It’s all about number one. Volume one, that is. In this Good Reads you’ll discover the very first books in series that have become fan favorites, with recurring characters and continuing storylines that keep us all enthralled and coming back for more.
True Blood is one of television’s biggest hits, a universe in which vampires have not only came out of the closet, but fought their own civil rights battle. Vampire rights are now protected by law and they (mostly) survive on synthetic blood. It’s not terribly tasty, however (the real thing is rather better).
You can watch it on HBO Canada. Or read author Charlaine Harris’ original series on which the telly episodes are based. Dead Until Dark should be first on your list (2001, adult fiction filed in New Arrivals).
Small-town Louisiana bar waitress Sookie Stackhouse is thought a bit crazy, and doesn’t have much success with men. Until Bill Compton sits in her section and orders a pint of fake blood. He’s hundreds of years old and darned cute.
Soon after, dead humans start to pop up — rather a lot of dead women, actually. Sookie tries to find out who’s behind the murders before the wrong person gets arrested. Along the way she discovers vampire culture and a whole new world of supernatural “people”. All the while being courted by the hot vampyre.
Regular movie-goers will recognize this next pick: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (2004), re-released in a manga-style format (a Young Adult book).
Scott is a 23-year-old guitarist and WASP who can’t seem to hold down a job and is chastely dating a private high school student, Knives Chau (whose mother would like her to find a nice Chinese-Canadian boy, thank you very much. And maybe a doctor?).
Then he meets tough chick Ramona Flowers and falls head over heels. But Ramona has seven evil exes in her past, and they don’t look kindly on her new beau.
The black and white Scott Pilgrim saga features angst, bad rock gigs, and a battle with a different evil ex in every book. Read them in order!
Here’s another number one Young Adult novel (in New Arrivals), Jen Calonita’s Les Secrets de ma Vie a Hollywood (translated into French in 2010 by Linda Leith, the novelist and founder of Montreal’s Blue Metropolis literary fest).
Kaitlin Burke is a 16-year-old pin-up and teen TV star who loves Star Wars and Legally Blonde. But she’s already on the verge of burning out, pushed by parents and entourage to work, work, work. She’s even finding nasty lies about herself in the tabs every week, “leaked” by a rival.
So she plots a break: she wants to go to school.
Dumping her tutor, Kates puts on a wig and a new name and enrols in classes — something so foreign to her she doesn’t even know you have to raise your hand in order to go to the bathroom. School is full of mean girls, complicated guys, and teachers who demand that work be handed in on time. And all the while, she’s still sitting for photo shoots, media interviews and auditioning for that next big role.
Ma Vie is a well-paced story about a teen who gets dropped into the jungle, and her attempts to tame the beasts around her.
One more French-language number one: L’Agent 212 is a not very sharp traffic cop who nonetheless means well. Number one is this bande dessinees series by Daniel Cox (dessins) and Raoul Cauvin (scenario) is titled 24 Heures Sur 24, since a police officer’s work is never done.
Three- and four-page shorts are darkly humourous (one recurring suicidal charmer — he’s quite cheery! — never manages to make good on his plans, although M. l’Agent is himself trampled, ejected from a cannon, and otherwise folded, stapled and spindled). This series is in the children’s section.
Finally, the well-known children’s magazine Owl has released the Collected Casebook (volume 1!) of Max Finder Mysteries, following the Grade 7 detective and his friend Alison as they puzzle out whodunnit. There’s the Case Of The Snake Escape, The Case Of The Bicycle Bandit, and The Case Of The Basketball Card Foul. There’s 10 mysteries in all, presented in comics form (by Liam O’Donnell and Michael Cho, 2006).
“We’ve done all the legwork,” announce the two teens, “but solving the mystery is up to you! Read the mysteries, follow the clues, and try to crack the case.”
The answers are in the back of the book, but it’s important not to jump forward in your reading after the solution’s been offered, because you’ll ruin the next mystery. If you’re the kind of person who can’t help but keep reading, get a friend to read the answer out, so you won’t accidentally spoil the next case.
And after all this, it’s on to number two.
– Eleanor Brown, September 16, 2011