Posts Tagged ‘craig thompson’

2014 Wrap-Up

Before we set out in trying to somehow distil this year into five books, I’m going to say:

  • Each author can only appear once
  • It must be a novel (i.e. fiction, one story, mainly words)
  • One book per place

Now, without further ado, here’s my top five.

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – I kept going back and forth between this one and The Virgin Suicides, but in the end, this one won out. All I have to say is READ IT.

2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – I didn’t expect the book to tear my heart out, but it did. Multiple times. I love the narrative style, and the concept, and the twist. Oh man, the twist.

3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I honestly did not know whether this book was going to live up to the hype or not, but it exceeded expectations, and I want a movie. Or a sequel. Or both.

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Another one with a lot of hype, and for a good reason. This story combines fairytales and messy, wealthy families and gorgeous prose and it is probably the best young adult fiction I have read this year.

5. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson – I could not exclude this amazing, spectacular, wonderful ending to a superb fantasy trilogy. I was so blown away by how well everything was wrapped up, and the bravery of the choices made in this series.

Unlike last year, I have quite a few honorary mentions.

In the non-fiction sphere, I fell in love with Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and I have not ceased to recommend this book to absolutely everyone.

In the graphic novels category, the winners are Blankets by Craig Thompson and The Arrival by Shaun Tan, which are both well worth your time. There were a lot of strong competitors in this round but I did my best to narrow it down to those two which have gorgeous art styles, really interesting themes, and brilliant choices in telling their stories.

Amongst the short story collections, I chose Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro, which hit me hard in the heart. So hard, in fact, that I have a hard time rereading that collection because it makes me so damn emotional.

Hope you guys all had great reading years, and we will see you in 2015!

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Blankets – Craig Thompson

To be honest, I don’t really want to tell you much about Blankets. I want you to go in and discover for yourself how great it is.

However, this is a review. So I can’t just go and send you off on blind faith.

So.

Here we go.

Plot Summary

It’s an autobiographical (or at least semi-autobiographical) account of Craig, and his relationship with romance and God and his family. It’s about obsession; and duty; and the loss of innocence. It’s about self-discovery and self-destruction. It’s about Craig growing up learning what type of person he wants to become.

Cons

I did not realise this was adult fiction.

I went into this thinking it was a light, happy read with a bit of angst thrown in.

Oops.

(The lesson here is check the age rating before you start reading, because I did not mentally prepare myself for some of the scenes. I guess it’s better that way. More of the intended effect. But it definitely taught me not to read Blankets in crowded public spaces.)

Pros

I don’t want to give too much away, and I don’t exactly know where to begin, so these will be short.

The artwork was completely beautiful. I loved how expressionistic it was, portraying Craig’s feelings through a sort of visual metaphor (there’s probably an actual term for that, but I don’t read a lot of graphic novels so I have no clue).

The way the bible verses or teachings were interposed with Craig’s life, for example in the first chapter with the cubby hole. That was like super cool. Everything about the way the story was structured and the drawings were positioned was mega cool. I don’t know how it compares to other graphic novels because I don’t read very many, but I’m sure it’s good.

I don’t feel like I can exactly comment on the plot or the characters, since it’s (semi?) autobiographical, but I will say that it kept me reading and engaged and putting off work that I really should have been doing.

The theme of the dangers of obsession was extremely interesting, but I won’t get too far into that, because I won’t be able to explore it half as well as Blankets did, so you should just read it. I know, the book is massive, but it won’t take that long.

Because the book isn’t really a comment on religion. Sure, we see how Craig deals with it, but it never preaches to you. It shows you one example of Craig’s intense relationships, and lets you do whatever you want with that information. And that’s the beautiful subtlety of the book. It lets you decide what you take from it.

Basically, everything was beautiful and evocative and made you think without shoving opinions down your throat. It was gorgeous and you should read it.

Overall

You should read it.

It might make you cry.

It might make you sit back and re-evaluate your life.

Yeah, I think so.

5 shuriken stars.

(though yes it has some adult content and if graphic nudity/all kinds of violence/naughty words/sex isn’t your kind of thing, then maybe take a second before you pick it up. But the rest of you. Go out and read it. Go.)