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Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie…
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Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening

by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (Illustrator)

Other authors: Jennifer M. Smith (Editor), Rus Wooton (Designer)

Series: Monstress (Volume 1)

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Monstress Vol 1: Awakening written by Majorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda is the first collected volume in the ongoing comic book series. It's set in a dark steampunk magic world, and is a very female-centric story.

My first impression of Monstress was one of violence. The beginning doesn't pull any punches and was very dark and violent with torture and death up front. I found it a bit off-putting, since I wasn't prepared for it. But the further I read, the more I enjoyed it. A large part of that, I think, is the world building which was revealed gradually throughout the volume — partly told through the medium of a cat professor — and my growing interest in the mystery of Maika's past.

As we learn more of the story world, we learn that there are different races (exactly what makes some of them different confused me at first, as did the names of races versus groups within them), including a race of cats and of immortals. (And who doesn't like cats, right?) The main character is on a mission that we don't know all the details of, she picks up a stray fox-girl and meets up with a cat. And also something monstrous lives inside her. Hence the title.

I think if I had only read one issue of Monstress I might not have kept going. I mainly did because I had the ARC and I wanted to get through it for Hugo-voting purposes. I'm glad I did because after a reluctant first half, I got into it. It reminded me a little bit of Saga, but more fantasy and less SF, and more violence and fewer penises. And fewer men. In fact, most of the cast is female, the evil, the innocent and the deeply morally questionable. There are only a few men and they're not very important. Even random guards — many of whom die — are mostly female, which is great to see.

I would recommend this volume to fans of dark fantasy and steampunk who don't mind reading about a lot of violence and (supernatural) death. It's a bit heavy and not for everyone but I'm glad I finished the volume. I wasn't sure while I was reading whether I'd be picking up the next volume, but I am interested in seeing what happens next.

4 / 5 stars

You can find more reviews on my blog ( )
  Tsana | May 18, 2017 |
Monstress is a beautiful, beautiful book, with intricate and enchanting artwork that can tell a story by itself. Three of my four stars are really just for the art alone. It will take your breath away and leave you scouring the panels to pick out the tiniest details. I really cannot say enough wonderful things about it.

The art of course is only part of the graphic novel, and the remainder is still quite enjoyable, if not as well-wrought. The main character is not the most sympathetic, and in a world where everyone else seems to be pretty terrible too, that can be difficult to handle at times. There's very little light in the shadowy depths of this tale, and it can make things a little muddy when you're down in it. It's a gritty story about terrible people, and at the end of it I'm really not sure just how I would WANT things to turn out. Hopefully in later issues we'll see a broader cast of characters who can perhaps provide the plot with someone we can empathize with.

Despite this, I still found the story of Monstress to be quite compelling, and I can't wait to see just how much worse things get, with war on the horizon and Halfwolf's nature changing into something positively monstrous.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. *

( )
  LuckBe | May 10, 2017 |
Throughout this book, I kept feeling like I was missing some important element of the story. Like I'd accidentally skipped a prologue that set the stage and explained what was going on in the story's world. But there wasn't an explanatory prologue, and so I felt lost and confused. BUT, some good things about Monstress include: the art. It is so so beautiful. Even when depicting war scenes. Also, I really loved Kippa and Ren. Kippa is a cute little fox child that you can't help but love, and Ren adds some sarcastic comedy to the story that only a cat can. I found it amusing that the book designates five races: humans, the Ancients, the arcana, the Old Ones, and...cats. Cats are so important in this world that they're right up there with the other four.
Overall, 3/5 stars, two of those only because of the art and the cats. ( )
1 vote brideofsevenless | Apr 18, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marjorie M. Liuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Takeda, SanaIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Jennifer M.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wooton, RusDesignersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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