Graduation: A Review of Goodbye, Battle Princess Peony, by Mira Ong Chua

Comic books are an overlooked form of storytelling when it comes to literary discussions, with most of the conversation revolving around the books put out there by the large publishers.  Comic books struggle with a reputation tied to superheroes in the United States, but it only takes looking at the indie art scene, or the books published in other parts of the world, to see the real potential of the comic book and graphic novel forms. Rather than reading exposition describing a city, a talented artist can show it to us through spreads and background art.  Authors do not have to struggle with trying to accurately convey what emotion a character is feeling when it can be drawn on the page.  A good artist can convey pages worth of narration in a single frame.  There are so many good comic books out there, in a multitude of genres, and the subject of today’s review is here to prove just how impactful and engrossing a comic can be.

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Unending Legacy: A Review of Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

We are all, regardless of background, part of an unending legacy, stretching back generations.  In some cases, those legacies are so intertwined with a specific place that they never branch out, never travel.  But, in other cases, those legacies spread across the globe.  Anyone from an immigrant family can attest to this feeling, of belonging to a culture or people that did not originate wherever you live.  For some immigrants, they try to hold onto this legacy and culture wherever they move, creating distinct communities within communities.  Others, however, prefer to do their best to assimilate—a process we call Americanization in this country—and allow their children to grow up as full members of their new nation.  But that does not erase the legacy that follows those children of immigrants, sometimes resulting in a situation where the children feel out of place everywhere they go.

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Thinking Machine: A Review of This Golden Flame, by Emily Victoria

One common trope in science-fiction is the existence of technology so advanced it is indistinguishable from magic.  However, the reverse can also be found in fiction whenever a writer wants to create a fantasy world, but still include a technological element that would not otherwise be possible.  Enter magical technology, or magic indistinguishable from technology aside from being fueled by magic instead of electricity or another power source.  Maybe an author wants to include an airship in their high fantasy setting, but does not want technology to be too advanced.  Or they want a medieval-like setting to have access to something like a computer or search engine.  Whatever the apparatus, this allows authors to get inventive with the magic in their book, imagining how it can fuel a society.  However, this trend can run up against the rick of breaking immersion whenever readers start to wonder why the characters just do not use the actual technology instead of magic.

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Suneater: A Review of Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse

Epics are a form of literature as old as storytelling itself and continues to be just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago when The Epic of Gilgamesh was first told.  Every culture has its own tales, passed down from generation to generation, and literature has continued to keep this particular genre relevant.  Even today, modern authors still write epic fiction, even if the format has changed from poetry to prose.  No one could look at The Lord of the Rings trilogy or A Song of Ice and Fire as anything other than modern epic stories, but those are far from the only ones.  All epics share a few common characteristics.  An epic will feature multiple main characters, each on their own important journey.  Sometimes this journey will take them across several locales, other times the journey will not a physical one.  Magic may play a part, but it is usually rare and, when it does appear, can be exceedingly powerful.  Often, the stakes will threaten the world, but the characters growth is just as important to the story as the plot.

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One Flesh, One End: A Review of Harrow the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir

There are no other books quite like Harrow the Ninth.  The second novel in Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb trilogy following Gideon the Ninth, Harrow the Ninth seemingly follows the conventions of a sequel while consistently turning things on their heads at every opportunity.  As the second story in a trilogy, audiences come in with a certain expectation.  Where the first book is meant to set up the characters and the overarching plot, it still ends in an apparent victory.  The second book need to expand the world, introduce new mysteries, and provide a lead-up to the third and final chapter.  Harrow the Ninth does do this, but not in any expected way.  Instead, it creates a mood piece focusing intimately on our main heroine as she navigates a wholly unfamiliar world out to destroy her at every turn.  Many questions are asked, some are answered, but Muir never loses sight of the story she wants to tell.

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Immolation – A Review of The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures, by Noelle Stevenson

Memoir; from the French mémoire.  A memory.  Unlike a biography, which tends to be a relatively straightforward look at a person’s life, a memoir consists of their collected memories.  It may be presented in chronological order, order of most importance, or how each memory leads into the next.  As long as people have been committing words to writing, they have written memoirs.  From the ancient world, to the modern, memoirs have only grown in popularity as a way to pass down one’s own legacy.  Not all of us are destined to become legendary poets and writers, many people are forgotten as time passes.  But a memoir can be an extension of a life.  The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures is what is known as a graphic memoir containing both her words and her artwork in a masterful combination.

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Immortal Cavalier: A Review of Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir

Science-fiction and fantasy may appear to be very different genres at first glance.  Once is full of advanced technologies, with a focus on scientific progress and how that works within the setting.  Fantasy focuses on magic and oftentimes breaking the rules of the physical world in the pursuit of power.  However, the two are full of more similarities than differences.  Both can take place on Earth, or on another world.  The world can have creatures other than humans, be they aliens or elves.  Fantasy can sometimes show technology powered by magic, while highly advanced technology can sometimes appear indistinguishable from magic depending on who witnesses it.  Popular franchises such as Warhammer, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, and even Star Wars, all find compelling ways to blend genres.  Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir, blends science-fiction and fantasy in a wonderfully gruesome way.

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