My next foray into the world of genre and book bingo was ‘suspense’ and I chose The Many by Wyl Menmuir.
I didn’t realise it when I picked it but it was longlisted for the Man Booker prize. It’s a well written and unsettling story of an outsider in a fishing village who buys the house of a fisherman who has recently died. His presence and enquiries about the dead man upset the villagers who have not come to terms with their loss. And they know nothing about the outsider who is also coping with his own loss. It was compelling reading with an overriding feeling of unease and supressed grief.
I was working over at Mercury Bay Library last week, so I had a nice chance to snoop through their collection (fun fact if you weren’t already aware: your Thames Library card also entitles you to borrow books from Mercury Bay Library and Tairua Library).
And oh, the excitement! As a library staff member I already knew, of course, that Mercury Bay is home to an Adult Graphic Novel collection. But reserving books from the catalogue isn’t quite as thrilling as pulling them from the library shelves yourself.
This was how I discovered the Game of Thrones graphic novel series. Based on the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire (and therefore slightly different from the TV series I’ve been watching on DVD over the last few months), Volume I of this series starts with a White Walker attack on a group of Night’s Watchmen, and follows the story through King Robert’s arrival at Winterfell and as far as Daenerys Targaryen’s pregnancy to Khal Drogo.
If nothing in that last sentence made sense, I’d suggest reading the books or watching the TV series before attacking the graphic novel. While the graphic novel is beautifully nuanced,and an easier read, it’s difficult to fit George R. R. Martin’s convoluted plot lines into a few short pages of comic panels. In saying that, there were several scenes that played out much better in this version than they did in the TV series. Bran’s first encounter with the Three Eyed Raven was particularly good, as was Daenerys’ dream about dragons. There were a lot of neat little background details that helped to make scenes as well – Arya and Jon’s direwolves playing together in the background while Jon and Arya had a heart-to-heart was a nice touch.
What I did find really impressive was the section at the back of the book about how the graphic novel was developed. This part was a step-by -step guide to adapting Westeros into comic book form, from choosing an illustrator to designing some of the key scenes. It was interesting to see how much effort goes into producing a graphic novel.
Shannon is the Children’s and Teens’ Librarian at Thames Library.
The reason I started Book Bingo was because I was ready for two things: being challenged into a reading adventure and reading more books aimed at adults. To be fair, as a Children’s and Teens’ Librarian reading kids books is a real asset in my work, but to be honest I continued reading and collecting children and teen books well into my adult life long before I had this job and I don’t see it as a bad thing.
But between my partner signing up for Netflix and spending a large part of my day surrounded by books aimed at a younger audience, the inevitable was occurring; I was reading well below my reading abilities and certainly wasn’t stepping out of my comfort zone.
So here I am, my Book Bingo challenge for myself is to read one book from every square in no particular order and to try to challenge myself with every book I pick, which to me means picking out books I wouldn’t normally give a go.
First up I found an interesting sounding New Zealand fiction. Now, I’ll be honest, I normally run from NZ fiction, or at least awkwardly ignore it exists. I’m not supposed to tell you that, as a New Zealand librarian supporting our writing culture, but it’s true. More than half the time that’s due to bad cover design, but I’m really not supposed to admit that I judge a book by its cover either (I do). For the rest it’s actually as simple as not enjoying books set in New Zealand. I read to escape, and who wants to escape to just down the road? However unlike my pride in being an adult that reads kids books, I have no pride in being a New Zealand librarian who doesn’t read New Zealand fiction. Will my first Book Bingo challenge change that?
My fourth book in the Book Bingo Challenge was a Graphic Novel, and having never been one of those children who got into reading comic books I suspected this was going to be a BIG challenge. I initially chose the smallest, thinnest book on our library shelves that I could find (it was a Marvel comic) but my colleague Shannon (who is a fan of Graphic Novels) was not impressed with my choice and dragged me along to our Graphic Novel shelf and picked out a couple of books she thought might be more to my taste rather than the Marvel comic I had chosen.
Knowing what sort of books I would normally read my colleague really hit the nail on the head with War Brothers by Sharon E. McKay. It was a fictitious account of a young Ugandan boy who was stolen by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) from his boarding school along with 3 of his friends, in the hope of turning the boys into child soldiers. The book depicts the real struggle the boy’s face – do as the LRA soldiers order – or risk at the minimum a beating or worse – death!
Having read true stories of child soldiers this book really rung true, describing the brutality of the superior officers and the dilemma the young boys face in going along with what they’re told to do or stand their moral ground.
The illustrations by Daniel Lafrance were amazing and really added another level to the story for me, capturing the emotions of the children and the harsh conditions they live under, which would otherwise be expressed through the authors words.
Check out Margot’s take on graphic novels as a genre here. If you do happen to be a fan of Marvel graphic novels, you can see our collection here.
OK! Off to a better start this time, after my first Book Bingo book failed to get off the ground. This week, for the comedy square on my bingo board, I read Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress. If the title doesn’t ring a bell, the film version’s title might: this is the book Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based on.
I used to read a lot of Barry Crump, but over time the stories and characters have all blurred together. I couldn’t say now if I’ve read Wild Pork and Watercress before or not. I have, however, seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople quite recently. I absolutely loved the film.
Both the movie and the book follow Ricky Baker, a teenage boy with a bad reputation. Social Services send him off to live with his Aunt Bella and Uncle Hec (his foster family in the film; his literal aunt and uncle in the book). After tragedy strikes, Ricky is scared he will be removed from his idyllic new life on the farm and sent back into the clutches of the Child Welfare system. Ricky decides to ‘go bush’ with Uncle Hec, spending months living off the land while evading the police.
Most people prefer to read a book before they see its film adaptation. I’m usually only in this boat for books I’m particularly interested in reading – I don’t mind seeing the movie first and coming back to the book, if it was the movie that piqued my interest first. In my case, I’m a big Taika Waititi fan, so I watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople long before it occurred to me to read Wild Pork and Watercress.
Having read the book, I’m pleased I did it this way around. There were a couple of plot points I felt were handled better in the movie (I’m thinking particularly of Aunt Bella’s plot line, and the use of the Child Welfare lady as an antagonist). I also think when the book’s epilogue turned out differently from the film’s ending, I was genuinely more surprised than I would have been if I’d encountered them the other way around. There were a few parts of the book I wished were in the movie, though; the Bird-Lady, who once mentored Uncle Hec in bush survival skills the same way Hec mentors Ricky, was a great addition to the story. Overall, I enjoyed this little slice of classic Kiwi storytelling.
Margot is a Library Assistant at Thames Library.
My first genre for the book bingo challenge is a graphic novel and I chose this one purely because it reminded me of an old movie!
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd was written in the late 1980s and is a story of dystopia with V rescuing Eve, who becomes his protege, from the thuggish police in a recognisable London. It’s a ‘Big Brother world’ with constant public announcements from ‘Fate’ and the words from a song ‘This Vicious Cabaret’ run through it. It’s very clever with literary references sprinkled throughout and the only criticism I have is that, like the love and war comics of my youth, the drawings are sometimes a bit confusing.
If V for Vendetta has piqued your interest in the Graphic Novel genre, you can view our graphic novel collection on our online catalogue.
The third book in my Book Bingo Challenge was to be a Science Fiction – again, not a genre I was particularly looking forward to – so I ‘kind of’ cheated and chose from the Teen Section. I chose ‘The Maze Runner’ by James Dashner because I had seen the movie a while ago and enjoyed it so figured I would like the book too.
The book begins with Thomas arriving at The Glade in The Box (a dark caged elevator) with no memory other than knowing his name. He’s introduced to life on the Glade by a bunch of other teenage boys who arrived there one every month for the previous two years. Surrounding The Glade is The Maze, a labyrinth of ivy-covered walls that change every night, and evil creatures called ‘Grievers’ which prowl along The Maze at nightfall and which the boys believe needs to be solved so they can leave The Glade.
The day after Thomas’ arrival a girl turns up unconscious in ‘The Box’ and everything in The Glade is about to change!!!
The Maze Runner was fast-paced and action-packed which I enjoyed but it is very different from the movie – not that that is a negative – and one day I might get around to reading the following two books in the series, ‘Scorch Trials’ and ‘Death Cure’.