Kingsman: The Secret Service

Title: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Author: Mark Millar Illustrator: Dave Gibbons

Publisher: Marvel

Release Date: September 16th 2014

Source: Purchased from Chapters

Rating: 3.5/5

 

From GoodReads
From the writer of Kick-Ass and the artist of Watchmen comes a collaboration decades in the making!  The world’s greatest secret agent is on the most exciting case of his career.  But will the end of the world as we know it take a seat to training his street-punk nephew to be the next James Bond?  Meanwhile, what’s the secret link between a series of kidnapped sci-fi stars, the murder of an entire town, and a dark secret from inside Mount Everest?  Uncle Jack’s supersvision, Gary’s spy skills and confidence blossom — but when the duo learn what’s behind the celebrity kidnappings, the knowledge comes at a great price.  The conspiracy begins to unravel, but who can be trusted when so many prominent figures seem to be involved?  It’s a must-be-seen-to-be-believed action spectacle! (Goodreads)

 

I am always trying to find new ways to get my brother interested in reading (as it’s my greatest passions, it hurts to see someone so disinterested in something I love,) so when the Kingsman movie was released weeks before his birthday, I thought: graphic novels. Short and simple. So I went to Chapters and bought him a copy of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

It is a thrilling coming of age story, of sorts, that follows the story of a young delinquent finally finding a purpose in life. Though the characters exuded the stereotypes they were based on (Uncle Jack IS James Bond,) they were nonetheless fascinating in Millar’s world of secret agents and super spies. Not to mention, the story itself is a geek’s fantasy: Mark Hamill along with various other well-known icons of the SciFi/Fantasy (as well as Mick Jagger?) realm cameo through the story.

Though some scenes felt unnecessary, like the whole sex ed curriculum in their spy school (three cheers for teaching young men where the g-spot is!) which felt like an over-the-top tribute to James Bond’s well-known “talents,” but I found the story itself is obviously a spoof – a play on the spy/secret agent genre we know and love – mixed with the very real and disturbing realities of poverty and abuse that affect so many around us.

Although, I preferred the movie (oh, Colin Firth!) which elaborated and strengthened the villain’s plot, I felt that the graphic novel did a much better job at portraying Eggsy’s back story and the inner-workings of the spy school and the meticulous training that goes into pursuing this career, rather than the 5 montage of guns, cars and explosions.

For a light read, Kingsmen: The Secret Service contains a very important message for every reader – never give up on yourself – and I think that’s what makes it a great story.

Advertisements

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Publisher: Speak

Release Date: March 2005

Source: Purchased from Chapters

Rating: 4/5

99561
Before.  Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more.  He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culber Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe.  Because down the hall is Alaska Young.  The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself.  She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.           After.  Nothing is ever the same. (Goodreads)

 

Let me start of by saying: “JOHN GREEN, WHY MUST YOU RUIN MY LIFE?”

Seriously though.  I’ve only read Green’s The Fault in our Stars and Looking for Alaska, and I’ve come to the conclusion that any John Green novel will ruin your life and even your mom’s life.

Prepare yourself for the feels.

The novel itself is separated into two parts, the “before” and the “after,” and as I was reading I was kept intrigued with the countdown that initiated every chapter.  This countdown is what kept me hooked — I had to know what would happen — and I came up with various theories as I read.  The one that kept coming back to me: “Are Pudge and Alaska going to hook up?”

I’ll let you figure it out.

I had several thoughts running through my head as I read, especially about the smoking and the drinking and the character named Hank (is he based off of John Green’s brother?) However, I was mainly concerned with how the characters seemed too perfect despite their flaws – I felt this way not only for this novel, but forThe Fault in our Stars as well – maybe I’m too cynical? (Yeah. Probably.)

Everyone was a unique snowflake and had some special talent that made them special.

Pudge is interested in famous people’s last words, the Colonel memorized the names of countries and capitals, and Alaska was overly philosophical which made her “mysterious.”

Are people really all that unique and special? I’m sure if I memorized people’s last words, the names of countries or was as philosophical as Alaska, I’d be considered to be a pretentious asshole – but maybe I’m just turning into a real-life adult. (Gross.)

The thing about a John Green novel is that it leaves you thinking by the end of it. Thinking about love, life and yourself. And, as much as I have found the characters to be little too Mary Sue/Gary Stu for my taste, I really did enjoy book.

How couldn’t I? John Green is a great writer.

Case in point: when “the thing” happened, I threw the book on the floor with angry tears welling up in my eyes and my mom said: “Well, he must be a good writer if you’re reacting like that.”

In the end, the novel is written from Pudge’s point of view and he’s a teenage boy going through a lot of changes and my younger, teen self could probably relate to that a lot more than I could now.  I did however feel quite attached to Alaska — despite her overly-philosophical and mysterious ways she was a feminist at heart and watching her character unfold proved to be quite empowering.

Off the Page

Title: Off the Page

Author: Samantha Van Leer and Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Source: Goodreads Giveaway

Rating: 3/5

23278280
Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver — a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale.  There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world.  To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy.  Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favourite book.  In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after.  (Goodreads)

 

Before reading Off the Page, I had never read anything by Jodi Picoult, but based on what the literary community and the My Sister’s Keeper movie I was expecting an excess of emotions and the full waterworks.  In all reality, however, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Although it did deal with some heavy issues, it was a very light and fun read.  Watching Oliver struggle within our world, the real world, was, in my opinion, what brought the most humour to the story — and the fact that someone had the opportunity to bring their book crush to life is my, and probably every other literary fangirl’s, dream.

When I first opened the book I was intrigued by the colourful (literally) text as each chapter, spoken by different characters, used colours to represent the varying characters.  However, as I began reading I felt a little let down by the novel.  It marketed itself as a “companion” to Between the Lines, which I have never read, and as a companion I figured that the novel itself would work as a standalone piece.  Unfortunately, as I delved deeper into the story, I felt as though I was missing out on something.  This became frustrating at times as I felt as though I was missing the big picture, or just not quite understanding what was going on as I was missing some detail or backstory that Between the Lines would have covered.

Overall, I felt it was an easy and light read, great for younger teens and for adults looking for a simple and quick read.  Some parts were beautifully written, not to mention the gorgeous illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert that really helped tie everything together.  My main concern, as mentioned above, was that I felt left out, but I think this issue can easily be fixed by reading Off the Page‘s predecessor, Between the Lines, which, according to GoodReads, is pretty good as well.