Three short books read in October

Last month I read a few quick reads. Here are some short comments on each. What are you reading these days? Let me know in the comments section. – AR

Comics_Sam CarbaughComics: Investigate the History and Technology of American Cartooning by Sam Carbaugh

This book covers the entire history of comics in 120 pages. From cave drawings and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs all the way up to web comics, it covers everything (Sunday funnies, manga, superhero comics, graphic novels, indies, etc. etc.). It’s written for young readers (junior high?) and it’s beautifully illustrated in full color. This book also contains 25 different projects readers can do. Readers are encouraged to experiment with different types of comics and encouraged (multiple times) to self publish.

Even though I’m well outside the target audience for this book I truly enjoyed reading it. I learned a lot and the activities rekindled in me an old desire to write comics some day. This book is highly recommended for young readers who are interested in writing, storytelling, drawing, and anything related to comics.

Flash rebirthThe Flash: Rebirth (trade paperback collection of comic books) Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver

This was really bad. I wanted to like it, but the story was terrible.

1) The return of Professor Zoom was predictable and his motivation was lame, stock super villain stuff.
2) Much of this story takes place within the Speed Force (an field of energy somewhere in time and space where only those blessed with super speed can go). Despite Prof. Zoom’s long monologue about how the Speed Force works, and why the Flash was able to come back from the dead (or not) it was terribly confusing. In fact, the trade paper edition I read included an interview with writer Geoff Johns in which he further explained what happened in the story. This (to me) is the sign of a poor story. When the author needs to explain how things work after the story is through, there’s a problem.
3) In this story there is a minor female character who worships a cult leader. In one brief scene her dialogue and depiction makes an allusion to hardcore pornography by showing her “beg” before a shrine. This was completely tasteless. As reader, I already believed this woman was troubled. She worships in a cult, after all. But showing her in this manner takes readers out of the story. It was unnecessarily low brow. One minute I’m reading a superhero story, the next I’m reading a hardcore porn reference that was completely unnecessary for pushing the plot forward.

The return of Barry Allen from the dead (or the Speed Force) could’ve been one of the best stories in the Flash’s lore. Instead, it reads like a filler story contrived only to reset the status quo of the various characters in the Flash’s universe. The plot was weak, the explanation of the Flash’s resurrection was confusing and forgettable, and the character’s were stereotypical. Only recommended for the Flash fans who have to read every Flash story.

making magicMaking Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine

I enjoyed this book. It’s a book on writing, written to young readers (I would guess middle school or early high school). The book is filled with activities. Every chapter ends with questions for the reader to think about and a writing activity to try. It’s a short book, and it reads fast, but the author’s questions were good enough that I close the book more than once to work on my own writing. Perhaps that’s the best compliment you can give any book on writing: it made me want to write more.

Recommended for young, would-be writers and for those speaking to young writers.

 

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One thought on “Three short books read in October

  1. Amelia

    I’ll have to pick up Sam’s book! Thanks also for sharing about Making Magic. I’d like to read it, and I think I have a middle grader who would enjoy it too. Oooh, we could go through it together!

    Reply

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