Perhaps the coolest thing about the Heat series is the fact that it's written in correlation with the television show Castle. On the show, the main character, Richard Castle, is an author who works with a NYC detective, helping her to solve murder cases while he does research for his novels whose main character is based upon her. When the character on the show releases a new book, the network releases that book to the show's fans. I think this is so ingenious... and the books are entertaining, too!
Naked Heat is the second novel in the series. In it, a well-known yet unpopular muckraker is murdered, creating a suspect list of the wealthiest and most famous of New York City's elite. To add a twist, Rook, the journalist main character in the books modeled after Richard Castle, was doing an expose on the gossip writer at the time of her death, so, once more, he's roped into one of Nikki Heat's investigations. Weaved in between the mystery is more relationship development between Rook and Heat. It's fun, and the mystery is well plotted with both suspense and action. Plus, there's a little romance tossed in there, too.
The book can be enjoyed by those who are not familiar with the show, but, if you do watch it, I would highly recommend reading the novels, too, because they add to the show, and, I think, provide insight into Castle's character, especially in regards to what he is thinking and feeling for Beckett (the show's version of Nikki Heat). [As an aside, I hope this isn't too confusing. If you'd like some clarification as to who is who in the tv show and book, just let me know. Because of the parallels, unless you're familiar with the various relationships, it could get quite muddled.]
Portal Through Time (Book Three of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Volume 1) by Alice Henderson
Although I read the first two books included in this volume earlier this semester [before the blog], I wanted to talk about the third one as I just read it. Portal Through Time by Alice Henderson, I thought, was the best of the three offerings Volume One presented. It had the most complex plot (devotes to the Master were attempting to go back in time to kill slayers in order to change the slayer timeline and prevent Buffy from ever coming into power so as to allow the Master to rise), a deeper meaning (about the importance of history and how one seemingly small and unimportant event can forever change the entire world), and it contained the best use of language and vocabulary. Plus, Angel wasn't only just mentioned in this story; he was actually present (as was Angelus, too). And there were smoochies. Doesn't that always make a Buffy story better? ;-)
The Exile by Diana Gabaldon
Prior to last week, I had never read a graphic novel before. Now, I had seen some of the artwork before from one or two of the Buffy comics, but that was simply because online friends posted links on their blogs/journals. It's a genre that's very unfamiliar to me, one that wasn't presented much while I was in school. Even now, after my first experience, though I can see where some of the positives and joys of the genre, I cannot say that I am necessarily a fan.
The Exile by Diana Gabaldon (illustrated by Hoang Nguyen) is a graphic novel adaptation of the author's novel Outlander. However, rather than being told from Claire, a 27 year old, time traveling nurse and wife of the 1940's, point of view, the graphic novel is told from 22 year old Jaime's perspective as he returns to his homeland of Scotland with a price on his head. As he's trying to avoid the British army, he meets an out of time Claire who is trying to back to her life. During this period, though, he falls in love with her (and eventually she him as well), and they are forced to marry, due to the fact that others believe her to be a spy. Because of this reason - who the story is told by, I do not include the Outlander Series as Young Adult novels, but I felt the graphic novel could be stretched to work.
For me, it was enjoyable to see a visual representation of such beloved characters, and I had fun reviewing the storyline in the graphic novel format, but the Outlander book (and series) are so detailed, so rich, so complicated, that I fear the graphic novel adaptation is lacking much of what made its original source material great in the first place. Now, I already knew the storyline, so this wasn't as much of a hinderance for me while reading, but, if I had not read Outlander before reading The Exile, it might not have been as entertaining. I know that I certainly never would have picked up The Exile on its own merits; the only reason I read it was because I'm such a devoted fan to the Outlander series.
The artowrk is very rich, colorful, and mature at times. Nudity, sex, and violence are all included, but I felt that the presentation wasn't gratuitous or inappropriate, especially considering the original source material. Given the fact that Outlander is meant for mature audience and that it handles such adult concepts as rape (both male and female), adultry, and witchcraft (including burning at the stake) amongst other things, it only made sense that the graphic novel would have some mature content as well. And, from what I've been told, the graphic novel genre, which is generally geared more towards teenagers, is oftentimes very mature anyway; it wasn't just this particular example.
To summarize, if you're a Diana Gabaldon and Outlander Series fan, I would read the graphic novel; if you're interested by the ideas of the series and would like to see if it would appeal to you, perhaps try the graphic novel first, but, otherwise, I'm not sure that I would recommend this work. It seems like it has a more select rather than broad audience appeal in my opinion.