"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Last Temptation (Neil Gaiman)

I promise that this will be my last graphic novel book review for a little while.  I'm sure you guys are getting sick of them.  But, I just had to go on a little mini-rant about how awesome this book was.  First, it was written by Neil Gaiman, who writes nothing but awesome, except for his Sandman series, and possibly Stardust.  I don't remember much of that, except I didn't like it.  Second, it includes Alice Cooper!  That's right!  The Last Temptation was actually written in conjunction with Alice Cooper's concept album of the same name.  So, yay!

The story is about Steven, a high school kid who follows a creepy showman (who looks a hell of a lot like ol' Alice) into an abandoned theatre for a once-in-a-lifetime performance.  While there, the showman invites him to join the show...permanently.  And, being the charming master of dark creepy things that he is, the showman allows him some time to think things through.  He offers him a life of fun and excitement, free from pain and responsibility and growing old.  And in return, all Steven needs to give up is his potential.

It's a creepy story, certainly.  But, it was fun to read.  And it combined one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite musicians.  I never thought I'd pick up a Neil Gaiman book with Alice Cooper in it.  And I found it completely by accident, as I was checking in books at work. 

The version I was reading was in black and white, but there is apparently also a color version out.  I'll be trying to get my hands on a copy of that next.

The best part for me, however, was the concept album, The Last Temptation, that went along with the book.  I read the book first, then got the CD through inter-library loan (ILL).  I won't go into details here, but the music was WONDERFUL.  Gaiman suggests pairing the two together for the ultimate reading experience, but by the time I figured out that there was an album, I was already too committed to "starting this book today, dammit!"  
(Sometimes, I fear I take after Lost in Space's Dr. Smith.  "Smith!  Don't eat that!  You don't even know what it is!"  "Oh, nonsense, it looks delicious.  And if it were poison, I evolved palate would be able to detect it".  Or, in my case: "Em!  Don't read that yet!  You have to wait until the CD comes." "Oh, nonsense, this book looks awesome!  It won't be a big deal at all."  And maybe it was.  I won't really know.  If you do the "correct" thing and pair the two up, please let me know how it affected your reading experience.)

Overall, it was a fun book.  Was it the greatest graphic novel I've read?  No.  But, it was fun.  And that's really what's important to me.  Yeah, sometimes I felt it was a bit hokey.  And the "Lost in America" sequence dragged a bit, because the dialogue was straight from the song lyrics.  Nothing wrong with that, per se, but have you ever heard someone "say" song lyrics?  It just doesn't sound right.  And it doesn't read right, either.  But, the story was cool in that sort of vaguely creepy atmospheric way.  It reminded me of the time I tried to read Something Wicked This Way Comes, and then had to return it to the library because I ran out of renewals.  Or even of the feeling in the air at the end of September to late October when you sit outside in a lawn chair watching the leaves swirl around while reading books about vampires and other bogeymen.  Keeping that in mind, I plan on picking it up again this October.  Hopefully it'll be a fun read.

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