Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ever World: Inside the Illusion

After finishing Brave the Betrayal, the eighth book which was narrated by Jalil, I was expecting David to be the next narrator. But instead, Inside the Illusion is narrated by Senna. This is the first glimpse into Senna's mind, showing you what she's planning and how exactly she thinks. And truth be told, Senna is as cold-hearted as the others think she is. Her mother abandoned her when she was seven, a magical little girl left to learn by herself in Chicago's suburbs. Senna grew up knowing she was different, and rather than trying to fit in, she retained her differences, learning how to use her magic and more importantly how to use people.

After the gang's jaunt through Africa, they find themselves in Egypt. The Nile has been dammed by Dwarves. Sobek, God of Crocodiles, is trapped on one side of the dam, while Egypt is on the other. The group agree to smash through the dam and help him return home. Once in Egypt, they discover that the city has turned within itself. The gods and goddesses are practically dead, remaining almost asleep and immobile. And the city is now run by Amazons. And more importantly, Senna finds herself face to face with her mother, the woman she thought would be a powerful witch, but who turns out to be a self-centred, pathetic thing. Senna decides to use her mother as the gateway for the Coo-Hatch, but she neglected to think of what might happen if her mother refused. If her mother called Merlin....

Ever World: Brave the Betrayal

I have to admit that Brave the Betrayal was the weirdest Ever World book I have read. During a battle against the Hetwan, the gang heard a gun shot go off. Back in one of the earlier books they had traded a chemistry book to another alien race, the Coo-Hatch (pictured), in exchange for Coo-Hatch steel which can cut through anything (the Coo-Hatch outfitted their Swiss-Army knife with the steel, and the gang has jokingly called the blade Excalibur). While Excalibur gave them protection, the chemistry book gave the Coo-Hatch gun-powder. And now they are threatening to use the gun-powder against the Gods unless the Gods can send them home.

And so it falls to the gang to fix the mess they made. According to Senna, her mother is the only witch powerful enough to open a gateway to send the Coo-Hatch home. But her mother is in Egypt, serving Isis. So they must go find her and convince her to help.

The only problem is that Egypt lies through some "lands that are very strange," as Athena says. And indeed they are. After leaving Greece, the gang finds themselves in sub-Saharan Africa. They encounter Eshu, one of the Orisha, a messenger for the higher gods. He tells the gang repeatedly that they must make a sacrifice to the gods, but the gang refuses. April is Catholic and refuses to respect a false god. And Jalil (who is the narrator) is an athesist who refuses to change his belief because he is told to. Senna, who is with them, becomes livid that they refuse, and with good reason: all five of them get dragged into this weird upside-down world that is like an underworld of Ever World. And so they have to find a way back to the "real" Ever World. And all the while Jalil finds his refusal to make the sacrifice turning into a personal battle of wills with Eshu.

I have to admit, the only Gods that I sort of know that come from Africa are the ancient Egyptian gods. While I have heard of the Orisha before, I do not know what they are like. So I found this whole adventure to be extremely confusing.

But on the plus side, it had Vikings. The gang meets up with their old friend, Thorolf, the Viking they stayed with in Search for Senna.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ever World: Gateway to the Gods

I have finally started reading the Ever World books I got from the library! The first one is of course Gateway to the Gods which is narrated by April. The group managed to save Dionysus (but they were unable to save Ganymede) from the Hetwan and have made it to Olympus. Christopher, as promised, is offered immortality (although he turns it down because he feels he owes Ganymede a debt which cannot be repaid). The rest are promised immortality should they defeat the Hetwan who are even now surrounding Olympus. And so David jumps up to the task, becoming the general like Senna had predicted back in Search for Senna. The problem the Greeks face is multiple: the Hetwan greatly outnumber them and they have no central figure to rally around. They're also fighting war without the centuries of innovations the real world has experienced. So David is able to bring his knowlege of the 21st century in to help the Greeks succeed and save Olympus (and more importantly their gods) from the Hetwan.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ever World: Fear the Fantastic

Well, here I am, half way through the Ever World series. This time around it's Christopher narrating. The gang had just escaped Fairy Land (well, left Fairy Land and will probably never be able to return after they brought Nidhoggr, who had destroyed parts of the Goblin Market). And then they stumbled into Hetwan country. Welcome to Ever World. The geography has been rather messed up from the get-go as they went from Viking lands to Aztec lands with only a day of travel. But now they're in the alien Hetwan lands, which is one of the last places they want to be.

Not long into their journey in enemy territory, they get caught and brought to join the revels of Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine. He's being brought to Ka Anor, the god of the Hetwan who eats other gods. After promising Christopher immortality, Christopher and the others agree to help Dionysus escape and return to Olympus. The only problem: Mount Olympus lies on the other side of the Hetwan lands. To get there, the group will have to pass right through the Hetwan's city, which is the stronghold of Ka Anor. And while they have a god on their side this time, Dionysus can't do much more than throw a party.

Yet again, Fear the Fantastic was a good read. I can't wait to start Gateway to the Gods, which is also the first Ever World book that I got from the library.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Batman: R.I.P.

When I started reading Batman: R.I.P., I had a bit of trouble figuring out what was going on; it felt like I was starting in the middle of the story, with Batman going steady with some girl (and it took quite awhile before they even mentioned what her name was). But once I got over that, more and more I was reminded of Knightfall, Part 1. But unlike Knightfall, where Bane was physically trying to break Batman, coming after him while he was physically very weak, Batman R.I.P. was concerned with breaking Batman's mind.

In Batman R.I.P., The Club of Villains has targeted Batman. They have gone after Batman, targeting his friends and releasing the Joker, all in the name of gambling. Assurred by their host that the Bat will break, it is simply a matter of deciding how and when. But have they severely underestimated him? Or is the world's greatest detective's mind about to fracture into insanity forever?

While I didn't enjoy this as much as Knightfall, I felt like Batman R.I.P. was written in the same spirit. Both stories were concerned with breaking the Bat. And both were good reads. Knightfall was just a lot less confusing (and in my opinion just overall better).

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader

I took a bit of an Ever World break in favour of some Batman; I'll be writing a column for work on books in the near future with Batman as my chosen topic so I thought I should read one or two more before it's due. I was also in a Neil Gaiman kind of mood so Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader was perfect.

The main story was really interesting. Everyone whom Batman touched, both friend and foe, were gathering for his funeral. And everyone was telling stories of how he both lived and died. Unfortunately these stories were all extremely different, leaving you with no real idea as to what was the truth. And over it all, the Caped Crusader himself watched, invisible along with a mysterious other. Whatever Happened was, in true Gaiman style, very intriguing; a fun read that leaves you trying to solve the mystery of what's going on right along with the Bat.

My version was the deluxe edition, which included a few other tales There four stories were all in widely differing art styles. It took me a bit to realize that they were also written by Gaiman. The first one, "A Black and White World," was pretty fun, featuring Batman and Joker rehearsing and acting out their roles for the comics; here they are just two guys who chose a career as comic book actors. "Pavane" was a strange story featuring Poison Ivy. It was a little hard to figure out (and, in my opinion, the worst story in this edition). Finally, "Original Sins" and "When is a Door" were related. "Original Sins" is the story of a man wanting to film a documentary on the human side of the villains; he is visited by Batman, who warns not to proceed. "When is a Door" is the interview of the Riddler. It was a bit confusing, but that was okay, because you do not go to the Riddler for answers. While not my favourite, this tale had the best ending.

All in all, I enjoyed reading Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. This was by no means my favourite Batman graphic novel (or my favourite Gaiman stories), but altogether this was entertaining and makes you think.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ever World: Discover the Destroyer

This time it's fairies. At the end of Realm of the Reaper, the group stumbled on Nidhoggr, the dragon who lives rather close to Hel's underworld domain. They have agreed to help him recover four treasures which were stolen from him by Leprechauns. But to ensure that they return with the treasures, he replaces their hearts with rubies (except Senna's. It's later revealed that her heart is too hard, and the dragon is too cheap to use a diamond); after six days the rubies will explode in liquid fire, killing them.

And so they find themselves in a Goblin-style Market with the very capitalist Fair Folk. After mentioning Nidhoggr, they then find themselves in the Fairy Castle. So everyone else can get away, Senna claims her half-sister April is the witch, which the Fair Folk and their resident Hetwan believe. But Jalil comes up with a very capitalist plan (introduce the Fair Folk to the telegraph) in an attempt to raise money to buy the treasures and free April. But in case that doesn't work, David heads back to Nidhoggr, having figured out how the dragon can fly in and simply get his stuff back (and April).

Discover the Destroyer had a very different feel from most of the other books (Realm of the Reaper in particular). It was a bit ludicrous, but all in all rather light-hearted and fun.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ever World: Realm of the Reaper

Realm of the Reaper. This time it's Jalil's turn to narrate. And this time the group heads straight back into Norse mythology. After wandering in the woods, they find themselves in "Her City," guarded by eunuchs. The eunuchs keep everyone (almost entirely good looking men) inside of the city so they cannot escape her. The "her" everyone is talking about is Loki's daughter, Hel, goddess of the underworld, half beautiful woman and half corpse (also pictured on the cover). It seems she has her way with her chosen man/men and then submits them to eternal torments in the underworld. And this time around it's Jalil, David and Christopher she wants because they're from the "Real World."

Realm of the Reaper was also a great learning point. It gives some insight into exactly why Jalil is present. Where April is her half-sister, Christopher her ex and David her current boyfriend, Jalil didn't really fit with them. But Senna specifically chose him to be there. And for all of his outward appearances, in the "Real World" he fights OCD.

In a series that can be rather creepy and gruesome, Realm of the Reaper was probably the creepiest. But it was still a really good read. Now I can't wait for Discover the Destroyer (which is once again narrated by David).

Ever World: Enter the Enchanted

I guess I'm still quite interested in Ever World as I just powered through book 3! This time around it was April, Senna's half-sister, who was narrating. And they had a run-in with Merlin and some of the knights of the round table (Galahad, Gawain, Perceval, Gareth and Kay in particular). In the spirit of Sarah Zettel's Camelot series, I found Enter the Enchanted to be quite a good read, especially since it gave a new look at many of the people I enjoyed from Zettel's series.

This time around, the gang has found Senna. But they are attacked by a dragon, which is sent off by Sir Galahad. They find themselves the guests of the knight at one of his castles. Unfortunately, they are not the only guests as Loki has also shown up, demanding Senna.

Enter the Enchanted had a lot more adventure than Land of Loss. Rather than wandering around lost, this time around the gang seemed to make more decisions for themselves. And while my favourite narrator is still David, April was a lot better than Christopher. So I guess that means Jalil will be next in Realm of the Reaper.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ever World: Land of Loss

Well, my suspicions were correct: Ever World is a lot like Animorphs. Not the subject matter or anything. But the whole idea that it's a group of teenagers. And every book is narrated by a different one.

Land of Loss picks up right where Search for Senna leaves off: the vikings are battling the Aztecs (although now you get Christopher's narration rather than David's. If you're familiar with Animorphs, Christopher is rather similar to Marco). And all I can say is that these are the luckiest kids ever. They not only survive Loki's keep in Search for Senna, but now they have to deal with their team (aka the Vikings)losing to the Aztecs. And yes, they somehow survive. But now they are left wandering in the jungle outside of New Tenochtitlan (the Aztec city). They encounter some alien people (the Coo-Hatch) who have also been brought into this world; unfortunately, the Coo-Hatch have been here for 100 years and have yet to find a way home. And so their story continues as they try to survive in Ever World.

While Land of Loss had a different feel from Search for Senna, I still found it hard to put down (although I much preferred the narration of David over Christopher).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ever World: Search for Senna

School is over, leaving me free to read whatever I want now. I was originally going to read something like Mogworld by Yahtzee Crowshaw, but in the end I decided to go with the first Ever World book. I apologize for the spoilers that will inevitable happen as I review all twelve books.

Ever World came out around the time when K.A. Applegate was also working on Animorphs. I was really into the Animorph books, so I was interested in reading something else by the same author. For reasons I don't remember anymore, I just never picked these books up at that time (probably because I was already into one indefinitely long series and didn't want to get into another one at the same time). So a year or two ago, I found the first six books for sale at a used book store. It was a really good deal, and I thought that might be all of them. Unfortunately, when I got home I realized that this was only the first six of twelve books. But with the help of the library and a local used-book store (the Bookshelf) for the 10th book which the library was missing, I was able to get a hold of all of them; I'm going to read them all one after the other (as long as I stay interested in them).

Search for Senna opened with a bunch of teenagers sort of fighting in a parking lot. I was intrigued with some of the stuff that was going on (it was a fight over a girl between two guys), but I wasn't sure that I cared enough to keep reading. But I soldiered on, and am extremely glad to have done so! Not long after the fight, this group of teenagers gets transported into Ever World when Fenrir, the wolf from Norse mythology, kidnaps Senna. The rest of the group finds themselves prisoners of Loki. They escape and find themselves in a viking village and later heading off to war. Meanwhile they have no idea where Senna is, and everytime they fall asleep they find themselves awake in the "real world."

After all of my viking reading late last year, how could I not be intrigued by this? I even knew more about some of the stuff that happened than the know-it-all smart kid Jalil (of course the giant snake is Loki's son - it's the world serpent!) I honestly think I'm enjoying Ever World more now (thanks to my readings of the Eddas) than I would have back then! Ever World is off to a great start and I hope it keeps my interest through all twelve books!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

School Book: Convent of Pleasure

Here it is: the final School Book of my MA. In a way, Margaret Cavendish's Convent of Pleasure (which is included in Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader) was the perfect last reading because it is an extremely short play. At a time when it's getting harder and harder to concentrate on school related things, short is a good thing.

That being said, I thought Convent of Pleasure was just okay. It is the story about the Lady Happy, who decides she wants to retire from the world of men and live only in the company of women. Her father has just passed away, leaving her as his sole heir, so she has the money and the grounds to provide for herself and her selected ladies, to the vexation of the men who wanted to woo her. Convent of Pleasure starts out as a fun romp, but loses its appeal by about Act 3. Both Acts 3 and 4 have weird plays which are meant to show the pleasuarable activities the ladies are occupying their time with. But the way it is written, these scenes kind of go all over the place so it isn't always clear what is part of the play within a play and what is the character's own lamentation. I guess it was a good idea that just didn't quite work.

But now that I have read this, I just have to write a few papers and then I am free to read the books that matter to me! I can't wait!