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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Review: Mercury (Hope Larson, April 2010)

In 1859 French Hill, Nova Scotia, Josey Fraser has just met handsome Asa Curry -- a man with a mysterious and traveled past. While quickly winning young Josey's heart, Asa reveals a secret ability to locate gold on the Frasers' farm. But there is darkness in the woods...and in Asa.

In the same town one hundred fifty years later, Tara Fraser is dealing with the aftermath of her house burning down; a house that has been in her family -- and Josey's -- for generations, when Tara discovers a pendant that turns out to be much more than a simple heirloom. As Josey's story plunges into tragedy, Tara's emerges with the promise of gold.

Confession Time...

I've never picked up a graphic novel to read for pleasure. And yes, I'm now on a graphic novel committee so I should be reading lots of graphic novels, but I actually picked this one up for myself. The cover was pretty. What can I say? Ok, and the story sounded interesting.

Mercury captured my attention quickly. The story swaps back and forth between Josey and Tara's stories and times. Josey falls in love with a con artist who has a very real and uncanny ability. Tara is trying to fit in and find her way after losing her home, and in a real sense, her mom to a job in another city. Both are trying to determine who they are as individuals, in their families.

The stories could each, with some fleshing, stand alone. Tara's story is realistic to the point that YA readers will identify with her quickly. The main characters are well-developed and likeable. Josey's story will appeal to the supernatural/romantic interests. Again, these are characters are fleshed out well. The two stories mesh together, easily. The frequent skips between the two are executed easily. It made think of the scene changes in a soap opera--easy to follow and easy to jump back into the story line when you returned. Larson's story writing abilities are definitely a plus to this graphic novel. I feel like this is a mark of a well-written graphic novel--that the story can stand easily and very well without the illustrations.

The illustrations are wonderful and just lend so much to the story, which is to be expected, but would also stand alone. The raw emotions and the characterization on each face is simple beautiful. The people from each of the eras actually look different--as if those without modern conveniences are drawn to show the harder life of the gold rush era. The detail, the transitions. I was simply wowed and can easily understand Hope Larsen being an Eisner award winner.

All in all, for my first "by my own choosing" graphic novel, I'm very impressed. I don't do stars or what have you, but this is definitely toward the top of my list.

For more information visit the Simon & Schuster page.

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