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« December, 2022 »
Incredible Doom: Volume 2

A satisfying wrap-up to the series (which may continue, but one arc has wrapped up) where you get to learn more about why a lot of the characters do the things they do and the good news/bad news situations with online friendships, relationships and families.

Incredible Doom

know Jesse. I’d originally read some of this serialized online. It’s such a great, moody story about being a kid who didn’t fit in (for various reasons, different kids have different motivations) when the internet was just starting out. Kids meet, hang out,avoid adults, listen to music, play music, get in trouble, and solve problems for each other over BBSes.

All the Living and the Dead

A look into “death workers,” the people involved in the business of death, from embalmers, to grave diggers to crime scene cleaners. Campbell is the daughter of Eddie Campbell who wrote a gruesome graphic novel about Jack the Ripper and grew up with that sort of approach to death kind of in the air. Not a lot of new information if you’re already a Caitlin Doughty fan, but a good mostly-UK perspective on it all.

Dead Man’s Hand

I got this thinking it would be leaning more sci-fi and less fantasy and that was incorrect. This was an interesting, but ultimately not-for-me story about tracking down a killer in a world where many people are Usuals, but some people are witches. There’s some wry humor and a lot of “Someone with wonky powers learns to use them better” stuff but ultimately too many injuries and too gritty for me.

Titan

An interesting concept and premise--imagine a future world where AIs run most of everything but then one starts to have... mental health problems? Or something is wrong. A little too didactic about the central philosophical question, “What is work” It mostly takes place through the eyes of one character who herself is actually not that interesting and I think I maybe found the “what is work?” question not that interesting when stretched to cover a full length novel. You do get to learn a lot about the concept of a future world run by AIs but you also don’t learn what happened to the world concerning issues like climate change Considering this book takes place primarily in Japan and the Bay Area, that seems like a biggish omission. Not my fave but maybe a good book for a different person.

A World of Curiosities

A more grounded-in-three-pines Gamache story this time around, pretty rich and fascinating while also showcasing many of the usual suspects and using (and adjusting) some real-world history. Fans of Penny should like this one a lot as it takes place nearly entirely within the town and a lot of the characters you’ve grown to know and love have roles to play except maybe the Gamache children who are mostly not a part of this one. I had a few minor issues with some of the plot lines (i.e. the a sociopath who has figured everything out to the last detail EXCEPT THIS ONE THING) but overall it was a good book with, as always, an interesting afterword.

Holy Days: The World of the Hasidic Family

A look inside a family who belongs to a Lubvaicher Hasidic sect. It’s somewhat outdated (Schneerson was still alive at the time which was a really different environment to how it is now) but gives a personal look at some of the important holidays and events and how this family experiences them. The book feels a bit like a series of long New Yorker articles in that each chapter is a sort of self-contained description of an event or issue.

Improve

A graphic novel about how taking improv classes helped the author lot with social anxiety, though the title says “conquered” this isn’t that. Graudins is super clear she doesn’t think improv is the end-all be-all (and not always unproblematic) but outlines usefully what was good for her about it and talks about a lot of specific improv techniques that are well-illustrated.

Upgrade

When gene tampering becomes forbidden and illegal, people who work with genetic science go underground. This was an interesting if somewhat didactic story about a possible future in which humans can tamper more readily with animal and human genetics with sometimes devastating results. There’s a lot of interesting science in it but it occasionally gets trotted out in the middle of a plot in a way that can get distracting. If you like Crouch, you’ll probably like this.

If You Could See The Sun

An anxious poor girl, an overachiever at a wealthy private school, discovers she has an amazing secret skill that she can only make use of sporadically. She has to decide what to do with it, and who to trust with her secret. A neat YA novel with a really original-feeling plot and the underlying message that you don’t know anyone’s story based on just what they put out into the world.

Passport

A graphic novel about being a kid who doesn’t know her parents work in national security, and having to move all the time and be mysterious while trying to just be a normal teenage girl. A little bit of a mopey memoir--which is sort of how I feel about many graphic novels by young women so the problem may be me--but a good read.