three-and-a-half-stars

Review - Parallax

Genre: Fantasy, Battle

Parallax is a comic about a college student called Lomax, who receives a mysterious gift from a teacher, which allows him to don a magic suit of chainmail and have trippy vision for a while. It’s described on Hiveworks as “A story about action and mystery, about growing up, making friends, and battling inner and outer demons.” and that’s it. That’s all I got, mostly due to some issues with the site itself (but more on that later). I even struggled to find the name of the author, although there is one M. Falke credited as copyright holder in the site itself.

Let’s start with what I think is the highlight of the comic.

Art Skills: The art is polished and very eye catching. There’s a good use of colors, especially to create a mood. The use of dramatic shadows, flexible inking and wild perspective also helped in that regard. Although stylized, the anatomy is great, and I couldn’t find a single panel that seemed off to me.The panelling is nice and leads the eye well, generally not being very fancy with a few, nicely pulled off exceptions. I give it 4.5 out of 5 mood lightings.

Art Style: As mentioned previously, there’s a lot of color mood setting and dramatic lighting, which adds a lot to the art style. It’s not what I’d call unique, but it’s not generic either, and it’s very pleasing on the eyes. I wouldn’t say it’s impressive most of the time, but it’s certainly not boring. It suits the story well; I didn’t feel like there was a clash at all, as it works very nicely both for the serious tone of the story, and the more comedic moments. My favorite things come down to two points: It’s incredibly expressive and fluid, and the background characters are very fun to look at. I also enjoy the main characters fluffy hair, but more on that later. 4.5 out of 5 little hair spikes.

Now, this is where we start slowly descending into plot hell.

Story: I wanted to like Parallax. It has the sort of plot that I tend to enjoy, and the art is phenomenal! But, at 8 months of updates, the story is thin and flat, and hasn’t managed to quite grab me. The prologue is generic, and it takes 24 pages to actually have the main plot point happen. For a comic that seems to update weekly (although I’m not sure, because, again, site issues) this is deadly. I would’ve prefered to been thrown into the gist of things with some action, then maybe have some flashbacks. As it is, it’s simply so thin and slow I can’t be interested. As a print comic, with several chapters of story, it would’ve done fine. But as a webcomic with a slow update rate, it’s not quite a drag to read through, but it’s not pleasant.

With that being said, I can’t actually point out any flaws in the storytelling. Mostly because there’s not enough storytelling to have any big flaws. 3 out of 5 glasses of water.

Characters: Lomax… Something. I already forgot his last name, but it’s long. Anyway, Lomax is your bland everydayman insecure character who gets thrust into magical fantasy combat calling. Mr. Rogers is the wise mentor with a dark troubled past. Lomax’s parents are apparently well meaning but distant.

Again, this comic suffers from being thin and on the generic side. Lomax is certainly relatable, but so far that’s all there is to him. He has a very fun design, especially in his magical boy knight form. Mr. Rogers looks like a teacher. Parents looks like parents. Background characters look like fun and interesting background characters. 3 out of 5 personal insecurities.

Diversity and Sensibility:  Eh. I don’t have enough happening to make a judgement. It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, and there’s no POC with speaking roles that I can recall. But then again, there’s only like, five speaking characters and one of them shows up on one page and nothing else. For now, I’m considering this category null.

Delivery: Boy, this site is pretty good looking. The logo kind of looks like a band logo more than anything but it’s not bad. I do love that the comics are big and horizontal and take up the screen without scrolling or any sort of distractions on the sides. I have to wonder how it would look on lower resolutions.

It has, of course, all the usual Hiveworks fixin’s.

But on the other hand, there’s a big issue with lack of information in the site. None of the pages are finished besides the archives. All I knew about the comic was what I read on the Hiveworks site.

The comments are also night unreadable in those colors and I dislike the way the dark background from the comics progresses into a white background for the comments. A softer gradient and less drastic colors would be appreciated. At least it looks nice and isn’t broken. 3 out of 5 unknown authors.

Conclusion: I’ll give it to you straight, you should probably read Parallax if you are the least bit interested in the plot, or the art. Just keep your expectations low. There’s less than 60 pages as I’m writing this. It shouldn’t take you long to read, and it does have a lot of potential.

Overall, I give it 3,6, rounded to THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS (but with a lot of room to grow!) 

READ PARALLAX HERE

- Ezzy

BOOK THREE: Destined, Jessie Harrell (three and a half stars)

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Eros and Psyche since sixth grade, when our English and social studies classes did units on ancient Greece (which culminated with Greek Night, when we all had to do some presentation involving an aspect of ancient Greek culture; my group did a skit called Medusa’s Hair Salon). I’ve read a few books/short stories with this myth as a basis, and even attempted to write my own during NaNoWriMo a few years back.

Destined was not one of the best of the adaptations.

Oh, it was an easy read, and cute. I liked Psyche’s personality. She had enough moxie that it wasn’t grating and didn’t read like faux girl power. However, I didn’t like the POV change–Psyche’s chapters are in first person; Eros’s in third. It disrupted the flow for me.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy reading of the story, by all means go with this one. But if you’re left dissatisfied by Destined, I’ll suggest one of my favorite retellings: Cupid by Julius Lester. I read it at the start of last year, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Review: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ★★★½

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. - via Goodreads

My Thoughts: I think this book is more of a 3.5 for me. My rating on Goodreads is a 4 because I round up.

THAT SAID…

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader - other than dystopian novels, I’m 99% sure this is my first sci-fi novel - but it wasn’t too bad! What I enjoyed the most was how dark the story got. Originally, I didn’t think it was that creepy but the further into the story I got, the more I realized just how dark what was taking place in the novel was and that, along with the satisfaction of knowing without a doubt who the “bad guy” was, was what drove me to keep reading.

So it probably goes without saying that when I first grabbed the book I thought it was going to be heavy on the romance. But that wasn’t the case at all. I’ve heard about a lot of books that are “sci-fi” that are really just romance in a sci-fi setting and Across the Universe wasn’t one of them. I don’t know how the second and third books will pan out but I think the problems presented in AtU definitely lend themselves to being explored and dealt with in the next books.

One of the main problems I had with this book was the murderer. The moment that character was introduced, I had already pinned them as the culprit. It wasn’t hard to figure out so I grew annoyed that Amy and Elder overlooked it for so long. However, given everything going on within the novel, I’m willing to cut them some slack. 

My other issue is the lack of ladies. In total, we have five we know by name, one of whom we never see, and other than Amy, we never actually get to know the other women. Of course, there is a “mean girl” we see occasionally - sigh. It would’ve been nice to see Amy develop some kind of real relationship with another girl aboard the ship since there are eight guys we know by name, five of whom she interacts with on an almost daily basis. I’m not going to hold out too much hope for female companionship in the next two novels, though.

Would I recommend this book?: Yes.