Monday, February 19, 2018

Peps' Reading List: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Just a warning... if you're in the midst of reading the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab and will be starting or are currently in the middle of its second book, A Gathering of Shadows, I suggest you make sure that you have A Conjuring of Light on hand. Because, holy hell, does V.E. Schwab leave you with a heck of a cliffhanger and you would experience all kinds of torture if you don't immediately dive into the final installment of my 2017 reading list's best book series.

Now that I've got that warning out of the way for those who are reading the series, let me now give those who haven't a piece of advice.... read it, please. If you like fantasy and haven't gotten around to this magical trilogy yet, you're missing out big time.


As the kingdom of Arnes recovers from a remnant of Black London magic running amuck and the treachery of the Dane twins of White London, Kell Maresh finds that life is much changed. The King and Queen treat him with distrust (for good reason, given that his smuggling habit caused one half of their troubles to happen) and even the people of Arnes who usually treat him with reverence have also started to fear him. And then there's the matter of how he saved his brother Prince Rhy's life, the magic he utilized binding them in ways that both have learned are difficult to live with. Meanwhile, he thinks of Delilah Bard who is off adventuring out at sea, unaware that she has become a crew member on the Night Spire under Alucard Emery or that she also thinks of him on occasion. As Arnes gears to host the Element Games where the greatest magicians from three kingdoms compete, trouble brews in another world... waiting for a chance to make another world fall.

On the surface, A Gathering of Shadows runs similarly to A Darker Shade of Magic. Characters and their relationships are explored, while the world Kell Maresh calls home provides the primary setting for the story. But, A Gathering of Shadows is a far more exciting creature, with the Element Games giving readers a chance to get to know the other kingdoms of their world and an understanding of how the more commonly used elemental magic works. A great magic system is essential in fantasy stories rooted in magic, and it's especially satisfying to read when the author does well at incorporating it in action scenes. And V.E. Schwab has that in spades in both the Element Games battles and in the character's battles outside of the arenas that Prince Rhy has built for the event.

Another marked difference is the narrative voice of the book. While Kell dominated in the first volume of the book series, A Gathering of Shadows alternate between his troubled times in Arnes, Lila's experience out at sea and as part of Emery's crew, Rhy's struggle with his new life and how it impacts his brother, and another character thought to be lost in a world no one should ever visit. It's the last who gives A Gathering of Shadows a sense of dread, as the character works towards giving a dark power what it yearns for... a world to dominate in place of what it had lost. As Kell and Lila work through their respective demons and find their way to a reunion, a bigger threat than losing in the Element Games and in politicking brews a world away. It was delicious suspense and one that culminated in a cliffhanger that would have caused me to pull out my hair had I not been ready with a copy of A Conjuring of Light.

But it's not all action and intrigue. Character development is also an integral part in the volume, whether as an individual or as part of a relationship. Kell learns about dealing with consequences, while he and Rhy attempt to create a normal life despite the strange bond they share. Rhy takes on a reckless attitude, burdened by what his brother had to do to save his life, as Kell in turn feels stifled with the responsibility of keeping Rhy safe. This change in their relationship is one that is tinged with a bit of regret but still maintaining loyalty to one another, but it's a balance that requires a daring act to keep stable. As for Lila, her journey on board the Night Spire deserves its own book really. She attempts to learn magic with the same reckless attitude she has when seeking danger. And while Lila might entertain more than fraternal thoughts for her captain, it's her impending reunion with Kell that you can't wait to read about. There's something intriguing about the mix of their personalities... with Kell needing a bit of Lila's daring and Lila needing Kell to ground her.

A Gathering of Shadows is excellently paced and the mood setting is exquisite, keeping readers enthralled with the wonders of the Element Games that bring excitement to the different characters, while ensuring that we await with suspense the trouble that is sure to come their way. It's so masterfully written that I knew the trilogy was going to be a favorite even without reading A Conjuring of Light.

Not that I waited too long to start reading it.

Happy reading!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Peps' Reading List: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I had A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows in my reading list for several months now. But it wasn't until they released A Conjuring of Light that I finally decided to read the book series by author V.E. Schwab (who writes as Victoria Schwab for the YA reader set). Which was a good thing, because you can't apparently stop reading after A Gathering of Shadows lest you languish in agony at not knowing what happens right after.

But for now... let's focus on A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell Maresh is an Antari. And even in a world filled with magic, the abilities that grant him that title marks him as different. An Antari has the ability to travel to different worlds, each marked with their own version of London. Kell's world has Red London, filled with magic and prosperity. White London is steeped in chaos as its people try to hold onto what little magic is left in their world. Grey London has none at all. And then, there's Black London... a door which even an Antari couldn't and shouldn't open, lest what killed their world infect the others as well. There is a balance kept by the different worlds and measures are taken to ensure that the balance is kept, including the rule that forbids bringing items of one world to another. But rules have a way of being broken and one particular item might just bring doom to all of the worlds.

Of the three volumes of the Shades of Magic series, A Darker Shade of Magic is the one I liked the least. But please don't think I didn't like it... I do, I really do. It's just that the series progresses into a more compelling creature with every volume, which I would probably wax on at length and still fall short of conveying how much I love them when I get around to writing their individual posts. Strengths are aplenty in A Darker Shade of Magic and whatever weaknesses you might perceive in it actually pays off big time when you get to the succeeding books.

For the most part, A Darker Shade of Magic acts as a primer... introducing readers to the different worlds that the Antari can travel to. Kell provides most of the first volume's narrative, so it is through his travels that we understand the differences of the three Londons. We also learn a little bit about how magic works, especially for an Antari who commands the elements with ease along with the unique blood magic they can summon. Kell is considered a prince, adopted by the King and Queen of Arnes when he was marked with the one black eye Antari are known for. We read about his relationship with Prince Rhy, who acts like a rake, but cares for Kell like a true brother. And we also learn about Kell's discontentment about his life, with his hidden past prior to his adoption and his feeling that he doesn't belong in the royal family. These rather human thoughts lead Kell to make human mistakes, despite his significant powers... leading, of course, to trouble that doesn't just stop at his undoing, and instead threatens the kingdom he calls home and the very magic that keeps it alive.

Given the usual nature of first volumes of any book series, you can expect that the action doesn't always rear its head fully until the latter parts. The adventure takes time to build in A Darker Shade of Magic, but reading through pages of descriptions of the different Londons and Kell's state of mind drives home the point of what can be lost when something truly forbidden and dangerous crosses the borders of the different Londons. Though, I should point out that the earlier parts of the book are far from boring, because fleshing out the world (or worlds) of A Darker Shade of Magic and getting to know Kell make for a great read.

But you can't build a fantasy book series on a single character. Whichever world Kell is in, there are people to interact with. In his home kingdom of Arnes, he lives his life as a prince, albeit treating the king and queen with distant affection, but marginally more warm when it comes to his brother. He relishes the distance his travels allow him to get away from the rather unusual family life he leads, but traveling doesn't really isolate him. His work involves relaying messages between the rulers of the different Londons, which means that he gets to commune with King George III of Grey London, and the terrifying Astrid and Athos Dane of White London. With another world having a semblance of magic, Kell also occasionally meets Holland, the Antari of White London. And when Kell's sideline of smuggling goes awry in the worst possible way, he meets the thief Delilah Bard of magic-less London in his flight.

Of the characters that Kell encounters, it's those who lives in other Londons who capture the attention. Holland cuts an imposing figure and the Dane twins are just plain terrifying, so it's easy to guess where trouble might stem from. And then, there's Lila, who stealthiness as a thief is countered by a reckless nature and the need to court danger to feel alive, but is somehow able to complement and challenge Kell and his dark moods.

In as much as A Darker Shade of Magic is a primer for the series, with its world building and character introductions, it doesn't let you forget the real story at play. With magic, whether in abundance, waning or completely absent, playing a large part in the story, there's anticipation in how it would factor in Kell's story. Ideally, one learns from history, especially one that is as ominous as the downfall of Black London. If anything, the lessons that certain actions have consequences should be common sense. But no matter which London, human failings abound, and, sometimes, those consequences tend to be costly on a potentially apocalyptic scale. And the stakes are high... high enough that you wonder what's in store for volumes two and three, and you salivate at the idea that it could be so much more catastrophic than what Kell unwittingly unleashed in his world in the first installment.

Once you get past the preamble of introducing its world and chapters of Kell's self-commiseration about how he views his life to be unsatisfactory, things do pick up at a blustering pace. Once the proverbial shit hits the fan, A Darker Shade of Magic doesn't let up on the adventure. There's suspense as Kell and Lila runs away from and into danger, with enemies seemingly close at their heels or one step ahead. There're frustrating setbacks and way too intimidating challenges. And there's heartbreak and tragedy that would crush anyone's spirit. But at the other end of the spectrum, there's bravery, selflessness and a dose of recklessness that keeps our protagonists going. It's one hell of a ride once it starts going.

By the end of A Darker Shade of Magic, I had a feeling that it was going to be better. And, given that I've already read the entire series before I got around to writing this post... I can tell you that I am SO right in predicting that.

Happy reading!!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Peps' Reading List: The Shining by Stephen King

When you dissect it, the reading goals that I set for myself can seem daunting. I know I wanted to re-read a lot of titles. I know that I wanted to discover contemporary fiction that escaped my reading list in the past years. And I know that I wanted to delve into some book series that I have yet to start or forgot to continue. So, you can imagine that my reading list is a bit crowded (definitely an understatement). There was a time when it might have been overwhelming, but I figured having choices is a good thing and instead found pleasure in choosing the next book to read. While I do have a list of books that I want to prioritize reading, their order moves around depending on what I feel.

And for some reason, after reading the short story collection Things We Lost in the Fire, I wanted to read another horror title (what is happening to me?). I didn't want to delve right into The Dark Tower series (of which I've only read the first volume) just yet, but I figured it was time to read a different classic from Stephen King. I avoided The Shining for the longest time. Mostly because I wasn't much of a horror reader before and also because I encountered its film adaptation first. If you follow my blog at all, however, you would know that I'd been increasing my tolerance to horror (sometimes even actively seeking it out). Also, I was very young when I actually watched the movie and couldn't quite recall many of its details. So, I figured I'd dive right in and read one of King's most well-known books (of which there are many).

Jack Torrance takes on a job as the winter caretaker for the historic Overlook Hotel, which is definitely not within his plans to become a successful writer. But past events involving his temper has cost him his job and he is desperate to support his family, which includes wife Wendy and five year old son Danny. He tries to be optimistic by thinking of the new job as a fresh start for his family. Danny, however, has a different feeling about the hotel they would be calling home for the entire winter. As the hotel's cook Dick Halloran explains, Danny has "the shining", giving him the abilities to read minds and see the supernatural. He also has premonitions, which unfortunately feature the hotel they will be stranded in when winter rears its head.

I think I should have read The Shining when the weather was colder. Reading it in the middle of summer and suffering through the heat while doing so didn't exactly set the right tone for me. Partner this with the rather lengthy buildup to the actual scares, it took a while to get into the groove of reading. Halfway through the book though and with my eventual decision to only read when its nighttime, I felt the dread grow and it became harder to put down the book the further I went along in my reading.

The buildup isn't my favorite part in the book because I did feel impatient and seriously thought about starting a different book. But its importance does make itself known eventually, especially when you take a step back and reflect how that buildup actually added onto the overall feel of horror at the book's latter parts. The Overlook Hotel took its time to corrupt Jack and affect his relationship with his family, and the corruption is all the more stark when you have read chapters of their more peaceful everyday life before winter set in and with Jack trying to fight off the hotel's influence.

The book takes you on quite an emotional journey as it alternates between the viewpoints of the different characters. You read about Jack and his views about working at the Outlook Hotel, wrestling with his pride about working in a role that should have been beneath him if he didn't destroy his career with his temper. You read about how he tries to find good things about their new situation and how he worries about keeping his family together. And you read as he tries to fight off the hotel's influences. Then, you also read about Wendy and her constant struggle to trust Jack, given their history. You read about how she fiercely protects Danny even as she fights off the jealousy at Danny's special bond with his father. You read about how she realizes that Danny isn't really a normal kid and her growing horror at the hotel that they have to call home for many months. You read about Dick Halloran and his explanations to Danny about his powers, which he also possesses to some degree. You read about his warnings to Danny about the hotel, even as you know those warnings would be for naught. And then you read about Danny, who possesses strange abilities that help him understand the nature of the hotel and what to avoid in it, but also draws the hotel's attention towards him.

Each narrative voice is distinct and each is essential to the overall story, giving readers a chance to understand from different viewpoints how the experiences at the Outlook Hotel varies. There's the definite unease and the slow terror, and the more direct confrontation with the Outlook's horror. The longer you read, the more you tense at what Stephen King has in store for the Torrances (and you as the reader) next.

The Shining is a classic for a reason. It's well-told, albeit it can feel overlong, and you are rewarded with plenty of scares. It stays with you after you read it and makes you wonder if things could have ended up differently for the Torrances. And when you realize that, based on Jack's experiences, that averting the events of that fateful night seem near impossible to achieve... then the horror feels all the more indelible.

Happy reading!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Peps' TV Series Wrap-up: New Girl Season 6 New Girl premiered a few years ago, I thought that, while it was fun, I didn't think I was going to stick with it in the long run. Yet, here I am, writing about its recently concluded sixth season.

There are days when it feels like nothing has changed with the group that populates the TV series's loft, especially when they unleash the crazy. But there are moments when you realize that six seasons did produce significant changes.

Jess (Zooey Deschanel) tries to rid herself of her feelings for Nick (Jake Johnson), who she encouraged to have a relationship with Reagan (Megan Fox), by keeping busy. This might include starting a new relationship with Cece's ex Robby (Nelson Franklin). Meanwhile, Cece (Hannah Simone)and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) decide to find a home they can call their own, which causes the tenants of the loft to express concern about how the move would affect their friendship. Winston (Lamorne Morris) is happy in his relationship with Aly (Nasim Pendrad), and is thinking of taking it to the next step. And Nick embarks on his new journey as a writer, finally working on his first book "The Pepperwood Chronicles".

Here's the thing about New Girl... you can't recommend it to other people unless they're willing to commit to watching the whole series from the beginning. Because if you started watching at year six, you wouldn't understand why the characters are the way they are, nor would you understand the running jokes. But if you do watch it from the beginning, you will find yourself way more invested in finding out what happens to its characters. It's gratifying to realize just how much growth they've gone through after six years of shenanigans and eccentricities, though both still rear their heads aplenty in this season. It does make you wonder just how much more growing or evolving the group needs to go through. (As of writing, however, it seems that there isn't that much more growth to occur, considering that New Girl is entering its last leg next TV season.)
I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite season, but season six of New Girl proved to be a serious contender. The season is rife with milestones and moving in the right direction for everyone. It's about moving forward and taking on new roles for the group. It feels like the loft will never be the same after this season. Sure, Jess is back to having feelings for Nick, but their relationship is one of the linchpins of the series and one that they will always circle back to until they finally figure out how they can make it work. And while Jess and Nick's relationship isn't always my favorite part of the show, it feels like they're doing something right this season, even as they explore relationships with other people. Everyone is finally #adulting... or at least figuring out how to do just that while still being the bunch of weirdos that they are.
Given their now long history (for TV time) and when you take the time to think about their beginnings, it's hard not to realize the changes in the comedy the show offers. The earlier seasons focused on the clash of personalities at the loft, providing most of the comedy that we got to watch. But of late, it's how that particular group of personalities mesh to create comedic situations together. More often than not, it's two or more loft members getting into a heap of trouble together, or one needing the others to help him or her out. While some might think that the comedy makes less of an impact because of that, there're more scenes filled with love and warmth. And that's all the more highlighted in the season finale, which gave me the (now justified) scare that it's all coming to an end.

Sure, I could have detailed all the shenanigans the loft members went through this season, the guest stars that stirred the pot the right way for the group, or pointed out the many reasons why Winston is still my hands-down favorite character in the loft, but it seemed better to discuss the strengths of the season in broad strokes. Then again, I don't think I could have described everything in detail, given that a lot happens this season (including a weird breakup involving a discovery that those in said relationship might be related). All I can leave you with is that season six has been awesome and if you're still not a viewer of New Girl, then you could bring a bit of laughter in your life by watching it... from the beginning.

Because we're saying goodbye soon. As in last-season-eight-episode-run goodbye soon. :(

Happy viewing!

P.S. In the meantime, is there anybody actually working on The Pepperwood Chronicles? Based on the random readings and discussions about it in the series, I feel like it's something I would want to read.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Peps' Reading List: Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Things We Lost in the Fire was among a list of February 2017 releases that readers should watch out for... I can't remember where I read that article or if that article actually had a description of the contents of the book. I knew it was a short story collection, but, for some reason, I was expecting stories about women and their struggles. I was right... partly, because the stories are narrated mostly by women and they represent different roles in the Argentinian society. But there's a different layer to the stories of the anthology presented by Mariana Enriquez... one that I wasn't expecting (which I could have actually easily found out about had I researched prior to reading the book), but ended up loving it. Even if loving it also meant getting terrified by it.

Things We Lost in the Fire is made up of twelve different stories, set in different parts of Argentina, and, with the exception of one particular story, narrated by women who encompass different age groups and circumstances in life. Each one has their own struggles, whether it's in their role in society or in their households, or if they are fighting personal battles or battles for the good of the community. You encounter characters who are sure of who they are and those who are hiding their true natures, characters who act out on their feelings and those who wish their inner voices could be heard. 

But having (mostly) female lead characters isn't the only connection among the stories. Things We Lost in the Fire starts out its stories innocuously enough, usually with the narrator's account of her current life and her struggles. What truly ties the stories together isn't an overarching larger story or even connected characters, but the stories of females who encounter among their everyday existence the presence of the supernatural. Since I didn't know that the supernatural was part of the formula, I was surprised when it did rear its head in the first story, which I thought was about a woman of means who lived in a poorer part of the city and her unlikely relationship with a homeless child. What I didn't expect was a story that involved the more localized religions that the Argentinians follow, especially among the poor, with some 'deities' exacting a far more involved sacrifice than penance and praying.

There are varying degrees and forms of the supernatural influences in each story, which mirrors the different lives of the women who narrate the stories. There are ghosts, monsters and strange obsessions. The supernatural elements of each story can differ in how they are presented, with some subtly interwoven in the narrative, while others build up on the dread. Some give you a feeling of unease while others straight out terrify you. And given Argentina and the Philippine's shared Spanish influences, the horror elements of the stories feel unnervingly familiar and definitely added to my overall reading experience.

Things We Lost in the Fire features a delicate balance of horror and social commentary. The supernatural might be the first thing you take away from each story, but it doesn't detract or diminish from the more realistic struggles of the characters. It's probably why the horror stands out so much, because their lives are so familiar, their circumstances easily mirrored in other countries outside of Argentina. There are some stories that make you question which element you found more terrifying... the supernatural or the real life circumstances of the narrator. Even so, you will find yourself breezing through the pages, wondering what the next story has in store for you.

Would I have wanted to know ahead of time that Things We Lost in the Fire is actually a horror story collection? Sure. But, then again, if I did, I might have decided to put it off to read at a later time and ended up missing out on a great read. I do need time, though, to get over Adela's House.

Happy reading!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Peps' Reading List: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

A thriller seemed like a good choice after my re-read of American Gods. Neil Gaiman's Americana opus was (and always will be) a great read, but something I needed to follow up with a completely different kind of reading material. And The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney and its book cover caught my eye easily enough when I was perusing my reading list. I had a feeling it was going to be an easy read but wouldn't be short on entertaining.

One Folgate Street is an architectural marvel, with an ultra-minimalist design that's underscored by technology that adapts to its tenants. And with the rent priced at what you can afford, it's no wonder a lot of people want to call it home. Yet, actually living there comes with certain conditions. First, you have to pass a rigorous screening test, which includes answering questions that are definitely psychological in nature and, for the lucky few, an actual interview with the house's architect, Edward Monkton. If you're lucky enough to actually sign a lease, there's a whole lot of instructions and rules that you have to abide in order to continue living in One Folgate Street. It's a lot of trouble for a rental, but, for some people, it's a symbol for a new start. Emma and Janet are two such people, with their individual traumatic experiences that drove them to find a new place to live in. Both called One Folgate Street home, with Emma living there a year prior to Janet, and both find out that the apartment holds secrets that are hard to ignore.

There are two things that will immediately pique your interest with The Girl Before. First, the book cover perfectly portrays the minimal aesthetic of One Folgate Street, its starkness intriguing and definitely enticing for individuals like Emma and Janet who are looking for a fresh start. It was interesting to see how the setting was going to play a part in the overall mystery of the story. And part and parcel of the place is getting to know the intriguing builder, Edward Monkton, who is all about order and building an experience out of living in such an austere place.

The second element that drew me in was how the story was structured, with alternating chapters in Emma and Janet's voices, depicting their experience in the apartment a year apart from each other. Their experiences in the apartment, despite having different personalities and different experiences they both have to cope with, eerily mirror each other, revealing mysteries about One Folgate Street and its architect. And both women find it hard to ignore those mysteries, especially when it means finding more about Edward, he of particular tastes and undeniable magnetism.

The Girl Before isn't really designed for drawn-out readings, with author J.P. Delaney keeping each chapter short, while peppering them with enough intrigue to keep us turning the page. Not everything is as it seems... the house, its builder and the women that ended up living in it... and it was fun trying to figure out where all the mystery was going to lead me to.

The book isn't perfect in its telling, though. It felt like the author was trying too many things at the same time, with the dual and parallel narratives, the high tech setting that should have added to the overall feel of the book, and a male character who was meant to cut a dashing figure but seemed to be merely a play on stereotypical difficult geniuses who are incapable of having a normal relationship. But the glimmer of potential in all of the things J.P. Delaney is attempting to weave together to create a compelling mystery keeps you reading, especially when she keeps everything moving at an excellent pace.

At the end of the day though, it's the mystery that defines the story and, while I was never sure what that mystery was until the end, my interest never waned even when I found myself picking at the story's flaws. There's something compelling about the secrets of One Folgate Street and the women Edward Monkton ended up choosing to live there. You would be hard-pressed to keep yourself from making guesses... I know I made my own more than once throughout my reading. Yet, still, I found myself surprised at the book's end.

And that's what a fun mystery read is really all about. Especially if a quick read is what you're aiming for.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Peps' TV Series Wrap-up: Legion Season 1

I may not always agree with the choices that 20th Century Fox makes with the X-Men franchise, but I found myself looking forward to what they have in store for their TV offerings. Especially since Marvel TV head honcho Jeph Loeb is on board. And also because they let Noah Hawley (who is responsible for the excellent TV adaptation of Fargo... which I've yet to finish) loose on the canon material, and let him choose the character and how he wanted that character's story to play out. With FX as its home network, it was definitely interesting to see how Legion would play out.
David Haller (Dan Stevens) has always struggled with mental illness. A failed suicide attempt lands him in the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, where he is being treated for his schizophrenia. While fellow patient and friend Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) makes his stay somewhat bearable, David finds a semblance of happiness when he meets Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller). Despite Syd's rule that she shouldn't be touched, the two start a relationship. But when Syd is scheduled to be released from the hospital, David acts out on his feelings, unleashing a chain of events that catches the attention of groups that have a vested interest in mutants. The events also reveal that there might be more to David's illness than he thought.

My husband is the one who is more familiar with the X-men comic book canon, so he's probably more prepared than I was coming into our viewing of Legion. The first episode took some getting used to, since it's obviously designed to mirror David's mental state, with his account of the events at Clockworks and his subsequent release interspersed with scenes of strange events of his past. It was trippy, I didn't know what was happening half the time, but, boy, was it fun to watch. And the thing is... it only gets better from there.
You can't really expect a TV series (especially one that's headed by Noah Hawley) about mutants to be simple. There's always plenty of trouble to deal with and a measure of heartache for one or many of its characters. And David Haller is probably one of the most unfortunate characters I've encountered in the entire canon so far (or at least in the TV and movie parts of it). Born during a time when mutants are unheard of by the general population, and constantly haunted by disturbing visions and voices in his head, it's no wonder everyone, including David himself, believed himself mentally ill. And the revelation that he has powers come with its own set of burdens.... including being hunted by government agency Division 3, and finding out that his mind and power are not completely his own. With all that David has to deal with, it's funny when you realize that having a girlfriend he can't touch is the least of his problems.
Beyond all the trippy imagery that reflects David's state of mind, however, is a story that is greatly crafted. As David learns more about his powers and come to know the different people trying to help him harness his powers or attempting to capture him, he learns about himself and the shadowed part of both his past and his own consciousness. He meets the mutants of Summerland, headed by Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), who attempt to help him reconcile himself with his powers in the hopes that he can help her save her husband, Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement). Tied in with his story is fleshing out the other characters in the series, particularly those of his fellow mutant ilk, both ally and really creepy nemesis alike, building up to what would be a particularly strong ensemble for viewers to follow.

Legion isn't really a show that you should have described to you... primarily because it's so hard to get into specifics when the story covers both physical events and mental battles. But also because the twists and turns in the story are those that you should uncover yourself. It's portrayed as a story set in a specific time period, punctuated by an excellent soundtrack that just adds to the viewing experience, but it doesn't feel dated. It's fun to watch, but will scare you more than a few times, alternating between disturbing imagery and building dread as events unfold for some characters. There are plenty of easter eggs to enjoy, especially if you have followed the X-Men canon, either in its comic book or theatrical form. And when you have a cast as talented as the one Noah Hawley assembled (some of whom he worked with in Fargo), you know that watching just for the superhero spectacle would be doing the show a disservice.
So... should you watch Legion? Yes. Yes. And yes. Sure, it's not a show that you can watch while you are distracted, because every event, however mundane, eventually adds up to a larger picture that gloriously makes sense in its last episodes. Neither can you expect straightforwardness, especially with the story and with the motivations of its characters. But the best shows are the ones that challenge you and end up rewarding you with a great storytelling payoff. Never mind that there are cliffhangers and even more questions just as you have answers given to you.

Because that's what second seasons are for, right?

Happy trippy and sometimes disturbing but overall awesome viewing!!
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