Saturday, September 29, 2018

September Site Update

A day early, I know, but I'm going to be busy tomorrow. In any event, the month's reviews have been archived at the main Brightdreamer Books site.


Friday, September 28, 2018

The Stone Girl's Story (Sarah Beth Durst)

The Stone Girl's Story
Sarah Beth Durst
Clarion Books
Fiction, MG Fantasy
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: Long ago, a stonemason left the great city of Skye and carved a new family high on the tallest mountain of the land: birds and fish and rabbits and others, and one stone girl named Mayka. He brought them to life with stories chiseled onto their bodies, tales of love and adventure and bravery and more... but, in the years since their beloved Father passed in the way of all flesh-and-blood beings, their story marks have faded. When they are gone, the stone animals will become ordinary rock, as the plodding old Turtle has already done. To save her family and herself, Mayka sets out for Skye, to find a new stonemason to refresh their marks - but real adventures aren't like the stories Father used to tell them, and the city is bigger and more dangerous than she could've imagined, especially when she makes a discovery that could change the relationship between humans and stone creations forever.

REVIEW: This imaginative tale explores the power of stories - not just the kind people tell to children or to pass time, but the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we might become, not to mention how we often let other people decide our stories for us. Mayka's story started her life, but she has grown to become more, as have the animals in her "family" on the mountain. Down in the valley and the city, she discovers that not everyone values stories, or stone creations. Her search for a stonemason leads to the heart of Skye and into the story of why Father left the city so long ago, a history that ties into the lives of the people (living and stone, human and animal) she encounters along the way. Her sidekicks - the stone birds Jacklo and Risa from the mountain, and later the carved dragon Si-Si and others - all pull their weight even as they add elements of fun. The whole makes for a wonderful tale, full of charming details and memorable characters, with a timeless feel and a satisfying conclusion. It was just the escape I needed.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Kelly Barnhill) - My Review
Stoneheart (Charlie Fletcher) - My Review
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson) - My Review

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Imagine! (Raul Colon)

Raul Colon
Simon and Schuster
Fiction, CH Picture Book/Fantasy
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: A boy visits a modern art museum and takes the paintings on a tour of the city.

REVIEW: This wordless tale explores the power of art and imagination, and how it can change the world in ways small and big. The images are colorful and bold, turning the urban landscape into a work of art on its own. A quick and fun read that encourages engagement with art.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Journey (Aaron Becker) - My Review
Imagine a World (Rob Gonsalvez) - My Review
Sector 7 (David Wiesner) - My Review

She Persisted (Chelsea Clinton)

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
Chelsea Clinton, illustrations by Alexandra Boiger
Philomel Books
Nonfiction, CH Biography/History/Picture Book
***** (Great)

DESCRIPTION: A dancer, a senator, a doctor, a judge... thirteen profiles in courage show how strong women can be.

REVIEW: A direct challenge to recent efforts to roll back women's rights and diversity, She Persisted showcases women who refused to let the status quo hold them back. Each entry has a brief description of how they took charge of their lives and changed the world, along with a quote. One can only hope the girls who grow up reading this are strong enough to step up to the obstacles that current events seem determined to place before them...

You Might Also Enjoy:
Cinder Edna (Ellen Jackson) - My Review
The Paper Bag Princess (Robert N. Munsch) - My Review
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters (Barack Obama) - My Review

What Unites Us (Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner)

What Unites Us
Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
Algonquin Books
Nonfiction, Autobiography/Essays/Politics
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: Since its founding, America has been a land of many faiths and ideas, of diverse people and diverse viewpoints, of conflicts and cooperation. In recent years, our nation has been tested in ways it rarely, if ever, has encountered - ways that could permanently alter, perhaps end, the great American experiment. Noted reporter Dan Rather reflects on eight decades of life and six decades of journalism in a series of essays exploring the country he loves and how it has dealt with its own shifting self-image, not to mention how it arrived at the current murky crossroads where it now stands.

REVIEW: Like many Americans, I've spent the last few years struggling to understand what is happening to my country, how things could veer so rapidly off course because of the whims of the few and the apathy of the many. Rather, too, seems to be struggling, though his reflections offer some thin hope for the future as he discusses conflicts the country has weathered before. He draws from the experiences of his long life and notable career to explore many aspects of patriotism as it used to be, as it should be - aspects that stand in sharp contrast to the toxic brand of nationalism being bandied about in the name of "patriotism" today. From a childhood in Houston to the halls of power in Washington, from years of war and scandal to years of peace and prosperity, from personal failures to personal triumphs, Rather paints a picture of troubling trends with long roots in our often-whitewashed (in many ways) past, yet with glimmers of hope around the edges. I do hope his ultimate optimism proves prophetic, though I can't help look at the overall trend and seemingly-deliberate sabotage of key aspects of our historical resiliency - our crumbling educational system, the increasing and overwhelming voice of money over people in government, the assault on science and the very existence of facts, demonization of diversity, and more - and wonder if this appeal to our better selves is ultimately too little, too late.
(Incidentally, for those none of you keeping track, by my calculations this is my 1500th "live" review. Technically, I've written more, but I was set back when I culled reviews of no-longer-available books.)

You Might Also Enjoy:
10% Happier (Dan Harris) - My Review
Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America (Shawn Lawrence Otto) - My Review
The Rights of Man (Thomas Paine) - My Review

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Ghost Talkers (Mary Robinette Kowal)

Ghost Talkers
Mary Robinette Kowal
Fiction, Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: As the Great War wages in Europe, England employs a secret weapon: the Spirit Corps, mediums trained to take reports from soldiers killed in action, making for near-real-time intelligence on enemy troop movements. American-born Ginger is one of the mediums working at Le Havre, where most soldiers think she and her mostly-female colleagues are no more than hospitality workers, while her British fiance Ben works in espionage.
For all the death and danger that surrounds her daily, Ginger still wasn't ready when Ben reported to her as a ghost - not killed in battle, but murdered by traitors in their own ranks.
Unlike most ghosts, who depart beyond the veil, Ben lingers, tethered to Ginger by unfinished business on Earth. With evidence that the Germans are figuring out the existence of the Spirit Corps, the danger is rising daily. Finding Ben's murderer may be the only way to stop a looming disaster - but a ghost's memories fragment the longer they remain on the mortal plane, and Mary was never trained for spywork. Nevertheless, she's his only hope of finding peace, and the only hope of saving the Corps.

REVIEW: Kowal's alternate-history story brings a fresh horror to the face of war, where soldiers are expected to not only give their lives but part of their afterlives to the cause that killed them. As a medium, Ginger experiences more death than most, receiving reports and last messages from dead soldiers and even reliving some of their final memories countless times in a day. Still, the murder of Ben hits her hard, as does watching his lingering ghost slowly disintegrate into base emotions. Hindered by the sexism of the day (with racism also present, even if, as a white woman, she only sees it when confronted with it), she nevertheless steps up to the task of finding Ben's killer and unearthing the network of traitors in their midst. One of the culprits is a bit obvious, but overall Kowal does a good job raising questions and ratcheting up tension over whom to suspect; even the ability to read emotions in auras doesn't help when one can't read the thoughts behind the emotions. It's a well-paced story of the horrors of war and the power of love.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Carnacki, the Ghost Finder (William Hope Hodgson) - My Review
Ghosts of Belfast (Stuart Neville) - My Review
The Screaming Staircase (Jonathan Stroud) - My Review

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Incriminating Evidence (Rachel Grant)

Incriminating Evidence
The Evidence series, Book 4
Rachel Grant
Janus Publishing
Fiction, Romance/Suspense
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Rootless archaeologist Isabel only ever had one point of security in her life, her brother Vincent... until he was murdered eleven months ago while working with the mercenary group Raptor, a death quickly covered up by the new CEO as an unfortunate training accident. So she's come to the small town of Tamarack, Alaska, ostensibly surveying timber land but actually sneaking onto Raptor territory (in spite of a restraining order) to seek evidence. This is how she stumbled across the wounded man - and into more trouble than she could've imagined.
Former Army Ranger Alec scarcely remembers the past day. He'd come to Alaska to see to his newly-acquired business, Raptor - only to wake up, wounded and disoriented, in the middle of nowhere with a strange redheaded woman. When he finds out who she is, he wonders if she's the one who landed him there to begin with: it's no secret that Isabel blames Raptor for her brother's death, and even got the compound shut down for two months, a black eye on both the company and his own ongoing political campaign back home in Maryland. If anyone has a motive to attack him, it's her. But he soon becomes convinced that there's more to her and her claims than he first realized. A rival mercenary group, an experimental infrasound weapon, a possible stalker, rogue agents in their midst, and more create a recipe for disaster - though the greatest risk may be to a pair of hearts who pick the worst time and place to fall in love.

REVIEW: I've only read one other Evidence novel, which I enjoyed enough to prompt me to pick up this one when the ebook was on sale. (I have no idea why Book 4 was offered at a discount and not others, but that's why I'm just a reader and not a publisher, I suppose.) Like many romance series, it's not so important to read them in linear order; aside from some character crossover and thematic resonance, this works as a standalone. It has many of the same elements I enjoyed about Concrete Evidence, the first book in the series: strong yet flawed main characters who balance rather than overwhelm each other, crackling sexual tension that progresses naturally, a suspense-filled plot that stands on solid research, and enough unpredictability to keep things interesting even if the relationship is a foregone conclusion. It reads fast and comes to a satisfying resolution, which is what I wanted when I picked it up. I expect I'll keep an eye peeled for the rest of the series, if they ever decide to show up on sale.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Fix-Up (Tawna Fenske) - My Review
Concrete Evidence (Rachel Grant) - My Review
Bound to the Bachelor (Sarah Mayberry) - My Review

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Girl With No Name (Marina Chapman)

The Girl With No Name: The Incredible Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys
Marina Chapman, Vanessa James, and Lynne Barrett-Lee
Pegasus Books
Nonfiction, Autobiography
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Mid-1950's Colombia was a land of little law, where murder, kidnapping, and child abductions were commonplace. In a small mountain village, a girl eagerly awaiting her fifth birthday sneaks out of the house to steal pea pods from the garden. Before she knows what's happening, a hand grabs her, and a cloth is pressed over her face.
She would never see her home or her family again.
Abandoned by her abductors deep in the jungle, the girl would soon forget almost everything about her past - her parents, her language, even her own name - as she struggles to survive. Her only teachers and companions for years are a troop of capuchin monkeys. Inevitably, she eventually returns to the human world to be among her own kind... but lessons learned in the wilderness would mean the difference between life and death, even far from the jungle.

REVIEW: This is one of those stories that seems almost impossible, like something out of Kipling, but which apparently actually happened; the tales were pieced together from Marina's memories by her children, with some research help from a ghostwriter, who confirmed what points could be confirmed. (Marina never does recall her birth name or family, and even her exact age is a matter of speculation.) It avoids overly anthropomorphizing the monkeys who proved so instrumental to her survival. While individuals take on distinct personalities, they still remain animals, and there's still an unbreachable barrier between species; they accept the girl's presence and associate with her, but never seem to truly consider her one of their own, and even when Marina learns their "language" and the ways of their troop she's always an outsider. Somewhere deep down she knows she's human and belongs with other humans, though her own species turns out to be the greatest danger she faces in her wild life (her return to civilization finds her sold as an essential slave to a mentally unstable brothel owner, and her prospects scarcely improve after that.) The story moves fairly fast, painting a vivid picture of the green, living jungle and bleak, filthy cities where she must survive before finding true freedom and belonging. Marina's is an interesting story, with more chapters - such as how she wound up married and living in England - still to be told.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Frans de Waal) - My Review
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass) - My Review
The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling) - My Review

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Darker Shade of Magic (V. E. Schwab)

A Darker Shade of Magic
The Shades of Magic series, Book 1
V. E. Schwab
Fiction, Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: In four worlds, four Londons once stood side by side, accessed through the magic that all shared... but things changed with the fall of Black London, consumed by its own hungry powers. Now the ways between worlds are closed to all but the Antari, blood magicians marked by one pure black eye, of whom only two remain: Holland of White London, and Kell of Red London. (Grey London, in a grey world of soot and machines, knows so little magic its people think the term a lie.) To keep the evil of Black London from spreading, it was declared that nothing may cross between save letters between the royal houses. But Kell has managed to keep a small side business in the three Londons by smuggling trinkets across the borders, a kernel of rebellion against the chains of duty. He never handled anything truly dangerous - until he came into possession of the black stone, a forbidden relic of terrible strength, on a visit to the dangerously power-hungry rulers of White London. He flees with it to Grey London, and into the path of a most determined young woman.
Lila may be a simple street thief and pickpocket, but someday she will be a pirate queen and sail the world. When her nimble fingers lifted the rock from the strange man's pocket, she was disappointed in her take - but soon she learns more than she ever wanted to know about the other Londons, and about the stone's clever, dark powers, and about the man whom she robbed and to whom she soon owes her life. She could have walked away, probably should have walked away, but Lila isn't about to turn her back on the greatest adventure in her life... nor can she turn her back on magic, now that she knows its scent and strength and undeniable existence.
Their alliance was one of reluctant necessity, but it's going to take both Lila and Kell to deal with the trouble unleashed by the black stone, troubles that may see all three Londons go the way of their lost sister city.

REVIEW: I admit that this one took a while to grow on me. The premise is intriguing from the outset, of course - not just two parallel worlds, but four, each with their own charms and dangers - but Kell starts out a bit flat and broody, as does his counterpart Holland. (With Kell's broody nature and the way his hair was described as falling over his eye, part of my mind kept envisioning him as an anime character, an impression that took some time to shake and admittedly never quite vanished.) The people he interacted with, mostly royalty, seemed fairly simple as well, and the cruelty of the siblings in charge of White London bordered on caricatured. As for Lila, she's hardly warm and cuddly herself, and her first interactions with magic aren't necessarily intelligent given her street-honed wits. Eventually, though, I managed to immerse in the tale as the pace picked up. It's a violent and dark story with a high (and somewhat gruesome) body count, fairly fast-paced once it gets its feet under itself, ratcheting to a tense and bloody climax. (There is a noted tendency for characters to be repeatedly beaten, stabbed, thrown, and generally punished to borderline ridiculous extremes, including massive blood loss, without them actually collapsing longer than the paragraph break... but, then, there is just a whiff of old-school pulp action tale underlying the plot, and of course with magic - blood magic in particular - one can't get too hung up on the physical limits of the human body, I suppose. Still, I was almost chuckling now and again toward the end as the characters racked up concussion upon contusion.) Though the story arc wraps up in one volume, threads are left dangling for future adventures... adventures I might consider following if I found the sequels at the right price.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman) - My Review
Stoneheart (Charlie Fletcher) - My Review
The Dark World (Henry Kuttner) - My Review

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Dream of the Thylacine (Margaret Wild)

The Dream of the Thylacine
Margaret Wild, illustrations by Ron Brooks
Allen and Unwin
Fiction, CH Picture Book/Poetry
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: Caged in a zoo at the end of its life, the last living thylacine dreams of its lost freedom.

REVIEW: Another quick read during a slow stretch at work. This isn't so much a story as an illustrated freeform poem, juxtaposing harsh, often blurred black and white photos of the last known thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in captivity with bright, dreamlike illustrations of its "memories." It is not a happy story - extinction never is - but a sadly touching one, even as more species teeter on the brink. If you read it with kids, be prepared to discuss why thylacines are no longer alive today, and what one might do to attempt stopping its fate from befalling others.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Heart of a Tiger (Marsha Diane Arnold) - My Review
Last of the Giants (Jeff Campbell) - My Review
A is for Activist (Innosanto Nagara) - My Review

Monday, September 10, 2018

WE3 (Grant Morrison)

The We3 series, Issues 1 - 3
Grant Morrison, illustrations by Frank Quitely
Fiction, Graphic Novel/Sci-Fi
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: It was a program meant to end human death on the battlefield, replacing soldiers with cybernetically modified animals. But now that funding has been secured, the prototype We3 unit - the dog 1, the cat 2, and the rabbit 3 - is to be terminated like any obsolete technology. Only nobody asked their lead scientist/trainer... or the animals themselves, who have a rudimentary grasp of English thanks to their enhancements. The three former housepets escape, fleeing across the countryside in search of a place, a concept they but dimly recall: somewhere there is no need to run or to kill, called "home."

REVIEW: Though a bit jumbled at times, this is a quick-reading, if often gory, story in the vein of Richard Adams's Plague Dogs. The animals leave a red trail in their wake, often at least as much because of extreme measures used to hunt them down as their own actions, though they aren't overly burdened with human senses of morality; the dog 1 knows he should protect people, but does not hesitate to kill to keep his "pack" safe. After a while the gore becomes numbing and some of the action sequences are a bit hard to follow, and if you think too much about the premise things get shaky (why use stolen housepets when the shelters are overflowing with animals nobody would miss?), but there are moments of true emotional resonance. Overall, it's a dark examination of how inhuman the human species can be.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw (Kurt Busiek) - My Review
The Call of the Wild and White Fang (Jack London) - My Review
Mort(e) (Robert Repino) - My Review

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sparrow Hill Road (Seanan McGuire)

Sparrow Hill Road
The Ghost Roads series, Book 1
Seanan McGuire
Fiction, Collection/Fantasy/Horror
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: The Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown, the Spirit of Sparrow Hill Road... around every camp fire, in every truck stop and greasy-spoon diner, people know the tragic story of the sweet young girl from the small town who died before her time, hitchhiking her way across North America. Some say she leads drivers to their deaths, some say she saves their lives, but none of them know the truth, and if they did they'd never believe it. Some stories, you have to die to believe.
Rose Marshall was sixteen when she was run off the road by Bobby Cross, a man who bargained for immortality at the cost of harvested souls - but she got away before he could claim hers, and she's been running from him ever since. Now she's a hitcher, a ghost of the twilight Americas that lie just beneath the skin of the living world, tethered to existence by unfinished business as she haunts the highways and diners and the hidden ghostroads. It's not the greatest afterlife, but she's seen enough to know there are fates far worse than death... such as the fate that awaits her should Bobby Cross finally get hold of her. Only Rose is getting a little tired of running away, and though she may be forever sixteen, she's not the same sweet, innocent small-town girl she used to be.

REVIEW: Built around ghost stories and urban legends and rooted in travelers' tales as old as the first trade routes, Sparrow Hill Road creates a modern American roadside mythology, where hitchhikers are as liable to be dead as alive, late-shift diners host spirits, crossroads bargains are not to be made lightly, and roadways can take on lives of their own. Rose Marshall makes a decent guide, a gutsy girl whose decades of death have hardened her in many ways; innocence is the first thing to go if one wants to survive the twilight ghostroads. Her adventures are laced with horror and beauty, sadness and humor, with nostalgia for a lost America alongside darker shadows of history that refuse to stay in the past. Rose collects some interesting allies and enemies on the road, all bound in some way by peculiar magicks that even long-time spirits or the most learned of routewitches can't fully explain. Rather than feeling plot-convenient or random, though, they fit the shifting, spectral nature of the twilight America McGuire crafts, which is a feat in and of itself. The rules are both simple and inexplicable, with no need for triple-appendiced magic systems (which have their places in fantasy, but can also overburden a story.) This book collects several short stories about Rose, some of which read as standalone adventures but all of which, especially towards the end, build into a greater arc as her confrontation with Bobby Cross looms ever closer. The conclusion wraps up character growth, even if threads are naturally left dangling for the rest of the series. I guess now I'll have to order Book 2... dang it.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Wish List (Eoin Colfer) - My Review
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) - My Review
Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire) - My Review

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Gods of Risk (James S. A. Corey)

Gods of Risk
An Expanse novella
James S. A. Corey
Fiction, Sci-Fi
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: David Draper is everything a good Martian boy is supposed to be: studious and dedicated to a future helping terraform the red planet into a second, better Earth. He also, unknown to his family and schoolmates, has been cooking up drugs on the side for friends Hutch and Leelee... particularly Leelee, who may be Hutch's girlfriend but has been giving him enough hints of interest to keep him hopeful. Rising tensions with Earth lead to terrorist attacks on Mars, raising the risks for everyone involved - but when Leelee calls for help just before disappearing, David isn't going to walk away. He just needs to act without his parents or his fellow students finding out what he's been up to... not to mention without attracting the attention of his family's recent houseguest, his aunt, the former Martian Marine Roberta Draper.
Part of the Expanse series, chronologically placed between Book 2, Caliban's War, and Book 3, Abaddon's Gate.

REVIEW: This side adventure, referenced in a later Expanse novel, works decently as a standalone even as it fills in more details of Martian culture. David's not a bad person, but naive and immature enough, not to mention irritated enough by the chafe of the restrained, straight-arrow life he's expected to lead as a future Martian scientist, to be an easy mark for Hutch. He doesn't quite know what to make of his ex-Marine aunt, but has more to learn from her than he realizes as he finds his own life upended by events beyond his control. Unlike the previous series novella I've read (The Churn), this story felt complete in itself, without the nagging sense that it had been unnaturally shortened or rushed. Here and there it might've used a little trimming, but all in all I enjoyed it as a quick Expanse-flavored tale.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Leviathan Wakes (James S. A. Corey) - My Review
Binti (Nnedi Okorafor) - My Review
Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson) - My Review

Art and Fear (David Bayles and Ted Orlando)

Art and Fear
David Bayles and Ted Orlando
Image Continuum Press
Nonfiction, Art
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: Art is easy. Being an artist is hard. And making a living out of art... well, that's basically impossible, isn't it? To be an artist of any stripe - actor, painter, musician, writer - is to face many fears: the fears that everything worth doing has already been done, that the next piece will never come, that nobody will value what one brings to the medium, that art will never be worth the cost and will never pay the rent. Those who persevere in the face of those fears create; those who give up never do. But it's not as easy as just deciding not to give in. The authors discuss the process of nurturing ideas, surviving the competition-driven art world, and remaining true to one's vision - even the matter of figuring out one's vision in the first place.

REVIEW: I've seen this title recommended more than once, so when I finally found a half-price copy I figured I'd give it a try. Like many who endeavor to create, fears and uncertainties have been constant companions, enough that I sometimes (too often) let them get the better of me; there's far too much actual dust in my workshed and figurative dust on my story files at the moment. The authors present the seemingly-paradoxical idea that many fears faced by artists are universal, yet each person must find their own path forward if they mean to move forward at all. They also acknowledge that it's not simply psychological, or a matter of shrugging off fears in the name of a Higher Calling; some of those fears are valid and need addressing in the real world, and conquering one does little to conquer another... nor does it ensure that the same problem won't return again. At some points, the writing gets a bit circular and meandering, losing its own thread as it wanders through ideas and anecdotes, enough to cost it a half-mark in the ratings. In the end, it's a decent examination of the forces without and within that can thwart creative endeavors, and an assurance that answers can be found, even if they can't simply be given.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Supplies: A Troubleshooting Guide for Creative Difficulties (Julia Cameron) - My Review
Writing With Power (Peter Elbow) - My Review
Drawing from Your Imagination (Ron Tiner) - My Review

Monday, September 3, 2018

Eclipse Volume 1 (Zack Kaplan)

Eclipse Volume 1
The Eclipse series, Issues 1 -4
Zack Kaplan, illustrations by Giovanni Timpano
Image Comics
Fiction, Graphic Novel/Sci-Fi
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Ten years ago, when sunlight turned deadly, firefighter David Baxton became a hero when he rescued the mayor of New York City... at the cost of loved ones. Now a bitter man, he finds himself drawn again into the lives of the wealthy when someone starts using sunlight as a murder weapon in a series of gruesome attacks. What seems like simple fanaticism becomes something much more complicated, something that might lead humanity back into daylight again - or see its last sparks extinguished.

REVIEW: Many dystopian tales take place in shadowy, gritty settings, but this one takes it a step further, when the very light of day melts flesh almost instantly. Humanity adapts, but something vital was clearly lost, something that may never be regained, and men like Baxton feel it all the more acutely. It's a harsh, unique take on the future and extreme climate change, and it works fairly well. The characters can sometimes be tough to tell apart, especially in bulky "iceman" suits (required to navigate in daylight), with some of the plot threads about politics feeling a bit tangled, but all in all it's a decent story that rarely drags. It wraps up with a sense of character progress, even if there are (naturally) several unresolved arcs for future volumes to deal with.

You Might Also Enjoy:
King: The Graphic Novel (Joshua Hale Fialkov) - My Review
Mistborn: The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson) - My Review
Rex Rising (Chrystalla Thoma) - My Review