Title: Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, SciFi
Illustrators: Sana Takeda, Rus Wooten
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
*please note that this graphic novel has mature content and not recommended for children
I finally picked up this beauty of a graphic novel and let me tell you that the hype surrounding this one is all worth it! Filled with steampunk elements, witches, darkness, and monsters, this graphic novel is one that I would highly recommend.
Monstress follows the story of a teenage girl, Maika Halfwolf. Maika is trying to find answers to her questions in regards to her past and her mother. She is also struggling with a monster that lives within her who has massive power. Maika Halfwolf is trying to fight the monster within, while still trying to keep some of her humanity. In search of her past, she is also being hunted and maybe the answers she’s been looking for is closer than she thinks.
I really enjoyed Monstress, the artwork is stunning and there is a lot of dialogue. Usually, graphic novels take me less than a day to read but since this one had a lot of heavy reading material, it took me about two days. I loved how detailed the art is, I think that is also why I took long to read it because I found myself slowly absorbing at each piece.
Image obtained by the publisher’s website
This graphic novel is rich with elements that I previously mentioned. I felt that although it had all the elements of steampunk, witches, darkness, and monsters, there was balance. We have the Arcanics who are everything opposite of Humans & Witches. Some Arcanics are half animal/half human, some animals who can speak with special abilities, etc.
The world is already built and set once you open to the first page, which I find to be the norm for comics/graphic novels. I enjoyed how at the end of each comic section, there was a page filled with lessons on the culture of this world. So although the world is already set, we get to know how a lot of the culture came to be with the Arcanics and Humans.
We get glimpses of Maika’s past. Therefore, we get a lot of Maika’s life within the pages. I’m a big fan of past and present when done well and I thought it was executed okay here. Some times the author didn’t let us know when we were in the past. So I found myself a little confused at times.
We meet a lot of characters in this graphic novel due to the extended plot which is why this part will be kept short. Some of my favorite characters were Kippa (little fox) and Master Ren (cat with 3 tails who talks). These two were cute and hilarious. I loved when Master Ren made references to poets (in their world) and poetry. He has dark humor. Kippa is a child human/fox and his innocence throughout this graphic novel was comforting and admirable.
I really enjoyed this graphic novel but the reason why I bumped it down a star was because I wasn’t surprised with where the plot was going. I guessed a lot of what was going to happen with the plot and certain characters. I still want to read the next one though.