Friday, December 16, 2011

Manga Friday: The Girl Who Owned a City

Author: O.T. Nelson, adapted by Dan Jolley
Illustrator: Joelle Jones; coloring Jenn Manley Lee
Publisher: Graphic Universe (April 2012)
Paperback: 128 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5


After a virus wipes out everyone over 12 on Earth and turns them to dust, 10-year-old Lisa must take care of her younger brother and figure out how to survive in this new world. Not only does she have to feed and house them, but she needs to keep the roving gangs from looting her hard-won supplies. 

My thoughts:
This is a graphic novel adaptation of a 1975 novel by O.T. Nelson. Because of that, the story line is a bit dated in that tween and teen readers are a much more sophisticated lot, and although they like to read about paranormal, the characters need to be realistic, and they want their stories to reflect some kind of learning on the part of the protagonist. 

Still, the quality of the illustrations by Joelle Jones lends modern elements to a 37-year-old story, and the timing is right to join the dystopian YA market that is always looking for the next Katniss, but for me, the test of a good graphic novel is 1) will I be able to "sell" it to my reluctant readers and 2) will it make them want to read the longer novel that the GN stemmed from?

 What seems to date this character is that in recent dystopian YA novels, authors have been using the YA novel as a platform to teach social mores and ethics through their characters. The selfishness and 2-dimensional aspect of Lisa and the fact that she doesn't seem to grow or learn from her mistake bothered me until I realized that she's supposed to be 10-11. A 10 year old is not able to make the kinds of unselfish decisions asked for in this situation. However, since she's not drawn like a tween character, readers will accept her as older than she really is. Since teens like reading about characters that are their age or older, this is a great "sell" for YA readers, although I'm not sure if they will be willing to read the 204 page original novel.

To recap: the illustrations are enough to sell it, and even at 132 pages, it's a good deal for dystopian and GN buffs. 

Source: ARC provided by Net Galley (dot) com for an honest review

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