Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Year of the Beasts Review

The Year of the Beasts - Cecil Castellucci & Nate Powell



For those of you who have been sort of reluctant about getting into graphic novels, this may be a good segue. The main story is textual, however the end of each chapter is capped with a couple of comic pages. It's a fairly short book (175 pages) and because of this, the comic parts really help supplement the story and take it to a greater depth than it would have been on its own.

The main story is that of Tessa and her younger sister Lulu. As with most kids, they're eagerly awaiting summer, however what starts off as a trip to the carnival sours the entire summer for Tessa when her sister manages to snag the guy she's had her eye on. Tessa ends up pursuing a secrative relationship with the neighborhood "weird" kid, which is less fun because there's no bragging rights. Meanwhile, the comic pages follow an alternate story where Tessa (presumably) has turned into Medusa, along with a few other oddly-mythological students at the school.

At first I started off wondering exactly where these two threads were going, but they tie together nicely at the end and when the big climactic event occurs, everything falls into place and you see how the graphic novel represents the main story. Admittedly, the connections are fairly obvious once you get to the reveal, but this is a YA novel, and those tend to be lacking on the subtlety aspects.

As I said before, it is a short book, which worked well, however I don't feel like I had enough time to fully get into the characters and it's written in a sort of detached manner that gives the feeling you're viewing the events and characters from a distance, rather than being right in with them. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and as I mentioned, the comic aspect gives the book that extra level and helps to underscore the emotion. Although I didn't find myself fully inhabiting the story, as I tend to with longer books, the ending still hit me hard--be forewarned, it's a sad book.

3.5/5 Fancies.

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