“Deadpool, Vol. 2: Soul Hunter” by Brian Posehn

Deadpool, Volume 2: Soul Hunter(Author: Brian Posehn) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Ya’know, Deadpool just keep getting more and more sad the more volumes I read. And also more insane.

By that, I mean that the humor and the jokes are still there, but the bitterness is entirely too tangible. Especially those moments when no one wants to team up with Deadpool, despite his best efforts to be helpful and despite the fact that he takes quite a few killing blows for it.

One thing worth mentioning is the first issue of this volume. It was drawn in a very old school comic book style and it looked so convincing, that I wondered whether they hadn’t actually taken old issues. Until I found out that Deadpool didn’t even exist at the time, that is.

The story with hell was also pretty interesting, as it was sort of convoluted and unexpected, but it worked out pretty cleverly.

I can’t say whether I really like Deadpool as a character, though. And that is not because everyone else also hates him, but because there is such a focus on that hatred, that his personality is half sad doofus, half other people’s view of stinky old Wade. So I kind of want to continue reading, and I kind of feel like it’s getting nowhere, because we only see the tip of his personality and it doesn’t really move beyond that.

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“Written in the Stars” by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars(Author: Aisha Saeed) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I had absolutely no expectations going into this book. I remember seeing the pretty cover and thinking it might be worth checking out, so it did end up on my shelves and stayed there for a long time.

However, after reading the first few chapters, I was surprised by the direction and the tone of the book. The beginning was mild enough and innocent enough, as we followed the hardships of an American-Pakistani girl, who is struggling with hiding the fact that she has a boyfriend, despite the orders of her conservative parents.

The book quickly changed its tone, surprising me yet again. With Naila going back to Pakistan and staying with her family there for the summer, I was baffled as to the idea of the book and it took me longer than usual to figure out where things are going.

Once it came to me, though, I couldn’t help but feel helplessly furious. Not just at the idea of this book, which is positive, more or less, but at the injustices and abominations on the female personality that are allowed to exist even in our times. The author condemned the situation the main character was in, but also, setting her personal example, kind of tried to make excuses, which made me even more angry, as I think this is something inexcusable.

Since it might be a spoiler, please continue reading only if you don’t mind knowing the main storyline of Written in the Stars.

S P O I L E R S     A H E A D

So… arranged marriage, huh? Can anything positive really be said about that? I don’t think it matters what your religion tells you, how pious or conservative you are, what social order and norms you are used to, taking someone’s right to choose who they share their life and bed with is abominable. I am sure that no matter what I say, I would not be able to convince otherwise a person who believes in arranged marriages, however, I would compare that to rape. It is rape. It is forsaking your own child to be raped and continue living with the person who did that to them.

And no matter how this book was supposed to be received, the only thing it positively succeeded into making me is feeling angry. While reading how happy Naila’s family was to send her to that man’s family, I was angry. By seeing how his family treated her, I was angry. I am still angry that someone on this planet there is even one single person who is living in this terrible situation. And lastly, I am angry because of the hypocrisy of women’s movements nowadays. Western women fight for their right to show their nipples on Instagram, but they don’t fight for the millions of women who spend their lives married to their rapists. If your argument is that Islam praises arranged marriages, please go away, because this is just some perverted way of reading something that has a completely different meaning, exactly the same way as Islam only encourages men taking second wives in order for widows not to starve to death, and not in order to help out a man’s virility and the wider variety in his bedroom.

“Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's End(Author: Arthur C. Clarke) + (Year: 1953) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I finished this book around a month ago, but I just didn’t know what to put in a review of it, so I kind of left it waiting… and it’s been a month now.

 

Despite my many attempts, Childhood’s End just didn’t work very well for me. It was definitely not without merit, but there were also certain things that were supposed to be important for the positive experience of the reader, but were not, for me.

For one, I don’t like the general atmosphere of old sci-fi novels. The idea of sci-fi has evolved a lot since the first books on the topic started getting published, and whether it is due to habit, or taste, I have never really been a fan of the concept of an alien invasion the way it is in Childhood’s End. There is this overreaching attempt to come up with a truly unique being which to be the prototype of the alien, and it usually ends up a lot more frightening than aliens in media nowadays.

Also, there was one crucial point that really disturbed me and which doesn’t seem to bother many other readers, from what I have seen since I finished the book. Namely, the Overmind. While the Overlords are strange in their own way, the Overmind is terrifying to me, in the fact that the Overmind is essentially an invader, while everyone in the book seems to think of it as a greater intelligence. The Overmind is a being with bigger resources and a hunger for minds which to feed into its own self. Therefore, what is so different between the Overmind and all of the humans who, thanks to bigger knowledge and more refined weapons, have conquered and all but destroyed valuable cultures? Just because the colonists had a different set of diseases to bring with them to the new countries they visited and the population of which they destroyed en masse, it doesn’t mean that they were actually superior in their worth. Just developed differently. So in the same way, I was deeply chilled by the general euphoria of the characters in the book when faced with the idea of joining the Overmind.

Nevertheless, there were moments when I enjoyed the book, especially in its musings on the creativity and productivity of people. This is not the first book which I have read that puts a focus on the fact that without a driving force and a certain level of humanity, people can’t produce works of art and science with the same quality. Even nowadays, art has become something rather grotesque and perverted and despite that, people are not really allowed to say so, as it would be seen as an assault to the right of certain “artists” to create. So we just go along with the notion that we are still creating, but in reality, and facing the facts of history and the great works of old art, what we create today is trash, masked as art. In a time when a big part of the population of the planet has enough means to survive and even thrive, we are already losing our ability to advance in art with value. At the same time, as we have not reached the point where everyone can have equal amounts of everything they need as everybody else, science is developing and yet hiding its biggest finds. For example, there have been many scientists who are said to have developed cures for different plagues of our century, such as cancer and HIV, but those people often die or disappear, because the useless medicine for the same diseases is expensive and therefore makes all the right people rich.

Having said all of that, I would conclude that I have a rather negative attitude toward the ultimate outcome of the book, but also, that I liked that it made me focus and think about some realities of our time that one often forgets exactly because they live in the same time.

“Deadpool, Vol. 1: Dead Presidents” by Brian Posehn

Deadpool, Volume 1: Dead Presidents(Author: Brian Posehn) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Aaaaand… eh.

The thing is, whenever I read superhero comic books, they never build up such tension as superhero movies do. The scale of the events of one comic book volume vs a movie is hard to compare, and therefore, I usually end up with less than I hoped for.

Dead Presidents was not bad or anything, it was just not that good, either.

The biggest gap for me between expectations and reality was the humor. I expected something hilarious, and instead all of the jokes were like:

Blah blah, okay, laugh now. Seriously, this is funny, guys… Actually, nevermind, it is kind of sad and depressing. Err, I will shut up now. Ha-ha.

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This being my first comic book contact with Deadpool, I couldn’t help but find it sad that he is such a despised character. He might have dumb, raunchy humor, but so far, he seems to be on the right side. So the general attitude of characters toward him just seems strange and uncalled for.

The best part of this volume were the actual dead presidents, all of whom had their weirdness. I also liked how most were mentioned for what they were most famous for, including Deadpool dressed as Marilyn for JFK.

I will continue with the next volume, as I have it at my disposal, but I am not sure whether I should give in to the temptation to expect something cool the second time around.

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And… ALTERNATIVE REVIEW

(Because I am an overworked dork and I reviewed this volume twice.)

This was not exactly what I expected. Not sure whether that’s a good thing or not.

For me, before the movie hype, Deadpool was a rather obscure comic book character. I remember his appearance in that terrible Wolverine movie, but because of how generic that version of Deadpool was, I seem to have completely wiped it from my mind until the new Deadpool came out.

In the meanwhile, right before the movie was released I started hearing more and more about Deadpool, so I finally got around to also reading the comic book.

For starters:

  1. It was not as funny as I expected. Don’t get me wrong, Deadpool is funny. But unlike the movie, there was more bitterness and sadness in his humor. For the most part, I didn’t think “Ha-ha”, I thought “You poor bastard…”. I also still don’t get why he is so hated. Sure, around him everything’s a bit bloodier, but that’s not to say that he’s a bad guy. At least not the version that I saw in this comic book. It just seemed that everyone hates him because he is a hated character. Which kind of makes me pity him.
  2. The story was way more out there than I would have thought. Considering that Deadpool is a mercenary and an assassin, I expected more fists than dead presidents. Title and all.

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Essentially, I enjoyed the bit about the dead presidents, though. It gave the volume a funky edge. The dead presidents of the USA rolled up like some rock band and I thought it was hilarious how they had ganged up in groups by common traits.

Also, that element of magic set interesting grounds for Doctor Strange’s cameo, which, for me, created another unlikely event in this comic book. From the little that I knew about Deadpool, I imagined him hanging out more with X-Men, than with Avengers and the likes, but this was a good example of how movie studios owning different characters and separating them does not influence comic books. Which is very, very cool, because there are several characters that will probably not appear in movies together, but I might end up seeing in a comic book. Wink, wink…

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“Our Lady of the Nile” by Scholastique Mukasonga

Our Lady of the Nile(Author: Scholastique Mukasonga) + (Year: 2012) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Rwanda)


Review:

*** 3.5 stars ***

This book is just what I needed to remind me why I decided to follow the reading around the world challenge. It’s such a good profile of the situation in Rwanda for the time period and even much after (as the book is set before the 1994 Tutsi genocide), that I couldn’t help but feel carried away into the world of the book.

Our Lady of the Nile delves deeply into the psychology of the regular Rwandans, depicting their beliefs, the struggles in society, the aftermath of the Belgian colonial era, the political issues and their effect on the “small” people.

I really enjoyed the simplicity of the narrative, the rather uneducated girls who still believe in witch doctors, or so-called poisoners, and who are trying to keep their own culture, all the while feeling like they need to also be different, more white, more Belgian. The book shows the discrepancy between the “own” and the “other”, between what people want and what they think they should want.

Ever since seeing Hotel Rwanda, I have been having a hard time coping with the senseless violence and this conflict between Hutu and Tutsi, which was completely fabricated and artificial, and was created by the Belgians in order to divide and conquer. I have a really hard time grasping the idea that people would be as easily manipulated as to actually believe in this “racial” separation and even shed blood over it. And yet, they obviously are. So I keep reading information about it, trying to make myself understand. While Our Lady of the Nile didn’t solve it for me, it definitely showed a different side of the problem, as lived in a school for girls.

I really enjoyed the setting of the book, the intricate descriptions of the Rwandan society, their beliefs, the feelings of the young girls, even the taste of the Rwandan food. It was a breath of air from far, far away.

What I didn’t like as much was the actual method of narration that the author used. Rather than the reader being a participant in the events, they were just stories that someone tells. This made the book a bit repetitive, because it just followed the flow of: This is (name), she meets (name), and she starts telling her a story. It could work in a different type of a book, but in this case, it just seemed very distracting, because it took away from the flow of the book.

Even despite that, I think Our Lady of the Nile was a pretty nice book.