Wicked Lovely (Desert Tales Vol. 1): Sanctuary – Melissa Marr
This is the first part of a story (parallel to the books, not a retelling) about Rika, one of the girls who came before Ash in the long line of humans that Summer King Keenan tried to make his curse-breaking Queen. After being released from her part in the game by the next in line, Donia, she retreated to the desert to hide from the faerie courts and the cold. Now she likes to invisibly follow around a handsome human boy. But he gets tangled up in faerie politics when she makes herself visible to save his life.
I am comfortable with the visual language of most comics, but not so comfortable with manga, and this book (published by Tokyopop) was often visually difficult for me to follow. Also, and maybe it’s just more of my biases showing, I thought this skewed younger than the series it’s connected to but don’t think it has much appeal other than to readers of Wicked Lovely. I think one of Marr’s strengths is at constructing secondary characters, but this ultimately feels like more of a cynical marketing ploy than a true story expanding her world.
Vampire Knight – Matsuri Hino
I’ve heard this recommended as a Twilight read-alike, and that makes sense (and the backhandedness of the compliment is deserved). But I’ve also heard librarians say they love it. And that doesn’t. I’m very aware of the fact that while I enjoy reading YA books for myself, I’m also reading them as a librarian. And I’ve had great luck recommending books that I’ve reviewed here but haven’t liked. I’m not every reader, and I’m not a teenager. So I just don’t get why an adult would like this series.
The over-the-top sexual nature of the bite is the most notable feature of this volume. And from a feminist perspective, it’s problematic. There is an overly willing girl offering herself up to a boy who doesn’t want to succumb to his animal instincts but can’t resist. And they talk about how it’s dirty and no one can find out. And I’m bored. Even if some of the artwork is pretty sexy.
Vampire Knight – Matsuri Hino
On the heels of finishing Vampire Academy, I thought reading another book about vampires at boarding school would be fun and help round out the experience. I haven’t read much manga, but have about 20 library shelves full of it at any given time. So I try to be at least a little aware of it. And read what I can when it seems interesting to me. I enjoyed Death Note, and it was less inscrutable to me than the shojo (girls’) manga that I’ve read. Though the conventions that trip me up may be standard to the form and not just the shojo genre. About half the time I have no clue what’s going on. Because: it’s takes huge effort for me to decode the visual cues, I can’t tell the characters apart, I get confused by the little meta plots and notes from the author happening in the background, and I don’t respond to the drawing style, the big eyes/spiky hair thing. And the serial nature of this story, and the manner in which it would recap what had happened before, kept cracking me up. Repeated over and over in black panels with white lettering was, “The night class is not just an elite group of good looking students…There is a secret that the day class does not know…The night class consists entirely of vampires.” I wanted it to be followed by “dunh dunh dunh!”
The story so far is that when Yuki was a little girl, she was saved from a vampire attack by another, good vampire. He took her to live at the Cross Academy where the headmaster adopted her and made her a guardian of the school. That consists entirely of protecting its secret that “the night class consists entirely of vampires.” These are good vampires who take blood pills that they themselves developed in order to coexist peacefully with humans and to work to bridge the gap between vampire and human. There’s another guardian, Zero, who was also adopted by Cross after vampires killed his family. He hates and distrusts all vampires. In this world, only pure-blooded vampires can turn humans into vampires. Being bitten by a human-turned-vampire either has no effect or kills you if you’re drained dry. Saying anything more than that would spoil the plot, such as it is.
But I think I will give it a chance to grow on me, thanks to the little authorial asides, I am assured that now that characters have been set up, the fun is really going to begin.