Finally, Some ARC Reviews! // Mini-Reviews

MiniReviews

AvantGuardsThe Avant-Guards: Volume One (Carly Usdin) | Goodreads | 4 stars

I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

This was such a cute story! This first volume combines the first four issues of this college-set graphic novel series, and while it isn’t exactly the kind of book you would call suspenseful, it still managed to end on a cliffhanger that has me wishing I could read the second volume already!

This series reminded me a bit of Giant Days, mainly because it involves a group of friends coming together in a college setting. This series is a lot more diverse than Giant Days, though – plenty of queerness, plus a character who uses “they” pronouns and one or two characters who I thought might be trans women based on their body designs (but never confirmed, so I might be reading into that). It’s also cute, though – I was a little skeptical at first, but then it got to me and I wanted to join this basketball team full of witches, over-achievers, and snarky misanthropes.

Author Carly Usdin has some other graphic novels, so I definitely need to check out her other work while I wait for the next volume in this fun series.

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MooncakesMooncakes (Suzanne Wilder & Wendy Xu) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars

I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

I started hearing some good buzz about this little graphic novel after BEA, when a lot of people got advanced copies. So, when I saw that it was available to download right away on Netgalley, I snapped it up. I didn’t fall in love with it the way others have, but it is pretty cute and has some great representation, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Protagonist Nova wears hearing aids (I was never quite sure if she was fully Deaf or if she had moderate hearing problems), love interest Tam is non-binary, and both have Asian heritage (I don’t remember if a specific nationality was mentioned, though). Tam and Nova were best friends when they were kids, and when Tam comes back into Nova’s life, Nova and her grandmothers learn that Tam is non-binary in a very easy way – one of the grandmothers uses the wrong pronoun, Tam explains their identity, the grandmother apologizes, and everyone moves on. If only it were that easy in real life.

The main reason I didn’t love this magical graphic novel (Nova and her grandmothers are witches, Tam is a werewolf) is that I never really connected with it. I was confused by the magical system a bit, which means I never really connected with the central mystery. I thought all of the characters were fine, but I never really connected with them either – Tam and Nova’s relationship seemed a little insta-lovey at times. However, this is a short book, so it’s possible that the combination of a short story (about 250 pages) and all pictures instead of wordy prose are to blame for that.

I think this would be a great book for younger YA audiences (I even thought it was middle grade at first, but there’s a curse word or two and a sexual reference, so it’s definitely YA and not middle grade). I can see why so many people are charmed by this graphic novel – I was charmed by it, even though I never really connected with the story or characters. I’m curious to see what the author and illustrator come up with next, and I hope it has just as much desperately-needed representation.

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