Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review -- Poe: Stories and Poems -- A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Gareth Hinds

We all remember our first Edgar Allen Poe story. For myself, The Telltale Heart. I can still hear that heartbeat. The Raven -- I still make sure to quote the Raven nevermore. When I saw an opportunity to review a copy of this graphic novel adaptation published by Candlewick Press -- I had to jump all over it.

This book is a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works by acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds. He translates Poe's dark genius into graphic-novel format. In "The Cask of Amontillado," a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In "The Masque of the Red Death," a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in "The Pit and the Pendulum," and in "The Tell-Tale Heart," a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — "The Raven," "The Bells," and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, "Annabel Lee." The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror. This graphic novel is slated for release on August 1, 2017

We all know that Poe had recurring motifs in his stories. That is why a key was included at the start of each story which was brilliant. The key include motifs such as angels and demons, death, guilty conscience, murder, insanity. You knew what you were getting into with each story; even if you have previously read Poe before but you truly did not understand the plot. The pictures were visually profound and blended well with each of the stories. Unfortunately I would not recommended reading this on a Kindle or iPad as the word panels and the artwork do not seam up perfectly. I would definitely recommended this book to anyone who is a lover of horror fiction as well as anyone who is a beginner Poe reader.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Book Review -- 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Let me preface this review with this: If you need to talk -- reach out to a friend, a loved one, anyone willing to listen. If you are afraid to do that please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.


“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

When Netflix announced that they were bringing 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher to the small screen -- the Internet exploded namely because of the content. Suicide is a very touchy subject to talk about to begin with and to take a book that is 10 years old and when published did not have the advice or ways to cope like we do now, I can understand the skepticism. A lot of people feel that this book and show glorifies suicide, does not touch on the subject of mental illness, as well as does not think about the audience at all as well as many triggers.

That is why I have decided to read the book first before delving in the television show. Plus, the book is always better right?

Firat let us get into what the book is about: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

This book is extremely compelling - unputdownable at best- but a problem I had and that many readers have had is that the book relies on your sympathy for Hannah to effectively relay its message, and yet Hannah comes off as bratty, selfish and ofttimes over-sensitive. Many of her "reasons" are things that everyone has experienced at some point and people generally file those under "bad days" and definitely don't kill themselves because of it. I know I sure did as I was an outcast in high school. Hannah wasn't realistically suicidal or stereotypical suicidal. People like to look for clear-cut reasons that make sense. They wanted Hannah to give a good reason why she killed herself. But, in reality, it so rarely is one big reason you can point to. Most of the time, the little things all build up, day after day, one small thing after another, until the little reasons all blend into a single feeling of hopelessness. That is what this book is about. Plus it's also about taking responsibility for your actions and understanding how your small selfish acts can affect someone else. I felt so bad for Clay while reading this book. But I had an issue -- especially with the revelation about him, and the way he viewed the truth about Hannah. Clay changes his mind about Hannah based on what he hears and decides she did not deserve the treatment she did due to rumors. But - would she have deserved the treatment any more if she had done what the rumors said? I wish the book had taken the opportunity to address that. I do want to say I don't think this is 100% the best book in the world for depression/suicide, but I do believe it is an interesting narrative on how suicide impacts those affected, considering suicide is never a singular action.

If you are on the fence about reading/watching the television show due to what you have heard -- do not let that affect you. Give it a try. I did and I am glad that I did.