Friday, May 24, 2019

Review - A Blanket of Butterflies

A Blanket of Butterflies (The Debwe Series #4)
by Richard Van Camp
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Date: 2015
Publisher: HighWater Press
Reading level: YA
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 46
Format: e-book
Source: library

A Blanket of Butterflies explores the journey of Shinobu, a mysterious stranger who visits Fort Smith, NWT, to retrieve his family’s samurai suit of armor and sword from the local museum. When he discovers that his grandfather’s sword has been lost in a poker game to the man they call “Benny the Bank,” he sets out to retrieve it with the help of a young boy, Sonny, and his grandmother. Together, they face Benny and his men, Torchy, Sfen and the giant known as Flinch, and come to an unexpected realization.

This graphic novel, beautifully illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, explores the grace of family and of trusting the power of the spirit world.

A Blanket of Butterflies is the fourth title in The Debwe Series.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The tone of this graphic novel is really odd. Near the beginning, one of the characters is shot full of arrows, nearly beaten to death, and thrown down a hillside. We're obviously dealing with some really bad dudes. But when it comes time for the final confrontation, all it takes is the grandmother reminding the head bad guy of his daughter, and the conflict evaporates. It's totally unsatisfying.

There are some interesting ideas in here that could've been explored, such as the connection between the uranium of the NWT and the bombing of Nagasaki. But that was mentioned once, really, and that was the end of that. None of the characters are particularly well developed, either. Sonny, the boy who helps save Shinobu's life after he's assaulted, seems like he should be a more major character, considering that I found this book in the teen section of my library. But it's all about the old folks. (I recently read another graphic novel for young readers that tried to bring in ass-kicking grandmas as major characters. It strains credibility, and it's going to take a really skilled author to pull it off. I've yet to see it work.)

This graphic novel is rather boring to look at, too. It's just black-and-white line drawings. I guess colour might've cluttered up the pages, but with its rather unique setting, I kind of wanted more... atmosphere. The monochromatic pictures don't achieve that.

I've read a book by this author before, but it was a children's picture book. Judging by the oversimplified resolution of the serious main conflict in this story, I suspect he may be better at writing for kids than for older readers. This book just didn't impress me, even though I was looking for reasons to like it. A stolen samurai sword in northern Canada? It sounds like that would make for a great plot. Unfortunately, all it made for was a rather forgettable graphic novel.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Illustration: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 ladybugs

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