Welcome to this month's trio of reviews. I've also got some tips on creating a character.
World Destruction Vol 1 - Sega & Murao Minoru
In a world where humans are ruled by anthropomorphic animals called Beastmen, two organisations emerge; World Annihilation Front and World Salvation Committee, both harbouring strong views on society. At the centre of their attention is a young man named Kyrie Illunis, whose mild demeanour masks an evil weapon he was born with and despises; the power to destroy the world. The artwork in this manga is very pleasing with clean lines and thoughtful design, and I particularly appreciated the combat scenes. While normally I find manga battles boring and poorly executed, I enjoyed the fights that took place in World Destruction as they are well choreographed and clearly depicted, so I could easily understand what was going on. There are a variety of different characters and each one has layers of personality which makes them endearing, rather than clichéd and uninspiring. The bottom line: I was thoroughly entertained.
Under the Cherry Blossom (House of Kato) - Maya Healy
After the murder of their father the jito, Kimi and Hana are separated from their mother and younger brother in the bid to escape the onslaught alive. Closely pursued by enemy samurai, the girls find themselves alone and defenseless at a dangerous time. But Kimi and Hana vow to avenge their broken family, even if they have to man up to do it. Literally. I had fun reading this to my sister. There is lots of fighting, drama, learning and also laughter, all embroidered around Japanese culture. My sister and I were continually surprised and excited by the plot twists and eager to discover what happens next. That being said, there is definitely room for improvement as we felt a certain repetitiveness in the author's vocabulary, which was rather comedic at times, and at other times just ridiculous. Nonetheless, we've high hopes for the next book in the House of Kato quartet.
The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan
Wealthy bachelor Richard Hannay is bored of the predictability of life in England, until one particularly dull night he returns to his London flat to discover a corpse pinned to the floor. All of a sudden he's wanted by the police and hunted by the real murderers of the dead man. He has no choice but to become a fugitive, harnessing all his wit and knowledge to stay beneath the radar - which is more excitement than he could have hoped for. This short spy story pretty much has it all; criminal psychology, epic chases, disguises, cars, secret codes and more. The plot is fairly simple but, as odd as it may sound, I don't think it was intended to be the main focus of the story, but merely an excuse to write about an impossible bit of escape and heroism. My main criticism would be that the ending was a little premature. It reminded me of a musical composition that works itself into a really speedy tempo before an abrupt ending. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book and it certainly satisfied the mini detective in me. I look forward to reading the next Richard Hannay adventure.
Writing Tips: this month I'm handing out a tip or two on character design.
On one level it's easy; name, age, appearance - and personality. But if you want to add an extra bit of depth to your characters, treat them like real humans! Imagine they had a Facebook account, what would they write about themselves? What are their interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes? They should be like onions, with layers of personality. You can achieve this by describing interesting objects in their personal space; bedroom, office, etc. Also make them involved in things that don't directly affect the plot (maybe he or she takes dance classes, or does community work for such and such a reason). You watch - it will really enhance your characters!