Time for a weekly wrap-up post! Here’s what I read this week, and what I bought despite being on a book buying ban. Oops!
Wandering Son: Volume One, Shimura Takako. (Fantagraphics Books)
MARA, Brian Wood and Ming Doyle. (Image Comics)
Delirium, Lauren Oliver (Hodder)
One manga, one graphic novel, and one fiction book; not bad going!
WANDERING SON BY Shimura Takako rent my heart into two equal and aching pieces. Sensitive, beautifully drawn, funny, and most of all – important. Wandering Son is about Nitori and Takatsuki, both young trans* people navigating the world of junior-high and navigating their friendships and relationships while struggling to express their identities.
As a plot alone, perhaps not the most groundbreaking of teen storylines (‘finding oneself’ is the perennial YA catch-all, after all), but Takako’s characters are so sweet and they are no earnestly handled that Wandering Son is a real piece of work to behold. Stories with trans* protagonists are few and far between, and Wandering Son should be on your to-read list if you are in need of a narrative that doesn’t treat gender identity as a sub-plot or punch line.
MARA is a whole different kettle of illustrated fish. Set in the future where ‘celebrity’ has come to be centred around athleticism, Mara is the world’s most famous and most loved star. However, when Mara starts to exhibit super-human abilities, she goes from being the world’s darling to the world’s most wanted, forcing her to sacrifice the life and people she loves.
Mara is a powerful book that looks at the nature of celebrity through the lens of the superhero genre, and challenges the weaponisation and patriotism of superhumanity – which is of course a common theme in western comics. If you’re a fan of Watchmen, The Authority, or any of Brian Wood’s work in Channel Zero, i fully recommend Mara, which is beautifully drawn by Ming Doyle (and who was kind enough to sign and sketch in my copy which I bought at her table at Thought Bubble festival this November.)
And last but not least, Delirium.
Delirium is a book that’s been on the edge of my radar for a long time, and indeed when I finally decided to pick up a copy, it took me a while to track one down, as I kept looking in the YA sections of bookshops not realising it is actually marketed here as an adult novel.
Delirium is set in a dystopian North America where love is considered a disease, known as amor deliria nervosa. Closed, bordered communities exist where all the inhabitants are ‘cured’, having undergone the ‘procedure’ at age 18 to separate themselves from the dangerous parts of the brain which allow the deliria to take hold. Lena, aged 17, struggles to reconcile her childhood with her uncured mother where she knew and felt love, and the society she is raised in which is bleak, strictly regulated and sterile.
Oliver creates a truly believable and frankly terrifying society which has been compared to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.(Which seems a bit of a sweeping comparison to me, really the only similarities between Delirium and The Handmaid’s Tale beside genre are the fact that both author and protagonist are female, but I digress.) I really enjoyed Oliver’s writing style, and there are some really stunning paragraphs which I couldn’t help up mark with a dog-ear so I wouldn’t forget where they were.
The world of Delirium is at first bleak and harsh, but it grows and mellows as Lena discovers her love in it’s midst, which is the real joy of this read. Very much looking forward to starting Pandemonium in the New Year to continue this trilogy.
And a few new purchases, as well! I swear I buy more books when I’m on a book buying ban then I do normally. Fortunately, most of these were discount purchases…
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Cathrynne Valente
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (I’ve already read this book earlier in the year from my library, but found this copy for £2 in a charity shop and couldn’t resist. One of my favourite modern classics.)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Michelle Hodkin
The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, Holly Black
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton (This monster of a book was £2 in a charity shop! I actually already own The Luminaries on Kindle, but couldn’t resist the bargain as it’s just such a gorgeous book.)
That’s all for now! What did you read and/or buy this week?