Hotel Africa vol 1 by Hee Jung Park | Blabber

Hotel Africa, Volume 1Hotel Africa vol 1 by Hee Jung Park
Manhwa – Slice of Life/Drama
215 pages
Published 5/2006
Read 9/2019
Spoiler-free blabber

Hotel Africa is a hidden gem.

I picked this manhwa up because one of my best friends has a tendency of buying a bunch of obscure stuff, and then throwing 20 or so volumes of it at me at a time to read when she’s finished with it. This was among them – I had never heard of it before, and she didn’t tell me her opinion of it before lending it to me. I didn’t even read the back before I began, so I was going in totally blind.

Man, did I end up falling in love with this.

This volume follows two timelines, both focused around the main character: Elvis. Elvis in one timeline is a young man, just trying to live his life like the rest of us. He lives with two room mates, both of which also have their struggles. In the other timeline, Elvis is four years old, living with his mother at Hotel Africa, a hotel his mother and grandmother started up in the middle of the desert in Utah. Each chapter of the manwha switches back and forth between the two timelines, and each time, it goes into a new character’s story.

This series is definitely character-driven. If you go into this looking for a rip-roaring plot, you will be disappointed, but if you go in with the desire to learn about the human condition, you might find yourself in the right place.

Hotel Africa explores a lot of topics – it delves into the characters that show up at the hotel, why they chose that hotel out in the middle of nowhere, and the circumstances that brought them there. Each hotel guest’s story is different. Some are just passing through, on their way to start a new life, some are stuck in their pasts and have gone traveling to find their present, and some show up out of nowhere and never leave.

Elvis himself interacts with these guests, and you see their human struggles through the eyes of a toddler, who at the time may or may not actually grasp what is going on with his new friends. As an adult in the other timeline, you can see Elvis has grown up to be a very empathetic person as a result of being raised around people in all sorts of situations.

I really liked how real the situations felt. Not going into detail for spoilers sake, more than one of the people who showed up at the hotel were going through things that were very close to my heart, others were going through things that I’ve never experienced, but the author was able to convey their feelings in a way so sharp and clear that I felt like I had.

As said, this is a character-driven story, so it moves at a sedated pace. Each hotel guest’s story is self-contained for the most part, allowing us multiple glimpses into situations and struggles across a spectrum of life stages. It was very poignant, and very well written.

Overall, I adored this. On the first read through, I’ve rated it very high, but I feel upon a reread, upon letting these stories really sink in, that this could end up being a 5 star favorite. I plan on getting myself a copy of this and rereading it, along with volume 2, which I believe is the only other volume in the series(?).

But this one, man. If you want something that’ll pull at your heart and make you feel slightly sad without being able to put your finger on why, this is the one.

4.5 stars

September Wrap Up | ’19

Wrap Up

Happy end of September! This past month was weird, as far as my reading went. If you remember, I made a post announcing that I would be participating in Space Opera September – well, I kinda did, and then my mood went ‘I’m done!’ and then I read whatever I felt like. So I got like… 35% into the readathon. My b.

Anyways:

Books

Wild Ones, Vol. 1 (Wild Ones, #1)

Wild Ones vols 1-10 by Kiyo Fujiwara – I read this entire series this month, and I very much enjoyed it. It follows a high school student whose mother dies. Right as she’s realizing she has nowhere to go, her estranged grandfather shows up at the funeral and offers her a place to stay. When she gets to his house, she realizes he’s a yakuza boss, and all of the people now living with her are members of his clan. It takes off from there, as she navigates the new environment. This series is a shojo one, so it was no surprised when it turned out to essentially be a rom-com, exactly what I wanted. I borrowed this series from the library, but I think I want to get my own copies. I can definitely see myself re-reading it. It’s out of print though, so I’ll have to find used ones. But yes, if you’re looking for a fluffy romance, this would be it.

All volumes between 3-4 stars

O Maidens in Your Savage Season 1

O Maidens in Your Savage Season vols 1-3 by Mari Okada – I think this is one of my new favorite series – It got my third five star rating of the year! It’s ongoing, with vol 4 coming out later in October, so for now I’m caught up. This is a slice of life manga following a group of fifteen year old girls in a literature club who are beginning to get feelings towards boys and just have absolutely no idea how to handle that. It makes for a lot of comedy, awkwardness, and relatable mindsets. Reading it reminded me of being fifteen, but I don’t think I was as uh… comedic about it, ahaha. I did write a full spoiler-free blabber on vol 1 if you’re interested, but man, I love this series and can’t wait to get more.

5, 4.5 and 4.5 stars respectively

Binti (Binti, #1)

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – This is the one book I managed to finish towards Space Opera September. I did start another one, but I didn’t get to finishing it yet. It was too big, aha. But this novella, I’ve heard a lot about for ages, and I was very keen on reading it. It follows Binti, who is accepted into a prestigious school across space, and now has to find a way there from her own planet. For such a short book, it deals with a lot of topics: prejudice, linguistics, mathematics, all sorts of things. A lot of things packed into here, and it made for a really good read.

3.5 stars

Land of the Lustrous, Vol. 1 (Land of the Lustrous, #1)

Land of the Lustrous vols 1-5 by Haruko Ichikawa – The first two volumes of this were rereads for me, but it had been so long since I’d read them, I needed to in order to read the next three. This series follows a set of humanoid creatures called the Lustrous. Gem-based things, they live on the land that humans once did, and are constantly battling and running from the Lunarians, these creepy looking things from the moon that are constantly attacking them and using their bodies as the jewels instead of the living creatures they are. I gotta say, this series took me a bit to get into – it was in volume 3 really that I got hooked. The lore to this I think is more than we know so far, and it’s really intriguing. I’m looking forward to learning more. I have vols 6-8 borrowed from a friend, and I plan on continuing them soon.

3-4 stars each

Song of the Hanging Sky, Volume 1

Song of the Hanging Sky vol 1 by Toriko Gin – This was definitely an interesting start to a series. It follows a combat medic who has run from the battlefield and hidden in the wilderness, where he finds a bird-child – a boy with feathers and wings. The bird child doesn’t speak his language, but the medic takes him in anyways, nursing him back to health. The story goes from there, introducing this bird-humanoid culture, and the prejudices between them and humans. I borrowed this first volume from a friend and if she has any more, I’ll likely pick those up too.

3 stars

Hotel Africa, Volume 1

Hotel Africa vol 1 by Hee Jung Park – Man, I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. This manga follows a young man named Elvis, and goes back and forth between different times in his life. One timeline is him as an adult, struggling like we all do, to make it. The other timeline is back when he was four years old, living at Hotel Africa, a hotel his mother started out in the middle of the desert in I believe Nevada. This story is a slow one, very character driven, and full of almost nostalgia-like heartstring tugs. I adored this – it made me happy, it made me sad. It explored the things that people go through in their lives, unfortunate events, and how people cope with them. I really love this. At the time I rated it a 4.5 but upon a reread if I ever get there I could easily see it going up to a 5.

4.5 stars

And that’s it for books! I consider any month where I don’t rate anything under a 3 to be a really good month. I even had a 5 this month! I’m so pumped about it!


Other Things

  • Nothing! September was very status quo.

Reading Goals

  • Read 50 books – 85/50 – Complete!
  • Finish the 10 in 2019 list – 7/10
  • Keep book purchases around 4-5 books per month
    • J – 5 | F – 6 | M – 7 | A – 0 | M – 0 | J – 3 | J – 5 | A – 5 | S – 4| O | N | D
  • Go on a 2 to 3 month buying ban – Complete!
  • Reduce physical TBR to 250 books – Currently 248 – Complete (now maintaining)
  • Finish the r/Fantasy Book Bingo Challenge by Mar 31, 2019 – Complete!
  • Post monthly book hauls
    • J | F | M | A (on ban) | M(on ban) | J | J | A | S | O | N | D
  • Maintain a S-W-S posting schedule
    • J | F | M | A | M | J | J | A | S | O | N | D
  • Keep track of statistics
    • J | F | M | A | M | J | J | A | S | O | N | D