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The Books I Read in March 2017

My reading continued to be a disappointment in March, but I am enjoying more of the books I’m reading. So, not everything is doom and gloom.

I already reviewed Every Heart a Doorway and The Collapsing Empire, so I will just mention them here.

On to the rest of the books.

I started the month reading Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey. It is a retelling of The Tempest. I read the first chapter or two and set it aside. I am not a fan of Carey’s style.

I also didn’t care for Chris Colfer’s Stranger Than Fanfiction. Colfer isn’t a terrible writer, but he needs to rein in his camp and metafictional fanboy impulses. I genuinely hope he improves.

Wanting to read some classic science fiction, I tried Sherri S. Tepper’s Grass. The descriptions are lovely. The story is boring.

I finally read Kirstin Valdez Quade’s Night at the Fiesta. I enjoyed the collection very much. I especially liked “Nemecia” and “Mojave Rats.” I will keep my eye on Valdez Quade’s future work.

My success with Night at the Fiesta inspired me to seek out a number of short story collections (with much less success). Among these books are: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay, The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Tenth of December by George Saunders, Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke, The World to Come by Jim Sheppard, and Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh.

Keeping with George Saunders, I attempted Lincoln in the Bardo. Oh my, that book is weirdly structured.

After my success with Leviathan Wakes, I moved on to Abaddon’s Gate after Caliban’s War. I grow less impressed with The Expanse as the series progresses. A lot of my issues lie with the world building. But I also feel James S.A. Corey fall into the George R.R. Martin trap, too many point of view characters disrupt the narrative.

I’ve been wanting to read Brain Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades for years (ever since I listened to a podcast interview with Staveley). I finally got around to it. I feel a world building rant coming on. And I wanted to like this book. Damn it.

I had the most success this month, honestly, with several history books I read for research. These books are: Life and Society in the Hittite World by Trevor Bryce, Byzantium Greatness and Decline by Charles Diehl (translated by Naomi Walford), and Lords of the Horizon by Jason Goodwin. All of these are good. The best book is by far Life and Society in the Hittite WorldByzantium Greatness and Decline is outdated (but hey, it is what my local library has). And Lords of the Horizon is a good popular introduction to the Ottoman Empire.

I also had some success with the comics I read this month. Among those are: Scarlet Witch Volume 2 World of Witchcraft by James Robinson, The Mighty Thor Volume 1 Thunder in Her Veins by Jason Aaron, Batman Volume 1 I am Gotham by Tom King, Detective Comics Volume 1 Rise of the Batmen by James Tynion IV, and Wonder Woman Volume 1 The Lies by Greg Rucka. I really liked Scralet Witch. I enjoyed The Mighty Thor though I am tired of the Roxxon Malekith plot, disliked the handling of Loki, and have issues with Aaron’s world building. I am not a fan of either Batman comic I read. I would much prefer James Tynion IV writing a dedicated Tim Drake book. And the first volume of Wonder Woman Rebirth surprised me. But I am not a fan Rucka’s rewritting of Wonder Woman’s history so soon after the last rewritting of her history. I just really liked the handling of Cheetah. I feel a comic book rant coming on.

That is all I read in March.

On to April!

 

I… I Just. . . I Can’t. . .

I know I’ve promised for like two weeks now a review of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade. Well, I can’t keep that promise. Why? Because I couldn’t even make it through the first damn issue. It was just so bad. Really bad.

Let’s be clear. I still love the Young Avengers (or maybe just Wiccan and Hulkling). But Alan Heinberg is a bad comic book writer. He freaking telegraphs what he’s doing in the first issue. Like a damn neon sign saying – “Doom did it! He did it all! Blame him!”.

And please, don’t get me started on the dialogue. Or the plot for that matter. Ugh.

The more I think about it, I really haven’t liked any Young Avengers related material that I’ve read. Young Avengers volume one was okay, but not spectacular. Dark Young Avengers was, well, idiotic in the extreme. And now this.

Do I really not like the Young Avengers? Or is it I like them as characters, as a team, but I just don’t like the stories that they have been featured in? I’m hoping, really hoping, that it is the later. But to answer that question, I’ll have to trust in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (and the rest of the new Young Avengers team). Hopefully, this will be a new starting out point. And the start of something even better than what came before.

I do have issues with some aspects of the team, though.

I really hate the fact that they are presented as a bunch of Avengers fans who take up the mantle to fight crime. Really, there are a million other ways of getting a team of super hero teenagers together. Especially given that a good number of classic super heroes and teams started out as teenagers (Spider-man; the X-Men).

And why, oh why, did Wiccan (and Speed) have to be the reincarnated sons of the Scarlet Witch? That doesn’t even make sense with reality warping thrown in! The two (Wiccan and Speed) have to be at least ten years older than the children they used to be. Couldn’t he have been some kind of Asgardian? Or why did he have to even have a legacy?

To be honest, I think I would have preferred something more original rather than a group of teenage cosplayers with super powers. Why couldn’t they have been original?

Now that I’ve calmed down some, this does bring into consideration a past post on buying and collecting comics as well as a recent IGN post on habit buying comics.

I agree that one should not buy comics out of habit. If you, the reader, don’t like the writing or the art, then please, don’t keep purchasing the title. If you buy out of habit, the publisher won’t take the initiative to try and fix the problem. The problem will only fester.

The question I have for myself right now is, is the first on panel kiss between Wiccan and Hulkling worth the price of The Children’s Crusade

No.

Here’s hoping the new Young Avengers will be far better than what has come before.