(Cannonball Read book review #1 – original post @ CBR10)
Last year, I signed up for Cannonball Read 9. Unlike 2013, where I completed my first (and only, thus far) FULL Cannonball of reading AND reviewing 52 books in one year, last year I was a bit more pragmatic. I went for a quarter Cannonball, or 13 books. Unfortunately, last year turned out to be not so much a “reading year” for me as it was more a “I’m slowly going to get more and more upset with my previous job year and struggle to do the best I can because I adore the job but hate a lot of things that are happening in conjunction with said job” year. Didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for reading and writing. My grand count of books read is 5 and books reviewed was 0.
But. One of the books that I read last year was the first in a series of graphic novels that I found through a friend on Facebook towards the end of last year. The series is called Giant Days and it’s a really refreshing story of three women who become friends in college, the subsequent adventures they go on, and all that good stuff. My local library system carried it and with a few requests from neighboring libraries, I had all five volumes in my hands. Volume 1 was great, but I finished that at the tail end of 2017. Given that I’m at the tail end of my renewals for volume 2, it’s high time I reviewed and returned the book.
So without further ado, Giant Days volume 2 picks up with the three main characters Daisy, Esther, and Susan getting ready for the hall ball. They’re in England, so this turned out to be a college version of a school dance. We go with them shopping, where they wind up at a thrift store in mostly ill-fitting dresses, complaining. Except Esther. As the Goth Gal of the Group, who we later finds out has a brother (sewing machine, a cute little joke that comes up later) who can work miracles with ill-fitting dresses, she seems in her element searching for something to wear in the thrift shop. She settles on a Victorian looking wedding gown.
The next people we see shopping for hall ball clothes are two other students: McGraw, a fairly well put-together love/hate interest for Susan and Ed Gemmell, a basket case of a guy who has a thing for Esther. Once they get measured and all for their suits, we fast forward to the actual hall ball. The illustrations are great for showing a nice variety of people, to give it a cool party vibe, but Daisy, who was home-schooled and fairly sheltered, runs into a woman she had a thing for who rejected her and she spirals into an episode of “I don’t even know what my sexuality is”.
The advice her Susan gives is basically to “kiss both kinds of face. Maybe you’ll enjoy them both equally. That’s fine. Let love rule. It’s the 90’s. Get used to it.”
To which Daisy replies, “it’s the 2010’s, Susan. You’re living in the past. Buy a calendar.”
This kind of banter is one of the things I love about this series. They are snarky, flawed, fun, genuine characters. They’re not drawn to titillate, they’re created to be related to. And they’re great friends to each other, too boot. When Esther starting freaking out that she hadn’t been going to classes for more than a month and exams were coming up, she was all too human in telling her friends part of why she was freaking out:
I may not have taken it seriously. I may have asked many stupid questions I thought were funny. I may be quite the jack-ass.”
And when there’s a giant hill to climb in the snow that keeps besting Susan, she winds up at the bottom on her back in a snow bank saying, “No, I’m fine. I’m my own hero. I’m everything I wished I could be.”
I love this sarcastic, real life storyline. I love that it’s drawn exceptionally well by Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin and the dialogue, by John Allison, is just spot on. And can totally pass a Bechdel test. While they do talk about men, there are many other conversations they have that don’t have anything to do with men. It’s all really relatable. The book covers the hall ball, Susan hooking up with McGraw and hides it from her friends, Daisy awkward kissing Ed to see if she likes Boy Face, and Esther later bonding with Ed, who is trying to hide the fact that he’s in love with her. They then go on to winter break, where a hometown woman that McGraw and Susan grew up with try to kill her for something Susan did before she went away to University, and Daisy and Esther trying to save her, and then back to school where Esther proceeds to freak out about how she hasn’t gone to classes in a few weeks. Maybe months.
One of my favorite scenes was after she had decided to further procrastinate
studying revising (cause it’s British) and go to a Goth concert, despite Daisy being awesome and trying to help her revise. After the concert, she’s in full-on desperation mode (and full-on skull makeup), looking for divine intervention of her exams:
“Gentle Jesus, I know I’m dressed as a church burner, but I’m good really. Show me the way.”
She then proceeds to go into a church to ask the Reverend for help, who basically tells her to go to more
classes lectures. She winds up falling for the hot student TA invigilator, because she has a thing for “milquetoast handsome” boys, but he winds up being a stuffy ass and she dumps him quite spectacularly during a dinner party hosted by a professor.
By the end of this volume, the women are back in their dorm staging an intervention for Daisy, who got a little too into the TV show set in Texas about high school football called Friday Night Lights and may’ve started talking in a Southern drawl and wearing “sports casual” (when she’s normally just casual). Susan and Esther help her out of it. Which is basically what this series is about. These three friends and the adventures they go on (sometimes mundane, getting waaaaaayyyyy too into a TV show, type adventures) as they grow, figure out who they are, and what they want. I love that they’re pretty strong, badass, relatable characters in a graphic novel, since comics and graphic novels have had some serious issues with using women as sex objects and/or side stories. This series is just a whole lotta fun and I can’t wait to read and review Volume 3.