Thursday, February 7, 2019

Alice From Dream to Dream, by Giulio Macaione

Author and artist Giulio Macaione's graphic novel Alice From Dream to Dream has been on my radar for some time now. I've never read anything by this author before, but the concept sounded interesting: A teen girl who has the ability to enter other's dreams.

I was expecting something along the lines of Inception or maybe even The Cell, but unlike most people with this unique ability probably would, Alice doesn't abuse her power. No nocturnal influencing the choices and actions of her family and peers... No getting nighttime revenge on her jerkface brother or the resident Mean Girl... No trying to make her cute best friend see her as more more than a friend by being a literal dream girl... If anything, Alice seems more a victim of her ability than anything else. Especially when she is forced to share dreams with her horror movie-obsessed brother. 

Daily life isn't much better. Between family troubles at home and being bullied at school, Alice's only relief from the drama is her secret place in the local graveyard. But then there are those dreams of a girl trapped in the graveyard pond... So, really, there's no escape at all. 

But just when life seems as bad as they can be, things get worse: Alice's best friend, Jamie, is in a terrible accident. And Alice, with her dreamwalking abilities, may be the only one who can save them both. But first they must solve a long-buried mystery. And they can only do that in the dream world.

Alice From Dream to Dream was pretty much the most unique graphic novel I've read so far in 2019. The concept is so unique, the artwork is beautiful, and the story (and its characters) are so well done. I couldn't put this book down until I learned all its secrets. Although this appears to be a stand-alone, I wouldn't say no to a sequel. These are characters I'd like to revisit.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Pretty in Punxsutawney, by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Confession Time: I've never seen "Pretty in Pink," half the inspiration for Laurie Boyle Crompton's new book, Pretty in Punxsutawney (the other half being Groundhog Day, which I did see...a long time ago & remember liking). 

Only a few years too young to appreciate 'The Brat Pack' at their height of popularity, I was busy enjoying films like The Goonies and Neverending Story and even The Last Starfighter. All great films, by the way. But Pretty in Pink? Never saw it. And based on the spoiler-heavy plot of Pretty in Puncsutawney, I suspect I'd have some serious Thoughts about the film's ending. As in Epilogue of Harry Potter Seven-Level Thoughts. Because the book's entire premise is pretty much based on how, I suspect, the author feels the film should have ended. And I would have to agree. I'd be Team Duckie too.

But I DID enjoy Pretty in Punxsutawney. Even though I knew how it would end almost from the first chapter. The story was adorable. Predictable, full of cliches, and as fluffy as a Really Bad 80s Prom Dress, but adorable. Like a cheezy movie (at least one with a great ending), I couldn't help but love it.

Andie has spent the entire summer stalking Colton like a crazed fangirl, all the while oblivious to Tom's obvious feelings for her. I mean seriously... How adorkable was their 'meet cute'! The Whopper incident! They friendly way they always butted heads! And pretty much everything about the two of them! Any cinema expert will tell these two characters (Andie and Tom) are totally M.F.E.  

Except Andie is blinded by her crush. 

On the first day of school, Andie has the perfect plan to make Colton her official boyfriend. But nothing goes as she hoped. In fact, her first day is the worst kind of trainwreck imaginable. Not only does she NOT get the guy, but manages to make an mortal enemy of the resident Mean Girl and get on the bad side of pretty much every clique in school. At the end of the Worst Day Ever, Andie wishes for a second chance... And she gets it! She becomes stuck in a Groundhog Day-like loop, forced to repeat the first day of school again and again. Hundreds of times. Until she gets it 'right'. Andie is convinced that finding True Love's Kiss will break the curse, so she sets out to kiss Colton. But maybe this kiss is not what it takes for Andie to find her Happily Ever After. Maybe it's something a little harder to come by.

What I liked most about Pretty in Punxsutawney was how Andie was forced to break out of her comfort zone and get past the her preconceived (and totally false) stereotypes about people, most of which were gathered from watching too many bad 80s movies. Even more, the moral of the story was about being true to yourself and NOT squeezing yourself into an unfamiliar mold in order to reach your goal. So LOTS of good character growth here. 

Overall: Although the story was predictable, although the plot wasn't particularly deep, although there were still far too many cliches, there was a good general message to be found: The way to make your dreams come true is to be true to yourself (However, one shouldn't make Getting the Guy/Girl the Ultimate Life Goal as Andie's story implies. So I will have to deduct a couple points for that). 

Still... a cute read. And a good way to kill some time during the Polar Vortex when you're stuck inside anyway. --AJB