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Terry Moore – Strangers in Paradise, Book 1

January 12, 2011

163. Strangers in Paradise, Pocket Book 1 by Terry Moore (2004)
Strangers in Paradise Pocket Books, Volume 1

Length: 344 pages

Genre: Graphic Novel, Modern Fiction

Started / Finished: 30 December 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Memory’s fault.

Math quiz: if David
loves Katchoo, who loves Francine,
who’s got the mob’s cash?

Summary: Katchoo is a young and attractive artist, living with her best friend, Francine. Right at the same time Francine’s relationship (with the rather sleazy Freddie) is breaking apart, Katchoo meets David, a quiet and kind-hearted young man who is instantly smitten with her. However hard David tries, however, Katchoo is herself quietly in love with Francine. The three of them muddle their way through the resultant triangle… until Katchoo’s past starts to catch up with them, in the form of a ruthless former employer, and $85k in missing money that they think Katchoo still has.

Review: I didn’t know much about this series when I started the book, apart from the fact that a) it came highly recommended, and b) it was about “love, sex, and relations with other human beings” (courtesy of Neil Gaiman’s blurb on the cover). So while I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (other than a good read), it turned out to be very different than I was expecting (although it was definitely still a good read; I got that part right.)

This book is a really strange mix of outlandishness and immediate recognizable reality. That is, the plot is overblown and almost soapy – I mean, missing mob money? – but the characters, and the life choices that lead to the soapy plot points, are shockingly real. Katchoo and Francine (and David) feel like real people, act and react and interact like real people. They fall in love where it’s not convenient or smart to do so. They get mad and say things they don’t mean (or that they really do mean), and those things always have consequences. They fight and they joke and they bitch and they make stupid decisions and it all seems very familiar, and very real. The artwork also has this same blend of overblown yet real; it’s stylized for sure, but everyone looks believably human. It was particularly refreshing to see women in the comics that aren’t waifs, and have real, natural-looking bodies.

Pocket book #1 apparently contains parts 1-3 of the original series, out of a total of 19. I have as little idea about where the series is going to go in the next sixteen parts as I did going into this one, but now that I know and love the characters, and know how much heart and truth the story contains, I’m eager to find out. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you like love stories and have been meaning to read more graphic novels, but aren’t into superheroes or fantasy, Strangers in Paradise might be right up your alley. Actually, even if you do like superheroes and fantasy, SiP is well worth a try.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bookie Monster, The Novel World, Stella Matutina, Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “My life is scribbling and scratching and half finished pages at dawn.”

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2011 2:45 pm

    Strangers in Paradise is such a good series! sure, there’s some hokey bits, but just wait till the love triangle gets more, umm, triangular? i don’t want to spoil it for you, just keep reading!

    • January 13, 2011 1:44 pm

      Redhead – That’s true, it’s not really triangular so much as arrow-shaped at the moment.

  2. January 12, 2011 5:43 pm

    Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely trippy, and it only gets trippier as it barrels along, but the characters are so real that they keep everything (mostly) grounded.

    • January 13, 2011 1:48 pm

      Memory – Yeah, I was unsure going in, then early on I decided it was primarily a relationship story, and then just when I had my footing with that part, the book was all “Just kidding! There’s also a soapy backstory involving the mob and a giant blond assassain!” Trippy is a good word.

  3. January 13, 2011 1:32 pm

    Between you and Memory, I’m dying to read these. If only my library would cooperate.

    • January 13, 2011 1:50 pm

      Nymeth – Whoever’s got Vol. 2 checked out is taking FOREVER about getting it back to the library, and I know Memory was having problems getting Vol. 3 from *her* library. Clearly it’s a conspiracy!

  4. January 15, 2011 10:30 am

    “Katchoo and Francine (and David) feel like real people, act and react and interact like real people. They fall in love where it’s not convenient or smart to do so. ”

    oh it sounds so much like me…I want to read it!

    • January 17, 2011 9:34 am

      valentina – I think that sounds a lot like most people. ;)


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