Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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I forgot to put this on the blog way back when, but I checked out the first book in the series. There are only 11 out so far so at least it’s pretty easy to read through them. It’s not exactly my kind of series as I always look for a little action, but it’s not bad. I expected it to be worse and at least the characters are always trying to one up each other. As the title suggests, the diary plays a huge role even if the main character can’t admit that it’s a diary. It suffers from some instances of crude humor and as with all comedies, not all of the jokes work. I’d give it a look if you’re a comedy fan and it won’t take you long to get caught up. I’ll have a review out if the series ends and I make it through all of them.

Overall 5/10

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Pokemon Sun and Moon: The Pokemon Training School Challenge Review

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I read the first volume in the Pokemon chapter book series for the recent Sun and Moon adventures. I was debating on whether to review this book or just wait until the series ends, but the latter could certainly end up taking a while. Ultimately I may start reviewing the individual books for some titles with no foreseeable end while for others a series review still makes sense. It’s tricky, but especially since this book is so small it seems reasonable. It covers around 2 episodes of the anime give or take. The series had a lot of controversy surrounding it when it first came out and it’s easy to see why. Pokemon went from being a really serious action show to a comedy. It’s not the Pokemon that I grew up with, but it works out well enough.

The series starts with Ash being on summer vacation. He sees a lot of cool new Pokemon while at the new region and asks his Mom if he can stay. She allows it and he quickly joins the school so he can learn how to be a Pokemon Trainer. I can understand why he would want this knowledge since he’s been training for over 10 years with nothing to show for it. He hasn’t even aged a day for some reason. So, Ash sticks around and everyone starts to teach him the ropes. However, the island’s sacred guardian has taken an interest in the kid and challenges him to a fight. Can Ash really win this battle?

Ash has definitely lost most of his character development from the old days so part of the plot in the series will likely be him gaining it back. He learns something new in every episode so in about 100 or so episodes he should be a good strategist once again. It’s a long while to wait, but what else can we do right? It’s just the way it has to be I guess. Pikachu has also gotten quite a bit weaker so it’s rough for the pair. They used to be one of the strongest duos and now they’re getting kicked around left and right. It feels bad when you really think about it. They are still good leads though. They mean well and are always up for a challenge. The series works much better when you just think of this as a prequel. Imagine that it takes place immediately after episode 1 of the original series and you’ll be set.

I think one of the parts where a book can adapt this better than an episode is that the comedy gags don’t stand out as much. Ash getting pinched and saved from random disasters doesn’t seem as bad when you’re reading about it compared to actually seeing it on the big screen. He keeps a little more of his dignity this way, at least that’s how I see it. For example, I can’t stand the living Pokedex in the anime. That may be a bit strong, but at least in AMVs and such he just gets in the way. In the book he barely talks at all so he’s not as annoying.

That being said, learning all of the names is going to take some time. The new rival is a guy who’s named something close to Kiwi. He talks a good game and has a Charizard so I’m expecting him to fight quite a bit, but he gets on my nerves. He seems to think of himself as a big shot. The other friends are nice enough but they start to blend into each other since their personalities are virtually the same. The teachers try a little too hard to all be suave and cool around Ash, but it just doesn’t really work. Once they fight and prove themselves, then things could be different.

Team Rocket doesn’t get to do a whole lot here either. Nobody really fears them and while they may be more of a threat in this region than the others since Ash has forgotten how to deal with them, they aren’t very interesting. The only part that will make their plot fun is Mimikyu once he’s a main character. I had fun watching his fights in the anime and he’s probably the best part in the whole region. He looked quite good in the book as he was beating Pikachu with ease, but had to leave since Team Rocket was getting wrecked. Why do they manage to snag really cool Pokemon like that one?

Finally, Tapu Koko is a pretty cool Pokemon. He easily has one of the best designs in the entire region which may not be saying all that much but I’m certainly a big fan. He lives up to the hype and really manages to be a thorn in Ash’s side. He’ll make for a good rival as I’m sure he isn’t quite done with Ash and friends yet. His appearance also resulted in an action scene so I’m all for that.

Overall, This chapter book is quite short of course so you’ll read through it right away. It still does a good job of covering quite a bit though. This region certainly is my least favorite because the animation is the worst and there’s less action than usual, but the former doesn’t apply to the book and the latter isn’t noticeable yet. If I didn’t know any better, I’d actually consider this to be a pretty promising start to the region. If you’re a Pokemon fan then you’ll certainly enjoy this and it’s a reasonable way to jump into the franchise. It certainly is new reader friendly. We’ll see if the next book adaption can be quite as good. Moreover, I’m ready for Ash to finally win a fight!

Overall 7/10

Kingdom Hearts Review

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It feels like I’ve been reading this novel for months, but I have finally finished! As you can probably guess, this book covers the plot of the first Kingdom Hearts game. It does a good job of going through all of the important events and really covering the worlds. This does come at the expense of the fights which is unfortunate, but it’s a great way to catch up with the series if you’re not really a video game player. After all, the plot is fairly engaging on its own and with the movie/TV series probably not coming for a long time, this is your best bet! (Perhaps the manga as well, but the novel seems to handle it with greater detail)

The plot of this story revolves around a kid named Sora. He lived on a peaceful island with his two friends Riku and Kairi. Unfortunately, he wakes up one morning to find that the ocean has turned to darkness and a tornado is ripping the island off the ground. Riku vanishes in the waves and Kairi also disappears. Sora tries to keep himself together, but then he also fades away. He wakes up in a mysterious town where he meets up with strange people who tell him that all of the worlds are connected…and dying. Sora shakes this off and meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy from the classic Disney movies. They explain that they are looking for King Mickey and were told to travel with Sora in the meantime. This is because Sora is the chosen Keyblade Master of destiny who will find the keyholes in all of the planets and restore balance to the universe. Sora gets his game face on and prepares for this endeavor, but it’ll be tougher than he dared suspect.

It’s a pretty fun story that works well enough even if you switched out the Disney characters for made up ones. That being said, it certainly has more of an impact when you throw the crossover angle into the mix. It’s pretty fun to see the characters show up and help Sora out in each world. Sora gets to travel to Aladdin’s world, Peter Pan’s, Alice in Wonderland’s among others. It can be pretty nostalgic to see them and while those characters can’t fight all that much, Sora doesn’t really need any help.

As I mentioned earlier, the one drawback to this novel is that the fights are very short. Most of them are over in a couple of hits and don’t usually last more than a couple of pages. Some of them seem to be over in a single page. I hope we can get some longer fights in future adaptions, particularly Kingdom Hearts II since that should have quite a lot of fighting in it. I don’t mind if they have to skip a few worlds as a result, the action will be worth it.

Sora’s a likable protagonist and a good kid. He loses confidence a little too easily at times which is his main character flaw, but I’ll certainly take that one over most. He seemingly gets over this by the end of the novel, but it’ll be difficult to say for sure until we actually get there. There are quite a few plot twists and villains who like their mind games coming up so that could rattle Sora quite a bit.

I didn’t like Donald or Goofy though. They showed their true colors when they chose to leave Sora after the keyblade vanished. Friends shouldn’t just leave each other so easily. While they eventually went back to Sora’s side, it feels like he can’t really trust them as much as he thought. That test of loyalty was one that they failed. It’s not as if they’re great fighters either. Goofy’s shield and Donald’s magic will never be quite as effective as Sora’s sharp keyblade. It’s just the ultimate weapon.

Riku also shows up and part of the drama with him is that he has been tempted to the dark side. He thinks Sora is having too much fun as he goes on side trips while Kairi is still in a coma. Riku decides that he’ll have to save her on his own and goes through a lot of dangerous quests to get to this point. The darkness starts to overwhelm him by the end though and he loses sight of his goals to an extent. With his character arc coming full circle as Sora convinces him to join the light once more, he should make for a good ally in the coming volumes. While he may have had a point initially with Sora, he was also pretty unfair about it since Sora did try to find Kairi and just failed to do so. Riku had the advantage of having an evil witch on his side….if you can call that an advantage.

Maleficent is one of the big villains here, but her role is greatly reduced from the game. She gets to appear a few times, but comes across as an underling who was being used the whole time. Unless she redeems herself in the sequels, I’m going to say that the author probably wasn’t a big fan of hers. Ansem shows up at the end of the novel as a fun final boss and he makes for a good opponent. We certainly haven’t seen the last of him. Once Organization XIII shows up, it’ll help the series as it will finally have recurring villains who will last for a very long time.

This novel is of a pretty good length so it should last you a while. It’s about 300 words and the font isn’t all that big either. A lot of stuff happens over this time and as I mentioned, the book was able to fit in a lot of worlds. Each of the Disney worlds gets a good amount of screen time. While the Beast may have only gotten to appear without his world, he still looked pretty good since he was able to follow Belle when all of the other main heroes failed to do so. Following someone through a portal is rare no matter what medium you’re in. Characters just tend to hesitate a little too much when the going gets tough.

Overall, It’s fun to revisit the original Kingdom Hearts story and to finish another book in general. It’s been a long time since I played the first title so this is always nostalgic. I remember the series very well so it’s not as if it’s new to me, but it is fun to see how the series was before the deep plot started. Make no mistake, the seeds had sprouted for the plot with hintings all around. The writers likely had a good portion of the sequel all planned out and that’s one of the fun things about the franchise. It’s all connected and you always feel like it’s planned out well. I’ll be reading the sequel right away, but it’s a lot longer than this one so it could take a while to finish. I definitely know it’s going to be fun as well and it may even be better since Chain of Memories had a more engaging plot with higher stakes than this one. If you haven’t played the game, I highly recommend reading this book to get you into the franchise. Alternately, you should take the plunge and finally buy the original game.

Overall 7/10

Attack on Titan Before The Fall Review

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Attack on Titan is a series that I definitely am not much of a fan of. I’ve gone on record to remind people that it’s a series which could not live up to the hype and is riddled with flaws. The manga ranks among my least favorite titles and while the anime notched a 5, that is certainly low compared to most of the titles that I watched. Luckily, a franchise can always turn things around or at least get a good product into the mix somewhere. Attack on Titan managed to do that with this novel as it’s actually pretty decent. It’s still dark and violent, but in book format it’s just not quite as bad and books have always had this edge over other forms of media. It’s a fairly interesting tale, even if there isn’t much of an ending since it continues on into the next novel. (Would have been 2, but I got the fancy omnibus at the ready)

This book takes place before Eren’s adventures in the main manga. It’s a prequel that shows us how the humans first learned about the Titan’s weaknesses and it’s far back enough where the status quo may already be in place, but people still talk about the old days. If you want the true backstory, you’ll have to actually go and read the manga. The story follows Angel, an inventor who does his best to make weapons and equipment for the rest of the fighters. He has a friend who is in the corps and another one who is on the wall. The three of them look out for each other and Angel wants to eliminate the Titan threat so they can see the ocean someday. This is Titan though…so expect some major casualties sooner than later.

The main cast is relatively small so lets start with Angel. Angel’s a fairly good main character. He may not be as headstrong as someone like Ichigo, but he has his moments and definitely does get his shots in. He does his best to help out his friends and doesn’t stay paralyzed in fear of the Titans for very long. He becomes a more outspoken and dependable guy as the book goes on and he certainly spared no expense in working to eliminate the titans. It’ll be interesting to see him as a supporting character in the next volume since he had such a big role here, but time does go on and he has to get old eventually. While he may have made a mistake in judging the weak point of the Titans initially, Angel did a good job in noticing the general area at all. He can also be said to be one of the first humans to take down a Titan. He wasn’t literally the first as his friend also took one down and there may have been others in the past, but certainly not many.

Maria is the main heroine of the story and she’s a good character. She stays strong even after the Titans increase the body count. She’s certainly good at surviving and was encouraging for Angel to have around. She may not have been on board with some of his crazier stunts, but she came around. I’m glad that they also didn’t try pushing any kind of rebound romance here as they just stayed as close friends. Xenophon was essentially Angel’s rival. The novel makes sure to keep mentioning how they don’t get along, but I can’t say that I really understand why. They seemed to get along just fine whenever the two of them were on screen and their personalities don’t really clash. It’s hard to see why there would be any bad blood between them at all. I felt like the author maybe didn’t think this part through, but regardless, it’s good that they got along after that. None of them ended up being petty and suddenly turning evil or anything like that.

I also liked the general of the Survey Corps. Jorge is certainly a much better character than Erwin or the old Pixel guy from the main series. Maybe he also made some morally dubious choices at some point or other, but we don’t see any of that here so I like to think that Jorge didn’t cross that line. He certainly did a good job in the hand to hand fights and considering that Angel had a cool new weapon on deck, Jorge did quite fine. He kept his cool under pressure and also came out to help even when he wasn’t allowed too. Wars are won on the battlefield after all and someone had to make a move against the Titans.

One very interesting difference in this novel was that for the most part, Titans didn’t bleed. When they were slashed, smoke would simply come out from the wound healing back together so quickly. I think the only time there was some blood was when they were blowing up a titan to find out if he had any weak points. Titans didn’t feel any pain or seem to have much intelligence at all. It was certainly an interesting look at them, but I still would have felt iffy about the humans doing a lot of experiments on them like in the manga so I’m glad that didn’t happen.

While the novel is technically not all that long, it still seemed longer than the average light novel. Perhaps it was because the text was a little more dense with all of the terminology and plans as opposed to yelling out attack names and just slashing away at the villains. That…or I was just imagining things, some novels can just feel longer than others. I know for a fact that the Naruto novels seemed to be the smallest ones that I read, but that could be because those were related to Naruto so I was able to blast through them because I’m a big fan of the franchise…even if the first novel was a little dicey.

Overall, This novel was surprisingly good. It’s still the normal Attack on Titan fare in many respects, but in book format it just works so much better. After all, I do find the concept of Attack on Titan to be interesting and that’s why the anime actually wasn’t that bad. This book had an engaging plot and the characters were pretty reasonable. We didn’t have a lot of morally dubious characters or iffy moments where you have to remind yourself to root for the humans. There still were opposing factions and a lot of crazy guys running around, but they didn’t invade the main cast so that’s a good thing. I look forward to seeing what the sequel does with this and now that we’ll be catching up to the manga version, it’ll be neat to see how much of it I can recall. The next volume is double sized since it merges 2 and 3 so it may be a bit before that review pops up, but no worries…it’ll definitely be coming! It’s still pretty surreal to be reading about manga and anime characters in novel format, but it’s definitely a good feeling.

Overall 7/10

DC Superhero Girls: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High Review

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It’s time for another book review. I haven’t read a whole lot of books lately so it’s always fun to go back and finally read through one. The DC Superhero Girls lineup always seemed pretty interesting. The comic I read on Free Comic Book Day was fun and it seems like a nice piece of the franchise that people of all ages can enjoy. The book is also fun although Wonder Woman herself can be a little annoying. I look forward to seeing how the sequel fares.

Wonder Woman is finally joining Super Hero High and she looks forward to meeting everyone. She hasn’t really left the Amazons…in forever. Unfortunately, this means that she takes everything literally so expressions and jokes always tend to go over her head and result in awkward situations. No matter, that is not enough to deter Wonder Woman and she aims to help her school win the big Olympic Style event against the rival team…the Bad Boys!

I like the style of numerous short chapters as opposed to a few long ones. Maximum Ride did this as well and it makes you feel like you’re constantly accomplishing as opposed to once in a while. I believe the same is true of video games as well. You can finish the actual novel in a decent amount of time. It’s not short, but it’s not very long either. You can say that the size is just right. Books are interesting though in the sense that the first half of the book can usually all go to set up and development. You’d think that there wouldn’t be much room for the plot then, but it all evens out somehow. Either way, this book didn’t need to worry about a plot all that much as the main focus was on introducing Wonder Woman to the rest of the class.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the only real annoying part. Wonder Woman’s naivety is a little too extreme if you ask me. Do the Amazons not have any figures of speech? Her mother went to the school and clearly knew how to socialize so I’d expect Wonder Woman to have picked up on some of that. Even just a small bit would do. Wonder Woman means well and she’s a good hero, but I think that the story would have worked just as well even if she had known how to deal with everyone. They could have just emphasized how nice she is and the plot lines would have still worked. She still wouldn’t accuse the others all that much and would have rolled with all the tricks and media coverage just to be considerate. So, that’s why I think she could have been a better written character.

Of course, she makes some good friends during her stay at the school. Poison Ivy, Katana, and Harley Quinn seem to be her main friends. Quinn’s an interesting case though as she is still quick to humiliate everyone around her including Wonder Woman. Her rationale appears to be that it’s okay since she does it to everyone and they are still students so some mischief is fine. For the most part, I’d say that she keeps it to reasonable limits…except for when she threw all of Wonder Woman’s stuff away. That was a bit much, but she’s a fun character otherwise. Poison Ivy’s all right. She’s the very timid character of the bunch so she’s not my favorite character, but is fine overall. Katana’s one of the more likable characters as she is always eager for a fight and also tells it like it is. When she suspects that someone is trying to sabotage WW’s costume designs, she speaks up about it, which is more than most of the cast is willing to do. She’s a good friend to have and she will ensure that Wonder Woman isn’t subtlety bullied by the others.

Lois Lane has a fairly large role here as well as she helps Wonder Woman find out who is sending her the mean letters. Ultimately, she doesn’t find out a whole lot, but it’s hard to do much when you only have some letters to go off of. I thought that the book did a decent job of constantly misdirecting you as to who the culprit was. There were only a few people that it ever could have been anyway, but from those it was hard to pick one with total confidence. Steve Trevor shows up, but his role is pretty sad the whole time and the plot could have definitely been cut out. He just had no purpose in the story and the whole time you’re just wondering if the book is simply going through the motions.

Superman had a cool cameo though as he decided to root for the main team even though the media was probably hoping that he’d be impartial. Still, how could Superman root for a team like the Bad Boys right? It’s just not his style. It’s also cool how he’s still an adult while most of the other characters are teenagers. It’s an interesting AU in that sense as you never know where everyone stacks up when it comes to age. There are a lot of different stories that you can tell about the heroes being at school so this series can certainly go on for a while. It’ll just need to be careful not to be repetitive, but that shouldn’t be all that difficult of a task.

Overall, This was a fun start to the Super Hero High adventures. The cliffhanger has Supergirl joining the school so it’ll be fun to see her become one of the gang. In a sense, she’ll be Wonder Woman, but potentially a more likable version. I’m also waiting for some of the villains to show up and cause some mayhem in future volumes. The rival school already got school’d by Wonder Woman so we’ll need new threats if we want to take them seriously. I’d recommend checking this out if you’re looking for a fun little Superhero story. Even if you’re not usually a superhero reader, you can swap out the names and it’d just be a fun school story. There’s really not much to dislike here and my only real complaint is Wonder Woman. It’d be cool if Superman appears more in the sequel, but it’s not necessary…it’ll just give the story an extra bump up.

Overall 7/10

Naruto: Sakura’s Story Review

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It’s time to review the final Naruto novel that I’ve read so far. Sakura gets to be the main character of this adventure. While she is probably the weakest of the three personality wise, (The first two novels were led by Shikamaru and Kakashi) Sakura manages to have a pretty good novel. The villains are nothing to write home about, but they do their best to cause some destruction and mayhem. It’s a fun little story in the future of Konoha.

Sasuke is as distant as ever and Sakura has been having doubts about how their situation is going to work. It never made any sense from the get go and was squeezed into the lore for no reason anyway, but now Sakura is finally being forced to deal with all of this. It gets worse when Sasuke is framed for murdering a bunch of people and declaring war on Konoha once more. Sakura believes that there is no way that Sasuke could do this and Naruto doesn’t buy it either….but what if it is him? Sakura will be forced to slay him and that would definitely make her home situation very complicated.

Considering that Sasuke is being framed, nobody is taking it too seriously. Some villages are getting into a fuss as usual, but lets face it…what are they gonna do about it? If Sasuke truly is evil once again, he could destroy them all rather easily. By the end of the series, Naruto and Sasuke were light years ahead of everyone else. A confrontation involving one of them and anyone else would not even be close. There would be no fight, only a massacre. Luckily, the Sasuke impostor is not nearly as powerful as Sasuke. Sakura and Sai are able to handle the villains easily enough. It’s a good chance for Sai to save his rep considering that he didn’t look very good in the Shikamaru novel.

Kido is the main villain here and he’s mainly able to be a threat because he has his own 9 Tails Cloak. It’s mostly fake as he got it through DNA and a lot of science speak, but it does give him a very real power boost. It’s enough to almost put him on Sakura’s level, but she’s gone through a lot of training of her own and is ableto handle him. It’s a fun climax and it is always good to have an actual fight to finish things off. The first two novels had some issues with this. It’s why I’d like to see a Sasuke or Naruto novel at some point with more aliens like Kaguya which could make for epic fight scenes.

Aside from Sai, who did most of the heavy lifting here, the other supporting characters didn’t help much. Tsunade was just around to make Sakura more insecure and gave out bad advice. Ino mostly just fueled the romance angle and Kakashi didn’t really do anything. All he could do was talk a good game from his throne. The other villages spent their time panicking so in the end, it was really up to Sakura. They say that times of peace can make a place a little sloppy, that may be happening to the village. All these small villains are popping up now. They’re no threat in a face to face fight, but from the shadows they can be tricky.

These novels are fairly short and easy to read. You can easily finish in a day as you just cruise through the chapters. That’s a good sign that the novel is good since you’d otherwise be forcing yourself to get through it. The writing may not be great at times, but that could also just be because the characters are a little annoying. If the book has a weakness, it’s that you can’t really get attached to any of the characters. Sakura is too distracted by Sasuke the whole time and Tsunade really does her best to put Sakura on the wrong track. Kido’s as generic as they come, but there’s only so much you can do in just one novel. That’s why you should take that into account as you read through the book.

Overall, Sakura’s Story is a good way to wrap up the Naruto novels for now. It had more action than the Shikamaru adventure and less comic relief than the Kakashi story. It’s a better all around book and we’re getting closer to the action that I want to see from the Naruto series. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve finished the manga. It expands the universe and allows you to see the characters again. Any chance to revisit an old universe is usually a good one to utilize. The characters also look less shady and semi evil here than they did in the Shikamaru novel, where they decided to do things right under the Hokage’s nose. That’s not the best way to operate a village since you need to have trust in order to succeed. Things were done more by the book here, which was definitely an improvement. Nobody would try sneaking past Sasuke if he had been Hokage…I’m just saying…

Overall 7/10

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story Review

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It’s time for the second Naruto novel! Shikamaru is definitely quite the improvement over the Kakashi one. Unfortunately, Shikamaru himself comes across as rather petty and completely unlikable, but sometimes side characters shine best when they’re on the side. It’s possible that looking at the world through his perspective just makes him appear to be a bad character. Regardless, this novel didn’t need Shikamaru to succeed so he doesn’t ruin the experience. Of course, this is why I want Naruto to be the main character for a novel at some point. I think you would be able to see a noticeable improvement if that happened.

Shikamaru was trying to enjoy a normal day for a change when he sees one of Sai’s birds approach the village. In it, a message states that he has lost sight of his own identity and the rebellion in the Land of Silence is growing worse. If nothing is done soon, Sai writes that this could become a very large problem. Kakashi is tempted to go himself (Or just posturing) but Shikamaru decides to volunteer. He figures that this is the best way to secure a bright future for Konoha and especially since some of the other Shinobi like Naruto would be averse to outright assassination. Shikamaru’s not as heroic, likable, cool, or as good as Naruto so he figures that he’ll take the job. He never had a problem with murder after all. Kakashi assigns 2 Anbu Black OPs, Ro and Soku, to accompany him. Together, the three of them set off into the Land of Silence and prepare themselves for what is to come….or not.

Unfortunately, Shikamaru seems to have lost most of his intelligence during the years of peace. They know that the leader of the rebellion is incredibly charismatic and that Shinobi have been deserting from every one of the great ninja villages. Even Sai has been turned to the other side. Does Shikamaru suspect even for an instance that mind control or genjutsu is involved? Nope, he just walks into a villain meeting with no concrete plan around that and listens to the guy’s speech. He begins to feel its effects, but decides to ignore this and lets the guy keep talking. Eventually, the leader calls him out so Shikamaru attacks, but by then the genjutsu has been way too strong.

Shikamaru really left his team out to dry with that kind of plan. Of course, as “experts” the two Anbu Black Ops should have been able to resist this technique as well. Shikamaru also came across as petty when he continued to refer to Soku by her real name even when she made it clear several times not to call her that. They are on a mission after all and Black Ops must keep their identities a secret to that nobody can find out who they are. Moreover, she just doesn’t want to be called by her real name, is that a problem? Apparently it is since Shikamaru intentionally uses her real name at every opportunity to annoy her. It’s just very self centered of Shikamaru.

Finally, I also didn’t like Shikamaru because he’s way too full of himself. He spends a few pages insulting Naruto, Sasuke, and Kakashi and questions why they should be regarded as heroes. He acts as if they don’t deserve this title despite saving the world. Where was Shikamaru during the climax? As far as I can recall, he was hiding with the other ninja and talking a good game while doing nothing. He really has no room to talk and Naruto really shouldn’t even have him as an adviser. He seems like the kind of guy who will give you the wrong advice each and every time. Plus, he hints that he would keep things from Naruto to shield him from the darkness, but that also means that he’d probably keep on doing assassinations and such. Part of why the Third Hokage’s rule wasn’t so good was because Danzo and the Anbu elites rose up in the background as well. Having two factions will simply fracture the village as a whole. Well, regardless of all those technical elements, Shikamaru just wasn’t cool here.

Ro and Soku don’t get a whole lot of character since they’re only around for a little while (The book is fairly short after all and the team doesn’t get to the villain base until around 1/3 of the way in. Book pacing has always seemed rather intriguing that way. It always feels like the prologue takes a really long amount of time, but I suppose that there is still time for a lot to happen since each page has so much dialogue in it) Ro likes to make puns with words and mixes his old way of talking with modern day slang. He’s not much of a fighter, but he can alter how a person’s chakra looks. That sounds like it would only be helpful once in a while to be honest. Soku is really snappy and aggressive. I don’t blame her for constantly threatening Shikamaru though. Her chakra needles definitely seem like a handy ability to have, but one that wouldn’t help quite as much in a direct fight since they seem to rely a lot on the element of surprise. Physically she is definitely a capable ninja though as she speedblitzes..you guessed it, Shikamaru, towards the beginning of the book.

While Shikamaru’s team may have ultimately failed 100%, (They were turned into traitors as well) it’s good that Temari and Naruto aren’t quite as weak willed. With Gaara and a lot of other ninja around as well, the whole uprising was over in an instant. In the end, the villain wasn’t much of a fighter either. He was able to hold Shikamaru off, but that’s not saying much and together with the two Anbu Black Ops for a fair 3 V 1 fight, Shikamaru’s team managed to pull in a win.

I was definitely glad at the ending of the book though. Ultimately, the heroes spared the leader of the uprising and imprisoned him. There was certainly never a need for an assassination and while the heroes didn’t want another war, I think they severely overestimated the Land of Silence. Naruto himself could have easily walked in and ended the whole situation with minimal casualties. So, the plot in and of itself was a bit of a stretch there.

Overall, This novel was fun. It’s just too bad that Shikamaru was such a bad character. I felt bad for his partners since they got beat up quite a bit as a result. Naruto and the others should probably start to doubt his leadership skills right now. The only part where the novel gets a little dark is when the two Anbu members are kidnapped. Besides that, it felt like your standard Naruto adventure and had a good blend of sneaking around and action scenes. Now we are approaching the final Naruto novel for now. Let’s see if the Sakura volume can continue the novel’s acceleration through the rankings or if it’ll take a step back. One thing’s for sure, Sakura should be more likable than Shikamaru. (Although she was annoying in this book and ended up being wrong in the end)

Overall 6/10

Naruto: Kakashi’s Story Review

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I finally got around to finishing the first Naruto novel! Reading the next two should definitely not take as long so you can expect reviews to be published for those much quicker. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the Kakashi story sets them off on a high note. Crude Humor, large amounts of plot hax, and sketchy writing hold this one back from being a hit. I honestly wouldn’t really want to see this one animated unless some significant creative liberties were taken. That being said, the anime writers could be up to the task since I’m sure that they’d be tempted to change things anyway.

A long time has passed since the end of the Naruto manga and people are pressuring Kakashi to take on the mantle of Hokage. He doesn’t want to do this though since being Hokage is a large responsibility and he’ll be held accountable for everything. Nonetheless, the choice isn’t his and the whole village continues to pester him about it. To take his mind off of this, Kakashi goes to guard a large boat. It will be the first ever flying boat (Blimp basically) in the world. The builders want to use it to revolutionize travel, but at the expense of a whole industry which will result in thousands of people being out of business in the long run. That’s a bit of a heavy price to pay, but at the same time, innovation always replaces the old way of doing things. If people resisted change because of how it would affect the job market, many inventions would simply not exist at the moment.

However, the main villains of the novel aren’t pleased. Kakashi notices that someone has sneaked into the blimp and gives chase, only to find out that it is Might Guy. He really wanted to go for a ride so he snuck in, but unfortunately, so did the villains since there weren’t any real guards around by this point. The Leaf Anbu Black Ops are taken down instantly so Kakashi and Might Guy will have to save the hostages in the Blimp and defeat the Rogue Shinobi. Time is not on their side either as these guys aim to free their master from Hozuki Castle and the other neighboring lands ar weighing in on the conflict. If the Blimp isn’t back on the ground before it crosses the border…then it will be destroyed. Moreover, Tsunade wants Kakashi to destroy the Blimp if it gets to close and murder every last one of the passengers. Kakashi’s not a cold blooded killer like Tsunade so he aims to find another way.

This should be easy right? Kakashi is one of the strongest fighters in the Leaf so he can crush some random rogue ninja. Not to mention that Naruto’s just a phone call away. With his final form abilities, he can move at hypersonic speeds and virtually fly. He can use his arm extensions to gently force the Blimp down or simply grab all of the villains and then escort them all away. Well..the first moment of plot hax happens here as Tsunade forbids anyone from telling Naruto about this. In her defense, everyone else goes along with this terrible plan including Kakashi. All right, back to the Kakashi plan right?

Wrong I’m afraid. Kakashi decides to go for a frontal assault and walks up to the villains. Guess he forgot about the hostages right? The main villain destroys a handful of them and then breaks Kakashi’s fingers so he can’t pull off any real ninjutsus. To add even more injuries, his right hand woman freezes Kakashi’s chakra so he can’t do anything with his ninjutsu or he’ll freeze over. Rahyo is the leader of the villains by the way and Kahyo is the ice ninja. Kahyo’s abilities are fairly impressive as she just needs to make contact with someone once to freeze their chakra whenever she pleases. Rahyo is more generic as he can punch people with super strength.

Kakashi is at a disadvantage from the start because Kahyo already made contact with him at the very beginning of the book when she pretended to fall and Kakashi helped her up. Unfortunately, Kakashi was already out of character as he fell for her instantly. So much for professionalism. As for Rahyo, he should be easy to defeat, but Might Guy looks incredibly bad here. Due to his injuries at the end of the series, he is still not at full fighting strength and I guess he’s back to being around Chunin level or something. Plus, his motion sickness has gotten even worse and it is at Natsu levels of terrible now. At least Natsu has a good reason for it though, Might Guy should be able to pull himself together.

His fight scene with Rahyo is actually very bad and even involves puking as a distraction. Might Guy’s also the reason why Kakashi’s first plan went so badly as well. If he hadn’t been around or if he could have just went to sleep for a while, the novel would have been very different. He’s comic relief, but not the good kind and he just holds the book down. Kakashi’s plan to throw up later on to trick the villains was also gross and definitely a large stretch of disbelief. These two scenes are the main reason why the book couldn’t get a positive rating in the end.

The fight scenes were good when Might Guy wasn’t around at least. Naruto’s fight in the intro was fun and I’m glad that only his Shadow Clone was hit since Naruto should be able to easily fend off these villains. In his current state, he should never lose to anyone ever again. Only aliens would be acceptable like in the movies, otherwise it is just too much of a stretch. Kakashi vs Kahyo was brief, but good as well. Hopefully we’ll get more action in the next novels.

Finally, my last complaint with the novel is just the fact that all of the characters are terribly unlikable to the point where I have to say that they are out of character. Not literally every character as Naruto is good, but everyone else is simply unreasonable. Everyone taunting Kakashi at the end of the novel is simply mean spirited. Shikamaru wanting to see if Ino has the same reaction while in another body is a really crazy scene that has no place in the novel and just makes him look terrible. Tsunade comes across as incredibly ruthless. Deciding to execute an entire group of civilians just to avoid an international incident is quite bad. It’s no wonder why Kakashi knows that he now has to accept the title of Hokage. He can’t let someone as unfit to lead as Tsunade take charge.

As for the two villains, they both want revenge on the cruel society. It’s easy to see why, but they really do lose themselves in the mission. They claim to not want to indiscriminately murder people, but that’s what they do the entire film. Both of them show remorse by the end and Kahyo always seemed to have more of a heart than Rahyo, but the latter’s big turn around I could not buy at all. He was way too evil and too unrelenting for me to believe that he simply lost sight of his original goal. At least for Kahyo there was a lot of foreshadowing and she did help the kid who really needed it while Gahyo was just going to let him die. I suppose that it’s still good to see Gahyo turn good, it just felt forced is all.

Overall, Kakashi’s Story was a weak first installment, but it shows signs of promise for future novels. There is still a lot more that can be done in these stories although I wish that Naruto or Sasuke would get one. Those two can easily hold their own stories. The next book is Shikamaru’s and since he isn’t much of a fighter, I’ll assume that the villains are even weaker than these two as I think that they probably would have crushed him. So long as the characters aren’t all super annoying and unlikable, the next novel should definitely knock this one out of the park. No more puking on the villains either since that was sad. If you’re a big fan of the Naruto franchise, then this is probably a good story to check out to make sure that you know all of the mythos. That being said, you may just want to skip this story. You won’t miss much and it tries to make Blood Prison canon which makes all of the characters look even worse so it’s best that the movie doesn’t become canon. Naruto’s chapter is definitely the best one in the book so at least you’ll start off on a high note.

Overall 5/10

Alex Rider: Russian Roulette Review

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The prequel to the Alex Rider series came out a while ago at this point, but I only just got around to it. As with the Godzilla book, I had it here for months, but I finally renewed it 10 times so this was my last chance to wrap things up. I just made it and am glad that I did as it was a good prequel. The ending was a little rushed I suppose, but it was still a good novel through and through. The writing is much better than what I saw in the Godzilla book and reminds me that we’ve still got solid books out there. You’ve just got to know where to look.

The main character of this Yasha, but his name quickly changes to Yassan so I’ll just keep it that way. The adventure starts him off as a child, but a plague infects his village and his parents have just enough time to give him a cure. Yassan is now the only survivor of that village and it has effectively been wiped off the map. Yassan is now a non person who does not even exist according to computer records. This puts him in a pretty interesting spot as his enemies won’t know about him, but vice versa as well. He goes through many hardships and ends up working as a slave for the man who was responsible for the incident. Through the Alex Rider events, we know that Yassan ends up….well, I won’t say who he works for I suppose, but you should have read the other books already before checking out the prequels. Needless to say, we know the ending, but this book is all about how he gets there.

In that sense, I think that things get a little iffy. As the book is from Yassan’s point of view, we learn a whole lot about the character. He was actually a very nice person back in the day and he really just wanted to fly a helicopter. Unfortunately, the village being wiped out put him on the path to destruction from the beginning. Working as a servant was essentially unavoidable and getting out of the situation was difficult, if not impossible. Those were tough years and his decision to escape was certainly a good one. From there, things just go from bad to worse.

The book’s plot is constantly evolving and adapting because it has to cover a whole lot of plot in a mere 400 pages. (More like 370, but close enough) I don’t want to mention all of the plot developments so I’ll mainly try to keep it vague, but this is still a review so I need to touch on some things. The best part of the book was probably the training facility that he goes too in the second half. That sounded like a pretty interesting chapter in his life and it would have been fun to have seen it get some more screen time. That part is glossed over the most so that we can see him as a professional.

Throughout the whole book, Yassan is mainly trying to not cross the line. He doesn’t mind stealing or committing other such acts in order to survive, but taking another person’s life is something that he doesn’t want to do. Unfortunately, it gets harder and harder to do this as his situation continues to get more dire. One of the reasons why Yassan was such a great character is he continues to choose not to pull the trigger even when it may mean death for him. It’s one of the reasons why he was lucky not to have any friends or family left. The villains could not use anyone as leverage against Yassan and threatening the main character’s life doesn’t have the same impact.

That’s why the ending just comes so suddenly. There is treachery in the air and Yassan gets very upset at the final twist. That being said, it unhinges him more than you would expect and he essentially decides to become a mass murderer just to spite someone. That is the part that came out of left field for me. The whole book, his consciousness had kept him from crossing the line and while he got upset at the end, it still seems like a big leap in logic to just start destroying everyone. Destroy the guy who betrayed you for sure, but taking it out on everyone was a little much. Yassan wanted to prove a point, which is why he didn’t destroy the traitor, but it was still definitely a bit much.

I feel like the author was running out of time and didn’t want to stretch this out into multiple books and just wanted to end things. I would have been happy to have had more books about Yassan, but maybe the fast pacing is what ultimately made this such an enjoyable book. I can certainly say that I enjoyed it much more than any of the Alex Rider novels and this was one of the most interesting books that I have read. The ending is the one sour spot for me and I knew that it was coming of course, but I just didn’t buy it. You could almost say that the author was trapped by the Alex Rider books as he had to keep Yassan in line with his self in the books even if the personality was different.

The author should have almost made this prequel non canon to just let Yassan end out with an escape. Disappearing forever was the plan that he had been leaning towards and it made the most sense. I was almost expecting him to go through with it at one point and then we’d get a sequel to see how he got pulled into the madness once again. That would have made much more sense and I can’t stress enough how much a sequel would have helped the ending. There’s also a chance that a sequel would jump the shark though so maybe it’s better safe than sorry.

The actual writing is very engaging and the author certainly has experience with writing a compelling novel. The characters don’t all sound like generic movie protagonists and they have character. You will feel bad for Yassan as the whole book is basically one tragedy after the other, but the author doesn’t overdo it. It’s sad and you’ll feel bad for the guy, but it’s done naturally and not just brought up to constantly remind you that you should feel bad for him. There’s one quick scene of animal violence at the end involving a spider, but it’s also handled really quickly and I suppose that it is easier for that not to hurt the score in a book than other forms of media. Although, it still depends on how it is handled.

Quite a few characters show up including Alex Rider’s dad. The dad was fairly likable although it’s hard to know what to think of him by the end. I guess I’m not a fan and he could have handled things much better. I also think that Yassan should have been able to defeat him in a fight. Thinking about it, the book doesn’t really have much of a climax. There is action throughout and yet there are very few action scenes. The dialogue is just strong enough to hold the novel up on its own, which is neat. There are quite a few likable characters throughout the book just as there are unlikable ones, but it is a colorful cast. The book gives us some nice details on how Yassan gets ready for a mission without going overboard and it was nice to see him continue to make the right decisions.

Overall, This was an excellent book and just what I needed after finishing Godzilla. Godzilla wasn’t exactly the big return to novels that I had been looking for so I’m glad that I got to find an elite title so quickly. If not for the ending, I dare say that this could be the best stand alone novel that I’ve read. It’s part of the Alex Rider franchise of course and many places just list it as being in the series, but I like to think of the prequel as being its own separate thing. Still canon and in the franchise, but not to be counted with the rest of the books as being in the series. If Yassan had stayed true to himself and ended out on a positive note, I probably would have given this a 10. I’m not even sure which book (If any) I’ve given a perfect score yet, but this probably would have snatched it away. The ending should have just been Yassan walking away and we still could have gotten the moment where he was back in the future and the author leading us to wonder how he got to that point. Still, abrupt ending or not, I highly recommend reading this title. You don’t need to read the Alex Rider books at all to understand what is happening here although it will give you more insight. As with just about every prequel, you can read this before the main series or after it. Either way, it works very well and it’s an engaging piece to read from start to finish. I also read it in hardcover, which helped a bit since I love that format. I’m not sure when I’ll have another book review up as it could be a while, but it’ll be tough to pass this one. It would be cool if the book got a film adaption someday to bring the Alex Rider franchise back into the forefront, but I don’t see that happening for quite a while, if ever.

Overall 9/10

Godzilla Review

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It has been a very long time since I have reviewed a book. It may have even been over a year at this point. What better way to get back into the industry than with Godzilla right? The film was fun even though it certainly could have been better to say the least. I know that many people weren’t crazy about Ford Brody in the film and I always thought that he was a bit of a non factor. After reading the book though, I can safely say that the character isn’t very good.

The book follows the plot of the film. Essentially, a creature destroys Ford’s mother along with many other people simply by waking up. Over a decade later, the monster has woken up along with a second one. They are known as the MUTO creatures and their abilities are unparalleled. With the EMP bursts that they can generate, the army is essentially out of their depth here. Their only course of action is to allow the Super Kaiju known as Godzilla to step in and save the day. The question is…did the government have a choice in the first place and can Godzilla really win the 2 on 1 fight? Pondering these questions is what makes the book fun.

I had a hard time getting past the beginning of the book because it starts off a little slowly. To the book’s defense, that is typically the case for just about every book that I read. It’s simply hard to start off with an interesting beginning that will keep you ready for action. Another problem is that the book adds some unnecessary details. See, Godzilla ended up attacking the island in 1954 because some animals were being tested on and it was defying nature. The government nuked Godzilla and the animals were hit as collateral. It makes the humans look terrible once again and you can see why a lot of people just end up rooting for Godzilla here. The Kaiju is the hero here and the humans need to get their act together if they want to win.

I wasn’t particularly crazy about the writing either. As I mentioned earlier, Ford wasn’t necessarily a negative for me in the movie, but I didn’t like him in the book. Not only is he incredibly generic, but he’s simply an unlikable character. He panics a whole lot and is almost always on the verge of tears. He constantly has to “tear himself away” from his son and family because he has a world to save, but he’s always so overly dramatic about it. Towards the end of the book, he even gets annoyed when people come to save him from the nukes. Sure, he’s tired and fatigued, but he should be grateful. It’s hard to simply spell out, but Ford just wasn’t my kind of character. I much preferred his father in the book. That plot was typically a lot more interesting than Ford’s.

Of course, the Godzilla scenes are the reason why you will buy the book. As with the movie, he doesn’t get a huge role and misses most of the first 75% of the book, but then he gets a solid fight in the end. The author definitely seemed to like the MUTOs as they were crushing Godzilla in the initial fight. In the film they temporarily started to overwhelm him as well, but here…they flat out beat him. Ford has to (accidentally) save Godzilla’s life by distracting one of the creatures. Once the MUTO is gone, Godzilla is able to take out the other one. Then he manages to defeat the second and proves that he is the strongest Kaiju out there, but I would have liked more G domination.

I also have to question the fact that the MUTO’s were able to short out his Atomic Breath. It’s not exactly standard electricity so I don’t think that an EMP would knock it out. If it could, then that means that the Government could essentially use the same tactic against him. Godzilla is also able to use it at the very end so I guess that the normal EMPs that the MUTO creatures generate is weak enough for Godzilla to overpower it. I’m glad about that at least. The Godzilla scenes are certainly the highlight as its fun to see the Kaiju in action although he could have looked a little stronger.

Back to the negatives, the writing goes to horror film mode at times as Ford loves to swear when he’s in danger along with just about every other character. It’s something that I always bring up because you wouldn’t have seen it back in the 70’s or earlier. Dr. Serizawa is a character that I didn’t like in any version and I still don’t care for him here. At one point, the government is out of options and they ask the doctor if Godzilla can defeat MUTO. Serizawa essentially shrugs and says his “iconic nature controls arrogant men” (Completely reworded and out of context, but you’ll likely know the line if you’ve scene the trailer. before he says to just let the monsters fight. Cmon Serizawa, the government is looking for a serious answer at this point.

Of course, the government doesn’t look too good when they decide to send a Nuke after Godzilla and the creatures. The climax has them essentially admit that MUTO and Godzilla could easily tank the missile. The plan seemed to be pretty bad from the start and reeked of desperation. While they like to think that there wouldn’t be too many casualties by dumping it in the river, many people would still die through the fish and the radiation that the wind carries. Nukes are never a great measure.

Also, they were hardly necessary. Maybe against the MUTO creatures, but against Godzilla, the airplanes were actually doing well. The book implies that they could have ultimately defeated Godzilla had some more planes come on board as they were dealing a lot of damage to the King. Long time Godzilla fans won’t like that of course, but it’s nice for the government to get in some wins once in a while. It’s like the old saying, “It’s why I’m here.”

I didn’t like the format that the book was in although I suppose that this will vary if there are any other versions. The type is simply too small. It’s part of the style as it allows the book to be small as well, but it’s not worth it. I like the classic hardcover style so much more as the print is nearly double the size of the Godzilla book and it makes the reading so much easier. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve had the book since sometime in February or earlier. I’ve renewed it 10 times from NYPL until I finally read it now. (And just in time too!)

Overall, the book got better once I was past the beginning, but I’m still not crazy about the writing. The characters just felt unlikable for the most part and the animals part in the beginning was really not needed. Godzilla also should have looked more impressive like how he was portrayed in the film. The book had its negatives to be sure and the format also made it a little tougher to read through. If you’re a big Godzilla fan, this is still a book to check out. If you aren’t looking forward to the Kaiju fights then you should probably take a pass on this book. After all, the fights were the climactic parts. If you don’t care for those, then it’s Game Over time!

Overall 6/10