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Yesterday's review.

This is an originally-English-language Tokyopop-produced graphic novel, which means that the publisher thought of it as similar enough to manga or manwha to be sold to the same audiences. The interesting thing is that, unlike a lot of the OEL work Tokyopop did, this is aimed squarely at adults and is trying to hit a market which reads serious, thoughtful slice-of-life stories; it's more josei than shoujo. It also has a distinct air of indie American serious-thoughtful-slice-of-life comics, but I definitely see why Tokyopop thought it could be their type of thing.

Unfortunately, it's also not very good, which makes me sad, because there are a lot of things about it which could have been pretty awesome. A lot of the problem comes from being compressed into one volume, although not all of it.

Jackie, depressed after her ex-lover Noah's death, gets Noah's brother to bring her some of Noah's ashes and drinks them over the twelve days of Christmas. Her hope is to forget Noah by assimilating part of her lover into herself. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work very well and makes her sick. Also, Noah's brother, who is of course also grief-stricken, keeps coming around to find out how this crazy project is going.

The story is told in elliptical side-shots, flashbacks, bits of Noah's family situation; Noah's lesbianism was never accepted by her family, and she left Jackie very abruptly to marry a man. The dialogue is occasionally snappy, and the art is cleanly drawn and interesting, with a style that merges realism and outline nicely.

The difficulty is that despite the obvious huge issues (life, death, sexual orientation, grief, the disposition of the bodies of the dead, secrets, lies) nothing much happens, and nothing much happens in a way where it's pretty clear that it wasn't the author's intent for nothing much to happen. This isn't a book about grief as an anticlimax, though it is somewhat one about the way it stops time. There's not room for anything to happen; we get told who these people are and what their situations are, but it doesn't build, or pointedly fail to build. It ends. It's very frustrating, because we do get to know these people, and know them pretty well, and become interested, and with another few hundred pages this could have been something moving and precise and extraordinary. It's not subject matter I often see in comics, the aftermath of an interracial lesbian romance where everyone is still picking up the shrapnel and the death is only an amplifier of the pattern of the way things were going already. I wanted more from this material and I wanted more of this material.

Ah well. At least it doesn't do the predictable things, the things one might expect of the story-pattern. I suppose I am happier with a story that goes nowhere with good materials than I would be with one that uses the same materials for cliches. It's just aggravating when something is so close to being interesting.


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March 2017

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