For those who haven't seen the post below this, I'm going to start putting as on NI (provided that Google approves me, just hoping that I don't have to code them all in myself) so if anyone sees anything inappropriate, makes noise, etc, take a screenshot and let me know please!
I didn't realize it until I picked up the book from my pile to read but I looked at the cover and went "hmm, that animal looks like Totoro" was was relieved to see someone else (I believe on the back cover) mention Totoro as well. I felt like it was too big a visual similarity for anime/manga fans at least to not notice but still didn't want to be the first person to bring it up, as if I was accusing it of copying and truly this story has nothing in common with that film other than that one character design.
August Moon by Diana Thung
Summary: Fi and her dad live just outside the town of Calico and when they stay there for a bit while her father tries to identify a strange new creature found in the town she gets caught up in both the local legend of Soul Fires and a plot by an outside organization to bulldoze the town's beloved forest.
The Good: The story plays out at a good pace and despite a few scenes of violence and death I think it's more than fine to let the middle school crowd read (it's funny since even though it's listed as grades 9 and up I feel like it was written more to a 6-8th grade audience, especially since Fi at least is 11). And, well, there's certainly nothing terrible with it, I'm sure plenty of people will like it but I just didn't find anything about it amazing.
The Bad: I just didn't see anything special about this story, none of the character's grabbed me, the plot wasn't anything new or anything old done extraordinarily well, and I just didn't feel a sense of whimsy that I had expected when I read the synopsis and saw the cover. I didn't like Fi or Jaden as much as the story wanted me to (in retrospect, Jaden reminds me a lot of Hajime from the currently airing anime Gatchaman Crowds, an eccentric who really does know what's going on and what to do about it but is terrible at communicating, he's even worse than Hajime is) and since I didn't like any of those individual aspects of the story it's no wonder that the whole thing didn't gel for me.
The Art: It feels odd to say this about an English comic book instead of a manga but the character designs were just simple enough that I read a bit into the book, stopped, flipped back, and then realized there were two point of view characters instead of just one. I can't remember why now I initially got them confused, it could have been that I expected one POV character instead of two and that's how I started reading it, but I think that does mean that the designs should have been a tad more distinct. Or perhaps it just needed to use some shading, this is yet another comic that goes for the just black and white approach which I'm starting to dislike a bit, I just feel like it makes everything look a bit too simple and scenes which are supposed to look stunning to the character, and therefore create an emotional response in the reader, just don't accomplish that at all.
So, two out of five stars here for being a bit bland and unimaginative, even though I say that a middle schooler could read it I don't think I'll be recommending it anytime soon.