I confess that I’m not much of a graphic novel reader, however sometimes one comes along that captures my interest. I don’t often have a huge amount to say about graphic novels, so I’m doing two mini reviews of two very different books today!
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Publisher: Lion Forge
Publication date: 15 October 2019
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
Mooncakes is a super sweet tale of friendship, loyalty, love, and magic. It’s not the most complex plot, but to me the plot wasn’t the mot important part of the book. The real story here is the reunion of Tam and Nova, how their relationship has rekindled since they came together again, and the power that friendship and romance can have.
Mooncakes also features some amazing representation within its pages. Both Tam and Nova are Chinese-American characters, Nova wears hearing aids (which are important to the story), and Tam is non-binary. What I most appreciated about this representation is that each aspect is integrated beautifully into the story – characters are super respectful of each other and the Chinese-American culture is part of the story and character backgrounds.
This is such a heartwarming graphic novel read that I think so many readers will enjoy. I’d highly recommend it, particularly I you’re looking for a light, sweet tale or a book with the above representation.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Publication date: 18 June 2015
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
Nimona is a funny one for me because I should have absolutely loved this book. It sounds like my exact cup of tea, featuring a feisty anti-heroine, told from the villains’ perspectives, and with lots of sass and magical goodness. However, it didn’t quite work for me. I can’t tell if it’s because I wasn’t in the mood for a cutesy book or if it was just the age-old issue of me rarely getting on with graphic novels. I didn’t connect with the characters, didn’t get hugely invested into the story, and I wish there was just more. I don’t think this would have suited a standard novel format, so I’m thinking that this one is just a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.
I will, however, say that this is a book I’d like to try again when I’m more in the mood for this kind of story – I really think that it could be something I like if I read it at a different time.