By Samantha Pak
Northwest Asian Weekly
Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue
By Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends, 2018
In the second installment of Meyer’s “Wires and Nerve” graphic novel series, we return to the world of the Lunar Chronicles.
The story picks up where the first novel left off, with Iko the android continuing her task of hunting down bioengineered wolf-soldiers threatening to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna (the moon). Her specific target is leader Alpha Lysander Steele, who believes Iko’s best friend, Lunar Queen Cinder, can reverse the mutations forced upon them when they were younger. If she doesn’t do as they wish, Steele and his army have their sights on the people of Earth as the means to satisfy their appetites. And they’re taking hostages.
Iko works alongside her friends — all of whom we’ve met throughout the Lunar Chronicles — to try and stop Steele, as they suspect he plans to attack during New Beijing’s Peace Festival.
“Gone Rogue” is a fast-paced adventure filled with themes of friendship, loyalty, and love. The most important thing to Iko are her friends, but the android begins to question this, as well as who she is after she uncovers the truth about her unusual programming. Longtime readers of the Lunar Chronicles will know Iko as the boy-crazy android with the personality of a teenage schoolgirl. While that is still the case, we begin to see a more serious and mature side to her as she goes through an identity crisis. The fact that she even questions her identity shows that she is not your average android. But that’s why we love her (or at least why I do). Meyer does a great job of showing readers Iko’s humanity, despite her not being human, and readers will be rooting for the android through the whole story.
Like the rest of the Lunar Chronicle stories, “Gone Rogue” is action packed, with a little bit of romance and more than a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. I’ve been a fan of this world since “Cinder,” and Meyer does not disappoint in her latest story.
Serving Crazy with Curry
By Amulya Malladi
Endeavour Press, 2015
Things are not going well for Devi. She is unemployed, unmarried, and had recently lost a baby in a miscarriage. All of her shortcomings just prove to her that she will never live up to the example set by her older sister, as a traditional Indian wife who is also successful in her professional life.
Deciding she has nothing left to lose, Devi tries to take her own life.
Except things don’t go as planned. On the morning of “the incident,” Devi’s mother Saroj stops by and lets herself in using her spare key.
Devi is devastated her life has been saved — time to add suicide to her list of failings — and initially doesn’t know the point of continuing to live. Moving back in with her parents, she stops speaking and begins to express herself through cooking.
Saroj has never cooked anything but traditional Indian food and while she tried to pass this on to her two daughters, neither had shown much interest. So everyone is surprised to see that Devi has a knack for it and even puts her own spin on things.
As Devi remains silent, the rest of the family is forced to face their own relationships and failings — from Saroj and husband Avi’s strained marriage, to Devi’s sister Shobha’s crumbling marriage, to the difficult relationship between Saroj and her mother Vasu — and secrets are revealed from which the family may not recover.
Malladi does a great job of depicting the complications of family dynamics, showing how they love each other even though they can’t stand one another. The characters are complex and far from perfect, but they are trying to get back to that point when they were happy — if that even existed.
“Curry” also examines issues of mental health, as the characters try to learn why Devi did what she did. And while members of the family are initially skeptical about her need for professional help, they soon begin to realize the value in it.
The Crane Girl
Adapted by Curtis Manley, Illustrations by Lin Wang
Shen’s Books, 2017
While gathering firewood one evening, Yasuhiro discovers an injured crane, hidden in the snow. After releasing it from its trap and comforting it, he watches the bird fly away into the night sky.
The next night, a young girl arrives at Yasuhiro and his father’s home, seeking shelter and offering to do chores in exchange.
Yasuhiro and his father Ryota welcome the girl, Hiroko, into their home.
During her stay, Hiroko watches Ryota, as he struggles to provide for himself and his son. After learning how his late wife used to weave silk to sell in their village, she offers to do the same. Her only request is that neither the father nor the son open the door to the room or look at her while she is weaving.
They agree and when Hiroko’s silks fetch a good price, Ryota becomes greedy and impatient and does the one thing she had asked him not to do. What father and son discover has a life-changing effect on all three of them.
“Crane Girl” is interwoven with haikus throughout and beautiful illustrations to complement the written word.
This story, which was adapted from Japanese folktales, is one of friendship and kindness, and shows readers how one simple act can have the power to transform lives. These are important themes for readers of all ages to learn — but especially the younger set. Manley and Wang do an excellent job of getting their point across both in writing and drawings in a book that is both entertaining, as well as thought provoking.
Samantha can be reached at email@example.com.