Bitch Planet Triple Feature #1 (comics, fiction)
This is three short stories that take place within the universe of the main Bitch Planet series. I really like getting snippets of people and stories outside of the main narrative in dystopias, and these worked really well as being both true to the world of the story and as stories within themselves. I’m not sure what they’d be like to read if you’re not already familiar with the series, but they’re definitely worth a read if you like Bitch Planet.
Plum by Hollie McNish (poetry)
I was lucky enough to see Hollie McNish perform some poems from this collection. She’s a great performer and it made a real difference to how I read the collection. This is the kind of poetry that I don’t often get a lot from just reading it on a page (though there were a few in here I loved that way), so I liked that I read it very soon after seeing her perform so I had her voice, intonation, and rhythm in my head. It’s a collection about growing up, particularly growing up as a young woman, and I liked that she included poems written when she was younger – it’s not just her current self looking back, but also her younger self in conversation with her older self. She’s great.
FullMetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa, vols 1-3, trans. by Akira Watanabe (comics, fiction – Japanese in translation)
This is the first bit of manga I’ve read and I was surprised how easy it is to get used to reading pages and panels right to left. I chose this first because at the beginning there’s a little note from Arakawa talking about how he loves B-movies and wanted to bring that ‘over-the-top’ flavour that still draws you in to his work. I love a so-bad-it’s-good B-movie, so this seemed a perfect place to start. It’s a lot of fun and very self-aware, and I like how the art style of the characters changes occasionally to reflect more comedic moments. I found Edward’s angry reaction to whenever someone mentions his height a bit tiresome, but I think that’s because the anime I’ve been watching recently has featured whiny male protagonists with anger issues so I’m just a bit sick of it. But, I will definitely be continuing the series as it’s just really enjoyable.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (novel)
There’s so much hype around this book, and my reading of it did suffer a bit for that. The first half or so was enjoyable enough but nothing particularly special, though that could have been too-high expectations. But then I got really pulled in to the characters and the relationships and the environment. There are a lot of threads you could unpick, like the young girls and the tension between childhood and womanhood, the different ways the Essex serpent embodies ‘haunting’ for different people, and about friendship and what friendship looks like. I found it well-written and, for the second-half, extremely enjoyable. It didn’t quite live up to all the hype for me, but still a really solid read.
Also on the blog this month:
Some post-election reading recommendations
Currently reading: Creating Freedom by Raoul Martinez, non-fiction