Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ex Libris: A Dream of the Children's Crusade


(As matabangpusa asked, I normally do reviews of low-brow--i.e. non-literary-- books. This means genre stuff. I've read a couple that can be regarded as literary but in the primary, I'm as low-brow as they come.)

The good news about the Harry Potter juggernaut in the book front is that thanks to this profitable gusher, a lot of publishers have now come out with books targeted for the YA audience while more writers are putting out books with a YA tag. (Hey, even noted phantasist China Mieville has one while one of my favorite writers, Graham Joyce, flubbed his.)

The bad news is that I have no idea how to "handle" YA books.

You may ask: what's there to worry about? I'm not sure myself: I've read other YA books like the first Harry Potter, Garth Nix's excellent Old Kingdom trilogy (review to come soon) as well as Philip Pullman's subversive His Dark Materials trilogy. But the thing is, there's a certain element-- that "solidity" of other, more "adult" works perhaps?-- I find missing in most YA.

Still, there's no doubt that the YA books are as good as their adult genre counterparts (see aforementioned Nix and Pullman), which is why I picked up some books that piqued my interest. These include Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines and Kenneth Oppel Airborn.

Reeve's book is a post-apocalyptic steam-punk fantasy tale about Municipal Darwinism: imagine cities powered by giant engines and running on platforms with huge treads as they "eat" or take over smaller cities for needed resources and material (including people). In this future, an orphan Tom lives in a version of a city of London as it moves around a great wasteland, a Europe that's almost been stripped bare by a destructive war. Life is definitely better on these moving cities-- unless another city is about to gobble you up. However, Tom's life is turned upside down when he averts an assassination attempt on his hero, adventurer and guild master Thaddeus Valentine, by a scarred young girl named Hester Shaw-- and he is in turn betrayed by Valentine.

How Tom and Hester try to return to London becomes the meat of the story as they are chased by a maddened cyborg and kidnapped by slavers, meet members of the infamous Anti-Traction League (of course you will also have cities who don't move) and fly in airships. In the course of their journey, Tom will discover that once having left his home, nothing will be ever the same again.

On the other hand, if Reeve upends the status quo, Oppel tries to maintain it in his Jules Vernes-esque novel. Matt Cruse is an ordinary cabin boy of the luxury airship Aurora who loves to fly. Hoewver, destiny seems to have picked Matt for something greater when he rescues a dying old man in a damaged air balloon. When he later meets the old man's grand-daughter, the feisty and rich Kate de Vries, he finds out the the true reason for the balloonist's death: the mysterious existence of a brand new fauna that lives primarily in the sky.

Unfortunately, pirates, storms, and a jungle island figure prominently in Matt and Kate's lives and their only hope in returning home to safety and civilization will lie in Matt's connection to the sky.

Between the two books, Reeve's had a better handle on world-building as Oppel's is more of an alternate history/ Victorian tale where dirigibles rule the air. Likewise, I think that Reeve had a better story flow in comparison to Oppel. On the other hand, Oppel had more solid characterizations-- though I thought Kate was nothing more than a spoiled brat-- and much more exciting action scenes.

It's funny but there's definitely something to be said about the juxtaposition of these two books: Reeve's novel is almost anarchistic in tone (overthrowing the existing order by literally bringing down the city) while Oppel's story defines "people knowing their places" (Matt survives to go to Academy, giving him a chance to romance Kate-- which he wouldn't have if he'd remained as cabin boy). But I won't go into the socio-classification overtones of these books as I'll probably get it all wrong.

More to the point, I suppose my confusion in YA books stems from the fact that I'm an adult trying to 'see' a story through the filter of a young teen's eyes. Instead of being totally immersed in their stories, I feel it has 'softer' edges- maybe because of the presumed invulnerability of the young protagonist. I admit this is a wronful assumption on my part as any edges found in their stories can cut as badly as those in "adult" stories.

I suppose it's akin to a children's crusade: the name connotes a children's tale where good ought to prevail. However, one should rather expect blood and horror. Any ending that does not end in mystery is just a bonus.

28 comments:

Eldritch00 said...

Hey, delirious literature over serious literature woo-hoo! (Half-kidding, as you know.)

Isn't the Reeve novel part of a trilogy? Does it stand alone well? I'm rather intrigued by that one.

I think you and I have a similar attitude towards YA fiction. While I did read those Dark Forces books which are probably the 80s R.L. Stines, I spent a lot of my younger years reading novels for adults. And yes, while those can be juvenile, too, especially in the horror genre, they definitely have "teeth."

I'm sad to hear that Joyce's TWOC wasn't so good. I was intrigued by its premise and the author-name's promise.

I do like Clive Barker's YA work, especially The Thief of Always, and the Gothic! anthology had enough good stories to make it worth the purchase (and the "bad ones" were merely ho-hum, as opposed to downright awful).

Looking forward to that Mieville, even though I've yet to read the two New Crobuzon novels I have. When I'm through with those and like them enough, I'll get the third one. Hopefully, that's before the release of his YA novel.

Finally, Scott Westerfeld's YA work is supposedly very very good, according to an online friend whose tastes I trust.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

eld: actually, er, not to be too priggish i hope, you shouldn't call them "New Crobuzon" books because Bas Lag is bigger than New Crobuzon; New Crobuzon doesn't dominate China Mieville's world, and they aren't really about that one City, it's about the different people on the whole world. (open to discussion)

also, just a warning: most readers tend to have very different opinions of each book, so your response to the first two might, just possibly, not be a valid way to decide whether to get the third.

bc: so the question, as i see it, is why some people "outgrow" some YA works, while some YA works seem resistant to "being outgrown"?

but maybe you're trying too hard to see something particular in YA books when it may, again, simply be a matter of taste. for instance, you mentioned Nix and Pullman. now before i go into that, let me say that i love YA. my favorite Gaiman books are Coraline and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and i've lovingly dipped into Stroud, Aiken and Bellairs. i can hardly wait for The End of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

however, i must admit that i could not stand either Nix or Pullman. i liked Barker's Thief but not his Abarat.

so me, i treat YA books like any other "kind" of book: either the description on the back interests me enough for me to pick it up or it doesn't. and like any book in any genre, i don't really know if i'll like it until i start reading it.

of course there are fundamental differences between YA writing and "adult" writing that may play a part in that: "young adults", after all, can be a wholly different species from "adults" in terms of the sorts of things they are concerned with, the type of imagery, diction, etc. they enjoy, etc, etc... but these are all academic, things you can probably learn in any comprehensive lit course that includes "YA" (of course, the definition of "YA" and "children's lit" launches off on a whole other tangent, but lets leave that off for somewhere else). in the end, it's how you react as a reader to any particular work that matters. and that's something very difficult to predict, even when you aren't talking about YA.

or maybe it's a matter of simply admitting it: at some point, we all have to accept that we are, in fact, getting older. hehe.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

oops. sorry. i see i've rambled again.

Eldritch00 said...

Oh, not priggish at all, Skinny.

I did make the very mistake I was hoping to avoid: when I typed my comment, I was operating under the error that "Bas-Lag is in New Crobuzon," rather than the other way around. You've just made me aware that I actually got the geographical relationship between those two places "reversed." *hand-slap-forehead*

banzai cat said...

Woho! I'm gone for a day and now you guys are already fighting! :-D

Seriously, thanks for the comments. Like I mentioned in my post, I'm having a hard time crystalizing why I can't immerse myself with YA books as opposed to "adult" ones. Hopefully a little debate will see me through.

eldritch: Yep, the Reeve book is part of the Hungry Cities(?) trilogy. On the other hand, if you like, I can pass on to you my copy of TWOC. My heart sinks everytime I see it together with other Joyce books.

As for Scott Westerfield, yep, I also want to give his books a try as I especially like the concept of his Peeps. Unfortunately, it's only available in hardcover.

Hmmmm, does everyone like Barker's Thief of Always? Not that this is bad: that book's really good (despite the YA tag) so it's not surprising. On the other hand, I haven't tried his Abarat yet.

skinny: Hehe no worries. Ramble away!

Gotta eat lunch first so I can reply coherently to your comment...

banzai cat said...

Bloody internet does not want me to post, dammit!

skinny: Well, not really as I don't see myself as having outgrown YA books-- in fact, as much as possible I don't let the YA tag bother me. This is because for the simple reason that a lot of classic "adult" fantasy books have been coming out recently as YA books (for example, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, Meredith Ann Pierce's Darkangel trilogy, etc.)

Actually, like you, that's also how I decide to pick up a book-- whether it's YA or not. Either the description on the back interests me enough for me to pick it up or it doesn't. It's in the reading where I get that feeling.

To be exact, the newer crop of YA books have a different feel to them as compared to past now-regarded-as-YA books. I'm not exactly sure what it is: call it wordage, call it attention to detail, call it world-building. For example, a number of the new YA (including Pullman, Nix and the two books I just reviewed) concentrate quite exclusively on the details of a certain area (whether Pullman's Oxford, Reeve's mobile London or Oppel's airship Aurora). However, pull back and the background has a tendency to become cardboard-ish, as if they were just sets in a Hollywood movie.

It's that kind of feeling of surrealism I get when I read these YA books.

On the other hand, it could be that I'm (or we are all) getting older. The funny thing here is that YA books have a same theme that's quite common with a number of fantasy books-- i.e. the young unlikely hero-- and this has never bothered me when reading their more "adult" counterparts.

Der Fuhrer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Der Fuhrer said...

Haha. I'm 18 so yeah, I have the right to enjoy YA novels.

But really, I still prefer "adult" novels because their themes are more subversive and provocative. Just like what to expect from a HBO film.

I liked The Thief of Always (which seeds planted my being as a Clive Barker fan and BTW is Galilee any good?) and Coraline. I'm yet to try Isabel Allende's The City of Beasts.

Sometimes, YA fall flat because the themes are more grounded, which is not to say that I don't like restraint but YA themes are like PG-13 movies that could've gone more if it wasn't for the rating.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

df: bit of a hasty generalization there, buddy. adult book themes can be similarly "flat" and "grounded".

btw, i can't seem to find your blog...

as for Galilee, haven't read it but i hear it's like a soap opera-type family saga with Clivebarkerian sex.

bc: admit it, we're getting old! hehe. but seriously, most people in the YA range are more concerned with things like plot movement or characterization (hence the surplus of cartoonish grotesque and otherwise quirky characters in YA stories compared to adult works) than in, say, style or thematic "weight". as you grow, you get more inurred (god i hop i speld and usd that write) to a greater variety of experiences; you get used to them, so things fail to surprise or awe you as much as they used to; ergo, you start looking for other things. and these changes help define the differences between YA and "adult" books, and our responses to them with time.

and i see what you mean about the surrealism bit. but i think it's more a matter of exposure to certain YA books over others. The Hobbit, after all, is considered a YA book, and it's maddeningly detailed.

certainly more YA books than "adult" books will have that "cardboard" background (or even plot or character) feel, because the treatment will generally be to simplify at least one aspect of the book, or, if not simplify those aspects, then put the focus on one particular element or set of elements over others, resulting in much the same effect (only this time, the effect is an illusion of relativity). some protest that this is "talking down" to YAs, but really, i think it's more like "talking their language". and it isn't confined to YA books as i mentioned above, but it's more likely to be seen in YA books than in "adult" books.

banzai cat said...

fuhrer: Well, I've generally found Barker as a good buy though I haven't meself read Galilee. I guess depends on whether or not you like the topic.

skinny: Interesting points. I gotta take this one by one...

Regarding your first point, yeah, some grotesquerie may be evident with YA but given my experience, nothing as bad as say those I found in badly-written "adult" books. (And some "adult" books actually turn me off more as compared to YA books because I've been innured as you've said.

But it does seem that style and "weight" is not as evident in YA unless you count Patricia McKillip as YA. But refuting my own point, I think those "stylish" YA were actually originally released as "adult" before getting reprinted as YA.

Was The Hobbit really written as YA (or as a children's book)? I don't seem to remember that.

Your last point I will agree: there seems to be that focus which I found strange in reading. I wonder why do YA authors do this? On the other hand, I have to ask: why is this "talking their language"? Do you see young people nowadays as not being able to handle the different kinds of focus inherent in "adult" books?

banzai cat said...

Er, of course you explained why YA authors do this but still, I found it passing strange that they would consider this as "talking their own language". It doesn't pass my sensibility radar methinks.

Der Fuhrer said...

skinny: my bad. hehe. I forgot that most "adult" novels are the ones who are flat and dull.

http://annoymemous.blogspot.com

bc: yeah, The Hobbit was intended as a children's/YA book.

I've noticed that kids today have tendency to follow a reading fad. That is, most of the books they read are the ones everyone else is reading. Like Paolo Coelho and Dan Brown. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I've noticed that most of those books cater to the ADD generation and yes, focusing on a certain point of the story.

In DVC, the story focused more on the "secret".

Der Fuhrer said...

error: focuses on a certain point of the story.

Eldritch00 said...

BC, so does each Reeve book stand alone in itself, or do they end in cliffhangers that require the other books?

What was the problem with TWOC? And I may just take you up on your offer! Thanks!

Whichever of us gets started on Westerfeld first must tell the other about it. If I had money, I wouldn't mind springing for the hardcovers as they look rather nice.

(And I'm beginning to feel that paperbacks are no longer worth it at retail price...but that's another topic altogether, and one that I'm just at the moment rambling about...)

I do get the feeling that everyone who's read The Thief of Always likes it a great deal. I did, to the point where I felt a bit disappointed by Coraline, though that was also enjoyable in itself. I'm not sure why I keep drawing comparisons between those two.

Abarat was nice, but strangely, I don't feel compelled to jump into the second volume. If they're already all out, then I may splurge...and once again have to deal with making sure the formats are all the same. Yeesh, my obsessions!

Finally, I haven't read Galilee, although I have a copy and I'm rather interested. The few people I do know who like it really love it though and forcefully defend it as an underrated Barker novel.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

bc: not necessarily "not being able to handle adult issues" as, perhaps, "not being particularly interested in the same things adults are."

it isn't necessarily a matter of style, but a matter of focus for whatever style an author takes.

eld: i can see where you might be disappointed with coraline after reading thief. personally, however, i like coraline's relative simplicity. wider audience range (i.e., you can go a lot younger with coraline than with thief, speaking, of course, in generalities) for one thing. i have an affinity for these kinds of stories and the kind of style that goes with being that kind of storyteller, as may be evidenced by my preference for Lemony Snicket's books over, say, Harry Potter. (bad example really, but can't seem to think of one right now.)

to bring out a schism in the genre, this is, i suppose the difference between kid's books that appeal to adults and "true YA" books; a distinction people seem to be overlooking more and more these days.

banzai cat said...

fuhrer: Hmmm, I guess I remembered correctly but wasn't sure as my memory sucks nowadays.

And that's an interesting point you made on focusing on certain parts of the story. I'd look into it but that means I have to read up on my gf's Paulo Coelho to confirm. Can anybody verify this?

eldritch: Ooops, I forgot to answer your original query but couldn't get back online again. Despite being an internet company, our internet sucks.

Reeve's books stand alone individually though the books have a lot of background that's reliant on the previous volume.

As for TWOC, I thought the beginning was interesting but the latter half of the story bored the hell out of me as well as the climax. I suppose I expected more from Joyce (even his Indigo, with his weird "light is power" had a certain WTF factor that made it almost believable). Or maybe it was the cliche he used. I'd review it but that would mean making spoilers in order to explain why I didn't like it.

I've actually seen Westerfield's non-YA books around (his cyberpunk and space opera SF) but I haven't gotten around to getting 'em as I want to read his horror stuff first. And I could always borrow the hardbound from you. :-D

And is it considered blasphemous to say that I didn't finish Coraline because I couldn't retain enough attention on it?

skinny: Um, were you addressing the "adult" thing to me? :-) I'm getting really confused here because even your statement:

"it isn't necessarily a matter of style, but a matter of focus for whatever style an author takes."

didn't scan also! :-D

However, your statement to eldritch is quite true. I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell and he was elucidating on the main differences between Sesame Street and Blue's Clue, wherein the former was appreciated by adults also whereas the latter was for children primarily.

Der Fuhrer said...

have you guys watched "Steamboy?"

skinnyblackcladdink said...

df: to quote Little Nicky: no, i haven't. but i've heard good things...

bc: i was answering these questions:

why is this "talking their language"? Do you see young people nowadays as not being able to handle the different kinds of focus inherent in "adult" books?

i was saying that it isn't necessarily because they aren't "able" to handle an "adult" focus, but rather they are interested in different things, and writers of YA key into that.

if i may possibly add to your confusion, or toss some packed gunpowder into the flames, here's another semi-digression: i've noticed a tendency for younger readers and older adults to tend to like more similar things as opposed to "true YA" readers... for instance, i imagine more "older" readers and little kids picking-up, oh, say, Coraline or a book from A Series of Unfortunate Events than adolescents.

and no, regardless of what i may say here or elsewhere on the web, i don't think anything is blasphemy, so, yes, it's alright for you to dislike/not-be-able-to-remain-
attentive-to Coraline.

'sides, it's your blog yeah? heh.

Eldritch00 said...

I'm not big on anime, but I must admit I'm rather curious about Steamboy. That aside...

Every time I try to read these comments, my brain shuts down, perhaps partly because I haven't read much YA fiction lately.

I can't really say for certain whether there has been some kind of "talking down" at work these days, but I do remember those Newbery winners we had to read for school. They weren't exactly easy reads back then when compared to, say, Nancy Drew and Tom Swift (both of which I greatly enjoyed too).

This may or may not be related to the matter under discussion. If it's the latter, I beg your pardon!

It may also have to do with explicitly marketing certain books to kids. While The Hobbit, for instance, has a simpler language than the Lord of the Rings, I don't think the former was strongly geared "for kids." But I don't really know my Tolkien publishing history.

BC: Internet company? All this time, I thought you worked for a newspaper! Anyway...

Thanks for the tidbit on Reeve. I'm always curious about series and stuff, since I consider them a big investment, especially of time.

And thanks for the attempt to pinpoint what was wrong with TWOC. You don't have to do this, much less anytime soon, but I'd like to know what you've read by Joyce. I've enjoyed a handful of his shorts but have yet to read any of his novels. Indigo seemed interesting, though I was never able to buy a copy.

As for Westerfeld, I've been meaning to get into his non-YA books (if we could only use the term "adult books" without seeming to mean something else!) myself. Actually, from what I heard about
Evolution's Darling, it CAN be called an adult book in that sense. Is that copy still in Booktopia? I've long wanted to read that actually.

And no, it's not blasphemous to say you couldn't finish Coraline. While I did like that book a great deal, it's far from Gaiman's best work, I think.

banzai cat said...

fuhrer: Nup though I definitely want to check that out. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a good download on torrent and I don't want to buy it outright yet from my friend the dvd anime-seller.

skinny: Ah, okay thanks for the clarification. I suppose you may have a point there though it does seem confusing for me because I've always regarded myself as not having grown up (Peter Pan shouting, "I'll never grown up!"). However, I guess I can't escape adult sensibilities.

*expresses relief from escaping from the crazed mob of Coraline fans*

eldritch: Hehe Tom Swift. I don't suppose you about those Tom Swifties? But those were cool books, preferable to the Hardy Boys for me anyway.

As for The Hobbit, I agree-- I think that's where my doubt lies about its status as a YA book. But like you, I'm not sure meself.

(And yes, I work for an internet news company. To quote that familiar saying, di lang pampamilya, pang-isports pa!)

On Joyce, will try to see if I can do an assessment on my fave authors. Hopefully, I can also figure out why these authors rate so highly in my head.

Also, will check also if they have Westerfield's book in Booktopia later. *whoops in delight*

Eldritch00 said...

I've always regarded myself as not having grown up (Peter Pan shouting, "I'll never grown up!"). However, I guess I can't escape adult sensibilities.

Have I ever told you that I've always found Peter Pan rather disturbing? I've been on the hunt for psychosexual readings of the text; I'm quite definite it exists! Anyway, this reminded me of a Descendents song lyric: "Thou shalt not commit adulthood."

I think I was too young to be bothered by those Tom Swifties, although I was really more into Nancy Drew back then. I think "titian-haired" and "sleuth" were some of the words I tried so hard to include in conversation back then.

And since we're talking about children's authors, do you read Robert Westall? You might as well pick up those two volumes of his "best stories" in NBS-Cubao when you have the time. His stories are quite good, though the style takes some getting used to. I ask this, because Westall likes cats a lot.

Looking forward to your Joyce post sometime, and as for Evolution's Darling, I hope to hear about it as well. I will now see Booktopia's copy of it as having your name on it.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

eld: re: finding Peter Pan disturbing, you should probably read Alan Moore's Lost Girls. haven't read it myself, but from what i've heard, it suggests, at the very least, that you are not alone in the psychosexual view of Peter and Wendy.

while i agree that Coraline probably isn't Gaiman's best work, i actually like it best of all his works... right up there with Violent Cases and The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. which may say more about me than the actual work.

did i mention i'm quite taken by A Series of Unfortunate Events?

bc: i should probably stop insisting on the "grown-up" versus "non-grown-up" sensibilities thing, then, if it causes confusion, but it's only a kind of reference, i.e., those are the standards that seem to apply to a significant enough portion of the populace as to provide a kind of status quo, and seem to best elucidate certain questions raised by the discussion at hand.

Eldritch00 said...

Skinny:

My friend-boss-colleague highly recommended Alan Moore's Lost Girls to me, too, and perhaps even as a response to the same sentiment about how much I find Peter Pan disturbing in a psychosexual way.

My favorite Gaimans are usually in the short stories and the comics.

banzai cat said...

eldritch: So I don't suppose you've seen that website of the guy running around in a Peter Pan suit and proclaiming of 'happy thoughts'? Disturbing, I tell you.

And there really is a term 'titian-haired'? If I ever Beavis, I'd be snickering already! ;-)


Hmmm... I haven't heard of Robert Westall, so will go check him out.

skinny: Heh I heard so much about Moore's controversial Lost Girls that I figure its sale will attract a lot of attention already. On the other hand, I suppose I should admit that aside from Sandman, his short stories and his novels, I haven't read much of Gaiman. Go me. :-p (Ah, I see eldritch is much the same.)

Ditto with Lemony Snicket (though have you checked out works under his true name, Daniel Handler?).

Don't worry about the "grown-up" thing: I see your point. Still, it's hard realizing that I'm barred from enjoying a certain number of books because of my age. Heck, I can read a romance novel or chick lit and won't have problems enjoying it; but a YA book? Sheesh.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

bc: haha, i wouldn't say you're barred. and hey, what the heck is wrong with chick lit? hehe. i kid. i've never tried one, so i wouldn't know.

i really want to get a copy of Handler's Adverbs, but it's relatively low on my priorities list, so i don't think i'll be getting it unless i find it in a secondhand shop or something. at least, not anytime soon.

eld: yeah, i think Gaiman's at his best with short-form fic, not to say that his novels aren't awesome.

have you read his Hellblazer issue, "Hold Me"? possibly one of the best John Constantine stories, and wonderfully illustrated by Dave McKean, no less.

Eldritch00 said...

BC: I've seen that site. It's disturbing, yes, but more because you want to drown him in fairy dust. *evil laugh*

Yep, "titian-haired" was how they described Nancy Drew. I think I was too young to think Beavis about it, but it sure does conjure up memories of a weird schoolboy crush I had on the, um, sleuth.

Robert Westall has tons of short stories out, some were kids in wartime stories, some were fantastic (and it's the ghost stories I'm interested in), and some even a combination of the two. There are two volumes of his "best" available at NBS-Cubao, and another collection called Break of Dark that I'm curious about as well. Blitzcat is another title that pops up every so often.

BC and Skinny:

I haven't read Lemony Snicket or the stuff under Daniel Handler either.

aside from Sandman, his short stories and his novels, I haven't read much of Gaiman. Go me. :-p (Ah, I see eldritch is much the same.)

But that's most of his work, isn't it? I've only read three novels: Coraline, Anansi Boys, and Neverwhere.

I've enjoyed them all, but there's sheer power in some of his short fiction, and that's where it really hits me. I prefer it to his comic work even, I think.

I've yet to read "Hold Me," though I've been meaning to.

Eldritch00 said...

An example of how easy it is to draw from Peter Pan a disturbing interpretation? Last three paragraphs.

banzai cat said...

skinny: Mmmm, I haven't tried chick lit meself but I've read a couple of romance books. ;-)

On Handler, I must admit that I'm he's low on the totem pole of to-buy since I have too much on my plate right now. *gulp!*

On Constantine, have you checked out the latest novel by John Shirley? I like the author but am not sure if the comic book translates well to book form.

eldritch: Heh I prefered the Bobbsey Twins meself. Don't ask no questions, I won't tell you no lies. ;-)

I actually agree with a lot of people on their assessment that Gaiman's short stories (and comic books) are his best work yet despite the fact that I have most of his novels. I suppose he really works best in his short form. Even American Gods could be seen as a compilation of short stories. It's only with Anansi Boys that he seems to have improved.

And Peter Pan... heh. I thought that people will always find a reason to justify their darkest secrets.