Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review - Fish Girl

Fish Girl
by Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner
illustrated by David Wiesner
Date: 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 186
Format: e-book
Source: library

Who is Fish Girl?
What is Fish Girl?

She lives in a tank in a boardwalk aquarium. She is the main attraction, though visitors never get more than a glimpse of her.

She has a tail. She can't walk. She can't speak.

But she can make friends with Livia, an ordinary girl, and yearn for a life that includes yoga and pizza. She can grow stronger and braver. With determination, a touch of magic, and the help of a loyal octopus, she can do anything.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a nicely illustrated graphic novel with a sort of fairy tale flair. At first glance, one might think that The Little Mermaid would be the obvious tie-in. But I actually saw more similarities with Disney's Tangled, a "Rapunzel" story. Poor Fish Girl (she doesn't even have a proper name at the beginning of the story) has a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. She's kept in a fanciful aquarium on a boardwalk in an old house that's been converted to display all sorts of marine life. Neptune is her protector... at least at first. But as Fish Girl starts to understand the outside world, she starts to wonder if her protector is really that... or if he's her captor.

The illustrations were really quite lovely, especially when it came to Fish Girl herself. She's realistically drawn and quite pretty, and though she spends much of the book technically naked, she's always strategically covered by her fish friends (making this book completely suitable for younger readers). I liked the whole idea of the house converted into an aquarium; the way it was displayed on the pages was well done. Fish Girl's discovery of the outside world, including things like pizza and yoga, was touching. I really felt for her, and I wanted her to do well as she explored a new side of her life. Despite being naive, she was actually pretty smart... which is refreshing in a world of so many clueless heroines. I was, however, a little confused for the first few pages as I tried to figure out who was telling the story. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but I found it a little frustrating. Once I figured it out, though, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the book.

The plot is a little on the light side, and you do have to suspend disbelief a little to go with the events at the climax (I mean, even more than believing mermaids really exist). But, overall, this is a cute, quick read that would probably appeal to fans of graphic novels as well as fairy tales.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 4/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Illustration: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3.75 out of 5 ladybugs

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