Books

Collective Graphic Novel Reviews

Graphic novels are a interesting and diverse way of telling a narrative. There are so many themes, stories and genres that can be presented through beautiful illustrations and aesthetics that differ across various artists visions. Christmas brought me a vast amount of new graphic novels ranging from humorous fantasy to thrilling manga. Easily readable and compelling, here are some short reviews on five exceptional graphic novels I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil 

by Stephen Collins

A beautifully crafted, gorgeous story of an orderly world of Here, a place of pure tidiness and familiar neat surroundings. Dave is a seemingly ordinary man, who is thrown into the terrors that follow when the order is unintentionally broken.

Absolutely brilliant. The layout and designs of this splendid book is imaginative and creative, making the story very fast paced and exciting throughout. Thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of monochromatic shades and textures of the characters and environments.

The narrative is witty and humorous, following the unlikely tale of disorder in a strict society and how one event can affect a whole community. Wonderfully weird and quirky, adding a whole new level of charm. It shows how just the smallest element of the unknown and unfamiliar can create such a widespread chaos. It’s a great new spin that hasn’t been explored before, making it such a unique and fascinating read. Just didn’t want to put it down.

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The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil (2013) – source: Jonathan Cape

Monster: Perfect Edition, Vol 1 

by Naoki Urasawa

Kenzo Tenma is a man of principles. He’s a surgeon of high expertise and genius, highly sought out for the most technical and high profile cases of accident and medicine. Thrown into intricate and demanding predicaments, he’s faced with uncertainty from colleagues and work associates that pressurise and stipulate his morals behind his work. A thrilling and compelling story of murder, mystery, choices and how they affect the people around us.

Tenma is such an admirable character. The protagonist is strong willed and strives to do what he truly believes is the righteous option. He puts his determined oaths ahead of any personal motives of professional success. The workaholic continues to endeavour hardships in his personal life to get to the bottom of the mystery that unfolds surrounding two orphaned twins. His passion for life and helping others drives him to be the best he can be, even when it results in sacrificing his own happiness.

“People’s lives are equally precious. Nobody has the right to take a life!!”

Took me a little while to adjust to the typical manga Japanese layout of this graphic novel, once my eyes had become accustomed, it was easily thoroughly enjoyable. The story was gripping and exciting throughout, constantly keeping the reader engaged and immersed in the dramatic incidents and circumstances surrounding the police and hospital departments.

monster_vol_1
Monster: Perfect Edition, Vol. 1 (2014) – source: VIZ Media LLC

Anya’s Ghost 

by Vera Brosgol

Anya’s life is pretty ordinary. She despises school, is fed up with family life and her only police lies within the moments with her only friend, skipping classes and smoking. When she discovers friendship from an unlikely source, her daily life is transformed. She soon discovers not to overlook the good things in life when her new acquaintance reveals the truth behind her haunted past.

A charming read, following down-to-Earth Anya, a high school student that is easily identifiable. She faces very customary worries and daily issues that the reader could somewhat relate to. A broken family, body image obstacles and burdens from school bullies and her incapability to fit in at school may seem quite trifling predicaments but it helps connect with her character easily.

The art is clean, and the colour scheme is a beautifully sombre, alternative approach to graphic novels, that mirrors the narrative harmoniously. The fluent mix of contemporary and supernatural themes worked very well to produce an interesting and quick paced story of friendship, solemn pasts and standing up for what really matters.

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Anya’s Ghost (2011) – source: First Second

Nimona 

by Noelle Stevenson

A wonderfully magical tale of a shape-shifting sidekick of villain Lord Ballister Blackheart, a knight with a hazardous grudge. Together they endeavour on a thrilling journey of dragons, fierce sword battles and compelling back stories of unpredictable events, where they discover the true delight of companionship on the way.

Nimona’s persona is one of fantastic charm and entertaining captivator that brings a delightful amount of humour and magical depth to the story of a stubborn, villainous rogue. She propels herself into Blackheart’s sheltered and isolated world with her alluring quick wit.

Overall a beautifully constructed and appealing graphic novel that hooks the reader right from the beginning. A fast paced, easy and  exceedingly entertaining read.

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Nimona (2015) – source: Harper Collins

 Death Note: Black Edition, Vol 1 

by Tsunami Ohba & Takeshi Obata

After coming across a mysterious notebook, Light Yagami, discovers that this new discovery is in fact a source of a strong power of killing any one who’s name is written in the book. With a strong urge to rid the world of all evil, Light, along with the owner of the notebook – a Shinigami death god, Ryuk – sets out on a task, working against the apparent antagonistic enforcement of mysterious detective ‘L’ along with his task force, who are attempting to stop these bizarre deaths.

A compelling and intriguing concept that provides a unique narrative that isn’t usually explored in typical stories. The illustrations are bold and absorbing, another brilliant investigation into Japanese manga. Light is developing further into an interesting and slightly unstable character, with worrying intentions and strong will to achieve a God-like status against the sinful population. As a persona, he’s a lot more complex than he first appears, with a thoughtful inquisition, intricate psychopathic conceptualisation he brings when he becomes more and more involved in the Death Note world.

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Death Note: Black Edition (2010) source: TOKYOPOP GmbH

 

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