Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds. Five stars.
Oh, wow, I loved everything about this. The premise is such a cool one, with the elevator and the chronological ghosts; the verse is skillful and adds visually to the story; and the protagonist’s voice is just so painfully young and real. God, if only we could all take one elevator ride to break us free from the cycles of oppression and destruction our ancestors created. But this book, books like this, all of us talking about these things and trying to wake ourselves up—maybe with this we can still get there.
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. Four stars.
This book is so short that’s it’s really more like the introduction to what I’m assuming (hoping!) has now turned into a series. The story is great but it’s the world-building I find so compelling; I’ve barely even seen glimpses of Binti’s people and the other species and places that populate her universe, but I’m already fascinated by them. Really well done.
Lafcadio Hearn’s “The Faceless Ghost” and Other Macabre Tales from Japan. Three stars.
I’m not necessarily into the macabre as a rule, but I did quite like these. (This is not a horror collection, just ghost stories.) The stories were collected and written by white men, but the artist is a Japanese woman.
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. Four stars.
Excellent, beautiful collection of artwork, poetry, prose, interviews, photos, and even social media posts by and about Native American women. Each piece is so short, and so visual, that they’re all incredibly easy to connect with and digest. Lots of perspectives, experiences, voices. Really well done.
Botchan, by Natsume Soseki. Three stars.
Comparisons to The Catcher in the Rye correctly predicted what my response to this book would be. It was . . . fine? I don’t feel any more of a connection with Botchan than I did with Holden Caulfield. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe you really have to have read these books as a teenager in order for them to work.
Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art Speech. Three and a half stars.
Maybe four? It’s hard to rate something so short. Good speech, definitely, and the graphic design is fun although the red would not have been my choice. Most notable to me was the part where he mentions advice he gave to Jenny Lawson, which I first heard about from her in Furiously Happy. She was trying to record her own audiobook, which was important to her, but she was having a hard time and feared they were going to ask someone else to do it. She texted him for advice and he told her to pretend she was good at it. It worked. It’s pretty good advice, really, given that a lot of our difficulties come from Impostor Syndrome—which he addresses briefly, and which I really appreciated, because I’ve only ever heard women speak about it and it’s the kind of thing that by its very nature makes you feel better when you find out other people have the same problem.