Happy Thursday, guys!
We're hitting the review dock with a couple of reviews today, beginning with Faith Erin Hicks and The Nameless City.
I rarely read graphic novels, but seriously enjoyed this one. It's the start of a fascinating world, with characters and ideas that I think we're going to appreciate.
Published April 5th 2016 by First Second
Format read: ARC via publisher
Kaidu is one such outsider. He's a Dao born and bred--a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Let's hope so, because the fate of the Nameless City rests in their hands.
Faith Erin Hicks brings us to the Nameless City, a port-side town that has a complex history of invasions and home-grown insurgencies for much of its history. The City is now under the control of the Dao, an occupying nation that has chosen to rule the indigenous population with a mixture of an iron-fist and limited diplomacy, and it's resulting in resentment between the two nations.
Hicks builds a vibrant and compelling story, by narrowing down the resentment between the Dao and the indigenous population of the City to the micro level, vis-a-vis the eyes of Kaidu, a Dao and Rat, a native. Through their interactions, Hicks shows the innate resentments and misunderstandings that exist between the segments of the population, and how it's genuine communication and interaction that helps them realize they have more in common than expected.
Though the set-up of the story is somewhat standard for a story of this nature, it's the interactions and the vibrancy of Hicks's art that makes the story a memorable one. Hicks does a nice job of setting up the complex histories of both characters, including obvious side stories and interactions with secondary characters - e.g. complex relationships with father characters; a young woman who has become loyal to the Dao, and is clearly a stand-in for Rat's potential future - that are waiting to be discovered. The set-up is a strong one, and I can't wait to return.
In terms of the art, Hicks is a vibrant artist with a gift for highlighting even the most minute of details. I loved her attention to physical characteristics, and the obvious detail that she's given to a city that's been dominated by a multitude of cultures. (More on this later.) You can clearly see the influence in the architecture, and I can't wait to learn more about this city's history.
For those who are concerned, it is worth nothing that Hicks blends facets from several Asian cultures into the society/culture that we see in The Nameless City. There are characters that use Chinese terms; references to what I believe are Japanese and Korean ideas, clothing from other Asian cultures, etc.
While I'm normally VERY picky about how Asian cultures are depicted in popular culture, I do think that Hicks's overall story and fictional society are constructed in a way where we can plausibly by multiple conquerors coming in and co-mingling in this shared environment.
If anything, I think that the construct of the story is a good way for educators/parents to discuss real-world colonization issues, and how it relates to the book.
Bottom line: This is an enjoyable, promising read all-around.
About the author:
Faith Erin Hicks is a writer and artist in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her previous works include Zombies Calling, The War at Ellsmere, Brain Camp (with Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan), Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (with Prudence Shen), the Bigfoot Boy series (with J. Torres), The Last of Us: American Dreams (with Neil Druckmann) and the Eisner Award-winning The Adventures of Superhero Girl.