Reviews in Brief: The Half-Made World, Urban Fey, Kung Fu High School

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I really enjoyed The Half-Made World. Here’s the conceit: the “Old World” is decorous and settled, the “New World” is all wobbly with potential, particularly since it’s still literally half made — plants, waters, and skies all pulsate with the potential to be something else. The Folk still live there, too, and while some have been forcibly chained and made into slave labor, others resist the domination of humanity’s continued growth. There are also the forces of the Line and the Gun — demonic presences that cannot be wholly banished from the world and that ensorcel individuals and civilizations into serving their mysterious needs. This is not your daddy’s Western… and it’s not your cousin’s steam-punk. Great explorations of gender as well, as we learn about this strange world through the eyes of Liv, who’s got a doctorate in psychiatry and a lot of city-lady ways that are not entirely suited to working at an insane asylum on the edge of the world.

Urban Fey is a webcomic/graphic novel about the adventures of a splinter court of Faery in an unnamed big city. It’s really a love letter to urbanites. If you start at the beginning, don’t let the art turn you off –Ewing’s art improves markedly over the course of the series, and the story is really, really charming. Plus, each character has favorite drink recipes — both alcoholic and tea-based. I… am inordinately intrigued by the chocolate wasabi cupcake recipe. I just completed v1 and am looking forward to poking through the rest… and might just try that cupcake recipe!

Kung Fu High School is the real stand out of this set. Jen B. attends MLK High School, which, because of the number of Asian students and how dismissive the city is towards the violence pervading the neighborhood, is known as Kung Fu High School. When her cousin Jimmy Chang comes to live with Jen, her brother Cue, and her disabled father, the dynamics at a school where might makes right suddenly shift… for the worse. Now Jen, Cue, and Jimmy have to survive a school where hand-to-hand combat is a daily occurrence, and where no one really gets to leave. Loved it! Jen’s an amazingly funny and cynical narrator, there are fabulous reflections on race and class, AND the ending does not shy away from survivor guilt and Jen’s own loss of innocence. Plus? The conceit of Jimmy being a child of prophecy and poverty as a kind of predestination mingle together really naturally, highlighting that part of racialized and class-based privilege in the US is believing that you have a choice in your fate.

If you’re going to WisCon, I’ll probably be talking about it there on the panel about immigration.

Comments

  1. says

    Ah, I’ve got the sample of The Half-Made World on my Nook, but hadn’t bought it yet. It has a real ka-pow type beginning that leaves you wondering what the heck is going on. The sample leaves off on the second chapter, with Liv saying good bye to her gal pal.

    Okay, it’s next on my list of TBR books! (no zombies in it though, right? ;-D )

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