Oh Riverdale – I have a special place in my heart for you, but I think your teenaged residents could use some time away from town quarantines and drug induced hallucinations and really horrible parenting. Luckily, YALSA’s 2019 award winners and nominees have books to help your beleaguered high school students cope with all the drama. (Warning: Season 3 Spoilers)
A couple of years ago, I decided to put my lifelong obsession with dogs to good use and became a volunteer at my local animal shelter. I swore up and down that I wouldn’t adopt a dog, for a variety of logical reasons, and I actually held out for about a year. Then, to NO ONE’S surprise but mine, I fell in love with, and adopted, my dog Pippa.
I was incredibly excited when I first heard that Netflix and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation were creating a new series based on L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. My Canadian friends and family were able to view Anne With an E before me and their reviews were mixed. Most had seen – and loved – the 1985 CBC TV series, which faithfully followed the book. It seemed that older friends and family, especially those who had read the books and/or seen the original TV series, disapproved of the “liberties” the new series took with the story line. Younger friends and family, who had less familiarity with the story, were intrigued at the way the new series explored darker themes
In addition to creating controversy, the new series, now renewed for a third season, has sparked a new interest in interest in the author and the world she created. Regardless of what you think of Anne With an E, these books are an exciting way to explore the world of Anne, and her creator, who liked to be called Maud (without an E).
Is there a void left in your horror-loving heart by the lack of a new season of Attack on Titan? Hopefully this post will get you through until there is an official release date for season two. All of these recommendations feature graphic bloodshed and gore galore. They have been broken into three categories; steampunk, aliens, and stories from the monster’s’ point of view. The anime titles that headline each category definitely straddle that Teen/Adult territory where violent science fiction and horror media is often caught. Sensitive readers beware, these titles are not for the faint of heart; or stomach, for that matter.
If you like your horror to have a steampunk twist, watch: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
(This title is so new to the US market that it has not been assigned a rating, but Amazon.com’s Viewing Restriction coding is currently classifying it as a Mature title)
The Kabane have overrun Japan. Once a person is bitten they join the ranks of these difficult to kill and viciously hungry monsters. Set during an alternate industrial revolution where the remaining population of Japan is restricted to fortress stations, the only safe way to travel is by steam powered trains whose transit lines are controlled by elite families.
The twelve episode series has been described as Snowpiercer meets Attack on Titan. An ongoing show, this is a top notch survival-action horror anime with no manga adaptation (…yet). It has the same alternate reality/history flavor as Attack on Titan.
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
This 2011 Michael L. Printz award winner may be set in the future not the past, but the post apocalyptic thriller still deals with class division of the disenfranchised. The action sequences and travel elements are sure to keep the attention of any fan’s of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.
Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein by Gris Grimly, adapted from the book by Mary Shelley
Want more creatures with consciences and experiments gone awry? This graphic novel adaptation of the trials of OG mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and his gentleman monster is a fresh and visually stunning take on the classic story.
If you prefer alien invasion horror stories, watch: Parasyte: The Maxim
(rated TV-MA on the Internet Movie Database)
Alien pods fall from the sky, and the horror that emerges from each casing is driven by one need: to consume a human host, take over their identity and then continue feasting on humanity until they take over the planet. The alien that attempted to consume high schooler Shinichi Izumi missed his brain and instead takes over his right hand. Now that Migi is fused to his nervous system and the two are neither wholly alien nor human they must work together in order to survive both the aliens’ appetites and the humans defending their lives.
The manga of Parasyte, written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, came out in 1988 and the whole series has a classic 80s horror movie vibe. It was clearly heavily influenced by the special effects in John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982, Rated R)(MPAA www.mpaa.org. A series of extreme violence in all of its iterations, but where the manga suffered from a lack of developed female characters, the anime steps up to the plate and a compelling story emerges that explores personhood while really torturing it’s main character.
…and then read:
The Animorphs Series created by Katherine Applegate
A group of humans and one alien are given the ability to morph into any animal they have contact with. Their goal is to protect humanity from an invading force of extra terrestrials with the power to merge with the brain of their human hosts. Intrigue and fairly gory action abound this 54 book series where the enemy aliens could be anyone and anywhere. No one is safe.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Waves of attacks by aliens technologies have battered all of humanity but Cassie has a mission. She has to rescue her young brother, and she won’t let anything stop her. Even Them. The stakes are high in this series, and, like in Parasyte, the challenges of survival will push the main character to her breaking point.
If you prefer read something from the point of view of the monster, watch: Tokyo Ghoul
(rated TV-MA on the Internet Movie Database)
An experimental surgery saves the life of college student Ken Kaneki after he barely survives a violent attack. When he discovers that he has inherited the same craving for human flesh as his attacker, he is suddenly immersed in an underground society full of territorial monsters and struggles to find a way to survive without losing his grasp on his humanity.
Both this extremely popular show and the manga it was based on by Sui Ishida show sequences with graphic dismemberment and torture. The newly turned Ken’s isolation and self loathing make the series intense emotionally as well as visually, but the anime’s pace is slightly accelerated and the beautiful animation makes the show a bit easier to engage with than the book.
…and then read:
Dust by Joan Frances Turner
Jessie’s life after death is disrupted when an infection begins to spread through the zombie population. A complex weave of characters, balanced with viscerally grotesque descriptions of mealtimes make this a unique read. Jessie is a practical sort of zombie and she stirs your sympathies even as she horrifies you with her table manners.
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Delaney survives after eleven minutes beneath the surface of an iced over lake and comes back … different. The only person who seems to understand her inexplicable connection to death is Troy, but can she really trust him? What is she willing to give up to find out more about these new feelings? This book has a slow build, but the subtle sense of dread eventually expands to the same level of intensity as the more introspective sections of Tokyo Ghoul.
— Jennifer Billingsley, currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
The response to the Sports Anime post was so enthusiastic that I am back again to highlight some gaming anime titles! My apologies to fans of the “stuck in a video game world” trope, you will have to wait your turn. These main characters are all into tabletop games! (If you must have a video game anime recommendation, I wrote about Summer Wars last year in my Anime Titles for Book Lovers to watch this Summer post.
What we have this month is a series about a haunted strategy board game, a dramatic show about a group of teens who trying to form a competitive memory card team, a slice of life comedy starring a mischievous student who distracts his classmate, and a series focused on trading card game battles.
Gaming is another broad sub-genre. While I attempted to select a range of games and themes, if you feel like I missed a show that this list cannot survive without, feel free to bring it up in the comments!
Hikaru no Go
Hundreds of years ago Sai Fujiwara flung himself into a river when he was dismissed from his position as the emperor’s Go instructor. Since his death, he has haunted a Go board hoping to someday achieve his dream of playing one “Divine Move.” Hikaru Shindo, the sixth grade boy he is currently haunting, doesn’t seem to mind his spectral hitchhiker. Will the two be able to work together to make Sai Fujiwara’s dream come true?
Hikaru no Go is the least spooky ghost story in the world, mostly because the show is so focused on the gameplay of Go and the interpersonal relationships of the players. While the 23 volume manga series is still available in the United States, the DVDs of the show are out of print. But do not despair! both the subtitled and dubbed versions of all 75 episodes the show are available to stream (with commercials) on Viz’s website and Hulu. If you run an anime club or a convention you can contact Viz directly on their website using this form to ask for permission to screen the show to your group.
About the Game: Go
A two player strategy board game that you can pick up and play for little to no cost. The goal of Go is to capture the opposing player’s pieces by surrounding them. Learn more at the American Go Association’s website. Continue reading Gaming Anime
Full disclosure: I am not a fan of sports by any stretch of the imagination. After a brief (and fairly disastrous) bout with middle school basketball I have studiously avoided athletics of all flavors, even as a spectator, but I LOVE Sports Anime!
This genre tends to focus on character driven stories with boatloads of delicious drama. The four series featured below don’t assume that you have a great deal of prior knowledge about the athletic activities that they focus on and each does a great job of deftly integrating necessary information into the narrative without over explaining or talking down to their audience. Continue reading An Introduction to Sports Anime
With Season 2 of the popular podcast Serial nearing the end of this current season, the FX original limited series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and the runaway Netflix hit Making a Murderer, our fascination with crime stories doesn’t seem to wane. Maybe the draw is that we want to see justice served, or we want to know if we could spot the true crime in a situation, or maybe it has something to do with the fact that, as one of the lawyers in Making a Murderer says, “We could all say that we’re never going to commit a crime. But we can never guarantee that someone else won’t accuse us of a crime.” Whatever the reason, one thing it does is challenge our worldview.
For readers that enjoy a suspenseful or thriller type mystery, true crime can be a great nonfiction option. True crime can also be a great gateway to other narrative nonfiction for readers that don’t see themselves as nonfiction readers; through it they might find themselves spellbound. Here is a list of heart-pounding true crime books and other media.
The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah Elizabeth Miller
One of the most followed crime cases of the late 1800s, Miller reexamines the brutal crime that left Lizzie Borden’s father and step-mother hacked to death with an ax, and why so many thought it was Lizzie’s doing.
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson (2010 Best Books for Young Adults)
Relive the heart-racing account of the twelve-day chase and capture of John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices in this historical thriller.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Gantos accepted an offer of $10,000 to help sail a boat full of hash from St. Croix to New York, eventually landing him in prison. Continue reading True Crime: Books, Podcasts, and Documentaries
If Mulder and Scully were to walk into my library, I’d probably want to follow them around to find out what weird things have been happening, but if they asked for book recommendations, this is what I’d give them.
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Amanda’s family leaves their home in the mountains to live out on the prairie and hopefully leave behind the memories of the last, harsh winter they had to face. Her father chooses to move the family into an abandoned cabin that is covered in dried blood, and unfortunately for Amanda, things only get creepier from there.
After drinking a mixture of beer and desiccated bat dust, Glory and her best friend begin having strange visions of the future.
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Cynthia’s best friend is in love with the new school librarian, but Cynthia is sceptical. The new librarian isn’t just creepy; he might be an actual demon.
One of the things I have been most looking forward to about 2016 is the return of Marvel’s Agent Carter for its second season. When I immersed myself in comics in preparation for 2015’s summer reading program, I immediately fell in love with the Marvel universe in general, and with Agent Peggy Carter, portrayed by Hayley Atwell, in particular. I enjoyed her character in the two Captain America movies, as well as her cameos in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Agents of SHIELD, but as the titular character in Agent Carter, she truly shines. Far from being just a romantic interest for Captain America, Agent Carter is a superhero in her own right, and quickly became one of my favorite fictional role models.
The first season of Agent Carter finds Peggy living and working in New York in 1946. Although World War II has wrought great changes in America, Peggy Carter is still a woman working in a male-dominated profession in a man’s world. Well-respected by her colleagues during the war, she has trouble finding that respect in the post-war world. However, as much as she longs to be accepted by her coworkers, Peggy would rather earn their respect than have it handed to her. In fact, when one colleague demands that another apologize for disrespecting Peggy, she asks him not to defend her. Later, during an argument with her partner-in-crime, Edwin Jarvis, Jarvis taunts her by asking whether she honestly expects her coworkers to change their minds about her. Peggy never misses a beat before responding, “I expect I will make them.” And while others might see a need to forsake femininity in Peggy’s workplace, Agent Carter uses her womanly wiles to her advantage as often as they work against her, for example, in seducing a man to gain access to a formula for a dangerous chemical, with the help of her sedative-laced lipstick. Continue reading Know Your Value: Why Peggy Carter Is My Favorite Superhero
Whether you are a Marvel fan or not, you may well have heard about the ABC TV show Agent Carter. Peggy Carter originally appeared in comics as early as 1966, when she was shown as Captain America’s (aka Steve Roger’s) love interest, and she similarly appeared as Steve’s foil in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Captain America movie in 2011. Based on the popularity of Hayley Atwell’s embodiment of the character in that movie, Marvel decided to develop a series following her exploits after World War II, which debuted in January of 2015. Originally conceived of as a one-time miniseries, the show proved popular with fans (and particularly on Tumblr) and is returning tonight for its second season in large part due to this fan support.
Whew! So that is the 30 second summary of Peggy Carter as a character, but what are some of the reasons why she has captured the imagination of Marvel fans? Well, there are several reasons. Peggy is a great character who is strong and faces period-accurate professional discrimination and sexism throughout her exploits but still manages to persevere. She cannot only hold her own in a physical altercation, but is also skilled at facing down colleagues who belittle her abilities or doubt that a woman can make a difference. She is always ready with the perfect bon mot or cutting rejoinder, perhaps most famously when she responded to her colleagues’ doubts about her by saying: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” Particularly as played by Hayley Atwell, this makes Peggy Carter a relatable and yet inspiring figure.