Reading is reading, right? If I enjoy it, I should be willing to indulge in all its forms. But I don’t. In fact, I know I’m not alone as the only finicky reader out there. I like what I like after all! I tend to stick with certain types of characters, especially ones that remind me of myself; lighthearted, intelligent, sarcastic adventurers. Most of the time, the only prerequisite for me liking a character is just if they resonate with me.
I also tend to read within a genre. Fantasy and Sci-fi stories engage me the most, even though I’m not opposed to a good mystery or biography every once in awhile.
The trouble is, once you’re entrenched in a reading genre or community, it becomes difficult to gauge what books, in unfamiliar genres, would resonate with you.
I’ve always been a novel reader. But since I’ve picked up the habit of reading comic books, it’s been a trial and error experience discovering what I actually like/don’t like. Months of invested time and research- and what do I have to show for it?
Well, I’ve learned a lot about characters and story. I’ve learned that comic books and novels are siblings, and that they offer very similar resonations. I’ve learned that some characters and stories from novels remind me of comic characters, at that, while waiting between book 1 and book 2 (or 2 and 3) of novels, I could read comics to fill that hole.
Each type of novel or reading experience creates a maw of expectation in you. A yearning that can’t be filled until the next book in the series comes out. But I’ve found that related comics fill that maw of desire. Sure, it’s not the same; not the same characters, or the exact same story line- but it satisfies the same itch. Each comic story supplemented the novel.
So now I’ve learned to do it both ways!
Now I’m here to pass these novel suggestions on to you in a recurring blog series I am going to call “If you like this.” So if you’re stuck waiting between issues of comics- or maybe your favorite character has been killed, or their 12 issue run just ended, I implore you to give some novels a try!
I’ve got the novel suggestions for you here based on what characters you love from comics. These are handpicked novels all read by yours truly so I can guarantee the quality of reading enjoyment! Jump in there, pick one up, and then come back and leave a comment to let me know if the books have satisfied your itch! Or, you can come back and argue that Kvothe is nothing like Peter Parker. I’ll be happy to debate you J
If you like Spider-Man…Check out “Name of the Wind” from Patrick Rothfuss
I’ve been known to refer to this book, ‘real life Harry Potter.” You might not like the Harry Potterverse, but you know the gist of the story: Orphan kid gets invitation to elite Magic School and his whole life of despair turns around; he finds where he belongs, makes meaningful friendships, discovers that his parents left him wealth, the elite members of the faculty look out for him- all while he searches for the truth behind his parents death, and seeks to stop the murderer of his parents from destroying the world. Sounds nice right?
Well, Kvothe’s story isn’t quite so filled with hugs and heroes. Instead, it follows a boy who loses his family to a group of specter like murderers. Much like some other villains, they are so evil that no one will speak or write their names (sound familiar?) He seeks out a Magic University, but much like real life, nothing goes right for him. He’s poor and can’t afford tuition so he works extra jobs and sleeps on the street some nights. Teachers have it out for him. Fellow students torment him and when he stands up for himself, he’s punished. All he has is a dream, and the reality that he owes it to his family to become something great; to exact revenge, but also to not let his intelligence go to waste. Because with great intelligence, comes great responsibility.
Fans of Peter Parker’s clever quips and intelligent schemes resonate with Kvothe’s approach to life. Also, both of them struggle with the grind of day to day life, and trying to balance it with being extraordinary, all the while (unsuccessfully) chasing after the girl.
If you like Avengers, Marvel Zombies, or The Walking Dead… check out the Ex-Heroes series from Peter Cline
OK this one is a no brainer (get it, like zombies?) The premise is this: superheroes suddenly appear from freak accidents. But just as the world seems safer having heroes in it, the zombie apocalypse hits. The team of heroes: Stealth, Zzzap, The Mighty Dragon, Gorgon, Cerberus, The Regenerator, Cairax, must work together to keep the last of humanity safe. They are committed, for varying reasons, to defending the population of Hollywood which is finding refuge in an old gated movie studio lot.
This odd group of heroes all with different ideas, values etc and they must learn how to communicate and become a team, all the while dealing with all the fun that zombie hordes bring to any story. And I won’t even mention superheroes turned zombies!
The character are great, the storytelling flips between characters- allowing you to really understand their mentality, goals, and origin story. Because, let’s face it: it’s the end of the world, and no one gets out of that unscathed!
The series is currently 5 books: Ex Heroes, Ex Patriots, Ex Communicate Ex Purgatory and Ex-Isles
If you like Battle Royale, Hunter X Hunter or Bleach… you’ll love the Red Rising books from Pierce Brown
Red Rising paints a picture of a futuristic world where colors dictate class. The Gold’s are the upper class; genetically altered to be bigger, stronger, and…well, more gold. Gold hair, gold eyes, gold skin; at least they’re consistent! But when a member of the lowest class, the Reds, infiltrates the Gold’s society, he’ll learn that graduating from the Golden Academy has a powerful final exam: war. Darrow, along with the rest of the graduating class is dumped into a crater. They are meant to form groups and alliances and make bloody war against on another until one group enslaves the rest. They aren’t allowed to leave until they do. It’s a wild and crazy free for all filled with alliances, betrayals, insane battles, and of course, murder.
The plot twists and world-building alone are enough to make these books amazing, but Pierce Brown kicks it up by having some of the most interesting battles and battle plans. Think of Hunger Games; you know, if Katniss was a boy and a strategy expert…and was in space.
If you like Batman and the Punisher… look into the Half a King Trilogy from Joe Abercrombie
If you like dark revenge stories, this one is for you! It’s a tale about the deformed prince in a Viking like kingdom. Yarvi’s has no aspirations for the throne; he leaves that to his parents and his brother; all great warriors. He happily looks forward to the day that he can take his vows in service, giving up his title and family to become an advisor. But when he wakes up and discovers his father and brother’s deaths, he’ll swear a blood oath; a sun oath and a moon oath- that he’ll exact vengeance and destroy all of those who were involved with their untimely demise. This trilogy follows his dark revenge, all the while introducing you to the most amazing cast of supporting characters who join his team!
While Yarvi excels in being a man with ‘deep cunning,’ a mastermind of plotting, his schemes turn the whole world upside down. But isn’t revenge worth it?
Frank Castle and Bruce Wayne agree that it is, no matter what the cost to your life, happiness or sanity.
If you like Fantastic Four, Thor or Superman… check out the Acacia Series from David Anthony Durham
Take a happy group of royal siblings; four siblings, in fact. They each have their own skills- the oldest is the leader. The second is the beautiful charmer. The third is the cynical tomboy. The youngest is wild and carefree. Together, they are the heirs to the throne of Acacia. But when a royal coup leaves them orphaned, they are whisked away to the four corners of the world to hide from the wrath of the new King. Now, they must bide their time, scheming in the shadows, unaware if their siblings survived, or if they are the last. What secrets will they uncover from the corners of their world? Will one of them turn against the others? Will they regain the throne…or will they live so long in disguise that they give up on the life they lived before?
I really enjoyed this trilogy! It had a lot of moments that caught me by surprise, and the characters all felt very real and human. The first time I read it, I referred to it as “Game of Thrones lite” all the intrigue, but half as heavy. No spoilers, but this book has one of the most satisfying, beautiful endings of all time. Not one to be missed!
Well that’s my list for this time folks. Keep an eye out for more of my literary picks, and if you took any of my suggestions on reads, feel free to leave me a comment on the blog, facebook, twitter, or any of Midtown Comics social media platforms and let me know what you thought!
Author: KJ Linder
The views and opinions herein are those of the authors and not Midtown Comics. Midtown Comics does not accept any responsibility or liability for the views and/or information provided.