The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

(spoilers below!)

My friend bought me this book from a comic convention that isn’t the San Diego Comic Con. I think he gave it to me RIGHT before AMC aired its first episode of The Walking Dead. At that point Season 1 followed the story line faithfully.

I recently decided to go back and re-read this to see how far the show has come. I know that as movie franchises and TV shows gain popularity, the writers, directors, and producers always have the option of inserting their own plot into the mix and exercise their “creativity.” The other option is to again, stay true to the original. When filmmakers choose the latter route, I’m so appreciative. I understand there are certain qualities that work well with the screen which are needed to portray something else in the book that would otherwise go unnoticed. As I see more and more examples of this, my appreciation for book adaptions grows.

Now back to the graphic novel. The illustrations are great. The dialogue is raw. One scene always sticks out to me – when Rick rides into Atlanta on the horse and gets surrounded. The panel showing the horse being overtaken by walkers is realistic but not too gory.

The first time I read the book I didn’t read the introduction/letter from the author. I thought it insightful. He states that while zombies are cool, the series is meant to focus on the people, relationships, reactions to an extreme situation. I feel as if he achieves his goal. Each of the characters reflect on their thoughts to the group. They make themselves vulnerable.

I totally forgot that Shane is shot right outside Atlanta at the campsite. By Carl. Despite how far TWD has gone on AMC, I’m intrigued to read the rest. I’ve ordered Compendium 1 and 2 for that purpose. More then!

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…and we’re back!

I logged into my alternate email at a friend’s bachelorette for some reason or another and stumbled upon all the notifications for this blog. It then led me to read all my previous posts (yikes! Never a pleasant experience.) My mind races with edits and criticism, “look at that syntax. You’ve always had a problem with syntax. Ugh there’s another run on sentence.” However, in the end, 2014 me did way better than 2015 me by a long shot. I’ve finished 27 books this year (according to goodreads) and I’ve written nothing on them. Zip. Zero. Nada. As I scramble to even make my 50 book reading challenge, I’m going to try to recap everything I’ve read to boot. Good luck to me. 23 books in 1 month is very very optimistic. I have been accused of such optimism in other areas of life as well, mainly time estimates.

On that note, happy Thursday. Can’t wait to jump on the train to write my first review of the year.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I have to admit, the novelty of the other books I read in the Chronicles of Narnia had the element of novelty to it that just isn’t on this book’s side. I didn’t anticipate much since the story is so familiar already. However, the familiarity allowed me to pay attention to the details without getting lost.

Edmund’s character really stood out to me here. The overt allegory that Lewis creates with Narnia and the gospel is just so amazing — how could I have missed it the first time? Edmund’s interaction with Aslan was a great reminder of my own salvation. Though I didn’t give up my family to a magic character like the White Witch, my selfishness has led me to actions that only had my benefit in mind and caused other people pain. Edmund, I believe, is the first sibling to truly receive the grace of salvation. This is a topic that I am always discussing, but I firmly believe that this is because Edmund’s sin is outward and easy to spot. For others where sin is buried very deep within, it is harder to weed out and address.

I found it interesting that Aslan is escorted to the Stone Table by Lucy and Susan. They are also the ones to go to him after the sacrifice. I made a mental note that Mary Magdalene and another woman were the first to see Jesus after his resurrection. I like how Lewis makes it a point to call out what each character feels internally when looking upon Aslan — a very sure indicator of the condition of their heart.

I tried to see if I could draw a parallel with the events that happened right after Aslan’s resurrection. They go to the White Witch’s castle and save all the creatures who had been turned into stone. Could this be representative of Christ washing away all believers’ sins and freeing them from themselves? Could it be a metaphor for dying to self (turned into stone) and being reborn (Aslan breathing on them and coming back to life)?

I couldn’t quite make out what the last battle could really represent, except that Good will always conquer Evil.

Needless to say, I enjoyed noticing the details of the book since I wasn’t caught up in the curiosity of what would happen next.

In adding these books to Goodreads I’ve come to realize that the order in which Scholastic published them is not the original that was published when they were first released. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was actually the first book in the series, and The Magician’s Nephew was second to last. I can see how this would be more appropriate — a prequel being released at the end of a series. I don’t like that Scholastic took the liberty of reordering it and am contemplating getting a different set. Unfortunately, I can’t unread The Magician’s Nephew, so I’ll have to live with knowing the story of how and when Narnia was created.

 

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Although I distinctly remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child, I don’t recall what happens in the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia. A friend has two twin sisters in grade school and a few years ago I ordered a box set for the Chronicles through their Scholastic book order (remember those?) Last night I decided to start the series over.

I finished the book in 2 hours. Needless to say, it was good. The pacing was just right and I didn’t find the introduction and lead in to the book to be boring (because let’s be real, sometimes the only way to get through the beginning of a book is to keep reminding yourself that SOMETHING is about to happen soon.)

What else did I appreciate? I loved the allusions to the Bible. They are very subtle prior to the creation of Narnia. Once you reach that point, it’s just amazing. It’s not just my Christian faith that appreciates this. From a literary standpoint, it’s skillful and even prior to my conversion, I always had an affinity for Biblical references and allusions within texts.

The first example is when Polly and Digory visit Charn and unknowingly unleash the Empress Jadis on London and bring her to Narnia. The first thing that Jadis does after she is unfrozen is examine Digory intently, then dismissing him for not having the “Mark” of the Magician. One could argue that the “Mark of the Magician” is Lewis’ version of the “Mark of the Beast” mentioned in Revelation. This even brings the Harry Potter series into mind as some wizards that follow Voldemort are said to have the “Dark Mark” indicating their allegiance to the dark lord. The two characters in The Magician’s Nephew that have the mark are described as having a sense of pride and entitlement to whatever they want – Uncle Andrew for disregarding the old lady’s wishes and opening the box instead of burying it, Empress Jadis destroying Charn in the battle against her sister for control and choosing to kill every living thing rather than lose.

Next, in the childrens’ discovery of Narnia and their amazing experience in witnessing the creation of a new world is a full allegory for Genesis. Whatever “The Voice” sings, it comes into being. The existence of Jadis in the newly created world as the “Neevil,” and the existence of the Garden with the apple.

I didn’t realize that Digory’s sick mother would be anything more than background to create a fuller character, but the exchange between Digory and Aslan regarding his mother’s health is moving, that Aslan feels Digory’s pain, possibly even more than Digory. It’s illustrations like these that my admiration for C.S. Lewis grows from. It’s a beautiful display of how Christ knows and feels our pain as He has experienced suffering through loss and betrayal.

C.S. Lewis continues to take it away for me as favorite author as the tenets of Christianity are creatively displayed in his works, whether it be in his Space series, Narnia series, or his apologetics. Let’s just say I cannot wait to read through book 2.

Pearl of China by Anchee Min

I’m not sure how I chose to buy this book except for the fact that there was a kindle sale on Amazon and I purchased this along with the Julie Andrews biography, Home, and a post apocalyptic fiction piece.

My love for stories of China extend past The Joy Luck Club (though great) as I grew up with tales of my grandmother’s childhood and youth. I also grew to love China Men in grad school but this aspect of the novel did not stand out to me until later. Maybe it was why I chose it to begin with, who knows!

My first reaction was to the fact that this is a story about a woman whose father was a Presbyterian missionary in China who converted many. It almost seemed coincidental that this is part of Pearl Buck’s story. I didn’t even know who Pearl Buck was until mention of her Pulitzer partway through the novel spurred me to read about her on Wikipedia. What an amazing, fateful find.

The second aspect of the novel that really resonated with me is the fact that the characters lived through the communist regime. This political change in China’s history personally affected my grandparents on both sides. In fact, my paternal grandfather served in Chiang Kai sheks army and fought the Japanese. All four grandparents fled to Taiwan and years later my parents somehow met in the land of opportunities — America.

The turmoil of the Chinese people during the Chinese civil war seemed to be presented so differently in this book. It was harsh to read that the Nationalists were responsible for much Chinese brutality against their own people as well as foreigners. I suppose Min helps illustrate how and why Mao Tze Teng was so widely received by the “proletarians” until he could no longer hide his hunger for power.

In a way, she sought to share the same perspective Pearl S Buck did in her books. Politics aside, the Chinese people suffered under both parties quest for power and control.

It was interesting to read her version of what happened at Tiananmen Square. It was also very sad to hear about the torturous conditions and the stripping of dignity that prison camps had to offer. Not many novels can go into such true detail. It is something we must not avoid or run away from if we are to understand and learn.

Though historical fiction, Anchee Min does a great job of telling the story through Chinese eyes as she seeks out to do per her author’s note. I am thankful to have come across this book so fatefully and cannot wait to read Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth.”