|—||The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye|
my favorite things about diana wynne jones’s books (the ones that i’ve read at least)
- common, constant thing that your family can be terrible, and it’s perfectly fine to cut them out of your life—sometimes this is an emotional struggle, sometime’s it’s fine. If they ignore you, if they abuse you, if they treat you wrong? It is okay to leave them. And what I love is that there’s no sort of moral overtone to it—there’s some “they’re my parents and I love them, but they are and were not good parents, so they’re not going to be a part of my life anymore.” There’s some “my family was terrible, we don’t speak at all, and that’s fine.” There’s some “I tried to be a good child, but my family is a toxic influence. I don’t owe them anything.” There’s even some “my family has done terrible terrible things to me so I did what I had to do to keep them from ever hurting me again. I still love them, because they’re my family, but I don’t ever want to see them again.” And, best yet, there’s “they’re my family and they’re hurting me, but they don’t realize they’re doing it. I’m going to talk to them and work to resolve the issue.”
- teaching kids/adolescents that you can be a fundamentally good person and still be a jerk—and no one likes a jerk. a common thing that characters in her world learn is that even if their jerkish actions are based off being hurt (Christopher’s politeness and withdrawness, both Chrestomanci’s dead faces), they’re still being jerks.
- It’s fine to hate your surroundings, it’s not fine to take it out on the people around you—esp. if there’s an unequal power dynamic, like they’re a servant.
- Applying yourself is important. Some people are born naturally with a lot of abilities, some people are born with few. Being born with few doesn’t mean you’re less of a good person, just as being born with a lot doesn’t make you good. Working hard can be the difference between success and failure—and of course this lesson is tempered with examples of people who apply themselves and still don’t succeed due to conditions, and with people who don’t try but have lots of advantages and therefore find success.
Soul Eater by Atsushi Ōkubo
Obligatory Summary: Maka, a Meister; her partner Soul, a Weapon (people capable of transforming into inanimate objects to be wielded by Meisters); and their friends are students at the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA for short). There they learn to fight in teams to collect the souls of evil humans and witches in an attempt to turn the Weapon students into “Death Scythes,” Weapons capable of being wielded by Death himself.
Opinionated Ramblings: Atsushi Ōkubo is five kinds of awesome. Not only did he create a shounen manga series with a female protagonist, he matched up every Meister in the main trio of teams with a Weapon (or Weapons) of the opposite sex, thereby balancing the number of male and female characters in the series*. His secondary trio of teams is not paired up this way but, if you pay attention, you’ll notice they still manage to balance out. And if that weren’t enough, he also seems to have gone, “You know what else manga needs? More characters of African descent. Who are AWESOME. And appear on a regular basis.” I just want to weep tears of joy whenever I think about this series. The story is simultaneously engaging, macabre, quirky, and funny; the art has been steadily increasing from competent to “Holy Shit! My eyes are melting from being bombarded with all of this beauty!” over the years; and the character development, oh lord the character development gives me warm fuzzy feelings in my soul. So if you haven’t read this comic yet, DO IT. I mean seriously, there’s no acceptable excuse**.
P.S. Someone made this AMV about the anime series from a few years ago and it’s still one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen.
*Shounen titles are action series aimed at boys and usually feature male protagonists with a male-heavy set of supporting characters. The few girl characters are usually weaker powered and/or less important story-wise. Great on the action, not so great on the women’s liberation.
**Unless you’re blind, I guess, but then you probably wouldn’t be reading this review anyway.
I’ve been doing this blog for over a year now! Holy crap! Let’s celebrate with a book review of something with a rather long title!
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce & Laura Geringer
Obligatory Summary: In which William Joyce creates a magnificent all ages series detailing a mythology behind the iconic characters of childhood in a manner that is beautiful, timeless, humorous, dark, joyful, and illustrated all at once. Also, Santa Claus is a young dual-wielding Siberian thief-king. I’m going to go cry man-tears* now.
Opinionated Ramblings: I will start off this review by admitting that I did not know of this series’ existence until just before I went to see the new Rise of the Guardians movie. I’m not ashamed to admit my crushing ignorance in this matter**. And after being deeply impressed by both the visual shiny-ness of said movie and the overtones of folklore it gave the characters, I proceeded to get a hold of the books. My reaction to reading them can basically be summed-up in one sentence: Holy mother of all that is mythological! These books are great in a way I haven’t seen in quite a while now. And this first novel does really well in setting-up a fantastic series arc, as well as making these characters exceptionally fun to read about. Of course, it’s not all light and fluffy. There’s actually a rather large amount of delectably dark and eerily emotional subject matter here***. My inner child just will not shut the hell up about how awesome it is, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that my inner child is a damn astute judge of what is awesome. Plus there are a ton of sweet illustrations by Joyce so you should really get in on that shit.
*A tremendous feat when you realize that I am, in fact, a woman.
**Whether I’m ashamed to admit to being a grown-up who watches children’s movies is a completely different topic.
***I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that Katherine and Nightlight are my OTP. Although the fact that I just made that rumor up right now probably answers the question.
oh god did I try
also the reading order should be followed mostly for the first three or four books, I believe
I just. I can’t. This is so beautiful T_T
Im sad to see George Lucas, who had such great ideals about filmmaking when he started Star Wars, abandon them for money many years later.
I remember watching documentaries on him in high school when he made Star Wars and everything he stood for and going against big hollywood. I looked up to him! Big time! 4 billion dollars, and crushed young filmmaker later…….man this sucks.
First Marvel and now this. I feel like one day Disney will have all the companies, and then all the dead emperors of history will simultaneously roll over in their graves at the idea that they were born too early to achieve world dominance through the entertainment business. Then the resulting earthquake will destroy the world.
But maybe that’s just me.
Reflections on the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
Obligatory Summary: A collection of essays and other non-fiction pieces written by Jones throughout the span of her career, and chosen by the author herself upon discovering she would soon die of cancer*.
Opinionated Ramblings: Diana Wynne Jones released an impressive number of books during her many years of writing, and it seems rather fitting that her final published book should be a sort of retrospective collection celebrating her career as a professional author. And it also seems fitting that this book should deal very heavily with two topics that Jones was concerned with: the value of fantasy, and quality in children’s books. One of my long-time favorite essays** of hers is included in this book, and it’s almost ridiculous how relevant it still is since it was written over 20 YEARS ago. This woman called out bullshit LIKE A BOSS, and made you laugh while she did it. Kind of like how she did in her novels, as a matter of fact. Modern fantasy, for all ages, would not be the way it is today without her work, and most things that people think of as newer trends were done by Jones decades ago. She wrote about ancient gods in modern society before the Percy Jackson books and about a miserable boy living with his terrible relatives before the Harry Potter series. If you’re at all interested in the study of speculative fiction, children’s literature, teen literature, or really just writing at all, I highly recommend this book. You don’t always get the chance to peek into the inner workings of a great author’s mind, even if only a tiny bit, so I wouldn’t pass this book by if I were you.
*There’s really no way to make that sound any less depressing. This blog has just lost 10 humor points.
**”Two Kinds of Writing?" Click the link. Come on… you know you want to…
I just read an older interview with Diana Wynne Jones where she mentioned that Cat Chant from the Chrestomanci series is basically borderline autistic.
You can tell there’s something different about Cat, especially when you read Charmed Life or when you think about the way he just wanders off to find Chrestomanci when he’s missing in The Pinhoe Egg, but I could never quite put my finger on what exactly it was. This woman’s books will probably keep surprising me until the day I die.
This week’s review has been sabotaged by the evil machinations of the common cold. While I battle these germs, please enjoy this re-blogged screen-cap of Nightwing. Because everybody loves Dick Grayson. It is a fact not open for debate.
Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Obligatory Summary: After their father is violently murdered, the three Locke kids and their mother move east to live at the old family estate in their father’s hometown of Lovecraft, Massachusetts. But there’s something supernatural about Keyhouse. And there’s definitely something downright sinister in the old well out back…
Opinionated Ramblings: I want to punch Joe Hill in the face. In the best way possible, of course*. Locke & Key is so simultaneously good, funny, and depressing, it shouldn’t be able to exist. In fact, I’m pretty sure Hill and Rodriguez sold their souls to dark forces to make this bit of pure awesomeness. Joe Hill’s writing is top notch, with a plot that keeps dragging me back** while it rips out all of my emotions and keeps my brain wondering just what the hell is going to happen next. And Gabriel Rodriguez’ artwork is just prettiness everywhere, even when it’s full of blood, violence, and people crying in the ugliest fashion possible***. Before I geek-out too much, I should probably mention that Locke & Key falls into the horror, thriller, and dark fantasy genres. Stories that cross multiple genres are usually high on my favorites list. Plus, I love a story with an ending. Be it a movie, comic, novel, or TV series; anything without an end in mind will eventually outlive its welcome, no matter how awesome it was to start with****. And while Locke & Key is not over quite yet, the story is in its final arc, and I look forward to seeing these boys pull-off something absolutely wonderful. Because when you don’t have to plan for a continuing plot, the sky’s the limit. Oh, and characters tend to die in beautifully tragic ways, but still, let’s focus on the creative freedom aspect, shall we?
On a completely unrelated note: Locke & Key had a pilot episode made for a possible TV series, but it was never picked up. Luckily for some of the fans, the pilot was shown at Comic Con, and luckily for all of the fans, a trailer for it was released to the public. Muwahahaha!!!!!
*A punch to the face is the highest honor I award to writers.
**Kicking and screaming in horror, I might add.
***F%#@ pretty tears! Rodriguez will draw people sobbing their snot out when it counts. Just as it should be. (Although there are lots of pretty tears, too.)