“Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies” by Joe Benítez

Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies (The Tablet of Destinies, #1-6)(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Not as good as the first one.

My general problem with Lady Mechanika, after two volumes, is that it doesn’t follow through. In the first volume she was decided on finding her maker. In this volume that story is completely forgotten and something completely different is happening on a different continent.

Not to mention that this is Lady Mechanika and the tablet of destinies, except that Lady Mechanika is not even in the story line with the tablet. So to call it like this would be something like “Aragorn and the One Ring”. I mean… uh… they are in the same world?

I firmly believe that this could have been much better, had the story been more condensed and had there been fewer sub-plots.

Much like the first volume, there is a recipe in which there is a male mastermind who has a bunch of generic soldiers and a female assistant, while Lady Mechanika on the other team finds unlikely friends and a mysterious guy who helps her from afar. Maybe if they hadn’t followed this already used story, it could have been much better.

I continued liking the art, however. It was very intricate and detailed, and also pleasant to look at. The more female characters come in, the more obvious it is that they are all the same when you remove the colors. But I will choose to disregard that and enjoy the general feel of the book which was pretty good.

“Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse” by Joe Benítez

Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5, but not enough for 4 ***

I enjoyed Lady Mechanika a lot more than I did Wraithborn. Considering my immense disappointment with the latter, I was almost scared to start Lady Mechanika.

But as I received both of these, and the 2nd volume of Lady Mechanika, from NetGalley, I had to finish it. I am glad I had this incentive, because ultimately, Lady Mechanika is by far better than Wraithborn.

Lady Mechanika is the epitome of steampunk. Everything about it is highly detailed and intricate. If you look at the illustrations, you would notice that there are layers upon layers of art and attention to detail and I can’t not admit how impressive that is.

The art, in general, was much better here than in Wraithborn. If you remember my review, I was aghast at the depiction of women. They are still very sexual in Lady Mechanika, but it’s done a lot more tastefully, to a point where I can agree that this is the wet dream of a classy high school boy.

I also found the story more intriguing. I enjoyed the main story arc about the mechanical people a lot. The part that didn’t impress me as much were the sub-plots and hints at other relations between the character that just add fluff to a story that could go without. Almost all characters are related in pairs and have common past. These two are siblings, those two worked together, the two men know each other, etc. etc. As far as the story about the Frankenstein-esque doctor who creates the mechanical people goes, there’s already enough suspense that everything else is just micromanagement of pages that need to be filled.

And speaking of, my major issue with Lady Mechanika: the writing. Literally. The author really wanted to write a book, didn’t have enough material for that, but he obviously had too much for a comic book. There is just SO MUCH DIALOGUE. It doesn’t go harmoniously with graphic novels. A book rat such as myself can tell you as much: when you are reading a book, you can take as many pages of text as there are; but if you are reading a comic book, you are not prepared for the insane amount of dialogue that is just out of place and both disjoints the story, and distracts the reader.

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Looking at this, I remember what I thought when I was initially reading it: This is honestly outrageous.

“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.

skai-jackson-mhmm

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.

“Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet” by H.P. Wood

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet

(Author: H.P. Wood) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I had a rather pessimistic approach to this book, because I believed, and still do, that the world has had just about enough carnival books, movies and shows. I, personally, have read and watched too many to count, some of which so bad and boring that I don’t even want to remember them.

Luckily, even though they sell it as such, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet is not a carnival book. There are a number of strange people, who consider themselves separate from the normal ones, in this book, but they are not the typical cliches: bearded lady, strongman, giant, dwarf and a pretty main heroine who feeds the animals a.k.a. the usual cliche.

This was the first thing I liked about Magruder’s. They break stereotypes in the genre and have a balanced mix of Unusuals and Dozens(the book slang for the weirdos and the mundanes). I liked following the cooperation between the different people, instead of the black and white heroes vs villains routine that usually happens. Having an Uzbek leader of sorts was also fun. And, as my fate is, there were also Turkish characters, so… ha-ha. This was one of those times when the author likes to mix foreign languages, a thing I usually criticize, but this time they were actual foreigners mixing the English they more or less knew with their native tongues, so I am willing to take it easy on the book.

My favourite aspect of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, however, was the fact that it was not a struggle for a great love or “who will rule the circus” or whatever, but a story about the yellow fever. That was actually the first book that I read on this topic and it was both interesting and informative, even though it is fiction. I was curious to see how they quarantined everything off, how they reacted – a situation much closer to the present and therefore easier to analyze than, say, the Black death.

What I did not like was the fact that there were too many main characters so even though we were provided sufficient information about their personalities, we could not spend enough time in their private space to connect to them and care about them. I did not feel specific affection to anyone, including the child, which was obviously meant to play with reader’s feelings and make things more personal. I read the book with a detached interest but the good or the bad moments of the characters were just that, the moments of some random character that I will forget. It did not go beyond that and that really affected my attitude toward the book in general.

“The Lie” by C.L. Taylor

The Lie

(Author: C.L. Taylor) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5 stars ***

I should add this to the “Unexpected Netgalley Gem” shelf. I had not set any expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by the book.

My initial thought was that this can potentially turn in The Girl on the Train, which I really didn’t like despite all of the positive reviews it got. But I was surprised to find myself with a much more interesting and suspenseful novel.

The story revolves around a woman, Emma, who went on a nightmarish trip to Nepal with her friends after which she was forced to change her name and escape her previous life.

The setting was great, both the story in the past and the one in the present were engaging and creepy and I found myself having no idea what to expect will happen, which has become a rare occurrence nowadays. I was eager to read on and on and I kept that pace up until the book was over (and I was just about expecting someone to jump from under my bed). Personally, I found the events in Nepal to be scarier and  very unsettling. This is my second book of this type in the last couple of months (I will not disclose the other one because the common denominator in both is not shown in the description and can be seen as a spoiler by the pickier readers), but this was surely the better one. The entire storyline in the resort made me feel bothered and creeped out, which is always exciting when you are reading a book or watching a movie on a similar subject. Overall, the author did a very good job setting up the atmosphere, especially the jumps from the present to the past and the other way around, which were set in the exactly right moments.

As for the characters, I think they were also a writing success, that not meaning that I liked them. In fact, I disliked the majority of them with a special fire and I think that was the intention of Taylor, so good job, buddy. Daisy was a very unpleasant person, and although I saw what the others might have liked about her, she was overall just so damaged that I am surprised anyone could find her “the best one” in a group, which says a lot about the group itself. But it was Leanne that I could have punched in the face with… a chair or an ax or something. She was just the most horrible human being. Isaac was a close second but it was immediately obvious that there was something wrong with him and the entire hippie group in Nepal. However, among the four friends there was a certain normalcy at the beginning so it was both interesting and unbelievably frustrating to see how their relationship began falling apart because of their disgusting personalities. Al was just annoying, because she was the real peoplepleaser. She sided with whomever was convenient, not with whomever she really liked and trusted. As to Emma/Jane, she was by far the most normal one, but I do agree that she was a wet blanket. Especially considering how drastically her personality changed from the past to the present, which made it obvious that she could act like a normal person if she wanted to.

My issues with the book were of less importance, to a degree. I did not like the ending, specifically. The tension did not build to a high enough degree. The author did a masterful job of building it throughout the entire book and there was no outlet in the end. It kind of just dropped.

As for the other thing, it is not a problem as much as I found it weird. There were two expressions that I have never in my life seen in a book. Ever. I would have paid attention like I did now and I would have remembered it. I realize that they are probably local expressions to the author, but as they are clearly not that popular, as for me to have never read it among hundreds of books, I ask myself, why were they repeated so often. One of them in particular seemed like a joke the first time I read it but then it was repeated over and over and over again:

“But Leanne and Daisy have been living in each other’s pockets for days now.”

And this one… every time they were talking about blushing, this was used instead.

“… the base of her throat coloring pink.”

rainbow unicorn of the day the more you know

…about the English language.