After Faust's bassist leaves them (and their lead singer, Cree, whom he was dating), they find themselves in need of a new one. Luckily, Cree hears a homeless guy named Izsak playing a guitar in the subway, and he's good. She drags him home with her and gets him to play for Rail, another member of Faust and sort of Cree's brother (after Cree's parents died in a plane crash, she went to live with her godmother, Rail's mother - Cree sees Rail as a brother, but Rail has secret feelings for Cree). Rail reluctantly agrees that Izsak is good, but that doesn't mean he's happy when Cree invites Izsak to stay with her in lieu of an actual paying job. So Rail decides to sleep on Cree's couch.
Char, Faust's drummer, also thinks Izsak is perfect, mostly because she thinks Izsak is gorgeous. One makeover and a couple months worth of practice later, Faust is ready for its first show with its new bassist. Cree has started falling for Izsak, and it looks like the feeling might be mutual. Unfortunately, Izsak is still a mystery. He can't remember anything about his life prior to 5 years ago, he seems to have problems with the idea of undead things or anything to do with life after death, and he's started to get a bit sick but doesn't want to see a doctor. Plus, although no one knows it yet, he's got two mysterious stalkers who may not mean him well.
The day of Faust's first show with Izsak, Cree learns to her horror that the band they were previously going to open for has canceled and been replaced by Mephisto, the band Ed, Faust's previous bassist, joined after leaving Faust. Ed is a jerk in oh so many ways. He's a jerk towards Char (whose name, it turns out, is short for Charles - not a shock if you skipped to the extras at the end of the book, but a shock to me), he's arrogantly unapologetic about having left Faust, and he's a jerk to Cree and, by extension, Izsak. Izsak tries to keep out of it, only to blow his top when Ed calls Cree his "secondhand f***". Good boy, Izsak, only that's when Izsak coughs up blood and passes out.
Remember how I said Izsak was mysteriously sick? Well, apparently it's the kind of sick where you can cough up blood and, only a few minutes later, swear that you're not dying and will be fine and everyone pretty much believes you. The show goes on and even goes well, although Izsak slips out during the celebration afterward. Rail, who still doesn't trust him, follows him. Rail is briefly attacked and threatened by one of Izsak's mysterious stalkers, who has some kind of freaky powers. Then Rail learns that, not only did Izsak go visit a hooker, he also seems to have killed her. Rail rushes back to Cree's place, only to find Cree and Izsak in each other's arms. Rail confronts Izsak, accusing him of being a murderous vampire wannabe. Although Izsak swears that Ashley (the hooker Izsak swears was not a hooker) was still alive when he left her, and although Cree wants to hear Izsak out and doesn't want him to go, Izsak still leaves.
Ohmigod, ohmigod, I have to buy more volumes of this! Well, actually, I have the first two volumes, and it turns out there are only three total, so I guess I only need to get one more. While I'm happy I won't need to make a huge monetary investment to own all of this, I'm already sad that this series is so short. Because, ohmigod, it's good.
Ok, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you should drop everything and go out and buy this - just because I love this series so far doesn't mean you're going to. I can't even say that this is a very original series, because this is another one of those where it's pathetically easy for me to come up with read-alikes. However, this series has so many things I tend to like in a series that it just brings me all kinds of joy.
First, there's the pretty guys. Izsak is not only gorgeous, he's nice. The mystery surrounding him origins and even what he is (I'm guessing vampire, but can it really be that simple?) makes him even better. Rail is also gorgeous, although his other appealing characteristics are different. He's got the scowling delinquent look down pat (think Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach), and yet he's got a cute, sweet secret thing for Cree (how cute and sweet you think it is all depends upon how you tend to feel about "sibling-by-marriage" romance stories - I'm usually not that wild about them, which is why I'm rooting more for Izsak than Rail). Also, according to his bio at the end of the volume, he's pretty smart. As a reader, both guys seem fairly yummy to me. Izsak doesn't have all the "but we're siblings!" baggage, while Rail is probably better for Cree in terms of long-term health and piece-of-mind. I'm still rooting for Izsak, though.
Second, there's the artwork. It took me longer than it should have to place what I think is Lijewski's biggest artistic influence, but I'm guessing it's Tite Kubo, the artist and author of Bleach. I can see that influence most clearly in Rail. It's something about his eyes. And his scowl. Anyway, I love both Tite Kubo and Lijewski's artwork. Lijewski (as she was when she created this volume) could stand to improve her full-body anatomy skills, but hoo boy does she draw abs nicely.
Ok, moving past the whole drooling fangirl stuff. Third, I really like the overall mix of romance, mystery, and supernatural. I can't wait to learn more about Izsak and see where things go with him and Cree. Who are the two mysterious stalkers, and what do they want with Izsak? Who killed Ashley?
While I may have a few complaints about this volume, those complaints are very minor in comparison with all the things I loved about it. I can't wait to read volume 2, and it looks like I'll be adding volume 3 to the list of things I'll be spending my Amazon.com gift certificate on.
Bio pages for Cree, Rail, Izsak, and Char that include age, date of birth, height, birthplace, hair color, eye color, style mode (not sure what this means, but then I'm style-less), major (for those characters who are in college), and a bulleted list of extra tidbits. Also, a few paragraphs from Lijewski.
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
- Bleach (anime TV series); Bleach (manga) by Tite Kubo - Like I said in my commentary, RE:Play's artwork reminds me a lot of Bleach at times. Otherwise, though, the two series don't have much in common, so this "read-alike" suggestion is for those who are more interested in looks than content (although I should add that Bleach is pretty good - it's just more action-oriented than RE:Play, which is heavier on romance and mysterious strangeness).
- The Last Days (book) by Scott Westerfeld - This one might be a good fit for those who liked RE:Play's music/band elements, plus its potential for freakiness. A couple guitarists decide they want to be a real band, so they recruit a few people, including Alana Ray (a homeless drummer, who, like Izsak, has understandable issues with taking a job that won't pay) and Minerva (a young woman who's becoming a "peep" - basically, a vampire). The question totally isn't, "Can humanity survive the rise of the peeps (vampires)?" - it's, "Will the band manage to make it big and, maybe, icing on the cake, save the world?"
- War for the Oaks (book) by Emma Bull - This one's a modern day fantasy (would this be called an urban fantasy?) in which the main character, having recently left her old band and boyfriend, is forming her own band and gets drawn into a conflict between the Seelie and Unseelie Faerie Courts. This might be a good fit for those who liked the band/music elements in RE:Play. Plus, if I remember right, there's even a bit of romance in this one.
- Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (book) by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon - Again, an urban fantasy in which music plays a big part. In this one, the main character learns that he's a Bard, someone whose music can work magic, and his music ends up attracting all kinds of attention, both good and bad.
- King of Thorn (manga) by Yuji Iwahara - Izsak's scars, mysterious illness, and lack of knowledge about his past made me think of this series, which is just filled with mysteries. Has all of humanity except those who were cryogenically frozen died of the Medusa virus? What caused the virus in the first place? What are those huge monsters and where are all the lab techs? And is that guy a zombie? If all you wanted to do was read about the mystery of Izsak and his bloody, freaky, unremembered past, then this may be the series for you. If you want romance, then skip this one.