Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead is the sixth and final book in the Bloodlines series. As would be expected in such a concluding volume, all the loose threads from earlier books are tied up, the day is saved and everyone gets to live happily ever after. That isn't a spoiler. This review is going to contain spoilers fro the previous books, however. Especially a pretty major spoiler for Silver Shadows, the fifth book in the Bloodlines series.

Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series.

When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.

The Ruby Circle picks up right where the previous book left off and then throws us back into a recurring issue of the series: Jill has been kidnapped. Everyone except Sydney and Adrian get to help look for her, however, since they are still under the court's protection after the Alchemist-enraging wedding of the previous book. But then a lead presents itself that only Sydney can follow and the couple are thrown into the thick of the adventure.

As with the earlier books, this was a fun read. (Probably more fun than the previous book, actually, since there was significantly less torture.) On their way to saving Jill, Sydney and Adrian stumble across an unrelated issue (but one that does tie back to events in earlier books) which conveniently allows Mead to set up a hook for a possible third series. Less cynically, it was something that addressed some of the background spirit research that has been going on throughout the series. (I am being vague because spoilers.) And that said, I would read another series in this universe, especially if there was a more significant time jump to its beginning.

I had one objection to the writing in The Ruby Circle. There was one scene a third (ish) of the way through where a lot of crucial things happened but that was kind of a mess, flow-wise. I suspect the author had written herself into a corner with a bunch of things that had to happen for the plot to work. That said, while I thought it was messy, my husband didn't particularly notice, so your mileage may vary.

One thing I noticed — well, started to notice from Silver Shadows especially — is how this series, which started off very YA and set in a school, has ended very not YA with a wedding and spoiler-stuff. I'd say it's because the characters grew up, but not a huge amount of time passed between the first and last books. More relevantly, I think it's because the focus shifted from Jill, who is a teenager, to Sydney and Adrian who are 19 and 22, respectively. I'm not objecting to the shift, by the way, just noting it.

I have enjoyed the Bloodlines series and I would recommend it to fans of YA and to anyone who likes vampires. Fans of the earlier Vampire Academy series should also give it a shot. I hope it's obvious from the rest of my review, but I definitely don't recommend reading The Ruby Circle without having read the other books in the series.

4 / 5 stars

First published: February 2015, Penguin
Series: Bloodlines, book 6 of 6
Format read: Paper! Gasp!
Source: Pre-order from Dymocks

Monday, 27 April 2015

Defying Doomsday Pozible: four days to go!

Like it says in the title, there are only four days left to get the Defying Doomsday Pozible funded. The campaign finishes on Friday at 7 pm Australian East Coast time. If you haven't backed yet now is your last chance.

A bit more about Defying Doomsday, in case you've forgotten or missed my earlier posts.

Defying Doomsday is an anthology of apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled characters, which will be edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, and published by Twelfth Planet Press in mid 2016.
Apocalypse fiction rarely includes characters with disability, chronic illness and other impairments. When these characters do appear, they usually die early on, or are secondary characters undeveloped into anything more than a burden to the protagonist. Defying Doomsday will be an anthology showing that disabled characters have far more interesting stories to tell in post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction.
The anthology will be varied, with characters experiencing all kinds of disability from physical impairments, chronic illnesses, mental illnesses and/or neurodiverse characters. There will also be a variety of stories, including those that are fun, sad, adventurous and horrific.
The stories in Defying Doomsday will look at periods of upheaval from new and interesting perspectives. The anthology will share narratives about characters with disability, characters with chronic illnesses and other impairments, surviving the apocalypse and contending with the collapse of life as they know it.

Defying Doomsday is currently crowdfunding via Pozible. To support the project visit: http://pozi.be/defyingdoomsday

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DefyingDoomsday
Website: http://defyingdoomsday.twelfthplanetpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DefyingDoomsday
Tumblr: http://DefyingDoomsday.tumblr.com

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and illustrated by Roc Upchurch is a new-to-me comic I picked up on a whim a few weeks ago. It's a fantasy series rather than superhero or science fiction and it didn't grab me as much as other comics have.

Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit.

It's also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

The blurb describes the idea pretty well. I've also heard it described as "Dungeons and Dragons meets Sex and the City" which is not entirely inaccurate. The titular characters are a band of all-female mercenaries of various races (elf, dwarf, not sure) who periodically go off on quests and spend their down-time drinking heavily. There are also other bands of mercenaries, like a group who are all called Dave, but they're not the main characters and only appear occasionally.

The general plot idea over the course of this volume is that the Rat Queens (and other mercenary bands) get sent on quests, all of which go horribly wrong and smell of conspiracy. Most of the action centres around fighting, almost dying, getting drunk and high to celebrate not dying, and talking about having sex. The violence is drawn in a slightly splatterpunk way (well, OK, this isn't horror, but I wanted to use that word), with lots of literal blood splattering all over the place.

I wasn't particularly taken with the art style, partly on just a personal level and partly because it was a bit more boring than, say, the art in Ms Marvel which had a lot of little funny details in the background. (And to avoid confusion, the cover art above is by Fiona Staples, a different artist to the internal art.) I've heard that the artist changes somewhere in Volume 2 (I believe from issue #9 onwards) so I'm willing to give it another shot before deciding whether to stick with it. Hopefully I'll also become more invested in the story.

I didn't hate Rat Queens Volume 1, but it didn't grab me as much as I was hoping either. If you're a fan of D&D and sarcastic female characters who also kick literal butt, then I would definitely consider giving it a try.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Image Comics
Series: Rat Queens, on going series, Volume 1 including issues #1–5
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Purchased in a comic book store

Friday, 24 April 2015

Winning the King by Nicole Murphy

Winning the King by Nicole Murphy is the second book in the Jorda Trilogy, following on from Loving the Prince, which I reviewed last year. Although it follows on from the events of the first book, it features a different couple as the main characters and I think it could be read as a standalone. That said, I'm enjoying this series, so I would recommend going back to the start to get the full effect.

Blue eyes, golden curls, a body songs are composed about, and part of one of the most powerful families in the colonies, Diana Wiltmore is not used to ever hearing the word ‘no’. So when she sets her sights on a fling with the gorgeous, potent and single King of Angonia, Gareth, she is shocked when he turns her down flat. In an effort to put the rejection behind her, she agrees to her sister’s plan to gain some political leverage by cosying up to a rival planetary ruler.

Gareth has responsibilities and no time for a woman like Diana. She is all temptation and distraction, but Gareth wants more from a woman than decoration. But it is Diana standing by his side as his beloved home of Angonia is attacked and he starts to see that underneath the surface is a strong woman even more beautiful than her picture-perfect exterior.

Gareth’s people need him and to be there for them, he needs Diana. But has he ruined every chance he has of winning her heart?

I quite enjoyed Winning the King. Long-time readers of this blog will know I'm not a huge fan of Romance, but after Loving the Prince had a satisfactory amount of plot, I thought I'd see if Winning the King continued the trend. And it did. For a romance book it's actually not that heavy on the romance, although it is a primary plot-driver for the two main characters.

On the other hand, the external driver of the plot is quite an exciting with terrorists and explosions and other things which are spoilers. Gareth, as King of Angonia, obviously has to deal with the threat (and actuality) of danger to his people and Diana gets caught up in it partly because she witnesses some of it. In between the ups and downs of their romance there's another man — another leader — who wants Diana for himself, much to her disgust.

I quite liked both Diana and Gareth as characters and enjoyed reading their story. If you enjoyed Loving the Prince, then I definitely recommend Winning the King. While I enjoyed both, I found this book to be a bit stronger. If you haven't read the earlier book, it doesn't really matter which one you start with. If you like your science fiction romance with a goodly amount of sensible plot in it, then I highly recommend the Jorda Trilogy by Nicole Murphy.

4 / 5 stars

First published: January 2015, Escape Publishing
Series: The Jorda Trilogy book 2 of 3
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge, Australian Science Fiction Reading Challenge

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ms Marvel Volume Two "Generation Why" by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Ms Marvel Volume Two "Generation Why" by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona is the second volume of collected issues in the ongoing comic book series. I have previously reviewed Volume One here.

Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! Kamala may be fan-girling out when her favorite (okay maybe Top Five) super hero shows up, but that won't stop her from protecting her hometown. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity for the first time - by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! Every girl wants a puppy, but this one may be too much of a handful, even for a super hero with embiggening powers. But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. The fan-favorite, critically acclaimed, amazing new series continues as Kamala Khan proves why she's the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!

This volume focuses on Kamala learning about her powers and, more importantly, who she is as a superhero. The volume starts with Kamala investigating a suspicious sewer and meeting Wolverine, over whom she proceeds to fangirl. She also starts to realise that she might have taken on more than she can handle alone. Nevertheless, she refuses to back down from her impending confrontation with The Inventor.

We also learn about other character who are keeping an eye on Ms Marvel and some mysterious things going on in the background that Kamala doesn't know about (and that the audience doesn't learn much about, although it's possible there were references to other Marvel comic series that I missed). There was a particularly touching moment when Kamala's parents force her to go talk to the Sheikh because the are concerned about her. Kamala expects to get a tedious lecture, but instead gets some valuable advice. And of course, there's the main event that the subtitle is alluding to. Teenagers have been going missing since Volume One and Kamala had vowed to rescue them.

I am continuing to enjoy Ms Marvel and will definitely be picking up Volume Three when it comes out (in June, according to Goodreads). If you haven't read any Ms Marvel, I definitely recommend starting at the start with Volume One. This is a great comic book series that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to almost anyone.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: April 2015, Marvel
Series: Ms Marvel ongoing series, volume 2, including issues #6-11
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Purchased at a physical comic book store (in Perth)

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings by Angela Slatter

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings by Angela Slatter can be taken as a collection of short stories or as a mosaic novel. I requested the fancy limited edition hard cover version of this book for Christmas before finding out that I was to be an Aurealis Awards judge for the category, which is why this review is going up a few months after I read the book. Of course, the views expressed in this review are my own and do not reflect the views of the judging panel. Indeed, this review is based on notes I made before consulting with the other judges.

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings returns to the world of Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus, 2010), introducing readers to the tales that came before. Stories where coffin-makers work hard to keep the dead beneath; where a plague maiden steals away the children of an ungrateful village; where poison girls are schooled in the art of assassination; where pirates disappear from the seas; where families and the ties that bind them can both ruin and resurrect and where books carry forth fairy tales, forbidden knowledge and dangerous secrets.

So what is a mosaic novel? In this case, it's a collection of short stories that are all set in the same world with a few overlapping characters. The book grew on me as I read on and actually the first story was my least favourite. That said, it connected really nicely with the last story and to me that really pulled the whole book together. The middle stories were all more obviously tied together. I suspect the first and last stories might have the strongest connection to Slatter's other collection/mosaic novel in the same universe, Sourdough and Other Stories. Either way, I went and bought the ebook of Sourdough pretty much as soon as I finished The Bitterwood Bible.

Slatter's writing is beautiful and her stories are poignant. This was my first exposure to her writing and it has not been the last (OK, that statement might have had more weight if I hadn't also read two other collections of hers for Aurealis judging... but I am going to read more of her work). As always, I've made notes on every story below. I find it really hard to pick a favourite. I loved most of them as I was reading them and there are many scenes that have really stuck with me.

I would highly recommend The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings to all fans of short stories and of fantasy. If you haven't read any of Slatter's work before, do yourself a favour and get on it.


The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter — A stranger story than I was expecting, with a few (intentionally) unpleasant elements. But not a bad one. Not sure I would have opened with it. Except that it makes sense to open with once you've read the whole collection.

The Maiden in the Ice — As longer story, spanning more time and events. Told mostly from the point of view of a girl who finds the maiden in the ice then later shows sympathy towards her when the town doesn't. I like it.

The Badger Bride — A really nice story about a girl who copies books (in the monkish sense), a strange commission and a badger who wanders in out of the cold. I enjoyed it.

The Burnt Moon — Another good story. I am enjoying the vengeance against rapists. In this one a town is plagued by rats as punishment for what happened to the mother of the previous story's protagonist.

By My Voice I Shall Be Known — A young woman slighted by her suitor who scorns her for someone else after she helped him become successful. Then he tries to have her killed, succeeding in only having her tongue cut out and setting her on a path to revenge. Also there are rusalky.

The Undone and the Divine — A daughter comes back to the town her mother played a downfall in (in "The Burnt Moon") and deals with the residue, but physical and spiritual. The father of the badger bride also makes an appearance. I'm really starting to appreciate how gorgeously linked these stories are.

The Night Stair — A girl becomes a substitute daughter for the vampire couple that rule the town. But she is cleverer than they expected as she seeks vengeance for her dead sisters.

Now, All Pirates are Gone — The other woman from "By My Voice I Shall Be Known" is abandoned by her husband and left to lure all the Pirates to their deaths. The main character survives, possibly thanks to an encounter with the earlier story's protagonist.

St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls — The sister of an earlier protagonist is sent to a deadly finishing school. Her goal not primarily to learn assassination but to secretly copy a book of poisons. Much is rent asunder in her wake.

The Bitterwood Bible — Both the genesis of the titular book and the tale of a girl sent to find magical answers who ends up finding a safe place in the world.

Terrible as an Army with Banners — and epistemological chronicle of the fall of the nunnery that was mentioned several times in several stories.

By the Weeping Gate — a family of prostitutes, the sister too plain to be one and the shady man who has appeared in earlier stories. This time, he is a viceroy and seems, at first, to be ok.

Spells for Coming Forth by Daylight — the final story which gives the very first story due context. Neo of the previous story has gone forth to confront the shady man and comes across other women (and indeed the man) who have played parts in earlier stories.

5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Tartarus Press
Series: Sort of a prequel to Sourdough and Other Stories but stands alone.
Format read: Fancy-pants hardcover
Source: Christmas present
Disclaimer: Tsana was a judge for the Aurealis Awards, on the panel which judged this book. This review is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Ms Marvel Volume One "No Normal" by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Ms Marvel Volume One, "No Normal" written by G Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona is, as the name suggests, the first volume of collected issues of the new Ms Marvel (2014) ongoing comic series. It includes issues #1–5 and material from All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1 (whatever that is... I'm not entirely sure).

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, New York!

No Normal is basically the origin story of the new Ms Marvel. Kamala is an ordinary muslim girl until one night when, leaving a party she'd snuck out to, she's caught in magic/mutagenic fog which gives her a hallucination of Captain Marvel and also magic/superpowers. Equipped with the sudden power to change her body into whatever (humanoid?) size/shape she wants, Kamala semi-accidentally rescues the mean girl from drowning while disguised as Carol Danvers' version of Ms Marvel. And then she runs away in shock/confusion.

Most of the volume is Kamala dealing with her new powers and trying to come to therms with what they mean for her. She's a teenager still in high school and her parents are quite over-protective. She's technically grounded for most of the volume and, unsurprisingly, her parents are concerned at her sneaking out, not knowing that she's become a superhero (although I imagine that piece of news would also be concerning to them).

In the end, Kamala chooses a costume (with a little help from her friend to make it happen) and works out who she wants to be as a person. I liked that she ended up confiding in one of her friends, but I'd actually really like to see her other, female, friend's reaction to the news. Hopefully that will be in Volume Two, which I've already picked up and will read some time in the next few days.

I also really loved the art and the background jokes/references in a lot of the panels. If you pick this one up, I highly recommend stopping to have a closer look at what's happening in the background. There was a lot that made me snicker.

This is my first comic book exposure to a traditional (as far as that word applies) Marvel superhero. I really enjoyed how the cultural background brought somethign new to the story, instead of having it be just another anglo white girl with stereotypical teenage girl problems. Not that Kamala's problems are completely out there, but at least there's a bit of variety.

I would recommend this comic to pretty much anyone with even a passing interest. It's funny and sincere and I enjoyed reading it a lot. I'm definitely intending to keep up with the story for the time being (as it comes out in trades).

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Marvel
Series: Yes, Ms Marvel ongoing, Volume 1, containing issues #1–5
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Purchased from a real life comic book store

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Female Factory by Lisa Hannet and Angela Slatter

The Female Factory by Lisa Hannet and Angela Slatter is the eleventh volume in Twelfth Planet Press's collection of Twelve Planets. I read it as part of Aurealis Awards judging back in January (and refrained from reviewing until after the awards were announced) but I would have read it anyway, since I have a subscription to the Twelve Planets series. Also, although I was on the judging panel that awarded this book the Aurealis for Best Collection, this review represents my own opinions only and, in fact, is based on notes I made before even discussing the books with the other judges.

In The Female Factory, procreation is big business. Children are a commodity few women can afford.

Hopeful mothers-to-be try everything. Fertility clinics. Pills. Wombs for hire. Babies are no longer made in bedrooms, but engineered in boardrooms. A quirk of genetics allows lucky surrogates to carry multiple eggs, to control when they are fertilised, and by whom—but corporations market and sell the offspring. The souls of lost embryos are never wasted; captured in software, they give electronics their voice. Spirits born into the wrong bodies can brave the charged waters of a hidden billabong, and change their fate. Industrious orphans learn to manipulate scientific advances, creating mothers of their own choosing.

From Australia’s near-future all the way back in time to its convict past, these stories spin and sever the ties between parents and children.

The Female Factory mainly deals with different ideas of reproduction. There are stories about the meaning of motherhood, if you can or can't reproduce, and stories about what it means to be a woman. I really loved the first two stories, enjoyed the second two but not as much. The last story, which is a novella, was very interesting. My comments on each story are at the end, as per usual.

The Female Factory was my first Slatter + Hannet read and it certainly made me want to read more (which I haven't had the chance to do yet). If you've enjoyed one of both of these author's work in the past, then I would definitely recommend picking up this collection. (And you get that cool iUterus and Frankenstein stitching cover, what's not to like?) Overall, a thought-provoking read.


Vox — A couple struggling to conceive in a world where the souls of aborted foetuses are recycled as voices (and souls) inhabiting electronic devices. Haunting. Moving.

Baggage — A surrogate mother who has no difficulty getting pregnant works for an agency that arranges babies for rich people. Having to sleep with a billionaire is the last straw.

All the Other Revivals — A very different story to the first two. A magic gender-bending billabong and a teen that doesn't fit in anywhere.

The Female Factory — A novella with a Victorian feel set in an Australian prison. Featuring orphans, the prison matron and strong Frankensteinian overtones. (There really was a place called The Female Factory, by the way.)

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Twelfth Planet Press
Series: Sort of. Twelve Planets, volume 11 (but they are all 100% standalone) 
Format read: e-judging copy
Source: Aurealis judging originally, but I have a subscription and now also have the paperback.
Disclaimer: Tsana was a judge for the Aurealis Awards, on the panel which judged this book. This review is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge, Australian Science Fiction Reading Challenge

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tsana's April Status

My status is exhausted.

I was very busy at work in March, but I won't bore you with that. Instead, have a couple of guest posts, one from Rowena Cory Daniells on Choices, and one from Kim Curran on the top ten things that inspire her to write. And here's what I've been up to since the end of March:

I landed in Melbourne, had less than a couple of days with our family/to recover from jet-lag before setting off to Perth at the crack of dawn (yay, more jet-lag) for Swancon. The day before Swancon started we launched the Defying Doomsday Pozible campaign (back us, we're awesome, it's going to be awesome). I was pretty asleep for the first two days of Swancon, especially on the Friday when I was on three-ish panels. I'm afraid I could have been more cogent/awake/further from the brink of involuntary unconsciousness. But I think they went OK? At least, I don't think I made a complete fool out of myself. My last panel was on the Sunday about science in fiction (a pet topic of mine, as many of you will know) and I think that went particularly well. It was a large panel, but it was well moderated and I think we had some good back and forth going. (By the way, if you were at that panel or are just interested, one of our Pozible rewards is a science check, by me, of your story.) Oh, and the Ditmar Awards were announced, as were the Tiptree Award and the Hugo shortlist (the latter to much angst).

That was Swancon. We had an extra day in Perth, theoretically to sightsee, but the weather was terrible so no beach for us. Then back to Melbourne, a quick catch up with some friends and I was off to Canberra for the Aurealis Awards. Circumstances converged such that I was the one running the official Twitter account, which was kind of fun. You can read the results here.

And now it's halfway through April and things have almost slowed down. Almost. I've been writing a lot of guest blog posts to promote Defying Doomsday, which you can scroll through on the Defying Doomsday blog (with links to the external sites, of course).

What Have I Read?

Some books, mostly.

Currently Reading

I'm part way through Cranky Ladies of History, an anthology edited by Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Winning the King, a sci-fi romance by Nicole Murphy.

New Booksies

  • Insert Title Here edited by Tehani Wessely, for review from FableCroft Press
  • Prudence by Gail Carriger, already reviewed, purchased.
  • Glorious Angels by Justina Robson, purchased because it was on sale. Although stupid Google Play isn't letting me download it despite lodging complaints. Grumble.
  • Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier, free from Dymocks with the pre-order of the next book...
  • The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead, the last Bloodlines book.
  • Magic Dirt by Sean Williams, freebie at Swancon
  • Troy by Simon Brown, freebie at Swancon
  • The Workers' Paradise edited by Russell B. Farr, freebie at Swancon
  • 2012 edited by Alisa Krasnostein from Swancon and now I accidentally have two copies of it...
  • Glitter Rose by Marianne De Pierres from Swancon
  • The Courier's New Bicycle by Kim Westwood, from Swancon
  • Year's Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein, from Swancon
  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, purchased in Perth
  • Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, purchased in Perth
  • Sex Criminals Volume 2 by Matt Fraction, purchased in Perth, already reviewed
  • Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Wiebe, purchased in Perth
  • The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene
  • Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas, purchased in Melbourne
  • Drachengott: Wind by K J Taylor, for review from Harper Collins
No images today because I don't have time.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Sex Criminals Volume 2 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals Volume Two, written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, is, as the title would suggest, the second collected volume of Sex Criminals comics in the ongoing series. It contains issues #6–10 and the subtitle is "Two Worlds, One Cop" which is terrible if you get the reference (and I have to wonder how broad the generation that does get it is). You can read my review of Volume One ("One Weird Trick") here.
The second storyline from the Eisner-award winning SEX CRIMINALS finds the honeymoon to be over for Jon and Suzie. Once the thrill of new lust fades, where do you go? Come along and laff and love with Matt and Chip as they brimp back ceaselessly against the past

Volume Two is actually quite different in tone to Volume One, although thinking back, Volume One was already shifting in that direction. Where the story of the two main characters started with them meeting and having a lot of sex and fun together, Volume Two now deals with issues that arise for them after the honeymoon period is over. To be fair, the honeymoon was already fading in Volume One when the threat from the Sex Police became apparent and dangerous.

The opening really focusses on Jon and his mental health issues, which were being masked in the glow of a new crazy relationship before. He spirals, tries to cope alone, has some conversations with shrinks and so forth. I thought it dealt with the issues it raised very well, including the fact that he was worrying that he and Suzi weren't having "enough" sex any more. Of course, when the narrative cuts to Suzi's point of view, we quickly learn that Jon had barely been paying enough attention to realise what Suzi's problems were.

As well as a nuanced take on what happens after the beginning of a relationship, the superhero aspect of the plot also moves forwards significantly. The Sex Police are still after them but as well as focussing on Jon and Suzi, we also learn some backstories of a couple of other characters. Quite how one of them will fit into the overarching plot, I'm not sure but the other character's role was a bit more obvious (lack of details because spoilers).

If you enjoyed the first volume/five issues of Sex Criminals, then I definitely recommend picking up the second volume/next five issues. It's less "fun" than the opening, but I think the seriousness was needed for the story to progress in anything other than a flippant way. If you haven't picked up any Sex Criminals yet, then I do recommend giving it a go. But start at the beginning or it won't make a huge amount of sense.

4 / 5 stars

First published: January 2015, Image Comics
Series: Sex Criminals Volume 2 of ongoing series (containing issues #6–10)
Format read: Trade
Source: Purchased from physical comic book store