10 July 2013

Book Review--Templar

Jordan Mechner, LeUeyn Pham, Alex Puvilland
July 2013

The time of the Templar Knights is ending, as the King of France and his servants, have conspired to destroy the order. The Pope, left with little choice, bows to pressure and allows the King to condemn the Templars' for heresy...and orders them all to be executed. But a handful of the Templar Knights, including Martin, escape and seek to regain the hidden treasure of the Templar Knights and keep it out of the hands of the King. They must band together and fight through sewers, possible romances, and the warriors of the King if they hope to survive. And only time will tell if they will make it.

Even though this is a long book (probably the longest graphic novel I’ve seen in awhile), this is an exciting action packed story. It takes a little bit to get into the story, as the author delves into some of the history of the knights and what happened to the order, but then...then the action starts and the story takes off like a rocket and you don’t want to let go. This is the type of story has a little bit of something for everyone, from romance to adventure to fighting to knights...mostly knights, but still it’s fun.  Mechner does an excellent job of creating characters that we feel proud to know and follow, that we want to know more about, and that we want to see them live to fight another day.

The illustrations in this book are lavish and gorgeous, with beautiful attention to detail.  The texture of the cloth that the knights and others wear, the scruff of their beard, the depth to the buildings of France with the arches and columns...reading this book and looking at the art is like watching a really good animated movie.  Some of my favorite scenes in the book are the action sequences with the galloping of the horses and the knights fighting.  It's wonderful.

This is an action packed story that high school readers and up will enjoy. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. 

ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond

Book Review--Genius

Steven Seagle & Teddy Kristiansen
July 2013

Ted Marx is a genius. Not like when your mom says that your baby brother is a genius cause he figured out how to work the iPad at the age of three, but a real one. He skipped grades in school and he's a quantum physicist at a think tank. But lately...everything is beginning to overwhelm him. He's having trouble making the next big leap at his job, he's being passed over by the younger kids, his kids are growing up way too fast, his wife is seriously ill, and his father-in-law who is senile lives with them. What's a genius to do? But then...he discovers that his father-in-law knew Einstein himself! And even more than that Einstein shared his greatest discovery with him. Can Ted get the secret for himself? And if he can...what will he do with it?

For such a short book Steven deals with a lot of complicated topics ranging from aging in-laws, illness, being smart but not smart enough, and most importantly of all...what do you do when you've been told the greatest secret known to man? It's like the parable of the gold pieces from the Bible, but in this case letting the secret go to seed maybe the best thing to do with it. This is the question that Ted struggles with, all the while trying to deal with normal life and the pressures of his job. And it's the story's greatest strength.  We see Ted as neither a hero, or a villain, or even someone to aspire to be like.  He's just...like the rest of us, struggling to deal with life and everything that is thrown at him.  There is no neat and tidy ending with this book. No question is every truly answered and we don't know what Ted may do with the secret. Instead the book is just like the real world...gray and unclear, with hints of light.

One of the things I struggled the most with this book were the illustrations. It took me a while to realize why everything was gray and somewhat fuzzy, with hints of green and light running through it, is that Teddy is mirroring what we see in the storyline, he's mirroring life. It's not supposed to be clear and rosy, instead it's muted and unclear, with those hints of light shining through every once in a while, like a bolt of genius out of the gray. The one big issue I have with the book, is the type choice. It was at times difficult to read and made for some interesting... confusion, such as where it looks like the father-in-law is calling Albert Bett instead of Bert.

Overall while I enjoyed the book, I found it difficult to grasp until the 3rd or 4th reading. And I think that's because the author paralleled life so closely, creating a character that we can't but help find uncomfortable because he's so like us and he struggles with the same things that we do. And yet...that's also the biggest selling point of the book. This is a good book for adults and I give the it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond