I have been on a kick lately of reading a lot of graphic novels, comics, and even a bit of manga, and I have more on my TBR for the next month, so I decided I would start a new series. Every 1-2 weeks, I’ll be posting a small batch of mini-reviews for graphic novels and the like! I’ll also include poetry collections, as I’ve read a little poetry lately.
This week, I’ll be reviewing four graphic novels.
Monstress, Vol 1: Awakening – Marjorie M. Liu
In an 18th century Asia AU, a seventeen-year-old girl must learn to use the demon inside of her to help her survive a war that’s been ongoing for far too long. The war wages between humans and immortals; magic users and those who wish to eradicate magic from the earth. Meanwhile, Maika simply wants to keep herself out of harm’s way while seeking out the truth of her mysterious past and deceased mother.
If I were to rate Monstress just on artwork and character design, it would be off the charts. This is the singular most beautiful graphic novel I’ve ever seen in my life; in fact, I think it’s probably the most beautiful graphic novel that exists. There’s a wicked steampunk feel to the character designs and everyone is just so stunningly detailed and fantastic. There were panels in this book that I honestly just wanted to blow up into a poster-sized photo and decorate my entire walls in them, because damn.
Unfortunately, I didn’t love the story as much as I loved the artwork. There is just so much information being thrown at you right out of the gate, and I had a hard time immersing myself at times. I’m the type of reader who likes slow burns and world-building, so being dropped into a universe with so many systems in place and no explanations for any of them isn’t a 5-star reading experience for me. If you don’t mind that sort of thing, though, I think Monstress could be the perfect read for you!
There are also some content warnings I need to throw out here, like child trafficking and abuse, that were hard to stomach in the context of such a gorgeously detailed graphic novel, so proceed with caution.
All in all: did I enjoy the graphic novel? Yes and no. It was beautiful and creative, but I was sorely frustrated by the lack of world-building, so I’d call this a solid 3.5 for me (rounding up for Goodreads’ sake). That said, I would highly recommend this to anyone who hates slow burns and wants an intriguing fantasy read.
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol 1: Faust Act – Kieron Gillen
“Just because you’re immortal doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”
So many people have recommended this graphic novel series to me, so I finally picked it up, and I’m glad that I did! It essentially follows this idea that, every ninety years, a dozen gods/goddesses are reincarnated into the bodies of teenagers, each of whom are allowed to live for two years as brilliant, miracle-working celebrities before dying and restarting the cycle.
Our main character, Laura, gets wrapped up in a wild ride when Luci (Lucifer) is charged with a crime she swears she didn’t commit, and Laura makes it her mission to bring justice to Luci and find the culprit.
This book is fun, quick-paced, and the art is stunning. The character designs are just incredible (I was especially fond of Luci and The Morrigan). It has such a unique feel to it overall, and I’d highly recommend it to any graphic novel lover, especially if you enjoy mythology tales.
Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise – Gene Luen Yang
MY BABIES 😍😍😍😍
This was exactly as precious and adorable and nostalgic as I expected it to be, and I’m just sad that I didn’t read it a long time ago. As someone who has been a diehard A:TLA fan since literally the world premiere of s01e01, I was a little bit apprehensive about finally picking this up, but it holds up the values and humor of the show SO WELL and it was just so delightful to see my little bendy babies growing up a little. Plus, Zuko was his usual conflicted cinnamon roll self 😍
If you’ll all excuse me, I’m pretty sure the next few days are just going to consist of me binge-watching my DVDs of the show (for the eighteenth time).
Taproot – Keezy Young
Well, that was officially one of the cutest things I’ve ever read.
Taproot follows the stories of two boys who fall in love: the catch is, one’s a ghost! Blue has been stuck in between the world of the living and the great beyond for a while when he meets the first human who’s ever seen him, a gardener named Hamal. When a Reaper informs the boys that Hamal is actually an accidental necromancer, they’re given a very specific task: restore order to the local forest, or suffer the consequences of an imbalanced world.
Seriously, this graphic novel is so adorable and sweet, and the art is full of whimsy. It’s a little creepy and a whole lotta cute, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, sweet-hearted queer read.
Thank you to NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!