Friday, August 29, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty

Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty is the second book in the Night School Series. Night School is a YA Suspense series that started with the first book in the series Night School (paperback 1st published on 5 January 2012). The ISBN is 1907411224 and the novel was published on 3 January 2013 by Atom. I purchased this book in paperback.

PLOT

In the last year, Allie's survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It's the one place she's felt she belongs. And the fact that it's brought the dreamy Carter West into her life hasn't hurt. . .
But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could've imagined. The students, and faculty, are under threat and Allie's family - from her mysterious grandma to her runaway brother - are at the centre of the storm.
Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart . . .

WHY I BOUGHT IT

The first book really spoke to me even if it wasn’t what I expected. From the cover and the blurb at the back it screamed paranormal but it turns out this is an example of the somewhat less known genre of YA thriller.

WHAT I THOUGHT

This book continues on the riveting story from the first book in the series and we see Allie change in some ways but stay the same in others. There are things I like about this book and things I dislike but the book keeps me coming back and I think it is safe to say that I will be sticking around until the end of the series unless the quality of the writing falls off a cliff.
For all of us that read a large number of books that are part of a series we know that the problem with the first instalments in many of them that the plot has to be established and that characterisation especially of the supporting cast really suffers, this doesn’t happen every time but it does happen a great deal.
Night School: Legacy gives us a greater insight into some of the other students of the Cimmeria Academy and the series is improved as a result, we start to see into the motivations of characters like Carter and Jo which for me made me give them a little slack and makes me less hostile to them. This helped me with my enjoyment of the book for sure and let me concentrate on trying to figure out who could be trusted.
We have to talk about Allie at the beginning of this novel I can understand her reasons for losing it and we know this is how she deals with trauma but the almost instant turnaround that happens came across as incredibly hard to believe at first but as the book goes on we see that Allie does love to flip flop on major decisions.
PROS: The suspense is palpable and the way that the story moves between Allie’s battle to survive the perils of school and the far greater conspiracy that lies behind Cimmeria Academy.
CONS: It is difficult to root for or even tolerate either of the two love interests because when you look at it really you have a date rapist who admitted to doing the same in the past and a guy who can best be described as self-destructive.

CONCLUSION


Despite that controversial aspect of the series I am still happy to recommend that people read this series as they will get sucked in to the intrigue and the burning desire that you along with Allie can learn the truth. If you’ve taken the splash with the rather long opening book in the series then this is more of the same thankfully with a few answers too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ANIME REVIEW: Hamatora

Hamatora is a 2014 anime that ran for 12 episodes from Jan 8 to Mar 26 in Japan. It was produced by TV TokyoNAZDIVE II Entertainment and the second season titled Re: Hamatora began on Jul 8.

PLOT

"Minimum" - a special inborn power found in a limited number of human beings, known as "minimum holders." In Yokohama, the detective team Hamatora, formed by two minimum holders named Nice and Murasaki, comes across information connected to a serial killer being pursued by their old friend Art. It turns out all the victims are minimum holders like them. Unwillingly at first, the two detectives become involved in the investigation.

WHAT I THOUGHT

With that plot summary you might think that this show is as straightforward as can be an action anime with super powers and not much plot at all. You would be wrong there is something so much deeper lying below the surface of this anime, something that becomes much clearer in the second season. I’m getting ahead of myself first we should consider the core elements of the show.

The detective agency – Hamatora – which is really more accurately sort of an agency for odd jobs consists of a small group of friends who all possess Minimums which are there super powers. The powers seem to be activated by the Minimum holder interacting with objects that they tend to keep on them, I’m not sure if it is like a shortcut to an incantation or if they can’t use their abilities without them which is something we never find out.


The leader Nice has a power that puts him about one level below Superman in terms of the world of Hamatora though it took me until the second season to get any sort of understanding of what it was that he was doing. A lot of the fun I had with watching Hamatora was trying to figure out the rules around their powers but that might just be for former comic collectors like me to enjoy.

I can’t write about this show without mentioning that there is a lot of comedy thrown in there especially in the opening half of the season, comedy which for me did not always work but isn’t so bad that it puts you off checking out the next episode.


There is a mystery at the centre of Hamatora despite what the first few filler episodes might make you think I urge you just to hang in there, like a large number of anime shows out there the first few filler episodes are just that but they offer you bread crumb bits that actually do feature when things pick up in the second half of the season.


The animation is great and I love the outfits and sense of style, definitely good for cosplaying opportunities for guys something that I can definitely get behind. The music is interesting lots of piano and very different from what you tend to hear in most anime.


Hamatora first season lasts 13 episodes with a Finale that definitely has a WTF moment but in a good way and because it has a second season you know that you get some resolution and actually a reasonable resolution at that.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ANIME REVIEW: Mekakucity Actors

Bear with me people this is a new feature and trying to review a whole season of an anime is very different from my episodic or single book reviews. Hope you have fun reading it.

Mekakucity Actors is a 2014 anime series that ran first from April 13, 2014 to June 29, 2014. Its producers are listed as Aniplex, Shaft and 1st Place.

PLOT

The incidents which occurred on August 14th and 15th bring a group of young boys and girls together... They are members of a group they call themselves the "Mekakushi Dan" (Blindfold Organization) and each member possesses a strange power involving their eyes. Will the members of this peculiar organization be able to solve the mysteries behind these incidents and see the truth?

ANIMATION

The animation is smooth and incredibly well done but the animation style is fairly unique as such things go and most similar to the Bakemonogatari series which was made by the same studio. It is beautiful but very different and will take some getting used to.

WHAT I THOUGHT

This anime makes no sense.
This anime makes no sense.
This anime makes…
OH wait why didn’t they make that more clear in the beginning.

If you require require a show to have a linear plot moving from A to B and so on you need to stay well away from this show it might have an adverse effect on your health seriously at times this show can and will seriously stress you out.


Mekakucity is one of the strangest anime I have ever seen. It is not that the show doesn’t have a plot in fact the plot is rather expansive and pretty involved the issue comes around the fact that the plot doesn’t follow any simple timeline or logical progression it just tells you stuff whenever it wants and without warning. It jumps here and there and doesn’t explain itself.

Mekakucity Actors is based on a series of Vocaloid songs by the artitst Jin so perhaps that explains some of the weirdness of the show. The songs were apparently huge and spawned light novel and manga adaptions, the songs together tell a story which is something to note in terms of discussing the show itself.


There are things to recommend in this anime the art work is good but somewhat unique UNLESS you have also watched Monogatari and the related series which are all made by the same studio and do this weird thing where only the main characters have any definition and extras are often still silhouettes or disembodied voices. It is kind of creepy if I’m honest but meh.

I can recommend this if you want to take a look at a great example of non-typical anime, there isn’t a wimpy protagonist who just wants to become strong or humanoid mecha battles between warring nations. It is definitely an anime that you can’t watch passively you need to pay attention to what is going on and think about them in order to rearrange the jigsaw that is the plot of this show.

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