If you have been waiting to see how the series would do, if you have been waiting to make sure it didn't start sucking after the first book, if you have been waiting to see if this series was really worth your time, I am here to tell you that NOW IS THE TIME.
Late Eclipses, the fourth Toby Daye novel, is my favorite since the first, Rosemary and Rue. Part of it is environmental: after one book spent in a building and one book largely spent in a Faerie forest, it was refreshing to get back to the familiar environs of Shadowed Hills and the Bay Area. Part of it is characters: at this point, there are many characters I just love spending time with, even if it's only for a few pages, and the addition of May, Toby's Fetch, to the cast is a huge plus.
But what really makes this book so strong is that Toby has a very personal connection to the mystery. Not only is the villain a dark figure from her past—like the previous book, this is not a whodunit, as Toby is confident she knows the culprit very early on (or does she?)—but she's targeting the people Toby loves. This is in addition to the multiple people who want to kill her. She's going to have to do some very expedient detective work—mixing magic and science!—if she wants to catch the culprit and save her friends.
And yet, as exciting as the main plot is, the real reason it's this book that makes me say, "Go, go pick up the first three books and get in on this series NOW," is that through the course of the story, seanan_mcguire pays off many things that have been set up and brimming throughout the first three books. Something very important happens in this book. It may very well make you go OMGWTF. And then you will re-read certain passages in previous books and you will see that the clues were there all a-fucking-long. And then you will wonder what other clues are staring you right in the face, and you will not be able to wait to see where this story goes.
I've enjoyed Toby's adventures so far, but Late Eclipses has made me a true believer: I'm in it for the long haul.
Similarly, I'm now hooked on Morning Glories, the hot new Image title from Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma that's been described as Runaways meets Lost, although there's a fair bit of Prisoner influence as well.
Welcome to Morning Glory Academy, one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Meet Casey, the strong-willed blonde girl. Meet Zoe, the bitchy Indian girl. Meet Jade, the emo redhead. Meet Hunter, the geeky redhead. Meet Ike, the sociopathic rich boy. Meet Jun, the strong Japanese boy.
They're being watched. They're being observed. And they can't leave.
There is so much WTF in this book, but it's deftly balanced by the more grounded character interactions. As you'd hope and expect, Spencer draws real characters out of the basic archetypes, and I wanted to know more about all of them. The teen dialogue is good and appropriately snappy, while the adult dialogue is a little more cryptic at times. And unlike Runaways, these six kids don't automatically form some kind of superteam: hell, they don't even all get along. Also, they don't have superpowers. OR DO THEY.
But let me get back to the WTF. You guys, this book is fucked up. Shit happens in the very first issue that makes you wonder how in the hell MGA manages to pass as a real school because they are so completely terrible, but I'm sure they have their ways. They do have the equivalent of the Smoke Monster, and it's a doozy...plus you also get a WTF-y clue about it in the first few issues. There is a lot of crazy shit going down at MGA, and there are many cryptic and vague conversations about what its purpose is, what they're doing with these kids and what they need them for, but then there's more WTF to distract you.
While there are plenty of mysteries that need solving, the characters shine as well. I even want to know more about Miss Daramount and Mr. Gribbs, who Number Two it up in entertaining and chilling ways. And because the first arc focuses on Casey, I think she's awesome, and I am rooting for her to kick everyone's ass. But it's clear each character is going to get his or her chance to be the Most Interesting Character.
Nick Spencer is kind of obligated to say that he has it all planned out, that he has an endgame in mind, and that we'll be able to look back at these first issues for signs that he knew what he was doing right from the start, and I will take his word for it. There's already more than enough going on with the Academy and with the characters to keep me interested, and not just me. Morning Glories is one of the big hits of 2010, selling out issues like crazy, so it's time to get on this exciting and intriguing train while it's hot. The first trade is only ten bucks, issue #7 is on the stands, and issue #8 will be out this month, and, boom, you're caught up. NOW IS THE TIME.