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Booking Through Thursday: Cheating

imageDo you cheat and peek at the ends of books? (Come on, be honest.)

superman075For the most part, no. If I don’t already know the ending, I don’t want to know it ahead of time. The only reasons I really ever have to “peek at the end” of a book is to check the pagecount of the story itself (doing my darnedest to view the page number while forcing myself to NOT visually register the words on the page) or to see if there’s a “preview chapter” of some other book lumped at the end that’ll throw me off by a couple dozen pages with the true end of the book hitting too soon.

Now, the main exceptions come from graphic novels. At the bookstores or occasionally comic shops, if there’s tons of internet buzz and no one’s spoiling online, I might take a peek to see what the hype’s all about. I also have the problem occasionally with hardcovers, where I’ll remove the dust jacket so I can carry the book around and not worry about the DJ getting screwed up. Occasionally while pulling it away from the back side of the book, I’ll wind up catching a glimpse of a page or two at the back, which might grab my attention just enough to see what, exactly, is going on there.

The other primary exception comes if I’m trying to determine if I’ve already read something—such as a Star Trek novel I may or may not have read 15 years ago…I may look at the end to see if I remember it, as I have an easier time recalling endings than I do beginnings.

endersgamemmpbANECDOTE: If you’ve read Ender’s Game, you know that that has a doozy of an ending. It’s that ending that draws me back to the book on occasion (and partially influenced me on Ender’s Shadow a couple years back). Early in college, a friend was telling me about the book, and I convinced him to sum it up for me, as I didn’t see getting around to reading it. Sounded interesting, but having been told, I mentally filed it away as one of those things, and life went on.

A couple years later, for some reason or another, I happened to get a copy of the book, and got pulled in enough to read the whole thing. And I was blown away by the ending…only later realizing that this was THAT book my friend had told me about. And here I was “lucky” enough to not have made the connection, so I was still taken by surprise.

DragonsofAutumnTwilightIt’s this sort of phenomena that causes me to see re-reading books as a bit of an analogy for the time-travel experience, were it not fiction.

Having read the book, if you go back and re-read it…you’re traveling to the past, and re-joining characters who don’t yet know what’s going to happen…but as the reader…you DO know what’s going to happen. Or at least, have access to it. Of course, you can’t change what’s going to happen…but you’re aware of it.

Yet, there are details that slip away, and you might only remember the broad strokes and biggest players.

highlordskiesI’m near the end of Dragons of the Highlord Skies, and something’s just happened to a couple characters that has me on-edge, as I’d swear this isn’t something that happened to them, and I thought I remembered them doing something else. But this book delves back to a time between-pages of Dragons of Winter Night, which I haven’t actually read in a decade or more now…so I may be thinking of other characters.

Just as, if someone were to travel back 100 years…they might know big details, broad strokes…but not have any clue of what roles people play in the smaller stuff.

But I digress from the topic at hand.

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House of Mystery #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The First Drink is on the House, The Hollows

A new story is set up as we’re introduced to the present status quo of the House of Mystery…

houseofmystery001Writers: Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham
Artists: Luca Rossi, Ross Campbell
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Sam Weber
Variant Cover: Bernie Wrightson
Co-Editors: Shelly Bond & Angela Rufino
Publisher: DC Comics

I don’t normally read Vertigo books as single issues, especially for their first arcs, knowing I’ll be able to check them out in a bargain-priced TPB for the first arc, and tend to find the stories much more engaging read as full arcs rather than singles.

What intrigued me with this series was the premise that there would be stories within the story…as well as a vague recollection of the "House of Mystery" having a role in Gaiman‘s Sandman series, which I read a number of years ago.

The issue actually opens with Cain and Abel, in their familiar relationship I recalled from Sandman, which drew me right into the issue. While Cain finds himself in an interesting predicament, the story moves forward a few years, and we find ourselves in the midst of a farewell party for an individual preparing to leave, even as others remain stuck. We also get the beginnings of a look at someone on the run with only drawings of a mysterious house. We’re also treated to a story by one of the patrons of the kitchen–as stories are the only currency of any weight here. This story provides some context to who she is, leading into a rather disturbing revelation that she herself doesn’t even seem to realize…though it seems perfectly fitting for a mysterious house full of people who can’t seem to go anywhere.

The story reminds me of a story from the Sandman, at least as far as characters being brought together in one place and sharing stories of their pasts and where they come from and all that. At the same time, there seems to be a certain "framing" story overall that hints at a larger story at play, even while we meet the characters in this house and are treated to the stories they tell one another. That the art team varies for the stories being told is something I really like, more fully illustrating the difference between the main story we’re witnessing as readers, and the story we’re witnessing as fellow listeners while a story is told within the story.

Overall, the art all around works quite well to me, accentuating the story in a very believable way. In something of a rare moment, I feel like I got both a "full" story in this issue where I don’t feel I have to get the next issue…but there’s also enough of something else that I’m interested in seeing what else is to be found. The final page seems to work as well both as an ending and a beginning…a nice "hook" for the reader.

This is a very solid first issue, and if subsequent issues read much in the way this one did, I think it’ll be a nice treat, without even needing to read a bunch of issues in one sitting just to feel like I’m getting the fuller picture.

If only to try it out, I definitely recommend this issue.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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