Review: Women of Marvel — Volume One

womenofmarvel01Women of Marvel: Volume One
by Stan Lee, Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Linda Fite, Tom DeFalco, Carol Seuling, Steve Gerber, Chris Claremont, Jim Shooter and David Michelinie

★★★★½

For the last three years, the amazing Jess Plummer has been noting what free promotional materials Marvel and DC have sent along to Wiscon, the world’s oldest feminist sf convention. After last year’s pretty decent showing, she was disappointed that Marvel’s offerings this year featured no ladies at all. After all, Marvel has so many interesting female characters and female-led titles these days, from Ms. Marvel to She-Hulk (featuring Kevin Wada’s deliriously delightful covers and Javier Pulido’s willfully and wonderfully grotesque art) to X-Men, which boasts an entire team of lady mutants without bothering to change the title. Why not celebrate that?

Continue reading

Review: Dark Metropolis

dolamoredarkmetropolis

Dark Metropolis
by Jaclyn Dolamore

★★★☆☆

Dark Metropolis is the second novel I’ve read this month that takes place during the Jazz Age, after Genevieve Valentine’s phenomenal The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Except that Dark Metropolis isn’t explicitly set in the Jazz Age. The world of this novel boasts several cultural signifiers that remind the reader of nothing so much as interwar Berlin—it’s still reeling from a massive war that upset the social order, young women crop their hair and wear lipstick in defiance of their mothers, and the city is filled with the increasingly loud murmurs of revolution. But the details are never nailed down, allowing Jaclyn Dolamore to elaborate and improvise as she sees fit.

Continue reading

Review: Burn for Burn

hanvivianburnforburn

Burn for Burn
by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

★★★½☆

In middle school, I was an angry kid.

There were a lot of reasons for this: hormones, undoubtedly, the utter inability to grasp the obvious fact that I was queer, and unknowingly being the only introvert in a house of extroverts, despite once melodramatically collapsing into my brother’s walk-in closet after being overstimulated at school. (Nobody would shut up to watch The Prince of Egypt! I was trying to focus!) I don’t call ‘em the Wombat Years for nothing. But I always had a sneaking suspicion that my outsized emotions, especially my anger, was being dismissed because I was a girl. When my brother accidentally deleted several hours’ worth of writing, he didn’t apologize to my screamingly red face—he dismissed what I had been writing. Boys at school laughed at my attempts to assert myself until I beat one of them over the head with a bag full of my dirty gym clothes. Even my mother once tricked me into taking an herbal anti-anxiety supplement when she thought I was getting too worked up.

In short, any expression of my anger was dismissed, enraging me further. I could have used a lot of primal screaming sessions.

Continue reading

Review: The Girl With All the Gifts

careygirlwithallthegifts

The Girl with All the Gifts
by M. R. Carey

★★★★☆

Of all the things to be startlingly, physically terrified of, zombies is probably one of the stupidest. (Alligators, my mother’s worst fear, at least exist in large enough quantities not that far from where she lives.) But something the opposite of magical happens at the intersection of an overactive imagination and anxiety, and you end up spending high school sleeping facing the door just in case. (This was after sleeping with my face to the window in middle school, when alien abduction was much more of a concern.) But it’s eased in adulthood. I remain petrified of the things, but in an exhausted kind of way. The last great nightmare I had about zombies involved gauging whether or not I could make it to my car from the grocery store in the zombie apocalypse. “Oh, great,” I though to myself, as a errant zombie shambled through the lot.

Continue reading

Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

valentinekingfisher

With last Friday’s release of Maleficent, an adaptation of an adaptation of an adaptation of Giambattista Basile’s “Sole, Luna e Talia”, it might be tempting to think that we’ve hit a saturation point for fairy tale retellings. Tempting, but incorrect. I can’t speak for everybody else, of course, but I adore fairy tale retellings. It’s an extension of my love for the art of adaptation. When you’re retelling a fairy tale, the basic structure is there for you to follow or subvert, forcing you to dig in a little deeper. Adaptation, after all, is its own criticism—you have to decide what to discard, what to use, and what, to you, is the heart of the story.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Saturday Night Fever
based on “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” by Nik Cohn

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

saturdaynightfeverFILM

In 1980, which was still practically the seventies, Paramount wanted to capitalize on the popularity and success of John Travolta. To do so, it started sending out double features to movie theaters featuring Grease and Saturday Night Fever—both rated PG.

Now, as every musical theater kid learns at some point in their development, Grease is a pretty good argument for the development of the PG-13 rating that was introduced with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. But this is why people think of Saturday Night Fever, a beautiful, painful film, as fare appropriate for the kiddos. This film codified and perpetuated the late seventies and disco the same way Clueless codified and perpetuated the nineties. It’s easy to think of it as a kitschy disco time warp, especially when there’s a supposedly kid-friendly cut of it floating around in the great pop culture subconscious.

Continue reading

Review: To All My Fans, With Love, from Sylvie

To All My Fans, With Love, from Sylvie by Ellen Conford

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

confordtoallmyfanswithlovefromsylvie

While the modern phenomenon that is young adult publishing coalesced into its current third stage evolution during the mid-aughts, there has always been fiction written for and about adolescents. (I’m avoiding the word teenager, since teenagers were invented in either the 1890s, if you follow Jon Savage, or the 1950s, if you follow Back to the Future.) With the sheer number of young adult books being published every year, however, it’s easy to for the young adult novels of the twenty-first century to bury the young adult novels of the twentieth century.

Continue reading

Review: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

stiefvaterscorpioraces

Maggie Stiefvater first wandered across my field of vision when her novel Shiver began getting a lot of attention the same year I started book blogging. Five years ago, I was not, despite styling myself as such, as much as an omnivore as I am now. I was spending a lot of time “regaling” people with how Twilight descended into institutionalized werewolf pedophilia and viewing urban fantasy—especially urban fantasy romance—with deep, deep suspicion. So no matter how much good press Shiver got, I was determined not to engage.

Continue reading

Reading by Ear: Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert
read by Simon Vance and cast

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

herbertduneAUDIO

The library at my high school didn’t have that much of a selection when it came to fiction—just three waist-high aisles. (This was not, as I briefly entertained, to cut down on canoodling; there were plenty of ceiling high shelves over on the nonfiction side.) But it was the only library I had constant access to until I was about sixteen, due to a family vendetta against the public library over a fine. (Not mine, obviously, but Madame McBride never forgets.) That was perfectly alright, since I wasn’t really reading much beyond occasionally inhaling a Jodi Picoult novel in a day, whatever was assigned for the school’s book club, and the occasional Heroes fanfic.

Continue reading

Review: The Falconer

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

mayfalconer

Whatever I read after The Devil Finds Work was going to be, at the very least, a step down in enthusiasm. That stunning work of criticism is a remarkably tough act to follow, unless the follow-up is perfect, sublime trash. The Falconer, a young adult novel I picked up completely on a whim a few months ago while trying to pretend my interest in Scotland was not due to the Dreamboys and their famous alums (shut up!), is neither. In fact, it is the opposite of both stunning and sublime trash: it is forgettable. And that is always the worst thing a novel can be.

Continue reading