Cirque du Freak: Trials of Death (Yen Press Extravaganza Part VIII), by Darren Shan

Aaaand we're done! (At least for a while.)

Cirque Du Freak: Trials of Death: Vol. 5, story by Darren Shan and art by Takahiro Arai

When a spider-obsessed boy named Darren Shan sneaks out with his best friend Steve to see the infamous Cirque Du Freak, things get even scarier than they'd bargained for. The inhabitants of the freak show aren't just strange, they're downright otherworldly, and when Darren attempts to steal one of the exhibits and overhears Steve making a disturbing offer to one of the freaks, he discovers their adventure may have graver consequences than he ever imagined.

I am not familiar with Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak books, but this manga adaptation didn't inspire much desire to read them. While the earlier volumes of this series might be great (I've read several good reviews, anyway), this one consisted of several underwhelming action sequences—none of which created any notable sense of suspense. I've never understood why Darren Shan named his main character after himself, but I hadn't previously considered the idea that he might just be a really, really unoriginal writer. Now I'm wondering...

Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning: Vol. 11, story by Kyo Shiodaira and art by Eita Mizuno

When 10-grader Ayumu Narumi's brother—a world-class detective—disappeared, he left Ayumu a cryptic message: “I’m going to uncover the mystery of the ‘Blade Children'.” With the help of a feisty classmate and his police detective sister-in-law, Ayumu is determined to find his brother... but the mysterious Blade Children have different plans.

Ambitious and complex, Spiral blends elements of mystery, horror, and science fiction. (Seriously: there are police cover-ups and evil clone armies and mad scientists!) The eleventh volume—out of fifteen—wasn't the best point for me to start reading such an elaborately constructed series, but fans of horror/sci-fi stories might find hunting down the previous installments worthwhile.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Vol. 5, story by Nagaru Tanigawa and art by Gaku Tsugano

The titular heroine of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a high school girl with the (unconscious) power to change reality. Haruhi is the president of her school club, the SOS Brigade, an organization devoted to investigating the paranormal. When she forces her classmate Kyon to join the club, he is shocked to discover that the club is actually made up of a collection of otherworldly beings whose mission on Earth is to hold Haruhi's reality-warping powers in check—unbeknownst to Haruhi.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a very big deal in Japan. In addition to the story's original form (a series of light novels), it has been adapted into four separate manga series, five video games, and an anime. Unfortunately, volume five didn't do a very good job of explaining this series' popularity—Haruhi seemed selfish and unlikable, and the reality-bending premise reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode... just not a very good one.

Reviews based on publisher-provided copies.
Posted by: Julianka


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