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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Breaking the laws of nature is a serious crime! In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical "auto-mail" limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother's bodies...the legendary Philosopher's Stone. Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and leg...and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military -alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders...even to kill. But their powers aren't unique. The world crawls with evil alchemists. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philsopher's Stone, their enemies are e…

Overall Book Review:

Fullmetal Alchemist is a fast-paced, innovative tale bridging the territory between science fiction and fantasy. This collected work follows the first stories of two alchemists, the Elrich brothers, who are talented individuals who use science so advanced and spontaneous that it might as well be magic. They’re also children, and early in their alchemical careers, their childish inexperience led them to make a mistake which they spend the series trying to correct. Their quest leads them to meet a cast of sinister villains and steadfast friends in an artfully created setting. The story is rich, filled with detail but driven along at a fast pace by the illustrated format. Small comics and related pieces are included in their proper place between the volumes of this collection. Fullmetal Alchemist was both written and illustrated by the author, which allows the pictures to capture exactly what she is trying to convey. It’s easy to see why this manga inspired an anime series that is considered a classic in the genre.

A note to readers: This book is a translated Japanese work. Since Japanese writing is lettered right-to-left, this graphic-format novel retains its same panel placement and should be read from the top right of the page to the bottom left, the opposite of English-language graphic novels.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 27 mild obscenities; 1 scatological word.

Violence/Gore:  A character throws a wrench at another and drops it on him; a sparring match; a character drags another across a room; comic pranks in the material between volumes; joke about “going to murder someone”; a dog knocks someone down a few times; a character is accidentally hit with a wooden plank; characters are badly beaten (implied) while only sound effects are seen; a character is pulled out of a train window without injury; an alchemical duel uses comic violence; characters have guns pointed at their heads twice; a character threatens to kill a child; mention of needing a human being for an experiment (3 times); a bloody garment is found; characters consider killing one another; one character wears a disturbing animal-skull mask; a character threatens to kill another; arson (occurs, then is shown in flashbacks repeatedly); reference to a string of murders (2 separate times); recount of a hanging (pictured/not graphic); a character cannibalizes others (implied, not shown but sound effects are shown); dead bodies are shown (5); account of a child being shot (part of the body is shown, not graphic); a character shoots another in the head (no blood shown); a fist-fight; a character fires a machine gun at others; an adult hits a child then threatens him with a sword; characters are punched and kicked in a few scenes; surgical procedure to attach prosthetic limbs (not graphic); fantasy violence scenes using magic, swords, guns, and hand-to-hand combat (3 of these, the longest is 14 pages); a character is badly burned; characters are beaten and cut with swords; characters are shot (4); a man is beaten almost to death; three characters are impaled with spikes; grotesque human experiments are shown without much detail (3 times); a child has a scary dream sequence; a character is grotesquely misshapen; a character is stabbed through the head, with blood shown; characters are killed by having their bodies exploded, and this is graphically pictured (6 times); recap of previous scenes of varying blood/gore is made in flashbacks and between volumes; a child loses limbs, and this is graphically illustrated; symbols are written in blood (3 times); a character is killed by being chopped in the face by a large knife (graphic).

Sex/Nudity:  A character wears a cleavage-revealing tight dress (shown 6 times); female character wear stomach-revealing short tops (shown 4 times); a male character is depicted shirtless, and has exaggerated muscular physique (this is part of an on-going comic theme and is shown 3 times); a character wears a bikini bathing suit.

Mature Subject Matter:

Cults, hostage-taking, hijacking, corrupt officials, rioting, civil war, genocide, terrorism (mentioned), serial killing.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters drink booze and offer it to minors (but the offer is not accepted).

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.