“The House” by Simon Lelic

The House(Author: Simon Lelic) + (Year: 2017) + (Goodreads)


Review:

The House was, at first, a suspenseful and quick read, and I managed to get through the first half in a matter of hours.

However, that was the moment I realized that this book is not going to live up to my expectations and that it’s not at all what it seemed to be at the beginning.

Judging by the description, I expected a truly “grisly” story with many twists and turns. Yes, there were twists, I will give you that much. But there was nothing very grisly, as there was also nothing very scary. And ultimately, the climax of the book was so ordinary and unpredictably predictable that I kept reading expecting something more to happen, because this just could not be it. It was. The book ended and I could not, for the life of me, believe that this was the actual event that we had been waiting for.

The things that The House did wrong for me were, as follows:

  1. After reading the book, I saw that many people highly appreciated the prose. Which part, though? Half of the time the characters were chatting among themselves. That was the first thing that made an unpleasant impression on me. The chapters were going back and forth between Syd and Jack and the two of them were bickering and correcting each other, mumbling, leaving half-finished sentences… I just imagined the two of them in person and they seemed like the two most annoying people that could have been telling this story.
  2. The abovementioned Jack and Sydney were such horrible people! How could any person actually root for a spineless momma’s boy and a bitch who is coked out of her mind? Seriously? Both of their narrations were of childish, immature people, who are barely hanging on the balance of their existence, both asocial, awkward and troubled. And what’s more: neither one of them actually achieved any personal development at any point in this book. Jack was annoyed that Sydney was doing drugs, but he didn’t actually try to stop her, he kind of just offended her on the topic. And Sydney did all sorts of despicable things which he just accepted because he lacks backbone. That never changed either.
  3. The villain of this book? Also the two supposed main characters. The person who was accused of being the bad guy was just so unconvincing and had such a minor presence, that I just couldn’t accept that this is actually happening and that that person is actually the direct cause of all of the events. The supposed villain’s indirect effect on the story is completely palpable, that much I can say. But at no point did they seem like they actually belonged in the present-time events in the book.
  4. The ending: generally, I support justice and retribution. So if I had known how the story ends before reading the book, I would have expected to like the ending. Yet, I absolutely did not. What happened did not seem like justice. It seemed like the origin story of yet another villain, or villains. I believe that out of the ending of this book, and namely the effect it had, or did not have, on the main characters, only more evilness and insanity could arise. No, thank you.

“Nailbiter, Vol. 1: There Will Be Blood” by Joshua Williamson

Nailbiter, Vol. 1: There Will Be Blood(Author: Joshua Williamson) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I’m not giving this volume a higher rating, simply because it was a very vague beginning of the series. Other than that, the idea is a pretty original one and I am definitely interested to see what happens in the next volumes.

The story of Nailbiter takes place in a small town with a really big number of serial killers. Now that a new serial killer has appeared, the detectives both have to stop the serial killer, and figure out why there are so many of them in such a small town.

The entire volume was a very long setting for the story to come, so it was rather uneventful, considering the length. Of course, there were things happening, but it was obvious that we are seeing the creation of a larger story. I would have preferred it if more was revealed, because that would have made the first volume substantial and would have given it its own story and main event.

The main characters were not that much to my liking. None of the ones that appeared often were very charismatic or interesting, but I guess they worked out fine as a team.

The art was interesting – not spectacularly beautiful, but not ugly either. I rather liked it, so that’s a good thing.

My hopes for the next volume are that they are actually going to reveal one of the main story lines and set up a worthy villain, because it’s obvious that the serial killers are pawns in a bigger scheme.

“Wraithborn” by Joe Benítez

Wraithborn(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2006) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I’m giving this book 2 stars only because I saw that there was a story hidden somewhere deep down there.

The abovementioned story is a very simple YA plot: a girl who just wants to mind her own business is drawn into a world of darkness where she has to learn to fight against evil, when all she wants to do it continue her life as normal.

This arc has been used only a million times in YA novels, but if they continue drawing readers, including myself, then that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

However, everything goes downhill for Wraithborn after this. The plot doesn’t have anything that sets it apart from other similar books, the heroes are in no way charming, the villain is powerful only in words and offers no real plot twists or challenges, and last, but not least, the artwork is very unappealing.

Melanie, the main character, is very, very hard to like. She’s weak, lacks will power, and is very self-centered (although here we have to mention that many teenagers are self-centered in general). But the thing which bothered me the most about her is the fact that she’s not a person who wants to help others. She prefers staying off the radar and protecting her own ass. Then, a jump to the future, and she has been completely transformed into a savior of the defenseless. I’m not buying it.

Story-wise, Melanie would not have survived at all, had there not been deus ex machina in every single issue. Every time she is in trouble, there’s a masked warrior coming to her rescue, and in very special occasions, she has magic mojo that she can’t control just bursting out of her. Valek somehow knows that he needs to find her, and also guesses every time she would be in distress, and even though they barely talk, aside from battle grunts, by the end of the volume they have developed a special bond.

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I won’t even bother commenting the other characters because they are so shallow and only there so that it seems like there’s some characters.

What bothered me the most, though, is the art. The women are almost naked, always, they have identical faces (which makes it hard to understand what they mean when they say that Melanie is unattractive: She looks just like the rest of y’all?), and they all look like sex slaves. Now, I have nothing against sexy, but there’s sexy as in sultry and/or erotic, and sexy as in just cheap. I would not say that Valek, fighting alongside his sister, whose panties are there for all to see, is sexy. I would say that is kind of bothersome, actually.

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Classy: the man and the woman on the left, Valek and Kiara, you might have guessed, are siblings.

Bothersome is also the fact that although Melanie is the hero of this book, and apparently she is to become a big badass sometime in the future, on all of the covers she is just hanging there while almighty Valek is behind her back in a fighting position. Because even when girls are strong, they still can’t make it without a guy to protect them. Great message! Not.

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The cover of issue #5. As you can see, Melanie is a fierce warrior, she needs no man, and she… Wait. She’s just standing there looking confused and defenseless in the shadow of a strong male.

[Image Comics] First issues, part 2.

Horizon #1

Horizon #1 (2016)
Author: Brandon Thomas

Eh… Not the worst one in the pile. But very messy, confusing and weird.

And worst of all, completely forgettable. I will illustrate: I read it yesterday before going to bed. Today, I couldn’t remember whether I read it. Then I was sure I didn’t. I opened the file again and realized I’m on the last page. I backtracked through the entire book to remember what I had read. Remembered. Closed the file. Now I have a very vague recollection again.

The illustrations are very neutral, because I neither liked them much, nor disliked them in any particular way. The story, as mentioned, is nothing special. It, just like the illustrations, is just there, without provoking any specific emotion. In other words, mediocrity at its best.

Cannibal #1Cannibal #1 (2016)
Author: Jennifer Young

Alternative history, cannibals and swamp hillbillies.

There’s nothing that I gave a damn about in this book. It felt like a sad, exhausted attempt to come up with an original idea. There were a lot of angry, aggressive dudes and one slutty female character.

In general, this was a very testosterony read, and that’s very strange once you notice that the author is female. Which means she’s trying too hard to make it in the big boys’ world, by making a very mancentric book.


Moonshine #1Moonshine #1 (2016)

Author: Joe Harris

More wolves, and more hillbillies. In fact (and this is not a spoiler because it hasn’t happened), I can see this book turning into werewolf hillbillies vs. Italian mobsters.

I am very much over mafia books/movies. This glorification of one of the filthiest layers of scum in society is extremely unnecessary and it makes it seem like these people are “cool”, which they aren’t, “classy”, which they aren’t, and “worthy of attention”, which they could be only if they are securely locked up in a prison to fight among themselves and rid humanity of their lowly presence.

Thanks, bye.


She Wolf #1She Wolf #1
(2014)

Author: Rich Tommaso

You guessed it.

The cover gives nothing away about exactly how UGLY this comic book is. The art was beyond intolerable. It felt like a big joke, or a random strip of rookie comic book drawing for a fanboy website.

And the story is not much better. Young Madonna and her werewolf boyfriend have a fight. Details are unclear because of bad dialogue and horrible illustrations. Oh, and this is from the times people hated Madonna, I guess. She was universally hated by all of the people around her.

Don’t trust me on this one? At the time I’m writing this post, the GR rating of She Wolf is 2.

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Sons Of The Devil #1

Sons of the Devil #1 (2015)
Author: Brian Buccellato

I’m not sure what to even say about this one. I would rate it like this, in reality:

Art: 0
Story: 0
Characters: 0
How much % I cared: 0

I feel sad that people take their creative potential and shove it into such cliched, boring stories, which have no soul in them. There are so few stories with demons and devils in which there’s any twist, any originality, or any reason for the reader to keep on reading. This one is definitely not one of them.


Southern Cross #1Southern Cross #1
(2015)

Author: Becky Cloonan

Art: nope.

Story: potentially.

I strongly disliked the main character. By strongly disliked, I mean that I hated her. She is quite possibly the bitchiest, most annoying main female character that I have ever had the misfortune to read about. She was incessantly rude, and always angry at people, however, when we know nothing about the character, there’s no way to redeem such asshole-ish behavior.

The only thing connected to her that could grow into a half-decent story is her mission and if I were forced to pick one story out of this entire sorry bunch to follow, I would probably go with this one.

Surgeon X #1Surgeon X #1 (2016)
Author: Sara Kenney

When I saw this I had some hopes, relying on the Winter Soldier look and the Repo atmosphere.

Nope.

I felt strongly that I could not care ANY LESS. This book is trying too hard. It’s offensive to feminism of any kind. This is what really bothers me abut women trying to empower women in media. They make them out as harsh, bitchy and insufferable jerks. “We need a strong woman!” “Okay, here’s this asshole.” NO! This is counterproductive. I would not like this person if they were male or female.


The Fix #1The Fix #1
(2016)

Author: Nick Spencer

I knew I will hate this, and I did. Read the summary and you can tell right away.

The Fix is basically every corrupt, bad cop cliche and then some. Vulgar, cheap lifestyle, drugs, women, crime and mobsters.

I’m not even going to kill any more brain cells writing this review.

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Throwaways #1Throwaways #1 (2016)
Author: Caitlyn Kittredge

Pfft… I don’t know. This comic book is a mess. Spies, secret agencies, super secret camps, sleeper cells, war veterans, weird punk guys with green mohawks and seizures. Is this supernatural? Is it brainwashing? Science fiction?

One thing I do know: I’m not reading anything else from this series.

[Image Comics] First issues, part 1.

Last year I did two separate lists, The Good and The Bad. This year I will separate the posts, but not based on quality, as much as the fact that there are just too many of them. I will still order them by rating, but the rating is as much objective, as it is a comparison between the best and the worst. The reason for that is that, honestly, there wasn’t much good to pick from. I might be getting pickier with my comic books, but I noticed that the stories in at least half of this year’s batch were so similar that they could have been from the same universe. Also, there were two main trends that were entirely too visible: cults and werewolves. As well as the fact that I found the art on most of the issues just plain ugly.

Snotgirl #1Snotgirl #1 (2016)
Author: Brian Lee O’Malley

As gross as the title sounds, Snotgirl is absolutely the best first issue I read from this year’s Image comics Humble Bundle.

For starters, the art is gorgeous! Even when it’s kind of disgusting, it’s also drawn with style.

I had theories about the plot, but I didn’t manage to crack what’s actually going on with Snotgirl, but it a completely positive way, because I’m now very excited to continue reading on.

And also, happy to say that Brian Lee O’Malley is as awesome as ever!

Demonic #1

Demonic #1 (2016)
Author: Christopher Sebela

Not a spectacular one, but definitely enjoyable. Also, the fact that a lot of the rest were so bad made it stand out.

It’s a classic story of possession, confusion and a feeling of impending doom, but somehow, it offers a nice twist on the regular story. I felt almost claustrophobic, following the hardships of the main character, and having to experience how doomed he is when his family is on the line. It was not a pleasant feeling, but I think the story was built well enough to create it, so it must be doing its job well.

Also, I am still curious about some of the things that the character mumbled about only vaguely. Even though I smell a cult coming in the future.

Rockstars #1Rockstars #1 (2016)
Author: Joe Harris

This one is related to the cults and gods that I mentioned earlier. There have always been theories about rockstars being devil worshipers, about secret meanings in their music, songs being played backwards, etc. The protagonist of Rockstars is especially interested in that and is trying to solve the disappearance of two girls who went to a rock concert, one of them to later be found dead and the other one never to be seen again.

I was curious, still am, about where the story is going to go, so I would say that this is the second best issue from the bundle. The art was also very pretty, especially the way they drew the female characters.

My problem with Rockstars is that this story was not necessary. People could have continued their lives without needing it. I will probably forget I read this, despite my interest. And also, I hated the main male character. He was just such a weirdo, and not in a cute way. (I imagine him as those people who stare at you on the bus, only to make you uncomfortable.)

Shutter #1Shutter #1 (2014)
Author: Joe Keatinge

Now this comic book has great art and lots of potential!

From the vert first page I knew this is different than the other things I read until I got to it. I really enjoyed the art as well as the concept, or what I got from it.

My problem with Shutter is not what I did find in it, it’s what I didn’t. For a comic book set in a world so much different than ours, there should have been a bit more introduction, and there was none. I just got the major idea that this is not our world, at least not our world today, and that the main character and her father used to be adventurers. Aside from that, it still remains a mystery to me.

However, I would say that if you are a fan of Saga, this might be a good comic book for you!

Black Road #1

Black Road #1 (2016)
Author: Brian Wood

Viking frontier? That’s what it felt like. The story takes place after the spread of Christianity in Norway (Norskk).

There’s nothing really spectacular about the story itself. It really reminded me of the setting of one of the comic books I read last year, The Goddamned. A tough, war-hardened viking takes a journey on a road full of dangers, blood and enemies.

What I did not dislike was the art. In comparison to some of the other issues, it was great. And that is to say, objectively speaking it’s not much more than mediocre. However, as a fan of the Vikings TV show, I saw a familiar setting and background, so I was cool with it.

The Black Monday Murders #1The Black Monday Murders #1 (2016)
Author: Jonathan Hickman

Another cult one!

I think there might a bright future ahead of this comic book. However, the first issue was so overwhelming. Remember what I said about Shutter above? Well, this is the opposite. There’s too much information, even though you have no idea what is happening. There are diagrams, sketches, names, dates, dictionary entries, historical facts.

Yeah, sure, the reader gets the gist of the story, but there’s also so much information that remains just hanging there, because you don’t know the characters, you don’t know the settings, you don’t know the symbols. What about the girl who kept talking gibberish? There was a family tree of the Rothschild line with some someone added with every generation? Was that her? What is that supposed to mean for me, as the clueless reader?

Also, there was a stark difference between the drawings of the men and the women. The females looked well drawn, while the males were usually a lot of messy lines and just blackness.

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And last, but not least: WHY IS TAYLOR MOMSEN IN THIS?

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The Discipline #1The Discipline #1 (2016)
Author: Peter Mulligan

*** 1.5 stars ***

CULTS.

Here it starts getting bad all over.

The Discipline, solely based on the cover, seemed somewhat spooky, so I was pretty excited for it.

It’s just SO CHEESY!

I would say it’s more or less Supernatural 50 Shades of Gray. The main character is a neglected, dumb 23-year-old housewife who is sorely lacking sex, so she, instead, likes to gaze at paintings with elements of bestiality. Until a mysterious stranger comes along, flashes his D(iscipline), and starts training her for a sex pet. Or something.

Romulus #1Romulus #1 (2016)
Author: Bryan Hill

*** 1.5 stars ***

Wolves! Secret orders! Cults!

The art is not bad. On the story I call bullshit. A secret order has super-ninja wolf-women, even though they also have much more formidable soldiers, and they keep the wolf-women until the women themselves are about to cause problems. Which implies that before that, they were preferred, instead of the super-soldiers. Okayyy…

Also, lots of angst, insecurity and “I’m not my mother”s.

Basically, I lost my patience with this one. I don’t see the point behind it being made. The story doesn’t have anything touching or badass, or even a thing you could root for.

Kill Or Be Killed #1Kill Or Be Killed #1 (2016)
Author: Ed Brubaker

This one begs the question: BUT WHY?

An extremely pathetic guy decides to kill himself because… because… well, uh, I guess because his best friend, a girl, is not in love with him? Or because she pities him? Something like that? And he is so f*cking pathetic that he fails at that too, by the way. As a result of his failed suicide attempt, a monster/demon starts visiting him to ask for souls, in exchange of his. And he finds out that he is a bloodthirsty psychopath.

There you have it. Whether you would enjoy something like that, or not, is up to you. I was facepalming the entire time.