Heartbreak Soup - Gilbert Hernández To be perfectly honest, at the beginning of this book, I was completely lost. There was a cast of so many characters, with so many random, seemingly senseless things going on, that I couldn't quite orient myself until, some time further into the book, I began to realize that this was just how the book was written. This first volume isn't even able to be considered as a real book, in a sense, because it's a collection of shorter stories all put together into one large volume. In fact, I think there are six more volumes that came after this one that continued to expand on the stories of the people from the made-up town of Palomar.

Overall, I'd have to say that this entire volume of stories reads quite like a Spanish novella would play on TV. I get that distinctly "soap opera" feeling from it, and yet... *Laughs* I, who never in my life cared or had the urge to watch such things, found myself really enjoying this first volume of Heartbreak Soup. It was definitely a different experience for me in the world of graphic novels. I who have read few comics and whose sole source of understanding is manga, was able to get the chance now to enjoy the large and varied genre from a different culture, and it was pleasantly worth it.

There's something relieving about just sitting back to read a book that doesn't have a message or anything truly purposeful to it. The entirety was, as I've mentioned before, a series of interrelated if separate stories that follow a fairly large and varied set of characters. There are a few people I loved--Carmen especially. God that girl/woman was KICKASS. <333 I became a dedicated fan from the nearly the first second I saw her. *Laughs* Every character in here though, has this wonderful quality, where you almost forget that they're made up characters in a story. They act and think and feel like real characters do. There's none of that sense that you're reading a story in here. It's got the realism of sitting down in front of your TV and literally watching a novella, with all its twists and turns, unexpected or not, of normal people living their own lives. *Chuckles* It's quite refreshing. This is one of those books that you would read just for your own pleasure and nothing more or less. Very few books can pull that off today.

I must say something else about the things I read. Being the type of story it is, it has everything that normal people commonly find and deal with in life: sex, murder, prostitution, and more. It's also pretty graphic in some terms of this, definitely the sex and nudity portions of it. And listen to this girls! Male nudity too for once! About time, right? *Chuckles* Sure the women are going to out-do the men, as normal. But all these things should give you the feeling for what this graphic novel is really like. Although it is absolutely not written for children, it's full of a casualness that makes everything enjoyable even if it takes you some time to get into the world and learn who the different people are. You eventually get there, and you start to feel at home in the stories of the people of Palomar. After that, it just turns to sitting back and enjoying the ride for the duration.

Strangely enough, even after finishing things, though many of the stories had a mixture of closure or lack thereof, I feel that of all the graphic novels I've read, this one is perhaps one of the few that I would go back to and read again, because I know I'll enjoy it from beginning to end all over again. Perhaps that sensation alone speaks for itself.

Also! I absolutely have to mention this before I conclude. The artwork: THANK GOD that it was drawn by someone with an actual CONCEPT of how the human body looks! The women! God bless these women! They have CURVES. *Cheers all the way throughout the book!* It's such an unexpected and delightful surprise to actually SEE women that have a SHAPE to them and not just implanted parts that become the central focus. For instance, that one part where Luba, the woman with the BIGGEST boobs you'll see in this book, is making a comment about another girl's attire in town, she mentions that she would trade everything for a pair of legs like the other has. And lifting her long skirt and planting her knee on a barrel or box (can't remember what it was exactly), she displays her own chicken leg and it's thin and unshapely. That kind of balance between the actual make and variety of women's bodies is a detail that adds so much more pleasure to the reading for me. I think perhaps that's why I didn't mind the nudity of the women as much as I might have if it was in any other story. In the end, it was just their bodies, beautiful and natural and NORMAL. No flippin' implants or anorexia to boot. -3- I enjoy my women with SHAPE to them. Geez, you think people would actually care about that! But I'm done rambling about that for now. XD

In the end, I feel that this is a book that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I'd say it's definitely worth looking into if you'd like some variety and enjoyment. Don't plan on getting anything too deep from this book, even if it does have its moments scattered throughout. Just go through it for the fun! It's a nice read for that! ^__^