They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, yet first impressions are the most important. Here I will review a book’s potential from the first chapter.
Title: Deva Zan ( ISBN9781616550301 )
Author: Yoshitaka Amano
Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors, Dark Horse
Date release: February 5, 2013
The monstrous steed on the front recalls images of dragons, until you realise the stereotypical wings are not present. It makes you think that this book will leads you on goose chases if you dare to guess ahead.
From my GCSE art days I know that black will be most likely to draw the eye, yet I feel myself more inexplicably drawn to the lost, hollow white eyes of the humanoid character than Bella to Edward. Echoeing that of the moon behind, the character looks to be a hero but the zombie-esque stare scares in such a way as though it is a warning not to trust your first instinct.
Though beautiful in the artwork, the dark and powerful theme of nightmares is ever present as you look at the cover of Deva Zan. It promises a story that will twist your mind as well your head as you look at the flickering shadow in your peripheral vision.
In his forty year career, Yoshitaka Amano has illustrated many projects, becoming famous for Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D. But never before has Amano written the visions he depicts — never until now! Dark Horse has the honor to publish Deva Zan, Yoshitaka Amano’s first fantasy novel as an author as well as an illustrator! An epic ten years in the planning, Amano has made Deva Zan as his personal expression of the legends of Asia for his Western readership.
In esotevic Japanese Buddhism, twelve generals — the Juni Jinsho — stood guard over the cosmos at the points of the zodiac. But now they have vanished, and nothing stands between us and the forces of darkness but Deva Zan, a samurai without a memory. To restore order to existence, he must marshal not only his own fighting skill, but find companions that can cross the boundaries of time and space — to join him in a battle that will stretch from the fields of ancient Japan, to the streets of modern New York City — and to dimensions beyond human comprehension!
I know of Final Fantasy, but Vampire Hunter D is not so familiar. But as an avid manga fan, a book reader since I could sit up and perpetually interested in the human mind, Deva Zan excites me that someone is attempting to write the novel and illustrate. I have, of course, read picture books before, as well as Beatrix Potter and Dicken’s novels that have prints on some of the pages, but this, this looks to be something more.
That it is also about the supernatural has me sold and the book bought – except the price is 49.99? Even for me… that seems a little too much, if not a lot.
With ancient and modern mixing, with different dimensions and battles, there is a lot for Yoshitaka to grab hold of and bring the reader something to be amazed by. Even though, the price tag is eccentric, the blurb shows potential that the book is worth it.
As you reach the prologue you have to flick through abstract pink prints and a grey empty horizon that is mottled with fake age. I am experiencing the eBook version, but the memory of the cover coupled with the patience of getting through the pages still allows you to ‘feel’ the book as though you were holding it. You can still imagine the burden of those simple prints, with such a promise from the busy detail of the art and the exaggerated blurb you can only wonder why the prints are so empty.
The text is fragmented, the lines ending short, which is probably meant to be poetic, yet personally I think it looks horrid. The next page, probably meant to be shown together, is garish, bold flat prints of colour and a black white pencil-detailed warrior… yet in its ugliness it is still desirable. Maybe the excitement of the cover and blurb haven’t worn off yet.
The shortness of the lines are cold with clear facts and basic speech, there is no metaphor, or simile, or any romantic devices used in prose. Yet Deva Zan can still make you see the scripture, and it’s not because it is illustrated, as the illustrations are not clear – completely opposite to the cover.
The need for more information brings greed to turn the pages, rather than a swift intake of the story. Two pages in and you are graced with a beautiful concept-like art double page picture, of a goddess-like surrounded by goldfish. It seems unfinished in its muted colours, but it is still worthy of being a centrepiece on any wall.
More gorgeous artwork surrounds small amounts of text that start to tease you onto the next page. Unfortunately the eBook now limits the impact and there is no effort to absorb the work gone into it.
And then it is chapter one… which brings more of the same. I’ll admit I did flick through – or rather click through – and the images continue to have a concept like quality, and are beautiful.
FIRST LINE – How many times have I awoken?
First lines are extremely important to me, it sets character scene and can sometimes forge a connection with the reader so that they cannot turn back. This line engages with a philosophy of existence which will appeal to some.
The blurb let me know he was a samurai, and the prologue backs this up. The words make me think he is strategic, which tends to go hand in hand with leadership qualities, which just echoes the cover and the blurb again. The images show you that he is not quite perfect yet, but has great potential and that you should wait and watch just a little longer.
This is definitely a book I would like to hold, to touch, to experience firsthand. It is what proves that published books are not yet dead and that we will always need them. Deva Zan has an unknown quality that makes you want to feast upon the whole of it. Probably more likely to be a book enjoyed on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you have a couple hours spare rather than a chapter before you go sleep. Worth the $49.99? Owning the amount of art work at that quality, yes. The story itself? Well, you would probably get time value out of it…
I couldn’t help but look more, the potential was too seductive! The pictures get more detailed and more full, I can only imagine that they reflect clarity of storyline.