Monday, September 15, 2014

Les Miserables: Manga Classic

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Story adaptation by Crystal Silvermoon
English script by Stacy King
Art by Sun Neko Lee
Publisher UDON entertainment productions, with Morpheus Publishing Limited

Review copy supplied by Net Galley and the publishers

My thoughts:
Anytime classics are adapated into a manga, what I read it for is to see if the art and the adapted story are able to capture the essence of the original classic and still sell the story enough through the artwork and character development so that my middle readers feel like they want to attempt the original, even if it's later in their school life. 

Victor Hugo's story is just one tragedy after another and it takes a good 200 pages even in a manga before things start looking up, so this book for the first time reader of this work, who has not seen the 2012 musical, takes some commitment. If they use the title as a clue, then they will know that this is a tragedy. The cover shows a forlorn looking Cosette. Even with her big manga eyes, she looks worried. 

Cosette as the blonde Cinderella type is endearingly pitiful while her "benefactors," the Thenardiers are comically cruel so that is a selling point. Fantine, once she must shave her hair just made me think of Anne Hathaway with her equally large doe-like eyes so I almost wanted someone to start singing. That was a distraction, but it may just be because I read the original and saw several different film versions. 

Will this version sell students on reading the original? I think the biggest selling point is the romance between Cosette and Marius because of the way they are drawn, so the girls may like it, but I think the story line between Valjean and Javert is more powerful in the original story and that may appeal more to guys but this manga version doesn't build Valjean up enough or show enough of the action scenes.

Still, overall, it is a good starting place for this classic novel, and if students never read the Hugo version, they will at least understand the story enough to get the gist.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kamen, Volume 2

Title: Kamen, volume 2
Author:  Gunya Mihara (also artist)
Publication date: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Gen Manga

Review copy supplied by Net Galley for Gen Manga

In short:  General Simba (young female) is at war with the Zoh army. Her actions are brash to her elders. Even her uncle, Lord Gailas will crush her army if he must. Out of seemingly  nowhere, the masked man appears. . .to be continued

My thoughts: Several elements must be present in an intriguing manga, mostly because the genre relies on your continued patronage of their art.  First and foremost, there must be an interesting or appealing character with a mysterious backstory that you want to learn more about. 

Second, there should be enough of a cliff hanger at the end of the manga so that you must know the rest of the story.

Although this is the 2nd volume and I did not read the first, I find that the masked man has enough mystery surrounding him where I would like to know more. As stories go, starting at this volume is not advisable, however, I did skip to the end in hopes of finding out a little about the characters. Most manga have this feature at the end. I could surmise from the reading that there was a war but it was confusing and I just kept reading without really knowing who to root for. Until I read the back, I wasn't sure who I was supposed to tag as the "good guy/girl," but based on the backstories, I think the young General Simba is the girl to watch, as well as the masked man.

Second, there is definitely a cliff hanger because I don't know what the masked man is there for and who he works for so the "to be continued" tag was disappointing because I was finally hooked. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review - Bad Magic

Title: Bad Magic
Author: Pseudonymous Bach
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Click on the link to the book above to get a 10 chapter free preview from

In Brief:
Clay misses his older brother who has mysteriously disappeared from his life and he kind of blames magic on his brother's disappearance, so when Clay writes Magic Sucks in his journal and it ends up graffiti'd on the school wall, he can't figure out how to explain his way out of his problem. 

He is sent to Earth Ranch, a camp for "troubled" kids where more unexplained "magic" keeps happening to him and he is thrust into one mystery after another.

My Thoughts:
As today is International Literacy Day and educators are taking the pledge to "Lift Off to Literacy" by engaging students in an extra 60 seconds of literacy activities for 60 days, this book, Bad Magic, would be a great 60 second read aloud for 60 days. There are so many cliff hangers in each chapter. The readers are easily swept into the feelings of Clay who encounters one strange thing after another and is constantly trying to put clues together. Take advantage of the free preview and start reading. Even middle level learners deserve to enjoy a great read aloud. 

My preview of this book is courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. 


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