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by Nadia Shammas, Sara Alfageeh
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In this graphic novel, Alfgeeh and Shammas draw upon (and in Alfgeeh’s case, literally draw) things they feel strongly about, like landscapes from family trips to Jordan, the problems of empires and girls with swords.
Aiza has longed to become a knight, but when she enlists, it’s not quite how she imagined.
If I’d met the characters in a novel I suspect I’d have become more attached to them -- I personally prefer storytelling that really gets inside characters’ heads and graphic novels have different strengths -- but they were still enjoyable company and by the final act, I was hooked. Excellent storytelling.
This is an excellent graphic novel. It has a young adult vibe but deals with some pretty deep topics. The author and artist are Palestinian- and Jordanian-Americans so the Middle Eastern influence makes sense. What is most interesting is that influence is present, there is nothing distinctly Muslim about the book. The themes of assimilation and the demands of empire are universal. Do they resonate in the Pax Americana? Absolutely.
This was a graphic novel that strongly represents and supports Girl Power and fighting for what you believe in. The colors blended as you read the story, not too much pop, just enough. Aiza was a hoot. Doruk had a heart of gold, and a fondness for Aiza that he didn’t want to show. Sahar and Husni were strong supporting characters, just like Aiza, trying to0 find their place in the world. A solid Graphic Novel adventure, for both MG and HS readers.
Aiza has always wanted to be a knight - to be a hero. It’s the highest military level in the Bayt-Sajji Empire. It’s also her only way out of famine and mounting tensions as a member of the Ornu people. On the brink of war, Bayt-Sajji has opened its Squire program once again and now it’s Aiza’s chance.
Of course, it’s much harder than she thought; Aiza has to navigate new friendships, rivalries, training, and lessons all while hiding her Ornu status. As the pressure mounts to pass her exams, Aiza realizes what she thought they were working for, is exactly it - and that all the recruits are in grave danger.
I’ve been meaning to read this graphic novel for awhile now and officially picked it up once it made the first round of the Best of Goodreads 2022 list. This was also my novel of choice for after my Thanksgiving meal.
I loved the artwork within these pages. It’s colorful but still matches the desert setting. Dark scenes weren’t so dark that I couldn't tell what was happening. All the characters had expressions that would match what they were feeling - especially Aiza’s when she’d get frustrated or very determined.
This book is fast paced and an easy read. There were a few panels I felt were a little rushed and wished they were dived into a bit more, but it wasn’t ever anything that ruined the flow of the novel for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and see myself recommending this to quite a few people. There’s a little bit of everything in there, but my favorite is the strong, determined female main character who will work as hard as she can to get where she wants to go.
From two incredible rising talents comes the fantasy graphic novel Molly Knox Ostertag calls "instantly compelling." Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It's the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program. It's not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the "greater good" that Bayt-Sajji's military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined. In this breathtaking and timely story, Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)741.5 — The arts Graphic arts and decorative arts Drawing & drawings Cartoons, Caricatures, Comics
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Even with all of this preperation, Aiza is still shocked by the realities of the knights and the legacy she will soon be pledged to uphold.
'Squre' was wholly satisfying and a great story that pulls just enough from our world to ground the setting. Some of the peripheral characters were never fully developed, but I liked the focus remaining on Aiza. There's room for a sequel, but this stands well on its own. ( )