February for me was all about Graphic Novels

Well, here we are at the end of another month, and this bookworm is feeling pretty well-nourished by the books I’ve read during February.

My main focus this month was on exploring graphic novels, but with one YA novel thrown in for good measure.

Here’s the full monthly round-up!

Have you ever wanted to take a look inside your brain?

This brilliant book allows you to do just that!

Neurocomic is the debut graphic novel from Dr Matteo Farinella and Dr Hana Ros, and was published ten years ago in 2013.

The blurb:

Do you know what your brain is made of? How does memory function? What is a neuron and how does it work? For that matter, what’s a comic? And in the words of Lewis Carroll’s famous caterpillar:“who are you?”
Supported by the Wellcome Trust,this debut graphic novel by Dr. Matteo Farinella and Dr.Hana Ros is a journey through the human brain: a place of neuron forests, memory caves and castles of deception. Along the way, you’ll encounter Boschean beasts, giant squid, guitar-playing sea slugs and the great pioneers of Neuroscience.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable and educational journey around the human brain, told in an accessible way that will appeal to even the most unscientific of readers. I loved it!

A fascinating and engaging graphic novel about the history of one room in one house, over many years.

(All images from: www.richard-mcguire.com)

This has to be one of the most imaginative, ground-breaking and emotive graphic novels that I’ve ever read; a true work of art.

Published in 2014, Here by Richard McGuire, is a sort of time-traveling graphic novel that goes back and forth in years, decades and centuries, often depicting several different snapshots of multiple years all on the same page, and in just one room of a single house (as shown above and below).

The New York Times said:

“Here” is the ­comic-book equivalent of a scientific breakthrough. It is also a lovely evocation of the spirit of place, a family drama under the gaze of eternity and a ghost story in which all of us are enlisted to haunt and be haunted in turn.

The Guardian said:

At one point, a dinosaur wanders across the pages; at another, the author ponders a future apocalypse. In between, there are walk-on parts for generations of McGuire relatives (we’re in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where he grew up); for Benjamin Franklin, who on the eve of the American revolution travelled to a house nearby to argue with his estranged son; and for the Lenape, the Native Americans who inhabited Delaware before the arrival of the European settlers. McGuire treats time as a hopscotch-playing child treats a pavement: he parcels it into squares, and then jumps all over it.

Wired said:

With a cozy fireplace on one end and a window on the other, Here takes place in one corner of one room. Within those walls, we watch as couples quarrel, children play, a cat wanders, and a dinosaur roams. The location never changes, but the clock does—giving snapshots from millions of years ago to decades into the future. Most pages aren’t limited to one time period, and panels within panels allow the reader to cut through space to see what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow. It is, to say the least, awesome.

Get your hands on a copy. You won’t regret it.

Asphalt Blues is an adult graphic novel by Jaouen Salaün, which explores the theme of choice; specifically, the choices we make about our romantic relationships: when, how or why to end them; why do we stay in them?

The blurb on the back:

When star-crossed lovers who shared a youthful romance are catapulted into bleak and separate futures, they begin to question the meaning of their lives and whether they are more intertwined than they realize.

2032. It’s been thirteen years since Nina and Mick split up. Both have since rebuilt their lives, but at what cost? Nina lives with a powerful man who is jealous of her attraction to others, while Mick’s wife suffers from severe depression. The two former lovers don’t know it, but their daily lives remain intertwined—each moment intersecting with another, culminating in a deeply poetic and sensual exploration of the disenchantment of love.

The artwork here is so consistently beautiful, whether we’re in a high speed car chase, underwater in a pool, conducting a business meeting, or traveling on a train.

Set in the near future, there is a subtle sci-fi feel to things (not quite Bladerunner levels, but this is definitely not set in the present) which means we get a glimpse of unfamiliar technologies. In this story, combustion engine powered cars are illegal, for example, have been replaced by electric vehicles.

All the vehicles, incidentally, are immaculately drawn. You can tell that Salaün just loves cars. Here, drivers can change the external colours of their cars at the push of a button (or by a simple voice command) and driverless vehicles are commonplace. They all look amazing.

I have to say that I found the images more engaging than some parts of the story; the political subplot, for example, looked gorgeous, but I was unmoved by it. In contrast, the depression experienced by one of the characters is depicted in an emotive and sensitive manner which really touches the reader.

In summary, a gorgeously illustrated book that explores love and the choices we make around it.

Here’s a beautifully atmospheric trailer for the book:

Illegal is a graphic novel written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, (illustrated by Giovanni Rigano) about one boy’s journey from Africa to Europe. Although fictional, it is based on the real struggles that thousands of immigrants experience each year as they flee their home countries in search of safer lives.

The Guardian said:

A kind of documentary fiction, the book weaves real stories of migration into the tale of Ebo, a spirited, motherless 12-year-old from Niger who follows his older brother from his hopeless village to the city of Agadez, where traffickers take them across the Sahara to Tripoli. Here, the boys again put their lives in the hands of nefarious men, who grant them space on a boat heading for to Italy. The story comes alive in the details: at his lowest ebb, Ebo lucks upon a packet of antiseptic wipes that he can trade, one by one, for food. One of his fellow voyagers, a Chelsea FC obsessive, jokes about becoming a World Service commentator (see how these boys are just like our own?).

Although aimed at children, I know plenty of adults who would benefit from reading this book; they, too, need to see the human stories behind the right-wing media headlines that aim to somehow position immigrants as the “enemies” of our country. I reckon our politicians should be forced to read this, too.

Blurb on the back:

Imagine a prison so vast that it contains cells and corridors, forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, sure he came from Outside – though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man has ever escaped.

Imagine a girl in a manor house, in a society where time is forbidden, held in a 17th-century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage, tangled in an assassination plot she dreads and desires.

One inside, one outside.

But both imprisoned.

Imagine Incarceron.

This is Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (2007), a YA dystopian adventure story.

I’ll start by saying that this story is just bursting with wonderful ideas and Fisher does a great job of taking the reader on a journey though the world she has created.

For the most part, the chapters alternate between focussing on Claudia, who feels trapped on the Outside, and Finn, who is trapped on the Inside of Incarceron prison. As the story progresses, their separate lives become ever more intertwined, as they each navigate the Inside and Outside worlds.

It’s difficult to review this without giving too much away, but the characters are engaging, and I enjoyed discovering more about the two worlds that Claudia and Finn inhabit, as they both realise that things are not always what they first appear to be.

Intriguing and exciting, but I don’t feel the need to read the sequel, Sapphique.

And, here’s what I’m currently reading:

What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments….


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