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Month in review

Reviews
Beast & Crown by Joel Ross
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
CatStronauts: Space Station Situation by Drew Brockington
Demon, Volume 4 by Jason Shiga
Feathertop by Robert D. San Souci
14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop
From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott
Lights, Camera, Middle School! by Jennifer L. Holm
The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds
The Losers Club by Andrew Clements
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green
Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes by Booki Vivat
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Paper Girls Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Red Leech by Andrew Lane
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Ripped From the Pages by Kate Carlisle
The Scarebird by Sid Fleischman and Peter Sís
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 25 by Rosamund Kidman Cox

Miscellaneous
2017 books read and reviewed
Back Half round-up: Favorite books read and reviewed from July-December 2017 Canadian Books reviewed in 2017
Diverse Books Reviewed in 2017
First Book of the Year Graphic Novels Reviewed in 2017
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 04)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 11)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 18)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 25)
Mysteries reviewed in 2017
Road Narrative Summary
November 2017 sources
November 2017 summary

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish


Demon, Volume 4: 12/14/17

Demon, Volume 4 by Jason Shiga

Demon, Volume 4 by Jason Shiga concludes the tale of Jimmy and Sweatpea. When last we left our "heroes", they were isolated by what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles. Would they ever reunite? Would they ever manage beat the OSS and be truly free?

In my review of Volume 3, I said, "Jimmy is a scarecrow (one who guards the cornfield and can cross it) because his isolation isn't permanent." This volume illustrates why the cornfield (or the labyrinth, as referenced in the cover art of Volume 2) is a crucial source of power in the road not taken type of road narrative. It also explores the why and how orphans get their powers through this type of isolation.

Before I go on, though, if you haven't read the final volume and want to avoid spoilers — stop now. Though I will try to be careful in my analysis, a savvy reader will be able to infer plot points.

Back in September while rewatching season one of Westworld, I wrote an essay on the labyrinth in the road narrative, "The maze isn't for you — except when it is." The essay, though rough around the edges, was an exploration on how the cornfield is tied to the notion of mazes and labyrinths (and the minotaur).

Westworld and Demon are both escape from the labyrinth stories. Westworld uses the Celtic labyrinth as a metaphor for what separates the host from the guest — and if the host were only able to mediate on the greater meaning of the maze, would they be able to escape the labyrinth that is the park itself.

For Jimmy and Sweatpea — their incarceration exists in two forms: the physical, brought on by the OSS's various ways of locking them up; and metaphysical, brought on by not understanding how their possessions work. To beat the OSS, they have to understand how their possessions work.

But doing so has consequences. Just as there is one minotaur — one frightening abomination hidden within the maze, free to roam it, but not free to leave it. Two minotaurs might be twice as scary and dangerous — but if there were thousands or millions of them — they would be commonplace. The commonplace, even when dangerous, is far less of a threat than a singleton.

For Jimmy and Sweatpea — winning ultimately means giving up what makes them unique. They win destroying everyone not like them. Their solution is the extreme ending of Meanwhile (and it's probably no coincidence that book also features an "orphan" named Jimmy).

If you take down the barriers of the labyrinth or you cut down the cornfield and allow free passage between worlds; if you invite travelers on the road not traveled, you risk draining the magic or whatever it is that makes that otherworld special. I will have more thoughts along those lines when I post my analysis of Dorothy Must Die.

Five stars

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