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Graphic Novel Twofer: Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland / Amulet Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves

May 22, 2013

33. Fables, Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Gene Ha (2013)
Fables, Volume 18

Length: 192 pages
Genre: Fantasy

Started/Finished: 27 April 2013 (readathon!)

Where did they come from? The library.
Why do I have them? Next books in the series.

Summary: Ever since the next North Wind was selected, the rest of Bigby and Snow White’s cubs have been restless. Therese, especially, has never stood out amongst her siblings, so when a toy boat she got for Christmas starts whispering to her and encouraging her to run away from home, she musters what little courage she has and sets out. She arrives in the world of Discardia, where broken toys go, and informed that she will be their queen. But the family she’s left behind is frantically searching for her, and she soon finds out that being a queen – especially in a place like Toyland – is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Review: There was nothing wrong with this volume – it tells a fine, self-contained story, the art is as lovely as ever, there are some funny bits and some sad bits and some clever bits, basically everything I would expect out of a Fables installment. But I didn’t really ever get into it the way I have in the past. I think part of the problem is that we haven’t really spent a ton of time around the cubs in the previous 17 volumes (not as individuals, for sure), and we don’t already know them from other stories the way we do most other newly-introduced characters. So although Therese’s (and Dare’s) problems were interesting, they weren’t that involving, even though they really should have been. I also missed the focus on the main story continuity; I’m okay with self-contained stories, but there were fewer than 10 pages in this volume that dealt with what the other Fables were up to, something in which I was way more interested than I was in the cubs. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It’s a fine installment, probably better than fine, and I suspect my lack of enthusiasm is a very idiosyncratic reaction. Fables fans should enjoy it.

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First Line: “Ghost! Stop that! No roughhousing in the war room!”

34. Amulet, Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi (2012)
Amulet, Volume 5

Length: 204 pages
Genre: Mid-grade Fantasy

Started/Finished: 01 May 2013

Summary: Now that Max has stolen the Mother Stone, the Elf King’s power seems nearly unstoppable. The stonekeepers Emily, Vigo, and the elf prince Trellis are bringing the fight to to Elf King, with Emily’s brother Navin and their friends providing backup. But they’ve got the forces of the enemy arrayed against them, and the power of the amulets – especially the voice that Emily hears inside her head – may not be as trustworthy as she’d thought.

Review: I don’t know with this series, I really don’t. I mean, I love the artwork – this volume in particular has a lot of stunning full-page paintings as well as the typical lovely job that Kibuishi does with his panels. I also think the storyline has some cool ideas, and the potential to be really interesting. But something about the way the story is put together just doesn’t seem to work for me. In this case, I feel like there was a whole chunk that was missing between the end of Volume 4 and the beginning of this one, a slice of plot that would have been important to see. And then suddenly the amulets are not only evil (which I will admit, I did see coming, so that part at least worked) but can also send people into mystical memory-traveling comas? And the rest of the book was mostly a lot of fight scenes, which I’m usually fairly ambivalent towards. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: They’re fast reading and pretty to look at, but I think I may be out of the target age range of readers who would really get into them. Best for younger / reluctant readers, or adults who want something pretty to look at for half an hour.

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Other Reviews: Puss Reboots
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