Faith: Hollywood and Vine

by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Marguerite Sauvage
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content:  There is your usual superhero blow-em-up fare, plus some awkward moments. This would be in the graphic novel section of the bookstore if we had it.

So, in my graphic novel class this summer, we (well, me and a couple other students) ended up talking a lot about representation by women (and diversity, though not as much) in the comics/graphic novels world. One of the other students said that Valiant did an okay job with representation, but mentioned Faith as a good example of a plus-size superhero where weight didn’t really come into play. I was curious, so I picked it up.

After a traumatic experience and a bad breakup, Faith Herbert aka Zephyr (she’s a psiot who can fly and has some telekinetic ability)  has moved from New York to LA to try and do things on her own. Donning an alias, Summer Smith, she gets a job as a content writer for a culture blog/website. Even though she hasn’t made many friends and her ex has a reality TV show, Faith is doing pretty well. That is, until she discovers that psiots are disappearing and that there’s a tie-in to the new, hot sci-fi show on TV. So, of course it’s up to Faith (with some help from a few friends) to save the day.

On the one hand, yeah: it was refreshing to see an atypical superhero doing cool and amazing things and being comfortable in her own body (or at least not having her body be the center of the story line). But, and maybe this is me, I think much of what was “revolutionary” by that is diminished by the fact that everyone else in the book is skinny and/or super built. What’s the point of making the main character look more realistic if everyone else (from her crushes to the love interest to the bad guys to her co-workers) is “normal” and she’s the odd woman out? I kept noticing that she was always the fat one, and felt — even though it’s written/drawn by women — that somehow they were trying to draw attention to her size. So, even though the plot wasn’t about her weight, the book, ultimately, ended up being about her weight. Which made me sad. (To be fair, maybe it’s just me?)

That said, I liked the story. I liked Faith, and her fangirlness. I liked her daydreams and her awkwardness and her moral code. And I liked the resolution in the end.

It wasn’t a bad graphic novel and I am glad I read it.

Geekerella

geekerellaby Ashley Poston
First sentence: “The stepmonster is at it again.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it now!
Release date: April 4, 2017
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There’s some emotional abuse, and some mild swearing (a couple of s-words). It will be in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Elle Wittimer’s mother died when she was little, and her father remarried to a woman with two daughters. He died a few years after that, leaving Elle alone with her step-mother and -sisters. She lives for the show that she and her father loved, Starfield (a sci-fi TV show that got canceled). It’s being rebooted into a movie, starring a teen heartthrob (do people even say that anymore?) Darien Freeman, whom Elle doesn’t think is a worthy replacement for the ship commander, Carmindor.

Darien has his own issues: he’s a geek himself, adoring Starfield. But, his acting career (managed by his father), has gone the way of teen soaps, and he’s garnered a legion of screaming, swooning fans. Which, of course, means that that Real Fans of Starfield are suspicious.

It’s not coming through yet, but this is an incredibly clever retelling of Cinderella. There’s no magic, just pure and simple fun. But it’s also incredibly clever the way Poston wove the familiar elements of the tale in. From the vegan taco truck, The Magic Pumpkin, to the glass slippers, it’s all there. Some of the characters are stereotypes, but others are surprising, and I loved the world and the show that Poston created.

It’s such a fun, fun book.

 

Kill the Boy Band

killtheboybandby Goldy Moldavsky
First sentence: “People have called me crazy.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: February 23, 2016
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There’s a LOT of f-bombs, plus an off-screen sex scene. It’ll be in the Teen (grades 9+) section of the bookstore.

You ever finish a book and think “Huh. That was a wild, weird, insane trip”?

Yeah, this is that sort of book.

The premise? Four friends — Samantha, our narrator; Erin; Isabel; and Anna — who are all dedicated fans of The Ruperts (a One Direction-like band) have met up in New York City for The Ruperts’ Thanksgiving show. They’ve managed (thanks to Anna, whose family is loaded) to score a room in the hotel where the boys are staying. Their goal? To score tickets to the show, maybe meet the band.

Or at least that’s what it begins like.

Then, they accidentally sort-of on purpose kidnap the most useless member of the Ruperts, Rupert P., and things kind of go (hilariously) downhill from there.

I’ll admit it: I laughed. I laughed a lot. The premise is so ridiculous, so inane that I had to laugh. The fans are called Strepurs (that’s Rupert’s backwards). The four girls got into ever increasingly weird situations. But, at it’s heart, it’s a dark novel. What is the purpose of a celebrity? How much do they owe their fans? How much should a fan expect? You see this all the time with celebrities, finding a balance between being a private person and appeasing their fans, and Moldavsky just takes it to the extreme. It’s also a musing on the extremes that fans — especially teenage girls, but maybe that’s a stereotype — will go to meet and interact with the object of their affection. It’s a fascinating look — albeit satirical — at the current state of culture.

Did I like it? Yes. Did it scare me? Somewhat. (My boss says it’s because I have teenage girls who are fans of things.) Is it good? Definitely.