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Secondary V - Book Reviews

BatmanBatman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Alan Moore's grim, gritty, and dark tale of the Caped Crusader and his grinning rival is the definitive Joker story. With the omnipresent theme of "what truly makes a man lose his mind?" Batman: The Killing Joke explores the Joker's tragic origins that are then paralleled with his present day exploits. To give the world one final punchline, the Joker tries proving that the average man's sanity is simply one bad day away from snapping. Through this narrative, questions are raised: Does the loss of a loved one cause insanity? What about the torturing of a loved one? Or of one's self? Moore includes all of these horrifying situations in the graphic novel, attracting the reader to the story, at which point there is no escape but to get to the end as quick as possible in order to discover whether the mad man is right.

Complementing the writing is Brian Bolland's artistry. Despite bringing some of the best art to the industry, Bolland's sense of nostalgia is nonexistent since he re colored the entire book in 2008, giving it a more realistic feel. This is tragic as the 1988 original, coloured by John Higgins, had a whole different look which added even more insanity to the novel. Was this change needed? No. Are there any perks to this change? Yes. If one can get their hands on both the original and the reprint, they are guaranteed an exciting yet different experience from each.

All in all, Batman: The Killing Joke has stunning visuals, but more than stunning visuals, it has a compelling narrative, and even more than the compelling narrative, it manifests ideas that cause the reader to think. Rather than give generic action packed depiction, of which, there are too many today, the dynamic duo of Moore and Bolland deliver a genuine story of the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime, that is undoubtedly original and emotional.

- Reviewed by: Jackson Thouret

Stephen King ItIt by Stephen King

It by Stephen King is a story, a legend, a fable, a tale like no other of innocence, magic and all other elements of a perfect childhood. A childhood filled with happy, cheerful, gleeful, joyful and carefree days but also the dark repressed memories that you may have thought you had escaped. The narrative takes place in Derry, Maine where the murder rate is six times higher than any other town in New England. Every year, forty to sixty kids disappear unexplainably never to be seen again.

King’s masterpiece unravels Derry’s secrets by creating an antagonist named “It” who literally feeds on the very innocence of naive and unknowing children. He seamlessly meshes together the different timelines in the novel which captures the reader’s attention and never releases it. King, who is known for writing tales of horror has surpassed his usual writing style by creating a truly magnificent coming of age novel that is definitely an essential read for anyone looking to lose themselves between the very fine lines of innocence and nostalgia.

Between the intricate character design, deep history and intense flashbacks, King creates an atmosphere where the reader not only fears for the survival of the five main characters but also fears for himself as every crick, crack and bump in the night could be the beginning of another killing spree.

 - Reviewed by: Jordan Drury

The World is a BallThe World Is a Ball by John Doyle

John Doyle’s The World Is a Ball describes the evolution of soccer from 1967 to today, through his experiences in stadiums around the world. His devoted love for the Irish and his detestation, hostility, hatred, and antipathy towards the English is vividly recounted. This eloquently written text portrays the progression of soccer over 40 years. How? Through a set of 18 excruciating games. Why? Because his insight into the beautiful game enlightens, allowing the reader to progress rapidly through the novel, visioning heart-quenching losses and bone-crushing tackles. This results in overall enjoyment of the book, but more importantly, appreciation for the game itself.

Even non-soccer lovers will appreciate this novel as it has a unique style of writing. If Doyle had never travelled to that first game in Longford, then his current passion would not exist. A passion for a sport that inspires rivalries between neighbouring nations. Nations that stop work for 90 minutes to enjoy the beautiful game. The beautiful game that is breathtaking, electrifying, impactful.

- Reviewed by: Daniel Powell

SkulSkulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

In the midst of her uncle’s wake, Stephanie Edgley discovers a man like no other, standing in the corner of the room, overdressed in a large coat and a fuzzy wig. After a series of magical, yet mysterious events, the odd figure unveils himself, turning out to be the ace detective, snappy dresser and razor-sharp witted skeleton sorcerer, known as Skulduggery Pleasant.

Introduced into the world of the extra-ordinary, Stephanie discovers her innate perplexing powers with the help of newfound ally, mentor and protector, Skulduggery. Introduced into a world of distinct characters: a scarred boxer, a fatally alluring temptress and a stinging swordsman, Stephanie learns the way of this new world alongside the reader. Introduced into a dangerous, perilous, serpentine and mortal world, Stephanie is quickly absorbed into the crucial chase for the man with the red right hand.

In this narrative, Derek Landy creates the classic battle of the protagonists, a quick-witted skeleton and a sassy teenage girl, against the all-consuming antagonist. The end of the world? Over his dead body. A thrilling novel for those who love the supernatural and wise-cracking skeletons. Filled with humour and vampires, Skulduggery Pleasant is a novel that will both leave you in stitches and widen your imagination at the same time.

- Reviewed by: Robert McMullan

Book of Lost ThingsThe Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly tells the story of a young boy named David living in World War II England. A young boy who has just lost his mother, a figure who instilled in him a love, a passion, a hunger for reading. A young boy who, shortly after the death of his mother, starts hearing strange things. Things that soon enough transition from being heard to being seen and no sooner are they seen than are they felt. This haunting tale leaves the reader torn, unsure whether they should continue flipping through its immersive plot or put the book down to escape its unsettling atmosphere, in which the line between real life and fairy tales is blurred.

Connolly draws from classic folk stories, such as Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin, to build a mystical yet strangely familiar world. One might ask, “How can stories I’ve read countless times, and whose endings I know like the back of my hand, surprise me?” Connolly makes old news fresh by artfully hiding the true identity of the characters until the perfect moment, when the reader attains an epiphany. This, combined with modern, sometimes satirical portrayals of the well-known figures, leaves the reader guessing until the very last page of the novel.

- Reviewed by: Benjamin Lusterio-Adler

Book ThiefThe Book Thief by MarKus Zusak

Set in the fictional town of Molching, Germany, in 1939, The Book Thief is a novel told from the point of view of Death, recounting the main character, Leisel Meminger’s experiences during the Holocaust. Leisel is a nine-year-old Lutheran girl who witnesses the death of many of her loved-ones. Why would Death depict a nine-year-old girls’ life so horribly? To emphasize the true horrors of the Holocaust. Why is Death personified? For the reader to sympathize with the usually ill-perceived connotation of death.

Throughout the narrative, Death is shown to be a lonely, reclusive, empty and desolate character while also maintaining a contemplative demeanor. This novel, focused mainly on the complexity and beauty of language, allows, and could get away with a proliferation of adjectives and adverbs in order to revitalize language and uses words to paint emotions and a vivid visual landscape in a way never before encountered. If Death were not personified in the way he is, then The Book Thief would simply be a historical recollection of the Holocaust.

- Reviewed by: Tomas Fresco-Giulione