Review: Deogratias by Jean-Philippe Stassen

321100Title: Deogratias, A Tale of Rwanda

Author: Jean-Philippe Stassen

Publisher: First Second

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9781596431034

Deogratias, A Tale of Rwanda

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The 2000 winner of the Goscinny Prize for outstanding graphic novel script, this is the harrowing tale of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, as seen through the eyes of a boy named Deogratias. He is an ordinary teenager, in love with a girl named Bénigne, but Deogratias is a Hutu and Bénigne is a Tutsi who dies in the genocide, and Deogratias himself plays a part in her death. As the story circles around but never depicts the terror and brutality of an entire country descending into violence, we watch Deogratias in his pursuit of Bénigne, and we see his grief and descent into madness following her death, as he comes to believe he is a dog.

Deogratias is a subtle tale of the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. The images bounce between the past and present without definitively identifying what is flashback and what is not. The only way to know where you are in the story is to note the state of Deogratias’ clothes: is he tattered or fresh? It makes it a bit difficult to know exactly where you are in the story if you happen to let your attention slip. It is a graphic novel that needs a careful and watchful read, saying so much through the images rather than stating things obviously through the writing.

The portrayal of Deogratias as he descends into madness is stunning and moving. He loses his humanity as he loses his mind, becoming a dog. The cruelty he witnesses as the genocide breaks out drives him mad. He cannot cope and he no longer seems to be able to differentiate between what is reality and what is memory. The subject matter is difficult to swallow, but it is truthful. The introduction outlines the horrors of the Rwandan genocide, providing clear context to the tale that follows. It balances the factual with the more personal experience of Deogratias and his companions. The panels reveal racism, cruelty, genocide, while differentiating between the times before the genocide, and the world as it degrades around them.

It’s a terribly sad story, but it remembers the genocide in an accessible way. The graphic novel form brings this terrible time to life once again so that readers might learn and understand this awful time.

Funky Cover Friday

Hello and welcome to Worn Pages and Ink! Happy Funky Cover Friday! Have you found any new covers recently that you’d like to share? This week, I’ve chosen a cover that I find very visually peaceful. Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven brings you right into the starts. The constellations and star clusters are brilliant in the night sky and tents line the sandy earth. This is a story of fame and turmoil, but the synopsis indicates that this story is also about how beautiful the world is, despite at that goes on. It’s a story about the relationships that get us through, and the world we live in. The description sounds chaotic, but the cover indicates a vast and wonderful peace that can always be found amid the hectic-ness of day-to-day life.

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Station Eleven / Emily St. John Mandel / Knopf / 9780385353304 / September 2014

Review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

20819685Title: The Bone Clocks

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Knopf Canada, a division of Random House Canada

Publication Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9781400065677

The Bone Clocks

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Wow! Just wow! The Bone Clocks is one of the best books that I’ve read all year. It’s fast, it’s witty, it’s unbelievably complicated, and it’s fantastic. David Mitchell has capture my attention and his book has won my heart. I loved The Bone Clocks.

The story is broken into different books, each from a different characters perspective. Each has a distinct voice. As you make your way through each book, the story unfolds. We learn as the characters learn. Mitchell has incredible control over his language, revealing only what’s necessary, and providing the reader with information only when he deems it important for them to know. He ties the story together so neatly, but I have no idea how he keeps everything straight! As you read, he teases you, giving you tidbits of information, a little at a time, until the plot picks up speed and everything comes together at once.

It’s hard to review this book without giving away the plot, and that’s something I don’t want to do. Reading this book is like following a treasure map. You follow the path set out for you, but you have no idea what you’re going to uncover. It’s an experience of wonder and discovery. Mitchell incorporates the paranormal, a little at first, but increasing in frequency as you make your way through the book. It wasn’t anything that I expected, and I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy it as it unfolded, but I liked it more than I could have ever anticipated.

Holly Sykes is an incredibly interested character and we get to see her from so many different perspectives. We start with her at fifteen years old and stay with her all the way until her mid-70s. She suffers so many hardships and losses, but she never falters. She admits her struggles and confronts them head on. Although she faces many things that she fears, she does what she has to in order to protect her family and her loved ones.

I tried reading Cloud Atlas before this and I didn’t enjoy it all that much (Gasp! Shocker!). Maybe it’s because I saw the movie first and was unable to get into the book. But reading Cloud Atlas made me a little skeptical towards Mitchell’s writing style. The Bone Clocks is much more linear and concrete. It flows and transition smoothly. It’s clear and it’s fast-paced. It’s a wonderful read. I got my copy from the library, but I think I have to go buy it now.

Review: The Silent History

21416352Title: The Silent History

Authors: Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

Publication Date: July 2014 (originally 2012)

ISBN: 9781443430593

The Silent History

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sometime right around now, doctors, nurses and-most of all-parents begin to notice an epidemic spreading among newborn children, children who are physically normal in every way except that they do not speak and do not respond to speech. They don’t learn to read, don’t learn to write. Theories abound-maybe a popular antidepressant is the cause. Maybe these children, lacking the ability to use or comprehend language, have special skills of their own.

I’ve rated this story 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads, but really I think I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5. This synopsis captured my attention right away. I love these stories about mysterious illnesses or epidemics, seemingly insolvable and without any apparent cause. I love the exploration of the way humanity copes with sudden and rapid change. The Silent History is told in the form of testimonials of those who have experiences and interaction with those born without speech, or the “Silents.” These testimonials weave together and carry through the book and through each story, inextricable entwined. It’s fascinating and fast paced and provides a broad scope of understanding and discovery of the Silence.

The plot starts of really strong. I was so invested in the story for the first 200 pages or so. This eerie silences pops up in the new generation of children. They’re quite from birth and appear incapable of communication of any kind. This causes a crisis among the speaking population who are unable to communication and connect with the Silents and who begin to question their own sense of selves and their own way of communication. The whole world becomes involved in the struggle as the Silence is of epidemic proportions.

I also love how this story was originally released serially as an ebook. It’s the perfect story to be released in instalments. The story then is revealed bit by bit as the trauma unfolds. I would have loved to participate in the reading of this book in this original publication, rather than as a full novel.

The book is too long for what it is though. I got bored after a while and I soon found myself wishing that I’d rather be done. It could have easily been 150-200 pages less than what it is. I wanted it to be continually quick and intense, but it really just began to drag after a while. It’s such a drastic and dramatic story, it really lends itself to being a shorter, edge-of-your-seat kind of story. It was too long for that kind of suspense. It acted as a major roadblock for me. It slowed me down and dragged out my reading.

Overall, The Silent History didn’t wow me the way I was hoping it would, but it was still a decent read. I wouldn’t dissuade you from reading it at all. It’s a fascinating look at the way humanity functions when our basic way of relaying information to one another collapses and we are left in the dark.

Funky Cover Friday

Welcome to Funky Cover Friday. To those of you who come around every week, welcome back! It’s wonderful to see you again! To those new visitors, I like to explore the world of book covers on Fridays to see what’s great. What is the face of literature today? I find covers both new and old to share with you and to get your opinion. I want to know what you think! Do you love the covers I post? Or do you want to tell me to stop it already and find something new? I’d love to know what your favourite covers are. What elements of design lead you to a book?

This week I’ve chosen a cover that’s popped up quite a bit in my life lately, and has recently made it’s way to my to-read list. Blind by Rachel DeWoskin is a subtle cover that speaks volumes, proving that you don’t need to pack your design with a lot of clutter in order to make a statement. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m dying too. I love that the word “blind” is barely even there. It’s simply an outline, perceptible only by the thin white lines around it. The braille above draws attention visually, being the only image on the cover. I would hope too that the braille would be embossed/debossed so that it could actually be read, making this cover all the more interesting.

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Blind / Rachel DeWoskin / Viking Juvenile / 9780670785223 / August 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Broke and Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From but NEED to Read More!

5. Lisa Jewell – I so enjoyed reading The House We Grew Up In . Jewell’s writing style is so real and sucks you right into her stories. I’d love to try her other books.

4. Maggie Stiefvater – Okay, technically I’ve read two of her books, but they were both part of The Raven Cycle series. I need to read her other books, not in this series. The first two books of this series are so intense. I had goosebumps all the way through and I couldn’t put them down. I’ve been waiting and waiting for Blue Lily, Lily Blue for what seems like ages! But I definitely should be reading Stiefvater’s other books while I wait. Raven Boys Review.

3. Brian K. Vaughan – A friend told me about Y: The Last Man and since reading it, I’ve been constantly thinking about continuing the series. Getting it from the library is proving to be a hassle, but I’ll wait patiently to get caught up in this series. It’s exciting and if book one is any indication, the rest of the series will be pretty freaking awesome.

2. H. G. Wells – If there’s anyone that I’d love to read more of, it’s H.G. Wells. I read The Island of Dr. Moreau in university, and I’ve been amassing my list of Wells’ books that I want to read. He’s the one author that I constantly think to myself, I really need to sit down and take the time to read more of him.

1. Ruth Ozeki – If you haven’t read A Tale for the Time Being yet, you need to! It’s so excellent. It’s unique and thrilling. I’d love to read more of Ozeki’s work if it’s anything like this one. Her books get consistently good ratings on Goodreads, so it seems I’ve been missing out.

Do you have any suggestions for authors I should check out? Is there anyone you’d like to see appear on my blog?

 

Review: Fables Series

18275594 Title: Fables Series

Created by: Bill Willingham

Publisher: Vertigo

I have spent my my summer reading the Fables series. For those of you who have never heard of this series, or perhaps you’ve heard of it but you’ve never really checked it out, Fables takes all our beloved fairy tales and turns them on their heads. The world within this series sees all of the fable and fairy tale characters and creatures come together in a society that attempts to co-exits not only in the fairy tale universe, but in the real world as well.

This is one of the best series that I’ve ever read. You’ll meet characters like Snow White, Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Boy Blue, Bigby Wolf, Beast, and many others. Each builds him/herself into a hero in one way or another, fighting adversaries and armies and even defeating death itself. There are witches, winds, gods, and brave fighters of minuscule size.

Unlike the fairy tales we all know and love, Fables isn’t always about living happily ever after. As with war comes great loss and suffering. This series will have you crying and blinking in disbelief. Let me tell you now, the creators are not afraid to kill of those characters you love. At the same time, it’s full of wonderful tales of true love and triumph. This is a place where the underdog can succeed. So, expect the unexpected and prepare for a thrilling ride. Fables is a wonderful, heart-stopping series that’s not only filled with great stories, but beautiful art too.