Shoplifter by Michael Cho is something a little unexpected, especially for my reading list.
Corinna is a having a moment of “why am I doing this?” She is in advertisement, living alone with a feral cat, with no friends outside of work. When she feels like she’s dead inside she goes to the shops and steals a magazine. Life isn’t the great adventure she was hoping for back in college.
Yeah, it’s a graphic novel. So this was a very quick read. But it strangely was very good.
First, visually; lovely illustrations, a very consistent style throughout. I really liked the little moments that matched the dialogue e.g she’s talking about only seeing her high school friends through a tiny picture and status updates, visually we see the tiny windows on the outside of the train, a snap shot of those inside. A graphic novel gets to use the best elements of storytelling from novels (dialogue) and films (camera shots).
Story wise it isn’t straight forward. We’re following Corinna, seeing how unhappy in her current position she is in. She is unsure how to make a change, which is stressful and depressing, then a change happens and everything bottoms out, and then comes the relief when she accepts it and gets on with her life. It isn’t a boy meets girl and fills in the void or a simple take out the bad guy and everything will be airtight. It’s not so clear from the start where everything is going or what she needs in her life. Essentially, it’s unexpected. Which is refreshing to read.
Emotionally, how did Cho get this so right? Yep, not knowing what to do with your life, feeling trapped in a cycle of work and paying bills, having no friends and a cat that’s on the scary side… the rise and fall was so clever and done so well in dialogue and art.
Let’s talk about the shoplifting. It was a hobby I never thought could be addictive. Or be the thing keeping her from growing. That’s it. It had a big impact on her life but it was a couple of tiny moments in the story. More could probably be said about it, an in-depth analysis of why shoplifting is a crutch to those stuck in life… however, I am not a psych student so that’s not going to happen here. Sorry.
I will recommend this highly if you ever find a copy. It’s short and more or a snap shot of a woman’s unfulfilled life, so if that interests you, good.
Darkest Mercy, the final Wicked Lovely book, by Melissa Marr is the great redeemer in the series. Seriously. I freaking loved it.
After the whole thing of following each character through their individual storylines and making their choices to be connected with the fey, it all comes to the big story to finish it off. It’s a little like reading the origin stories and finishing with a superhero compilation story where they all gang up and take on the big bad enemy. In this case, War is out of control and about to destroy them all. The Dark, Winter, and Summer Courts all have to come together and fight. Of course there are some hurdles to overcome such as a grief stricken Dark King, a missing Summer King, and Death (yeah, he’s a fairy and is in town for the week).
The series overall has been good. Cannot pass judgement on Darkest Mercy without comparing it to the others. The first couple of books were addictive and very intriguing. Then there was a lull, like it was filling in time and wasn’t really thought out and the emotions and motivations of the characters was superficial. Finally, it all comes together in the end. Decisions are made and things (finally) change. We get answers and situations are resolved (a little too neatly at times).
I really did enjoy it. Might’ve considered giving up during the last couple of books, but I’m glad I got to see how they all grew up and became the regents their courts needed (trying so hard not to give away any spoilers). It’s dark and gritty. Marr does wonderfully juggling the different characters and their motivations. Only in one chapter did the focus keep on jumping, which was annoying (we saw it from several points of view, was hard to connect with the appropriate character and stay with them). Too much jumping for my like and the editors should’ve picked up on that anomaly because it doesn’t happen anywhere else.
I think Donia, the Winter Queen, is amazing. She took the chance to be with the fey she loved but found that she wasn’t his missing Summer Queen and had to deal with the consequences which included loving him from afar while he seduced other girls. You’ll be greatly surprised to read what happens to her. Though, I would love to have more about Donia, in truth she didn’t have her own origin story (unless it was in Wicked Lovely alongside of Ash and I don’t remember it much). Hey Marr, please write one for her. Pretty please.
And it’s all over. Well, not really. There is a collection of short stories that Marr did. Actually, one of them was the inspiration for Wicked Lovely. I accidentally read the collection before I’d even started the third book and so had a little insight into the future (shh, don’t tell anyone). If you read the seires and still crave more, you can have a little snippet of each character (Seth’s is a fave).