Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review - Mercury by Hope Larson (4/5 stars)

I got this book through the Amazon Vine program.  It sounded like an interesting premise and I love graphic novels.  Overall it was an interesting read with great illustration.

This book follows the stories of two young girls.  Tara is a young girl in current times whose house has burnt down.  She is struggling with starting at her new school and finds a pendant in her mom's old jewelry that is intriguing.  Alternating with Tara's story is the story of Josey.  Josey lived in the same area as Tara but in 1859.  Josey has meet a handsome young man that promises to find gold on Josie's parents' farm and make the farm rich.  As things progress the two stories become somewhat tied together.

I liked the illustrations a lot.  Larson does an excellent job clearly picturing the actions of the characters, the frames are easy to follow and there is never any doubt about what she is trying to portray.   To make the two stories easier to follow the frames telling Tara's story have a white background behind them and the frames telling Josey's story has a black background.  Also any Canadian slang is clarified with asterisks below the frames.  So overall very easy to follow and clear illustrating.  The style of illustration is fairly minimalist with pictures done in black and white, no shades of gray.  The drawings are not intricate but they are detailed enough to portray the landscape and background of the settings.

The story was intriguing.  Josey's story is the more intriguing of the two as it focuses on Josey's relationship with a young man, Asa, and her family's quest to find gold.  This story has more urgency to it and was more engaging than Tara's story.  Tara's story was boring at points.  The first portion of the story mainly follows Tara running and hanging out with her friends.  When Tara finds her mom's old necklace the story gets more interesting (last third of the story or so).

I wish that more time had been spent with Tara exploring the origin and capabilities of the necklace.  It took too long to set up Tara's story. On the other hand I really enjoyed Josey's story. 

Overall this graphic novel was well illustrated, very well organized, and had a somewhat engaging story.  It was a unique subject for a graphic novel and was presented well.  The only thing I would have changed would be to get into Tara's portion of the story faster.  I will be keeping my eye out for future works from Hope Larson.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

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