Friday, February 12, 2010

Reader's Diary #579- Jeff Smith: Bone 4, The Dragonslayer

Last month, in my review of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira Vol. 1, I moronically suggested that all graphic novels should be in black and white. I whined that I'd not come across any that were colourized well. Apparently my memory had not been working that day, as I failed to recall the wonderful job that Steve Hamaker has done for the Scholastic editions. Rich, realistic and magical at the same time, it's hard for me to even remember the black and white version that I started with. Note to other colour artists: a little shading goes a long way.

Moving on from my retraction, I have to begin by saying how much my kids and I are enjoying this story. Each night we read another chapter and now, as we're about to move on to the 6th in the series (my review of #5 coming soon), we just getting more and more into it.

In the Dragonslayer, Phoney Bone's character (the grinning guy on the cover), is developed more fully. This is important since we're told almost from the get go that he will play a crucial role later on down the road. Or at least a Bone with a star on his chest will, and as of yet, he's the only one. Until now, Phoney's cousin, Fone Bone (not as confusing to keep track of as it sounds) has been the primary focus. However, as potential heroes go, Phoney isn't all that likable. In the course of four novels, he's gone from mildly and amusingly selfish to dangerously opportunistic. It'll be interesting to see where Smith takes the character and whether we get stuck with an imperfect hero or if there'll be redemption. A third possibility is that this is all been a red herring. Maybe Fone Bone will end up wearing Phoney's shirt. For those of you who know the answer, please don't spoil it for me!

We're also introduced to a few more characters in this volume, most notably the baby rat creature. Not only is he adorable, but he'll hopefully offer more insight into rat creature psychology and the whole nature versus nurture debate (because you know kids pick up on things like that). He'll be an interesting character to watch for sure.

The Dragonslayer has probably been the more violent of the books so far, with a war brewing and a small battle that results in one character's arm being sliced off. It's not graphic, but then again an arm is sliced off, so maybe it should have been. Anyway, the kids didn't seem to mind and while I debate whether or not that nonchalance is a good thing, the story moves on and we're in too far to turn back now.


Wanda said...

Ridiculously popular with the kids in school, not one of mine ever brought this series home. Unlikely heroes are often more interesting than the obvious ones, have fun following that story line.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That's one problem with having a grownup child, you miss out on these series. Fortunately, we have the Mutfords to keep us informed!

John Mutford said...

Yeah, it's pretty popular here too. And to think he'd self-published initially. Take that self-publishing naysayers.

Barbara: You can still read them, I won't tell.