Review: Mental Diplopia by Julianna Baggott

Not going to lie, but what drew me to this story in particular was that outstanding cover. Mental Diplopia-- bookspoilsAnd then I read the synopsis and was enchanted on a whole new level:

There seems to be a strange new disease spreading around the world. People are getting stuck in the past in mostly happy memories. They are straddling the line between now and then. Although the disease ends in death, the infected seem to go willingly. The epidemiologist seeks the answers to this viral mystery while she is falling in love and yet trying not to get infected.

This was exactly what I needed after having gone by without reading anything for a couple of days. Mental Diplopia was compelling from the start with a cool concept and solid execution. Plus, bonus points for it being a swift read because the only sci-fi I can bear is in short bursts.

“I am living in two worlds at once!” she shouted over the noise in her head. “I see you in the present. But I’m hearing the past, smelling, tasting, and touching the past.”

The exploration of underlying joy, nostalgia, philosophy and “the body, life, humanity, and our fragility” seemed to be right up my alley. However, when the story steered from further exploring the idea of “the eternal return, everything has always happened and will keep happening” to focus more on the species that were taking over, my eyes began to glaze over. So I ended up loving the first pages a bit more.

Overall, Mental Diplopia was an enrapturing short story with a fascinating idea being delved into.

3/5 stars

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Review: Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan

Finally reunited with her ever-expanding family, Hazel travels to a war-torn comet that Wreath and Landfall have been battling over for ages. New friendships are forged and others are lost forever in this action-packed volume about families, combat and the refugee experience.

I was worried going into this considering the fact that it’s been a hot minute since I read the previous volume. But I needn’t have worried, the world Vaughan has created in the Saga series is one easily slipped back into. And if I could sum up this read in one panel, I think Hazel said it best:

Saga, Vol. 7 1-- bookspoilsThis review contains *spoilers*.

So let’s jump right into business:

  • We’re in the middle of war throughout these issues, so people are being killed off left and right… And it was just utterly heart-shattering. So many characters I’ve grown attached to were taken from me far too soon.
  • Speaking of, I’m still shell-shocked that my all-time favorite sacrificed herself for the “greater good” all thanks to one of my least favorite characters:
    Saga, Vol. 7 3-- bookspoilsI get choked up every time I think about this.
  • There’s also a lot of tension simmering between everyone, which is completely understandable under their strained circumstances, but still hard to take in.
    Saga, Vol. 7 2-- bookspoilsOh, I definitely was. But Hazel and Izabel have such a powerful dynamic with one another that it physically hurt me to see them like this… for the last time, nonetheless.

Saga, Vol. 7 4-- bookspoilsHazel has experienced so much damn grief in her young life, and I just can’t bear to see her hurt anymore. It’s like every time she gains a new positive force in her life, she ends up losing someone or something else.Saga, Vol. 7 11-- bookspoilsHer commentary, though heartbreaking, remains to be one of my favorite aspects about this series.

  • On a more uplifting note (if that’s even possible with Saga), the art in here is as stunning as ever:Saga, Vol. 7 5-- bookspoilsSaga, Vol. 7 6-- bookspoils
  • The humor in this series remains to be superb in lightening up the blue mood.Saga, Vol. 7 8-- bookspoilsP.S. I’m forevermore grateful those bastards in the red coat got what they deserved.
  • I was beyond ecstatic to have finally met Gwendolyn’s wife!!Saga, Vol. 7 10-- bookspoils Simply a master of words.
  • And to end this list, I adored how the first issue in this volume had some lively fanart included at the end, especially this one for Izabel:Saga, Vol. 7 12-- bookspoilsI agree wholeheartedly with Hernandez about Izabel, particularly the very first line which couldn’t have better described her: “Izabel is the perfect representation of three things I’ve always felt reassured by: fluorescent pink, guardian ghosts, and intestines.” 

So with all that happened in this single volume, I’m still having to wrap my mind around everything. I genuinely feel like Hazel in this panel:

Saga, Vol. 7 7-- bookspoilsIf nothing else, Vaughan knows how to keep me on the edge better than anyone else. And as usual, I cannot wait for what’s in store next.

4/5 stars

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Review: That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

In the near future water falls from the sky whenever someone lies (either a mist or a torrential flood depending on the intensity of the lie). This makes life difficult for Matt as he maneuvers the marriage question with his lover and how best to “come out” to his traditional Chinese parents.

“Coming out would have hurt less a decade ago and it’ll hurt less now than a decade from now. Unless I just keep quiet and wait for my entire family to die off. Now there’s a cheery thought.”

I’ve been on the search for a captivating magical realism story and this one fit like a glove. The premise of That Falls on You from Nowhere remains to be completely fascinating to me: tell a lie and rain shall fall from the sky. I’m still amazed with the author for coming up with it.

On that note, I’ve gathered a list of things that left me with a content heart:

  • To-the-point writing style.
  • It was a lovely and quick distraction from daily life.
  • Superb characterization in only twenty or so pages.
  • I unexpectedly started loving Matt’s mother after this passage:

“Mom asks me if we’ve eaten. According to the textbooks, it’s a polite greeting, but she always means it literally. If I tell her I’m not hungry, she’ll say, “不餓還需要吃啊.” (Even if you’re not hungry, you still need to eat.) That must be true since that never causes the water to fall.”

  • I LIVED for those moments when it would say if water had fallen or not.
  • Then this one scene with Matt and his older sister, Michele, kind of reminded me of my favorite dynamic between Jessica Huang and her sister, Connie, in the show Fresh Off the Boat:

“You understand what I’m saying. I shouldn’t have to spell it out. You don’t trust your own sister?”
When I was eight, she convinced me that she was psychic, then foretold exactly how horrible my life would be if I didn’t do exactly as she said. It’s embarrassing how many years she got away with it. If the water had been falling back then, she’d have flooded the house.”

  • And one last thing: Matt’s partner, Gus, is an amazingly supportive love interest with such a generous soul. Which is why this next scene utterly warmed my heart:

“Matt, you’re leaving out of spite.” The doorjamb neatly frames Gus. “Okay, your sister had a bad reaction, but poe poe and gohng gohng don’t seem to be taking it badly.”
I blink and shake my head. It takes me a few seconds to realize that he’s talking about my parents.
“Did you just call my parents 婆婆 and 公公?”
“Yeah, poe poe and gohng gohng.” He looks confused. “I tried to call them Mr. and Mrs. Ho this afternoon, but they both corrected me before I got past hello. Am I pronouncing it wrong?”
“We can work on that, but that’s not my point.” I shut his suitcase. “‘婆婆’ means husband’s mother and ‘公公’ means husband’s father.”


Overall, I highly recommend you give this short story a go. Not only does it have a stunning cover, but the inside is just as phenomenal, if not more so.

4/5 stars 

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying That Falls on You from Nowhere, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!