Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Friday, December 13, 2013

After the Snow vs. Boxers and Saints

After the Snow starts as a distressing dystopian vision and ends as a distressing dystopian vision.  Willo is a young boy escaping the forces that took his family away for their resistance to some unexplained totalitarian state in the future.  He speaks though the voice of a dog – a voice that dominates the first part of the book and then disappears half way through.    The world is a bleak place—the winter has come and stayed.  People are starving, the country and minerals are reserved for the elite and the government.   The problem of this book for me is that it is a world seen through the limited eye of a young boy.  It is like he is too close to the ground or something—everything is dirty and miserable and redemption, when it comes, is so little that we are really left without hope. The great discovery at the end of the book is that this voice has been his own all along.  Redemption comes in the forgiveness of a girl child he deserts and finds again in some deus ex machine way at the end of the book.  He does apologize.

Boxers and Saints is a two volume graphic novel from the author of American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang.  It tells “parallel stories of two  young people” caught up on the opposite sides of the Boxer Rebellion—both of whom are searching for their identity and who find it in opposite faiths.  Bao is fighting to save China from the white faced foreigner in the role of a Chinese god and Vibiana has found herself by becoming a Christian and channeling Joan of Arc.  Both see themselves as warriors and are fanatical about their mission in life.  Sometimes this book felt like a Christian treatise but the redeeming value occurred when both sides realized that they had betrayed their beliefs though we do not see the change that that betrayal should cause. 

Generally, we were disappointed with both books for the most part.  Our vote though goes to Boxers and Saints and though the world is just as miserable in a way as After the Snow, there is plenty of action (blood and swords ) which the kids will enjoy.  Not certain that anyone who does not know about Joan of Arc will be able to follow the mystic reach of the second volume as we found the mysticism difficult in the first book because we knew nothing about the Chinese gods.

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