Friday, February 11, 2011

Comic Review: Nightschool: The Wiern Books

I remember trying a volume of Yen+  a couple of years back, looked at Nightschool and went "hey, that looks like Svet's art doesn't it?" flipped back to the start of the chapter and lo and behold it was! My friends and I in high school were really big fans of DramaCon (to the point where we nearly had a six way fight for the last book*) so of course I tried this out and enjoyed it pretty well. The series is rather short, only four volumes, although Yen released it too slow for my taste, so here's a review on the complete series.

Nightschool: The Weirn Books by Svetlana Chmakova
Summary: By day the world is normal, but by night shapeshifters, vampires, and weirns (a type of witch) and others walk the streets and live their own lives. And that includes such things as going to school, keeping the peace, and fulfilling ancient prophecies that might destroy the world, wait what?

The Good: I love a good urban fantasy for all the world building in it (I fell in love with the Harry Potter series just for the first scene in Diagon Alley) and the world here feels new and creative while still being familiar enough to keep it realistic. Most of the characters are a bit flat (I think if the story had focused more on one storyline they would've been more fleshed out) but still interesting enough and I liked Alex as a main character (true her attitude is a lot like Matt's from DramaCon but as soon as she realizes something has gone wrong she takes initiative and goes out to investigate it).

The Bad: I really didn't like the ending (I'm really not a fan of retcons) and I'm frustrated that Svet says she wants to continue the series but is working on anther series right now**. Yes the overall arc was wrapped up (although several side plots weren't resolved at all, Alex's curse for one thing) but it felt unsatisfying in the end. Plus, the hunter's side of the story felt really extraneous in the end and I feel like the story would've moved quicker without them and allowed for greater world building (and, judging by the extras in the final volume, a lot of work did go into the world building).

The Art: Very similar to DramaCon's art (duh) but slightly more refined. Less chibis (although they still make an appearance), lots of screen tones, and nicely detailed backgrounds. The character art is still rather simple but all the characters look fairly distinct and none of them look like expies from her other works.

So, I enjoyed parts of the story and got really annoyed by the ending of it. It's a series I would have prefered borrowing from the library instead of having to buy myself (and this is why I use my library and scanlation sites so much, I keep reading series where I don' t like the endings) but oh well. Currently Svet is working on some comic adaptation of a book (I think it's by James Patterson) and, since I didn't like his other work that much (Maximum Ride) that's a pass and it'll probably be a while before I read anything new of hers again.

*And when I say nearly I mean, it was actually only a five way fight since I bought the third volume, read it, and then let my four friends plus the French exchange student we'd converted to DramaCon (she already read manga) duke it out.
**More like worried actually, she already has two incomplete series and I have no idea how well this one sold. Plus, like I said, Yen Press put this series out so slowly that even if she did restart the series it would be awhile before it even came out as a paperback.