Upside to blogs over vlogs: I don’t have to struggle to pronounce “manga”

Vampire Knight 1 by Matsuri Hino

After my last somewhat less than successful attempt at manga, I was totally ready to never try it ever again.

But my new fledgling graphic novel book club is mostly populated by teenagers who love it. And they told me I HAD to read some. Kind of specifically Vampire Knight and Black Butler. Which I’ll get to shortly.

This time, I had a much better reading experience. For one thing, I knew the  backward Z pattern of reading so I didn’t end up getting all the conversation bubbles wildly out of order. That really helped.  I struggled for a bit to understand what was happening to who, because the adorable (but apparently confusing) manga expressions that can totally change the way a character looks and thus upset my strategy of following the pictures.

But I can say, despite these setbacks, with complete confidence and zero googling, that I understood and liked the first volume in this, I assume, basically endless manga series.

Yuki was almost killed by a vampire ten years ago, but was saved by another vampire, the mysterious Kaname, who brought her to the Academy. The Academy is a school for humans during the day, the Day Class, and vampires at night, the Night Class. Her job, as a member of the Discipline Committee is to keep the vampires a secret along with Zero, another mysterious survivor of a vampire attack.

So, sadly, it is a love triangle. I mean, I’m pretty early on in it and I can already feel the love-triangly-ness of it. But what I’m interested in are some of the obvious but still intriguing plot bread crumbs that are leading the reader off into the direction of who exactly is Yuki and what makes her so special? Why does Kaname want to protect her? What is the relationship between Kaname and Zero and how does vampire law and etiquette affect them?  What is the magic between Yuki and Zero?

So I’m not saying immediately, ’cause I’ve already got so much to read, but eventually I’ll definitely look for the second one. That was fun. Totally fun.

Last movie I watched: George of the Jungle. Not as funny as I remember it.

Last TV episode I watched: The Body. Buffy. I cried ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT.

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The obvious comparison: Tris versus Katniss

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Warning: Here there be spoilers. But only for the Hunger Games ’cause too many people I know haven’t read Allegiant yet.

So, as pretty much anyone knows, if teens read and loved the Hunger Games, you automatically suggest that they follow it up with Divergent. In fact, I’m pretty sure I compared the two books after I finished Divergent, and also probably Insurgent, so I guess I’m starting to repeat myself. That’s kinda miserable.

As individual books that start trilogies, I liked Hunger Games better than Divergent. No question. As trilogies I might have liked Divergent more. I’m not sure.

Allegiant really surprised me with the direction it took. Up until the third book, I thought it was about one thing, the factions, and then in the third book, bam! It’s suddenly not. I’m not sure I liked it. I was more interested in the science fictiony themes in Allegiant then the factions, but I felt like it was too much, too big and fascinating to get all jammed into the last book and I felt in a lot of ways that the faction plot was unresolved. Having said that, I did enjoy it, but I’m not sure I would have set it up that way.

And it’s such a shame I can’t talk about that ending!

Anyway, I felt the same thing about the Hunger Games trilogy in some ways. Like it changed direction suddenly and too fast in the last book, and while some of the themes and ideas and characters remained the same, it lost something that made it unique and interesting or gained too much that made it duller. Like an annoyingly overt and rather uncomplicated love triangle.

I guess that’s the thing about trilogies. They usually start off strong and trail off, or start off a little weaker and get better (meaning it sucks to be the second book – although Insurgent doesn’t fit that pattern).

It’s hard for me to say which one I liked better. I think the themes that Hunger Games looked at, like what it can take to win conflicts, ways of oppression, idealization and celebritization (is that even a word? well it is now) and poverty versus wealth are more interesting to me then freedom of choice, human virtue and genetics but the rawness and emotional agony in Divergent was really, really mind blowing.

Ultimate conclusion: I can’t choose. Please don’t make me.

Last movie I watched: Much Ado About Nothing. Combination of many of my favourite people? For the win!

Last TV episode I watched: Buffy. The one where Anya’s ex the troll turns up. Good times.