Monday, 28 March 2016

Saga, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan


I have enjoyed this series from the beginning, although volume 4 felt unfocused and a bit meandering, like the thread of the story had been lost. Too many characters were being introduced, without good enough reason. Given how focused and hard-hitting the first few volumes had been, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Not enough, of course, to keep me from reading happily when a friend loaned me volume 5. And I'm happy to report that it feels less like killing time without somewhere to go. Some of the urgency is back, and the story is slowly starting to focus down to the family again.

I'm not quite as engrossed as I used to be, though. I'm in the camp of enjoying it while not being fanatical anymore. I still love Lying Cat with a fervent passion, but he didn't have that much to do.

So in this book, the family is split up. Mother and baby have been taken captive by a grief-stricken tv-headed father (if you haven't read this series, just go with it), while Father is looking for them. (Damn, I'm bad with character names in books. Just a sec....Okay. Alana is the mother, Hazel the baby, Marko the father). Marko is in pursuit, trying to balance his pacifism with his deep-seated need to find his wife and child.

Alana is kicking drugs, while Marko is discovering them. They run afoul of a rebellion that is willing to do anything to hit back, including sell a biracial child to someone for propaganda purposes.

All the stuff with Hazel in danger hit the hardest, as indeed it always has. Anytime people are threatening her, all the stakes are raised, because you know there are many people around who would die to protect her, and suddenly it feels like nobody is safe.

We also have the side story about the bounty hunter, and I have to say that a lot of that feels like distraction. It's supposed to have the same emotional impact as the family, and it just doesn't. (Sorry, Lying Cat!)  I come to these sections...well, I found them powerful in earlier books, when Sophie was first rescued, but not it feels like an unwelcome interruption.

On the other hand, the tree woman's arc in this book was strong and upsetting at the end. That one hit me emotionally. And the little "she died as she lived" bit made me laugh.

I'm getting a little too cranky. I did like this, and I thought it was an improvement over the previous volume. I will continue to read the series when it comes along. I just...I prefer the tighter focus on this family, or, at least, I haven't been sucked in by any of the other storylines going on to care very much what happens to those people. 

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