Kino No Tabi is the novelized version of the popular anime series Kino’s Journey. Although published by Tokyopop in 2006, it is not a manga. The descriptive style of writing could easily work as a manga and it is a good companion piece with the DVD, Kino’s Journey, which is also available from Surrey Libraries. This young adult novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future Japan although any reference to time and place is nonexistent. Instead the novel is set more in a fantasy realm and uses elements of the known world as tangible points for the reader. Kino is a young adult, possibly a young teen. The reader is left to guess because her current age is only described by others as younger to them although we find that she started on her journey at the age of twelve. Her companion on her journey is a talking motorcycle named Hermes. Why the motorcycle is able to talk is slightly alluded to when on one of their adventures they meet another traveller with a talking dog. The dog and Hermes find each other’s ability to talk equally ridiculous, but accepted nonetheless. Kino travels with Hermes to different countries as they are described. These countries are more like city states which have their own rules and idiosyncratic beliefs. Kino has a fixed rule of not staying in one place more than three days in order not to become too involved with the people of the city she visits. This rule of course never holds true since she invariably becomes embroiled in some adventure or intrigue within the city. Kino’s travels are an allegory for a teen’s journey into adulthood and their similar contempt and attraction for what that will mean to them. (Submitted by Shane).
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The story is centered in a middle eastern city called Khorasan, many years ago. It follows a teen girl named Shahrzad who is on a revenge seeking mission to kill the young king of Khorasan. The king has been marrying a different woman every night, and then having them murdered the next day for many months now, and he had Shahrzad’s best friend killed. Shahrzad is the first woman to volunteer to be the next bride sacrifice, and the king cannot help but wonder why this girl would give up her life. As the two start to spend more time together, Shahrzad begins to realize that there must be a reason why the king kills these women, and she is determined to find out why. I was so impressed with how strong the female characters were in the story, and how the author seemed to make a point that women are capable of saving themselves. The story has romance, suspense, action, humour, and it is a bit like Game of Thrones mixed with Aladdin but for Young Adults. A good book to read in the summer. (Submitted by Joy)
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Set in Jamaica, this novel features several strong female characters including Thandi, a smart, beautiful, young girl whose older sister and mother have pinned their hopes on for getting them out of the slums that they live in. Thandi is set to go to college and become a high-paying doctor, but she is obsessed with becoming lighter skinned and longs to be an artist. Her older sister Margot has been paying for Thandi’s education, by working at the local hotel and by selling her body to men. Margot juggles her family obligations with her own yearnings to be in a relationship with the village outcast, an out lesbian woman who isn’t accepted by the people she grew up with. Margot and Thandi’s mother, Dolores, only wants what is best for her two daughters and will do anything to escape the life they are stuck in. Here Comes the Sun was an excellent page turner about dreams, ambitions, and the lengths that people will go to in order to achieve them. The dialogue is written in Jamaican dialect (Patois) which I had to get used to, but ultimately the story is what kept me going. (Submitted by Alan)
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