Book Review: Monstress – Volume One: Awakening by Majorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Image Description: the book-cover of the graphic-novel Monstress – Volume One: Awakening. The cover features the main-character Maika (seventeen-year-old girl with long black hair and grey eyes), she’s wearing a fancy white coat with a complicated floral design and a copper-coloured prosthetic-arm. She’s looking over to the side, however, she is also standing in front of a golden throne/alter.

Title: Monstress, Volume One: Awakening (Book #1 of The Monstress Series)
Author and Artist: Majorie Liu (author) and Sana Takeda (artist)
Social Media:
Majorie Liu – Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter
Sana Takeda – Goodreads
Publisher: Image Comics Inc.
Format and Price: Paperback from my local library
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Marjorie Liu is an attorney and NYT Bestselling author of over seventeen novels. Her comic book work includes X-23, Black Widow, Dark Wolverine, and Astonishing X-Men, for which she was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the LGBTQIA+ community. She teaches a course on comic book writing at MIT and lives in Cambridge, MA.

About The Artist:
Sana Takeda is an illustrator and comic book artist who was born in Niigata and now resides in Tokyo, Japan. At the age of twenty, she started out as a 3D CGI designer for SEGA and became a freelance artist when she was twenty-five. She is still an artist, and has worked on such titles such as X-23 and Ms. Marvel for Marvel Comics, and is an illustrator for trading card games in Japan.

About The Book:
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, 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. Collects MONSTRESS #1-6

General Observation:
~Content Warning: This graphic novel series contains some pretty heavy stuff. The first panel shows a seventeen-year-old girl, naked, and being sold as a slave. Humans are capturing people known as the Arcanic (a combination of humanoid species and a magical species known as The Ancients), holding them prisoner in abusive slave camps and allowing the witch-nuns (a group of human women with magical abilities) to pretty much do whatever they want to them (in this volume – experimenting and operating on them). I would recommend this series to readers sixteen and over due to the violent content included.

~Artwork: The artwork is absolutely amazing. The panels are so beautiful, the scenes are richly decorated and it’s all in colour-print. I would recommend this series for the artwork alone. I would have given the novel five stars but some of the panels were drawn in a disorientating way. I had to re-read a few pages of the finale battle to fully understand what had transpired.

~Plot and Character: While this is Volume One, the series has established who the main players are (protag and antag alike) and what they all have at stake. The characters are complex and intriguing. Everybody has their own agenda. The main plot is that Maika has an unknown power locked inside of her and she doesn’t know what it is or how to control it, however, it seems that not everybody is as ignorant as she is. It turns out, others know the source of her special power and want to use it for their own agendas. There’s also this mask item that has been split into pieces and various political forces are either trying to keep the pieces separate or want to gather them together. The plot and the characters are gripping and engaging.

All in all, an intriguing start to a dystopian fantasy series that features a lot of female characters, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next volume.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: an image with a black background and white text. In the center of the image is the text, “RMFAO Genre Challenge”, at the edges of the circle there is more text, “2018” in pink text on either side of the image.

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