I was a little hestiant about this book… in mostly uncharted-territory (unless your Joss Whedon or Neil Gaiman, maybe) Laurie Faria Stolarz took her Blue is for Nightmares series (which I completely fell for last year) in a whole new direction in its last edition, Black is for Beginnings—and that direction was a graphic novel.
Now, I have to admit, anything remotely manga-styled has a tendency to put me off… this is a knee-jerk reaction due to far too many people assuming I like anime just because I’m half-Japanese (I don’t, by the way—at least not much outside of the Studio Ghibli range). This book was offering me a little bit of extra story with characters I really enjoy, though, not to mention a few little loose ends tied up nicely, which would have made the last book overly long in reality.
Being a graphic novel, and not a very big book anyhow, this was a quick, easy read, though a good majority of it was summing up what had happened in the first four books—an understandable sidetrack, considering this book is in an entirely new medium, and likely to be picked up by a different audience.
As less-than-enthusiastic as I was about the exact type of art used here, it really was interesting to see an artists’ rendition of events I’d imagined in my mind—fairly clearly, considering what a visible, detail-oriented writer Stolarz is. It also introduced me to the instant gratification that can come with graphic novels—I finished this in one sitting. I don’t know that I’m 100% comfortable with this instant gratification… it brings to mind the generally floor-sitting, black-trenchcoat-clad types that I’ve had to crawl over in the past to get to the YA section of the bookstore (I haven’t had this problem lately… maybe bookstores have caught on and made YA more accessible?). I always regarded these kids as miscreants of some sort, sitting in the bookstore reading manga from cover to cover rather than actually buying the books…
That said, I’ve been a little ADD with my books lately, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. Black is the first book I actually finished this year, and finishing a book is a peculiar kind of satisfaction that can’t be replaced with anything else.
Was the story particularly deep, or meaningful? Was it as rich and enjoyable as the first four books in the series? Not remotely. But it did give me a little extra time with Stacey Brown, a character I’ve come to adore in her own right, and it was 100% true to itself, so I’m going to be gentle and give this a B-.