Showing posts with label John Allison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Allison. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2016

Bad Machinery the Case of the Team Spirit by John Allison


Rating: WORTHY!

Note that this review is based on an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Bad Machinery is exactly what it says! It's totally bad-ass and hugely hilarious. But let's not confuse the case of team spirit with a case of liquor! These kids are only middle grade after all. This book, one of a series, is set in a Grammar school in England, and it's a locale with which I am intimately familiar having attended one myself. The story is set in Yorkshire, where my parents were born and raised, and I grew up next door, in Derbyshire. Non-Brits may need some remedial assistance on the lingo, but most of it isn't hard to understand. The graphic novel is evidently composed of webcomic dailies.

I adored this story. Every one of the characters is one I wish I had known at my own school, but alas and a lack of them was what plagued me there. Charlotte Grote, Jack Finch, Linton Baxter, Mildred Haversham, Shauna Wickle, and Sonny Craven are the weird, whacky, and charming students dealing with assorted life crises in their own peculiar ways. Sometimes their agendas conflict and other times they align.

The big deal is that a Russian owner of the local soccer club is trying to demolish houses to build a new stadium in their place, but this Russky seems to have pissed-off the mother of all bad luck, as becomes apparent when a satellite crashes onto the football pitch in the middle of a game, and assorted other disasters befall him. Plus Mrs Biscuits is also Russian, but not interested in rushing anywhere. She refuses to move from her home which sits, of course, right in the way of the Russian's plans to raze the land and raise a stadium. Two of the girls decide to make her the subject of a school project.

Each character has their own cross to bear. Shauna's, for example, is her slightly dysfunctional younger brother whose favorite non-word is BORB. Linton is plagued by his overly attentive mother and his fear that the beautiful new soccer stadium may never materialize. Sonny's father misses his own brutal grammar school days which appear to have been the inspiration for Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns, specifically the episode titled Tomkinson's Schooldays. Jack suffers an older sister who attends the same school and dispenses remarkable advice like, "It's a good idea to shave off your eyebrows" and "be sure to wear eye-shadow for gym." I fell in love with Charlotte though, disgusting as that is, since I'm old enough to be her father, but her sense of humor completely slayed me. She is the queen of bizarre observations and off-the-wall comments such as when she wants to discuss the procedure for extracting mothballs from moths.

The story meanders delightfully and abstrusely towards a satisfying conclusion. The art isn't spectacular, but it's serviceable and it got the job done for me. I haven't read any others in this series, but I fully intend to correct that oversight, first chance I get!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Simple Soul by John Allison


Title: Bad Machinery: The Case of the Simple Soul
Author: John Allison
Publisher: Oni Press
Rating: WARTY!


DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review. The chance to read a new novel is reward aplenty!

Even though this one wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, at first I found myself laughing and drawn in. It was quirky, with off-the-wall remarks and bizarre non-sequitur, which reminded me of having a conversation with my oldest son, but just as I was starting to enjoy it, the pizazz went out of it and it became really mundane and ordinary, and seemed to lose its sense of humor.

The story lost all interest and became mundane and colorless. I saw no "charming genius" here, just a lot of dicking around with some dude living under a bridge like a troll, and two girls who started help him, and lots of pointless running around and yakking. It wasn't entertaining after the first few pages.

My son felt the same way, too, because he began enthusiastically reading it along with me, and then he quickly lost interest. I plowed on (or should I say, ploughed on?) hoping to see if it could recover, but it didn’t. It became really boring. I know it’s very hard to try and maintain that kind of spontaneity over an extended period. I certainly can’t and this graphic novel didn't have anything to teach at all in that regard. I also know that the novelty loses its effect after too much of a good thing, but this didn’t seem to me to be what happened here.

There was nothing wrong with the artwork, which I rather liked. It was just the story which wasn't interesting after the first few pages. The story reminded me very much of a Sunday newspaper comic strip, and for all I know, maybe it was, and this is a retrospective, but that didn’t help me! This was volume three in a series but I will not be reading any more.