This last year was a challenge. Our current way of living has been shaken up; with its changes came radio silence for any of my planned articles, and for that I apologize. However, there were two series I was keen on publishing for 2020--Spooky Scary Comic Books and Bookends. One of them was the start of my archive. The other is a nice recap of some of the books I've read in the year, and there was plenty of time to read during the quarantine. If anything, consider this a time capsule of a single 2020 experience. I encourage everyone who reads this article to comment below on what kind of media they consumed in this past year.
In lieu of sorting books by collection, I want to tackle this through similar themes. Let's start with a story about a girl coping with a difficult time through the books she collects--
There were only a handful of books I took home from the library before we closed for quarantine, and The Book Thief was one of them. It tackles a familiar setting in historical fiction with the unfamiliar element of having Death be the narrator, who gives these characters a joyful yet tragic humanity. The illustrations of Max's stories tell a hauntingly beautiful story of his experience as a Jewish man in hiding. Liesel's collection of books doubled as mementos of the events unfolding around her. It's a story with heavy subject material, discussing World War II and mortality. I recommend it to readers who can tackle a 500-page book set during World War II Germany that discusses the power of words, the stories that connect us, and quiet rebellion.
A series that also illustrates rebellion in dire times is Wild's End, a trio of graphic novels detailing an alien invasion in the English countryside. I'm not sure why I read stories about seemingly world-ending events while the pandemic raged on. Maybe it was a way of coping with our situation. Maybe it felt good to see the citizens fight against an alien threat that looked like robotic bacteriophage. Maybe I just have a soft spot for animal characters living in pastural villages. Whatever it was, the timing of reading this series could not have been more apt. There is gun violence and some colorful language, so I'd recommend this series for teens and older patrons. Hoopla's listing is a little tricky, so I'll provide links for the volumes below:
Vol. 1- First Light
Vol. 2- The Enemy Within
Vol. 3- Journey's End
Continuing the robotic threats to society is Metropolis, a book written in tandem with the silent film of the same name. Translated from its original German, it's an early piece of 20th century science fiction that has influenced both film and literature of the same genre. The incorporation of religious imagery gives contrast between the celestial God of the church and the manmade gods of Metropolis--The father who looms over a city he's created, where the denizens feed off the work of the people slaving underground. The scientist commissioned to create a android by the father, only to sabotage the plans out of spite and jealousy. The son who wants to understand the underground workers and make peace between the classes. The woman who petitions her people's plight, and the creation made to mock her campaign and destroy the city. We have a copy of the film available to check out, but while it's the most accurate cut of the film, it's still incomplete. I encourage you to read it if you're interested in how the whole story unfurls.
However, not all the robots I read about were malicious. The Wild Robot is a truly charming book about a misplaced automaton adapting and thriving on an island devoid of civilization. She not only gains the trust of the resident fauna, she creates a found family with an orphaned gosling, and the bond is truly sweet. Its sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes, continues immediately after the events of the first book, and to detail what happens means partially spoiling the plot of the first, so I won't. However, I will recommend it to anyone who likes books about robots, nature, community, and finding your own sense of purpose.
Thank you so much for reading!