Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Archive for May, 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight: Review

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Premise: On the day Hadley has been dreading for months – nay, years – circumstances leader her to meet a certain gorgeous Brit. The title is somewhat misleading. A story that’s actually about the statistical probability of love at first sight would probably be much more situational than this one is. Trust me, you want this spoiler: Hadley does not fall in love at first sight. If you’re looking for a study of that moment itself, this isn’t the book for you.

Plot & Characters: They’re indistinguishable from each other. Yes!!!

This book is totally character driven. By the end of the story, characters have done things they would never have done at its beginning. The transition is convincing and flawless. About halfway through the novel, the main character has a delicious burst of initiative.

Main Character: Hadley is a bitter, self-involved brat who KNOWS how to notice and commune with the people around her, but just doesn’t WANT to. Her transformation is compelling.

Love interest: Oliver is a mysterious charmer with emphasis on the mystery. He’s a fascinating insta-crush full of stereotypical British snark and less stereotypical emotional defensiveness. Much of the mystery, however, goes unsolved. Hence, the love story part of this becomes shallow.

The ending involves some ambiguity in a way that invites re-reading and sleuth work. Check plus.

Alert: Vague spoilers that will likely just make you want to read this.

What I learned about storytelling: Perhaps the strongest part of the story is halfway through when Hadley pieces together the earth-shattering reveal about Oliver’s travels. This reveal happened on so many levels. Hadley realizes Oliver is in pain; how it compares to her own pain; and what she can do about it. Meanwhile the reader realizes both characters’ potentials for depth and change.

Gorgeously done.

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V. 1 of Arisa by Natsume Andou: Manga Review

It’s been a while since I’ve discovered a new shoujo manga (that’s actually been released in America) I could not put down. In fact, there really hasn’t been one since Dengeki Daisy. But simply reading the premise of this gave me chills. 

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Estranged high-school twins Arisa and Tsubasa are reunited after years of secret communication through letters – and Arisa promptly attempts suicide. In an effort to figure out why, Tsubasa disguises herself as her twin and attends Arisa’s high school. The reason has to do with an online personality called “The King” and his/her relationship to Arisa’s class. But will Arisa’s secrets destroy Tsubasa’s life, too?

Plot

Analyzing and re-analyzing every personality for clues as to the King’s identity – and Arisa’s suicide attempt – makes this manga somewhat character-driven and extremely compelling. Of course, some coincidences are a little too perfectly incidental. To Ando’s great credit, not all of Arisa’s classmates fall for Tsubasa’s Clark Kent-ism of her sister. They notice the differences in their personality and express different levels of concern.

Artwork

The art is reminiscent of Yuu Watase’s and rather typically shoujou. Big eyes for crying, detailed hair and outfits. Some proportions and angles are a little awkward. Natusme Ando is, however, yet another manga artist who has mastered the creepy smile. Delicious. 😀

Ando plays with the page panelling in ways I haven’t seen before. For example: Before Arisa’s suicide attempt, several pages corner with a snippet of a folded note – part of her reason for jumping. The reader doesn’t see the full note until she has gone over. Beautiful.

Characters

Because all peripheral characters are suspects who could be the King, even those who are flat at first develop new dimensions – especially once the class’s crowd psychology hits its frequent peaks.

Tsubasa herself struggles with her identity as she constantly compares herself to her sister and redefines her relationship to her sister. Her dark side could get deeper, but she’s no Mary Sue.

The cast includes:

  • Tsubasa – Too spunky/punky to get a boyfriend
  • Arisa – Too beautiful and popular to be considered anything less than perfect and happy
  • Takeru – An adorable “best friend” type, very committed to Tsubasa
  • Mariko – Arisa’s cutesy, innocent best friend
  • Midori – Arisa’s prestigious, nonchalant boyfriend
And a whole class full of suspects!
Playlist suggestions
  • For something cheesy – Happy Go Lucky by Steps
  • For something dramatic – Much Like Falling by Flyleaf
  • See Who I Am by Within Temptation
  • The Leaper by Deas Vail
  • All We Are by One Republic

There has to be a good song out there to express Arisa’s loving desire to figure her sister out. I’ll update when I find it. 🙂

What I learned about storytelling: Don’t underestimate double trouble. It can be hokey sometimes, sure, but there are always going to be new ways that it can actually tie into themes of identity and belonging. 

Two Southern Gingers: Coming to a Theater Near You!

I am happy to announce a separate blog which shall motivate and inspire me to update this one more often. Two Southern Gingers in the Big City is the internship blog I’m writing with Ashley Poston.

In our supreme humility, we have mapped out all the bizarre things that would have to happen for this blog to turn into a movie.

  • We would have to get lost in the subway system and wind up somewhere bizarre and/or dangerous and perhaps have someone come to our rescue.
  • We could take a taxi to the wrong location and walk home dramatically in the rain.
  • One of us, and one of us alone, could get a book deal, leaving the other out in the cold.
  • The other (Ashley) could fall in love, creating balance once again.
  • The one who fell in love could fall for a fellow Random House intern, or an intern with a competing house, or a model.
  • My fiance could show up and surprise me. In Central Park.
  • Lost of other conflict-driven things we’d rather not speak of.

Let me know if you can think of any more! Here’s a picture of us failing to hail a cab.

What I learned about storytelling: Making things out to be cinematic is funnn.

Random House Internship

Hello blogosphere! I do not obtrude upon thy orbits with my obtrusive gravitation nearly enough.

I’ve landed an internship with Random House this summer. This is so huge to me, I never would have dreamed of it. I never would have imagined I’d have the resources.

I got the chance to send in my resume t through a personal connection.
I got the interview through the strength of my resume.
I got the job through the interview. I actually interviewed on my birthday, so I was just determined to have fun. I did – and I suppose my new supervisor did, too.

I’ll be working in the Publisher Services side of Random House which translates, edits, markets, and distributes for Kodansha Comics. This was previously Del Rey Manga. They’ve got Negima, Ghost in the Shell, Fairy Tail – and the Sailor Moon re-release! Agh!!!

I hope to be blogging about this A LOT in the days to come.

❤ File this under: Life is Beautiful.

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