Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review - M. F. K.

M.F.K.: Book One
by Nilah Magruder
Date: 2017
Publisher: Insight Comics
Reading level: YA
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 128
Format: e-book
Source: library

A fantastic adventure following the story of Abbie, a deaf girl with a mysterious power, who is traveling across a vast desert to scatter her mother's ashes.

In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity.

This story is not about that youth.

It's about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter's Spine, scatter her mother's ashes, and then live out her life in sweet, blissful solitude. Unfortunately, everyone she meets wants to whine at her about their woes, tag along on her quest, arrest her for no reason, or blow her to bits.

Journeys are hard on the social recluses of the world.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

That synopsis has got to be one of the most misleading I've ever read. It's not a fantastic adventure. I don't think I'd even call it an adventure. It was a confused mishmash that I couldn't wait to finish.

First, the art. Let's start with the cover. It's also misleading. That's a scene that must take place long before the story begins, because when we meet Abbie, her moa (the birdlike creature) is almost dead. We don't know what happened. Abbie's wounded, and it's never explained how. From there, the artwork really messed with my head. We'd jump from beautiful illustrations to sketches that looked almost like they were done by an untalented child. I almost wonder if they were placeholders and just got forgotten about during the editing process. If the whole book had been illustrated in a consistent style, I might've had a more favourable reaction to it.

The characters ranged from annoying to disgusting. Abbie herself is a bit of a mystery. She's deaf, but it plays zero role in the story. She has a hearing aid that basically erases any sort of disability, so I'm not sure why her deafness was included, other than for diversity points. Jaime, a boy who helps rescue Abbie from a sandstorm, is an irksome little twit. He also comes from a family of abusers. I don't think the author intended for it to come across like that, but they were awful. His parents abandoned him, and it's excused by saying they had to chase their own path (or some such nonsense). His grandfather and aunt are both physically abusive. It's written/drawn for laughs, but I didn't find it funny. The aunt is downright scary; I thought she was going to turn into some supernatural demon a few times. The mayor is a wimpy coward for the sake of moving the plot forward; someone that spineless wouldn't retain power for long in real life. The villains were ridiculous, and it doesn't help when they have boring names like Derek and are drawn as comical stereotypes. The main villain can't even get his own origin story straight; he mentions getting his supernatural powers from devas, and then goes on a spiel about how he's the way he is because of science. (I thought maybe the people in this story regarded the devas as part of science, but then Jaime's aunt equates them to religion... so that was confusing.)

There was very little plot to speak of. I guess there's another installment after this one, but I definitely won't be bothering. There was little enough here, other than a whole bunch of action panels with onomatopoeia and inconsistent drawings. We don't know much more about the world than we did before we started. (Is it supposed to be Earth after some calamity? If not, why does Abbie wear a pair of familiar red sneakers? Why does everyone have recognizable, rather than made-up, names?) There are some tantalizing hints about certain things, but not enough to make me want to slog through another installment of annoying characters and lagging plot.

I'm not impressed.

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 3/5
Illustration: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 1.88 out of 5 ladybugs

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