Wednesday, July 19, 2017

One Piece, Vol 1-29 (Oda)

One Piece, Volumes 1-29, Eiichiro Oda, 1997-2003

Sometime in June 2016, I heard several of my students talking about One Piece. To be honest, I don't know now if they were talking about manga or anime. I can't say for sure that I saw anyone reading One Piece in particular, but manga was popular with the students. I had an epiphany. If this is something that the students like, then maybe I should partake a little myself. And having an excuse to read the stuff was just a bonus. I had a couple of choices, but given the conversation I was listening to, I figured I'd start here.

These 29 volumes were read between June 2016 and June 2017, particularly during those periods I was riding trains to different schools in the city.

It helps that the Brooklyn Public Library has many of the volumes available. (By coincidence, the first volume that they didn't have was one of the few early volumes that the Barnes & Nobles a block from my new school (with different students who don't seem to read manga) did have. I read a few pages at a time, each day.)

There's not much I can say that you can't find in online encyclopedias.

I enjoy the stories and the actions. There are drawbacks, but I don't know if those are peculiar to One Piece or to the medium in general.

Luffy, the main character, wants to be the world's greatest pirate, but he eats the devil fruit of the Gum Gum tree, which gives him stretching powers, but makes him incapable of swimming. This makes him a bit of superhero in this world.

The problem is that these devil fruits aren't as rare as you might think. And they come in many varieties, granting many different powers. I guess they're rare in that I haven't seen any fruit tree duplicated, but it seems that every pirate Luffy and his crew come up against have also eaten devil fruit. So sinking like a stone isn't such a bad thing for pirates.

The books have 11 chapters in each volume, so I've read over 300 chapters. Also, some of these are available in omnibuses containing 3 volumes. I'm currently waiting for volume 30 to become available, so I'm writing this mid-story.

That is one of the problems: the story lines go on forever. There are entire chapters that are devoted to a single fight between two combatants. I add this last clause because the past couple of volumes have been, essentially, one long, drawn-out fight.

Not all the fights make the transition from anime to manga very well. Sometimes I stare at the images trying to see exactly what is happening. It isn't always obvious.

I have to say that it has moved the story along. Luffy filled out his crew (even adding prior enemies). They mentioned the Grand Line, so they went there. It didn't seem as frightening as it should have been, but it was definitely dangerous. At this point, Luffy wanted to find the island in the sky. And so he did. That story line seems to be drawing to a close -- at least I hope it is. Parts of it have been a mess to keep track of as the story shifts points of view.

Problems aside, I'll keep reading it as long as the library keeps supplying me. And I'm likely to move on to other series after. (I'm open to suggestions.)

I'll probably have another entry after I read another 30 or so books.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Post (Cooper)

Post, Brenda Copper, 2016

The story is set in the Pacific Northwest after society breaks down, but through disease and natural disasters, not war and bombs as in a typical post-apocalyptic novel. People now live in small communities, growing their own food, hidden for their survival. Walking the roads could be dangerous. Sage, the girl at the center of the story, likes to go outside. She's quick, so she can escape any travelers she encounters, but her constant outings put the Garden in jeopardy, and she's told that the next time she leaves, she won't be allowed back in.

This is actually fine by her, because she wants to go. She wants to see a big city. And she has seen an airplane, so she knows that there must be something. So Sage is sent to Portland, to find what the world is like now.

Sage runs into some trouble on the road and is rescued by a man from another community. She is allowed to stay the night, but in the morning, she is sent off with another girl, Monday, who is given the same job: find if the world has recovered.

They get there, after some missteps, and mistrust, and get involved in an uprising as Portland is in the middle of a power struggle. Sage does find the plane and the pilot.

(There would be more here had I written this entry a few months ago.)

I enjoyed the book. I liked the character development. The kids weren't whiny -- something that bugs me when I read, essentially, young adult novels. (I know I may not be the target audience, but really!) If I had one problem with it, it was too short. It needed another chapter, or an epilogue, just for a little more closure. Yes, I wanted to know what happens next, though not necessarily a sequel.

Actually, I wouldn't mind a sequel set in this world, but I'd want another story, not just "and then this happened".

I got this book from its Kickstarter campaign.

Statistics: ebook, fiction, post-apocalyptic, short

Monday, July 10, 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Rowling, Tiffany)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II, J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany, 2016

First of all, if you don't like reading scripts, you are not going to like this. This is the script of the play, though I wonder how they staged some of it. But that's the magic of theater, isn't it?

The story picks up right where Book 7 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) leaves off, at the Epilogue in Kings Crossing. It even replays that scene.

We learn that it isn't easy being the son of Harry Potter (and it still isn't easy being Harry Potter), nor being the son of Draco Malfoy. Albus Severus Potter meets Scorpius Malfoy, and they become friends, which is facilitated by Sorting Hat placing Potter in Slytherin. (Gasp!) Who is this Cursed Child of the title? Is it poor Scorpius, rumored to be the son of Voldemort and Astoria Greengrass, Draco's late wife, who was sent back in time to be impregnated, to carry on the Malfoy name when Draco wasn't up to the task? (Such an idea seems silly on the face on it, but I think it served one purpose: to plant the seed that some Time Turners still exist).

(Here's where I wish I had written this up back in January -- the point of this blog is to help me remember these details!)

As the story unravels, we meet Amos Diggory, father of the deceased Cedric, and Amos's niece. The three of them hatch a plan to steal a Time Turner (there is a secret one, which survives, should it prove needed) and go back and save Cedric's life. But whatever they do, playing with time, has serious consequences, including people disappearing (such as Ron and Hermione's daughter, Rose, because the two never got together).

As you can imagine, they have to fix things, without making things worse, including confessing to the people in a doomed world what's going on, to get their help to set things right.

I can agree with someone's online assessment that it's a nice story, but I wouldn't want it to be canon. It reads like fan fiction, but only because it's a little light in its words -- it is a script, after all. Plus, there are limits to theater.

Unlike each Potter book, this one spans several years, and there are big gaps, where you might wonder what the characters are doing. It tells a story, but it closed off others and will make life difficult for other stories to take place. I guess we all have ideas where we'd like the Potter people to go and to do afterward -- or even in those missing years before the Epilogue.

Statistics: library e-book loan, script, continued series