Saturday, March 19, 2011

#10 Scott Pilgrim: The Complete Series by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I got this series for my little brother, but I wanted to read them because I loved the movie and figured they would be a fun quick read, which they are.  I'm going to count all six books of this comic series as one just because I went through them so quick.  The Sandman series, which I'm working on now, is a different story.  This set includes all six of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels:  Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, and Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour.

The hero of this story is Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old Canadian slacker and general asshole.  He is in a band, Sex Bob-Omb, with friend Steven Stills and ex-girlfriend Kim Pine.  Scott lives with is gay roommate Wallace in a one bedroom shit-hole apartment and is dating a high schooler named Knives Chau.  One day, Scott sees a mysterious roller-blading girl in his dreams.  He becomes obsessed and stalkerish when he finds out that she is real.  Soon enough, Scott and his mystery girl, Ramona Flowers, are dating.  But he finds out that seeing her isn't that simple,  Scott has to destroy her seven evil exes.  Along the way we meet Julie, a massive bitch who occasionally dates Stephen Stills, Scott's sensible sister, Stacy, Young Neil, Stephen's roommate and one of the band's two fans, and Envy Adams, Scott's own evil ex.  Each book deals with a different evil ex, all of whom are ridiculous.

I can't help but compare the books to the movie because I saw it first.  I was amazed at how much the movie took directly from the books, although the last one didn't come out until after the movie was shot, so there is a big difference there.  I mostly enjoyed getting some more background on the characters, like Kim, who with Wallace is easily the best part of the movie and the books.  My biggest problem is that Scott is such an asshole, but then again, so is Ramona, so it's a match made in a weird version of Canada.  Overall, I will probably not read these again, but they were funny and quick, so it's worth giving them a shot.

As a side note:  I went to the movie really wanting to see George Michael beat up Ann and left disappointed.  If it had gone the way it did in the comic book, it would have been better.

# 9 One of our Thursday's is Missing by Jasper Fforde

I really cannot get enough of Fforde's books.  I try to get more of my friends and family to read them but most complain that it is just a little too weird and it makes them think too much.  I don't understand what is wrong with that.  Anyway, this is the six book in the Thursday Next series and it was quite a lot of fun.  If you haven't read any of the others, I suggest you start from the beginning or risk being incredibly confused.

The book picks up a couple years after the events of First Among Sequels.  The book world has been transformed from a library based system to a geographical one with each genre inhabiting its own island.  The written Thursday Next is the narrator, last seen as a wimpy hippy, and we see her struggles to maintain dignity in her series even with falling reader rates and hostile coworkers.  One day Jurisfiction, the policing agency in the Book World, asks Thursday to investigate a book break-up that is expected to be nothing more than an accident.  What Thursday finds instead is the beginning of what seems to be a sinister assassination plot.  To top it off, the real Thursday has gone missing right before peace talks with Racy Novel, and few seem to want her found.  Along with her clockwork robot butler, Thursday investigates the break-up and the real Thursday's disappearance.  Soon enough though, she becomes a target for assassination.

As usual, this book is jam-packed with plot, grammar and literary-based humor.  Everything can move so fast sometimes that I don't catch a joke on the first read.  Some things, like Nancy Potter, made me laugh out loud on the metro, which was a little embarrassing.  It took me a little longer than usual to get into this book, but I think that is because I've been a lot more tired than normal.  This series is one that I enjoy again and again, I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

#8 The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

This was my first Sarah Vowell book and now I'm definitely on the lookout for more.  I never in my life would have believed that a history on Puritans in America could be anywhere near entertaining, but she was able to pull it off.

This book goes into the history of the lesser known Puritans- the ones that didn't come off the Mayflower.  Her main focus is on people like John Winthrop, who came to New England on the Arbella, the Reverend John Cotton, and the fanatical Roger Williams.  She takes the reader through the founding of Boston and Rhode Island, the Pequot War, Anne Hutchinson, and all the crazy Puritan antics in between.  Her intention is to show us that our idea of the Puritans is wrong.  They were highly intellectual and argumentative individuals who on many occasions issued pamphlet smack-downs on each other.  They were not just deeply religious and they were hardly ever boring.  She also shows how one event leads to another (one of the best ways to explain the importance of history), how one speech inspires others to build communities and go to war.

I don't really want to go into more detail than that because I feel like I would get carried away.  Vowell's book is not segmented into chapters, which makes it feel more like a lecture than anything else, but not a dull lecture like most of the ones that I put up with in class.  I highly recommend this to anyone interested in history, even just a little, because it is a fascinating and surprisingly quick read.