Book Review: Ripley’s Believe It or Not

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Ripley’s Believe It or Not

*This review may contain spoilers pertaining to some content found in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, though it is minimal spoilage*

I am thus far finding Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the graphic novel, intriguing. It is different than other novels, of the graphic variety, that I have followed because it contains more than one story within its pages. I am one of the lucky NetGalley members who was approved to read this book pre-publication, and therefore, it was a free / no cost to me read. However, if I were to have purchased this, the multitude of stories has a more bang for the buck feel to it.

I think that the text is appropriate for most ages; profanity is implied with symbols @$! However, I would not give this to a small child but mid – late teens would be an appropriate audience, I think. (Keep in mind, I don’t have my own children. So, for all I know, I just became the bad aunt for giving someone’s kid a book they shouldn’t be reading). Some of the images are graphic (heeyyyooooo). For example, in the second story, the main character, Phineas Gage, gets a railroad spike through the left side his brain and face due to an explosion gone awry. Though the image is not what I would consider gory, it may still be disturbing to a young audience.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the use of color. In particular, I think that the illustrator did a wonderful job giving each story its own color scheme.

Overall, I most enjoyed the tidbits of history I learned from reading this entertaining piece of work, most of which I was entirely unaware. I rate this one a 3.5 – 4. Ripley’s Believe It or Not was colorful, interesting, and enlightening.

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Book Review: The Daughters of Salem

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The Daughters of Salem: How we sent our children to their deaths (Part 1)

I am writing this review as I read The Daughters of Salem. First of all, just from what I have read, this is not going to be what I would consider a glowing review. However, I would like to take a moment to express my pleasure that Netgalley / the author did approve my request to read this. The agreement within Netgalley is to write an HONEST review, so here goes . . .

Firstly, the writing is what I would consider to be too simplistic. IMO, this graphic novel is geared toward an adult audience. Now, I don’t think the writing should be Shakespearean in nature and style, but the level that the text is currently at, it doesn’t even qualify as YA – yes, it is THAT simplistic.

I found some minor details to be a bit confusing. For instance, Abigail Hobbs claims to be 14YOA on page 7 and alludes to a time when she was 13YOA; without giving too much (anything) away, stuff started getting real when she was 13. So, as the reader, I assume that she is currently 14 and sharing a flashback to the previous year. Fast forward to page 32, and it’s two years since said “stuff” got real, but she just told us readers that she is 14! Also, her picture doesn’t match the text. Her hair was cut short, as a penalty for becoming a woman (age 13) – so why on page 7, when she is supposedly 14, is her hair the length it was when it was shorn the previous year? The long haired version of Abigail should not be stating that she is 14. There could be a much better way to show her at 13 years old while narrating at 14 … or is it 15? See how confusing this all is?

When I read or hear the descriptor of a character as “a man in black,” I envision a man that is dressed in black from head to toe, NOT what would appear to be a Native American with what can be described only as Blackface (so sorry, but it’s true). I am fairly certain no ill intent or racist themes were intended with this character; perhaps where this is published by Europe Comics (“a joint digital initiative run by 13 European comics industry players from 8 European countries.”), they are unaware of the faux pas such a thing is in the U.S. I know that this is taking place way back when, but the Black Faced American Indian still feels . . . icky despite when this story takes place.

So, the text is simple, almost too much so, the story a bit confusing if you get hung up on its minutiae, and some of the themes can be deemed as offensive. With all of that being said (written), I do like the artwork. It’s not as bright and vibrant as many of the graphic novels I have chosen to read in the past; I tend to be drawn to bright colors. The art in this novel is subdued, Earth toned. I think it suits the time period and topic(s) of the story well.

If you want to add a new author or graphic novel to your repertoire, then by all means, give this a read. However, if you’re just starting out with this genre, I would not recommend The Daughters of Salem be a jumping off point. Finally, if you’re at all squeamish with images of animal brutality and cruelty or fight scenes, this is definitely not to be picked up by you.

Two stars because yeah, this is just “ok.”