamental misunderstanding of the west. The Boxers thought the Westerners were these invincible devils who were not human.  On the other hand, the Chinese converts were made up of people who sincerely believed in Catholicism, people who did not fully understand the Catholic teachings, and people who converted for personal gain. It is very apparent that the author did his research, and I appreciate that. To me, Boxers is the main story line as Saints is an add-on, complementary story to the main book. This is probably my favorite graphic novel I have ever read. Everyone needs to pick this up. Right now. Go buy it.

My Rating: 10/10

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Graphic Novels, Reviews

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang


Title: American Born Chinese

Author: Gene Luen Yang 

Goodreads Plot: All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed.American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax–and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

My Thoughts: I really, really liked this book. Gene Yang did a beautiful job of weaving all three stories together. The use of three stories to illustrate the main book was fantastic especially when they all came together at the end. The illustrations were very well done. As a minority, I could relate with Jin’s struggle with finding a balance between his heritage and his desire to be a normal American kid. The illustrations were very clean and very aesthetically pleasing. They were comical when they needed to be (Chin-Kee) without being too cartoonish overall. It had a mixture of everything. I literally laughed out loud in some parts. In others, I was really taken aback by the depth of the content presented. And again, in some parts, I could feel the humiliation that “Dany” felt hen his cousin came to town. I highly recommend this graphic novel if you have interests in immigration culture or to anyone in general. Great read!

Rating: 9/10


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