Friday, November 23, 2012

The Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O'Malley: Vol. 3

See previous reviews for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Volume 3: Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness

This is the book wherein Scott starts to become more sympathetic. I knew we'd get there! Everyone goes to check out Envy Adams' band, The Clash at Demonhead, and then are invited backstage to chat with them - and Scott faces the third ex, Todd, who is now with Envy. Small (dating) world, right?

This is the strongest book yet. There are some great flashback sequences in which we get some of the history of Scott and Envy/Natalie's relationship, and get to know a little background on the rest of the gang. It's fun to read a series of books again - I love looking forward to the next installment, and it allows you time to get to know the characters and really get engaged with their arcs. Knives Chau was well-drawn in this one; I like how her story is about learning that age makes so little difference, and dudes can be jerks no matter how old they are. And she accepts that some people are not compatible even though they have crazy chemistry. And mostly she starts to figure out how to be her own badass self - I hope to see lots more of her in future volumes!

The battle with the ex is more drawn out and thoughtful, which is great. I love the strong dig at self-righteous vegans, and the surprising complexity of Todd's personality.

Most of all, I REALLY enjoyed the challenge Scott and Todd compete in - getting through Honest Ed's alive. I loved the artwork in this one; the chaos of that place is captured so perfectly! I found it to be a very funny sequence that was purely Toronto; another one I wish had been left in the film.

So yeah, I loved this one. I hope they continue at this caliber. My only complaint: not enough Wallace!

Five CN Towers out of five.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Unlikely Victims by Alvin Abram

You must know by now that I have a soft spot for mysteries. A classic whodunnit - most easily captured in a short story - is my very favourite, but I also enjoy a more methodical police procedural. In this book Abram puts a little bit of an odd couple/buddy cop flavour into the mix as well.

The Unlikely Victims is actually a series of mysteries, in chronological order, investigated by our narrator, Detective Gabe Garshowitz, and his partner Detective Iris Forester. It's not quite one cohesive story, but neither is it a series of short stories - it's sort of a novel divided into small vignettes. Gabe is an old cop, close to retirement, who has a lot of personal demons. He believes overwork and neglect on his part drove his wife to suicide, which in turn caused a big rift between him and his daughter. He is lonely, has bad knees, and gets into conflicts with some asshole he works with. Then he gets assigned to partner with/mentor Iris, who is a younger woman just getting started as a detective.

I liked Iris because she doesn't take any shit, and she has the kind of attitude I would imagine you would have to develop as a female cop. The two work well together as main characters and I liked their dynamic.

Each mystery leads to a little bit more development of the bond between them, and of self-discovery for Gabe, until the last one which effects him very personally and draws the book full circle.

Toronto is more of a vibe than a setting, and Jewish Toronto is well represented, which is a nice change of pace. The book is well written and well paced; I liked some of the choices Abram made, like starting each case with a partial description of events so that the reader knows a little more than the detectives, but not everything. There were a lot of typographical errors though, and some really baffling changes in viewpoint, sometimes mid-paragraph.

All in all I liked it. It was pretty good and kept me reading. I'm not sure if I would go back to this author as there is certainly better mystery fiction out there, but it was a good diversion and I do recommend it.

Three CN Towers out of five.