Kino No Tabi: The Beautiful World by Keiichi Shigusawa

kino no tabi

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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Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

seveneves

It’s a science fiction novel depicting a time in the near future when a small number of people will be forced to essentially become refugees in space to preserve the human race because of a calamity that will make the earth uninhabitable.

This book had me riveted. The author does an amazing job of painting the picture of the events leading up to the necessity of humans having to escape to space. He develops the characters really well and includes twists and turns in the plot that are highly plausible in the given circumstances. It’s a lengthy novel at nearly 900 pages, so not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it. (Submitted by Seline)

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The Hunger by Alma Katsu

hungerAs a fan of both historical fiction and supernatural horror, when I heard there was a new novel out about the Donner Party, I knew I had to read it. Enter Alma Katsu’s new novel, The Hunger. Set in 1846, this novel is based on the true story of the Donner Party, a doomed group of 100 people heading to California’s fertile valley farmland by way of wagon train. As tragedy after tragedy laid waste to the group, only a handful ever made it.
The Donner wagon train contains two large wealthy families, a beautiful woman rumored to be a witch, a large Mormon family without a patriarch, and some single men, who are all leaving their family farms in Illinois hoping for a better life. As Katsu weaves her story around their lives and voices, the reader gets a good sense of just how hard it was for people on the trail to make it: they must give birth on the trail, tend to the sick, hunt their food, gather their medicine from plants, and deal with the physical act of walking nearly 12 hours per day. Though many of the group start off as strangers to one another, the reader comes to find their lives and sins are intimately connected, revealed through haunting glimpses into all of their shady pasts. As the group members begin to become aware of these connections, their camaraderie is quickly worn away. These divisions spell their doom as their environment grows more barren and a supernatural evil begins to prey on them. (No spoilers!)
This book is not for the faint of heart. It showcases the best, as well as the worst, parts of human nature when faced with a raw survival situation. Despite the difficult subject matter, I found this to be an extremely captivating read, and eager to read more about the Donner party (perhaps my next read will be a non-fiction account of this tragedy, The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party, by Daniel James Brown).  Katsu changed a lot of the real story, but she used many real life events that happened to these real people and seamlessly added a supernatural evil. The result is totally thrilling and cinematic. I eagerly await a film adaptation! (Submitted by Mandi)

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