Egg(ing ’em on) (Young Justice Fanfic)

Author: CaptainOzone

AO3 ID: 10986921

Status: Complete (oneshot)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Artemis is dying for a distraction from the essay she’s been fighting. But when Robin comes in wearing a dark mood that (scarily) morphs into one too bright, she’s instantly suspicious. More so when he brings up the bright idea of sneaking through the security of Wayne Manor to–wait for it–egg the place! Seriously, what is he thinking? There’s no way the team will agree . . . only, somehow Artemis finds herself doing just that. This is going to end badly.

CaptainOzone is a fabulous author, and Egg(ing ’em on) is a delightful, well-written story. The characters are in character, and we get some solid character development, particularly on the parts of Artemis and Dick. I absolutely adore their interactions. You get to see some of the darkness and hurt that lies underneath the surface of there characters. But you also get some great insight into the friendships that keep them going and the laughter and fun they have together. Secret identities will be revealed, and there are some great Batfam moments as well. Definitely recommended.

Note: You can find this fic at https://archiveofourown.org/works/10986921.

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Ray vs the Meaning of Life

Author: Michael F. Stewart

My rating: 3 of 5

It all started when Grandma got killed by that huge grizzly. Or, well, Ray’s guilty conscience niggles that it may have even started before then, when he killed her avatar in the video game they were playing together and started the whole Rube Goldberg chain of events that led to her death. Whatever the case, it’s when her will was read that things started really getting ugly. Because apparently she left the entirety of her trailer park and reputed wealth to Ray . . . but only if he can figure out the Meaning of Life within the next month. Otherwise, he’s out of luck and his mom (who he’s pretty sure hates him) gets it all. No pressure.

I really wanted to love this book. The first chapter had such potential with its mad riot of dark humor–almost a dark take on Richard Peck’s style. But then everything just gets so depressing and existential–nihilistic almost for a bit. And then it turns into some zen self-help ridiculousness. I mean, it’s not all bad. Some of the zen self-help stuff is pretty common sense for having good relationships and a better life and stuff. But I don’t read a fictional story to get self-help relationship tips. Seriously. Good points: There is some solid character growth and change over the course of the book, which is always nice to see. There are occasional bits of humor or insight that are refreshing. And the author pulls off first person, present tense seamlessly. Extra points for that. So yeah, I don’t regret reading Ray vs the Meaning of Life, but I probably won’t read it again. It’s not the first thing I’d recommend for someone looking for a good story, either; although to be completely fair, it’s highly rated on Goodreads and has won some prizes. So maybe it’s just me.

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Gravity Falls: Lost Legends (Graphic Novel)

Author: Alex Hirsch

My rating: 5 of 5

Welcome back to the weird, wonderful town of Gravity Falls for a collection of never-before-told tales! Follow Dipper and Pacifica as they go where no human has been permitted before (not that they were actually invited) in a quest to retrieve . . . Mabel’s stolen face. Or join the gang as they dive into the wonderful world of comics, breaking all genre boundaries (and the fourth wall) in search of Grunkle Stan. Watch in wonder as Mabel faces the challenges of dealing with none other than . . . herself? And enjoy a peek into the childhood adventures of the older Pines twins. Weirdest of all? The whole thing is narrated by none other than Gravity Falls’ own Shmebulock!

I enjoy this graphic novel so much! I’ve read Lost Legends three times so far, and it has yet to grow old. Because honestly? This book is basically the series, and when does that ever grow old? Seriously, these four stories are slated as tales that were just a bit too weird to make the cut for the cartoon . . . but I could totally see them being there. Not that I’m sad they ended up as a graphic novel instead, though. They’re perfect for this medium, especially the story where they go into graphic novels as part of the plot. It’s hugely fun to see the various styles on the page, going from old-school comics to manga to gritty contemporary stuff to superhero comics–plus the visual effect when they fall into the margins and cut through the pages. It’s great–probably my favorite story of this set. Throughout all four stories, we see the characters being very much themselves and in character. But we also get character growth, which is also amazing. At least two of these stories take place late in the series (one of them post-Weirdmageddon), and it shows. Pacifica begins to come into her own and make choices that aren’t totally based on her family’s approval. Mabel begins to realize how over-the-top and kind-of selfish she can be. Just generally the characters are fabulous and the stories are a lot of fun. Highly recommended to fans of the cartoon.

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The Terrible Two

Authors: Jory John & Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Kevin Cornell

The Terrible Two, vol. 1

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Miles really hates that his mom is moving them from his home near the ocean where everyone knew him as an epic prankster to some podunk Midwestern town that smells of cows . . . where no one even knows his name. Starting at his new school, he knows he’s going to have to act fast to solidify his role as an outstanding prankster before he gets stuck hanging out with the school tattle-tale suck-up, Niles. Only trouble is, this school seems to already have a resident prankster, one who seems to be two steps ahead of Miles at every turn–and one so good at hiding that the principal is convinced Miles is guilty of the pranks!

The Terrible Two is a fun, funny middle-grade story that I literally read in one sitting. It’s got great characterizations, relatable problems, and hilarious pranks. All told is a droll, matter-of-fact tone that just makes it even funnier, along with fabulous black-and-white illustrations that emphasize and elaborate on the story brilliantly. Oh, and it’s got cows. Lots and lots of cows. . . . But seriously, I really enjoyed the way the relationship between these two pranksters played out, going from annoyance and bafflement to outright antagonism and finally to this great bromantic pranking team. The Terrible Two is a lot of fun; recommended.

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The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! (Graphic Novel)

Original Story by: Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, & Travis McElroy

Adaptation by: Clint McElroy & Carey Pietsch

My rating: 5 of 5

The Adventure Zone, vol. 2

Warning: Mature Audience, mostly for language

Adventurers Taako, Magnus, and Merle have just been recruited by a secret organization based on the moon and dedicated to protecting the world from dangerous magical artifacts. Their first mission to retrieve a magic item naturally spinwheels into mayhem, ending up on a train ride through the mountains, complete with murder, a monster crab, a kid detective, an axe-wielding pro-wrestler, and the requisite amount of snark and dirty jokes. Who knew train rides could be so perilous?

In this fabulous follow-up to Here There Be Gerblins, the McElroys once again invite us on a D&D campaign of mayhem and grand fun. This really is one of those experiences that I think would be weird to read for anyone who isn’t a D&D player, but for those of us who do play, it resonates, truly capturing the experience of playing the game once you get past all the piddly mechanical stuff. All the fun and snark of playing with people you know well, the fourth-wall breaking and present-day references, the plot’s randomly going off the rails (okay, the train is actually pretty apropos), and just the general flow of gameplay is well represented here in a way that gamers can both relate to and find highly amusing. Add to that some larger-than-life characters–the sort that would never fly in a normal fictional story but that are completely at home in something this absurd–and a fabulous graphical representation by Carey Pietsch, and you really have a fabulous, wacky, delightfully nerdy story. Highly recommended.

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Cause for Concern (Fullmetal Alchemist Fanfic)

Author: metisket

AO3 ID: 584736

Status: Complete (1 chapter)

My rating: 5 of 5

Second Lieutenant Jean Havoc has heard all the unbelievable stories about the notorious Elric brothers. As a matter of fact, he’s sought out those stories–they’re quite entertaining. But nothing could possibly have prepared him for the reality of being stuck alone in a car with them.

Cause for Concern is a delightful FMA one-shot fanfic giving us Havoc’s initial impressions on Edward and Alphonse. Because let’s face it, the shock of them gets kind of dulled over time, but meeting them at first has got to be jarring. They really are like some force of nature . . . some really childish force of nature, sometimes. In any case, it’s neat the almost outsider POV that you get, looking in on their lives, but also the way the author has the brothers poking into Havoc’s life and fleshing out his character as well. And the sibling interactions here are fabulous. Also, there are very amusing grumblings about Mustang, made adorable by the brothers’ admission of how they actually appreciate him. And most of all, the entire story is just very, very funny. Highly recommended for FMA fans.

If you’re interested, you can find Cause for Concern at https://archiveofourown.org/works/584736.

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Minor Mage (Novella)

Author: T. Kingfisher

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Oliver knew he wasn’t very impressive, only a twelve-year-old minor mage with three spells, an armadillo familiar, and a bit of herb lore. But he was all his small village had, and he did his best by them. Which is why it hurt all the more when it stopped raining and his small community turned into a mob, ready to force him to go to the Cloud Herders in the mountains to go get rain–because scared and ill-prepared or not, he had already been packing to go.

I’ve heard good things about the work of T. Kingfisher (pen name of Ursula Vernon) in the past, and having read Minor Mage, I get why. This novella (or short novel, nearly) is a delightful fantasy tale in so many ways. The main character isn’t some big, impressive individual who has it all together. He’s just a kid who tries, who cares what happens to others and does his best. So the story has an approachable “everyman” sort of feel to it. The writing is approachable as well, comfortable to just dive into and enjoy. And what a tale poor Oliver gets himself involved in! He’s got monsters trying to eat him, bandits kidnapping him, and a crooked mayor falsely accusing his friend. But that’s just it–he makes a friend along the way, a really interesting individual as well. Plus, there’s the armadillo, whose sarcastic humor and insight are a blast. And really, who would write an armadillo familiar? It’s brilliant. As far as intended audience, I do have to side with the author in saying it’s a children’s book, although one that could be greatly appreciated by adults as well; however, I can totally see how most adults would consider it too dark and violent for kids as well so . . . parental guidance recommended, I guess. In any case, I would definitely recommend Minor Mage as a fabulous fantasy coming-of-age story, and I’m planning to try more of the author’s work.

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