Last year I wrote a review for the first issue of a manga series based on the Wicked Lovely novel series. Here’s the synopsis of the first book:
Something about a desert?
I was really not impressed by the first book. Nothing was explained properly, the story took forever to unfold, the character’s motivations were unclear and the dialogue made no sense.
But guess what, it’s not over yet! Someone at Tokyopop thought it would be a good idea to make the manga tie-in a trilogy. Because you know, those things have worked so well for them in the past…
Shy’s head is a little too close to Rika’s chest…
Book 2 opens with a battle scene between Shy, some kind of fox faerie we met in the first volume, and some other faerie called Mali. It might be because it’s been months since I’ve read the first book, but I can’t recall if she even appeared in that one.
But still, a fight! Something exciting that I can get emotionally invested in! And the artwork even looks like it’s improved a little too. Hey, maybe this series won’t be so bad after all!
The tilted angles are just my crappy copying.
Yes, you could probably tell I was speaking too soon. An otherwise engaging fight scene is peppered with the nonsensical dialogue I mentioned earlier. It’s pieced together so poorly that each speech bubble seems like it’s been copied and pasted from a different book altogether. On top of that, in the background are some faceless characters and I can’t tell who they are. They might be part of the novels, but how does that help me, who hasn’t read them?
We then see the protagonist Rika, a faerie, and her love interest Jayce, a human, on a date in town. It seems that spending two hours together then kissing means that they’re in love now.
They seem to have forgotten that first time around, Rika made a huge bitching deal about how iron and steel are poisonous to her which is why she is trapped in the desert forever. So why are they on a date in town? Even the smallest towns have lots of buildings made of iron and steel. Should I even be questioning the logic of this series anymore?
The two of them discover Shy bleeding on the backstreets, having been stabbed by Mali with an iron rod. Rika somehow transports him to her cave in the desert so he can recover. This would normally be quite an interesting and dramatic plot point. Except that they drop it pretty quickly so that Shy can go on about how he’s not going to seduce Rika because….Uh….He doesn’t like blondes? He seems awfully talkative and perky for someone who has just been near fatally stabbed.
Shit just got real.
He tells Rika to go back and fetch Jayce. Yep, because being in a busy urban area with his friends is a lot more dangerous than being in a cave in a desert surrounded by these morbid faerie things.
We then cut to a girl skateboarding. Nice and all, but it doesn’t seem to do much for the plot either. Why is it there, and why does it take up several pages?
Next is a funny moment when Keenan, the Summer King (of course that title means nothing to me. You could call him The King of Gelatinous Cubes and it would be the same to me) and Rika’s maybe former lover arrives at the cave. He’s a bit peeved to find foxy man lying in her bed, showing off his perfectly smooth man legs.
The two of them bitch at each other for a while until Rika arrives and she and Keenan bitch at each other for a while.
Also a return of the confusing artwork, as there’s a panel that seems to me like it isn’t drawn quite right. Rika appears to have her mouth wide open for no reason. It looks like she’s about to breath a fireball on Keenan for no reason.
So Keenan leaves and Jayce arrives and he and Rika spend a long time talking about how no other faeries are in line for her heart. This is pretty much the only proper development of their relationship we get in this volume. It’s not exactly romantic if Rika is constantly reassuring Jayce that she doesn’t fancy anyone else, when she so does. She sits awfully close to Shy most of the time.
Jayce asks to hear more about the faerie world, so I guess he’s just as confused as I am. And then they spend a long time talking. And talking. And more fricking talking. Obviously it doesn’t answer any questions so Jayce just sits at the side and doodles, and man he can draw fast! Or rather, the panels are set up so poorly that it appears that he can do four drawings in about half a second.
So finally we get another fight scene – Rika verses Malli and the desert faeries. We only had to sit through all that damn politics to get to it. And still there isn’t any build up to it. It literally cuts straight from Rika getting all cuddly with Jayce to the fighting. It’s basically the same as a jump cut in a film – incredibly jarring.
These sudden changes in Rika’s mood also make me wonder how we’re actually supposed to perceive her character. Is she a shy, lonely, innocent girl trapped forever in a desert prison? Or is she the tough as nails strongest faerie who kicks some arse to keep order in her desert? If she’s a character with hidden depths, then these changes need to be much more clear cut and we need to know the reasons for her reactions.
Just as you’d expect, the only cool scene in the entire book is over in just a few pages. Malli injects Rika with something, drags her off and ties her up, then reveals to her that it was Shy who pushed Rika and Jayce together. Wow, it only took five sixths of the book for the drama to kick in! Rika overpowers Malli, confronts Shy, confronts Jayce then calls a lady called The Winter Queen (faeries have phones now?) and the comic ends.
Aside from some nicer art (the faint image of snowflakes around the winter queen are a nice touch) and a few cool scenes, this book has all the same problems as the first one. Except that this one has an even worse flaw – The good bits are breezed over in exchange for endless talking about mindless, confusing faerie politics. Because that’s what teenage girls want when they read a book – politics! I’m not saying fantasy novels can’t have politics in them, in many cases they can be quite interesting, but it should back up the story rather than put the readers to sleep.
After two books and endless prattling, I still have no idea what these faerie things are. We hardly ever see them doing anything cool. They seem no different than ordinary humans, especially since they forget their own limitations. If you’re going to have magical creatures in your book, MAKE THEM MAGICAL!!
I was nice before, but I am starting to question Melissa Marr’s abilities of a storyteller. She certainly doesn’t take advantage of the visual medium of graphic novels.
The whole thing just feels like a huge wasted opportunity. The very first scene was a great set up – A human girl transformed into a magical creature and forced to live in a desert, in love with a man who can’t even see her or even knows she’s there. Whatever happened to that story? What is this book even supposed to be about?!
Cloud verdict – 2/10.