Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–January 7th Edition

Let’s take a peek through the pages of this week’s WSJA!  I had a crazy busy week so I didn’t get a chance to read it until today!  This week’s issue clocks in at 153 pages, and once again, my favorite manga, Kenshin, is not included.  Boo hoo! Maybe next week?  There’s an announcement at the beginning of this issue that previous issues of the magazine will no longer expire.  Previously, WSJA was subject to a one year rental.  Now, your issues will never expire!

One Piece Ch 693 – Luffy and the gang are still in deadly danger!  They are still trying to escape the lab with the kids.  Baby 5 and Buffalo are performing weird morphosis to try to retrieve Caesar.  Just let him go!   I have only been reading WSJA for a few issues, and I am already sick of Caesar!  He is gloating with his weird wavy hair, delighted to have Smoker’s heart.  Shu ho ho!!!  Stop stealing page time and just go away!  If Luffy could take you out with one punch, you are unworthy of so many weekly panels!  But since Luffy was supposed to capture him, not punt him into next week’s issue, I fear that we will have to put up with his clowny face for several more chapters!  And, oh, yeah, Luffy, you had better run, because someone is planning on blowing up the lab and the island!!

Naruto Ch 614 – The battle has gotten grim!  Naruto and the ninja forces can’t catch a break! Ten Tails is obliterating the good guys!  Obito and Madara are sniping at each other, and it appears that Obito has the upper hand for the time being.  As Naruto’s allies fall all around him, he finally gets the “look’”!  That look that promises defeat to all of his enemies!  Just wait, Obito and Madara! You will soon be toast!!  Well, okay, probably not for another handful of chapters, but your downfall is now only a matter of time, because you have royally pissed on Naruto’s Wheaties!

Nisekoi Ch 56 – It’s that dreaded time in the lives of Japanese school kids – class grade point rankings have been revealed!  Tachibana has done terribly, and she recruits Raku to help her study.  Chitoge tags along, not happy with the thought of Raku and Marika having an all nighter together without supervision.  This chapter was a disappointment.  I feel like I have read it a hundred times before, and there was nothing new added to keep it from being stale.  Hoping for better next time.

Toriko Ch 26 – Phooey.  After sitting through the endless character intros for the cooking battle, the preliminaries are covered in just a page.  One page!  Instead of seeing how Komatsu rises to the challenge of his first cooking festival, we are told that he made it to the finals.  Ugh!

Cross Manage Ch 15 – The bet with Ryo wraps up, and Sakurai finally discovers Misora’s strong point!  Just in time, too, because the tournament starts in one week.  I love this series so far.  Clean, expressive art, fun characters, and plenty of sports angst!  I didn’t even mind the explanation of the tournament rankings and rules.  The tension is cranked up for the lacrosse team’s first game, which kicks off in the next chapter!  Yay!!

Bleach Ch 521 – Okay, so Ichigo and Renji eat in this chapter.  Yes, yes, they do.  They eat a lot.  They stuff their faces with tons of delicious, though weird looking, food, to prepare for their next phase of training!  So, yup, that’s about it for this one.  Sigh.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal  Ch 25 – This series, unfortunately, doesn’t interest me at all.  Reading about  kids playing a dueling card game just doesn’t do it for me.  Some of the illustrations are cool, but the whole concept bores me.  The rules make no sense, the stats don’t impress, and I usually flip through these pages as quickly as possible to reach the end of the chapter.  The numbers game as begun!  Kaito is dueling a numbers hunter brought by Kyoji, so he’s after both Kaito and Yuma!  Cards are destroyed!  There are lots of special effects!  We are on the last page!  Maybe it will make more sense next time around?

One more week until the simultaneous release with the Japanese version of WSJA!

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha December 31st Edition

So after last week’s epic 220+ page issue, this week’s weighs in at – 118 pages.  Kind of a let down for the New Year.  Anyway, let’s see what’s in this issue of Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha!

One Piece Chapter 692 – The fight between Luffy and Caesar Clown was a bit of a let down.  One punch and it was over.  Sigh.  All that build up, and one punch sends the guy flying into the stratosphere.  There’s plenty of commotion around the New World with the news of Caesar’s defeat, and Luffy and his gang are still trying to escape from the deadly poison gas, so I’m sure that they won’t get much rest, but still.  I wanted more.  Not a Naruto length fight, but a couple pages at least?  Hopefully the next set of villains will give Luffy a little more trouble.

Bleach Ch 520 – I had a little trouble following this chapter, due to my Bleach reading gap.  Shunsui Kyuraku has been appointed Captain General and  Squad One captain, and for his first task, he wants to teach Kenpachi Zaraki zanjutsu.  That doesn’t go over well, but Shunsui argues that with so many headed to Reiokyu, the Soul Society is practically defenseless.  To keep this somewhat spoiler free, he wants the “first” Kenpachi to teach him.  Argh!  I know that this must be an epic moment in the story, but because I haven’t been following it for – uh about a billion chapters, I have no idea the significance of this revelation.  The thought of jumping backward and trying to catch up is too daunting to consider.  And, oh, yeah, Ichigo didn’t rot, corrode, or combust in Tenjiro’s magic ponds, so he’s good to go for his next adventure! 

Naruto Ch 613 – Oh. My! The battle with Obito and Madara continues!  Ten Tails proves more problematic than the combined ninja force anticipated.  Things are looking grim!  Ten Tails is fighting back, and Naruto and his allies are helpless against the assault.  No! Injures are mounting, deaths are escalating, and the battle seems hopeless!  Just the way I like it!  How will the forces of good ever defeat the forces of evil?!  It might take another 10 chapters to find out, but I’m there all the way.

Toriko Ch 215 – This is the first chapter of Toriko that I found somewhat engaging.  I guess sparkling food always does the trick for me.  Brunch is spitting fire after a heated confrontation with Zebra, and he’s determined to beat Komatsu’s butt.  Komatsu’s hero worship takes some of the wind out of his sails, and when he sees how happy the remaining ingredients are and that Komatsu can hear their voices, he develops a new admiration of the runty little chef.  I still find the art bizarre, but Brunch’s sudden change of heart about Komatsu has me intrigued.  Will he just use the trusting little Komatsu to elevate his own position in the competition, or will they form a friendship that lasts beyond the cooking battle?  For a change, I ‘m invested enough in the story to look forward to next week’s chapter.

Nisekoi Ch 55 – The steal a kiss from Raku contest wrapped up in this chapter, and I hate to admit it, but it was pretty fun.  Tsugumi is unbelievably flustered at the thought of kissing Raku, and not just because he’s Chitoge’s boyfriend.  Paula is pulling out the stops to prove that she is every bit as skilled as Tsugumi, and because Tsugumi is so freaked out at the thought of kissing Raku, Paula quickly gains the upper hand.  Until Paula makes off with Raku, and Tsugumi begins to process her feelings for him.  Then – KABOOM!! She snaps.  I loved her solution to the whole kissing thing, and her reaction to Paula after the contest ended.  The art is generic, but I like the clean lines.  I just wish that Raku and Tsugumi didn’t look so much alike to me.

Cross Manage Ch 14 – I like this series a lot.  The non-date that might be a teeny weeny bit like a date continues!  Toyoguchi and Sakurai arrive at the sporting goods store, where Toyoguchi introduces Sakurai to Ryu.  Ryu is a jerk.  He plays lacrosse on a college team and is also a member of the national team. While he adores Toyoguchi, he thinks that Sakurai is being cruel by encouraging her to try to improve her lacrosse skills.  Ryu totally rubbed me the wrong way, and I so badly want to see him eat a huge serving of humble pie.  He is so dismissive of Toyoguchi’s ambitions to become a better player, and he comes across as a giant schmuck.  He wants Sakurai to quit as the team manager, and to ensure that he does, he challenges him to a lacrosse contest.  Because all disagreements and confrontations are settled by a contest in manga.  Usually an extremely one-sided contest, where the hero has zero prospects of winning.  Could you imagine what would happen if this was a trend in real life?  Obama could challenge Boehner to a one on one basketball match (or any athletic competition, for that matter), and that fiscal cliff impasse non-sense would be over!

No Kenshin this week *sob* 

Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop! Win London Eye by Tim Lebbon!

Welcome to my Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and  co-hosted by Babs Book Bistro.  This hop runs from January 1st – 7th 2013, and you can win lots of new reads.   Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away a finished copy of Tim Lebbon’s London Eye.

 

About the book:

The Hunger Games meets The X-Men in an exciting post-apocalyptic debut.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers.

The rest of Britain believe that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But Jack and his friends, some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday, know that the reality is very different.

At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London, and it is incredible. Because the handful of Londons survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

 

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 24th Edition!

Wow!  Super huge, 220+ page issue!  We have two new for me series, too!  Kenshin Restoration and Blue Exorcist!

One Piece Ch 691 – Now we’re talkin’!  Luffy has hit berserker mode!  That naughty Caesar Clown dude better watch the eff out!  Once Luffy is pissed, there is no stopping him!  I really like how angry Luffy gets when he discovers that someone has been treated unjustly.  When Caesar orders his men to open the vents and let the death gas in, they stupidly comply, thinking that he has some trick up his sleeve.  Yup, he does, but it doesn’t involve saving, or caring the slightest bit, about the lives of his men,  his “guinea pigs,” as he calls them.   Oops!  Talk about needing a union to ensure fair treatment by the boss.  Too late!  Most of his workforce has been sacrificed to save his own unbelievably ugly hide.  Sadly, the big confrontation between Luffy and Caesar Clown won’t go down until the next issue of WSJA!

Hunter x Hunter One Shot – Kurapika’s Memories Part Two – Kurapika’s final challenge is underway!  Can he visit the town, get the village’s shopping completed, and keep his friend Pairo safe, all without losing self-control and revealing his scarlet eyes?  Um, no, but thanks to Pairo’s cleverness, nobody is going to be the wiser of the boys’ great adventure to the outside world.  This one shot is a great introduction to the Hunter x Hunter series; at least it was for me.  Got me interested in a series I would have otherwise not given a second glance, due to the length and Yoshihiro Togashi’s frequent breaks.

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration Ch 6 – Ah, I just love Kenshin, so this rehash is such a treat.  I love Watsuki’s expressive and dramatic art; I never have to guess how Kenshin and company are feeling.  The setting is also elegantly illustrated.  Clothing, buildings, food – it all comes to life with just a few masterful lines.  The use of fonts for the sound effects and the careful use of special  effects all work together to tell a visually pleasing story that joins seamlessly with the dialog.  This is my new favorite in the magazine.

Cross Manage Ch 13 – This chapter chronicles the date that’s not a date – or is it?  Sakurai and Toyoguchi make plans to meet and shop for needed equipment for the lacrosse team.  Sakurai wonders if their impromptu shopping trip is really a date in disguise, and ever the planner, he carefully chooses his attire for the day.  When Toyoguchi shows up at their meeting place, she’s dressed in the school jersey.  Definitely not a date!  Until they share some snacks and a bottle of water.  Whoa!  It’s that indirect kiss thing that gets manga and anime characters in all genres too flustered to even speak!  So cute here!  Toyoguchi is kind of clueless, which makes her reaction very endearing.

Bleach Ch 519 – So let’s see – Ichigo soaks in a magical hot spring with Tenjiro.  Byakuya and Renji are there, too, but they aren’t conscious, so I don’t know if that counts.  Lord Reio makes an almost appearance.  This chapter was so short that I felt a little ripped off.  Hopefully there will be more going on in next week’s issue?

Toriko Ch 214 – I just can’t get into this series.  There are too many characters, and too many of them look like freaks.  So far, I am not connecting with the characters, the plot, or the awkward, odd art.

Nisekoi  Ch 54 – Oops! Another over-used, though amusing trope is set into motion in this chapter.  Tsugumi, AKA Black Tiger, has been hunted down by her rival, Paula McCoy, otherwise known as the assassin White Fang.  Disappointed that Tsugumi has lost her edge, Paula challenges her to a no holds barred contest.  The rules are simple – the entire town is their playing field, the contest will last one hour, and the winner is the first to –wait for it-steal a kiss from Ichijo!  The first to steal his skivvies would have been more fun, but it is what it is.  I’m kind of wondering how much of a fight Raku’s going to put up, but seeing as how both girls could beat the crap out of him without breaking a sweat, maybe he should start running.  Like, right now.  This series is very hit or miss with me, and this chapter was mostly a miss.

Naruto Ch 612 – Never ending epic battle hasn’t ended!  The combined strength of Naruto’s ninja buddies is let loose on Madara and Obito, giving rise to such attacks as Lighting Style! Flash Pillar!! and Storm Style! Laser Circus!!  And guess what? Even after the allied shinobi forces jutsu!! the battle is – still not over!!  Oh! MY!! See you next week, fierce ninja warriors!

Blue Exorcist Ch 41 – This chapter features a battle with a bathroom ghost.  This is my first exposure to this series, and I don’t think that I got a very good idea of what it’s about.  Nothing about the characters or the setting, a training academy for young exorcists, stood out or made me want to learn more.  Hopefully next week’s chapter will be more engaging?  The only real impression that I came away with here – Izumo needs to do something about her eyebrows.  Seriously.

And that’s it for this week’s WSJA!

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 17th Edition

Oops!  I’m a week behind! The holidays are taking a toll on my reading, so here’s a quick, quick recap of last week’s WSJA -

First up – Hunter x Hunter Special One Shot – Kurapika’s Memories Part One – I liked this chapter a lot, and since I‘ve only read the first volume of Hunter x Hunter, I was surprised by how easy it was to become immersed in this story.  Kurapika, young and brash, wants to leave the forest and venture into the outside world.  It’s forbidden by his people, though, so he argues continuously with the village elder about getting permission to go.  A whimsical art-style with lots of soft, rounded edges made this a visual pleasure, and, despite relying on overused tropes, the characters are engaging and the dialog moves the story steadily along.  Looking forward to reading Part Two!

Naruto Ch 611 – More fighting!  More building of chakra!  More ominous threats from the villain!  And more reinforcements to ensure more fighting for chapter 612!

Bleach Ch 518 – Ichigo, with a little help from his friends, decides to make the journey to the Royal Palace.  Yes, that is all that happened in this chapter!

One Piece Ch 690 – Epic battling continues as fatal petrification gas closes in on our heroes!  This is news to me! Somehow I missed that there is a cloud of poison gas ready to deliver its fatal payload to our Straw Hat pirates and anyone else who gets in its path.  Smoker and Vergo are duking it out!  Why do so many of the characters look so much alike?  And why do the One Piece chapters always seem so short?

Cross Manage Ch 12 – I really like this story.  It’s easy to follow, it’s character driven, and there is no magic or epic dueling (not that I dislike magic or epic dueling).  It’s just basically about a group of high school students with completely different goals, backgrounds, and life expectations trying to get along, build a lacrosse team, and have fun while they do it.  Since Sakurai chased off three team members with his tough as nails training regimen, they no longer have enough players to field a team.  Desperate to fix what he’s done, Sakurai and Toyoguchi  get the ex-players together for a super-intense training session – without letting them know why they asked them to spend the three-day weekend with them.  No wonder Kato gets so angry and suspicious of him!  I thought this was nice chapter because instead of dwelling (mostly) on their faults, Sakurai pointed out their strengths and why he wanted them to come back to the team.

Nisekoi Ch 53 – This was another silly chapter that I enjoyed because it required zero brain cells.  Ichijo and Onodera hear their horoscopes for the day, and even though they don’t believe in that superstitious nonsense, they both go out their way to follow the advice for their lucky, or in one case, unlucky, day.  As Ichijo tries to interact with Onodera and Onodera attempts to avoid Ichijo, hijinks ensues and confusion abounds.  The ending was very cute, too.

Toriko Ch 213 – I just don’t get this one.  All of these needless, weird-looking chefs talking about oil and the need to be fit to compete in the cooking battle.  Most of these guys look like they would would struggle climbing a flight of stairs, and they are expected to compete in a triathlon to gather up their ingredients?  Only consolation – 50% of the competitors will be eliminated after the Swimming!  Biking!!  Running!!! Food Stamina Race!! portion of the battle.

That’s it for this issue, so see you for the next issue of WSJA.  I’m looking forward to catching up with Kenshin!

A Belated Look at Last Week’s Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Running around after hyperactive puppies has put a dent in my reading time, so my look at the December 10th Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha is just a little late.  Still, I managed to read the issue in between mopping up messes, washing countless dog towels/blankets, and making so many trips to the backyard that I can’t count them all.

This issue kicked off with Naruto Ch 610.  While I plan to keep reading the series, I have no idea what’s going on and continue to flounder with the story.  The epic battle with Madara and his minions continues, with Ten Tails and Nine Tails, and oh, my, I am just not getting it.  Madara is about to start the Infinite Tsukoyomi ritual to summon the moon?  Lots of speed lines, sound effects, and close ups of sweating Naruto and Kakashi.  Kind of looking forward to the start of the next story arc so I know what the heck is going on.  Any Naruto fans out there? Which volume did this story arc start in?  I ‘m tempted to go backward a little with the Viz digital manga sale….

Next up – One Piece 689!  I haven’t read this series in forever, but I didn’t have any trouble getting in the groove.  Psycho evil dude Caesar Clown picks his nose while confronted by Brownbeard!  His crimes are awful (besides the lack of hygiene caused by the nose-picking)!  He has been using Brownbeard’s crew as GUNNIEA PIGS!!  Only Caesar has given Brownbeard a muscle relaxant so he can’t expose his foul deeds!  He looks like an idiot!  Caesar gloats, impressed with his own evil genius!  The only thing I didn’t like about this chapter? Luffy shows up during the middle, ready to exact revenge and beat the snot out of Caesar, so I have to wait until the next issue  for the battle to begin.  I really like the fighting in One Piece because the odds are always stacked so far in the villains favor, but Luffy always manages to hold his own, mainly because he is so driven to do the right thing and avenge the characters who have been mistreated by the evil baddies.  The art is fun and just cartoony enough to present a unique style. 

Nisekoi Ch 52 was stupid and predictable, but I thought this was a fun read.  Two bumbling gang members beg Raku to help them open a briefcase.  They have lost the combination for the lock, which is Chitoge’s measurements, so it’s up to Raku to save the day! He has to exert his non-existent ninja skills to obtain this information before the briefcase blows up?  Implodes?  Opens a time warp?  He has no idea what’s in it, or what the consequences of failure will be, but he is certain it will cause great harm.  Instead of just leveling with Chitoge, he sneaks around the school, spying on her. See, it’s the day that physical exams are conducted at school, and he just knows that if he’s sneaky enough, he’ll get the info he needs.  This endeavor does not end well for him.  This is one of the most overused tropes in shonen manga, but for some reason I found this chapter funny.  Probably because all of the male characters are so stupid.  Who knows?

Up next – Bleach Ch 517, with a color page!  Squad Zero descends on the Soul Society in full clean up mode.  Squad Zero  is in charge of protecting the royal palace, and the rest of the squads are in charge of guarding the Seireitei.  They are disappointed with the crap job the rest of the squads have done, and they quickly take charge. They are there to collect the gravely injured captains, as well as Ichigo.  Again, I want to learn more about these guys and their powers.  I didn’t feel as lost in this chapter as I did in the prior one, and I am looking forward to next week’s installment.  This chapter was far too short.

Cross Manage Ch 11 helped to keep this series among my favorites in the magazine.  It is so easy to jump on-board and feel comfortable with the characters.  Sakurai is dejected after three of the girls quit the team, claiming that he is too harsh and the practice sessions too tough.  He begins to think that maybe he isn’t the best manager for the team.  I like him a lot.  He is an overachiever, and he just can’t comprehend not giving one’s all to a job task or activity.  I wonder what he’s going to do now that he lacks enough players to field a team.  After two chapters, I am very invested in this story, and I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal  Ch 24.  Sadly, I have nothing much to say about this chapter.  I am not a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan, and I don’t find the battles interesting or exciting in the least, and I’m not sure why.  Hikaru No Go is about an incomprehensible board game, but I find it exciting and suspenseful.  This is the one series in the magazine that I have no enthusiasm for.  At all. 

Whoa – Hunter x Hunter will be in the next two issues of WSJA.  Due to the many hiatuses Yoshihiro Togashi takes, I have tried to not get hung up on this series, so I am looking forward to getting a little taste of it.  Toriko was on break this issue, which I didn’t mind because last week’s chapter was so boring.   I hope the cooking battle commences soon!

A Peek at Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 3, 2012

Thanks to the generosity of Viz, I have a subscription to Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha.  Starting January 21, 2013, there will be a simultaneous US release to coincide with the Japanese release of the magazine.  I am curious to see how that’s going to work, and to see what new series will be added to the magazine, so here is the first of my weekly looks at Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha.  The magazine looks great on my iPad, though I did have a bit of a headache before I was able to get my first issue loaded.  All it took was an update to the Viz Manga app, but I didn’t think of that until after wasting about 15 frustrating minutes.  Always check for a software update! Note taken.

This issue kicked off with Bleach Ch 516.  Whoa!  I haven’t read Bleach in ages, even though it is one of my favorite series.  For shame!  I spent the pages here wondering what the heck was going on, but by the last panel, had it figured out.   I think.  There will soon be an epic confrontation with Squad Zero, a squad comprised only of Squad captains.  No peons in this group of warriors!  There still has to be some kind of pecking system, some top dog to lord over the other squad members, right?  Unless they are all so bad ass that they have a mutual fear and respect for each other.  I am looking forward to learning more about them and catching up with Ichigo in future issues.

Naruto Ch 609 was next. Ch 609, folks!  I am hopelessly out of my depth with this one, but there was fighting!  Which I like.  And Kakashi!  Who I like.    Naruto and Kakashi are duking it out with the bad guy Obito, who hates Kakashi.  That is enough right there to elevate him to evil bad guy.  Who could possibly hate Kakashi?!  After a little help from Nine Tails, it looks like Kakashi is ready for more fighting, so next week, the battle with Obito and Madara will continue!  This is comfort reading for me – mindless speed lines, over exaggerated poses, and endless wells of energy to keep up that toe-to-toe action. 

Nisekoi Ch 51 followed.  This is a new series for me, and I believe it just started it’s run in the magazine.  Raku, one of those impossibly hopeless, hapless guys who can barely comb his hair, has attracted a gaggle of girls, I think by being nice, which in manga usually means wimpy.  Raku’s gangster father has him engaged to Chitoge, who hated him at first sight, but she’s come around and realizes that he’s not such a bad guy and that she might really, really like him.  To cast some mystery over his love life, Raku made a childhood promise to a girl, but he can’t remember who the girl is!  Her identity is locked in his prized pendant, but the lock is broken, so he can’t open it to reveal his childhood love.  You’d think he would remember the first girl he fell in love with!  No wonder these manga boys are always single!  I am actually going to have to read the sample that’s on the Viz website to help wrap my head around this one. 

Toriko Ch 22 – I don’t have much to say about this one, because the entire chapter is nothing but character introductions for the upcoming Cooking Festival.  I usually love cooking manga, but the endless parade of contestants bored me.  Better luck next week.

Wrapping up this issue is Cross Manage Ch 10 is a sports manga about a girls’ lacrosse team.  I liked this story the best.  It was easy to follow for a new comer, the art is engaging, and the characters are likable.  Ex-soccer player Sakurai reluctantly agrees to manage the high school girls’ lacrosse team.  They need a lot of help!  They can barely fill the roster, and they all pretty much suck at the game.  I’m sure that under Sakurai’s guidance they will quickly overcome their shortcomings.  I love sports manga, especially with an underdog team, so I am looking forward to more of this one.

No One Piece!  It’s on break until the next issue, which is a bummer, because Luffy always makes me laugh.

To purchase Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, click here. You can check out the free Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha starter pack here.  Viz is having a sale on their digital manga. You can get 20% off until January 8th!  Click here for the deets.

Novella Review: From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders

 

 

Title: From the Ashes

Author: Adrien-Luc Sanders

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?


Review:

I love super-hero stories, so when I saw that Entangled Publishing was releasing some super-hero novellas, I was excited to check them out.  I loved the first one that I read, Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan, so I dove into From the Ashes with a great deal of anticipation.  I was sucked into the story on the first page, thought there were a few pacing issues in the middle, and enjoyed the ending, so this is another successful read.

Tobias is an aberrant.  He can control electrical currents, and his father, a sociopath, has nurtured his talents and used him in a weapon in his war against humans.  Tobias, as his alter-ego Spark, has done some terrible things.  He has wiped out an entire city for his father’s ambitious dream of ruling the world, and now he longs for a quieter, less destructive life.  A student at UC Berkley, he is researching the DNA sequence that manifests in aberrants.  If the US government learns how to destroy the genome that makes super-humans like him, they will be able to control, and ultimately, wipe them out.  When he is ordered by his father to assassinate a Senator, Tobias has serious soul searching to do.  Does he have to be evil just because he is an aberrant?

I haven’t read a M/M romance in a while, so this was a nice switch up to my normal reading habits.  Tobias makes the mistake of getting to know Sean, one of his professors, a little better than is wise.  Struggling with his feelings of helpless against his father’s domineering control, Tobias is looking for a fling.  He’ll have some fun with Sean, and then put the night behind him.  Their relationship can’t go anywhere; Tobias is a monster, and Sean is a normal, quiet human.  Tobias doesn’t think he is capable of love, and he certainly doesn’t believe that he is deserving of it, so he has never made lasting, meaningful attachments.  His other relationships were at his whim, and he never felt emotionally invested in any of them.

I think I liked Tobias so much because he was so damaged.  He didn’t think he was capable of feelings, but he had a cat that he obviously doted on.  My belief is that if you can love an animal, there is no reason why you can’t take the plunge and love something as complicated as a human.  Tobias’ problem was that his exposure to love and tenderness ended abruptly when he was a child, after his mother was killed.  Suddenly under his father’s control, he was groomed to be his father’s right hand man in his desire to conquer and subdue the human race.  While Tobias was able to put on a good front, he wasn’t actually as committed to his father’s goals as he pretended.  He was more than content to be a graduate research student, but the threat of the aberrants becoming subjugated to normal humans propels him down a path he doesn’t want to take.  His confusing relationship with Sean only manages to complicate matters, because he is afraid his father will kill Sean if he doesn’t tow the line.

The pacing felt a little off in the middle of the book, but otherwise this is a satisfying read, with an action-packed ending that hints at more adventures.  I liked the characters, even Tobias, who considered himself irredeemable.   The world-building seemed a bit light, but I’m hoping for more in the next installment of The Fires of Redemption series.  If you enjoy super-heroes (or villains, as the case may be), and angst, this is a great, short read.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher