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Graphic Novel Twofer: Freshman / Monster on the Hill

April 15, 2014

Yet again, we’ve got two graphic novel reviews for the price of one! Today is Corinne Mucha’s Freshmen and Rob Harrell’s Monster on the Hill!

22. Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense by Corinne Mucha (2011)

Length: 112 pages
Genre: Young Adult; General Fiction

Started/Finished: 24 March 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

Summary: Freshmen year is tough: you’ve got to make new friends, deal with your old friends (or not, if they’ve changed so much and are ignoring you), learn how to talk to the opposite sex – all on top of schoolwork, the school play, starting a band, playing sports, and going to dances.

Review: Because my local library branch houses the district’s YA graphic novels, that is what I pick up when I am randomly browsing the shelves, which makes this roughly the seven millionth and third graphic novel I have read in the past year and a half with exactly this same synopsis. Most of the others have something additional on top of that; some quirk of character or situation (a history of homeschooling or a fake peanut allergy or something) to set them apart. Freshmen felt more generalized, and it’s not presented as a single story, but rather a series of interconnected 2-4 page vignettes. But, even though there wasn’t much new to me in Freshmen, I still enjoyed it; Mucha’s characters are smart and funny, they made me laugh more than once, and their problems are appropriately simultaneously OMG THE END OF THE WORLD and charmingly minor. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Good for high-schoolers, or for people who are at a safe distance from high school to get a little nostalgic about it.

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

Other Reviews: Couldn’t find any. Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “What time is it? Are we late?”


23. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell (2013)

Length: 192 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Graphic Novel

Started/Finished: 31 March 2014

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I think I spotted it from an Amazon recommendation.

Summary: Stoker-on-Avon has got a monster of a problem… or rather, its monster is the problem. Instead of terrorizing the town (and consequently bringing in valuable tourism dollars), their monster sits morosely up on the hill, feeling sorry for himself. The town fathers draft the disgraced Dr. Charles Wilkie to go get the monster into shape, and along with the newsboy urchin Timothy, they have quite a job to do… especially once they realize that a proper monster’s really job is much more important than simply looking scary, and a much greater danger than a sulky monster is lurking.

Review: I thought this book was a total blast. I loved the pseudo-Victorian setting (and the sly references thrown in left and right – the town fathers are Misters Shelley, Stevenson, and Hawthorne, for example). I also loved the idea of a sullen monster teaming up with a mad scientist and a wisecracking orphan, their journey to visit another town’s monster to show Rayburn how it’s done, the random adventures they have along the way, and the way everything comes together at the end. I also absolutely loved the artwork – it was bright and colorful and fun and imaginative, and Harrell’s surprisingly good at capturing a range of monster emotions. The only part I didn’t like was how easy it seemed to be to cure Rayburn’s depression – I get that it’s needed for narrative flow, but it didn’t feel very realistic. But other than that, this book was a ton of fun. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Everybody who appreciates a little touch of silliness in their fantasy quests will probably have a very good time with this one.

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

Other Reviews: Things Mean a Lot, Waking Brain Cells
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “Well, isn’t this just lovely, children?”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2014 8:06 am

    I love the cover of Monster on the Hill but Freshman is probably more my speed.

    • April 16, 2014 2:49 pm

      Kathy – Oh, I think you should give Monster on the Hill a try, even if it’s not your usual genre of choice. It’s fun and charming, and if you don’t love it, it’s a graphic novel so it’s not like it’s a lot of time wasted.

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