Thursday, February 17, 2011

Me on Mercury

Title: Mercury
Author: Hope Larson
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (S&S imprint)
Pages: 240 (Paperback)

This is the first time I'm reviewing a graphic novel, so hopefully it won't suck.

First I'll explain why I borrowed this book from the library and will probably one day buy my own copy of it. Yes, I'll admit that one of the reasons I wanted to read this is because Hope Larson is married to Brian Lee O'Malley, the cartoonist/artist/creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim, and it seemed to create a desire to read more graphic novels.

Another reason I wanted to read this was because I read the summary and thought it sounded mysterious and magical and, even though I hated this subject in high school, a little Canadian historical. Don't cringe, our history isn't that odd. ;) And I had no idea there was a gold rush in Nova Scotia.

The book alternates in point of view between Josey, a girl who's family recently discovered gold on their Nova Scotia farm in 1859, and Tara, a girl who's house recently burned down in 2009. A stranger named Asa Curry has dropped by Josey's family home, claiming he found gold on their land, and offers to help her father mine it and make a fortune. Tara is going back to school after being home-schooled by her mother, who's off in Alberta working on the oil sands, and is staying with her aunt and uncle after losing everything she had in the house fire. Tara is Josey's descendant, connected by possibly more than just blood and family. The magical realism was haunting, weaved into the story to connect the past and the present. It was an interesting mix of magic and romance and history and self-discovery.

Josey was delightfully innocent and old-fashioned, falling instantly in love with a charming stranger, and Tara was angry and brash and upset with her mother while slowly finding a place in the giant social mess of high school. Both girls have their secrets, their hopes and dreams, and discover they have to struggle to make them a reality.

It's clear when Hope Larson is telling either Josey's or Tara's story: the colour of the page around the panels changes from black (Josey) to white (Tara). I didn't have a problem with it, sometimes the switch seemed a bit abrupt, like there was more to be read during that time period, but everything was connected.

The artwork is amazing. I love how Larson draws people and buildings and backgrounds and little details, and it's all in black and white. I think it would be gorgeous in full colour. And that's all I'm saying on the visual aspect, I'm by no means an artist, and so I don't really think I can judge it by any means. All I know is what I like, and I love the artwork.

There were Canadian references, like loonies and double doubles and kilometres, but there are explanations. And I'm not from Nova Scotia. It's on the east coast and I'm all the way over on the west coast. Things are a little different, but no giant 'what the heck is that' moments.

If you're looking to test the graphic novel waters and you like black and white, magical realism, YA involving teen girls, little snippits of history in a small isolated area, then I would recommend Mercury.

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