Book Review: The Backstagers, Vol. 2 by James Tynion IV

The Backstagers, Vol. 2 by James Tynion IV
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Source: Borrowed

All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic—literally!

Jory and the rest of the Backstagers have one goal this semester: to put on the best show their town’s ever seen. But best laid plans aren’t easy to achieve when there’s an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain! When one of the actors suddenly goes missing, the Backstagers must band together to save their comrade and maintain the natural balance of . . . theater. 

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) and artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) explore what it means to be an outcast looking to find one’s place in an earnest story of friendship and self-expression.

Okay, I think I’m officially on board with The Backstagers. This series is so cute, so positive, and so magical. In this installment, we learn a lot more about the magical underground theater world and the mysterious tech kids that disappeared all those years ago. The world goes a lot deeper than anyone previously thought, and it was so much fun!

The LGBT aspects that were sort of hinted at in the first volume become a lot clearer in this one, with two of the main characters getting into a relationship and one character casually referencing the fact that he transferred from an all-girls school to an all-boys school, thus implying that he’s transgender. The representation is done so subtly and I absolutely loved it! It’s never a thing, it just exists.

The only thing that I didn’t enjoy about this volume was that a lot of the action seems to happen off-page. Sure, I can make connections between events and figure out on my own what happened, but it’s a lot more fun to see these dramatic moments (such as, like I mentioned above, two of the main characters getting together) play out right in front of you.

Now I’m just sitting here waiting for my Hoopla borrows to reset so that I can check out the third volume of this series.


Have you read The Backstagers? Can you recommend any similar books?
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Book Review: The Backstagers, Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV

The Backstagers, Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source: Borrowed

All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic literally! 

When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen. 

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast.

I first saw this graphic novel advertised in the back of something else I’d read and added it to my list to read eventually. I ended up remembering it while scrolling through Hoopla after all of my books were packed into boxes.

When I first started reading it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought. I mean, the idea of it is super fun! There’s this whole magical world (literally!!) behind the scenes at a school play. I hadn’t really expected the whole magical realism plot, but that didn’t mean that I disliked it. In fact, as the story went on, I think that made me enjoy this little graphic novel even more.

The characters are great and really easy to relate to. Even though they’re moving through this mystical world filled with magical creatures and moving hallways and just… the strangest things you’ve ever seen, they’re your typical, everyday teenagers and they just want to make sure that the school musical goes off without a hitch.

The story does move along pretty quickly without a ton of character development or worldbuilding, but it is only the first volume. I’m hoping that we’ll see more of that in the next volume, which I’m excited to dive into soon!


Have you read The Backstagers? Can you recommend any similar books?
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Book Review: Revival, Vol. 2 by Tim Seeley

Revival, Vol. 2 by Tim Seeley
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 17, 2013
Source: Borrowed
For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now, the living and the recently-returned struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy, amidst political and religious conflicts.


Collects REVIVAL #6-11.
 

After finishing the first volume of Revival, I was both excited and a little apprehensive to read the second. I’ve read more than one graphic novel that got dramatically worse after a good first volume, but not to worry! That’s not the case with Revival.

I found volume two to be just as intriguing as the first. This kind of gory horror graphic novel wouldn’t normally be my thing, but I’m glad I gave it a chance. There’s a lot going on in this volume, with new characters and new plot lines introduced, but I have a feeling that it’ll be worth it. I think one of the things I appreciate most about this series, at least so far, is that the characters’ real life drama doesn’t disappear in the face of what’s basically the zombie apocalypse.

I also appreciated that the setting — Wausau, Wisconsin — still plays a big role in the story. I mentioned in my review of the first volume that it’s like I’m actually there when I’m reading, and this volume is no different. I mean, Seeley even mentions the smell of the paper mills! It’s little things like that that have really made this series for me so far.

I’m excited to check out some more volumes of this and see where it goes.


Have you read Revival? Have you read any books set in your hometown?
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Book Review: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Borrowed

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes No. 1-4.

I think that Lumberjanes is one of those series that’s hard to miss when you’re in the book blogging world, but I never really had any intention of reading it. Or, I guess I should say, I never really had any intention of reading it until I was reading The Backstagers and saw that it was listed as a similar title. For once, I think that’s a really valid comparison!

There are a lot of things to love about Lumberjanes. It was cute. It was fun. It’s full of friendship and puns and strange creatures. There are cats. Anagrams play a pretty big role. It’s a super quick read. Things I liked a little less were some of the dialogue (it felt a little forced at times) and the fact that this seems to be written for a younger audience than I’m used to, even compared with some of the other YA graphic novels I’ve read. Those are kind of me problems and not overall problems, though.

All in all, this was a really fun graphic novel! It wasn’t really what I expected, but in a really good way. I’ll have to check out Noelle Stevenson’s other work.


Have you read Lumberjanes? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: MCMLXXV by Joe Casey

MCMLXXV by Joe Casey
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 15, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Meet Pamela Evans. Much more than a typical Manhattan cab driver, she also happens to be a badass monster fighter who wields an enchanted tire iron. Yeah, that’s right. Welcome to the year of her greatest adventure.

MCMLXXV is modern mythology for a new generation, from JOE CASEY (NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL, JESUSFREAK) and IAN MacEWAN (PROPHET: EARTH WAR, SEX).

Collects MCMLXXV #1-3

This is going to be a pretty short review because I did not enjoy this one very much. Pretty much the only reason I read this was because of the title, which doesn’t even figure into the story at all.

Let me start with the positive. It starts off well enough. I’d probably give it four stars for the first issue. I appreciate that it features a strong female lead. I appreciate the premise of the story. The art is fine. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can say.

Some bullet points, because I don’t really want to devote too much more time to this graphic novel:

  • If you like random words being emphasized for no reason, you might enjoy this graphic novel.
  • Aside from a taxi driver fighting demons, there’s not too terribly much of a plot, and the world-building is basically non-existent.
  • I cared about literally none of the characters. I didn’t dislike them or anything, but I just didn’t feel anything for them. Even when some pretty major characters died, I was just like, “oh… alright then.”
  • Please explain to me how Pamela destroys her cabs on a nightly basis and still has a job??

I’m not mad that I took the time to read this, but I can’t really recommend it either.

#mm19: animal, number, color, name


Have you read MCMLXXV? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: Revival, Vol. 1 by Tim Seeley

Revival, Vol. 1 by Tim Seeley
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 12, 2012
Source: Borrowed

For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect.

One day over the summer, I went into a comic book shop looking for some specific single issues of Saga. I flipped through the Image section and didn’t find the Saga issues I was looking for, but I did find an issue of Revival that featured my hometown inside the mouth of a skull.

It’s a little spooky, but I’ve never seen Wausau, Wisconsin featured in anything, so I had to read it. You know how sometimes, a book will be set somewhere, but only technically? Like, the characters say they’re in a specific place, but there’s nothing to indicate that they actually are? Not the case with Revival. I may have said, “OH MY GOD, THEY’RE ACTUALLY IN WAUSAU” out loud while I was reading this.

These characters go places I know. They drive down streets that are very close to the house I grew up in. They mention restaurants I’ve been to. I didn’t expect that at all and it made me love this graphic novel so much.

As for the actual story, it’s pretty spooky!! People are dying but they’re not staying dead. Sometimes they’re fine, but sometimes they revive with a thirst for blood. There’s a creepy white demon hiding in the woods and we don’t know much about it. The first volume of this graphic novel really just sets up the whole series, but I’m intrigued and I’m ready to jump into the next one.


Have you read Revival? Have you read any books set in your hometown?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Source: Purchased

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

In case you weren’t aware, I am a huge Rainbow Rowell fan. I’ve previously reviewed Fangirl, Carry On, Attachments, Eleanor & Park, and Landline on this blog. Pumpkinheads was one of my more anticipated books of the year. I’ve been a little wrapped up in my move, though, so I didn’t even realize that it had already released until I found my preorder in my mailbox. I read the whole thing that same night.

Here’s the thing. This is definitely a Rainbow book. The characters are cute. The story is cute. The pumpkin patch is cute. The art is cute. Everything about it is cute. I want to go to this pumpkin patch. I want to eat literally everything in this book and go on every ride. But if everything was so great, why am I only giving it three stars?

The biggest reason for my rating is the fact that I predicted the entirety of the plot on about page three. The plot is very simple, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I just wanted a bit more from this book. I feel like I can’t say anything about the plot because one sentence could give it all away.

I might not have adored this book as much as I’d expected to, but it was still a fun read! Now the countdown to Wayward Son begins…


Have you read Pumpkinheads? Is it on your TBR?
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