Hollow City: The second of the Peculiar Children trilogy, this book is a tour de force of prose just like its predecessor, while continuing to add to the character development and world-building that was already here.
Paper Towns: This novel starts off with the impression that it will be a well written YA romance novel, but if your patient enough to stay with it--and Green’s prose will help-- you’ll be rewarded with a story that touches on growing up, and how the incompleteness of our perceptions of other people can be harmful.
Farewell To Arms: Hemingway at his best; beautiful descriptions of vast natural landscapes, memorable characters, and elegantly simple discussions of how love, lust, and war shapes man. It, like many of his other books, hasn’t aged well in an era of equality, but it is far from the worst offender-- and while that is something to be aware of going into it, there is still many valuable gems here to unearth.
World War Z: The decision by Brooks to frame the story in interview notes is brilliant. His ability to introduce character for a single chapter that then completely come to life is almost as impressive as his ability to help shape the world, politics, and history of the global event that caused the titular World War Z through the myriad of perspectives.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The books begin to grow with the readers, and we begin to take steps towards the weight the final novels will demand. Rowling manages this as expertly as she manages her world building, and spider-web like series plot, without ever losing the charm that made the first book so special.
The Road: Beautiful prose that is unrelentingly dark and dense. If you are patient, it can be a great experience, but this book will not hold your hand. If you can hold on, great, if you can’t… well, you will probably learn some new vocab words. McCarthy is certainly brilliant, and the moments I understood of this book will stick with me, but I have to admit there were large chunks where I was holding onto the edge of comprehension. That’s not the books fault, but it’s something to know going in.
52: Another of DC’s Comic events translated into prose, this one works quite well, actually. Greg Cox has an excellent voice for the characters we follow, and I appreciate that the perspective characters are not A-listers from the DC Universe, but instead a sort of hodgepodge of characters that offer unique insight into the world at large. Cox does an excellent job with handling of all of the characters, and despite an overall sweeping plot, he manages to make each perspective feel intimate and self-contained in the moment. This is an impressive feat, and it means that the mystery and action of the plot come to life because we care about characters experiencing them. The book surprised me, and made me want to find other stories with the likes of The Question and Booster Gold.
Long Halloween: Another iconic comic book story that I was underwhelmed with. I was able to get into some of the characters minds, and for a while the mystery of it all kept me intrigued, but by the end I am unsure if anyone--including the writers-- knows who the true criminal is. The plot might not be broken, but I don’t think enough is communicated to me to feel satisfied with the mystery by the end. Again, I am not an art guy, but there is no denying it is brilliant.
Watchmen: Honestly, saying any more than I liked it seems redundant at this point in history. The only graphic novel to be included on Time’s Top 100 Novels of all-time, the work by Allan Moore stands out as a tour de force example of story telling regardless of medium. It was the first comic book that I have read that made me see the merits of comics as a medium, as this story really couldn't have been told any other way, and if you haven’t read it for yourself, you need to.
Pokemon Adventures, Vol. 1: I was surprised how much I liked this. Growing up a huge Pokemon fan, I was well aware of the manga and even tangentially aware of some of the plot details-- at least in the early part of the run--but I never felt the urge to read it until recently. The world of Pokemon is open to interpretation, and as I imagine it is certainly not how others do, and that’s okay-- in fact, I sort of think that’s the brilliance of Pokemon. It is flexible, and there’s enough there for everybody. In the end, the manga world is pretty far from the one in my head, but it is a unique look that kept me interested through the admittedly quick read. It’s more popcorn blockbuster than intellectual exercise, and it knows it. If you like Pokemon, you’ll like this and if you don’t you probably won’t.
*In order to make sure I had enough books to share with you each month, I started with the books I have read recently. I will catch up to myself within a few months.
LA is Editor-in-Chief and Head Writer at Lot 10 Underground. He is an avid Eagles fan and a weary Lakers one. He grew up sneaking through the halls of Hogwarts after dark with Harry and his more talented friends, stumbling along the dark walls of Rock Tunnel in Pokemon Red, storming through flood riddled ships with Master Chief, and questioning Goku's parenting techniques in DBZ. If you'd like to contact him, you can try an owl, but he prefers e-mail: