July 30, 2016

Manga Review: Orange, by Takano Ichigo

Title: Orange

Author: Takano Ichigo

Publisher: Seven Seas P., N.Y.

Date of Publication: 12 February 2016

Number of Volumes: 5

Number of Pages: 192 (each volume)

Find it at: Book Depository (Vol. 1-3), Book Depository (Vol. 4-5)


Summary

One day, Takamiya Naho receives a letter written to herself from ten years in the future. As Naho reads on, the letter recites the exact events of the day, including the transfer of a new student into her class named Naruse Kakeru.

The Naho from ten years later repeatedly states that she has many regrets, and she wants to fix these by making sure the Naho from the past can make the right decisions—especially regarding Kakeru. What's more shocking is that she discovers that ten years later, Kakeru will no longer be with them. Future Naho asks her to watch over him closely.

Review


WARNING: Do not attempt to read this manga without a box of tissues nearby!

If I tried to describe the way that Orange made me feel, then I'd have to do it with a quote from the manga itself: It tasted sweet, sour, and sorrowful. Just like the orange juice that Naho tasted. But, first things first, Orange is one of those manga series that will tear your heart apart and throw it out of the window. Seriously!

The day of the opening ceremony Naho received a letter from her future self. The letter described how a new transfer student, Kakeru, would arrive into their class and all of the things that would happen afterwards. The Naho that tried to reach her younger self wanted to erase some of her regrets that had been tormenting her. Kakeru would die, and Naho thought that somehow she and the rest of the group would find a way to prevent it. Knowing what she did, it must have been devastating to her that none of them noticed Kakeru's suffering.

This science fiction element was the one that made the story work. Without this letter the story would have been the same. But it really added up that by changing the present, young Naho wouldn't erase the future. A parallel universe was created where her new actions led to a different future. So, in the original Kakeru always died 17 years old, while in the new one he could be saved, if Naho was successful. The only paradox that was created with the time travel (which would be weird if there wasn't one), was how the letter reached the past. That's the one thing that wasn't explained, but I didn't really care, as the story was so beautiful to bother.

In the surface, Orange is a romance manga. Yes, Naho and Kakeru fall in love, but for me what mattered the most was the friendship of all of the six students. Suwa, Takako, Hagita, Azusa, Naho, and Kakeru formed a delightful group. It felt like one of those friendships that could last a lifetime. That's why the news that they didn't keep in touch after they graduated, and the deat of Kakeru, it was disappointing. It felt realistic somehow that they fell apart. I also got the impression that in every action that Naho did, the rest of them always supported her. I'm not sure how many regrets she would be able to erase if it weren't for them. To be honest what stayed with me from this manga is that being in love might not be enough to save you, but maybe having some people care deeply for you is.

Another plus of Orange was the characters. I am usually frustrated with all those girls in shoujo manga that are too afraid to express their feelings and even share their thoughts, and Naho was more or less this type of girl. But it didn't bother me that much! Ok, there were times that I wanted to scream "Why don't you say something?", but the rest of the girls were totally different. Takako was serious and Azusa was so bright and cheerful all the time. The guys were the same, each one of them had different traits that were obvious in their conversation. Nevertheless, my absolute favourite is none other than Kakeru! After so many manga that I've read it's time for a confession: I am a sucker for the troubled guys, like Kou from Ao Haru Ride, Tsuruga Ren from Skip Beat, etc. Kakeru has definitely risen into the top of my favourite guys list.

Having a friend that died is depressing. But learning years after the incident that it was his own choice it's devastating. This fact hung over the whole manga, even though the group of friends was laughing. There is a particular chapter towards the end of Orange where we get the whole story from Kakeru's point of view. This must be one of the most depressing things I've ever read. I only wanted to hug him and say that everything's going to be ok and that life is worth living.

There is one final thing I could say about Orange: I loved it! I cried and I laughed, I swooned and I had my heart broken, I admired Suwa's choices and felt jealous of the students' friendship. When we are transfered in the future throughout the manga I was sad that they grew apart, but happy that they found one thing that could reunite them. It was like the quote I used earlier:

 
This counts as a manga in the 2016 Reading Challenge.  

July 18, 2016

The Reading Book Post, July 18th


Hello, everyone! I just love all those lazy days by the beach, with some great reads. I'm in the middle of my vacations and so I'm taking everything slow. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The Kibble Award for Australian Women Writers was given to Fiona Wright, for her book Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger, in which she talks about anorexia. 


  • I enjoy watching book trailers and I'm always excited when I found one that gets me pumped up for the book itself! Watch the hilarious book trailer of Tony Millionaire's Drinky Crow Drinks Again, as well as the book trailer of the new graphic novel based on the short story by Neil Gaiman How to Talk to Girls at Parties. Both books are available now!


  • Philip Pullman has announced that he's working on a graphic novel! The comic book will be called The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship and it will be published in June 2017.


  • Archie meets Ramones! No need to say anything more: this is the crossover we've been waiting for! Archie Meets Ramones is expected in 2016. 


  • Chvrches new music video features art from Jamie McKelvie's Phonogram. The comic book artist has collaborated with the animation company Mighty Nice for this beatiful video.




  • Do you keep a journal? Whether you already keep one, or you want to begin writing one, this article will give you some useful ideas and tips on how to keep a diary!


  • Which YA Sidekick Are You? Take the quiz to find out! I got Reagan from Fangirl, which one did you get?

July 7, 2016

Review: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange

Title: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Author: Amanda Grange

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Date of Publication: August 11th, 2009

Number of Pages: 308

Find it at : Book Depository

Summary

A married man in possession of a dark fortune must be in want of an eternal wife...

My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognize me. The past two months have been a nightmarish whirl of strange and disturbing circumstances, and the future...

I am afraid.

If anything happens to me, remember that I love you and that my spirit will always be with you, though we may never see each other again. The world is a cold and frightening place where nothing is as it seems.

Review

It is a truth universally aknowledged that every Jane Austen fan needs a little fan-fiction every once in a while. Having previously read the Jane Austen Heroes series by Amanda Grange and various continuations of Pride and Prejudice, as well as numerous modern retellings of the story, I felt that it was time to read something with a paranormal twist. And what a variety I did find, from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Really Angelic, where Lizzie is a guardian angel! But Mr. Darcy, Vampyre caught my attention, partly because I already know that I enjoy Amanda Grange's writing style. Plus, Darcy is a vampire!

The novel begins the morning of the double wedding between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, and Jane and Mr. Bingley. Similarly to every continuation I've read of Pride and Prejudice there are all those feelings of excitement, fear of the unknown married life, and of course the wedding night. Everything runs smoothly. The couple leaves for their honeymoon trip and suddenly everything changes. Mr. Darcy becomes moody, and barely stays alone in the same room with Lizzie. As is natural, Elizabeth becomes very troubled and understands that something is wrong with her husband. The revelation that Mr. Darcy is a vampire comes much later in the novel, while it should have been one of the first things that we learn.

Throughout Mr. Darcy, Vampyre there were constant references to characters from the original novel, although they didn't offer anything to the story. I often wondered why the fact that Darcy was a supernatural being didn't affect their meeting in Pride and Prejudice, as well. Darcy was troubled, but we couldn't feel the total size of his suffering. What made him overcome his fears in the first place, should be enough to help him in his married life. In other words, he shouldn't have married Lizzie if he wasn't sure that he could restrain himself.

My biggest problem in the vampire romances is that most of the times the solution is pretty easy. To be honest, it's just one: the human should be turned into a vampire. It's the only way that they can co-exist and live their love through eternity. I know that being a vampire means leading a life of darkness, suffering, and death, but let's face it, is there another way? There are of course the cases where the vampire can turn bach into human, but this is the worst case scenario. And, for me, it's the laziest one as well. I'm sorry that in Mr. Darcy, Vampyre the author chose the second path. The revelation of this option came out of the blue and without a single explanation. The "ceremony" itself was nothing, and it was just a means to give a happy ending, despite the fact that Darcy would become human and so he would have to forget his sister, Georgiana, who would still be a vampire. On the other hand, Lizzie would have to leave all of her human relatives and friends, but how cool would it be if Lizzie were to become a vampire?

All in all, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre didn't exceed my expectations. It was a continuation to a much beloved story, with a paranormal twist, that didn't satisfy me at all. I expected to see more fangs, more blood-sucking, more action. Instead, this was a slow novel, with constant references to the original and a quite rushed ending. Maybe Mr. Darcy is better off as a true gentleman, rather than a proper vampire!

This counts as a fan-fiction novel in the 2016 Reading Challenge.   

July 4, 2016

The Reading Book Post, July 4th


Hello, everyone! Happy independence day to all of my American friends. This is the first Reading Book Post of July and my summer reading is progressing smoothly. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • You all know my love for Neil Gaiman's work by now. Well, it's no surprise that I was thrilled to learn the author's upcoming projects. More specifically, his new book will be called Norse Mythology and it will be a collection of retellings of Norse stories. It will be published in February 2017.


  • Some familiar figures are appearing in new Marvel comics. On the one hand, the new villain MODAAK in 2016 Spider Gwen Annual is suprisingly similar to Donald Trump. On the other hand, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make his appearence in Civil War II: Choosing Sides which will be released on August 31. 


  • It was about time that a transgender superhero exist! Chalise will be the protagonist of the upcoming comic Alters, created by Paul Jenkins, Leila Leiz, and Tamra Bonvillain. The first issue will be available in September. 


  • We all love books! But how well do we know the history of the book? This animated video is very enlightening. I hope you'll enjoy it!


  • Have you ever wanted to write the perfect novel? I can't tell you the exact formula, but at least this survey gives some insightful pointers about which  words appear more often in the best-sellers. 


  • Infographic: CSI: Poetry. Ever wonderhow much all of those famous poets lived and what caused their death? Well, in this infographic you can learn many interesting facts about the deaths of the poets per century. 


  • You can now read for free the 2 first issues of Double Take's Z-Men online! A print collenction of the whole series will be available in September.


  • Can You Guess Whether These Lyrics Are Shakespeare or Hip Hop? Take this quiz to test your knowledge. I warn you, it's not easy!

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