Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, July 12, 2013

Week ending July 12, 2013

Isayama, Hajime (text & illus.). Attack on Titan. Vol. 1. Kodansha. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9781612620244. pap. $10.99; ebk. ISBN 9781612626154. MANGA
This debut series flew largely under the radar until its anime adaptation took the Internet by storm earlier this spring. It features a unique mix of late Renaissance technology and culture with a postapocalyptic atmosphere. Humanity’s remnants live behind layers of massive walls for protection from the human-eating titans outside. Suddenly, after decades of peace, the titans smash through the outermost wall and slaughter the residents. Eren, Armin, and Mikasa, three young survivors of the massacre, join the army in their desperate struggle against the unstoppable giants. Along with the setting and intricate, twisting plot, Attack on Titan derives its appeal from its willingness to bend the conventions of shounen manga. Here, friendship and burning spirit do not conquer all, and your favorite character stands a good chance of getting eaten without the opportunity to give a cool speech first. The sketchy, oddly proportioned art style and flashback-heavy pacing may be a turnoff for some, though.
Verdict Not for everyone but definitely worth a look. Recommended for shounen manga readers looking for a fresh twist on the genre and fans of horror-survival stories in the vein of Aliens or The Walking Dead.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma

Peter, Lorenz (text & illus.). The Grey Museum. Conundrum. 2013. 216p. ISBN 9781894994712. pap. $20. SF
In the future—after humanity has more or less destroyed Earth—the planet and the remaining people are taken over by coffee-slurping, sweater-wearing alien creatures called the Greys. The Greys travel through space, pretentiously discussing with one another whether the things and creatures they see are art and transforming what isn’t into abstract sculpture. A handful of humans escape in a spaceship, preserved in jelly for centuries, until they are discovered by two intergalactic antiquers. The humans return to Earth, where they encounter not just the Greys but a snake god, an Earth goddess, and the last remaining broadcast news team. Graphic novelist Peter (Dark Adaptation) recalls the loose, wobbly people of Lynda Barry (One! Hundred! Demons!) and the surreal landscapes of Jim Woodring (Frank). However, Peter’s grey-and-black palette is monotonous—probably the intended effect but, combined with the meandering semiplot, makes reading a plod. As with most surreal art, this is full of unsubtle objects and backgrounds, plus more straightforward (but nontitillating) sex and nudity.
Verdict Although the book features funny moments and interesting concepts, Peter doesn’t do enough with them to hold the reader’s interest. Not recommended.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. P.L., Columbus, IN

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"