a woman with crossed arms leans against a bookcase in a shop
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Bookshop, or: Shelf-Employed

Hallelujah, it’s Feminist February! Not only is this month a celebration of ladies in film, but it’s also the birth month of the Blog Collab! This week, we vicariously fulfill our dreams of opening the quaintest fucking bookshop ever to exist.

The Film:

The Bookshop

The Premise:

A woman in 1950s England faces local opposition to her plans to open and operate her own smalltown bookshop.

The Ramble:

Recently widowed Florence Green is devastated by her husband’s death. However, as stiff upper lip is the English way, she tries to make the best of things by achieving her lifelong dream of opening a bookshop.

a woman reads alone in a field near the beach on a cloudy day

In order to do so, Florence must overcome a surprising amount of opposition from the members of her sleepy coastal town. Only one person in town seems to be much of a reader, so the bank finds little reason to believe her venture will be a solid investment. This leaves Florence to rub elbows at fancy rich people parties which, in true book nerd fashion, she is painfully terrible at carrying off.

Unwittingly, Florence’s bookshop plans have set up queen bee of the town Violet as her archnemesis. Violet has grand plans of her own for the historic building that happens to be Florence’s home: she envisions a grand arts center, despite the small town not having much art and culture to go around.

Even with the scheming of Violet and her toady Milo, Florence manages to convert her home into a cozy little bookshop. The shop is a true labor of love as Florence is the only employee until she hires an assistant, 11-year-old Christine. Though Christine gives zero fucks about reading, she’s nevertheless a dedicated and hardworking employee. The two bond over their determination to keep the bookshop alive and thriving.

a girl looks at postcards with interest while a woman observes with crossed arms

Meanwhile, Brundish, the only reader in town becomes more and more invested in Florence’s success. In addition to being the only game in town, Florence has the knack for tracking down the perfect book for Brundish. After introducing him to Ray Bradbury, she asks for his opinion on selling Lolita in her shop despite its questionable morality.

an older man talks to the camera from behind several piles of books

Deciding to go all-in for Lolita, Florence stocks 250 copies and scandalizes the entire town. Has she finally gone too far? It seems likely when Florence is forced to close the doors on the shop. Though Brundish stands up for her against Violet, in a tragic twist, Florence ends up losing her last remaining ally.

Is there any hope left for Florence and her little bookshop?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

As a feminist being into it when ladies are small business owners, I wanted to like this. As a book person, I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to like this. Florence is basically living my dream life here with her small bookshop in a beautiful little coastal town. But honestly, most of this movie is boring AF and I couldn’t even get invested in the whole cute little bookshop fantasy. And this time it’s not the chemical inbalances in my brain because I have pills for that.

The characters are not super compelling either. Even Bill Nighy’s character is just kind of blah, and that makes it difficult to invest in any of the character relationships. The relationship between Florence and Christine is supposed to be the heart of the film, but it falls flat and fails to create the wistful ending it aims for.

Not to be too spoiler-y, but this film could also be called Christine: That Escalated Quickly.

The landscape and adorable little shops and cottages are lovely, though.

Would my blog wife invest in this one or scheme to shut it down? Read her review here to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Jane Austen Book Club, or: You Don’t Talk About Book Club

Once again, we’re doing what we want on the blog this month.  This time around, we’re heading to California for a comedy of manners with plenty of relationship drama and connections to 19th-century classics of English literature.

The Film:

The Jane Austen Book Club

The Premise:

I sometimes don’t know if you really want me to state the obvious and/or if you don’t 100% understand how film titles usually work.

The Ramble:

In Sacramento, California, a host of seemingly unconnected characters lead rather unglamorous lives encountering everyday annoyances.  Unknowingly, they will all be drawn together by Jane Austen.  Book Club.

They are:

  • Bernadette, founder of the book club and divorcee who has been married 6 times
  • Sylvie, recently separated from her husband after a shocking revelation
  • Jocelyn, Sylvie’s bestie and perpetually single dog breeder
  • Allegra, Sylvie’s daughter and a born risk-taker
  • Prudie (Emily  Blunt), a French teacher feeling bored and dissatisfied with her marriage
  • Grigg, sci-fi nerd and the only male member of the club
Two women sit in a train station, eating ice cream at a counter.
The Ice Cream and Isak Dinesen Club wasn’t quite as catchy.

After Sylvie’s husband discloses an ongoing affair, her friends attempt desperately to cheer her up.  Her daughter Allegra moves back in with her, having recently split up with her girlfriend anyway.  In a stroke of genius, Bernadette proposes a book club to distract Sylvie after encountering a distraught Prudie.  The book club may also help Jocelyn feel better, who recently held a funeral for one of her dogs (in an unexpected connection to last week’s film, Mr. Roosevelt).

By chance, Jocelyn meets Grigg at a conference center and inducts him into the book club.  Jocelyn recommends Austen to Grigg, while Grigg suggests Ursula K. LeGuin (bittersweet as I learned she passed away earlier today just prior to writing this post).

A man and woman gaze longingly at the shelves of a bookstore.
BOOK POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORN.

As you have likely guessed, the 6 members of the book club discuss each of Austen’s 6 novels, discovering unexpected parallels between the works of fiction and their own lives.

Jocelyn, who invited Grigg to the book club to set him up with Sylvie, is very clearly the Emma of our film.  She begins to regret pushing Grigg and Sylvie together when she starts to develop feelings for him, but stubbornly carries on.

Sylvie and Allegra end up living their own version of Sense & Sensibility, with Sylvie as the voice of reason and Allegra as the reckless romantic.  Though she tries to move on, Sylvie still loves her husband and finds it difficult to end their marriage.  Meanwhile, Allegra is off skydiving, avoiding commitments, and meeting ladies.

A woman reads aloud from a Jane Austen novel while lying in bed, her teenage daughter next to her.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that it’s more fun to watch adaptations loosely based on Austen novels than to actually read the books.

Prudie’s life ends up very similar to Persuasion when she seems ready to give up on her marriage in favor of a fling with a student who does quite a strong smoldering stare.  Like Anne Elliot, Prudie realizes she does love the man she’s rejected…but is the damage too great for her to repair?

As the book club approaches its final novel, tensions rise and personalities clash.  After Allegra falls while climbing a rock wall (a problem I am unlikely to ever relate to), the book club holds a meeting in her hospital room.  When a big fight erupts on several fronts, the book club and the friendships holding it together are in jeopardy.  Has Jane Austen broken up the band?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The relationships between the characters are great, and the idea of the book club is quite sweet.  Though the film clearly wants a nice happy ending, it does capture the group’s dynamic in a mostly realistic way–though the book club members support each other, there is still gossip behind each other’s backs and some rather petty fights.  At the end of the day, though, the relationships between women are the driving force of this film as they care for and heal each other.

That being said, I found some of the characters insufferable.  Prudie and Allegra both annoyed the bejeezus out of me, mostly because both of their characters make choices that are painfully terrible and may have negative consequences for others.  I absolutely loved Bernadette and would’ve completely supported a movie that was 75% about her.

This is a light-hearted movie akin to a soothing cup of tea–which, coincidentally goes along perfectly with a good book.

Would my blog wife watch this one again or just read the book?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Madame Bovary, or: Arsenic and Gold Plates

November is the month of love on the blog–specifically love for the Blog Collab and our partnership.  In line with age-old tradition, our theme for this month revolves around choosing films that remind us of each other.  This week is Christa’s pick, and I think I’ve done well for myself if period dramas are the films immediately associated with me.

The Film:

Madame Bovary (2014)

The Premise:

France.  Extramarital affairs.  Massive debts as a result of too many gold encased centerpieces.  You know the drill.

The Ramble:

If 150+ years isn’t long enough to catch up on the basic plot of this story, this film considerately drops a few hints right away that it doesn’t end super well for the titular Madame Bovary.  Guess what?  Being a middle class married woman in the 19th century French countryside isn’t usually the most fun in literature.

Short diversion:  though set in France, this adaptation feels English AF, and the accents are confusing.  We have pseudo-French, British, American, and a few I couldn’t identify super easily.  Call me old-fashioned, but I want to hear actors in a French story at least make an attempt to put on a terrible French accent.

Returning to our story–almost immediately after her education in what looks like the world’s most boring martial arts school (but is actually a French convent), Emma marries a youngish doctor and moves to a small town outside of Rouen.  Everyone is stoked about the good match she’s made and predicts she’ll enjoy a comfortable, quiet life with her husband.  A ha ha.  Ha.

A man and woman ride through the French countryside on a horse-drawn buggy.
They see me rollin’…

For whatever reason, Paul Giamatti has a small role in this as a pharmacist/unintentional wingman for Emma.  He introduces Emma to a young legal clerk, Leon, with the dubious honor of being the last romantic in France.  Though Emma is really into this guy, the most scandalous thing she’s willing to do is walk slowly through a golden field with him.  That seems to be the end of that (at least for now).

A man and woman walk through a field together.
Period drama requirements satisfied in this scene:  bonnets, sideburns, symbolically wild/flowy hair on men, walking in fields.

Bored with the countryside, Emma tries to convince her husband to move to a city with more excitement or at least some more dudes to scope out.  Sorry, Emma–not going to happen.  Her only consolation is buying expensive shit on credit so she’ll have a shiny new wardrobe and extravagant decor.

After some time, Emma meets a marquis at a really fancy fox hunting party (which also makes this story feel even more fucking English).  Though initially Emma only offers friendship to the Marquis, she becomes tired with the constant disappointment that is life and begins an affair with him.  Eventually, Emma plans to run away to Paris with the Marquis, but…that doesn’t work out very well for her.  She does get some apricots out of it, though.

A woman stands in front of a table filled with food, reading a letter.
Break-up note accompanied by food is…not the worst idea, actually.

Luckily, Leon shows up again around this time.  However, Emma has also amassed much more debt than her husband can ever pay off by this point.  Unless Emma can rustle up 10,000 francs, she will lose everything.  Guess who’s there for her in her hour of need?

Spoiler:  it rhymes with marsenic.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I do always love the scenery, costumes, and symbolism of a period drama.  The sweeping landscape shots are beautiful, though (again), there’s something about all of this that feels so English.

However, we’re sorely missing a glimpse into Emma’s inner workings.  We see her reacting to feelings of emptiness and boredom without understanding where these feelings come from or what drives her to spending money and conducting affairs.  She’s also described as intelligent yet overly romantic, but neither of these characteristics shines through.  In this adaptation, Emma is actually somewhat boring herself and honestly not the brightest.  As a result, there is very little redeeming about her character, and it’s difficult to be sad when she meets an unhappy end.

At a certain point, this film ends up feeling like it’s crossing off items on the period drama checklist:  furtive glances at church, melancholy walks in the countryside, forbidden meetings at night.  You can get all that and more from so many other period dramas, in addition to more fully developed characters and deeper significance (plus less confusing accents).

Would Christa plate this one in gold or send it away to walk alone in the woods?  Find out in her review here!

a person sits on a bench reading next to a stand that contains 15 cubes filled with books
Book Reviews, books

Summer Is for Comics

Earlier this month, NPR released the results of their summer comics and graphic novel poll.

I could honestly die a happy woman because My Favorite Thing Is Monsters made the list, along with Through the Woods and Bitch Planet.  But it’s me, so obviously I have thoughts about the list and some favorites that didn’t make the cut.

In somewhat particular order, here is my addendum of 12 favorite graphic novels I love just as much, whether they receive NPR recognition or not:

  1. Asterios Polyp (David Mazzucchelli)
    4070095
    The tragic story of a pretentious professor of architecture whose designs have never been built.  Somehow he still manages to be sympathetic and human if not especially likeable. With the added bonus of beautiful illustrations, ghosts of dead twins, and more parallels to Greek mythology than you can shake a stick at.
  2. Berlin (Jason Lutes)
    438068
    Not least because I’ve been waiting for vol 3 for 9 years.  NINE.  (In his latest interview, Lutes claimed the last volume should be out next year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.)  Striking black-and-white illustrations with keen attention to period detail combine with memorable characters to create a compelling story.  Silvia the communist street brawler is my favorite (of course).
  3. Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes (Mary and Bryan Talbot)
    Dotter of Her Father's Eyes
    Scholar Mary Talbot and her cartoonist husband tell a story that works as both a biographical portrait of Joyce and personal memoir.  Talbot draws parallels to Joyce’s troubled relationship with his daughter and her own difficult relationship with her father, a renowned Joycean scholar.
  4. Ethel & Ernest (Raymond Briggs)
    402252
    Though The Snowman is his most famous work, this biography of Briggs’s parents is my favorite of his works.  Ethel and Ernest seem to be the only unchanging fixtures as time passes in 20th century London.  This quiet portrait of everyday life for a middle class London family is fascinating and exactly the kind of history I love to read about.
  5. Giant Days (John Allison)
    Giant Days #19
    Funny and touching story about a group of friends navigating their way through university.  Be warned this gets way too real at times as the characters face disappointment, failure, and some steep learning curves on the way to adulthood…but at the end of the day, the characters’ relationships are there to help them bounce back.
  6. The Fade Out (Ed Brubaker)
    23093372This 1940s noir-style story of murder and the seedy underbelly of Hollywood glam makes this so far up my street it’s not even funny.  The story begins with the murder of an actress, but of course we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on the shady goings-on underneath the glitz of show business.
  7. Super Spy, Mind MGMT, and pretty much anything else by Matt Kindt
    589072
    His illustrations and inking are gorgeous, and things are never as they seem in his work. Frequently his stories revolve around tough ladies in espionage dealing with a gritty, unglamorous reality—my favorite kind.
  8. Widdershins (Kate Ashwin)
    18710780
    Magic in a Regency England setting with a series of sarcastic badass ladies and appropriately incompetent men!  This webcomic is such a delight to read and is all free online.
  9. The Green River Killer (Jonathan Case)
    Green River Killer
    I was reluctant to pick this up because I find a lot of true crime stories sleazy and just badly written. Case avoids sensationalizing the story here (as much as possible), taking time to examine the investigation and its toll on the police force.  I would add The New Deal and anything else by Case as well—I have yet to read a book of his I haven’t enjoyed.
  10. Shutter (Joe Keatinge)
    23093369
    This is mostly here because I adore the talking cat alarm clock that keeps our protagonist company and I really need one of my own.  Also noteworthy are the LGBTQ characters and their story lines in this fast-paced comic whose many twists and turns will keep you guessing.
  11. Princeless:  Raven the Pirate Princess (Jeremy Whitley)
    28434612
    Though I haven’t kept up with this series, volume 1 is hilarious and makes a deliberate effort to represent women of color, multiple sexual orientations, and various body types.  The commentary here is smart and so relevant…plus who would turn down a story about an all-female pirate crew?
  12. Alabaster: Wolves (Caitlin Kiernan)
    16136945
    An albino teen is guided by angels to destroy vampires, demons, and all sorts of sinister creatures in the swamps of an eerily empty South Carolina.  Things get interesting right away as our protagonist begins to doubt her guardian angel and is drawn to a girl who may be something other than she appears.  Vol 1 is a compelling mixture of action and eerie silences in a decidedly Southern Gothic tradition.

Needless to say, my TBR list has now grown to an unmanageable length thanks to all of the titles include on NPR’s list (including Blacksad, a noir about a black cat PI?!?!?).  What are you reading this summer?

Cover photo by Laetitia Buscaylet on Unsplash
cover art for the book Brighton Rock
Book Reviews, books

Book Review: Brighton Rock

I almost bought a copy of this novel in Brighton, which would have been perfect, but I hated the cover.  Apparently it’s a thing to have cartoony characters on the cover of this novel, which makes no sense because, in true Graham Greene fashion, the closest it comes to humor is bitterness.

There are some spoilers in this review…but this novel is nearly 80 years old and has been made into 2 different movies.  At a certain point you might want to just accept you’re never going to read it.

Brighton Rock

Graham Greene

Total pages:  247

Important note:  this is connected to another Graham Greene novel, A Gun for Sale.  However, I maintain it’s really not necessary to read the other one before this.  But who knows, I could be missing information that would bring new meaning to my reading of Brighton Rock.

Other note:  Brighton rock does not refer to a geological formation (as I believed for a really long time), but a candy stick you can buy in every.  Single.  Shop in Brighton.  The stick reads “Brighton rock” on both ends and all the way through.

a piece of Brighton Rock, a striped stick of candy wrapped in a label that reads "Brighton rock"

Our story follows the leader of a 1930s Brighton gang in the aftermath of a murder.  Pinkie Brown is a cold, ruthless 18-year-old psychopath whose grey eyes give “an effect of heartlessness like an old man’s in which human feeling has died.”  (God damn, Graham Greene.)  Following the murder of his gang leader, Pinkie is in charge of those loyal enough to remain, and his first order of business is vengeance.

Pinkie’s target is Fred Hale, a man who betrayed the gang leader in some way, presumably (I can’t claim I understand how gangs work at all).  Just before Fred’s murder (spoiler, but I don’t think Fred even makes it to page 30), he encounters the easy-going Ida, whose bosom is described in virtually every chapter.  When Fred disappears, Ida is extremely suspicious and refuses to rest until she discovers the truth about what’s happened.

As Ida pursues Pinkie, Pinkie pursues Rose, a teenager who unknowingly holds a key piece of evidence that could implicate Pinkie in murder.  Even though the idea of romance is utterly repellent to Pinkie and he sees the traditional path of marriage and children as a slow death, he convinces Rose he loves her in order to dissuade her from talking to anyone about what she knows.  Is he willing to sacrifice his “bitter virginity” (whatever the fuck that means), his freedom, and even his eternal soul in order to keep Rose quiet?

Like basically every other Graham Greene novel ever written, this one is highly critical of the Catholic Church.  Pinkie and Rose are both Catholic, in contrast with Ida, who isn’t religious but spiritual and has a few weird superstitions about ghosts and Ouija boards.  As a child, Pinkie wanted to be a priest, and Greene draws parallels between his contempt for the rest of humanity, indifference to suffering, and disdain of sex and romantic love with the Catholic Church.  Greene also prods quite a bit at the two Catholic characters’ willingness to sin despite the promise of eternal damnation, going so far as to say “a Catholic is more capable of evil than anyone” (246).  (Ha ha, since this isn’t an English paper, I can end this paragraph with a quote and refuse to offer any explanation whatsoever!)

For some reason I didn’t get into his the first time around I tried it, but I LOVED it this time.  It’s outrageously cynical, and the only novel I can think of in which a candy tourists buy in Brighton is used as a metaphor for the inescapability of human nature.

Fair warning that you’ll have to deal with a reasonable amount of dated ‘30s slang that feels made up, esp. re:  women.  (Both “buer” and “polony” get thrown around A LOT and I still don’t fully understand what either means.  I just kept thinking of Polonius from Hamlet and also Thelonious Monk every time someone used the word “polony.”)

The end also gets a bit melodramatic, and it’s hard not to imagine physically throwing Rose.  She’s an idiot.  Most frustrating is that Ida, the only likeable character, gets quite a lot of focus at the beginning of the novel, but then Pinkie receives more and more attention.  I was so excited when I thought (however briefly) this was actually a female-centric Greene novel.

My favorite quote is also a good test of whether you might enjoy this one or find it too dark and cynical:  “That was what happened to a man in the end: the stuffy room, the wakeful children, the Saturday night movements from the other bed. Was there no escape––anywhere––for anyone? It was worth murdering a world” (92).  Chills, you guys.

5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The Spectator’s review on the back of the book says of Greene, “Entertaining he may always be; comforting, never,” which I think is the most accurate description of his novels I’ve ever read.  (And at the same time seems a bit like backhanded praise and also possibly written by Yoda?)  I can’t think of another writer quite like Greene; perhaps Cormac McCarthy in terms of bleakness?  John Le Carré in terms of suspense and a darker take on spying (as in The Quiet American)?  William Golding for shared views on human nature?  He’s not quite like any other writer I can think of, which is why I love him so much.

Btw, there’s apparently a 1947 film version that scandalized the nation for being too violent, which I cannot WAIT to see.

cover art for the book The Queen of the Tearling
Book Reviews, books

Book Review: Queen of the Tearling/Invasion of the Tearling

I’m combining my review for the first 2 books in Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling series mostly because I can’t distinguish what happened in each one anymore (spoilers for both follow).

Queen of the Tearling (434 pages)

Basic plot follows Kelsea Raleigh, who has just turned 19, which obv means she is old enough to be in charge of a country.  She will be Queen of (you guessed it) the Tearling, one of several kingdoms founded after the Crossing.  Btw, the Crossing (don’t worry—you’ll hear about it A LOT) was William Tear’s big plan to form a utopian society after the present world order collapsed.  Not too much of a stretch, I suppose.

Major complications  to the coronation = everyone wants to kill Kelsea.  List of enemies includes:  her uncle, who wants the throne for himself; the Fetch, a thief/anarchist who happens to be incredibly good-looking; and the seemingly immortal Red Queen, ruler of neighboring Mortmesne.

Luckily, Kelsea has an extremely loyal and competent Queen’s Guard, led by Lazarus, aka the Mace.  What is incredibly irritating is that Lazarus is set up as a sort of father figure to Kelsea even though he’s really the only character I want her to hook up with.  Her “real” love interest is the Fetch, who is annoyingly self-righteous and quite possibly a sociopath.

Kelsea is living with her mother’s legacy, which is pretty awful.  After losing a war with Mortmesne, Kelsea’s mother saved the Tearling by regularly sending a shipment of slaves (made up of citizens of the Tearling) to the Red Queen.  Kelsea honorably does away with this policy, breaking all hell loose.

I read the first book really quickly—characters were interesting, plot was fast-paced, Red Queen was suitably terrifying, and there were several mysteries that kept me guessing.  …Which leads me to book 2…

Invasion of the Tearling (514 pages)

cover art for the book The Invasion of the Tearling

Kelsea starts becoming such a badass in book 1, which is part of what makes the second book so frustrating.  Not only does it become increasingly clear she is going to make a horrible bargain with the devil (like I think he honestly is a demon), but she also becomes ridiculously obsessed with the Fetch and decides to hook up with someone she isn’t particularly into because he rejects her.  FOR LIKE THE 30TH TIME.  Someone get this girl a copy of He’s Just Not That Into You.  The Fetch is even more of a dickbag in book 2, and not in an “I know it’s wrong, but I like it anyway” type of situation.

Additionally, the plot alternates between Kelsea’s storyline and the introduction of a previously unmentioned pre-Crossing character, Lily.  It’s hard not to feel bad for Lily, who is constantly victimized by a dystopian, Handmaid’s Tale­-type society where women have almost no rights.  However, it’s also really hard to actually like Lily, who remains completely oblivious to the suffering of those around her for a fucking long time.

This book also reminds you that the, ahem, hero who led everyone over in the Crossing thought it was a good strategy to put EVERY doctor and EVERY piece of medical equipment on one fucking ship…that SANK.  Brilliant plan, dude.

Also there’s the big reveal of a time travel thing that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

The Rating: 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I did at least finish both books, and I will more than likely pick up the last one because I really want to know what happens (erm, mostly to the Mace).

However, I couldn’t help feeling the specifics of the Crossing hadn’t been hammered out before the series was written, making for a rather disjointed story in book 2 with some frankly desperate plot twists.

cover art for volume one of Bitch Planet
Book Reviews, books

Book Review: Bitch Planet, Vol. 1

I’m the worst at keeping up with book reviews, but look at me now.  Writing a review…like a month after I read this one.  Which doesn’t reflect my feelings toward this comic/graphic novel/I can never decide which term to use, Bitch Planet, Vol 1:  Extraordinary Machine by Kelley Sue DeConnick.

The premise is the stuff dreams are made of:  in the near future, non-compliant women are sent to a prison planet informally known as Bitch Planet.  You know you’re going to adore all of these characters, don’t you?  You also know your love is doomed.

In the beginning, we follow Marian, a married woman who insists this is all a mistake and her husband will be doing everything in his power to have her released.  There are some great point/counterpoint panels that support everything Marian says…until there’s a sudden dark turn.  Remember this series is called Bitch Planet, ok?

After our dramatic twist, it turns out Kamau is really our protagonist.  In addition to being a gifted fighter, Kamau has some sort of mysterious dark past b/c of course she does.  Her life on Bitch Planet is about to get even more unpleasant since she is framed for murder by the prison guards.  All of this happens because the Bitch Planet execs want Kamau to form a team that will fight to the death against a team formed by the prison.  It’s apparently a Bitch Planet tradition that makes them a lot of money.

a woman with an afro poses in a martial arts defensive position

So we’ve got a rigged futuristic football game to the death, which Kamau is pretty reluctant to participate in.  However, several of the other inmates convince her to form a team, which includes my faves Meiko and Penny.

Penny had a particularly difficult childhood—her mother was considered dangerous, and Penny was raised by her grandmother until age 8.  After her grandmother was arrested, Penny became a ward of the state.  In her adult life, Penny remains fiercely loyal to her family and becomes violent when provoked.  Not a reflection of idealized beauty, Penny nevertheless remains full of strength and self-confidence, never letting others define her.  She’s definitely my hero.

a woman with several pads and wires on her face proclaims "...And you bastards ain't never gonna break me"

It’s not a great idea to get too attached to any of the characters, though, as even the practice game of prisoners vs. guards ends in tragedy for our team.

You know even more shit is going down in volume 2 (which I’ve already pre-ordered).

Rating:  4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I really enjoyed it, but there were times when I wanted to skip ahead to the fake newspaper at the end of each issue called Hey Kids, Patriarchy!  Not because there’s anything wrong with the main story plot but because the biting satire is at its strongest in these issues.

an advertisement for a large foam hand with the middle finger sticking up reads "We've got your spirit fingers right here"