Exploring New Genres, Part 2: My Thoughts on Graphic Novels

Oct 10, 2018 | Book Reviews, Books

If you saw my blog post a couple of weeks ago about this blog hop, you’ll know what today’s post is all about! But if not, I’ll quickly update you.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been arranging a blog hop with some other amazing book bloggers all about exploring a new genre we haven’t read very much of, it at all. We all picked one genre to focus on, and we’re all going to post our reviews of the books when we’re ready and explain what we thought, if we liked them, and if we’d read more in the genre.

I chose graphic novels for my unexplored genre. As I explained in the first post, I’ve always seen graphic novels as superhero books like Marvel and DC, or ones I’d never really want to read like The Walking Dead. It’s only recently that I’ve started seeing a lot of really cool-looking graphic novels, and I’ve been dying to give them a try!

I’m going to write these reviews a little bit like snippet reviews that I’ve done in the past, where I just cover the basics.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

The first book I read for this challenge was In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang. It has a beautiful cover that I was instantly drawn to, and the story sounded great!

Anda loves Coarsegold Online. The massively-multiplayer role playing game is a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, and a hero. But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer – a poor Chinese kid whose job is to collect valuable objects and sell them to other players for real money. This behaviour is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake. From acclaimed teen author and digerati mogul Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash.

The first thing I thought of when I read the synopsis of this book was Ready Player One, and if you’ve read my review of both the book and the film, you’ll know that I had very mixed opinions.

Really, though, the only element of this book that was remotely similar was the fact that it was about the real world and the game world merging into one, and we find out more about the actual people behind the game characters.

There were so many relevant themes in this book, especially related to how important the internet is to people’s lives. Anda, the main character, is hired by someone in-game to catch gold farmers – people who collect valuable things in the game and sell them in the real world for money.

At first you don’t really sympathise with the gold farmers because you know absolutely nothing about them, but as the story goes on and you discover more about one particular boy’s background, you start to realise that for some people, this is the difference between being able to eat or going without food and shelter.

I really liked the story and the way it dealt with very contemporary themes of the internet and the lack of lawful work practises in other countries. I did, however, find of find that most of the angst and the complaining came from the main character herself – a fairly privileged teenage girl – and how hard her pretty normal life is. Like, she has a mum who worries about her and disconnects the internet, because she’s mysteriously getting paid for doing virtual work within a game, but for her, it’s the end of the world. (I think if I were a mother, I’d probably react in the same way.)

I wanted to know more about the gold farmers themselves, their background, and what drove them to start gold farming. It was touched upon, but not in the depth that I would have liked.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the story and got through the book in a few hours over a couple of days. It won’t stick with me like a lot of stories do, but I enjoyed it!

Space Boy by Stephen McCranie

The second book that I chose to read was Space Boy by Stephen McCranie, and I was very excited about this one. You probably know by now that I’m a big space lover (I mean, just look at my blog), and this one sounded perfect for me!

To Amy, everyone has a flavour. Her mum is the flavour of mint sharp and bright. Her dad is like hot chocolate – sweet and full of gentle warmth. Amy lives on a mining colony in out in deep space, but when her dad loses his job the entire family is forced to move back to Earth. When Amy arrives on Earth, she feels like an alien in a strange land. The sky is beautiful but gravity is heavy and the people are weird. Stranger still is the boy she meets at her new school – a boy who has no flavour…

As someone who has a fascination with space and is approaching graphic novels for the first time, to find a graphic novel about space was amazing! I couldn’t wait to start reading it and see if it’s as good as some of the space-themed novels I’ve read.

Again, like the first one, the story reminded me of a couple of other things, namely Satellite by Nick Lake and The Space Between Us, the 2017 film starring Aser Butterfield. Both of those things are about people born in space going to Earth for the first time, and that’s also the basis of Space Boy.

I loved this book! I definitely preferred this to the first one, but maybe it’s just because I seem to instantly love anything in which space plays a big part. I found it so interesting to see how Amy reacted to life on Earth, and it was cool to find out that (possible spoiler? It’s not important, though) Amy’s way of associating everyone with a flavour is caused by some sort of synesthesia.

Another thing I loved was reading about the way Amy sees Earth for the first time as someone who has lived in space her entire life, and has only seen Earth in movies. The way she appreciates everything made me think that actual inhabitants of a Earth should appreciate everything more too! It makes you realise that we live in a pretty cool planet. She’s even impressed by a snail coming out of its shell. That’s how I want to see the world. 😀 #earthgoals

I flew through this book in a couple of hours because every time I went to stop, I just couldn’t. That’s the thing with graphic novels – they don’t have chapters so you just want to carry on and on and on!

Final Thoughts

As I expected, I liked these books a lot and I got through them pretty quickly. I love the simplicity of them – if you want something quick and easy to read, they’re perfect. And the artwork that goes along with them is beautiful!

I don’t think I get emotionally invested in graphic novels as much as I do with a full-length novel, because a lot less time goes into reading them and there’s not so much depth – but if I want to read something fun or to get me out of a reading slump, I’m definitely going to turn to graphic novels. I already want to start collecting them…

If you want to see what the other bloggers in this blog hop chose to read, click through to their blogs using the links below. I hope you enjoy reading all of our posts, and I hope it encourages you to pick up a new genre!

The Other Bloggers Taking Part…

Fleur – Fleur’s Makeup Box (magical realism)
Ellie – Foxy Travels UK (psychological thrillers)
Amy – Amy Talks Books (magical realism/urban fantasy)
Jade – Reading With Jade (YA high fantasy)
Kelly – This Northern Gal (romance)

I'm Charlotte: media graduate, virtual assistant and avid reader. I'm a Hufflepuff, a space fanatic, and I love to write about books. More about me...

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