Saga, Vol. 9 (Saga, #9) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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Vol. 1 ★★★★
Vol. 2 ★★★★
Vol. 3 ★★★★★
Vol. 4 ★★★★
Vol. 5 ★★★★★
Vol. 6 ★★★★★
Vol. 7 ★★★★★
Vol. 8 ★★★★

“War can’t be ended any more than the rain.”

This is for sure the most emotionally driven volume of Saga yet, which is really saying something considering everything that has happened over the course of all of these issues. I can’t help being invested with each and every character, but this volume just hurts. Especially not knowing when Volume 10 will be released because the creators are taking a break. But this addition to the story was a masterpiece, a painful masterpiece, but a masterpiece nonetheless.

I’ve always said that it is completely genius to have this story be told with Hazel as the narrator, and Volume 9 really showcases that. Just seeing this baby, this toddler, this little girl, be forced to grow up in a world where hatred is bred. While also always being forced to live on the run, while being forced to grow up faster than anyone in the galaxy, while realizing that no one you love is ever safe. My heart breaks for Hazel and heals for Hazel every single page. And I truly think she is one of the best protagonists, of any story, of all time.

As always, Saga is a dark story that has very adult, NSFW content! So, please use caution! Content and trigger warnings for slavery, fatphobic comments, death, murder, talk of past child abuse, and sexual content.

As always, I’m now going to break down each chapter (single issue) in this bind-up. I mostly do this so I can go back and refresh what has happened in which specific issue. There will be SPOILERS, so please do not continue if you have not read this graphic-novel or the ones leading up to this volume!

“It takes someone you love to break your heart.”

CHAPTER 49
Ianthe has The Will and has forced him into slavery, while looking for Hazel. Petrichor and Prince Robot are officially a thing, and it’s the best. We get to see Upsher and Doff again, and they are still working on news stories, even off the grid with the gang. They are all on Jetsam, which what appears to be a planet with an abandoned amusement park. And Ghüs is the new babysitter.

CHAPTER 50
Oh boy, sexy times! Ianthe makes “The Help” kill. Squire, Prince Robot’s son, doesn’t want a new body or to leave with Petri and Prince Robot, after they tell their story.

CHAPTER 51
Marko is writing a secret book, that I’m sure is going to have a profound impact in the next volume. Doff is killed, but The Will is finally free, even if all he can see is rage and vengeance for The Stalk.

CHAPTER 52
Squire runs away, but soon runs into Ianthe. Meanwhile, Prince Robot and The Will meet up.

CHAPTER 53
Everyone is dying, The Will appears to have killed Prince Robot. Ianthe is hurt, but Alana is shot. Everything is falling apart.

CHAPTER 54
Marko and the Will have a fight scene to top all other fight scenes. And at the end, it appears that Marko dies. Friends, I don’t even have words. Only tears.

“At least I get to grow old.”

I truly believe that Saga is truly a once in a lifetime series, and this last installment has really left me speechless. This is just such a profound staple in not only graphic novels, but in the entire reading community. There is a reason so many people love this series, and it really proves over and over that no one is safe, nothing is safe, but the story always gets better and better. Okay, I’m off to go cry some more.

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Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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Vol. 1 ★★★★
Vol. 2 ★★★★
Vol. 3 ★★★★★
Vol. 4 ★★★★
Vol. 5 ★★★★★
Vol. 6 ★★★★★
Vol. 7 ★★★★★

“In the beginning, there was Landfall and there was Wreath.”

This ended up being such a heartwarming volume, after bawling my eyes out after Vol. 7. The start of this was for sure still a tearjerker, but Saga truly will make you feel every emotion possible. This series continues to prove that it is a tier above so many out there, and I truly hope it never ends.

I just feel like this Romeo and Juliet story is done so well, that I’m actual at a loss for words. I know we are eight volumes in, but I care so deeply for all of these characters and side characters that it just continues to astound me. They all deserve the literal galaxy and all the stars within it, but every volume the risks and stakes just continue to get increased. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have really just created something so amazing and inspiring that I am left in awe after almost every page.

I will say that this volume heavily talks about how people should choose what they want to do with their body, regardless of what anyone else chooses to believe for their bodies. This bind-up is really prochoice, which is also something that I’m very passionate about, and seeing it portrayed in a graphic novel is something I really wasn’t expecting, but I loved it with my whole heart. But content and trigger warnings for talk of miscarrying, talk of stillbirths, talk of abortion, violence, child abuse, depictions of trauma, depictions of PTSD, and graphic sexual content. Saga is always a bit of a darker graphic novel, so please use caution if any of these things could be triggering to you.

As always, I’m now going to break down each chapter (single issue) in this bind-up. I mostly do this so I can go back and refresh what has happened in which specific issue. There will be SPOILERS, so please do not continue if you have not read this graphic-novel or the ones leading up to this volume!

CHAPTER 43
Marko, Alana, Hazel, Petri, and Prince Robot land on Pervious to remove the baby that Alana is still carrying after the terrible events of Vol. 7. Petri talks a bit more about being a transwoman, and we see Alana has developed some new powers!

CHAPTER 44
Alana is also struggling with everything that happened to her in such a short time, and she is beginning to see the son she should have had. And we are introduced to some new bad guys.

CHAPTER 45
Alana’s new powers are allowing her to project the son she wishes she had, and Hazel is becoming attached. But using this new ability is hurting Alana more and more, until Hazel has to learn a new power to save her. Meanwhile, those new bad guys are attempting to kill Petri, but Prince Robot saves her.

CHAPTER 46
We learn that Prince Robot is genderfluid and we get to see a little bit of a romance brewing between them and Petri. Marko, Alana, and Hazel meet Endwife, who takes care of women who are too far along in their pregnancies for help elsewhere. And Endwife gives Marko a small glimpse of why being prochoice is so important.

CHAPTER 47
Ianthe currently has The Will captured and has him hooked up to a machine that allows them both to view his memories. We see him and Sophie growing up with an abusive father, and how their uncle, The Letter, came and took them away. We get to see him and The Stalk starting their romance, too, but soon Ianthe becomes aware of who Hazel is and who her mother and father are.

CHAPTER 48
We are finally reintroduced to my favorite character, Ghüs, and the rest of their friends that have been stranded while waiting for Marko and Alana. Squire, Prince Robot’s son, has gotten a lot bigger, and is getting more and more adventurous. But they are soon reunited when the crew comes back with much needed food for the gang. And we get to see Squire and Hazel start a beautiful friendship. Oh, and Hazel can finally fly!

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Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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Vol. 1 ★★★★
Vol. 2 ★★★★
Vol. 3 ★★★★★
Vol. 4 ★★★★
Vol. 5 ★★★★★
Vol. 6 ★★★★★

“Nothing in the universe was safe from the endless war between mom’s planet and dad’s moon…”

This seventh installment is truly a masterpiece, and one of the most impactful graphic novels I’ve ever read. The ending of this is true and utter perfection, and the emotional range that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are able to evoke is truly something I don’t have words for. This but seventh volume truly shows why Saga is one of the best graphic works in existence.

And this volume really talks about heaven and hell and believing and not knowing. All six issues really have the theme of what if there is something better after this life? What if there is something worse? What if there is nothing at all? And we get to see so many people live their lives feeling very differently on the spectrum, while also seeing it shape their lives entirely.

We get to see some amazing new characters in this, but we also are forced to say goodbye to many. All the volumes in this world can get pretty dark, but this one especially has some major content and trigger warnings for sexual content, violence, attempted suicide, death, murder, an animal death, talk of miscarrying, and war themes. Please use caution going into this bind-up.

And it feels extra heartbreaking because you only want the best for these characters, after seeing them go through such horrific things for the last six volumes, all because two people, from two different races, decided to fall in love.

As always, I’m now going to break down each chapter (single issue) in this bind-up. I mostly do this so I can go back and refresh what has happened in which specific issue. There will be SPOILERS, so please do not continue if you have not read this graphic-novel or the ones leading up to this volume!

CHAPTER 37
We get to see Alana (who is very pregnant), Marko, Hazel, Izabel, Petri, and Sir Robot all together on their latest ship. But they desperately need to refuel, so they go to a new place called Phang, where they meet Jabarah, Kurti, and their whole big family! We also get to see Gwendolyn, Lying Cat, and Sophie (who is ten now), on a new adventure together!

CHAPTER 38
Hazel and the family end up staying for six months on Phang! And they become very close with Jabarah, Kurti, and their family! We get to see The Will meet up with Velour (Gwendolyn’s wife), because he is trying to track her down. And we get to see a new villain, The March, who is a two headed alien, who kills Izabel and I’m forever crying.

CHAPTER 39
The Will is fired from his freelancing job and is just doing worse and worse mental health wise. Hazel and everyone else are trying to deal with the loss of Izabel. And this volume really starts the questions about an afterlife, and what people are willing to do in the name of it.

CHAPTER 40
Gwen is selling or trading a very mysterious box that is going to do very bad things. Prince Robot is spiraling worse and worse, and finds some drugs that helps remind him of everything he as lost, and he makes some really poor choices.

CHAPTER 41
Phang is going to crash into a timesuck, so Marko and Alana are desperately trying to get everyone together leave. The Will meets up with Sophie and the gang, and gives her the choice to come with him. Sophie stays with Gwendolyn, and Lying Cat doesn’t want to leave Sophie, so she stays, too.

CHAPTER 42
Marko shoots a weapon, but it’s going to really impact him down the road, but there was no other choice. The Will’s dog dies, and I was not prepared. And then Jabarah decides to keep her family on a dying thing because she has faith in a higher power. So, Hazel and the gang are forced to leave, but they lose so very much.

Again, this entire volume is about faith and believing and loss and how each person will live their lives differently surrounding those three things. The last pages of this? They broke me. I had tears streaming down my face as those heartbreaking black pages. Again, the emotions this story is able to evoke from me is something I will never have words for. But I love these characters, this art, and this beautiful story with my entire existence.

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Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

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ARC provided by Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.

“But there’s no home without a future…”

I just want to say that Katie O’Neill has the most breathtaking, most gorgeous, and most adorable illustrations out there right now. Each page is literally a brand-new work of art. Never have I ever loved the illustrations in anything as much as I do in this and in The Tea Dragon Society!

Aquicorn Cove stars a young girl named Lana, and she and her father come to visit her Auntie Mae on her little island. Lana is grieving the loss of her mother, but feels happier in her hometown, before Lana was forced to move to the city with her father. And the village is rebuilding after a disaster has struck. But Lana is more than happy to help. But when she goes to the water, she finds a little seahorse-like friend, who is in need of her help!

We also get to see Auntie Mae’s journey below the water, where the Aquicorns live! And Aunt Mae and their leader, Aure, strike up the most heart-warming f/f relationship. But we also get to see firsthand how important it is to keep our waters clean and that we need to respect coral reefs and underwater ecosystems.

Every book I’ve read by Katie has also has such an important and powerful message. Aquicorn Cove is about conservation and how the actions we take on land are impacting our waters. How overfishing, climate change, and polluting is hurting these water sources, and if we don’t change our actions then the results are going to be more and more severe. This is a book that really focuses on the delicate balance we have with all living things, and how we have to respect and protect each other to keep the cycle going. We all have to be responsible for our carbon footprint, or nothing will be safe; land or sea.

“Children don’t deserve to lose their home with the sea.”

Overall, I loved this more than words. Some of these panels were able to evoke such an emotional response from me. I shed so many tears, but also grinned so many smiles. I truly think Katie O’Neill is doing so much good in the world, and I wish I could put her work in everyone’s hands. Beautiful and breathtaking illustrations, empowering and important messages, and characters that I wish I had growing up. I hope you all pick this up and fall in love, too!


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Check, Please!: #Hockey (Check, Please!, #1-2) by Ngozi Ukazu

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This ARC was given to me by my beautiful friend Lilly from Lair of Books!
(Thank you so much! I love you!)

You all, this was the cutest. No, scratch that – Bitty is the cutest! And this graphic novel was nothing short of a joy to read! Hockey games, behind the scenes practices, a slow-burn attraction, an adorable romance, the most heartwarming main character ever. I mean, what else could you really ask for? Ngozi Ukazu has given us such a bright light of pure sunshine!

So basically, this is a published version of a very popular webcomic that so many of my friends have been following and adoring for so very long. It stars a boy named Eric Bittle, AKA: Bitty, who is leaving his southern home to go to college in the north to play hockey, and he is gay and not yet out! He is also a very talented ice skater, but he has a little improving to do on the ice with hockey. And this book is broken up in two parts that are following him during his freshman year and sophomore year at Samwell University.

Bitty also makes video blogs where he talks about everything that’s going on his life. We get to slowly see the seasons change, and Bitty change as well during his vlogs. And he especially likes to talk about the captain of the hockey team, Jack, who he is pretty sure dislikes him, even though he is constantly helping him improve on the ice.

“Never fall for a straight boy.”

But we also get to see Bitty interact with the rest of his team: Ransom, Shitty, Holster, Chowder, Nursey, Lardo, and Dex (ew)! And Bitty builds some really beautiful friendships. Shitty (Lord, I will never get used to typing that name) is such a sweetheart who was so accepting and wonderful. Easily my favorite side character and my favorite brewing side romance with a certain someone.

I also loved getting to see Bitty move into the team house his sophomore year and really embrace his love for cooking. While his team also embraces their love for eating his baking. Seriously, seeing him build friendships and bond with others was so pure and so wonderful.

Lastly, I really want to talk about Ngozi Ukazu’s banter and how it is so perfect and so realistic. I legit tried to read this in public, and I was smiling so big and giggling out loud while sipping my coffee. The dialogue is on a tier above most graphic work out here, and the art is so beautiful and lovely on the eyes, too. I am in awe.

Overall, I just thought this was adorable perfection. The only reason I’m giving it four stars is because I feel like the story just started to really begin right before it ended. But the slow burn m/m romance is very precious, and I will scream from the highest rooftop that Bitty deserves the entire world forever and ever. I have such high hopes for junior and senior year! This is easily the best sports graphic work I’ve ever read.


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Content and triggers warnings for underage drinking, panic attacks, hazing, and a lot of sexual content comments (mostly about hooking up with girls).

❤ I read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1) by John Allison & Lissa Treiman

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“Why are… boys… like this?”

This was a really fun, slice of life, college graphic-novel. And I think I liked it a little more because I always get nostalgic this time of year for college and dorm life. But this graphic novel follows three girls, who share a dorm, and are best friends.

Daisy – kind of geeky, likes ASMR, is queer. (basically me.)
Esther – hot, and extremely funny, goth. (basically ideal dating material.)
Susan – smart, and kind of grumpy. (basically the star of this volume.)

Ed – friend of the trio, with a major crush on Esther that’s pure.
McGraw – new to the university and has a mysterious past with Susan.

And we get to see these five character deal with drama, sickness, a gross article that rates girls at the university, and a birthday! But we also get to see them discover a lot about themselves over the course of these four chapters! And we also get to see their friendship grow and become even stronger.

And my favorite thing about this bind-up of the first four single issues was that each issue stands completely on its own. Yet, all four come together to help create a beautiful overarching story. Plus, this was just a lot of fun to read. Also, I didn’t know that this is set at a university in Brittain, so that was a fun treat, too!

Overall, I think this is really fun and the art is really cute, but it didn’t wow me the way I expected it to. This entire series is so beloved in the book community, but I think this could very much be the start of something amazing! I totally plan to continue on!

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❤ I read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad

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Friends, I love this story, this art, and these characters with the sum of my being. This is such a diverse cast, from sexuality (seriously, I think everyone is queer), to race, from social and economic backgrounds, to different family dynamics; there is so much to love about Fence. Like, C.S. Pacat’s writing and Johanna the Mad’s art is honestly a match made in Heaven, and these four issues were absolutely perfection.

Fence surrounds a boy’s boarding school, where many of the students are trying out for the fencing team. They all come with different levels of experience, with different strengths and weakness, but they are all competing for one of three open spots on the varsity team. And even though everyone wants to make the team, it is absolutely dire for Nicholas Cox.

“I know I can fence.”

I so very easily fell in love with each and every single one of these characters. And I found these amazing character layouts on C.S. Pacat’s Twitter!

And the “treasure” and “trouble” are honestly a gift from a higher power. And, don’t be me wrong, Nicholas and Seiji and their dynamic is perfection, but I honestly fell the most in love with Harvard and Aiden. Like, I can tell you all right now that that is going to be the ship I go down with. But my favorite character is easily Bobby! He completely made the comic for me, and everything about him just felt like a shining light at this boarding school!

Okay, so like with every graphic novel that I review, I always do a breakdown on my thoughts and feeling of each individual issue. So, the next portion of this review will be a little more SPOILER-Y! Obviously, I won’t give away anything too pivotal, but I will talk about some of the themes that each issue had inside.

Trigger and content warnings for minor bullying and for abandonment.

CHAPTER ONE
Oh my gosh, this first issue was everything! I loved being introduced to these characters, and I loved how Nicholas and Seiji literally first meet because they have to fence one another. I also loved getting to see a little more into Nicholas’ backstory and why he wanted to fence in the first place, and seeing him try to healthily fill that abandonment void with something positive.

CHAPTER TWO
This issue lets the reader see the boarding school that is really going to be the starting point of this story. It is six months since chapter one, and Nicholas is finally at Kings Row Boys School, where he hopes to get a scholarship from making varsity fence. We are introduced to a ton of new amazing characters that completely captured my heart; Bobby, Harvard, Aiden. And seeing the juxtaposition of Nicholas and Jesse Coste was really moving and powerful. I just want the best for my fence babies. Oh, and Nicholas also finds out who his roommate is going to be, and I actually screamed with pure joy.

CHAPTER THREE
We learn in this issue that there are only three available spots on the varsity team. And we also get to see all the people trying out’s different weaknesses and strengths. Nicholas is still hurting from an emotional wound that has never healed his entire life. Seiji still thinks he is God’s gift to fencing. We get introduced to Dante and Kally, who I easily fell in love with, too. And the round robin tournament for the three spots at stake begins.

CHAPTER FOUR
We get to see the fencer’s matches and that’s all I really want to say. But the ending of this bind-up volume was so damn brutal. Like, I need so much more! And I don’t want to way for Volume Two in January. I loved this, and it is easily my favorite graphic novel of 2018, so far.

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