Friday, November 28, 2014

Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba


This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: January 2001
Pages: 195
Stars: 5/5

The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
 -Death Note

Shimigami are death gods who have the ability to end a person's life early.  All they have to do is write down the human's name into their Death Note, and their subject dies within forty seconds of a heart attack, unless otherwise specified.  If the person was supposed to live until they were sixty years old but the death god transcribed their name into their Death Note when they were only forty years old, the god gets the remaining twenty years of the human's life for themselves.  This in turn allows Shinigami to live forever if they keep continuing the previously described process.  If someone shoots them, they will still live. If stabbed, the god will carry on as if nothing really happened because they have so many years built up.  However, there is a way to kill one of these frightening creatures, but only several know of it and barely any death gods have the knowledge of it either.  With years of life stocking up for them, the Shinigami have become lazy beings, sitting around and doing absolutely nothing.

One death god is different, though.  His name is Ryuk, and he has become bored.  To relieve his so called "boredom," he drops his Death Note into the human world where he hopes someone will pick it up and give him a show to watch.  As luck would have it, someone does pick it up, Light.  Light is not your typical high school student.  In fact, he has above average intelligence and a driving desire for the world to be set right.  Actually, they both describes themselves as "bored."  Once he finds the Death Note, he discovers instructions inside on how to use it, what it does, and just what will happen if he writes someone's name down.  At first it seems like a hoax, something like this can't be real after all.  However, the Death Note has an alluring quality to it that drives a person to use it.  So, against Light's trepidation, he goes ahead and writes a criminal's name down because he has just seen them on television.  Almost immediately, he discovers that they turned up dead.  It works.

Now Light goes on a rampage, believing that it is his duty to rid the world of all those he deems to be scum.  These are top level criminals that he's eliminating.  Tons of names are written down, and he believes that if these men who are condemned to death by his hand are being killed and talked about on the news, then everyone else will be too afraid to sin, therefore creating an eventual utopia that he can dictate.  Also, once he wrote his first name in the book, Ryuk suddenly appeared.  (Once a human uses a Shinigami's Death Note, they can see them.)  Ryuk then reveals that a human user of a Death Note can neither go to Heaven or to Hell after death.  This does not stop Light though.

Soon the police take notice of all of the dying criminals.  They start an investigation to stop whoever is behind all of these sudden deaths, but how can you catch someone when all you have to go on is heart attacks as evidence?  Quite frankly it seems impossible...until they call in L.  L is a last resort for the authorities. He has been known to solve any case given to him.  He's quite illusive, though.  Only one person alive can contact him. Also, L is a very smart cookie.  Together, Light and L go head to head indirectly, trying to outsmart each other and divert their true identities.  Neither can be found out or they will die by each other's hand or forces.  And so begins the journey that all started out of a little bit of boredom....

My thoughts on the book:

I'll be honest, I was really excited to read this manga.  I know that tons of people loved the anime (at least up to a certain point.)  So, when I got it from the library I immediately started to read it.  However, after a short while I wasn't so sure that I wanted to finish it.  It was weird, creepy, and definitely an "out there" type of book.  Plus, I can say that it is absolutely on the list of my top five weirdest books that I have ever read, and this list extends to manga, comic books, and novels.  It definitely tops most of them.  I'm really glad that I stuck with it though because it just became addictive.  I had to know what L would come up with next to try and decide where the killer was located and who he was.  It's brilliant how L and Light try to go up against each other without revealing their true identities.  These two characters were really interesting to read out, and I'm excited to see more of them.  They are pitted perfectly against each other as equally worthy opponents.  Everything is so clever and exciting.  Death Note is a very creative series.

The Shinigami are super creepy looking.  The whole entire ambiance of this book is also really dark, and the illustrations are beautiful, descriptive, and truly well done.  The only thing I will say though is that, while the Shinigami were grotesque and stange looking, it was almost like Ryuk had no change in emotion shown on his face throughout the whole manga.  For me, that was a small let down because the illustrations tell so much of the story and really convince me of the storyline.  (He did have a couple of different expressions going on a few times, though.)

Death Note is your classic series with a new twist that brings to light the question: What is truly wrong, and what is truly right?  For example, is it moral to get rid of a criminal if they killed people and were going to do it again?  What if they were going to be put on death row?  Light believes that you should just eliminate those who can harm humanity because they will ruin all of the good around them.  However, if you take L's stance in his opposite perspective, you would have something  completely different.  Isn't killing bad no matter who is doing it, despite their reasons?  Murder is murder, isn't it?  Both of these points were explored fairly well in volume one, and  I hope to see more of it as I go through the series.  In Volume 1: Boredom, the reader can decide which stance to take because Tsugumi Ohba does a great job of not taking a side or making it clear which way you should sway.  It's all up to you!

So, if you're a hardcore manga lover, this is definitely for you if you haven't read it yet.  If you want to get into the genre, this might be a good place to start as long as you don't mind creepy!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

98 by V. L. Holt

This review was written by: B
Received: Free e-book copy from the author
Publication Date of Book: August 2014
Pages: 275 (Kindle Edition)
Stars: 5/5

"Your silence is more valuable to me than anything you could have said.  There's something big going on and I'm going to find out, even if you don't want to tell me."

Have you ever tried to keep a life changing secret from your best friend?  Every wonder what it would be like to never know your father?  Has your boyfriend ever died and come back to life more than ninety times?  Well, Jane has experience in all of these matters and so many more.  Her true love is William, a Warrior who has died 97 times and only has a couple lives left to live before he runs out of chances.  However, he desperately wants to cling to the time he has remaining so that he can be with Jane forever, but this is definitely not going to be easy.  Evil Lochspawn are hot on his and all the other Warriors' trails at every turn, just waiting to tear them apart.  A normal relationship is hard enough for two average teenagers, but for two people who live very extraordinary lives, things cannot turn out well, or can they if they choose to fight for it?  This is Jane and William's story back in action and continued with just as much awesomeness as the first book in the  Rise of the Battle Bred trilogy.

William and his father are backtracking to Toledo, Ohio to clear their names in the incident that previously occurred in 97.  (I won't spoil it here if you haven't read it yet.)  However, after realizing a fatal mistake from back home, William races back to Deer Fjord before things can turn sour.  However, will he lose another one of his precious lives in the process?  Depressed and already missing William after only a day, Jane is pacing and can hardly do anything but obsess over this special guy.  At the same time, strange occurrences are going on elsewhere.  Smitty, a college student who witnessed the horrible accident in Toledo involving the previously said characters, is figuring out what really happened that fateful night and what he should do.  When a strange man shows up wanting something from him, things only get more suspicious, dangerous, and real for this innocent yet influential bystander.  Smitty has the ability to clear William and his father's name, but will he be able to do just that before time runs out?  Then there are the Warlochs.  Are they being infiltrated?  Can they be brought down finally?  Strife continues to ransack their ranks, and the five men are at odds.  What will happen next?

He had died for Jane just a short while ago.  Now he was going to do his damnedest to live for her.

I personally felt that 98 was even better than 97!  I know that some series can get monotonous after awhile, especially with the same old scenes coming up, over and over again.  However, V. L. Holt was able to create not only a great sequel but also a compelling story line that was unique and different than 97.  Once again, the reader was able to witness several different characters and their reactions, personal stories, thoughts, and feelings.  This is something that really made me fall in love with these books. I never get bored with all of the different perspectives going on.  Plus, there are thrilling events going on around them.  Holt switches to a new character at just the right moment for the perfect suspenseful moments!

What makes 98 so different from 97 is the incorporation of Agnes and her story.  We get to see a hefty majority of what exactly transpired in her life.  Her troubles, conflicts, struggles, loves, losses, triumphs, and scarifies are laid bare for all to see.  Given to the Church at a young age as a tithe from her family, her troubles began when she was quite little.  I feel as though there are so many admirable qualities in just this one character that so many people will fall in love with her and what she stands for.  Her life, situations, and responses to her ever unfair circumstances are honest and heartbreaking.  Yet, at the same time, she is strong and willing to help others even if she has not been shown the same respect by those around her.  She has really stuck with me and in my thoughts throughout the entirety of this series so far and is one of my favorite characters to read about.  I don't think that it will be easy to forget about her.

Lastly, as I expressed when I was talking about Jane and William in my review for 97, I just love them to death.  They're just so innocent together.  Their love is undying and hard to dismiss because their connection is just so prevalent.  When I read the last few lines of this book my heart just stopped.  It was the sweetest thing ever!  I just wish that every girl could get a William of their own.  I think that the one thing that really draws me to these two characters, especially in my believing in their relationship, is how they act towards each other.  It is simply so pure and warming to the heart.  The two care so deeply and wholly for each other that you just can't help but root for them.  They'll forever go down as two of my favorite book couples!!!!

If you haven't read 97, you really need to.  The backstory and lore behind the whole thing is really amazing and creative.  The entire idea is alluring, and if you have already read 97 and are deciding to pick up the next book in the series, the answer is a no brainer.  You have to read 98.  While it may be easy for me to like a book, I loved this one.  Holt created a wonderful world, backstory, and a series that I cherish so much.  Oh, and you know what?  Before you know it, it'll be Christmas soon, and you know what that means!  Presents!!!!  So, if you're looking for a great YA book to get someone or even a nice little gift for yourself, the Rise of the Battle Bred series is a great way to go.  Also, your birthday is sometime during the year.  Just say it's an early birthday gift for yourself.  It's okay to be spoiled a little!  I can also eagerly say that I can't wait for the last book in this trilogy to come out! I don't know if my heart can take it!!!

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