YA Graphic Novels: Graceling, Cheshire Crossing & Lore Olympus

A rapid fire round up of three YA graphic novels for mature teen readers.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore, adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds. Clarion Books, 2021, 272 pages.

A gorgeous, lyrical graphic novel about a girl graced with a deadly gift. In Cashore’s fantasy world some people are “gracelings,” strange-eyed and possessing a magical ability. Katsa has the rare gift of killing and as the book begins, she is the unwilling tool of her uncle. But Katsa is too independent to stay under anyone’s thumb for long. Soon she is on her own quest, accompanied by Po, a young prince with his own unique gift. While a compelling adventure with definite good and evil, Katsa’s personal morality is a different story. Beautiful and prickly, she does not desire marriage or family but falls in love with Po. While nothing graphic is explicitly shown, and no commitments are made, Katsa and Po become lovers, and the book ends with each following their own path, though looking forward to the next time their paths cross. Overall, this leads to a morally problematic book. (In addition, one character is clearly implied to have alternative sexuality, and the main villain is disturbingly evil with some implied sexual deviancy.) Add to this a good dose of pictured violence since Katsa is often fighting for her life, and you have a book that, though beautifully illustrated and adapted as a graphic novel, is fraught with problems. Ages 16 and up.

Overall Rating: 3 (out of 5)

Worldview/moral value: 2

Artistic/literary value: 5

 Cheshire Crossing by Andy Weir & Sarah Anderson. Ten Speed Graphic, 2019. 128 pages.

What would happen if Dorothy, Alice, and Wendy were contemporaries in the real world? What if they all ended up at the same boarding school for girls with interesting pasts? Worlds collide and merge in the ensuing chaos. Cheshire Crossing is a romp of an adventure and the fantasy mashup is quite entertaining at times. (My favorite part is the unlikely romance of Captain Hook and the Wicked Witch of the West … cue two baddies flirting during battle!) Unfortunately, some pretty strong British cursing plus profanity, along with a little sexual innuendo, keep this from being suitable for younger readers. Ages 16 and up.

Overall Rating: 3 (out of 5)

Worldview/moral value: 3

Artistic/literary value: 4

Lore Olympus (series) by Rachel Smythe, Inklore, 2021-Present.

A popular web comic turned graphic novel series, I’ve seen this on the shelves of our local library’s YA section. I’ve also heard it recommended in some Christian, literary circles … which led to yours truly reading the web comic. This is not a comic for young readers or young teens. It deals, very frankly, with the messy world of the Greek gods. (Its tagline is “what the gods do after dark.”) Imagining Mt. Olympus as a modern city (while Ancient Greece is still, well, ancient) the story follows Persephone, a newly arrived young goddess on the Olympus social scene. What did I love? Reimagining the story of Persephone and Hades as a slow burn love story. Why I can’t recommend it for younger readers? All the sexuality. This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone familiar with Greek mythology. However, it is modernized, dealing with toxic relationships, date rape, and the aftershocks of sexual abuse. Add to that, rampant infidelity and some frank conversations about sex, and this is no Percy Jackson world of Ancient Greece! While Lore Olympus is shelved in some YA library sections, this series is intended for a mature audience and would not be suitable for younger readers. Ages 18-Adult

Overall Rating: 3 (out of 5)

Worldview/moral value: 2

Artistic/literary value: 4

Related Reading From Redeemed Reader

A Review: The Iliad and The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds (two gorgeous graphic novel adaptations)

A Resource: The Great Gatsby in Graphic Novel Form (Betsy reflects on two adaptations)

A Resource: Recommended Graphic Novels: a Booklist

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