I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda
Release date: July 19th, 2016
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a graphic novel. I hadn’t heard of this book until I saw a review on Lair of Books and knew I HAD to read it! Luckily for me, all six single issues that make up the first volume were listed on NetGalley. I downloaded and quickly read them all. The whole combination of the story and amazing illustrations just blew me away!
Without giving away too much of the story, Monstress is about a young woman named Maika who has suffered greatly following a war between her people, the Arcanics, and humans. I immediately liked Maika. She’s such a badass that you can’t help but root for her. The story opens with her being sold into slavery, but she never once surrenders herself to her captors. She’s strong and has a lot more going on. There’s a darkness to her that I found very interesting and want to learn more about.
Also, there is a talking, multi-tailed cat that was downright awesome. The attitude, the foul language…I could have read a whole story just with this cat. I especially like the cat’s history lessons at the end of issues 2-6. Basically, I WANT MORE CAT!
Besides the interesting world and politics, what stood out to me were the illustrations by Sana Takeda. They are GORGEOUS! There’s just so much detail and emotion to them. The images really help tell the story by emphasizing the horrors of slavery, torture and the impact of war. I often stopped reading just to admire how fantastic the artwork was!
The only issue I had was that the background/politics were confusing at times. The book really hits the ground running and very little background is provided, so I did find myself a little lost in certain parts. Of course, as you read on more and more is revealed. It just meant I did have to flip back and forth to stay on track.
I’m now eagerly awaiting Volume 2. This is a MUST read book for people who enjoy graphic novels and even for those who don’t. The illustrations alone need to be checked out. I highly recommend it!
* Illustrations taken from here.