1. Introducing someone to Katniss Everdeen

During a week when it seemed all people talked about was the clinically-depressed, teenaged, so-called heroine of the other “great young adult series” who confuses true love with being beaten within an inch of her life on the night she loses her virginity, I was thrilled when my best friend cracked open The Hunger Games as soon as he unwrapped my gift, even more so when he was ready for Katniss’s next adventure two days later! I can’t wait for him to finish the series so we can talk about Suzanne Collins’s skillful ability to create a character is both complex and relatable while maintaining a realistic love triangle across three novels that take place in a world not unlike our own.

2. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s unlocking of the moon

Contained within the much-delayed one-shot of Hill and Rodriguez’s Locke & Key, the short “Open the Moon” is a much needed respite from the heavy suspense of the series’s penultimate tale. While the current “Clockworks” arc is heavy on the flashbacks and the exposition (even only two issues in), I wouldn’t have expected Hill and Rodriguez to tell another historical story for this break, but I’m glad they did. Their sixteen-page work invokes both the art of Maurice Sendak and the writing of Ray Bradbury while crafting a contemplative and touching take on the afterlife that had me in tears by the final panel. If you’re a fan of LOST or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and haven’t been reading this series, do it. Now. The first four collected-edition graphic novels are available at your local comic book store.

3. John Twelve Hawks taking me to hell

Keeping with the theme of the afterlife, I’ve finally gotten back into a fiction mood and am glad that I chose The Dark River, the second of Hawks’s Fourth Realm Trilogy as my point of return. Picking up a few months after The Traveler, River continues Maya and Gabriel’s opposition of the Vast Machine, the private and governmental total information systems that monitor every aspect of our lives. It also further explores the interrelationship between all the world’s religions and the six (spiritual? real? we don’t know yet) realms touched on in the first novel while further explaining Jesus, Gandhi, and Buddha’s roles as Travelers between the realms as well. The Dark River also introduces Mrs. Brewster, who has the potential to become my new favorite villain.

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