Happy Sunday, guys!
Today, we're reviving our sporadic graphnic novel review segment, with a review of the upcoming NewPrints by Ru Xu!
It's an interesting steampunk take of a nation at war, with adventure, a brave and hard-working young heroine, and enough mysterious to fill several volumes.
Read on for more!
Expected publication: January 31st 2017 by GRAPHIX
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Blue is an orphan who disguises herself as a newsboy. There's a war going on, and girls are expected to help the struggling economy by selling cookies. But Blue loves living and working at the Bugle, the only paper in town that tells the truth. And what's printed in the newspapers now matters more than ever.
But Blue struggles with her secret, and worries that if her friends and adopted family at the Bugle find out that she's a girl, she'll lose everything and everyone she cares about. And when she meets and befriends Crow, a boy who is also not what he seems, together they seek the freedom to be their true selves . . . and to save each other.
Debut author Ru Xu introduces to Blue, an orphan in a steampunk world that is at war. She disguises herself as a boy in order to work as a newsboy, and has a ragtag family composed of journalists at The Bugle, the only paper in town. She's forever worried that people will figure out her secret, and goes to great lengths to cover her tracks.
However, when she meets an odd stranger named Crow, Blue quickly learns that there are greater things at stake...
What's great about NewsPrints, is the fact that Ru Xu writes with a firm expectation that readers will absolutely keep up with every twist and turn, without needing the backstory filled in for them. We learn very little about Blue as the story opens, and it's not until the book continues, that we slowly start learning how her life has evolved this way.
Similarly, there are other characters in the book - Hector, Jack, Crow - all of whom come into Blue's orbit full-formed, and with secrets of their own. Part of the intrigue of the book is trying to uncover the bits and pieces of the lives they've led prior to interacting with Blue, and determining how Blue's understanding of them can both help and uplift them.
There are some genuinely heartbreaking and shocking revelations - one of which made me cringe a bit, but also made me feel great empathy - emphasized by Xu's clever use of incorporating steampunk elements into the book. Though it's never overtly stated, Xu's steampunk elements actually help emphasize a lot of the technological and political ties that we can relate to, in our own day to day lives.
Blue's micro world plays out against the macrocosm of a war that has plagued their environment for decades now, and Xu drops just enough hints to sketch out the severity of the conflict, while leaving readers wanting to know more.
With a gorgeous style and an inventive writing style, Xu has crafted a fun read with definite promise for the future. Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Ru Xu grew up in Indianapolis and received a degree in Sequential Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She is the creator of the popular webcomic Saint for Rent, and NewsPrints is her first graphic novel. Her favorite things include historical fiction, fat birds, and coffee-flavored ice cream. Visit Ru online at ruemxu.com and on Twitter at @ruemxu.