After Death

A.D. After Death, Book One 

What would happen if there was no more death?

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A genetic cure for death has been found in this new 3 part series by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire. However, one man is beginning to feel the repercussions of death and question his place in a world where they are no longer mortal. This comic book reads like a mixture of a traditional comic book and a picture book. The present day story is done in the format of a paneled comic book, but the pages containing flashbacks are designed with long text accompanied by simple and gorgeous water color illustrations. This format allows the reader to clearly understand the author’s intent for that scene.

After death’s cure, it seems people operate in fifty year cycles. The lead character, Jonah, takes on a new job for the new cycle. It is almost as if humans realize they need to make a change every fifty years or they’ll get bored or go crazy. I am not positive that was Snyder’s message, but it makes sense to me, as I enjoy a variety and I am mortal. I cannot imagine, nor would I ever desire, to be immortal on Earth.

Jonah seems to be going through an “eternal mid-life crisis,” in a sense. He reflects on his first memory and memories that he believes defined him, for example he was a bit of a kleptomaniac as a kid. According to him, the whole reason the cure for death was found was because he stole the wrong thing. This “thing” he stole was not revealed in book one, which is the author’s catch for getting you intrigued for book two, I am sure. We do know that Jonah Cooke was a normal, everyday man who discovered, or revealed, the extraordinary. One thing I do like about his character, is that he does not seem to have changed in the future. He is a random, boring guy who still likes to “collect” things that may or may not belong to him.

Overall, I recommend this book, but reserve any final thoughts for future volumes. The story can go in so many directions that  I don’t feel I can give a proper review until the story is complete. However, it is intriguing and I write this ramble in hope others pick up this series too and enjoy it along with me.

Note: book two came out this week at your local comic shop! I have not read it yet.

Go Set a Watchman

By Harper Lee

Every story has a first draft. Something on paper that places a fictional world into reality.

I recently completed the audiobook of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, performed by Reese Witherspoon. This novel, really a draft by Harper Lee, is a fascinating specimen for writers to see the growth of novels and how they develop into fully-formed stories. It also gives me confidence in my own abilities. If Harper Lee can pull out the beauty of To Kill a Mockingbird from this novel, then anything is possible.

The root of the story is the same: a young girl coming of age in the South. She just happens to be 26 and reflecting on her childhood, rather than a child and experiencing those moments in real-time. This slight difference in perspective completely changes the story, despite many characters and some events being the same. However, I agree with her original editor, Tay Hohoff, that the submitted manuscript was more of a series of anecdotes than a fully-fleshed out novel. Harper Lee introduced Jean Louise a stubborn character with many good convictions that she picked up from her time in New York and from her father, a father who she learns is not everything she believes him to be. However, the story has many incidences of “telling” what happened rather than “showing” what happened. This is something many authors, including myself, struggle with in first, second, and maybe even third drafts.

I haven’t read many reviews about Go Set a Watchman, but I have heard in passing that people were outraged by Atticus and his beliefs. His perspective does not surprise me based on where he lives and his occupation. Jean Louise learns the hard way that humans–even hardworking fathers–cannot be perfect gods. Atticus and Jean Louise butt heads because she is realizing their social ideologies are not perfectly in sync anymore. Atticus tells Jean Louise that they actually aren’t that different. They have similar goals, but different understandings on how to achieve those goals. Jean Louise gets angry with him because she is too focused on her own perspective and not willing to listen and visualize the world through her father’s eyes. Atticus, on the other hand, has already learned the art of listening. He listens to everyone, regardless their beliefs. He even says, “hypocrites have just as much right to live in this world as anybody.” This statement to me felt like an acceptance of all people, regardless of his personal view or bias, and reflected the Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird. Despite that statement, I do see that he is not the same Atticus we grew up with. His views are different than those expressed in Lee’s originally published novel, but he is made more human in this version and, to me, that is beautiful.

Overall, this is not a fantastic novel. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books and this falls short of that brilliance. As a writer, I am pleased it was published so I could see how Harper Lee transformed her draft into the final publication.

 

Hiatus and SLAM!

Hello readers! (if I still have any following my hiatus…)

After participating in National Novel Writing Month last month (November), I realized how much I missed writing my own stories. I had a lot of fun drafting a novelette and a few short stories. Many of which will never see publication. I hope to edit a couple of the others.

I am also aware it has been three months since I last posted on my blog. Given the holidays are around the corner, I will not promise regularity, but I do hope to make at least one post a week from here on out. I think two a week was too much for my schedule and I got overwhelmed.

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On to the ramble: My friend at the local comic book shop, Excalibur, recommended I start reading a new independent series titled SLAM! I was skeptical, but since I know a couple people doing Roller Derby I thought I might give it a try. The cover is fun. Bright pink and green. I enjoy her black eye and bloody face. The story progresses fairly well for a first issue, in that it gives each of the main characters’ backstories in a succinct manner and quickly establishes their newfound friendship. After laboring over my own story last month, I remembered how difficult it was to introduce characters clearly and effectively in a limited time frame. A couple of the pages I enjoyed the most were the “P.D. (Pre-Derby)” and “A.D. (After-Derby)” character sketch pages of lead protagonists, Jennifer Chu and Maisie Huff.

The author of SLAM! is Pamela Ribon, who is probably better known as a story writer for the recent Disney film, Moana. If you have not yet seen this new Disney princess film, I highly suggest it. The illustrator is Veronica Fish, who has done a lot of work with the Archie series. Fish does an excellent job with her character designs and the expressions are spot-on.

Happy reading everyone!