Tag Archives: friendship

Giant Days, vol. 2 (Graphic Novel)

Author: John Allison/Illustrators: Lissa Treiman & Max Sarin/Colorist: Whitney Cogar

My rating: 4.5 of 5

The holidays are here! Which means it’s time for the ball–vintage dresses and relationship faux pas abound. Then the university is closed, and everyone is supposed to be at home resting and celebrating with family. But Esther and Daisy received an emergency text from Susan, and they have made their way to Northampton to rescue her, from what, they know not. And when the girls get back to university after the holidays, what awaits but the dreaded exams . . . it would probably help if Esther had actually bothered to attend class for most of the previous semester. Meanwhile, Susan is keeping secrets from her friends, and Daisy has developed a weird Texan alter-ego. Naturally, zaniness ensues.

The second volume of Giant Days follows faithfully in the steps of the first volume, dealing a strong combination of relatable, cute slice-of-life story with some pretty hilarious comedic randomness. I would say that I liked this volume slightly less than the first volume, but that’s a matter of levels of brilliance rather than of good versus not good. The characters are strong, developing their personalities even more and branching out to show us more of each of the girls on their own, while still giving us a good chunk of page-time with them together. (Personally, I would have preferred more time with them together, since that’s when they really shine, but it’s neat to see them developed individually as well.) We also get more involvement and character growth for both McGraw and Ed, both of whom I’m growing to love almost as much as I do Susan, Esther, and Daisy–which is quite an accomplishment. Seriously, at the risk of sounding repetitive, the level of character development for all five of these characters is just stunning. It makes me very happy to read it. So does the art, which is just perfect for the story–bright and expressive and kind of casual. Highly recommended.

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Giant Days, vol. 1 (Graphic Novel)

Author: John Allison/Illustrator: Lissa Treiman/Colorist: Whitney Cogar

My rating: 5 of 5

Susan, Daisy, and Esther became fast friends when they began their university studies together. Yes, they all have their individual quirks–you could even say that they’re very different from each other. But perhaps it’s those very differences that make them good for each other, that help them through the complications of studies, relationships, illness, and drama that plague them along the way. Certainly, those quirks keep things interesting, as long as they can survive living in Esther’s drama zone, dealing with Susan’s mysterious past, and helping Daisy handle the big, scary world despite her (shocking) innocence.

I think I’m in love! Giant Days is everything I ask for in a graphic novel. The art is charming–a contemporary style similar to, say, Nimona or Seconds or even Kibuishi’s work, but with its own unique flair–and the coloring is just perfect–vibrant but not overdone. And the tone of the story is spot on, giving us a current, relatable slice of life story that touches on deep issues but never goes so far that we lose sight of the lighter side of things. And there’s plenty of the lighter side to be found here; this graphic novel is brimming with humor in abundance. There’s just enough quirkiness to the characters and the situations they find themselves in to appeal to the nerdier audiences, but the story is such a solid, timely slice-of-life story that I think a lot of YA/NA readers will find themselves charmed by this work as well. The characters are strong and interesting, and their depiction is vivid and captivating. I’m excited to see what Giant Days will bring in future volumes.

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When You Reach Me

Author: Rebecca Stead

My rating: 5 of 5

Growing up, Miranda’s life has been pretty normal. Her childish yet bright single mother falling in love, wavering over whether to give Richard (Mr. Perfect) a key to their New York apartment, getting all excited over entering a TV game show, making plans for what to do with the winnings before she ever gets on the show. Her best friend Sal who has always been there for her, growing up together, like two sides of the same coin. But her sixth grade year, Miranda’s life begins to fall apart. Sal stops talking to her for no obvious reason, and suddenly nothing seems certain anymore. And then she starts getting these messages, small notes giving her instructions, telling her things about the future that no one should have known, claiming that the writer has come back in time to prevent something awful–and that her following these instructions is vital to this happening.

When You Reach Me is one of those unexpected, brilliant finds that just go to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Although the whole Newbery Award should have probably been a good indicator of that. It’s like this fabulous mashup of the things I love best of the writings of Madeleine L’Engle (no surprise, since she’s clearly an influencer of Stead’s writing), E. L. Konigsburg, and Frank Cottrell Boyce. The writing itself is just really good, for one, with layers of depth in the characters and little observations of the everyday thrown into the mix and with a lot of character development and growth and self-realization over the course of the story. That in itself would make for a great story, but then you throw in all the time-travel stuff and the mystery surrounding that, and the book goes to a whole new level in my mind. I liked that attention was given to the effects of time travel, but essentially zero mention was made of the actual mechanics; it wouldn’t work in every situation, but for this story, it was the best possible way to handle the topic. The inclusion of all the references to A Wrinkle in Time really helped to set the stage and explain the time travel better, so that was nicely done as well. Oh, and this is an actual instance of first-person, present-tense that actually works; it feels like reading a letter for the most part, maybe that letter Miranda was supposed to write. Recommended particularly for middle-grade readers, but this is one of those stories that surpasses its recommended grade range, so if you like the above authors’ works and are interested in time travel-related stories, When You Reach Me may be worth trying.

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Ransoming Emrys (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Emachinescat

FanFiction ID: 6735319

Status: Complete (25 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Warning: Rated T, mostly for whump

They were only out there hunting that impossibly hot summer day because Prince Arthur wanted to annoy his manservant Merlin–something he would later kick himself for, repeatedly. Because as unreasonable as it was to be out doing anything in that heat, the two young men were not alone in the forest. Set upon by a band of renegade druids, Arthur finds himself magically incapacitated and incapable of doing anything to help Merlin, the object of the druid’s attack–clearly a case of mistaken identity, since they keep calling Merlin “Emrys” and claim he has powerful magic that people will be interested in paying lots of money for. Arthur ought, by rights, to be insulted about being left behind (a prince!) while his manservant is taken to be sold to the highest bidder . . . but the truth is, he’s mostly worried. About where Merlin is and what’s happening to him. About what the druids will do when they find out the mistake they’ve made, kidnapping the wrong person. Or worse, about what could happen if they’re right and Merlin actually is this Emrys person.

Emachinescat consistently crafts some of the best fanfiction out there, and Ransoming Emrys is no exception. The writing is excellent throughout, and moreover, it manages to capture the feels that make me love Merlin and these boys so much. The author manages to get in their heads, to show us not just what is going on at any one time, but also why. And there’s definitely a lot going on in this story. It manages to be a big plot sort of story while also giving us all the worried tension and emotional strain of a good whump story. And yes, there’s definitely whump here, but it’s the kind that brings out the BAMFery in Merlin, which is always fabulous. And we get a solid reveal here, with just the right amount of tension and bromance surrounding that and a nice open-ended conclusion so there’s some things left to the reader’s imagination. I loved the way Gwaine, Lancelot, and Percival get drawn in to the story, even when they’re not knights at Camelot yet at this point. The coincidence of Lancelot and Percival happening to show up on the scene would, in another author’s hands, have been just too convenient, but here it fit. And using Morgana and Morgause to move the story along was brilliantly done. It was also interesting to see the druid’s opinions on Emrys and his loyalty to Camelot and Arthur developed more, to see the disillusionment of some people in him. All in all, Ransoming Emrys is an exciting and feels-rich fanfic that I would highly recommend to Merlin fans.

Note: You can find Ransoming Emrys at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6735319/1/Ransoming-Emrys.

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(White) Collar Optional (Psych/White Collar Crossover Fanfic)

Author: DTS

FanFiction ID: 10367570

Sequel to Psychic in the City

Status: Complete (18 Chapters)

My rating: 4 of 5

Shawn and Gus’s friendly visit to New York has gone dangerously off the tracks, and Gus finds himself teaming up with FBI agent Peter Burke in an attempt to find Shawn who has disappeared along with Peter’s CI, Neal Caffrey. Meanwhile, Neal and Shawn find themselves kidnapped, waking in a strange place and searching for a way of escape. And back in Santa Barbara, the gang are also placed on alert as they find their resident psychic has been kidnapped and is currently missing. . . . And is this even really just a kidnapping, or is it part of some grander scheme?

I really enjoyed DTS’s story Psychic in the City, but as I mentioned in my review of that, it leaves us on this major cliffie. (White) Collar Optional brings us in right where that story cuts off–you might even consider them two pieces of one story, only this second part leaves New York pretty quickly. The things I loved about Psychic in the City are here in spades–the fabulous crossover, the great writing, the interesting and fun combination of character interactions and bigger plotlines. But this story feels more mature, more developed. It actually handles the things I had minor issues with in the previous story, drawing out the characters’ individual quirks more and also discussing more how Shawn and Neal’s relationship actually works. And I have to say, their hijinks here are pretty amusing. It’s also fun to see the SBPD group get in on the action here. The one area I got tripped up on in this story (and this may totally just be my being stupid and slow) but the whole big plot of showing up Shawn as a fake got kind of convoluted and weird in my mind. . . . But I enjoyed the story as it occurred anyway, and I found the individual characterizations and their interactions to be more than enough to make up for any plot confusion I felt. I would definitely recommend (White) Collar Optional, although please read Psychic in the City first; this is one of those stories where the sequel really needs to be a sequel and is not a standalone story.

Note: You can find (White) Collar Optional at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10367570/1/White-Collar-Optional.

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At a Loss for Words (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: staymagical

FanFiction ID: 9734242

Status: Complete (14 Chapters)

My rating: 4 of 5

Warnings: Mature Audience/rated T/mentions of drugs, forced addiction, mutilation, slavery, etc.

King Arthur has gone to great lengths to retrieve his servant (best friend) from the hands of the slavers who captured him. But by the time he finds Merlin, well, words like “safe” and “normal” don’t exactly cut it. Some of the things Merlin has endured are going to take a long time to recover from–like the drug addiction forced on him to make him more obedient and his stubborn determination to knock the addiction no matter how bad the withdrawal symptoms may be. Or the panic attacks and depression that plague him even after he beats the drug. And there are some things that will never be the same again . . . like the fact that they took away his ability to speak forever. All of it is so very wrong, but Arthur is determined to help his friend get through this somehow.

I know, it’s probably sadistic of me, but I really enjoyed At a Loss for Words quite a lot. Yes, it’s very whumpish, and a lot of bad stuff happens to Merlin in it, but it’s also a hopeful and sweet story; the best sort of hurt/comfort, right? I love how a great deal of the story is from Arthur’s perspective and how we actually get to see an Arthur who’s openly concerned, who takes the time to be there for his friend and acknowledge how much Merlin actually means to him. And Merlin’s sections, even though they’re angsty, are also filled with that great sass that so characterizes him. I felt like the author’s handling of some very difficult content–like addiction, withdrawals, PTSD, and depression–were tastefully handled and really added a lot to the story. And (although I love a good reveal), it was neat to see a story with lots of caring and Arthur/Merlin friendship that didn’t involve a magic reveal–but leaves us set up nicely for a potential reveal in the future. The writing isn’t always perfect, but it’s quite readable and has a nice flow and a good feel for the characters, which is honestly more important that perfect grammar and word choice. And yes, there’s at least one place in which concepts are presented that weren’t discovered until years later . . . but let’s face it, Merlin has always placed story before technicality and historical accuracy anyhow, so I can’t really bring myself to care. In all the ways that count, At a Loss for Words is a touching, intense, heartbreaking, and enjoyable story that I would definitely recommend.

Note: You can find At a Loss for Words at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9734242/1/At-A-Loss-For-Words.

 

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Rainy Days (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: TheLastPilot

FanFiction ID: 11588623

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

My rating: 5 of 5

Cat Noir adores Ladybug, has fallen for her utterly, but the truth is that he barely knows her, doesn’t know her true identity and all the tiny personal details that go along with that at all. Meanwhile, Adrien (Cat Noir’s true identity) finds himself fascinated and troubled by the quiet, sweet girl at school who can’t seem to bring herself to even talk to him, even though she’s clearly smart, funny, and even courageous when around other classmates. Perhaps these rainy days (both literally and metaphorically) will give Adrien and Marinette the chance to get to know each other, to become friends even if they can’t become boyfriend and girlfriend as Marinette would like. Secret identities have a way of getting in the way of relationships. Yet in spite of that, the two find themselves drawn to each other, both in their true identities and in their superhero alter egos. Talk about confusion! Maybe one of these rainy days, they’ll trust each other enough disclose some of those secrets.

Rainy Days is exactly what I wanted in a Miraculous fanfic! The writing is well done, balancing the different perspectives well and including the kind of details that give the story body and depth. The story is adorable and sweet, but with enough conflict and tension to be interesting–properly flangsty (fluffy and angsty). You’ve got a touch of the typical plotlines–rampaging akumatized classmates and the like–which gives the story the proper context and flavor, but the focus of the story isn’t really on that. It’s primarily a story about a budding, beautiful friendship that gradually grows into the potential for something more. The slow-burn growth of Marinette and Adrien’s relationship is a beautiful thing; major kudos to the author for doing this remarkably well. Again, the little details make a huge difference here. At times, the story feels almost like a character study of the main characters, each from the other’s perspective. And can I just say how much I love the way the reveal was handled?! Also, props to the author for managing to craft a story that would appeal to the older viewers of the show while keeping it clean enough for all but the youngest viewers–technically it’s rated T, and there’s a few mild bits of language and a touch of whumpish action right towards the end, but it’s all pretty much PG at the worst. Seriously, Rainy Days is a clean, adorable friendship/romance story that fulfills basically everything I want from a Miraculous fic; highly recommended.

Note: You can find Rainy Days at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11588623/1/Rainy-Days.

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