Size Doesn’t Matter (21): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

Size Doesn’t Matter (21): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerPapillon by Miwa Ueda
Series: Papillon
Published by Kodansha on December 11, 2009
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Scanlation
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half-star

It’s no fun being a high school outcast. It’s even harder when your twin sister is the most popular girl in school! The ultra-glam Hana is the ultimate teen queen, but her sister, Ageha, is just a shy tomboy. Hana loves being the center of attention so much that she’ll do anything to keep her sister in her shadow. But Ageha has a plan that will change her life. Because no one, not even Hana, can hold Ageha back forever. . .

So I was talking about teacher/student romances with Dahlia and got the urge to revisit this manga I’d started but not finished several years ago. I had vague memories of actually shipping this one, because the male teacher was the guidance counselor and it wasn’t quite as problematic as the usual situation; it’s not like he was grading her. However, revisiting it, I don’t know what the fuck younger me was thinking because Papillon is super problematic.

Yes, he’s not her teacher but he still acts completely inappropriately. He makes sexual jokes towards his teen students constantly. As an adult, I was just constantly cringing because it’s so wrong. When his adviser finds out about the relationship, he tries to help them succeed, rather than failing the guy, who is counseling at the high school as part of his pursuit of a degree.

Then there’s the fact that the whole point of the manga is that outer beauty is so important. I mean, yes, it’s also trying to make a point about inner beauty, but it’s lost beside the fact that she gets everything she ever wanted by fitting into society’s beauty standards. To end the manga and make a healthy point about beauty, she could have ended up with the guy who had a crush on her back when she wore her glasses and had acne problems. But no.

On top of that, the whole plot, much like Peach Girl, which I do admit I liked a lot, is the rivalry between the two sisters. It’s gross girl hate forever and ever. There’s no plot arc in this manga I’ve not read elsewhere. The whole thing is melodramatic, unoriginal, and horrible. I do still enjoy Ueda’s illustrations and that’s all I’ve really got to say that’s positive.

Size Doesn’t Matter (21): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerCalvin by Martine Leavitt
on November 17, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Humor
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

In this latest novel from National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt, a schizophrenic teen believes that Bill Watterson can save him from his illness if he creates one more Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.

Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even has a best friend named Susie. As a child Calvin played with the toy Hobbes, controlling his every word and action, until Hobbes was washed to death. But now Calvin is a teenager who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Hobbes is back—as a delusion—and Calvin can't control him. Calvin decides that if he can convince Bill Watterson to draw one final comic strip, showing a normal teenaged Calvin, he will be cured. Calvin and Susie (and Hobbes) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track him down.

Calvin goes on the list of really strange books I’ve read. That’s not a bad thing, but it also means that, even having sat on it for a couple of days (not literally), I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I do know that I think it’s good. And it’s definitely fast-paced. But it’s very strange.

Calvin’s a schizophrenic guy who sees Hobbes the tiger talking to him. Seventeen years old, born on the day of the last Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, Calvin sees parallels between himself and the fictional Calvin. He, too, had a stuffed Hobbes tiger, a huge imagination, and a female friend named Susie. With Hobbes now talking to him, he becomes convinced that his schizophrenia will be cured if Bill Watterson writes one more comic to show a seventeen year old Calvin healthy and without Hobbes, so he goes on a pilgrimage across iced over Lake Erie to find Bill Watterson.

Tying the schizophrenia in with a beloved pop cultural icon does work to make schizophrenia seem a bit..friendlier? I’m not sure if that’s the word I’m looking for, but it’s sort of easier to conceive of in this light. Plus, since it was couched in the fictional for the reader too, it was just as tough for me to make the judgment call about which voices/visions of Calvin’s were actually real as it was for Calvin. At the same time, I’m not sure if this perhaps over-romanticized the mental illness because who doesn’t want Calvin and Hobbes to be together? I’m not sure. I mean, Leavitt definitely put forth the importance of medication and getting help, while not demonizing schizophrenia. I just don’t know enough to comment on this definitively. I’d be really curious to know how more knowledgeable people feel about this book.

Calvin’s a short book and a really quick read. The dialog is written sort of like a play, which is odd, but I assume to make everything feel a bit more like a comic, as close to a speech bubble for each character as they could get without hiring someone to illustrate in Watterson style. Though that would have been really cool.

If you’re a Calvin & Hobbes fan or like reading books about mental health, this one is worth checking out.

Size Doesn’t Matter (21): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #3
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 13, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
three-stars

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

Obviously, I came out of this one rather disappointed. I’m not sure if it was the book or the fact that I’ve been in a bit of a slump; probably it’s a bit of both.

Before I read this one, I reread The Burning Sky and The Perilous Sea, and I still really enjoyed both of those, but this one felt clunkier to me. The pacing was inconsistent. The best book in the series by far is The Perilous Sea, which ought to have felt clunky alternating between two timelines but didn’t. This one, though, does time jumps occasionally but at random, unpredictable intervals, and they always left me out of sorts.

More problematic I think is that there wasn’t a steady build up of action like in the prior novels. It starts in the middle of a battle, high octane. Then they escape and do random things for a while. I say random because many of them ended up serving no purpose whatsoever and it felt like they were moving around semi-pointlessly so that the book wouldn’t resolve too quickly. The final showdown ended up feeling anticlimactic.

It’s also not as shippy as the previous books because Titus and Iolanthe spend a lot of time apart. I did like the reveal that a couple of secondary characters are lgbt, but it would have been nice if it was more in the foreground.

I’ll be rereading this series someday, and maybe I’ll like this one more if I’m feeling less scattered when I read it. I hope so.

4 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (21): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. I still have to read The Perilous Sea! I tried to recently but I wasn’t in the mood, it was way too complicated for my brain haha. I loved The Burning Sky so it’s kind of too bad to know that the last book doesn’t compare. I feel that way about quite a few third books honestly.
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Book People Talk Movies: Morgan talks The Princess and the Frog!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I’ve been feeling sort of slumpy lately so maybe it’s just my headspace? I don’t know honestly. I know Debby was happy with the conclusion when she read it. And book two is super fab. *shrugs*

  2. Sarah J. says:

    Papillon sounds problematic, but a lot of manga has problematic themes. I do miss reading them though. It’s been forever since I binge read a manga series. Calvin sounds like it has an interesting premise. I’ll have to look into that one. Reading slumps really suck. Hope you shake off the funk. Great reviews!
    Sarah J. recently posted…Goosebumps Read-A-Long Wrap-up VideoMy Profile

  3. Readterest says:

    Papillion is really a good representative for the worst part of shojo manga, in my opinion. They may as well copy and paste from each other.
    Readterest recently posted…Aishiteruze Baby Manga | Readterest.comMy Profile

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