And yet… today I pulled this book up to read for a few minutes while I had a quick lunch, and who knows how long later my S.O. came out to ask what I was doing. I got so sucked in!
There’s never going to be a day when I don’t love this Macbeth-y witchy vengeance story. The writing is so poetic and lyrical that reading every line is sheer pleasure just for the way the words dance and the images they bring. What emotion packed into this!
So, okay, yes… I’m probably pushing another book off the list so I can indulge my dual loves of Hannah Capin and William Shakespeare. 🥰
In contrast to Throwback Thursdays, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release I’m excited about! Today’s is a familiar story for many, I’m sure, but told in a new way: The Phantom of the Opera by Varga Tomi! Expected Release: October 20, 2020
Why wait on this one?
It’s a story I know and love, and I am happy to hear it again. Sometimes, it really is as simple as that. I’m not worried about there being changes I dislike because I’m happy to see a new interpretation, if that’s the way they go.
The Phantom story lends itself well to stunning visuals. Have you seen the musical?! So having the story in a graphic novel format seems pretty much perfectly fitting for it. A focus on the visual part should do this story justice.
As a tagalong point to above, I’m really excited for moody, dark tones right now, and this is nothing if not exactly that. If I have time, I might even grab a copy on pub day to try to add it to this month’s spooky tbr list!
Summary: Everyone has heard the whispered tales of the phantom who lives beneath the opera house, the mysterious trickster behind all the little mishaps and lost things. But no one has ever seen the monster . . . until now. When the promise of blossoming love lures him out from his intricately constructed hideaways in the labyrinthine building’s walls and cellars, a hideously disfigured artist trains the lovely Christine to be the opera’s next star for a steep price. Does she choose her newfound success or her beloved Count Raoul? This doomed love triangle threatens to combust when a tragic death, a series of betrayals, and increasingly dangerous accidents cast the players of The Palais Garnier into a heart-wrenching horror story that will echo through the ages.
Anna K. by Jenny Lee – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Overall, probably kind of dense for readers coming into this with no expectations from the original. Enough reflection of the original yet with its own surprises to interest those familiar with the original. And for both, moments where the old Russian style and internet era style will clash in a really strange way.
Recommended: yes! For an adaptation from an uncommon source for the genre, for a rich-and-famous-teen story, for a lot of interpersonal intrigue and drama sprinkled with plenty of sex, drugs, and partying.
Summary: Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society. She has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W. Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.
As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.
Thoughts: The experience for those who are coming into this as its own standalone story with no preconceived ideas of what will happen is different than those who have read the original. Be aware that this is a lot more serious and formal in tone than most YA novels, which is due to Lee’s success in imitating the reserved Russian mindset and style of the original. While I plowed through this, other friends said it took them weeks to get through because of how slow and dense it felt at times. The overall effect is an unprecedented blend of modern and classic tones.
The primary hurdle to this blend is when they clash in a quite jarring way. For example, the sentence “Perhaps [she] was rueful over her lost opportunity with [him], who wasn’t as babe-a-licious as [the other guy] but was vastly superior in intellect and character.” (Edited to keep it vague). The term “babealicious” set up against “vastly superior in intellect and character” is extremely weird, posing the character thinking it simultaneously as a serious posh old lady and a millennial pop-culture fanatic. It gets really awkward at times, and the tone is pretty inconsistent. Alternatively (and as above, sometimes simultaneously) aggressively young and weirdly old in their mindset, these teenagers often don’t read as teenagers and makes it hard to classify this as a young adult genre.
Recommended: I’m not the first to say YES! For fantastic rep of a character with a disability who is not defined solely by it, for a story that breaks from tropes early on, for situations that are morally grey and grapple with right and wrong
Summary: Fall in love, break the curse. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, Rhen knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But who will fall in love with – or even survive – the vicious beast that he turns into at the end of each season? His family and people were the first to fall, and now his kingdom is close behind. Harper hardly seems like the one to save Emberfall as she handles her mother dying, her brother forced to serve a thug, and her cerebral palsy. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
Thoughts: I was thinking recently about how hard it is to find books with characters who have a disability where the book isn’t focused all about how they have a disability. You know, books where they’re still just people, rather than “that guy with Autism.” And then I picked this up, and lo and behold, here’s my answer to that gripe. This isn’t even a main part of the story, but I absolutely loved the way Harper’s cerebral palsy was worked into the story as an aspect of her rather than as defining her entirely.
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – ⭐⭐ Eeeesh. I had to think about this one a bit to decide where it falls. But… Eeeeh. And I wanted so badly to like it; I’ve been excited for so long!
Recommended: not really stay away if you want likable characters, satisfying resolutions, or people who don’t bow to societal pressures. Disclaimer: some of this may reflect on me, for being reluctant to forgive these awful characters so easily as they are in the book
Summary: Ayesha Shamsi’s dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
Thoughts: Unfortunately, the characters were very difficult to like, each in their own special way. I finished the story, but with no real interest in seeing any of them happy. I liked it less by the end than I had in the middle, when I realized I didn’t like any of them. I felt that the messages given in the story were quite negative, as well. This was intended to be like Pride and Prejudice, but it read more to me like the ending of Grease.
Recommended: YES YES YES!!! For fans of shamelessly dark plots and characters, for those who can appreciate difficult moments (think Game of Thrones), for a fascinating new perspective on the story of Frankenstein and his monster
Summary: Elizabeth Lavenza is on the verge of being thrown into the streets from her abusive caretakers, until she is sold to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend. Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable. But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
Thoughts: Well clearly I loved it. This was a fantastic spontaneous October find, as it fit the “spooky” theme for the month perfectly. I’ve been really enjoying tales with darker tones lately (like Foul Is Fair), and this really hit the spot perfectly. The mysteries within the book twist and churn like a living things, reflecting the shadows that plague Elizabeth and Victor along the way.
The adaptation of the text is solid, but a lot is missing in the details since it would be so long to include it all. Comes with the territory, really. Really lovely condensed version of the story though, and the art makes Mr Darcy much more understandable, to read into what you might not see just from text.
Recommended: yup! For a pared down version of the original story, for illustrations that give depth to small moments that may be missed in the original, for a quicker read of a classic story
Summary: Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen’s original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King. Elizabeth and her sisters are looking for marriage. The balance of love, wealth, and status is hard to find, and they’ll have to work past lies, pride, scoundrels, and ballgowns to find it.
Thoughts: Another wonderful Manga Classics adaptation! I finished Manga Classics: Macbeth and knew I had to look up some of their other works after seeing how excellent that one was. Since Pride and Prejudice is such a lengthy text, they had to adapt it rather than maintaining the full text as with Shakespeare’s. The idea of the story is maintained, and it turns into a quick read of a familiar story, good for if you want the story but also want to give time to other games as well.
The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Renée Nault – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Interesting, but mostly made me feel like I need to read the full novel to get now if the details that feel like they’d make the story have more impact. The creep factor of the control of the world was toned down by the shortened adaptation, but enhanced by the visuals that really hit you in the face with how WEIRD the situations were.
Recommended: For people who have already read the original For a shorter adaptation with effective art that will enhance an already developed story for those who know it
Summary: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.
Thoughts: My overall impression is that I wasn’t able to get the details I would need about the world and the characters to truly appreciate this. In part due to the nature of a graphic novel, where text is limited, I felt like some of the reasoning of why these things had happened, how our MC got to be where she was, and so on, felt undeveloped. I know that’s partly intentional in the story itself, but it felt a little hollow from here.