ARC review, book review, comic/graphic

Monstress (Volume 1) by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda [ARC Review]

24426209Title: Monstress (Volume 1)
Creators: Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Type: Fiction, Comic Book
Genre: Young Adult, Adult
Publisher: Image Comics
Date published: July 19, 2016
Format: E-book
Page Count: 192
Source: NetGalley

E-copy of the book kindly provided through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: 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.

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Liu and Takeda’s world drew me in immediately!

From the moment I viewed the first page, I knew that this was going to be a comic not only of good visual quality, but also one containing a very good and complex story. Another thing I could also guarantee from that first look was that the dialogue and narration would be exceptional. Now, some people might say “But Flavia, the narration and dialogue ARE the story for a comic book, because that is the only text you see,” and while I do agree that yes, this is the only text you see, what I mean by story is the overall plot. For example, a story may be exceptionally good and well thought out, but if the narration and dialogue for and within the story are bland or terrible, readers will be unable to see the good story beyond that.

To put it simply, I liked the art, plot, and writing within this comic book.

The illustrations, while lacking a little saturation for my tastes (I like really colourful drawings and illustrations), but I understand why it is that they used such muted colours. The plot itself is not a very happy or heart-warming one, therefore it would be strange for the illustrations to be overly colourful. So, keeping in mind this comic’s mood and plot, the colours which they have selected are perfect.

I would also like to discuss just how much I enjoyed the detailing on each and every panel in this comic book! It amazes me that so much time and effort must have been put into creating these illustrations. I mean just look at them….

I’d show you some of the art inside, but I do not think that I’m allowed to due to copyright issues. The covers for each part of the story are all up on Amazon though, so I’m figuring that’s okay.

Also, I wanted to say just how much I loved that this comic contains some very diverse characters. There are a variety of skin tones, body shapes and sizes, and genders are also portrayed in unconventional ways at times (an example being a masculine woman).

img_20170202_204128_116The plot is complex, and is also slow to reveal certain details. But that’s how I like it. There are many threads to this story, which intertwine in certain places, and remain hidden in others. By the end of volume 1, some questions are finally answered, but then a number of other questions take their place. This leaves the reader satisfied for the time being, but still wanting more.

I also liked that this story contained some serious subject matter, some comical moments, as well as some parts which were incredibly disturbing and terrifying. Maybe I’m weird or masochistic for liking that third aspect of this story, but I like what I like.

Now, as for the writing, there wasn’t too much or too little of it, which is good. I don’t like comics which either have not enough writing for you to understand what’s going on, or too much writing—to the point where you can barely see the illustrations past the immensity of the speech bubbles and narration boxes. The writing was also quite good. You could definitely get the different tones coming from each character who spoke, as well as the narrator. Liu is most definitely skilled as a writer and storyteller (and yes, I consider those two to be entirely separate things).

Needless to say, I am very excited for the next part of this story…

61PuqNhJi7Land I have the first volume sitting in my Amazon cart (even though I’ve obviously read it already). That’s how much I like it! Don’t judge. Also, I don’t know when the next volume will be out, but I do know that part #7 can be pre-ordered in e-book format on Amazon, and will be available for viewing on September 7th of this year.


4694627-marjorie_liu.jpgNew York Times bestselling and award-winning writer Marjorie Liu is best known for her fiction and comic books. She teaches comic book writing at MIT, and leads a class on Popular Fiction at the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) workshop. Ms. Liu’s extensive work includes the bestselling “Astonishing X-Men” for Marvel Comics, which featured the gay wedding of X-Man Northstar and was subsequently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Prior to writing full-time, Liu was a lawyer. She currently resides in Boston.

sana-sm-154016 - Copy.jpgSana Takeda is an illustrator and comic book artist who was born in Niigata, and now resides in Tokyo, Japan. At age 20 she started out as a 3D CGI designer for SEGA, a Japanese video game company, and became a freelance artist when she was 25. She is still an artist, and has worked on titles such as “X-23” and “Ms. Marvel” for Marvel Comics, and is an illustrator for trading card games in Japan.





20 thoughts on “Monstress (Volume 1) by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda [ARC Review]

  1. Ooo, this comic sounds really cool!! Like you, I may not enjoy the illustrations so much just because I enjoy colorful comics in particular, but with the premise I think I could get over it xD Such a wonderful review, Flavia! 🙂

    -Jess @jbelkbooks

    1. Yes, the story is definitely worth it! And yeah, the colours they used just works with the mood of the story too. It all just works.

      And thank you so much! That means a lot to me! <3 🙂

  2. You’ve reminded me that I bought this ages ago and never got around to reading it. I’ll have to make a note to check it out since it’s thrilled you so much. ^_^

  3. I remember buying this just because I saw Neil Gaiman’s praise for the book on the cover (and because it had cats). Now I feel like I should get around to reading it too 😀

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