Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #01 - The Sandman: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman

While I’m usually knee-deep in reading psychology textbooks from cover-to-cover, my love of reading had led me to decide to join up with the fifth annual Cannonball read this year! But only a half-Cannonball goal of 26 books, due to school restrictions and so on. Thus, throughout the year I shall be posting reviews of all the books I read here. In any case:

For my first review of my first ever Cannonball read (be gentle with me and my terrible writing!), we have the fifth volume of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series, The Sandman. Usually I love the instalments in this series, but A Game of You, in my opinion has so far been the least interesting. But then again, I’ve heard that Gaiman sometimes describes this installment as his favorite in the series, due to the fact that it is most people’s least favorite. Cheeky thing, hey?

It all centers around a young woman, Barbie (who was previously seen as a minor character in the second Sandman volume, The Doll’s House), living in New York City, whose life and dreams become intertwined with all the eclectic neighbors in her run-down apartment. These include a lesbian couple with a secret, a pre-operative trans woman named Wanda, a mousy witch, and quiet-yet-creepy old man upstairs.

While in The Doll’s House, Barbie frequently dreamed vividly of being a princess, we now see that she no longer dreams. However, characters from her past dream realm are trying to reach her and bring her back, so that she can fight an evil entity known as The Cuckoo. Both the Cuckoo and Barbie’s dream friends are finding ways to cross the boundaries into the living realm to draw her in, and it’s only a matter of time before she finds herself back in the old world that she once met whenever she slept.

I’d hate to give away too much of the tale, as a lot of the enjoyment of this series comes in finding things out for yourself as they slowly unfold from darkness and mystery. All I will say is that as the lines between the real world and magical realms begin to cross, people’s secrets are revealed through their dreams and actions, and the stability of the worlds begin to shift and shake.

Although I stated that I have enjoyed this installment of The Sandman the least thus far, that is not to say that I didn’t still liked reading it. The artistry of the drawings and illustrations, as always, is riveting, in it’s peculiar way of appearing stylishly sleek, yet still maintaining a curious rawness to it. I think my hesitation towards this tale, however, comes from so many little glimpses of people that you wish you could know more about. Whereas this is often interesting and gives the reader opportunities to fill in the gaps, this time the sand grains of curiosity were just slightly too few, leading to irritation rather than the building of connections and bridges in the mind. Also, the lack of Morpheus (the Dream King) throughout the tale was noticeable. And while he is not necessarily needed on every page, he and his family of The Endless are generally what drive the tales of The Sandman, and all the complexities of the humans within them.

So what would I give this book? Probably 3 stars out of 5 on it’s own, though I would strongly recommend reading the series to anyone who loves the weird and wonderful.

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