Month: January 2018

Herding Cats (Sarah’s Scribbles # 3), by Sarah Andersen

sarah-scribbles-rainandabook-4Herding Cats is the third book in the Sarah’s Scribbles series. Sarah’s Scribbles # 2 (Big Happy Mushy Lump) was the first book I’d reviewed last year, and I’d declared Sarah Andersen to be my hero. I loved that book and the comics were quirky and original.

However, having read both her previous works, Herding Cats seemed a tad underwhelming. I can’t quite point out to what went wrong where, but I feel like I’ve read the whole introverted, socially anxious angle before and that Sarah isn’t bringing anything new to the table (yes, she did try to make a few political statements, but they didn’t quite pack a punch). The two comics below are the only ones I truly enjoyed, the first more than the second.

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The book jumps right into a comic, almost, that is to say, without warning. No headings or titles. This happened with the first couple of comics and threw me off a bit. The quirks now sound a bit mean, as though the introvert has turned into an out and out misanthrope. Like this one:

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The second part of the book was structured like an essay. Sarah makes quite a few good points here about pursuing your passion as an artist and not to give up in the face of obstacles (parents, society, etc. etc.) I’m sure this would’ve worked well as a motivational speech, and I agree with whatever she says – but as an essay, not so much.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads | Amazon

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this comic book from Andrews McMeel Publishing/Netgalley. My review is honest and unbiased.

 

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Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (almost) as Awesome as Me, by Carrie Ann DiRisio

“Of course you can write a book about yourself. That’s your favorite topic.”

“It is not!” he thundered, his eyes flashing. Broody was 5% rain cloud, on his father’s side.

Brooding-YA-Hero_Rainandabook

I’m a fan of the Twitter account @BroodingYAHero, so when Sky Pony Press offered me an ARC of Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (almost) as Awesome as Me, I broke my own resolve of not accepting books for review and jumped at the chance.

For those of you who do not know @BroodingYAHero is a parody account run by¬†Carrie Ann DiRisio that dismantles popular and overdone YA tropes one tweet at a time. Here’s an example:

tweet-brooding-ya-hero-rainandabook

The Brooding YA Hero book is an extension of this parody account. So does it translate well to this longer-than-a-tweet form? Let’s find out.

We are introduced to Broody McHottiePants. He’s the self-centered, narcissistic, brooding male protagonist of (almost) every YA novel, right from Romeo to Mr. Darcy to vampires to zombies to… well, you get the idea. In his words, he’s “the one with the most adjectives.” However, of late he has been out of work. For a while now, authors haven’t been requesting his services. He is so frustrated that he decides to write his own book – a self help guide on how to become a main character just like him. Once in a while, he falls asleep or leaves the room, and his evil ex-girlfriend Blondie DeMeani takes over the narrative. How do we know she’s the evil ex? Cos for one, she’s female, plus she’s blonde, she wears makeup and high heels – basically the opposite of the “main love interest” (who’s usually the demure, non-high-heels, non-ambitious type).

So far so good.

The book is funny and there were several laugh-out-loud moments. It cleverly (satirically) addresses the issues in most YA books, such as the marginalization of POC/WOC characters, how every story is essentially the same with a different setting – a love triangle against some conflict-inducing backdrop, how the same tropes get repeated etc. It also ends up becoming a How To of writing a novel – it describes elements of plot twists, POVs and so on, types of characters (from Broody’s POV of course, so they’re all less important than him). It also helps break certain stereotypes – Blondie reminds us that we think of her as evil only cos the stereotype exists, and throughout the book, her narrative makes more sense (as intended) than Broody’s.

However, there were a few inconsistencies that I noticed. For one, it’s often confusing to figure out whom Broody means by “you”. For the majority of the book, he’s addressing the reader (who, as the title suggests, is becoming Broody himself with the help of the book). There are other parts where by “you”, Broody means his love interest. That got a little confusing for me. I also noticed some repetition – for example, there is a section about the main character’s “rivals” – usually the third corner of a love triangle. This whole section is repeated in a different chapter. Another inconsistency I noticed is how at the beginning of the chapter, Broody mentions he’s traveled through space and time (refer to my statement about Romeo above). However, towards the end, he mentions it was his ancestor Broodington Hottietrousers who worked with Shakespeare. This also calls to question the existence of the Deleted Files Hall, where outdated characters go to die.

For the most part, this book is really funny, but in an attempt to go over the top, Broody begins to sound a little… repetitive and Broodsplainy (although yes, he admits that “as a man, I greatly love explaining things”). But still, consider this:

What if you and your friends uncover mystery revolving around a strange object – a goat. You unravel the mystery…
And it has nothing to do with the goat.
That goat was a red herring.
Not literally.
It’s still a goat.
Not a fish.
Anyway.

As readers (or future authors), we are intended to listen to Broody, but not take him too seriously (given his whole self-important, I’m-the-best air). Blondie of course makes some great points about writing a book. Keeping this in mind, I believe the below paragraph should’ve been part of Blondie’s narrative instead of Broody’s.

Young adult literature gets made fun of a lot by so-called grown-ups for always having love stories (even though it doesn’t) and for over-using “ridiculous love triangles” (even though there are plenty of stories without one) and for “always being about vampires and silly girls” (Seriously, it’s like these “adults” read one YA book ten years ago and based all their opinions on that.)

To these critics, I say, I’m sorry you’re so incredibly bitter and miserable that you can’t feel the rush of joy when your crush at imagine what butterflies in your stomach feel like. Also, please read some YA before insulting it.

I so completely agree with what is written here – I know YA gets a lot of flak that it doesn’t deserve. However, my point is, this is so true that it doesn’t go with the rest of Broody’s attitude towards everything. Now if Blondie had said this, well yeah, Blondie made sense throughout.

This was a great start to the new year for me, books-wise (where I hope to do better than last year). I do believe this book could have been edited better, to iron out those inconsistencies I was referring to. But overall, it was a good read, poking fun at all those YA tropes and stereotypes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads | Amazon

Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC of this book from Sky Pony Press. My review is honest and unbiased.