Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review - The Writers' Secret

The Writers' Secret (The World According to François #1)
by Vincent Zabus
illustrated by Renaud Collin
Date: 2019
Publisher: Europe Comics
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 56
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

François has no interest in choosing between dream and reality: he wants both! Like all ten-year-olds, François has a lot of questions--but he puts his imagination to use to try to find the answers.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This was a bit of a disappointment. It could have been a great story about imagination, writing, and standing up for oneself. Instead, it was weak on all counts.

François is a kid with a big imagination who likes making up stories, even though he gets bullied for his creativity. So he decides he doesn't want to write anymore. But he's then recruited by a mysterious woman and a sentient piece of paper to try to overthrow a very bad writer who dresses up in leopard skins and whips letters so they'll do his bidding.

If that ridiculous plot isn't bad enough, the message that the book sends is just dreadful. Apparently, only one person (François, of course) has imagination. He's the chosen one. The problem I have with this message is that it's a complete mismatch to its audience, which is presumably creative kids who enjoy writing their own stories. This story basically tells them that they don't have imagination, because only one special little snowflake does.

Aside from the story issues, there are some technical ones as well. There are a number of odd words throughout, mainly interjections, but still... they seem to have been ignored when the book was being translated. Also, the text is so small. I could barely read some of it, even zoomed in on a laptop screen; it would be next to impossible on an e-reader.

The illustrations are decent, but the story is just so ridiculous. (It even throws in a kid-with-cancer trope to further emphasize François's goodness. At least, I think that's why that rather gratuitous heartstring-tugging was included.)

I didn't like this as much as I thought I would. If I were an aspiring young writer reading a story about magic and writing and imagination, I wouldn't exactly want to be told that I'm a lost cause because I'm not the "chosen one".

Thank you to NetGalley and Europe Comics for providing a digital ARC.

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

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall Rating: 2.13 out of 5 ladybugs

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