Friday, October 21, 2011

Funny Book Friday: A Parent's Guide to Cura Te Ipsum Volume 1

Disclaimer:  I've been sick with the flu for almost two weeks. Just keep in mind that I'm kinda high on cold medicine while I write this....

Cura Te Ipsum
Written by: Neal Bailey
Illustrated by: Dexter Wee
To Buy: www.CharlieEverett.com

Cura Te Ipsum was my favorite find of Geek Girl Con.  The con was winding down and we were finally taking a few moments to check out the expo hall in detail.  Author Neal Bailey was sitting at his table and a mock prop from the book caught Nate's eye. Since I was standing there awkwardly,  I asked him what the book was all about.  He summarized the plot and when he was done Nate politely asked "What age do you recommend this for?"  and I knew that his interest had been piqued.

Cura Te Ipsum is the story of Charlie Everett.  From The Cura Te Ipsum website:
Charlie Everett is much like any other Charlie, the everyman. In most universes, Charlie Everett gets sick of his life (where he’s most often a guidance counselor who tells other people how to live their lives, while not knowing how to live his own). After a certain point, he’s fired, and he goes home and sticks a pistol in his mouth and blows his brains out. Charlie Prime, our hero, is stopped by another character, Leo, who introduces him to the concept of the multiverse, and tells him that there’s a whole team of Charlies, Cura Te Ipsum, fighting to stop him from committing suicide across time and space.
Charlie is our hero. He is brave, sad, and after he meets the Dark Everett, steadfastly committed to keeping himself and other versions of himself alive, to end the threat.

Nate is in his angsty tween phase, and I think the idea of sad, suicidal Charlie being saved by confident, alterna-Charlie (Leo) was appealing to him.  He’s also really into alternate universe stories at the moment (he loves Marvel's Noir series, for example).   Neal's answer to the age appropriateness question was "It's dark and has swearing and violence; but all in context.  You know your kid and what they can handle".  

The book is indeed dark and violent.  Nate handled it just fine for the most part, but one of the more violent scenes in the book did seem to stick with him. If your kid is emotionally mature enough to handle a dark storyline about suicide, the book is worthwhile read.

I think this is a fantastic book, and Nate agrees.  He cannot wait to get his hands on Volume 2, and neither can I.  The writing is snappy without being trite and the art, even without the aid of a colorist, is beautiful.  (The lack of color in the book actually has the benefit  of taming some of the violence; blown off heads just aren't quite as gross without color).  The story gets off to a nice quick start, pulling the reader into the story right off the bat.  The main antagonist is introduced with enough exposition to intrigue the reader, while leaving enough unanswered questions to keep you wanting more.

The idea of alterna-yous searching you out to tell you it's going to be okay and invite you to be part of a inter-universe super squad is fresh and unique and is sure to appeal to many.  Cura Te Ipsum explores the human will to survive, the struggle to pull yourself up from darkness and find a purpose.  So many of us have felt as bad as Charlie at one time or another, this book will resonate with that part of you.   

Parent's Guide:
Age Appropriateness: It's a pretty dark subject matter, and there's a good amount of swearing and violence, though it's all in context. This one is definitely one to read with and/or before readers younger than 16. Nate really enjoyed it, but it was a bit disturbing to him.  I don't think it's anything worse than what's sometimes on TV.

Things to look out for: Suicide, swearing, violent images including a background image of someone eating a corpse.

Talking Points:Why does Charlie want to commit suicide.  Why do you think the other Charlies want to save him?  Why do you think that Dark Everett wants to stop them?  Why does the group use the phrase "Cura Te Ipsum" and how does Dark Everett use the same phrase, even though he has an opposite objective?  What would you say to Charlie?  What do you think alternate versions of you would be like?

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