“To quote the poets… we’re f***ed”
Series: Monstress, Vol. 1
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Published: July 13, 2016
Genre: adult, graphic novel, horror, fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★☆
There are no spoilers in this review.
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, 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 and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
(This synopsis is from Goodreads.)
For some reason, when I was checking this out, this was in the young adult section. This is very far from young adult as you can get. I would say this graphic novel is new adult, at least, if not in the adult genre. The art is rather graphic and the language is strong at times.
The world sort of reminds me of that of in A Daughter of Smoke & Bone. It has that sort of vibe. There are no angels in Monstress, but there are witches, arcanics, and humans living in the same world. The witches and the arcanics don’t get along due to the huge war that they fought in the recent past that they named Constantine.
This story was definitely out of my comfort zone as I hate anything remotely creepy, and the artwork in this story is rather scary, in my opinion. I refused to read the book at night because the artwork creeped my out so much.
Speaking of the artwork, despite its scariness, Takeda’s style is absolutely breathtaking. You can tell that it took a lot of time and effort. The amount of detail in each panel makes me question how long it took her to draw the whole thing out.
More about the plot…
I felt sorry for Maika. She’s struggling to grasp the control of her mind and body from the god that lives within her skin. I can’t image what it feels like to be in her situation, and hopefully I’ll never have to experience it.
The story itself captivated me from the first page. It was hard to put the book down once I started. It switches from the present to the past (like flashbacks) to slowly reveal how Maika got to where she is in the story. The backstory helped me understand why Maika was doing what she was doing and what exactly her mission was. However, it also left some questions that I hope will be answered in the next couple volumes.
If you like the more intense, gory type of graphic novels, Monstress would be right up your alley.
She’s the main character who has a god (or is it demon?) that’s living in her skin. It’s a bit creepy, but surprisingly, the god is not the biggest problem in the story.
I feel like the only reason that Maika is alive is because of her friendship with Tuyo.
He is the voice of reason.
Kippa is the cutest little fox boy I’ve ever seen. Despite all that he’s gone through, he still has an innocent soul.
She reminds me a little bit of Matron Blackbeak from the Throne of Glass series.
If there’s anyone to stay away from, it is definitely Mother Superior.
I give this book 4 out of 5 BBC Sherlock heads. The graphics are rather… well, graphic, so I suggest not to read it if you’re under the age of 16.
Until next time….