Monday, January 25, 2010


Sheesh, I was beginning to think that I was never going to finish another book again. :(

But now I've finished two. Two, while both being graphic novels, could not be more different from one another. Perfect example of how comics are NOT a genre.

First up, there's Four Letter Worlds, an anthology of short stories. Total impulse pick-up from the library. The unique concept really caught my eye. The book is divided into four sections: Love, Hate, Fear, and Fate. Each section contains four stories, each eight pages long, each with another four letter title.

As is the case with most any short story anthology, there were some stories that I loved more than others. Some authors amazed me with their ability to convey so much in so few pages.

The first story in the book was definitely my favorite. "Spin" by F. Clay Moore with art by Steven Griffin. Seriously, I so totally loved this story. First love and music and growing up. Very bittersweet.

But then wham, like a painful smack upside the head, came the next story "Lust." Ugh. I positively despised it. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Just crude, with nothing really to offer. Or if it did, I totally missed it.

And with those first two stories, I got my strongest reactions out of the way. There were several more stories I really enjoyed, one that I hate to admit I didn't really understanding the ending of, some were just meh, but there were no more that I truly hated. Overall, I'm glad I picked up the book...I loved that I could pick it up and read a whole story in just a few minutes.

As with the written stories, the art was quite varied. Again, I enjoyed the art in some stories more than the art in others, but this wonderful variety in style made the book quite fun all on its own. And at times the difference in the artists' styles was quite startlingly obvious, as each story ended on the left page with a new one beginning on the right.

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller, with beautiful art by Nicolle Rager Fuller.

I realize that most of the few people reading this have already read Ana's beautiful review, and maybe a couple of you have even read Rich's glowing review, so really, you don't need me to say much. I'll just offer you a quick few thoughts:

1.) Gorgeous!!! Nicolle Rager Fuller is one talented artist. (And for a totally irrelevant piece of info: Before reading her mini bio on the dust jacket, I didn't know that one could receive a graduate certificate in science illustration.)

2.) The book is divided into three sections: the first tells a brief version of the story of how Darwin came to write On the Origin of Species, the second and longest section is a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book, and the final section of the book talks about the breakthroughs in evolutionary theory since Darwin's time.

One of my favorite things about the book is how the second section, the adaptation itself is told mostly in Darwin's actual words, coming directly from Darwin's masterpiece itself. I really need to thank Rich for not saying, "I told you so!" I've always been quite certain that I wouldn't understand Darwin's writings. But Rich has always pretty much answered my fears with, "Piffle!" He's told me time and again that On the Origin of Species is Darwin's most accessible book (he did write to be read by the general public, after all), and that I should give it a chance. I now have to admit that he was right. :)

Still, I will confess that I likely will not be reading Darwin's original...not because I wouldn't enjoy it, as I'm now convinced I would, but just because there are so many books I simply want to read first. Sorry, babe...but hey, I did just admit in public the error of my ways, right? ;)

3.) I feel like there should be a "3"...but I can't off the top of my head figure out what it should be.


  1. You know, the Darwin one might be good for me because I know I'll never read the original. Just not that interested in nonfiction.

    That short story collection might be nice to pick and choose from but I'm always so wary of collections in general. I tend to tune out all but the first couple stories.

  2. I agree with Amanda, I am vying towards the Darwin one too. I have absolutely no chance of reading the original either, but you guys all keep raving about this one, so I think I will give it a go.

  3. You always write reviews that intrigue me! I haven't read a book in so long!

    Tim told me just the other night that he wants to write a graphic novel. I think he would love that.

    I'm glad you have a couple of new books under your belt.

    take care,

  4. I hadn't even heard of the first before! Now I wantz it for Spin alone.

    And I'm so glad you enjoyed the Darwin! You and Rich both. If I were on my own I might worry that my ignorance was keeping me from saying innacuracies or oversimplications, both you are BOTH (yes both) much more well-read when it comes to evolution than I am.

  5. The Darwin books sounds like one I should look at a bit closer but I'm with you...I could only read this topic in Graphic novel form...otherwise I'm afraid I would fall asleep!!

  6. Oh Debs you made me want Four Letter Worlds so bad!! It sounds really neat :) I hadn't heard of that one before!! Onto the wishlist :)

    I really liked the Darwin book! My review is scheduled to go up tonight. I'm totally with you on my thoughts on it. I absolutely adored the illustrations...I probably won't be reading the original either, but my reasoning is because I'm afraid I'd be lost without the illustrations :/ I'm such a visual learner that it helped me so much to have it in this format! I mean, I knew the majority of the concepts of this book already, but when he started talking about certain animals, it was nice to have pictures to go along :)

  7. Amanda,
    I love short story collections, but I have to admit that I generally spread them out over very long periods of time. I generally can't read a bunch of short stories all at once. Same with poetry...I tend to make a poetry collection last for months, reading the same poem over and over again for days before moving on. And then I constantly go back to my favorites I've discovered, etc. so poetry reading tends to be a long drawn-out process for me.

    I definitely think it's worth reading. Heck, the beautiful pictures alone make it worth the money. :)

    Oh, I so hope Tim does! Gray has been working on one of his own lately, too. He calls it Pigman, and it's about a half man-half pig superhero. :)

    Well, I have to admit that "Spin" made me immediately think of you...I do think you'd love it. :) That was one of those stories that amazed me at how much could be said in so few pages.
    And now, my dear, it's your turn to get smacked!!! How dare you say my dear friend sucks?!!

    Shhh...don't tell my husband that. ;) (About only being about to read about evolution in GN form, that is.) Yes, I'm married to a total science geek.
    ...And Rich, if you're reading this, you know that is said with pure affection. :)

    You mentioned something in your comment that I actually meant to mention in my review. I was just telling Rich last week how sort of odd it is...all the concepts he talks about in On the Origin now seem so second nature. It's like, "Well, yeah, of course." But back then, the idea of natural selection was so revolutionary. I really, really wish Darwin could see the staggering amount of discoveries that have been made that support him. :)

  8. I just added the Darin book to my list to buy or pick up at the library. I have been meaning to get it for a while and your review pushed me over the edge into action! And it got my wheels spinning as to how I could possibly use it to teach my online classes - I bet I could get the students interested in a graphic novel even if they are not so interested in evolution!

  9. OK...I meant DarWin. Darn typing skills!

  10. I am sure you will be shocked to learn that I couldn't find the book at any library in the state of Kansas!

  11. Kara,

    Oh my. You know that would be utterly hilarious if it weren't just so damn sad. :(

    It wasn't out in time to get his book orders in to the bookstore for this year, but next year he definitely plans to use it in his evolution class.