K-Project: The Anime

“Set in a world where history has taken a slightly different course from the one we’re familiar with, K follows the story of a young boy whose life is caught in a psychic war between seven kings.”

K-Project, also just known as K, started out strong and then quickly fizzled. With only 13 episodes, there wasn’t really room for fizzling. The premise is strong, the characters are pretty stereotypical with a lot of unique aspects, which is a definite bonus, but the plot just couldn’t keep up.

The alternate history Japan is fascinating. There are 6 (or 7?) “Kings”, which seems to be inheritors of a special themed superpower that they can pass on to their followers. Each King and his followers correspond with a color. Shiro, our adorable little albino protagonist, is potentially the 7th “Colorless King”, which would mean chaos and rioting for the rest of the Kings and the city. Everyone’s after Shiro because he supposedly killed a member of HOMRA, the group of the Red King. Shiro is being protected by his magical cat-girl-friend, Neko, and a mysterious assassin who originally planned to kill him, named Kuroh.

There is a lot to like about this anime.

First of all, the music. I loved it. It sounds and feels like music from a JRPG, especially a Shin Megami Tensei game. At times it’s classical and melancholy, others urban and rough, and sometimes upbeat and poppy. The music sometimes clashes with the scenes it corresponds with, which really fits this show perfectly.

Second, the characters. They fit the typical anime tropes, but they are also more than that. The assassin has a recording device that randomly plays quotes from his deceased mentor; this is weird but also endearing. The hard-assed pretty boy Blue King has a soft spot for the Red King. . .okay, wait, he doesn’t actually have anything unique going on. His underling, the big-busted blondie who is also usually a hard-ass, does have a lot of unsuspected weaknesses. That is definitely interesting. The followers of the Red King are very gritty, intense, urban guys who don’t show up in your typical anime, and I liked that.

What I didn’t like: the plot. It starts out strong, with clear ties between scenes and action. There are definite motivations for the characters and why they do what they do. There is some mystery behind their powers, but the characters don’t have any reason to explain it, and so they don’t – they let it go until it is appropriate for the story to reveal that knowledge to the watcher.

But then, something goes horribly wrong. Things get boring. Nothing happens very quickly. The action is without tension and gets really repetitive. Character development slows to a complete standstill. You get scenes where the characters explain everything very slowly to each other, intense fanservice moments between the guys, alternating with scenes where the watcher has something completely new and “what the fuck” thrown in their face with no explanation. In short, it fizzles. Falls apart. Loses cohesion and consistency. But, if you’ve grown attached to the characters and enjoyed the anime so far you will probably want to stick with it to the end. It’s only 13 episodes, after all.

If you’re looking for something deep and engrossing, this isn’t it. Want a reverse-harem style anime with more of a plot than usual? This is for you. For fans of visual novel anime like DRAMAtical Murder and Carneval, and anime with female-focused fanservice like in Black Butler. The urban feel may also appeal to fans of Durarara!

Advertisements

Working & Living On the Spectrum

I was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder on the high-functioning end of the spectrum. The diagnosis came as a relief, and a welcome way of understanding my differences from neurotypical people and my struggles after entering the professional workforce.

AS presents differently in women and men. The UK-based National Autistic Society has put together an easy to understand resource explaining these differences. But for me, it means not being able to meet the general expectations for female behavior. A major part of Asperger’s Syndrome in girls is the ability, and the drive, to observe, analyze, and then imitate social behaviors. While most females find it natural to chit-chat, speak in polite niceties, and empathize with others, females with AS simply pretend. And we pretend so well, we convince the people around us, and sometimes ourselves, that we know what we’re doing. We want to fit in, to seem normal, and this imitation is our primary strategy. 

Another challenge I face is that I have interests that align more with the typical male’s, and communicate and socialize in a way that is typically male, which can be surprising and often intimidating to others. This is one of several reasons I subscribe to the extreme male brain theory of autism, first presented by Simon Baron-Cohen over a decade ago.

At a certain point in my life I decided to stop pretending. This didn’t happen all at once, and it didn’t always work, but I tried so very hard. The result is a very long and personal story that I won’t recount here, but the conclusion is that I am more myself than I have ever been. However, this became a problem in the workplace.

Social niceties, chit-chat, a finesse for politeness, understanding of unspoken assumptions and agreements, and a strong theory of mind are all quite necessary in any workplace. I struggled with these things, and more, because of my AS. With help from my best friend, from my boss, my mentor, my understanding coworkers, and a lot of work from myself I overcame these challenges. I will never fully “fix” these problems, because they really aren’t things that need fixing. My AS symptoms are not something to be cured. They are a part of me, and when they interfere with my ability to perform at my job I work to overcome that. It’s exhausting, draining, confusing, and incredibly challenging, but I do it. Because I love my job, I value it more than almost anything else in my life right now, and I believe that I can make a difference – both in my own life and in the lives of others.

Embedded image permalink

There are so many parts of myself that stem from Asperger’s Syndrome, and I wouldn’t be myself without them. I wouldn’t be where I am today; instead, I would be stuck in the past, miserable and unable to move forward or succeed. I am brave (I take chances), honest (sometimes to the point of rudeness), ambitious (which can be intimidating), with a unique perspective (but the rules shouldn’t always be questioned), and a knack for seeing details others don’t notice (which can be very distracting). I have learned to embrace what makes me different, and that includes much of myself that doesn’t have anything to do with AS. But without AS, I wouldn’t have learned to be so accepting. First accept yourself, be happy with yourself, or you won’t be happy with anything.

I will continue to write about my past and present experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome here, now that I’m being open about it. I feel like it’s coming out day. Disclosure about AS isn’t easy, but it really is worth it!

Slutshelf Giveaway

In honor of Alexandra Duncan’s mission to encourage women to support each other and rid the book world of the notion of the slutshelf, I’m offering a Giveaway. You can win an ARC of Alexandra Duncan’s SALVAGE, an ARC of Megan Shepherd’s HER DARK CURIOSITY, or a hardcover of Anne Greenwood Brown’s PROMISE BOUND – your choice! I will choose 3 winners, and the giveaway lasts a whole month!

I understand that sexualization of people, of genders, is a part of human nature. I also understand that avoidance of sexual topics, revulsion to the sexualization of women in literature, and a desire for women to remain chaste are also parts of human nature – they serve important evolutionary functions. Or at least, they once did.

But no longer. Not with birth control covered by the Affordable Care Act. Not with the state of feminism today. Moralizing the sexualization of women is simply not okay, especially in something as open and accepting as Young Adult Literature. 

Okay?

Okay.

I have a lot more to say on the subject, but get’s get right to the good stuff. The Giveaway! I couldn’t figure out how to embed the Rafflecopter into WordPress, so you have an extra click to enter. Sorry :P

 Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Thanks to Alexandra Duncan for bringing up this issue and addressing it so well, and to Beth Revis for writing the post that initially brought it to my attention. This is an important issue in bookland right now, and while it may pale in comparison to other women’s rights issues going on in the world, right now, this is still something near to our hearts, our hobbies, our passions, and the lit that we love.

DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS

“I need to write about this book now,” I said. Like it’s that easy. I’m just going to write about it. You know, complete sentences with prepositions and verbs and objects and all that nonsense. I can totally do that.

I can’t. I can’t anything, because my head is filled with magic and wishes and stormhunters, dreams of chimaera and seraphim, and nightmares, too. I am full of this book and I don’t want to let go of it, not yet. So I suppose, I should write.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #3)

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.

And so begins the epic of Karou and Akiva. Chimaera turned human turned into something more; seraphim, sworn enemy of chimaera, Beasts’ Bane. Their souls sing to one another, across time and space and two vastly different worlds. But this is not just their story.

There is so much else. There are other worlds than theseas a young travelling boy once said, and Laini Taylor does not disappoint. She delivers. And then continues delivering, until you are so full that you couldn’t possibly ask for another piece of cake and eat it, too. Except you do. Because it’s cake, and cake as a way of life is the best idea yet. 

An angel lay dying in the mist. Once upon a time.
And the devil should have finished him off without a second thought.
But she hadn’t. And if she had? Karou had wondered it a hundred different ways. 

There are a hundred different threads to this story, and they are interwoven masterfully. I don’t really know where to begin. A girl haunted by her own family, chimaera and seraphim trying to work together, Karou and Akiva finding each other again and again, Liraz coping with her guilt and the onset of emotions, those awful and pesky things. Zuzana and Mik being so fucking awesome that I can’t even describe it. Stelians saving the world inexplicably, Issa being adorable, Virko crushing my heart, and Ziri’s many sacrifices. . .Oh, Ziri. We come to love these character so much that we think we can’t love them anymore and then we’re wrong. So very wrong. Because they are thrown into a maelstrom of violent and soul-aching chaos, and they must survive. They simply must. 

This is the story of how two sides reconcile their differences to combat a common enemy. Of history, and pain, and memory. Of overcoming hatred, and creating new myths. The truth of many worlds, both fallen and still full of hope. The story of not just two people, but many, finding a place in their hearts, their lives, the dangerous world, for love. 

Love is a luxury.
No. Love is an element.
An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.

The writing is not only beautiful and poetic, but snarky and wholeheartedly unique. The contrast between Zuzana and Mik, and Karou’s, often humorous and sometimes heart-wrenching observations of the world {Let’s be samurai; Suck it; Respect the dirt; Eyebrow master class} and the lyrical prose of the rest of the story is jarring, endearing, and enjoyed so much by readers. When Akiva surprises us with wordplay, or Liraz is soul-crushingly brutal, or Mik so freaking perfect – those moments are incredibly well-crafted, and this book is simply full of them.

We haven’t been introduced yet. Not really.

Really? You haven’t read a series finale until you’ve read this one. You haven’t felt anything until this. A hundred threads of plot tied together to create the most incredible masterpiece of YA fiction I’ve read. . .possibly ever. Right here and now I want to reread the entire series from cover to cover, just to experience it all again. 

Haven’t read it? What are you waiting for? 

Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace is accord. Harmony.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (D...  Days of Blood and Starlight...  Dreams of Gods and Monsters...  Night of Cake & Puppets (Da...

All quotes taken from Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor.

Spring Update

I haven’t had time for blogging.

Who knew that one day I wouldn’t have time for blogging?

Maybe it’s because last night I was reading Dreams of Gods & Monsters until my eyes hurt. Maybe it’s because I’m reading far too much at once. 

Well. That’s not a real reason. So ignore that.

I’ve had so much to do at work. Teen Librarians are a one-person circus, and I am a pretty great ringmaster. But I’m also the jugglers, the lions, the mistreated elephants and the acrobats, too. All of them. And it’s exhausting. There are never enough hours at my desk for planning or blogging, ebook promotion or Reader’s Advisory lists, statistic reports or conference recovery. 

Alas, I love my job. 

So, anyway. Here’s what I’m reading.

 —BREAKING NEWS–

The power went out at my library just as I was finishing that last sentence. No joke. So I didn’t have time to finish this post. Here I am, the next day. Ready to finish up. Blog posts don’t usually take me half an hour, let alone 2 days!  

The Night CircusSplit Second (Pivot Point, #2)Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #3)An Abundance of Katherines

I absolutely love The Night Circus. I am listening to the audiobook, which has been a lovely companion on my sort of long commutes.

Split Second is the follow up to Pivot Point, and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. Just…so much Trevor. Not enough Trevor. And Addie is such a cool protagonist. 

Dreams of Gods & Monsters. I can’t even. Just. DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS, okay?! Okay. I should have more words when I’m finished. Or maybe I won’t have any words at all.

I’m reading An Abundance of Katherines very, very slowly. It’s for my next Teen Book Club, so I don’t need to have it read before the beginning of May. So far it sounds like any other John Green book.

And that is my life. You know what I mean.

Quotations from The Chocolate War

Last week I finished reading The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. It was the first time I had read it. I was so, so impressed. I wish that I had read it as a teen. I wish that it had been required reading in school. I wish that I had read it sooner, of course. I will continue recommending it to teens and adults and teachers and librarians as long as I live.

I am sharing some memorable moments from the book. Enjoy. And if you haven’t read it – what are you waiting for?

Often he rose early in the morning, before anyone else, and poured himself liquid through the sunrise streets, and everything seemed beautiful, everything in its proper orbit, nothing impossible, the entire world attainable. – Chapter 8 of The Chocolate War 

 

And he did see–that life was rotten, that there were no heroes, really, and that you couldn’t trust anybody, not even yourself. – Chapter 16 of The Chocolate War

 

He was swept away with sadness, a sadness deep and penetrating, leaving him desolate like someone washed up on a beach, a lone survivor in a world full of strangers. – Chapter 19 of The Chocolate War 

 

Do I dare disturb the universe?

Yes, I do, I do. I think.

Jerry suddenly understood the poster–the solitary man on the beach standing upright and alone and unafraid, poised at the moment of making himself heard and known in the world, the universe. – Chapter 28 of The Chocolate War 

 

They tell you to do your thing but they don’t mean it. They don’t want you to do your thing, not unless it happens to be their thing, too. – Chapter 38 of The Chocolate War