Sunday, December 31, 2017

REVIEW: M.F.K. (graphic novel) by Nilah Magruder

This is a belated vacation reading review. As usual, be warned that there are major spoilers in this. I use spoiler tags on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Booklikes if you'd like a spoiler-free version of this post.

A tweet from Magruder saying that "it's asexual AF" put this on my radar. I took this to mean that there was an explicitly identified asexual character. Um... If there is, then it's not in this volume. I haven't read the webcomic, which includes a fourth chapter that wasn't published in this book, so maybe it's in that chapter? That said, those looking for romance-free graphic novels may want to check this out. (I sincerely hope that Magruder didn't think "romance-free" and "asexual" are the same thing.)

The story: Jaime and his grandfather find and injured girl named Abbie and her dying moa mount just as a sandstorm is starting. They take her back to the little town of Marigold (and kill the mount as a mercy) so Jaime's aunt can fix her up. The town has been repeatedly attacked by Parasai, people with special powers who take what they want and then leave. Abbie ends up fighting back when a Parasai breaks her mom's urn - it turns out that Abbie is a Parasai too. Instead of asking her to stay and help protect the town, the mayor and the other townspeople drive her out. Jaime decides to go with her.

That's literally the whole volume. I've seen indications that this might just be the first volume of a series, and that could be the case if Magruder continues the webcomic and future chapters are published in a second volume, but there's nothing on this one physical volume to tell readers that it's just volume 1 of a larger story. It's a shame, because M.F.K. felt extremely skimpy on its own and wouldn't hold up well at all as a one-shot.

To be honest, I wasn't really impressed with this. First there was the disappointment of not getting the explicitly identified ace character that I expected, then there was the moa mount that I believe got another enthusiastic tweet, despite it dying almost immediately after it appeared. And the people of Marigold were idiots who seemed determined to doom their town to a slow and painful death.

Then there was Abbie herself (by the way, for those who are interested, Abbie wears a hearing aid, so there's explicit disability rep even if there isn't explicit ace rep). I have no clue, after reading this volume, what her goals were, or why she was traveling. Was she taking her mother's ashes to a particular place, or just aimlessly traveling with them? Although all the mysteries surrounding Abbie should have made me want to read more about her, I found that I was more interested in Jaime, who had a much clearer goal than Abbie (get out of dying Marigold and see the world).

I really wanted to love this, but instead I was just vaguely disappointed by it.

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