Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji Vol. 23

Review:

Black Butler Vol. 23 - Yana Toboso

In this volume we see the return of some familiar faces (I won’t spoil them all), including the P4 from the Weston College arc, who are, shall we say, stars of a different sort. I’m excited to see Lizzie in a central role for this arc, though she’s only scattered throughout this volume. I hope we get some badass Lizzie next time. Also happy for some Emerald Witch, with her hilariously oversexed banter.

There’s of course also a new face, Blavat Sky (after the Victorian medium), who’s mysterious and interesting, especially due to his interactions with Sebastian (again, being intentionally vague and non-spoilery). He appears to have genuine fortune telling abilities, but I already have a theory about that. In addition, there’s what I think is a fresh face at the end who certain fans will surely love (for my part, I already clearly get confused about who’s new and who we simply haven’t seen in a while).

As a first volume in a new arc, there’s a lot of setting up the mystery happening, which is fun in its own way. There’s some Sebastian cat action, which is always entertaining, some Ciel in danger, and a bit of the Queen herself. This manga never disappoints, and I’m already anxious for the next chapters.

No Snake or Finny this volume, though, which breaks my fangirl heart…

Original post:
eevilalice.booklikes.com/post/1506118/black-butler-kuroshitsuji-vol-23

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Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji Vol. 23

Kill the Boy Band, Goldy Moldavsky

Review:

Kill the Boy Band - Goldy Moldavsky

What an absolute riot this book was–when it wasn’t breaking my heart.

If you’ve ever been a fan of anything (especially a teen girl fan) and participated in fandom, you will recognize these characters and some of their behavior. The lingo, the friendships borne of obsessing over the same band/show/books/whatever, the fanfic, the love-hate relationship between you and the object of your fannish devotion–Moldavsky captures it all in prose that made me laugh hard at least once a page.

The book is comic but blackly so. The protagonist (who goes unnamed, though she tells those who ask a variety of names from 80s movies) and her three fellow fans, including her pretty and popular best friend, “accidentally” kidnap the least popular member of fictional British boy band The Ruperts (all named, you guessed it, Rupert). Things quickly spiral out of control, and the protagonist, who’s “the sensible one,” struggles to get a grip on the situation and defy her friends, about whom she realizes some unsettling things. That’s where the heartbreak comes in. She has recently lost her father, and her Ruperts obsession has clearly become her lifeline. By the end of the book she’s doubting her own sanity.

The author represents fandom lovingly and fairly, including its downsides: using fandom as a crutch, feeding on fame as a fan rather than the object of your devotion, fandom’s temporality–some day you won’t care or will be embarrassed. As a fan myself, I can’t say I was ever offended; I enjoyed the accurate portrayal and the nuances of fan interactions and feelings that the author captures so well. I love that she doesn’t define every bit of fannish jargon (e.g. “stans/stanning”), though it’s always clear from context. I love that each girl has her favorite Rupert and role as a fan in a group of fannish friends (the leader, the one with connections, the one with money and access), and that The Ruperts feel like a fully realized band and fandom, complete with a secretly gay member who’s dating a girl as a beard. Social media plays a central role, but it’s not overdone.

This book is fun and demented and worth a read even if you don’t think of yourself as particularly fannish. Best of all, it doesn’t put the girls down for being fans.

If nothing else, you will laugh hysterically at what’s in Apple’s suitcase…

Original post:
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Kill the Boy Band, Goldy Moldavsky

Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff

Review:

Lovecraft Country: A Novel - Matt Ruff

Another book with a fantastic premise and strong start that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. The novel establishes 1954, post-Korean War, Jim Crow America as Lovecraftian horror for its African American characters.

Each chapter/section explores the point of view of a member of the (extended) Turner family and their dealings with some batshit white people who are wizards of a sort. I’ve seen some readers refer to the book as a collection of short stories rather than a novel, but the stories are too closely connected narratively and chronologically. The upside of the structure is that each member of the family has a moment in the spotlight, a chance to illustrate how living in this time as a black person has shaped the extent to which they can pursue their dreams. The downside is that you may prefer some characters’ perspectives than others and feel as if you don’t get to know any one character enough. Though the chapters are connected, the novel can also feel disjointed.

Another plus is the black SF fans in the book whose love of the genre is complicated by its persistent racism (Lovecraft himself wrote racist material). It is a sort of sweet revenge to put these characters in charge and watch them respond to and take control of the very forces being used to make them tools.

(This bit is a tad spoilery, but I’ve kept it as vague as possible). I struggled with one chapter in which the protagonist is able, through magic, to transform physically into a white person. Predictably, she is treated radically different, even in a northern city like Chicago, where much of the novel is set. However, I feel this chapter plays into the notion that all black people secretly want to be white. It also illustrates something we already know: that white people in America are privileged. The white characters are the ones who need to get woke.

Mostly this book made me think about how little has changed in some respects. A few characters in the novel work on something called The Safe Negro Travel Guide whose purpose is to help black people know where safe(r) spaces in the country are while traveling (or conversely, where to steer clear of absolutely). The guide is based on a real thing, The Negro Motorist Green Book. Jim Crow may be over, but as events in the past decades indicate, it is still less safe for a black person to travel or simply be in this country.

Original post:
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Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff