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Manifest Destiny

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Thought You’d Hate But Ended Up Loving

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.  This week’s topic is: Books you though you’d hate but ended up loving.

Manifest Destiny

I hated this first volume that re-imaged the Lewis & Clark Expedition by Chris Dingess. I said “So Image Comics takes history, government conspiracies, and re-images (get my pun?) the events by shaking it all together into what I consider a convoluted mess.” It took me two years to reluctantly pick up the second volume and then I quickly read through the sixth volume. I then said ” I have discovered that I should not always give up on a series when the first volume rubs me the wrong way, as this recently happened in Northlanders (hint for my next book!) too. Yes, I still have issues with some of the depictions of the characters but the way that history, colonization and government conspiracies are shaken up together have made for some interesting stories. And the art- well, that’s what has truly made the series. Matthew Roberts has done his research on the era and regions in which they are traveling through. His creatures rival Lovecraft’s with detail and imagination. I admit, I will be picking up future volumes and read it to the end of their journey.”

Northlanders

I am big fan of author Brian Wood and his historical fiction graphic novels, but I have to admit if this was the first time I read his work, I would have stopped here.  The main character Sven is not likable in the least from his childhood on, and the tired trope of a good woman taming a bad boy is used here. The artwork was a mixed bag for me, but I really liked Enna, the woman Sven eventually marries. I only picked up the next volume when I knew Enna was in it, but the other standalone Viking tales in the second volume were good, and I ended up really enjoying the entire seven book series.

My Friend Dahmer

I heard that this graphic novel gave a unique take on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, but I was skeptical. I felt weird reading it and the art style took some getting used to, so it took me awhile to read it in it’s entirety.  But this disturbing book about a serial killer’s youth was heartbreaking, as the book makes us witness to Jeffrey Dahmer’s slide into madness, from the viewpoint of a former classmate and “friend” of his. Derf Backderf, the author and illustrator, gave a nuanced take on the background of Dahmer, so I ended up pitying Dahmer and wondering if tragedy could have been diverted if just someone had noticed his problems and stepped in to help. Worth a read!

Fun Home

I picked up this book, read a bit, and put it back down a dozen times. Not because it isn’t excellent- it most definitely is- but the author’s relationship with her unhappy and distant father is much too similar to mine. This book breaks my heart, and brings up many painful memories for me. But I persisted, and am glad I did. Author and illustrator Alison Bechdel chronicles her childhood through her early years of college, plus her coming out, in a non-linear memoir. Bechdel’s raw autobiography was turned into a musical play that showed on Broadway, and she shared her feelings on that representation of her family in this enlightening nine-panel drawing Play Therapy.  That this book, and perhaps the play, can affect people deeply is a testament to the power of family and how it shapes us.

Transcendence

I typically am not a romance fan. Sure I don’t mind some romance in a novel, but as a genre- no thanks.  But a co-worker and fellow book lover told me this book was a combination of Clan of the Cave Bear and Outlander, so I had to give it a try based off that review. I ended up loving this book- I devoured the book in 24 hours, and then started over and re-read it again. Usually I stay away from romance novels that are historically inaccurate (admitted by the author Shay Savage), but I could not get enough of Ehd and his devotion to Beh. I loved his perspective of everything that was happening and what he thought of Beh’s habits. Beh was able to resist this sexy caveman much longer than I ever would have! I dearly hope the author writes a book from Beh’s perspective, so we can see what she was thinking during their time together.

So the moral of the story is- don’t give up! Just because you didn’t connect with a book right away, or that it’s not your typical genre, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth a second try. You might just be glad you read it after all.

-Nancy

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Manifest Destiny: Volumes 5 & 6

The reimanging of the Lewis and Clark expedition continues as history, colonization and government conspiracies are shaken up together into a unique tale about the Corps of Discovery.

Volume 5: Mnemphobia & Chronophobia

In November of 1804 , Fort Mandan is built in North Dakota so the corps could winter safely before continuing on their journey in the spring. As soon as the fort is finished, a dense fog rolls in and everyone begins to experience paranoia and delusions.  All the creatures that the corps have encountered seem to come at them, and the past sins of the soldiers come back to haunt them. Thus the title of the book comes into focus, as the fear of memories and anxiety over the passage of time are shown.  It is during this chaos that Sacagawea goes into labor while battling her own private demons. Little Jean Baptsite’s birth is tempered by the knowledge of the subterfuge Lewis and Clark are planning regarding the infant, and Sacagawea’s strange acquiescence about it.

The art remains strong with layouts that are fresh and unique. The era is beautifully rendered with the clothing, guns, buildings and landscapes accurately drawn. Plus the creatures are freakishly awesome!

Volume 6: Fortis & Invisibilia

Mutiny! A few weeks after the dangerous fog, nerves are frayed and Lewis is obsessively monitoring the arch discovered nearby. Sargeant Pryor preaches to the soldiers and develops a following, creating a rift between those who align with him, and those that stay true to Lewis and Clark. Eventually Pryor plans a coup and the leaders are ejected from the fort along with others. The ghostly conquistador from Volume Four is moving between soldiers hoping to find the strongest leader to fulfill his diabolical plan for conquest. This volume was a bit of a convoluted mess, and I was having trouble keeping straight who was who among the soldiers.

This story dragged for me, as two volumes have been set in the fort, and the dead of winter hasn’t even begun. They need to pick up the pace of the storytelling for there is still much to tell of the journey, and they are nowhere near the Pacific Northwest yet. I checked when the next issue is out, and I don’t see a date yet, so I am worried that this series will ignobly end before the journey can be properly told. Despite my rough start with this series and these shaky middle volumes, I hope the entire scope of this re-imagined  journey can be properly told.

-Nancy

Read the proceeding volumes: Volume One, Volumes Two-Four

Manifest Destiny: Volumes Two-Four

Two years ago when I read Volume One: Flora & Fauna of this series that reimages the Lewis and Clark expedition, I hated it. I was turned off by the historical inaccuracies and the crudeness of the characters. But I recently decided to give it another go and picked up the next three volumes.

Never say never.

Continue reading “Manifest Destiny: Volumes Two-Four”

Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora & Fauna

ManifestDestiny_V1
Dingress, Chris, Matthew Roberts & Owen Gieni. Manifest Destiny. 2014.

Lewis and Clark…Sacagawea…exploring new lands…meeting new people…the adventure of a lifetime- what could possibly go wrong???

As coincidence would have it, I was reading this book while my family was in St. Louis, where this adventure gets it’s start. It was a neat juxtaposition to compare the pictures of the Mississippi and the arch in the book, to what the city and surrounding area look like now. What starts out as what you imagine the expedition looked like in 1804, quickly takes a sharp left turn when the group encounters a living arch, Minotaur type creatures who are half human/ half bison, and vegetation that take over people turning them into plant zombies. Sacagawea is introduced as a mysterious warrior along with her disgusting husband Charbonneau.

I had SO many problems with this book. I thought at first, cool, this story will be fun. It was not. What upset me the most was how Sacagawea was portrayed. It first must be noted that I don’t like when historical women are misrepresented to the public. The Disney movie about Pocahontas and the Fox movie about Anastasia drive me wild with how inaccurate they are and my worry that youth will watch them and think they are historically factual.  While I understand that no one is reading this graphic novel for it’s accuracy, I was pissed at how she was portrayed. She was sexualized and crude comments were made about her by some of the men. This then leads into my next complaint- the mature content. This was some of my own doing for I failed to notice the small notice on the back that it was rated M. It’s not that I’m a prude, I read and enjoy The Walking Dead and Locke & Key that incorporate sexuality into their stories, but in this story is seemed gratuitous. I think younger boys might gravitate towards this book that is labeled action/adventure and then be introduced to some wildly inappropriate remarks and pictures while reading the novel.

So Image Comics takes history, government conspiracies, and re-images (get my pun?) the events by shaking it all together into what I consider a convoluted mess. There are future volumes, as this first volume only covers the beginning of the journey. I am vaguely interested in the Sacagawea plot line and what subterfuge Lewis and Clark hinted at regarding her and her future infant and how it will play out, plus I know the expedition will be eventually encountering Big Foot/Sasquatch, so I might skim future volumes just so I can get upset again 😉

-Nancy

 

Manifest pic
Heeeellp…you are about to be taken on a convoluted ride!!!

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