Friday, 26 August 2011


Well, the last month or so, the SO and I have been moving house to a lovely little place in Oxford. In the process buying more bookshelves. I actually have empty space that I can fill with books!

However, yes, this means this update is spectacularly late.

First on my list, I eventually got around to reading the final 2 instalments of Buffy The Vampire Slayer season 8. I re-read book 6, Retreat, for the lead-in, because it's been so long since I read them, then followed that up with books 7 and 8, Twilight and Last Gleaming.
I have to say, as a series, season 8 has been a bit of a mixed bag. I rather agree with one Amazon reviewer - the first 5 books were great. Really interesting, now the series has gone global, moved out of Sunnydale, and can take advantage of a cast of thousands and unlimited budget. But these last three... The plot is convoluted, and a bit difficult to follow, I don't feel the "reveal" of the big bad is particularly believable, and the grand finale isn't as epic as you feel it ought to be, with a main-character death which lacks the emotional impact that it ought to have.
That said, the final outcome of the series is game changing, and it'll be really interesting to see where they go from here for season 9. Especially since Joss Whedon has promised a return to character driven stories and more focus on what Buffy does best.

One of my favourite books of all time, is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, but so far I'd neglected to read any of the other books about the same characters - partly out of a fear that they couldn't possibly be as good. Then I got round to reading I Will Repay. The edition that I got wasn't a particularly good one - several glaring typos, but that's easily overlooked. Like the original book, this one is a love story as well as an adventure. The adventure itself is rollicking good fun, but it's a bit predictable. What makes the book worth reading is the characters, who all have real depth and emotion, and a real humanity to them. Especially the women. They aren't put up on pedestals - in fact this book is about the dangers of putting people on pedestals, which I sense is something of a theme in these books. Orczy's style is perhaps a little overblown, but that's more due to the period than an actual flaw in her work, and it suits the story. It's a fun adventure and might just tug your heartstrings along the way.

As some of you may know, I'm quite the Wonder Woman fan. And one of the other new reads of this month is The Hiketea - a stand alone Wonder Woman book by Greg Ruka. I like Ruka's Wonder Woman - she is possibly my favourite incarnation of the character; wise, strong, intelligent and full of compassion without being over emotional. I'm also a fan of Gail Simone's more consciously feminist take on Diana, but Ruka's Diana is just a decent and amazingly capable person, without having to make a point of it all the time. She is a feminist icon, but just by existing, rather than by trying to be one. The Hiketea is, I believe, Ruka's first attempt with the character, before he was given the series proper. The plot is very simple, but the execution is spot on, and sets up quite a few aspects of Diana that Ruka goes on to explore later. The dynamic and the conflict between Wonder Woman and Batman is explored without doing either of the characters down. With a start like this, it's easy to see why Ruka got the gig.

Finally, in a month of comics, I ended with Oracle: Cure. Sadly, it wasn't a great finish to the month. The plot is full of gaping holes and leaps of illogic. It stretches credibility, and reads like the author was trying to write a big flashy sci-fi movie, not a comic book with a history. All of whom aren't developed, and seem to bear very little relation to their already established characters. It doesn't help that I hate the art style as well. It's sharp, harsh and the buttons appear to be straining themselves constantly on Barbara's blouse. The whole thing feels flashy and trite, and the ending is harsh... almost ableist, and really out of character for the characters involved. After this I had to go back and re-read some Birds of Prey, just to remind myself of why I like Oracle, and how well it can be done...

And that's for the next month's instalment...