I'm starting with Twilight, the first novel from Stephenie Meyer. This is great vampire/love story of Bella, who moves from Phoenix to Washington State to be with her father. She is not looking forward to the move and it becomes worse after she discovers Edward, who seems to detest her, and his odd family. Eventually Bella discovers that Edward is a vampire and they fall in love, bringing a healthy dose of both romance and action to the book. While there is much more mushiness than I would like, the book is excellent. Meyer’s insights transcend the horror/vampire/contemporary realistic fiction genres. Bella acts older than her age and struggles with concepts like how much of love is attraction and how much is just choosing to trust and love someone. Meyer also creates a cool gothic life for the vampires without any corniness.
Black Hole by Charles Burns is a good graphic novel, though I’m not into it myself. Black Hole takes place in Seattle in the seventies where sexual activity starts giving teens weird mutations, which range from strange and harmless to grotesque. Many of them become outcasts, though some try to hide their maladies and make due. This graphic novel is amazingly creepy. The art is in black and white, with very thick, dark drawings. Burns does not shy away from nudity and tons of eerie scenes of sex, violence, drugs and uncomfortable situations. There is some obvious (like AIDS) and not so obvious social comentary here. This is very well done and worth all of the acclaim, but it’s not my thing and gave me way too many nightmares. I’ve seen this compared to Ghost World and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, which are both good, but I think the depressing work of Adrian Tomine (like Sleepwalk) is a better comparison.
Mrs. Swanson got me to read this while we were on vacation and it was surprisingly interesting. Steven D. Levitt, who calls himself a “rogue economist”, wrote Freakonomics with Stephen J. Dubner. Basically Levitt uses his economic theories and applies to them to whatever he feels like. The book rambles from the different subjects he has studied which only occasionally relate to each other. The point here, though, is just to see his interesting conclusions like why abortion made crime rates in the U.S. decrease and what the economic realities of being a crack dealer entail.
Batman: New Gotham was written by Greg Rucka in 2001. The two and only volumes, Evolution and Officer Down, are from several sources, but mostly Detective Comics. These graphic novels show Batman as detective as he tries to discover how Ra’s Al Ghul is taking out mobsters in Gotham and then who shot Commissioner Gordon and why. The second book has the more solid plot, but overly bright and sloppy art. Volume one’s story is a bit convoluted at times, but the art is interesting. It’s mostly black and white, which each issue featuring one color like green or red to give each section a unique feel. It ends up looking a bit like Powers, though not that focused. These are both enjoyable Batman stories.