Thursday 20 August 2009

Vermonia: Quest for the Silver Tiger by Yoyo

August 2009, Walker Books
208 pages
Review copy

Graphic Novel: fantasy (children's 9+)

Clouds: 2/5
Cushions: 6/5 (yes, its a six. Why? See below)
Daggers: 0.5/5
Pencils: 5+ (new rating for manga/illustrated books, how much I like the illustrations)
Smiles: 3/5
Tissues: 1/5
Yunaleska's recommended rating ♥♥♥♥

Manga! Manga! Manga! Understand this is manga? I was positively dancing at receiving this one. As a manga lover (and anime...and all things Japanese) I had to review this.

The first manga review just happens to be the first in a new series, which is the first publication for Yoyo! Lots of firsts here.

The colour pages at the end and the beginning have me praying this will end up as an anime. The story lends itself well: the summary of the problem, summarised at the beginning has me thinking 'how will x happen?' It reminds me of several rpgs (role play games - yes, manga, anime and games go hand in hand) where the mythical tale is explained at the beginning, in stunning graphics and good choice of music, before the quest itself begins. Vermonia 1 is just missing the music.

What I liked was that the heros and heroines of the tale, although they were once friends, they've had a falling out at the start of the story. 12 year old skateboarders Doug, Naomi, Jim and Mel haven't got a clue that their destinies are tied up with a time of darkness in a far away world. Or that such a realm would appear in their skateboarding spot. Their lives are intertwined with the four guardians of Vermonia, each who have unique skills which the children will unravel over time.

This first volume is full of surprises, lots of 'oh's coming from me. Mel's kidnapping sets the other three friends on the quest to find her. Only, its not as simple as that. In the new land, they bump into Princess Rainbow. She looks as pretty as her name suggests. Princess Rainbow, due to circumstances which you'll have to read about, joins up with the skateboarders in their quest. One of them encounters a Vermonian guardian, and mystical powers are awakened. I can so see this becoming an anime series. When you look at the pictures, you can almost see the light reflecting off objects, or hear 'zings' emanating from them.

The characters have flaws which make them all the more lovable. They have problems which I feel every reader can relate to. I think I understand why Mel reacts as she does, something which the others, because they haven't experienced it or had something similar happen, they don't get where she's coming from. Mel's problem is nothing compared to what happens to her in Vermonia. I think, when her friends eventually catch up with her, their old squabble will be forgiven. Greater dilemmas await those four skateboarders known as warriors from Blue Star!

There's such a cute (kawaii!) creature who guides Mel, Doug and Jim in their quest. There's a unique style with the character's faces: they are what I call more western style drawings, so will appeal to the wider market including those not so used to manga. I for one can say if I see more work from Yoyo, without being told they were the creators, I could easily pick the work out.

Two things I wasn't so keen on. The first, was that there were no chapter breaks. Usually, in the mangas I've read so far, the story is divided into chapters. This makes it much easier to read: I pick one up, can judge how many chapters I can read before dinner is cooked. I miss not having the breaks, because I couldn't figure out where to stop!

The second thing - well, it is a huge plus, if its looked at in a certain way. The ending. Writers in most stories should be hung, drawn and quartered by readers if they leave the story literally at a cliffhanger edge. There should be some satisfaction in the ending, a goal achieve or progress made by the protagonist. TV shows can get away with cliffhangers (in fact, they depend on it to keep the audience watching). I reluctantly agree the same is true for manga. But there are cliffhangers, and there are cliffhangers. The moment I finished the book, I was there, searching for when the next installment is due. October 1st. The rest of the series of 10 books will be released over 4 years. I predict each book will end on a cliffhanger more dramatic than the last. Just great. I want to know what happens right now! There may 'only' be a few months between each release, but trust me, those few months are feeling like a lifetime.

I think you can tell when I really like a book: I try not to say too much because I believe any information is a spoiler. I guess that's not quite the point of a book review, but this is good. If you like manga or anime at all, go buy it!

Check out the world of Vermonia here


Live, Love, Laugh, Write! said...

Looks interesting :)

Nayuleska said...

It's manga!!!! (so is naturally interesting).