Book Review: Fence – Volume 3 by C.S. Pacat

Image Description: Image – The background of the book cover is white. The foreground of the cover focuses on three young men: from left to right, Jesse, Nicholas, and Seji. All three are wearing a white fencing uniform. All of them holding a fencing foil pointing up so that all three foils are joined together.

Title: Fence, Volume 3
Creators: C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad (Artist), and Joana Lafuente
Social Media: Goodreads
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Format and Price: eBook for $16.03
Stars: 4 stars out of 5

About The Creators:
C.S. Pacat: C.S. Pacat is the best-selling author of the Captive Prince trilogy and the comic book series Fence. Born in Australia and educated at the University of Melbourne, she has since lived in a number of cities, including Tokyo and Perugia. She currently resides and writes in Melbourne. Her first novel began its life as an original-fiction web serial, which attracted viral attention before being acquired by Penguin USA. The Captive Prince trilogy went on to become a USA Today bestseller after being published to commercial success and critical acclaim.

Johanna the Mad: Mexican digital artist and illustrator currently working on comic FENCE with writer C. S. Pacat and BOOM! Studios

Joana Lafuente: With over 10 years of experience, provides works on illustration, comics, storyboarding and concept art for entertainment and advertising purposes. Joana has worked with famous pop-culture titles such as The Transformers, X-Files/Millennium, Magic The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Adventure Time and many more, mostly on comics. For an extensive complete list, visit the Comic Book Database.

About The Book:
Scrappy fencer Nicholas Cox comes to the end of his path to prove himself worthy of a father he never knew in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossible odds, and the talent of his rival, sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Sparks fly white-hot on the pitch as Nicholas and Seiji finally face off once again in the halls of King’s Row. It’s a match that will change King’s Row (and both of them!) forever. It will set the stage as the team journeys to face their bitter rivals and prove themselves once and for all.

The third volume of the breakneck series from writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favourite artist Johanna the Mad comes at you as fast as a parry and hits as hard as a strike.

General Observation:
~Character Development – Secondary Characters: For some people, a lot of secondary characters can make a graphic novel feel cluttered, however, I feel that the creators of Fence managed to avoid this pitfall.

Quite a few secondary characters were expanded and developed in this volume, which is good for a series that predominately focuses on character, rather than plot. If only these volumes weren’t so short!

~Character Development – Seiji and Nicholas: The Fence series has implied that Seiji and Jessie have known each other since they were kids, and judging by the way the volume ended, there’s definitely history between the two of them (damn you cliffhanger!).

So, it’s fairly realistic for Seiji to come to conclusion that there’s a connection between Jessie and Nicholas, there is one after all, however, it would also stand to reason that, due his lack of social skills, Seiji wouldn’t quite be able put all the pieces together or would come to the wrong conclusion.

Think about it: there’s no reason why Jessie, the son of a wealthy Olympic athlete, would associate with someone like Nicholas (a young man struggling to get by on a scholarship). Also, if Nicholas and Jessie knew each other, wouldn’t Seiji have seen them together at some point?

I also consider it fairly realistic for Nicholas to be angry and resentful at the implication that Jessie is reason for his success. After all, Jessie does appear to have everything Nicholas has ever wanted, where as Nicholas has had to work hard to get to where he is now.

Seiji and Jessie run in similar circles, both of them can afford to make mistakes, but Nicholas can’t. There’s no margin of error for him. It’s realistic for Nicholas to reach a boiling point and get into a fight with Seiji.

What’s not realistic is for Seiji and Nicholas to act as though they are friends, they’re not friends (more rivals at this point in time), and I honestly don’t think they know each other well enough to consider each other friends.

You can’t spend a few panels beating up another person in an equipment closet and then act like it never happened. It sort of felt like the creators wanted that awkward scene of Seiji and Nicholas standing next to each other but didn’t know how to achieve it.

To me, it felt like they worked backwards from that scene rather than arrange the events of the scene to happen organically within the narrative.

~Strong Ending: I liked how the volume ended. The conflict was successfully resolved in a satisfying manner. The there was tension prolonged through out the volume, however, it didn’t feel that it was over dramatic or that the solution was obvious. The Coach managed the impossible.

All in all, an exciting conclusion to one adventure, and an interesting look into the next chapter of Seiji and Nicholas’ journey. Both lads have their strengths and weaknesses, however, they both have a long way to go if they both want to beat Jessie.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: a silhouette picture of a woman, wearing Victorian-era clothing and wearing a top hat. Her hair is braided into a plait and she is also holding a folded up umbrella. The background is dived up into three segments: mint-green, white in the middle, then mint-green again.

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