I had a really great time reading 7 graphic novels these past two weeks and I want to share my thoughts about some of them. So, I am sharing my not-so-mini (???) reviews for Legend, Sea Sirens, and Gender Queer!
Title: Legend: The Graphic Novel
Author: Marie Lu, Leigh Dragoon (adaptor), Kaari (illustrator)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: April 21st, 2015
Age Category & Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Synopsis: Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives are not as sinister as they often seem. One day June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June tries desperately to avenge her brother’s death. And the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the lengths their country will go to in order to keep its secrets.
This is my first read from Marie Lu and I loved it! And I wish I have read this series when I was younger.
I really love the illustrations in this book. I love the style. I love how they all looked – especially June. Her angst, toughness and coolness are apparent, even just by looking at her because of how well her features were illustrated. The colors used were perfect – they gave this serious, dystopian vibes. And I felt like I was watching an anime right from the start, only that it’s in paper that I have to flip. I could only imagine just how great it would be for this graphic novel to be turned into an actual anime.
Story-wise, I really liked it and am quite sure that I would have been devastated if I have read the actual novel itself – which is both a relief and caused me regret. I like the plot. I easily liked June and Day. I enjoyed June’s journey of figuring things out in their society. Half of it was predictable, half was not. I loved how intense it was especially with its action scenes. This was quite fast, which prevented me to establish a connection, but I have quite high hopes that I will be able to establish deep connection with everything once I’m finally reading the actual novels in the series.
What I didn’t like was how June was able to conclude a specific, important thing out of nowhere. There was no build-up, it just felt rushed. And I found some of the characters – especially male ones, looking too similar to one another. I had a hard time figuring out which one is Day and John at first because of their physical similarity. And up until now I am still not sure whether if they are twins or not because it was not blatantly stated (But they have to be, right? Otherwise, the end would have been weird.)
Because of Legend: The Graphic Novel, I just had the more reason to read other Marie Lu’s works. I can’t wait to read the next installment in this series! If you want a quick, intense read, are a fan of dystopian novels and fancy some beautiful anime-like illustrations, I highly recommend this.
Title: Sea Sirens
Author: Amy Chu, Janet K. Lee (illustrator)
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 11th, 2019
Age Category & Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Purchase at: Amazon
Synopsis: Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.
This graphic novel was inspired by The Sea Fairies, L. Frank Baum’s “underwater Wizard of Oz.” It weaves Vietnamese mythology, fantastical ocean creatures, and a deep-sea setting.
I really enjoyed this book. I was in awe of the illustrations and smiled right at the very first page. Lively, vibrant colors were used which matched perfectly for its fun narration.
This is about Trot who is a Vietnamese-American surfer who has a rescued one-eyed cat named Cap’n Bill. Her mother, and grandfather who has dementia, are Vietnamese, and I really loved how Vietnamese they all looked. It warmed my heart to see how they were represented physically. I also loved seeing how Trot’s grandfather longs for Vietnam and subtly gives us a glimpse of the life of Vietnamese diaspora. I love that we got to see how much Trot loves her family but at the same time, saw that she is just a typical kid who could disobey her mom and get into trouble.
This is a fantasy one and I love how Trot and Cap’n Bil’s lives were intertwined with the Sea Sirens and sea snakes (I forgot what specifically they were called, oops) in their fantasy world under the ocean. It was imaginative and the world underwater was beautiful. I also love that in few pages, aside from Trot’s life in land, we also got to see the lives of Sea Sirens and the sea snakes underwater. And saw that it was a story of reconciliation and learning for lots of characters.
On the other hand, it felt too fast at times I thought there was a missing dialogue and that they could have added some more scenes. There was also a lack of world-building. And what I disliked the most was that there was a specific thing that did not make sense to me at all on the part when Cap’n Bill and Trot were treated as “war heroes”.
Overall, I enjoyed Sea Sirens and would love to read another book of Trot and Cap’n Bill’s adventure. Sea Sirens has a fun narrative, imaginative and entertaining story, and lovable characters. I recommend this especially to younger readers!
Title: Gender Queer
Author: Maia Kobabe (illustrator), Phoebe Kobabe (colorist)
Publisher: Oni Press
Publishing Date: May 28th, 2019
Age Category & Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Purchase at: Amazon
Synopsis: In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
It has been quite awhile since I have read a memoir and a graphic novel, and guess what? Gender Queer is both! I dove into this book blindly and wow, I closed this book with more understanding about the lives of queer and non-binary people, feeling in awe of just how great the storytelling was – from the illustrations to the scenes themselves, and just wanting more!
Gender Queer is a memoir of Maia Kobabe, who is a non-binary author and a comic artist. This book shows Maia’s journey of discovering and accepting eir self and walks us in detail of the things e went through, the questions e seek answers to and more. More than that, this also showed Maia’s life as a kid, as a teen and as a comic artist.
I really love its balance between being deep and personal, and being fun and entertaining. I love everything that was showed and tackled about being non-binary from little to heavy things, like body hair, the joys of using briefs instead of panties and using binders, the struggles of having check ups with a gynecologist, exploring one’s sexuality with all its confusion and wonders, trying to figure what pronounce should e use, and more. Maia also walked us through how e began having questions about, and exploring eir own identity, relationships, and coming out. And I just love how this graphic novel talks about sexuality in a very open way.
I felt good while reading this. The illustrations are beautiful and they used bright, lively colors – which, I think contributed to that good feeling I have felt. I just loved how the scenes were portrayed in every comic strip. I also find it cool that Maia’s sister who is also a part of some scenes is actually the one who colored the illustrations. I had a glimpse on what kind of relationship they have on this book and it’s lovely to imagine them both working for this together.
The only thing I did not enjoy in my reading experience was how the ARC was made. It contains random comic strips so I was pretty confused on the start. Like it will jump from page 20 to page 134, then 81, then 2. I seriously think there is no need for that. It was irritating.
Gender Queer is deep, raw, powerful, and entertaining. If you are queer or non-binary, I seriously think you shouldn’t pass this up. And even if you are not, but wants to read a fun yet meaningful graphic novel with lively illustrations, I highly recommend this.
Have you read any of these graphic novels? Did you enjoy them as well? What is the last graphic novel you enjoyed and would recommend? Share your thoughts below!