Prepare to be Indoctrinated

I’ve recently become an advocate for a practice called Mochijunism. Ever heard of it? No? Well, let me explain it to you and hope that this post will help convert all nonbelievers into followers of this new belief. First, a short definition:

moh·chee·june·ism
- noun

the practice of creating mind-bending twists no one ten miles away would have been able to guess; the art of creating strange but totally lovable characters and subplots that can’t be called subplots anymore because they are so crucial to the story; the process of writing such developed and original storylines that every reader constantly marvels at it for the rest of their lives

synonyms: awesome; amazing; mind-blowing; this is the shiz; if all authors could write like this that’d be great

I believe you have a better understanding of the term Mochijunism now.  Are you curious? I hope so.

Okay, long story short, I’m basically going to be talking about an author who kind of changed my reading life, and probably how I’m going to enjoy books from now on. Everyone, meet Jun Mochizuki, author of the brilliant Pandora Hearts! (I, uh, don’t actually have a picture of her since she keeps a pretty low profile. But here’s a gorgeous PH volume cover for you to feast your eyes upon!)

 

JUST LOOK AT THAT DEFINITION OF BEAUTY.

See, about two months back, my good friend Lesley from Books and Beautiful World convinced me to give Pandora Hearts a try. PH is her favorite manga ever, but I was still hesitant to try it because reading from right to left was really, really hard at that time and I didn’t think I could get used to it at all. (I did, in case you were wondering, so much so that I even read ordinary picture panels from right to left before realizing. O_O) But I underestimated the power of Lesley’s persuasion, and she even bought the first few volumes for me, so how could I say no?!

And you know what? Pandora Hearts kind of ruined my enjoyment for YA books. Here are five reasons why.

1. The twists, guys, THE TWISTS

Let me just say that you will not be able to predict anything that happens in Pandora Hearts.

Now, I’m not the most observant person on the planet. While people can guess who the culprit is in the first couple pages, it takes me at least twice as long for me to be entirely certain that that man was the one who did it. But I’m more than sure that the twists in this story will blow the socks off anyone who reads it. And who doesn’t love twists like that? Hell, I’m still reeling over some of them right now. THIS is how you do things, authors. You leave hints and clues behind that seem painfully obvious only AFTER the twist has been revealed, not before!

And, um, I may have gone all batshit crazy with Lesley after some of the unexpected turn of events. I abuse CAPS way too much. D:

2. The lovable, squishy, oh-so cuddly characters!

I can probably count on my right hand the number of books I’ve read where I found it hard to hate the villain, despite the evil things s/he’s done. Oftentimes, it’s easy to despise the villain because what they did was so unforgivable that they deserve to be thrown into the deepest parts of hell forever. But in Pandora Hearts, even the villain was given a proper backstory that explained why s/he turned out to be this way, and why they did what they did. And I’d be damned if the bad guy’s story didn’t tug on my heartstrings.

What’s more, there is no clear definition of “good” and “bad” in this story, either. No character can be classified as completely pure, but not all the bad ones are fully evil at the same time. I just love how realistically that reflected the real world, where nothing is in black and white, but rather in many shades of gray. Again, the characters were so well developed that you just want to gather them all up and hug them to you and never let them go. Characters I never expected to have more than a flimsy side role were given a spotlight that totally changed my opinion of them. There was even a character who got so much development in just a single chapter that it made it nearly impossible to hate her.

Nearly.

She still did some pretty evil stuff and I can’t really forgive her for that.

And while we’re at it, here’s a gif of my favorite character, Xerxes Break!

^ This guy caused me too much heartache.

Today also happens to be his birthday — eep, same month as me! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEET BREAK. <3

3. The story

Pandora Hearts is about Oz Vessalius, a fifteen-year-old boy, who suddenly gets thrown into the Abyss (a “myth” he believed adults told to children to keep them in line–the Abyss is a prison where people with unforgivable sins go) during his coming-of-age ceremony, after being told that his sin is his very existence.

The story then plunges into mystery after mystery, problem after problem, and while there was a dull moment or two in the first couple of volumes, the mysteries start to build up SO MUCH that you wonder how the author is ever going to answer them all. Maybe it’s because PH has been going on for nearly a decade (it started publishing in 2006), but the intricity and plot development just blew my mind. I started off this story with more questions than I could handle (I was honestly frustrated with how little answers we got in the beginning), with more subplots than I had ever seen before, and now everything is beginning to tie together in a way I never imagined possible. Subplots and characters whose roles I never understood are making so much sense, and all those mysteries? They’re slowly getting answered.

I can’t really talk much about the story because everything is so spoilery, but if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that the plot in PH will be one of the best you’ve ever read.

4. The brutality

Despite all its cuteness and humor, PH doesn’t lack in brutality at all. Because characters die. Characters die, and they don’t get resurrected, and they are not always given beautiful death scenes. Friends turn against each other. People are forced to kill against their will. And pretty much everyone has a tragic past.

I have more to write, but this post has gotten long enough! I guess what I’m trying to say with all this talk about Mochijunism is that I want to see more of it in YA fiction. So many young adult books follow after the “current trend” that I don’t see much originality anymore. That, and the romance, frankly, sucks. There isn’t romance in Pandora Hearts, but there is still so much chemistry sizzling beneath the surface of the characters that it’s practically impossible not to ship all of them together. *O*

So, um, yeah. This is the end of my rave-fest about this brilliant manga. I HOPE YOU READ IT. And if you’ve never read manga in your life — never fear! Pandora Hearts is a good place to start. It’s such a shame that it isn’t as popular as some of the other manga out there (like Shingeki no Kyojin or Tokyo Ghoul), but trust me, it’s just as good.

READ IT, READ IT, READ IT!

I’m not a very persuasive person, but have I convinced you to give this a go?

Oh, wow! What a coincidence! Lesley’s posted something about Pandora Hearts too! ;)

Images © Yakumocchi | Aishiteru

This Week: An Update

this week

This Week is where I recap all that happened on the blog, my life, and the blogosphere.

Before I get started, first I’d like to thank everyone who made my blogoversary such an amazing event. You guys are the reason the blogosphere is such a lovely and marvelous place, and I really feel lucky to have known and met all of you. Again, I’m sorry I missed out so many names in that post. I do appreciate everyone who drops by and comments, even if I’m not all that present these past few weeks. So — THANK YOU!!! Here’s hoping I’ll last till the next year, bahaha.

But this is supposed to be an update, and I think I owe you guys an explanation as to why I’ve been so absent lately! First of all, my exams (YES, MORE OF THEM, THOSE STUPID PIECES OF CRAP [okay, not really]) are in October, and with barely three weeks left to prepare, it’s time to take another semi-hiatus this time to focus on my studies. But after October, I’ll have graduated from high school and will be free! Well, free as in going through the stress of applying to colleges, I mean. It’s just a neverending cycle. So wish me luck, because everything depends on this test! ><

But I think my blog wouldn’t be as inactive as it is now if it weren’t for my book slump. It took me pretty much a month to finish The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, and it wasn’t because the book was boring. It was because I just couldn’t bring myself to get excited by it, despite how original and fascinating it was. I used to be able to finish a 350-page book in a week; now I’m taking a FULL month to finish a 400+ page book. Gaaah! And so, with the book slump came the blog slump — I hadn’t visited my blog’s dashboard for at least a week until now.

Me right now

But there’s good news, too!

My book slump is slowly getting better. I just finished Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, and I was more interested in actually completing it than I felt with The Girl With All the Gifts. That’s progress, right?!

And… I recently started up a Tumblr blog, but this one is solely dedicated to animanga. Apart from reblogging stuff, I’ll be posting infrequent posts of my thoughts/ramblings/raves/rants on the manga/anime I’m hooked on at the moment. So if anyone’s interested, you can visit my Tumblr here! And if you guys have Tumblr blogs as well, feel free to link me up below and I’ll check them out. :D

So yep, just a little update on  where I am right now.

I’m praying that October will go by fine and that I will get off my lazy ass soon and go do some commenting work already. Seriously.

What about you? How have the past few months been?

We’ve Come A Long Way

blogoversary

So.

Guess who turned a year old today!? That’s right — ADRIFT ON VULCAN!

I’m like the proud mother of a child who just read all the Harry Potter books for the second time. *sniffles*

Even though I started blogging way back in 2012, Adrift on Vulcan was only created in September 2013, exactly a year ago. And it’s come such a long way. I’ve come such a long way. I’ve made so many new friends, read so many new books, both awesome and bad (but mostly bad), stumbled across so many new blogs, went through so many new experiences — and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve evolved from blogging solely about books and being focused only on book reviews, blog tours, interviews, and memes, to a blogger with personality (hopefully!), and I really have to thank many people for helping me realize that blogging isn’t only about the stats. It’s about the people we meet as well.

But of course, all the fun I had with this blog wouldn’t have been without the entire bookish community! Which is why I’d like to take a moment to thank all the people who’ve inspired me and made the blogosphere such a wonderful place to be in.

thank you –

Lesley @ Books and Beautiful World // Sarah @ Smitten Over Books // Asti, Kelley & Leanne @ Oh, the Books! // Mitchii @ The Aeropapers // Kayla @ The Thousand Lives // Valerie @ The Innocent Smiley // Shannelle @ The Art of Escapism // Emily @ Reverie Rhapsody // Savindi @ The Streetlight Reader // Nikki @ The Paper Sea // Aimee @ Deadly Darlings // + all of you who have taken the time to visit and leave awesome comments on my blog! (I know I’ve missed out on a ton of you D:)

I’m sorry I couldn’t name everyone, because if I did, I’d bore everyone to death, but rest assured that MY LOVE GOES OUT TO ALL OF YOU. Seriously. Thank you. Adrift on Vulcan and the blogosphere wouldn’t have been the same place without your presence.

#partyhard

If I could, I would totally give each and every one of you a book to show my undying gratitude, but unfortunately I am not (and will probably never be) a millionaire, so… All the same, though, this is my chance to give back to all my readers, so here’s a giveaway! There will be two winners, both of which can choose a book of their choice from The Book Depository, as long as it is below $15. The giveaway is also open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is so awkward and just describes my love for you guys perfectly.

Image © Jelly Muffin

Blogger Panel: What Do You Think of Anti-Heroes?

blogger panel

Welcome to this week’s Blogger Panel, everyone! I wanted to have one last month, but time constraints and some other problems prevented me from hosting one. Pushing those aside, though, joining me today are…

Kelley from Oh, the Books!

Asti from Oh, the Books!

Sophia from Ravens and Writing Desks

Katie from Doing Dewey

Thank you so much for signing up, you guys! (And thanks to Asti and Kelley for filling in at such short notice! <3)

“What do you think of anti-heroes?”

- Lesley from Books and Beautiful World

Kelley says…

I think antiheroes are often more interesting than traditional heroes, because they’re obviously much more flawed. I used to date a guy who loved to draw ugly creatures and thought pretty was boring; he said the ugly things were so much more interesting to look at. That thought has stayed with me ever since, and it’s helped me find a lot more imagination and interest and depth in things I may have shied away from otherwise. So, obviously, this goes for antiheroes — characters who are probably unlikeable because of a weak personality or a despicable attitude. There are some I’ll probably never appreciate (like Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye), but then there are others that hold a special place in my heart (like Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series), and still others I just find fascinating (like the two main characters in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead).

Asti says…

What do I think of anti-heroes? Well, they’re a step up above regular heroes but… I just don’t love them. Now don’t get me wrong. I love that they have flaws and are a little messed up, not all self-righteous and holy like some heroes. Katniss Everdeen? Calaena Sardothien? Okay, if I’m going to have anti-heroes then give me ones like those. I’ll learn to love them. 
 
But no, when it comes to me, I want more villains. I want more messed up characters who have totally lost their way. They’re priorities are messed up, they’ve lost their sense of humanity, they do unthinkable things – give me the evil. Why? Because I feel like they’re perspective is missing. There are bad people in the world and while I don’t approve of them or their actions, I can’t help but sometimes want to know what the heck is going on in their heads! They have to have a backstory that made them the way they are. They have to have a story that’s just be waiting to told. I want to know their PoV! 
 
That’s not to say anti-heroes aren’t needed in YA. That’s not to say I don’t think they’re good and all that. But I feel like at a certain point it all just blurs together for me. It’s like we’re suddenly trying to prove that every hero is flawed, and yet if that is the case then why do they seem to continually succeed? Either make them fail or give me the villain instead. 
 
(And yes, I know, this is the part where you guys lock me away because what sane person asks for such things?! BUT I CAN’T HELP IT! THE DARKLING PUT HIS SPELL ON MEEEEEEEEEE.)

Sophia says…

I actually had to look up “anti-heroes” because I wasn’t quite positive what they actually are. And after a quick Google search, I’m still not quite sure. Of course, I have a general sense of what one is, but really, what are the defining features of an anti-hero? 
 
The general consensus on the internet seems to favor the following definition, at varying levels of specificity: “An anti-hero is a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.” 
 
What are conventional heroic attributes? Wikipedia gives us the answer: idealism, courage, and integrity are some. Basically, it’s a character with lots and lots of flaws. 
 
One example of an anti-hero that popped up during my search was Sherlock Holmes. Eccentric? Check. Flawed? Oh immensely. He’s addicted to cocaine, he’s extremely antisocial, he has no concept of “the right thing to say.” And yet – he’s the perfect hero, and has made a mark on many different aspects of culture across the world. 
 
Another example is Jay Gatsby. We sympathize with Gatsby – gosh, do we sympathize. But he is an utterly flawed person. He’s rich – but he gained those riches through dishonest means. He’s continually living in the past. He’s an utter idealist (which is good to a certain point, but Gatsby takes it to extremes). He shows us another aspect that most anti-heroes portray – the feeling of helplessness and lack of control. 
 
But why do anti-heroes make such excellent Characters? Why, when comparing Sherlock Holmes and Jay Gatsby to someone like, say, Robin Hood, or Harry Potter (more traditional heroes), are Holmes and Gatsby infinitely more interesting? 
 
Robin Hood can save the day. He can shoot the perfect arrow. He can defeat the Sheriff of Nottingam. He may have minor flaws, but overall, he is morally, physically, and intellectually sound and successful. 
 
He does lie and steal, but for good, moral reasons. 
 
Harry Potter, while also having flaws, is also morally quite sound, and nobody doubts that he is the hero of his story. 
 
On the other hand, Holmes does good purely because he needs the stimulus of solving crimes. It just happened that he ended up on the good side of the law – pure chance that he didn’t choose the path of the criminal. There is no morality involved. 
 
With this (still rather vague) definition of the anti-hero, I will conclude that I do like them, especially if they overcome most of their flaws by the end of the book. We get to see their struggle, as opposed to just cheering on the good guy doing good guy things. 
 
But really, the distinction is very blurred. There are articles out there insisting that Robin Hood is totally an antihero. Batman is the modern Robin Hood, and so Batman is an antihero. I’m only slightly less confused. How many flaws does a hero need to be an anti-hero? 
 
Any clarification would be highly appreciated! :-)

Katie says…

My feelings about anti-heros depend on how relatable I find them. I love the idea of a main character with some flaws, someone who manages to be the hero despite not fitting our traditional ideas of who should fill that role. I think this can actually lead to a more relatable character than a traditional, perfect hero or heroine. None of us are perfect, so if a character shares our flaws or has flaws we can empathize with, it can make them seem more human. However, if a character is so flawed, I can’t understand them (making unbelievably stupid, thoughtless, or amoral decisions for example) and they never redeem themselves, I generally won’t like a book that features them.

What do YOU think?

How do you find anti-heroes? Yay or nay? Do you wish we had more anti-heroes in YA lit, or do you think we’d be better off with less of them? And — what is an anti-hero, exactly? Sound off in the comments below!

Want to join the Blogger Panel? Click here for more info and the signup form!

Read Play Blog: Favorite Gaming Genres

Hi everyone! Jeann @ Happy Indulgence invited me to participate in her new feature, Read Play Blog, and since I love gaming, I decided — why not?

Today’s topic: What is your favorite gaming genre?
(But since I don’t have only one particular favorite, I’m going to share a few!)

Action

Bioshock 1 ▪ Gears of War 3

Classifying both first-person and second-person shooter games here. Like my books, I enjoy playing action games, like Bioshock 1 (I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m probably 80% done), Gears of War 3 (played this with my dad; it was pretty awesome), Diablo, etc. I’m kind of a hot-tempered person, so these action games help relief my anger and annoyance. Shooting baddies gives me a very satisfied feeling.

Puzzles & Mystery

Professor Layton ▪ Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Even though I’m not particularly good at solving puzzles, I’ve loved my thinking games, such as Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton, since the beginning of time. Phoenix Wright has a hilarious and lovable cast of characters, as well as some very intriguing mystery plots, while Professor Layton just stuns me with its elaborate puzzles and far-fetched but awesome storylines. Sometimes sitting down after a tiring day and working those brain cells instead can be relaxing. I need to get my hands on Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright ASAP!

Racing

Forza Horizon ▪ Mario Kart 7

I am so not ashamed to admit that I’m pretty much a pro at Mario Kart. I’m the best among my two other sisters, and I can beat people with higher scores than me (yes, I’m shamelessly bragging). Mario Kart is just pure fun, and was the one game that got me into other racing games, like Forza Horizon! Mario Kart is definitely a lot easier than Forza, but the latter is ten times more thrilling. Gotta love them beautiful cars. <3

This month’s rec: Bioshock 1 — I featured it above, and it is seriously a game everyone needs to play because it’s not one of those mindless action games. It has a solid and very realistic plot, and enough enemies to keep your heart pumping. The sci-fi geek in me just loves it.

Currently playing: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds — Started playing this one a while ago, but didn’t have much time to continue during the earlier part of this year. The previous LoZ games were only okay to me, but the graphics in A Link Between Worlds are so much more improved, and I can really admire the storyline here, too. Link is so adorable, haha.

What are some of your favorite games/game genres?

Do you have any game recommendations for me, based on my favorite genres? Do share!

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