realism

The Harlem Hellfighters

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Educators and researchers: let’s all heave a collective sigh of disappointment that this is not truly a work of nonfiction. Max Brooks testifies that he conducted a lot of research and worked on this story for a long time, both before…

Earthling

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Whether it be in Germany or anywhere else, the suburbs seems like the perfect setting for a story that examines alienation, malaise, and uncertainty. In Earthling, Aisha Franz explores this subject through the stories of a young girl named Mädchen, her older sister,…

Girls Und Panzer, vols. 1 & 2

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Most high school girls spend their time studying, making friends, or carousing with cute boys. The girls of Ooarai Academy, however, have chosen to enlist in the school’s revitalized tankery club to practice World War II-style tank combat with reverence and…

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

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Assassination Classroom is exquisitely bizarre. One day, an alien being who looks like Pac-Man with tentacles destroys the Moon and threatens to do the same to Earth. Thanks to mysterious circumstances and an agreement with the Japanese government, the alien postpones his…

Sorako

Sorako

Ten quiet slice-of-life vignettes comprise Sorako, a thin yet evocative volume published by GEN Manga. Each story features a young woman struggling through the ennui typical of the transition between teenage life and adulthood. While each story is independent of the others, the titular character…

All Star

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The year is 1998. In Major League Baseball, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are beginning their race to break the long-standing home run record, Bill Clinton is being questioned about a girl named Monica, and in rural Vermont, senior, Carl…

Gast

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Helen has just moved to rural Wales with her parents. She’s quiet and solitary, but she isn’t shy. She’s the kind of child whose mother must ask her not to bring any more dying animals to the house. Helen loves watching nature…

All You Need Is Kill

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One of my favorite video games is a dark fantasy role playing game called Dark Souls. Developed by From Software, the game is notorious for its extreme difficulty. While most games take the time to teach users the rules and controls,…

JUDGE, vols. 1-4

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Yoshiki Tonogai has returned to torture teens once more in this judicial follow-up to Doubt. Previously, Tonogai’s victims were united by their interest in a mobile phone game called Rabbit Doubt. Their love of the game inevitably doomed them to participate in a real life version, created by a…

This One Summer

This One Summer

Rose is just an ordinary girl with an average life and regular parents. Every year, her family travels to Awago Beach for a summer filled with sun and surf, accompanied by her younger friend, Windy. But this year, everything feels different, including Rose herself. She’s begun to notice things she hasn’t seen…

Doubt, vol. 2

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Warning: this review contains spoilers. A good mystery has to end on a high note. Ideally, all the clues scattered throughout the narrative should come together to form a plausible finale. Unfortunately, Doubt leaves a great deal to be desired as its chaotic and…

Doubt, vol. 1

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Doubt, vol. 1 is a lengthy whodunit that pits six teenagers against each other in a life-or-death situation modeled after a popular cell phone game. The manga calls to mind character-driven thrillers like Saw, building an intricate mystery and connecting the victims beyond…

The Heart of Thomas

Heart of Thomas

Moto Hagio helped define the Boys’ Love genre back in the 1970s as one of the “Showa 24,” female mangaka who told the kinds of stories they wanted to read and, in doing so, jump-started shojo publishing. This epic tale,…

This One Summer

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Every year Rose and her parents go to a lake house on Awago beach. The summer is normally full of swimming, campfires, and other warm-weather fun with her summertime best friend Windy. However, this year is different. Rose’s parents are…

Native American Classics

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The 18 entries in this anthology were originally written by Native American authors in the early 19th and 20th centuries, and they are adapted here by contemporary authors and illustrators with various tribal affiliations. The poems, stories, and folklore retellings vary in…

The Reason for Dragons

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Wendell has it rough. He’s a skinny, nerdy teen surrounded by beefy, hyper-masculine types, like his well-meaning stepfather, Ted, or the bullies from school. Trying to prove himself on their terms is hard. When he attempts to learn the workings…