Memoirs of an Antihero

Written by Drew Blank

Peel: The book opens up with the protagonist’s, Drew’s, daughter being diagnosed with a terminal disease. With hospital bills piling up Drew is searching for money outside Chicago, and all he’s coming up with is criminal money. After a lucky first vigilante act gets him some money, Drew decides to go into the business of fighting crime.

This book was like a comic book without the pictures. The protagonist was nicely humanized and distanced from the typical superhero as Drew wasn’t invincible, and could easily get injured. The action scenes were very fast paced and amusing to follow, and there was quite a bit of violence. All of the characters were rather likable, and easy to root for. The main character’s name Drew A. Blank certainly made me curious as to how close the character was to the author.

The beginning of this book is a major information dump with the plot inching forwards, which significantly slowed me down, and most descriptions felt like miniature information dumps. Later there are great action scenes, but the information could have been less clumped up. Unfortunately for most of the book all I could think about was how much it would benefit from being a comic book rather than just text. A few too many of the conversations between characters came across as fluffy- with no point beyond being cute. All in all, I liked the premise of this book but I would have preferred it as a graphic novel, or with less/shorter slow scenes.

Nibble: “I had not come across many old people in my limited travels, but the ones I had met always had a very glossy stare, as if death was standing right before them and his opaque shroud was muting any sign of life from their gaze.”

I would recommend this as a graphic novel without the comics.

My Rating: 3 out of 10 super red apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Drew Blank’s Site

Get the Kindle version for 99 cents on Amazon

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The Last Dragon

Written by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Rebecca Guay

Peel: Long ago humans got rid of all the dragons from the island of May, little did they know an egg survived. Now they have to find a hero to eliminate the last dragon.

This is a rather amusing take on the typical evil dragon story, and *gasp* the mentor of the hero is female. It was a pretty quick fun read, and the humor was oriented towards a younger, 12-14, audience. It was also a coming-of-age story. The art was gorgeous, and the much stronger half of this graphic novel. The colors were muted giving the story a very dreamy feel, and I’m sure the art is even better in print as I viewed an electronic version. Overall, I found the pictures more intriguing than the textual story.

The dragon itself had less of a role in the story than one would expect from a story titled The Last Dragon. I found it a bit jarring to see some of the humor, like an older brother saying ‘cool’ when his baby brother is taken by the dragon, set in such pretty delicate artwork. As a warning there is mention of death, but it’s not illustrated.

Nibble: “The isles ran red and dark with dragon blood till all of them were gone. Or so the humans believed.”

I would recommend this in print as an illustrated bedtime story to pre-teens and young teens.

My Rating: 7 out of 10 burnt red apples

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, Dark Horse, via NetGalley.

Jane Yolen’s Site, Rebecca Guay’s Site {Guay’s site may contain nudity}

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The Great Mystery

By Travis Slone

In this book we start off with a soldier going to the emergency room, and then we’re whisked off to another realm for an adventure. The main story is a male, Amir, and a female, Eva, trying to find the great treasure to unite the world. The book is a very easy read, and would be best for younger teens. I believe I would have found the book much more gripping and surprising if I had been younger. The allegory fell on the heavy side, though it tended more towards spirituality than religion. The allegory feels rather shallow as we don’t learn much about either of the protagonists’ until the end. At the end rather than there being character development, it seems like we’re first seeing their full characters.

I would recommend this book to younger readers in search of an adventure.

Nibble {first sentence}: “Outside the doors of a state-of-the-art medical center, a team of paramedics rushed in from their ambulance with a young soldier in critical condition.”

My Rating: 4 out of 10 apples with strange carvings

I received a free paper copy of this book from First Reads via Goodreads.

Five Dances with Death

By Austin Briggs

In this book Briggs displays an incredible world drawn in historical fiction, and mixes it with fantasy. It’s set during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, which contributes to an underlying tone of eventual doom. The protagonist, Angry Wasp, is trying to keep his nation safe while also searching for his long lost daughter. Nations around him are becoming more inclined towards war, and the Spanish are beginning to march inland. There is quite a lot of violence and sacrifice in this book, but I found the descriptions tasteful and not overly gratuitous. Angry Wasp certainly lives up to his name, and in the beginning makes many impulsive decisions. In his character we see progressions, and a few recessions, in his development. Briggs’ simple language worked excellently, and most of the dialog came off as authentic and translated. The ending was actually a surprise and twist, which was lovely.

I realized towards the end of the book that I didn’t care what would happen to Angry Wasp. It was an odd realization as he’s an interesting and realistic character to read about- but between the amount of casual death and a lack of sympathy for him, I found myself rather neutral towards his fate, yet wrapped up in his story. As a warning, when reading this you really have to pay attention with the multitude of places, and jumping from reality to outer body experiences with spiritual doubles. A map in the beginning of the book would have been very helpful.

I found this a great story, that also filled a niche that should certainly be expanded. In my American history classes and books, it tended to be about how Europe colonized America, rather than placing emphasis on the people who were actually living there and being invaded. You can also feel the depth of knowledge Briggs has about this time, and it grounds the story without being distracting.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Nibble {first sentence of prologue}: “I had challenged Talon to the ballgame because my daughter Dew had been his slave as long as she knew how to walk.”

My Rating: 8 out of 10 fresh jumping apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.