COMIC BOOK REVIEW: SAGA

 Saga is what you would get if Romeo and Juliet weren’t the children of rivalling noble families, but alien soldiers fighting on opposite sides of a galactic war. The protagonists Alana and Marko fall in love despite the deep rooted hatred that exist between their races, and it leads to nothing short of absolute chaos.

I was captivated by this series as soon I read the very first page of the first volume, which depicts Alana giving birth. Before the happy couple can even agree on a name for their precious new born they are ambushed by soldiers. They surprisingly manage to escape but this attack sets the tone for the rest of the series. The couple’s union undermines the war that consumes the entire galaxy, and many will stop at nothing to destroy it. But Alana and Marko are determined to stay together, even if that means they’ll be forever on the run.

This comic is the embodiment of creativity. The world building is excellent and every planet has a distinct look and feel. Such as Sextillion where no fantasy is too perverse, or the Robot Kingdom where everyone walks around with TVs for heads. Staple’s manages to bring all of this to life with some of the best artwork I’ve seen to date. But what impresses me most about this fictional universe is that you never forget a war is taking place. Each planet and it’s inhabitants are scarred by the war in some tragic way, and none of the wackiness distracts from that.

The characters are incredibly well written and complex. And I couldn’t help but fall in love with people I initially hated. I however try not to get too attached as many favourites end up taking their exit in a very Game of Thrones-like fashion.

Though Saga starts off as a classic tale of forbidden love, there is so much more to take away from it. The comic doesn’t shy away from addressing topics like abortion, lgbtq rights or racism, and does so without it feeling forced. I also appreciate how violence is dealt with in this comic. There is a lot of graphic violence throughout but you can see how that impacts the characters. They don’t get to mindlessly end lives and skip off into the sunset.

I highly recommend this series, its unpredictable, insightful and a lot of fun! The only issue I have is that I have to wait to read the next volume.

 

 

Mini Reviews #1

      DEAR IJEAWELE    


One of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s friends asked her for advice on how to best raise her daughter as a feminist, and this book presents us with her response. This brief feminist manifesto addresses extremely relevant topics and challenges many problematic social norms. Such as the fact that girls are taught to aspire to marriage but boys are not. While reading I didn’t think that this book was particularly radical – but that could be down to the seamless way Adichie presents her views. They don’t seem like shocking revelations, but simple truths. For Adichie feminism boils down to never forgetting that women matter equally. I really appreciated this clear cut exploration of feminism. If you believe women matter just as much as men then you are a feminist – it can be as simple as that. Though Adichie points out that this belief should not be superficial. You may not agree with everything said in this book, but it really encourages you to evaluate your beliefs as well as society at large.

HARLEY QUINN (THE NEW 52)

Harley Quinn is one of my favourite fictional characters so I was sure that I would like this comic, and I do! Harley gets up to a lot in this solo series from becoming the landlord of an apartment building full of crazy characters. To taking out assassins in the most sadistic and gory ways possible. She definitely isn’t the cutesy but obsessive henchwoman that was first introduced in Batman: The Animated Series. I get why people prefer the old Harley Quinn, but I also enjoy seeing her as a more independent figure. We’re given a modern Harley that has overcome her toxic relationship with the Joker, and is free to have adventures of her own. There are aspects of this series that are very over the top and Harley sometimes seems a little too crazy – but that’s all part of the fun! The vibrant and detailed artwork transports you into Harley’s world and I found it really engaging. I’m currently on Issue #8 and look forward to finishing the series.

PHASES: A SHORT STORY


Phases is about a young woman called Eva who has the perfect boyfriend. Avery is handsome, adoring and thoughtful. The only problem is that he dumps Eva within the first chapter. Eva experiences intense heartbreak as a result, and embarks on an uncomfortable journey of self-reflection. I really enjoyed this book and I think it portrays an important message – that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself. We’ve all heard this before but it reigns true. Eva has a good man that loves her, but she drives him away with her insecurity and distrust. It isn’t easy to present an entertaining and complete story in so few pages, but K Daniel does this well with a smooth writing style. This book is a quick read, with amusing characters, gripping erotic scenes and a theme that pretty much anyone can relate to. Be sure to get your copy!

 

THE BLUEST EYE

The Bluest Eye is a heart breaking story about a young black girl called Pecola who longs for blue eyes. She equates beauty and happiness to whiteness, and her suffering to her dark skin. Beliefs that are constantly reinforced by the people around her. This is my first time reading Morrison’s work and I can see why she is so celebrated. Her writing is poetry, and she has the ability to make anything sound beautiful. She also fills this novel with characters that are so intricately and sympathetically written that its surprising they aren’t real. In writing this book Morrison set out to expose the impact of internalised white beauty standards, and does so successfully. My only issue with the novel is that it felt slightly disjointed as there are multiple perspectives and Morrison uses a fragmented structure. Pocola also became an afterthought at times. I however don’t think this gets in the way of the overall message or enjoyment of the book. I would definitely recommend this read, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. It contains instances of incest and sexual abuse, and should be approached with caution.

What have you been reading recently?

Book Review: The Hate U Give 

Angie Thomas’ bestselling debut novel became a must read the second I heard about it. A book  inspired by Tupac Shakur and #BlackLivesMatter, that deals with racism and police brutality ? I’m down!  

 The book follows the story of Starr Cater, a 16 year old girl who seems to be living in two different worlds. One being her posh high school filled with rich white kids. And the other being her poor neighbourhood filled with poverty, violence and crime. Starr tries to strike a balance between the two, but this becomes increasingly difficult when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend Khalil.

Reading The Hate U Give was a refreshing detour from many of the Young Adult books I’ve come across, which often involve post-apocalyptic/futuristic worlds or cliché romance. While I enjoy some of these books as much as the next person, YA novels have the potential to deal with real-world issues in more realistic and maybe even familiar settings. Angie Thomas recognised this potential, ran with it and excelled! This coming of age tale pulls the curtain back on many of the harsh realities that black children have to deal with. There are a number of things that Starr experiences in this book simply because of the colour of her skin. Such as feeling the need to minimise her valid emotions to avoid being labelled ‘angry,’ ‘loud’ or ‘ghetto’. Or even having to be sat down for ‘the talk’ at the tender age of 12, no not the one about the birds and the bees. The one where parents coach their children on how to interact with the police, so that they can hopefully make it home alive. Thomas’ depiction of Starr and her experiences as an African American are bold and truthful, its not all Hip Hop, dance crazes and Brazilian butt lifts. As Starr herself says;

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Its dope to be black until its hard to be black

   

This book also deals heavily with the idea of activism, and raises many questions about dealing with injustice. As the controversy surrounding Pepsi’s recent advert has highlighted, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Starr is plagued with confusion and self-doubt in the beginning of this story, but works towards solidifying her identify as both an activist and a young black woman throughout the course of this book. All while mourning the death of her beloved friend, its an amazing process to see unfold.

Angie Thomas has a raw and realistic writing style reminiscent of many of the ‘Urban fiction’ stories I’ve come across on more informal platforms such as Wattpad. This book is filled with many light-hearted moments with pop culture references, from Drake and The Fresh Prince of Bel air to Harry Potter and the renowned ‘Black Twitter’. While it may not be the case for everyone that reads this book, I felt a sense of familiarity with the character’s interests and experiences. They seemed like people I could come across in real life and that fact made my empathy for them run deep. These characters are complex and dynamic, their bold personalities fly off the page and even the most seemingly predictable and stereotypical characters come to surprise you. The most important thing about Angie Thomas’ writing is that it made me feel, which is what I anticipate whenever I pick up a book. The Hate U Give made me joyful and tearful. It made me laugh but it also made me yell in anger and frustration. But most importantly, it made me proud. Proud of the individuals behind movements like Black Lives Matter, that band together in the face of adversity and speak up for what is right.

giphy

Rating:

The Hate U Give gets 5 stars from me as I honestly don’t think it could be improved.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that struggles to understand the sentiments behind the Black Lives Matter movement. But if you simply want to be entertained by a well written, gripping and emotive story, this is also the book for you!