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Summary: (from Amazon) Isabelle Goodrow thought her move to the small mill town of Shirley Falls would be temporary-just until she decided in which direction she wanted her life to head. Now her daughter, Amy, has fallen in love with her high school math teacher, and he takes advantage of the teen’s infatuation. When the relationship is discovered, Isabelle is furious with her daughter but also a little jealous that Amy has found sexual fulfillment while she has not. As mother and daughter try to rebuild the trust and closeness they once shared, the private secrets of many citizens of Shirley Falls are revealed.

Review: Beautifully bleak. That’s how I would describe Elizabeth Strout’s Amy and Isabelle.

“Now an OPRAH WINFREY PRESENTS Movie on ABC”  the cover screams and I quickly think “No good can come from this”. The only Oprah TV movie I’ve actually liked was The Women of Brewster Place and that was over (CRINGE) fifteen years ago.

This book moved me for reasons that I may not be able to articulate. Both mother and daughter, Amy and Isabelle Goodrow, live pretty boring & isolated lives. Isabelle (the mother) goes from work to home. She has no friends, she doesn’t keep in contact with family. She hasn’t managed to quite fit in at her job, a job she’s had for over 15 years. All she has is Amy. Her sole existence is work and Amy.

In the beginning Amy’s existence was the same. She goes from school to home. She has one friend, Stacy, with whom she smokes cigarettes with at lunch. She doesn’t fit in with anyone else. She has no contact with anyone other than her mother. At 16, this is especially hard because this an age where you are curious about everything. You’re on the brink of adulthood, you want to know what life really is…and that’s in any location. So imagine your awakening taking place in a small judgmental town similar to Cheers where everybody knows your name.

It’s rough.

So when Amy’s teacher, Mr. Robertson shows her a bit of attention, when he seems to understand her love for poetry, her need to just talk to someone, Amy feels alive. She’s no longer going through the motions. There’s this older man who listens to what she has to say. Who wants to meet with her everyday after school. Who enjoys her company. Who desires her. That’s a powerful thing. It is this new relationship, discovered with Amy in a compromising position,  that tears mother and daughter apart.

This is not a book dedicated to a LeTourneau-like story. Mr. Robinson is not the focus of this story. He instead is used to reveal the longings of both these women. It is his presence that finally allows us to see their suffering, to learn their secrets, to reveal the cracks in this relationship.

I liked this book a lot. I like that Strout took her time telling this story, that it just naturally evolved. She hasn’t used tricks. There were no twists and turns…it’s a simple yet well told story about the suffering of two women so close, but so far apart.  She peels layer after layer until we see that while these two women love each other, they haven’t developed a close enough relationship to like each other. They’re family but not friends.

The best part of how she does this is her use of the Goodrow women’s community. Their interaction helps define who they are and why for the reader, and helps each character to develop their own sense of self-awareness. Her use of the community , which is so vividly real, and her story of this relationship is a wonderful read.

LitSnit Verdict: B+

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Summary: (from the back cover) New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat …and more. New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. You know the type: very cheery, very friendly, very average. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet observer who hasn’t made a new friend since third grade. He’s not a big fan of people in general…but he’s willing to make an exception for her. Maybe.

Bea and Jonah are not going to have a friendship like other people have a friendship, where it’s all based on gossip and parties and what everybody else thinks. Instead, their friendship comes form truth-bound conversations, shared secrets, daring stunts, and late-night calls to the same old-timer radio show. They help each other and hurt each other, push away and hold close. It’s not romance, exactly – but it’s definitely love. And that means more to them than either one can ever really know…

For anyone who’s ever entered the wonderful, treacherous, consuming, meaningful world of true friendship, How to Say Goodbye in Robot will strike a deep and lasting chord.

Review: Beatrice Szebo (affectionately known as Bea or Robot Girl) is a 17 year-old girl imposed to the gypsy lifestyle by her father, a biology professor who is always on the lookout for better staff positions. This translates into a string of family relocations, the latest of which takes Bea from Ithaca, NY to Baltimore, MD. Once there, Bea is promptly enrolled an uber-preppy high school attended by the city’s riches and brightest. Initially, her school life resumes as usual; Bea’s classmates seem friendly but shallow, allowing her to adopt her typical semi-outcast demeanor. But then, purely by happenstance, Bea meets Jonah Tate (not-so-affectionately known as Ghost Boy). Desiring to be the exemplary high school outcast, Jonah always eats lunch alone and has a policy of ignoring everyone…everyone except for Bea.

Jonah and Bea click instantly, brought together by a common fascination with a quirky late night radio talk show called the Night Lights where participation is always welcome and anyone can assume any identity. As the teens begin to make new friends over the FM wavelengths, they find much needed acceptance and a new, more welcoming niche in the world. Slowly, they start to transform into the happiest people they have ever been-a pair of misfits that perfectly fit one another.

Then, out of nowhere, Jonah’s life is completely altered when he receives a unexpected message from his twin brother, Matthew. Without going into any spoiler details, the sudden reappearance of Matthew has a staggering impact on the whole plot. Driven by their desire to uncover Matthew’s mysterious predicament as well as rescue him from it, Jonah and Bea turn into a pair of high school sleuths, performing undercover operations that include gender altering disguises complete with wigs, fake IDs and a few other things.

This seem like fun adventures at first, but it isn’t. Jonah has a lot at stake, much more than Bea could ever know, and as the plot takes one last sharp turn south, the Krazy Glue-like love that Bea and Jonah have for each other is no longer enough to pin him to the happiness they once shared. There is a falling-out and Jonah retreats into himself, deeper than ever, too deep for Robot Girl’s reach.

I really liked this book. Jonah and Bea are a great pair of imperfect teen characters. I didn’t like them most of the time but I loved them all of the time. It was their platonic love for each that did it. Their relationship, which I can only liken to a mixture of what siblings and soul-mates have, was wonderful. Every time Jonah disappeared, I felt the hole, the missing piece in Bea. But how do you make room for a new soul-mate when you already have one in your twin brother? Standiford answers that question by conjuring up a most interesting conclusion. A conclusion that is eqaul parts splendid and savage. At least those are the words that came to me as I read it.

I was also impressed by the supporting characters in the book. Standiford didn’t do anything groundbreaking by including a semi-depressed mother, a workaholic father and sting of shallow high school classmates, but she used all of them advantageously. They weren’t over-dramatized, and so I never got bored or exasperated when they popped up here and there inside the plot.

Finally, I have to give a shout-out to the designers of this book, particularly the ones who worked on the layout of the pages. The cover is nice, but the inside of the book is really beautiful. That gave my reading experience a bit of a kick.

Lit Snit Verdict: B (I do want to give this book an A, but I hold back because I feel it lacks a certain conventionality. Objectively speaking, I just don’t think everyone will see what I saw in it. So it’s a personal A and a Lit Snit B)

Courtesy of Goodreads: Much-heralded and long awaited, Terry McMillan’s tour-de-force novel introduces the Price family-matriarch Viola, her sometimes-husband Cecil, and their four adult kids, each of whom sees life-and one another-through thick and thin, and entirely on their own terms. With her hallmark exuberance and cast of characters so sassy, resilient, and full of life that they breathe, dream, and shout right off the page, the author of the phenomenal best-sellers Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back has given us a novel that takes us ever-further into the hearts, minds, and souls of America-and gives us six more friends we never want to leave.

First let me start off by saying that when I opened up this book to find an extended family tree on the first two pages, I immediately became a little nervous.  No one wants to interrupt their reading experience by constantly referring to the legend at the front of the book.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to.

In A Day Late and A Dollar Short, Terry McMillan paints the picture of a dysfunctional family just trying to make it day by day. There’s Viola, the matriarch, who starts the book off by suffering a nearly fatal asthma attack. There’s Cecil, her (soon to be ex) husband, who has left Viola and is living with another (younger) woman across town. Then there are their children: Paris, Janelle, Lewis and Charlotte, each with their own set of problems.

This story is told from six perspectives, which initially makes it difficult to enjoy. The chapters are not labeled by name so it takes you a minute to realize who is speaking.  Unfortunately, this is consistent throughout the entire book. While each character’s story is engaging, the fact that each one doesn’t have their own distinctive voice makes it a bit bothersome. Added to this is the fact that the chapters are long-winded, trying to cram every detail making certain parts of this story repetitive.

Even with those problems, I still really enjoyed this book. McMillan has created wonderfully complex characters that are constantly challenged, exploring exactly why they have become the way they are.  Not only focusing on problems that affect the black community, the seemingly casual way with which she deals with different traumatic events, such as Lewis’s molestation by family members and Paris’s substance abuse, leaves one caught off guard.  It’s not that she doesn’t delve into the matter…she does. However, she doesn’t allow the character to use it as an excuse. She hasn’t created a book of victims bemoaning and belaboring. She takes this family that has essentially fallen apart and shown how they each are trying to piece it back together again, gifting us with a group of sassy, strong people struggling to find solutions, which makes this an uplifting, positive story.  

 LitSnit Verdict: B

Summary: (via Goodreads) Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the unique creation of author Stephen Chbosky. This book, which takes the format of an epistolary novel, describes the life of a fourteen year old boy in his first year of high school. Every few days the main character, Charlie, writes a new letter in which he updates an unnamed recipient about the events of his life. Sometimes a lot happens, other times the letter are more personal and reflective. Regardless, we continue to follow his steps into that intimately familiar territory of adolescence.

After completing the book, two distinct feeling emerge: a feeling of compassion toward the great amount of drama and trauma in Charlie’s life, and an unsettling feeling toward the strangeness of Charlie’s behavior. This eeriness is cause by the fact that he only exhibits two distinct emotional states: incredible emotional hyperactivity and complete emotional inactivity. The mystery behind his anonymity (Charlie is the pen-name he creates for himself while addressing the letters) combined with the fact that we never learn where he is from or who he is writing to also contribute to this sensation. And it’s not until we realize the strategic purpose behind his behavior and anonymity that we truly start to understand the book. It seems Chbosky envisioned his hero as the fictional representation of all of us. The author manages to give Charlie this universality by making him a perfect chameleon: Charlie is both reclusive and outgoing, both your best friend and a complete oddity, both emotionally stable and a complete wreck. The reason Charlie needs to be all these things is because he is facing the quintessential life dilemma of choosing whether he should try and satisfy others or try and satisfy himself. What complicates the matter is that he repeatedly fails to do either, which lead him into modes of depression, disorientation, and indifference.

The only times he does get some respite from himself is when he reads books and spends time with Sam, the girl that he loves. Charlie finds comfort in the books that he reads (e.g., The Stranger, The Catcher in the Rye, The Fountainhead), and you can see a 1991 version of Holden Caulfield and Meursault in him. His friendship with Sam is another thing altogether. He is in awe of her bluntness and honesty and beauty. She gives him a strange sort of comfort and he craves her on a purely emotional basis, something quite contradictory to what he is: a hormonally driven teenage boy.

Perhaps because it’s been so many years since we’ve been fourteen or maybe it’s because we never really had the time to analyze life at that age, but reading Charlie’s narrative is a revelation. The honesty in his words is stirring, packed with innocent notions about things like acceptance, self image, and the emotions of parents and sibling. His account is both wondrous and difficult to read. In many ways, what he reveals isn’t new at all but more like an old memory we’ve forgotten.

Lit Snit Verdict: B

Summary (via Goodreads): Everything seems just perfect in Grace’s life. She’s got a great job, a lovely house, a handsome boyfriend – and she’s pretty happy with it all.

Except that Grace has got a secret. She has a family. One she ran away from when life got too tough. Not to mention John, the only man she ever truly loved, who she left behind as well.

So when her sister finally tracks her down – to announce that their estranged father is in hospital – Grace has to make a decision. She can stay in the safe little world she’s carved out for herself, or she can go home. To face the music. But going home really isn’t as easy as it seems. Especially when the music seems to be playing a funeral march, her siblings are beyond furious with her, and their father’s second wife is behaving very strangely indeed….

A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is a heartbreakingly funny story about life, loss and what it really means to come home.

Review: I have to get one thing off my chest before I really get into this review.  Something bugged me about this book from one of the first few scenes and has stuck with me every time I think about this book that I just have to address with Liza Palmer.

Liza, love you, but the game Sorry, isn’t played with dice!  It’s played with cards.  Sorry, the long-time-Sorry-playin’-OCD-freak in me just needed to get that off my chest.

Phew.  Now that’s done, I can talk about how much I enjoyed this book.  It starts off a little slow and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love Grace in the beginning, but all my reservations flew out the window as we meet the rest of the Hawkes clan.  I realized as the novel progressed how much the Grace I met in the first scene was a shadow of herself without her family around.  Palmer has a way with characters; each of the siblings felt very real and well-rounded.  Grace’s younger brother Leo is downright adorable.  He’s a giant skinny, lovable, genius puppy that I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book. (In my head, he’s basically Lee Pace)

The sibling relationship are complicated, messy, but full of love.  Palmer weaves flashbacks in with the present seemlessly giving me the feeling that I’ve grown up in this family, too.  Palmer dispenses with Grace’s boyfriend fairly quickly and without much explanation, but it doesn’t matter because the second John and Grace are on the page together they have such chemistry I  kind of forget about the boyfriend altogether.

Palmer creates a good balance between the emotion and the plot, creating one of the more odious step-families since Cinderella.  I was constantly torn between tears and spewing outrage on the Hawkes children’s behalf.

This is a quick, enjoyable read like I’d expect from Palmer, whose first novel Conversations with the Fat Girl is one of my chick lit favorites.  A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is emotional but hopeful tale of family, love, and knowing it’s never too late to go home again.

Lit Snit Verdit: B+

As Comic Con winds down, I’m here to give you my last comic series recommendation/review.  If you’re not that familiar with comics, I hope you’ve seen a series or two that’s caught your eye.  Not all comics are about superheroes and people with powers.  Many of today’s comic series are dramatic, thought-provoking reads that rival (or are many times better than) what’s on the bestseller list.  I hope you’ll give one of these graphic novels a try next time you’re looking for something good to read.

DMZ written by Brian Wood

DMZ is set in New York City, where photography intern Matty Roth, is thrust in the middle of America’s second civil war that has turned the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone.  Matty, now the only reporter in the DMZ, tries to make sense of the war and report the truth, as both sides of the war, the federal government and the “Free State” armies, conspire, lie, and attempt to use Matty as their pawn.

Living in New York, I was a huge fan of the concept of DMZ.  Wood and his co-creator and artist Riccardo Burchielli have imagined a horrific, fascinating vision of NYC.  A friend at work and I often hypothesize apocalypse exit strategies and “what if” catastrophe scenarios (because we’re strange and morbid that way) and DMZ is like seeing one of those conversations come to life.  Wood tackles moral issues, politics, religion, wartime ethics—nothing is clear cut, but every issue makes you think.  Like Scalped, DMZ can get very dark, but that’s what makes it so unique and fascinating.  Wood has created a world that makes you think about things on a global and personal level.  In later volumes Wood seems to get bogged down by political and social commentary at the detriment to characters, making it a slight struggle to get through for me, but I still enjoyed every volume.  Matty’s transformation from the boy who was left in the DMZ to the world-weary report that struggles to find something or someone to believe in is difficult to witness because seeing the chaos in this world gone mad, even I felt helpless and struggled to make sense of it all.  DMZ isn’t a complete downer though.  Matty is a realistic protagonist and the characters that fill the DMZ are intriguing and full of surprises.

I can’t end my Comic Con recs without mentioning two other series that I adore: Buffy the Vampire, Season 8, which is a MUST for any Buffy fan, and Umbrella Academy, a bizarrely brilliant series that the A.V. Club calls “…part X-Men and part The Royal Tenenbaums…”  I wish I could write full reviews on all my favorite series, but I assure you both of these books are well-worth a read.

Oh, and I can’t believe I forgot to ask this until this last post, but are there any good comic series you guys would recommend?

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday so I didn’t get around to my comic review post, so today’s Comic Con-inspired post is a twofer.

Runaways created by Brian K. Vaughn

Runaways is another delightful creation from Brian K. Vaughn (Note: if you’re ever unsure where to start when you dive into the comic world, he’s a great writer to start with).  Runaways all started with one simple question: what would you do if you discovered your parents were super villains?  After six teens, Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico, discover their parents are members of a criminal group they take to the streets, wanting nothing to do with their parents’ evil ways. (I know this is a vague summary, but to say anything more would be giving away ever juicy twist that makes Runaways awesome)

To say I adore Runaways might be an understatement.  These are books I re-read again and again, never failing to smile at Molly’s innocent charm or Chase’s silly buffoonery. The series also has what is probably one of my favorite character in book, TV, anything: Gertrude Stein.  Smart and sassy with her psychic dinosaur at her side (I know, I know, just go with it. It’s easier when you don’t struggle.), Gert has carved herself a little place in my heart.  I don’t want to give anything away that’s too spoiler-y because this series is full of surprises, but the first seven volumes, written by Vaughn are pure genius fun.  Joss Whedon picks up the eighth volume, which is decent, but, as much as I adore Whedon, doesn’t have the same flavor that Vaughn brought. Other writers come in after that until the series pitters to a halt.  They say they’re “retooling” the series, but it’s been a while now so I don’t know if it will be picked up again or not.  I’ve heard they’re making a movie, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I urge you, if you’re a fan of the YA genre (or even if you’re not) give Vaughn’s run of this series a try.  It’s full of heart and comedy, while realistically portraying an emotional coming of age story.

Fables created by Bill Willingham
(via Goodreads) When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White’s party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown’s sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose’s ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

I love the entire concept of Fables. Ageless fairy tale characters wandering the streets of NYC?  Yes, please! Whether you’re well-versed in fairy tale lore or not, the characters are entirely engaging and compelling to read.  Fables is funny, compelling, and a little bit grim.  It’s one of those series I want to completely immerse myself in, wishing it were real.  Every volume offers something new and different, whether it be a murder mystery, crime caper, or an epic war, making the series an exciting read.

This series has launched a few different spin offs (including one novel) which I need to pick up.  If you were at all a fan of our book club book, The Book of Lost Things, I would encourage you to try Fables.  It keeps the spirit of dark old world tales and is entirely addictive.

In honor of Comic Con this week, I’m sharing some of my favorite comic series for the next five days.  Yesterday I talked about Scalped by Jason Aaron, a dark, gritty tale about life on a Native American reservation, and today I’m going to talk about the first of two series that I’ll share that are created by the brilliant Brian K. Vaughn.

Y: The Last Man written by Brian K. Vaughn

(via Goodreads) In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome–with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This “gendercide” instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.

Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he’s the only man to survive.

What could easily be a silly male fantasy realized, Y: The Last Man instead is a funny, grim, thought-provoking, and just a flat-out fascinating tale.  Over ten volumes, and five years (within the story) you see characters grow and change, adjusting to this new world.  Unconventional, but a perfect duo, Yorick (along with his pet monkey Ampersand) and Agent 355 quickly became a delight to read even against this dark backdrop.  They’re a great duo; Yorick’s sly sense of humor is perfect against Agent 355 stoicism.

I was slightly annoyed with the ambiguity as to the cause of the plague that wiped out mankind, but I grew to love the characters so much that I was able to set aside any issues I had with some convoluted plotting (it was also hard reading this with months in between, having to go back and remember what had happened in the previous volume. Lucky for you, all ten volumes are available for purchase and you won’t have to wait for the next installment).  Vaughn created something special with his ability to tackle issues on a global scale with the political and sociological ramifications of losing all the men in the world (save one), while making it very much a story about a boy in love.  Vaughn uses Y to explore issues of morality, humanity, and gender, but is never preachy. Y: The Last Man hits all the right notes of humor, drama, and action, making it a pleasure to read.

Dissatisfied both with writing a “Single Girl on the Edge/ Ledge/Verge” lifestyle column and with her boyfriend (who has a name for his car and compulsively collects plastic bread ties), Ruby Capote sends her best columns and a six-pack of beer to the editor of The New York News and lands herself a new job in a new city.

In New York, Ruby undertakes the venerable tradition of Poker Night—a way (as men have always known) to eat, drink, smoke, analyze, interrupt one another, share stories, and, most of all, raise the stakes. There’s Skorka, model by profession, home wrecker by vocation; Jenn, willing to cross county lines for true love; Danielle, recently divorced, seducer of at least one father/son combo in her quest to make up for perceived “missed opportunities.”

When Ruby falls for her boss, Michael, all bets are off. He’s a challenge. He’s her editor. And he wants her to stop being quippy and clever and become the writer—and the woman—he knows she can be. Adding to Ruby’s uncertainty is his amazing yet ambiguous kiss in the elevator, and the enjoyably torturous impasse of he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not.

What happens when you realize that Mr. Right has his own unresolved past? Where does that leave the future you envisioned? Ruby knows that happy endings aren’t for cowards, and she hasn’t lost hope that there are risks worth taking. As smart as it is laugh-out-loud funny, Girls’ Poker Night is a twenty-first-century His Girl Friday and a refreshingly upbeat look at friendship, work, and love.

Hmmm.

Based on the title and summary, I thought this would be a book about Ruby’s relationships, both romantic and platonic. I expected something along the lines of Sex and the City, where all of Ruby’s wild and wacky antics would be neatly summarized in Ruby’s version of SATC’s Sunday brunch, which in this case would be girls’ poker night.

Not so much.

We learn that Ruby goes through life playing it safe. By playing it safe, she’s found herself unhappy in her 2 year relationship with Doug but she sees no point in ending it as she doesn’t want to deal with the confrontation.  When Ruby gets the perfect out, new employment requiring her to move from Boston to NYC, she still doesn’t end it because she doesn’t want the confrontation. It’s easier to stay.

I get why the author has titled this book Girls’ Poker Night. I get that she uses this night to demonstrate how much Ruby likes to play it safe. Ruby doesn’t take risks in poker because, as in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t like to lose. I get it. Fine.

Apparently the author doesn’t either.

I feel like Davis spent this entire book playing it safe. The friendships, referenced to in the title, aren’t really explored. Hell, the poker night provides realizations for everyone BUT Ruby. The attraction between Ruby and her editor, Michael, is touched upon but not in-depth.  There is no ‘loves-me, loves-me-not’ because from what I can see, the editor clearly wants to be with her. It’s Ruby being insecure, whiny and afraid of becoming emotionally involved.  Even the small twist that takes place towards the end of the novel isn’t really explained either. None of this makes sense to me because the novel definitely has more than its share of necessary dialogue.

With all of that being said, it’s still an interesting and amusing read. Written in short, journal-like entries, this book has a few laugh out loud moments & some great quotes.  At the very least it’s quick and entertaining read. It’s not the best book I’ve read, nor is it the worst.  It’s just, well…blah,.

LitSnit Verdict: C

In honor of San Diego Comic Con this week (which, okay stopped being about comics a few years ago and is more about Hollywood these days, but whatever) I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite comic series (or graphic novels or whatever you want to call them).

I think comics sometimes get a bad wrap as being “kiddish” or only read by middle-aged sci-fi fans that live in their parents’ basement (though this long-held stereotype is definitely changing lately), but I am a huge fan of the medium and have read some stories that rival even the best award-winning “serious” literature so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite series with you these next five days.

There are so many good series that it’s hard to just pick a few to share with you, but I’ve compiled a list that I’ll share over the next five days of what I think are the best series I’ve read in the past few years.  I’m not giving these letter grades because they’re all my favorite series, so it kind of goes without saying that they’d all be A’s in my book.

Scalped written by Jason Aaron

Summary: Scalped is a noir crime story set on a Native American reservation.  Dashiell Bad Horse returns to Prairie Rose Indian Reservation, or “the rez,” after fifteen years away, under suspicious circumstances.  As Bad Horse is coerced into working for the tribal police force, he’s forced to deal with political intrigue, drug dealers, murder, and some emotional entanglements he swore he left behind.

Review: Scalped is an amazing series that constantly pushes the envelope.  Full of intrigue, double-crossing, and scandal, it’s an unflinching look at life on a reservation.  A dark and gritty storyteller, Jason Aaron never ceases to shock and amaze me with surprising twists and moving emotional archs.

This series hinges on it’s twists so I don’t want to give too much away, but Bad Horse is a complex character that I don’t necessarily like, but I just can’t seem to stop from grabbing the next issue to see what will happen next.  I like that this series, while centered around Bad Horse, gives a lot of time to other characters so you understand their motivations both in the present and in the past (Aaron blends the past and present seamlessly within his story.  This series is as much about what happened before Dashiell was even born as it is about the here and now.).  Just when I think I’ve gotten a character or storyline figured out, I’m thrown for another loop and need to re-adjust my entire perception of the series.

I can’t say enough good things about this series.  If you like mysteries, crime stories, or film noir pick up volume one of Scalped as soon as you can.

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