Pre-Hiatus Review Highlights

Hey guys! I’d just like to do an overall highlight of some of the reviews posted before I went on hiatus. I missed doing one for the months prior and would still like to highlight a few, so here’s a condensed overview of the reviews I posted before going on break (Click on the title to read more):

Best Snowball (Series)
*By “Snowball” I mean a series/book that starts incredibly slow, but is worth the wait*

Shaman King, Vol.1: A Shaman in Tokyo by Hiroyuki Takei

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The series is about a young Shaman named Yoh, who in the first volume is starting at a new school in Tokyo…Through a series of events which involve ghosts, supernatural occurrences, and encounters with a “thug” named Ryu, Manta and Yoh become friends…In this volume we are introduced to Admidamaru, a 600-year-old samurai ghost and to a fellow Shaman named Ren who has a particularly sinister interest in Yoh and Admidamaru…

I give Shaman King, Vol. 1: A Shaman in Tokyo a rating of 7 out of 10 Unicorn Horns. Overall the story was not amazingly entertaining, but that did not bother me at all because the story quickly picks up towards the end and you can easily identify the main focus/purpose of this initial volume in the series.

Best Artwork

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez

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After their father is killed, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode move to the family estate, Keyhouse in Lovecraft, Massachusetts with their mother Nina….The youngest of the Lovecraft siblings, Bode, comes across a key that unlocks a Ghost Door which separates the soul of the person who “walks” through from their body. In the nature of all good fiction the story is not easy sailing from then on and the family soon has much more to worry about than just healing and moving forward.

I give Locke and Key a well deserved 7.25 Unicorn Horns out of a possible 10. In addition to the well executed storyline this graphic novel has exceptional artwork. Gabriel Rodríguez’s illustrations in this series is mind-blowing and his art style lends itself so well to the story.

Best Character Development

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

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Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy set in a kingdom called Kohka. The story centers around main character princess Yona as she prepares for her 16th birthday. Yona, the only child of widow King IL, is a pampered young lady, but things quickly change. Very quickly. As most know nothing good happens for royalty on their coming-of-age birthdays. 

Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns. I did NOT at all expect for this story to turn out the way it did. I can promise watching this fiery spirited princess transition into a determined warrior with open eyes to the reality of her kingdom is every bit worth it.

Most Thought-Provoking Story

The Beauty, Vol. 1 by Jason A. Hurley & Jeremy Haun

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“Two years ago , a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm. This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before. This was a disease that people actually wanted. “Victims” of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus. Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed. It became known as the beauty.” Pg. 1 of The Beauty

Rating: 9.5/10 Unicorn Horns! One thing I loved was the bits of real life socially controversial thoughts and ideas about beauty woven in here and there…

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

*THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE*

Book Review-American Born Chinese

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American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a Young Adult Graphic Novel that follows three seemingly unrelated story lines that intersect in an interesting way near the conclusion of the story. The stories are not told back-to-back, instead they are broken up into various chapters, where each chapter contains a portion of each story. One story follows the main character Jin Wang, a Chinese-American boy who goes to a school where he is picked on. All Jin wants is to fit in at this school where he is the only Chinese-American student. The second story is a retelling of a Chinese fable of the Monkey King. Although the Monkey King is the ruler of all monkeys and a master of kung-fu, he wants to be recognized as a god and not a mere monkey. Lastly, there is the story of Danny. He is a basketball star and he’s popular but every year he is forced to switch schools when his ‘very Chinese’ cousin Chin-Kee comes to visit.

Although this book is technically  young adult  it could easily be enjoyed and digested by an older middle-grade reader. The theme and concept of ‘true-identity’ runs through the entire story. Overall, my favorite of the three stories contained in this book was that of the Monkey King. To me, this story also happens to be the one that best portrays the importance of accepting oneself and being true to your self.

Gene Luen Yang does an outstanding job of not only exploring how we self-identify, but also cultural identity. Although, if you dig deeply you will realize that cultural identity can be seen in the story of the Monkey King, if you swap out race (Chinese/Caucasian) for the idea of being a god/monkey, it is most apparent in Jin’s story as Jin desperately wants to culturally fit in. There is a scene within the first few chapters of this book where Wei-Chen, a new student who has immigrated from Taiwan approaches Jin and Jin’s first comment to him is “You’re in America. Speak English”. This is slightly heartbreaking as you can clearly see Jin’s ‘cultural self shaming’ (for a lack of a better term…I decided to make one up!) and embarrassment to potentially be overheard understanding/speaking in a language other than English at school.

American Born Chinese, wholeheartedly and without a doubt deserves 9, of the shiniest and brightest, unicorn horns! This is a book that I would suggest that any adult who has a child/young adult in their life should buy for said young human. It is amazing to see Asian, and more specifically Chinese-American representation that is honest. The book is an important read, not only for readers who can culturally/racially identify with the main characters and plot points, but for all young humans (and unicorns alike) who are growing up/grew up racially ‘othered’.