7 Billion Needles Vol 1 by Nobuaki Tadano Manga Review


Title: 7 Billion Needles Vol 1

Author: Nokuaki Tadano

Publisher: Vertical

ISBN: 978-1934287873


May Contain Spoilers

I have been wondering why everyone seems to want to read this manga series.  I had no idea what it was about, and when I received a copy,  the cover certainly piqued my interest.  There’s a terrified girl on the cover, with a disintegrating skeleton right next to her.  What is up with that?  And the name – what is up with the name?  I had to know, so the book was moved right to the top of my TBR stack.

This is another wow! title.  I had no expectations for it, and once I started reading it, the rest of the world faded into background, not unlike when protagonist Hikaru cranks up her music to isolate herself from her surroundings.  She is at first hard to like, and she has mastered the art of appearing indifferent and uncaring.  About anything.  That’s easy to understand, when you learn that her parents have just died, and she’s now living with her relatives.  They are trying to make her feel welcome and at home in her new environment, but she just isn’t having any of that.  She does everything possible to stay distant from everyone, and  you can’t help but feel a twinge of pity for her.

To totally complicate her life,  Hikaru has been possessed by an alien who calls himself Horizon.  Horizon has been tracking a killer named Maelstrom for time beyond count.   Maelstrom is a merciless murderer who has left planets lifeless in his wake.  Horizon is frantic to find his enemy’s host before life on Earth is wiped out.  Hikaru doesn’t want to get involved and remains unmoved by the plight of her unwelcome companion, until a most unlikely thing happens; Hikaru makes a friend, and Maelstrom threatens to eat her.  Watch out when Hikaru lets loose, because she kicks ass!

This is a suspenseful, intense book.  I love the complex and detailed art, and how clearly the action is rendered.  There are lots of scary things happening, as Horizon urges Hikaru to help find Maelstrom before everyone is dead and it’s too late to stop the monster.  What I enjoyed best, though, is how skillfully Nobuaki Tadano develops Hikaru’s character.  At first unable to interact with her peers, she is very protective of herself.  Nothing is ever going to hurt her again, especially if she never allows herself to care about anything.  After she is drawn into the hunt for Maelstrom, she finds that she can’t remain emotionally isolated.  It’s impossible to not care about anything, and by the end of this introductory volume, it’s impossible to not care for Hikaru.  Oh, volume two, it will be a long wait until November!

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Cleopatra Rules by Vicky Alvear Shecter


Title: Cleopatra Rules!

Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter

Publisher: Boyds Mills Press

ISBN: 9781590787182


May Contain Spoilers

I have mentioned many times that I love books set in ancient times, and I find learning about how people lived thousands of years ago fascinating.  I mean, think about it!  There was no texting, instant messaging, or Skype.  No printing presses, antibiotics, or iPods.  No Amazon.com packages with the big smiley. Ugh!  The struggle to survive constant wars, diseases, and Mother Nature would have taken up most of everyone’s time, making me glad that I can sit in my air conditioned house and reflect on the past, instead of experiencing it first hand.  Cleopatra is an especially compelling historical figure, and one who I love reading about.

The problem with reading non-fiction accounts of the past is that they tend to be rather dry and not exactly engaging.  You can toss aside all of those boring biographies about Cleopatra, though, and grab this book instead.  Cleopatra Rules! examines the cunning Egyptian queen’s life, relaying her story in contemporary terms and through the use of photographs of relics from her time.  Ancient Roman and Egyptian cultural aspects are clearly explained, and the narrative zips along at a rapid clip.

While I love fictional accounts of the lives of ancient leaders, I am not always so fond of biographical works, especially for recreational reading.  Cleopatra Rules! follows Cleopatra’s victories and defeats in an entertaining and compelling way.  I painlessly learned all about her, Caesar, and Marc Anthony, and found myself caught up in the text.  The glossy pages, which featured many photos and cultural points of reference, made this an attractive book as well.  Politics of the day are covered in easy to understand terms, and Vicky Alvear Shecter’s narrative made this history lesson fun and memorable.  I wish she had written my Principals of Accounting text!

Grade: B

Review copy provided by the publisher