Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nightschool: The Weirn Books (OEL manga, vol. 4) by Svetlana Chmakova

Nightschool: The Weirn Books is a fantasy series that includes vampires, witches, demons, and werewolves. It's published by Yen Press.

Synopsis:

Alex discovers that the erasure of her sister's existence means that she no longer has a home. With no other options, she ends up at Rochelle's house. Unfortunately, Ronee has learned the details of Alex's curse and no longer wants her anywhere near Rochelle, in part because Ronee has a curse of her own to worry about.

Events begin herding everyone towards the Nightschool. Rochelle becomes the latest kidnap victim, prompting Ronee to rush to her rescue. Alex joins her, hoping to find her sister. And Marina and the young Hunters follow, in the hope of finding Alex and potentially helping save their friends' lives.

Review:

On the one hand, there were a lot of things I liked about this volume. On the other hand, I was right when I predicted that I would probably be disappointed by the series' ending.

I'll start off with the stuff I liked. By this point in the series, the artwork had really grown on me. I first finished this volume prior to my vacation and reread it for my review, and I enjoyed the artwork just as much the second time through.

There were some great action scenes, particularly where the teachers were concerned. I LOVED seeing the teachers in action. I knew Daemon and Mr. Roi were tough, but I hadn't expected Principal Chen to be equally capable at kicking butt.

I also liked finally getting to find out more about Alex's curse (which had absolutely nothing to do with the Sohrem) – it made some of her earlier behavior make more sense. Ronee's curse came as a complete surprise to me, but, again, it helped explain odd earlier scenes between her and her sister. Had this series been longer, I'd have loved a more in-depth look at Alex and Ronee's curses and the effect they had on their lives.

Okay, so I've established that there were many things I liked about this volume. However, the ending was...not great. There wasn't really much Chmakova could do, I suppose. She could either have ended it on a cliffhanger with no continuation date in sight, thereby angering a lot of fans, or she could end it quickly but likely not satisfactorily. She chose the latter option.

There's no way I can talk about this without spoiling things – consider this your warning and skip the rest of this paragraph if you don't like spoilers. As a reader, I am not fond of endings that rewrite the story to conform to the way the author would like things to end up. “It was all a dream” endings are lazy and make me mad. Chmakova wrapped this series up with a “let's reshape reality so that everything is all better” ending, which is similarly annoying. Supposedly, reshaping reality was super-dangerous and had at least one effect beyond the changes that were made on purpose, but that effect was extremely mild and just made the ending seem even lazier. Writing something in which the teachers have this kind of power is also problematic as far as an future installments in the Nightschool universe go, because there will likely be opportunities to wonder why, when bad things happen, the teachers didn't just undo them like they did the last time.

All in all, I enjoyed this series but thought it would have been much better spread out over more volumes. If Chmakova ever writes/draws something else set in this world, I'll gladly give it a shot.

Extras:

A one-page "author's note" that's partially in comic form; a couple pages of Chmakova interviewing JuYoun Lee, her editor; a page of Chmakova interviewing Dee DuPuy, the toning artist for Nightschool; Noh (one of the Hunters) fan art drawn by Dee DuPuy; and a couple pages of additional information about the Nightschool world - Hunters, weirns, vampires, shifters, the Nereshai, and the world in general.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Vampire Knight (manga) by Matsuri Hino; Vampire Knight (anime TV series) - Chmakova's nightschool vs. dayschool thing reminded me a lot of this series, which has a similar setup. Human students attend the school during the day. At night, vampires attend. In an effort to maintain order, the two groups are generally not permitted to mix. Fans of love triangles may want to give this series a try. I have written about the anime and the first volume of the manga.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (live action TV series) - The Hunters made me think of this TV show. Those who'd like a mix of supernatural action and humor should give it a try.
  • Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga) by Amy Kim Canter - I think I own both volumes of this series, although I've only flipped through them so far. It has touches of fantasy, but I think it's more a contemporary-set romance about two people who are still trying to figure their lives out. Those who'd like to try more OEL manga might want to check it out.

5 comments:

  1. I have read this manga too and it is great. If you read the end of volume 4 it says that the series is not done yet. She had to put the series on hold because she is working on the manga verson of Witch and wizard and had to put her story on hold.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I saw that bit at the end. However, it's already been a few years since volume 4 of this series was put out, and there isn't even an estimated date on her site for when it might be continued. You never know, she might not even want to continue it after she's done with Witch & Wizard. There's an FAQ where she said had plans to continue Dramacon after working on Nightschool - other, more lucrative projects can get in the way of original plans, other story ideas can end up being more appealing to work on.

      Basically, I'm not holding my breathe for more of the story until a release date is announced.

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    2. I have talked to her recently on her deviantart page and she said she was planing on countinuing it.

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    3. Also if you look on her twitter page she has said the same thing to a few of her other fans.

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    4. Hopefully that's the case - she's created an interesting world, and it would be nice to see her explore it some more.

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