Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cross X Break by Duo Brand.

Title: Cross X Break
Mangaka: Duo Brand.
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 4
My Rating: 4.5/5

Akito Fudo is a short-for-his-age ninth grader who is constantly being overshadowed by his older brother, Shinkai. His father is a governor who is never around for his two sons. Akito lives a normal life. Until one day his brother decided that he should go to "boarding school".

Shocked by the news, Akito demanded to know the reason for him going to one. The reply was "Don't you want to see the world?". After a sip of tea, the boy fell unconscious. He then woke up to find himself underground on a pile of giant mushrooms! Yuck! With no idea where he was, his friend Yaya was trapped with him also!

During their attempt to find a way out, a couple of men found them when they reached an opening to the above ground. They demanded Akito and Yaya to show their "code". Akito had no idea what they meant and thus, they attacked him. Barely survived, the two kids were saved by a strange bug-eating man named Neon, who explained to them that they were in another world.

In this world, everyone has a code/tattoo on their body. It states their status and where they are from. The warlocks are among the strongest and what the reader would consider the "dictators". If a person does not have a code or is banned from their home place due to crime, they are considered a "floater". Warlocks kill any floater they encounter without mercy.

Thrown into a completely different dimension where he knows nothing, Akito have to discover the reason for him being here and if he'll ever get back to Tokyo. But with the warlocks out to get him, will he get back home alive?

This manga touches a lot on discrimination. I find it quite interesting since not many series has this topic, especially the way it is incorporated into the story. For example, every single person from the location called the Song Wall have to know how to sing. And if you don't? It is considered a crime and you can possibly be executed. Funny how it works, huh? It is not so different for people in real life. History have proven how twisted the human race can be. Take the Holocaust from WWII for example. If you are not German, blue-eyed and blonde, you will be killed. If you are Jewish, that is an automatic guaranteed death. It is the same for Cross X Break's world.

I like how random this manga is. It is like grabbing a bunch of different ingredients and mixing them together with a giant wooden spoon. For example, there are these mushrooms that can glow for a long period of time. Since floaters live underground to hide from the warlocks, they use these mushrooms as a lighting source. Bugs are a staple diet for the people living in in Song Wall (that is where Neon comes from), which Akito find is revolting because Neon can just grab a random bug lying around and stuff his face like is was chocolate. (The way they make how delicious bug food sounds makes me want to try some also!) The amazing part is even with the randomness, the mangakas are able to make it serious without getting out of hand!

Another thing I love about the series are the characters. Haran is one of my favourite male character. He appears near the end of the first volume and he is known as a "skipper". A skipper is a person who has access to different levels of this world, so they are able to travel around freely. Each group of people are stuck in their own location, unable to have the freedom that a skipper does. Haran is the type of guy to only do things that benefits him and has a brotherly complex.

Most of the time, I would dislike the main female character because they get in the way. But Yaya is such a humble, down-to-earth strange darling that it is hard to hate her! I just want to pinch her cheeks sometimes!

To sum it up, great series so far (from just the first two volumes) with plenty of action, comedy, and suspense! There are a couple of things unanswered, like what is Shinkai's motive and who is he really? I'm sure within time, all will be answered as I continue to read it. There are hints of shonen-ai (boys' love) but sadly, I have a feeling that nothing will happen except the more scenes will show up and tease the audience.

Review copy provided by Go! Comi.

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