Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman Review

Starfish by Akemi Dawn BowmanStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Pages: 340

Summary: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

*This novel discusses sexual assault + there’s also mention of suicide*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Starfish is a beautifully written, but impactful and powerful YA Contemporary that follows Kiko, who dreams of getting into her dream art school! Bowman discusses and handles numerous heavy topics throughout this novel, but above all through Kiko we understand there is always hope!

Starfish was one of those novels I’d always planned on reading in 2017, but sadly never got to. I’d heard such amazing things from fellow book bloggers & made it a goal to read it in 2018! While I knew it would be a pretty impactful read, I did not expect it to be so heart-wrenching. This book was thought-provoking, beautiful and truly an unforgettable YA Contemporary.

Kiko is finishing up high school and ready to graduate. As a passionate artist/painter, she dreams of getting into Prism, one of the top art schools in the country.

Her home life and family isn’t the easiest. She hardly feels she has close relationships with her two brothers, Taro and Shoji and her mother is constantly emotionally abusive towards her.

She feels her mother will never understand her no matter how hard she tries. My heart broke for Kiko, reading just how neglected she felt, how ignorant her mother was and how she never felt like she’d have a family who understood her truly.

Not only does she constantly belittle and criticize her, but Kiko also has to deal with her mother’s ignorance and self-absorbed personality throughout the entirety of the novel.

As her final days of high school are close by, she and her friend Emery get invited to a party. There she reconnects with her childhood best-friend + crush who had moved to California years ago, Jamie.

When she learns her uncle (who she was assaulted by as a child) will be staying at her house, Kiko struggles to convince her mother to keep him out. With that, as Jamie & Kiko slowly but surely rekindle their friendship + he’s by Kiko’s side when he understands she needs to get away from home for a bit.

In order to escape the anxiety, frustration and all the other complex emotions of being with her mother, Kiko heads to California with Jamie to forge a new path for herself and find a place where she can belong.

I loved the beautiful relationship between Kiko and Jamie. Jamie was so understanding about Kiko’s anxiety and he always did his best to support her in her dream of finding a new art school!

I also loved how Bowman showed this new step of their friendship now that they are older and more grown-up. While we know from Kiko how close they were, seeing her form a different but even stronger bond with him as the story develops was so beautifully done!

Also because I read Starfish in about a week than the usual 2~3 days it usually takes me to read books, I felt it allowed me to really connect with Kiko and her story!

The writing was just so lyrical and flows beautifully with the heaviness of the story. It really allowed you to fully understand Kiko and her story. Additionally, it just allows you to see the depth of the characters in such an interesting way.

There’s also descriptions of Kiko’s paintings at the end of each chapter & they added so much to understanding the depth of her emotions and heart & they were written so vividly that you could really envision her artwork!

Plot-wise, it is compelling and heart-wrenching. Seeing Kiko go on her journey to not only find herself, but also to better understand what family means to her and how she can let go of the people or places that hold her back was truly inspiring. The plot not only weaves together in such a brilliant way, but honestly there were moments too, that just left me surprised!

As for representation, this novel follows our main character Kiko who is biracial being 1/2 Japanese & 1/2 white (as are her brothers Taro & Shoji) additionally Kiko also has social anxiety (Both Social Anxiety + Japanese-American Rep are #OwnVoices!)

Starfish is novel that really fills your heart through each turn of the page as you connect more with Kiko and her story.

Starfish is a character-driven, phenomenally written YA Contemporary that stays with you long after the final page! From the important and heavy topics discussed to the empowering journey of the main character Kiko, Starfish is a novel that inspires you to find your voice!

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Literary Listens: Audio Drama Podcasts That Need Book Adaptations

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerIf you’re new to my blog, Literary Listens is a feature I created to share my love of podcasts while also incorporating my love for books! When I’m not reading, I also love listening to podcasts, especially audio dramas!

Today’s post is all about audio drama book adaptations! If you didn’t know, The Bright Sessions was recently picked up by Tor Teen to have a book series written by the creator Lauren Shippen! This audio drama series told through recordings, follows Dr. Bright as she provides therapy to people with supernatural abilities.

What I love about this is that not only will it give more depth to the world and story for fans/listeners, but also introduce the podcast to new listeners too!! 😍✨🎙

With that said, this recent announcement inspired me to share some more of my favorite audio drama podcasts that I would also love to see have book adaptations!

Hopefully today’s post also inspires you to check out these podcasts if you’ve never heard them before~(´▽`ʃƪ)♥♥

audio-dime-museum1.Audio Dime Museum
Summary: From the Just A Story team, comes a weekly, serialized experimental storytelling podcast which explores historical legends through the artifacts on display in the Audio Dime Museum. Part guided tour, part radio drama; each episode presents the curious story of one object from the collection. Meet your guide on this journey, The Curator, and learn her secrets as you delve into the world of possibility, magic and the unknown. Merging the suspenseful style of mystery with the conventions of ghost stories and the peculiarity that only historical fact can provide, this podcast is not for the faint of heart.

Why: This audio drama holds such a special place in my heart! It was the very first podcast I’d ever listened to and I believe it would make a fantastic book!

Each episode follows the Curator as she gives you the history behind one of the artifacts hidden away in her collection at the Dime Museum (All based on real-life artifacts!!).

Each story told through the curator is just beautifully written and I feel it would translate perfectly onto the page!

With each episode not only do you learn about different artifacts, but also about the Curator and her shop.

Girl In Space Podcast2.Girl In Space
Summary: Nothing fancy here — just the simple audio diary of a girl in space. Also, there’s this weird and potentially ominous light in the distance that seems to be growing steadily closer. Listen biweekly for science, guns, trust, anti-matter, truth, beauty, inner turmoil, and delicious cheeses. It’s all here. In space.

Why: Girl In Space is honestly one of the best sci-fi podcasts I’ve ever listened to! The story is not only brilliantly plotted with incredible world-building, government secrecy, mystery, twists and turns, but the writing is also utterly fantastic!

With such a thought-provoking main character, you follow X as she’s spent her whole life cataloging on her parents ship in space, but soon learns she may not be alone as someone…or something looms close to her ship, the Cavatica!

The way the main character describes her world makes it easy to imagine and puts you into the world of Girl In Space so easily.

So overall, the fantastic story, characters, etc., would make Girl In Space a flawless sci-fi novel!

The Elysium Project3.The Elysium Project
Summary:The Elysium Project follows those who are pulled into the world of a powerful formula that allows its subjects to manipulate the world around them based on thought and desire.This is an independently produced audio drama series created and produced by Natalie Van Sistine.

Why:The Elysium Project is easily one of the most cinematic audio drama podcasts I’ve ever heard! It plays very much like a weekly tv show. I feel the science-fiction elements,unique world-building, characters and plot are just so brilliantly executed, that it would make a fantastic book!

Its very much a plot and character-driven story that I feel will translate perfectly onto the page.

There’s science, genetics, drama, intrigue, action/adventure, just so many amazing elements that all weave together to tell a fascinating story.

The Penumbra Podcast4.The Penumbra Podcast
Summary:Depending on who you ask, the Penumbra is either the grandest railway this side of Nowhere or a twice-monthly podcast series. Each episode takes the form of a 30-50 minute radio play. The Penumbra is all about stories you recognize told in ways you won’t expect. Your femme fatale might be an homme fatale; you might find that not every haunting needs a ghost. Your criminal underworld might advertise on billboards ten miles tall, and when push comes to shove your home might have a bit more heart than you’re comfortable with. It’s never just a heist, a Western, an adventure. It’s the parts we think are still fresh about those genres — along with what we find along the tracks. And what will we find, you ask? Well… see for yourself. The Penumbra is created and produced by Sophie Kaner and Kevin Vibert.

Why:This is a podcast I feel would do so incredibly well as a novel in the SFF genre (& its so diverse!). With a number of alternating/separate story lines the characters and worlds really come to life + each is written with such depth! Some of the stories on The Penumbra Podcast include:

~Juno Steel: Juno Steel is a private detective on Mars and gets himself into quite a bit of trouble as he and his secretary Rita work together to solve mysteries + cases on a futuristic/colonized Mars, or more specifically in Hyperion City.

Each episode introduces such interesting characters and always gives you something new to learn about the world! The writing specifically for this story line is told through 1st person and its done so brilliantly.

~The Coyote Of The Painted Plains: Set in the Wild West, Mary Anne is moving to Crossroads with her fiancee and dreams to continue teaching there, though its rumored to be filled bandits. However, things quickly change when she gets involved with female bandit Chance Sequoyah, though she isn’t all she seems as Mary Anne soon learns.

Additionally, this story line features an f/f relationship & the banter between Chance + Mary Anne is so well written.

*This audio drama also features diverse representation through its characters with: disability rep., bisexual rep., f/f relationship, and portrayal of anxiety + depression + Main characters throughout the series also identify as nonbinary & genderqueer.

The intricacies of each story that The Penumbra Podcast creates with each episode have me wishing it could be a book series already with the brilliant world-building + writing, and incredible cast of characters!!

Victoriocity Podcast5.Victoriocity
Summary:A detective comedy drama || Even Greater London, 1887. In this vast metropolis, Inspector Archibald Fleet and journalist Clara Entwhistle investigate a murder, only to find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy of impossible proportions.

Why: Though I’ve only just finished episode 1 of Victoriocity, I can tell it will be another to add to my new all-time favorite audio dramas list!

The story itself is just so unique and follows 2 dynamic main characters (a detective & journalist) that would translate so well onto page.

Even Greater London is a unique steampunk setting written in such a way where you really get a full scope of the world through just the first episode. There’s comedy (which is done amazingly!), mystery, and just a very intricately plotted story and world that, if adapted, could do so well as a book!

So there you have it! Those are just a few of the audio dramas I’d love too see adapted into books!!

What are your thoughts? Would you like to read these if they were adapted into books?

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 😄✨🎙📚

January 2018 Wrap-Up

Can’t believe the first month of 2018 is already over! Today I’ll be sharing my first Monthly Wrap-Up of 2018~ 

# Of Books Read: 9

Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage1.Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage

Owned | Read/Finished on January 1 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Anchors & Vacancies Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Now pretty much a yearly tradition for me, I try to start off the new year by reading a poetry book, for 2018 I decided to read Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage!

This book contains 45 poems centering around the journey of a love lost and how that loss can impact a person when its difficult to let go.

This quote really stuck with me throughout the entire book:

“There’s a certain kind of ache in the chambers of my heart…”

While I really understood the complex emotions + journey Savage portrayed in the collection, on a personal level (aside from a few) many didn’t really connect with me (hence the 4 stars). However, I loved her writing-style and plan to read more of her poetry in the future.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes2. The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Library | Started December 23 + Finished on January 4 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |The Arsonist Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Told through 3 unique POV’s, The Arsonist brilliantly weaves coming-of-age, historical fiction, & Mystery/Thriller all in one! This novel follows Molly Mavity + Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef who’s paths cross when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of Ava Dreyman, who was a resistance fighter during the time of the Berlin Wall. The friendship between Pepper + Molly was so beautifully written and you really see how lonely they feel, but the bond of their friendship reminds them that they aren’t alone & I loved that! There’s so much complexity + mystery that really makes this book surprising. I suppose my only issue was that compared to Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly (Which I loved), the writing for The Arsonist felt rather flat and certain aspects from side-character development to setting description, etc. fell a bit short. Aside from that, The Arsonist is a compelling story that weaves in so many differing genres/themes that I highly recommend it if your looking for a unique read!

Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire3.Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #3)

ARC | Started January 7 + Finished on January 8 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Beneath The Sugar Sky Full ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Beneath The Sugar Sky was easily my favorite book of the Wayward Children series so far! The descriptive and whimsical writing really showed McGuire’s growth as an author with this series. When Rini finds herself Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children characters, both new & returning, join Rini on her quest to the peculiar world of Confection, to bring back an old friend. Kade & Christopher are easily my favorite characters of the entire series & not only did this book remind me of that, but their banter + friendship easily made this book one of my favorites! Filled with adventure, a dynamic + diverse cast of characters, magic & mystery, Beneath The Sugar Sky is a fantastic continuation to the Wayward Children Series!

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen4.A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

ARC | Started January 5 + Finished on January 13 | Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½ |A Taxonomy Of Love ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The unique format & expansive timeline, made A Taxonomy Of Love a pretty unique YA Contemporary. We follow Spencer from 13-19 as he navigates life + his friendship with his new neighbor Hope Birdsong. Allen really developed the main character Spencer, while bringing so much progression & growth to his character that you can really see by the end of the novel. Throughout the story, Spencer + Hope begin to drift apart when Hope suffers an important loss in her family. Your left wondering if they’ll ever reconnect, while also seeing where their own paths are leading them. I felt however, with the constant jumps in the timeline, characters + story points had uneven development, going from extremely fast + rushed pacing to uneventful & slow moments. That made it difficult to really connect with any of the other characters, aside from a few main ones (hence the 3.5). However, Allen did a fantastic job at weaving in so many themes + developing the atmosphere of her contemporary story over such an expansive timeline!

Love Hate And Other Filters Samira Ahmed5.Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

ARC | Started January 15 + Finished on January 19 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Love, Hate & Other Filters ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Love, Hate & Other Filters tackles such a relevant + timely issue while also balancing heart-warming moments and chilling/honest ones too! I loved Maya so much, from her passion to follow her dreams of becoming a film director to the strength and courage she builds over the course of the novel. There was one important moment I found that pretty much put the entirety of the novel into focus and that was the importance of Maya’s camera. I found it represented not only a shield for Maya, but also thinking broadly how people tend to view each other lenses (or filters!). Throughout the novel we follow Maya Aziz and her journey to not only understand who she wants to become, but seeing her inspirational journey to follow her dreams and tackle whatever life throws her way!

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad6.Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: 16-year old Nicholas Cox has the heart, but not exactly skill, for fencing. He’s worked from the basics and is eager to win the local tournament (Connecticut Regionals). The win from this competition could earn him a spot into a top school and allow him to receive a scholarship & continue with fencing if he is serious about pursuing it. His competition is none other than  Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy. This first issue introduces so much from Nicholas’s past to his passion for fencing & the mysterious fencing prodigy. There is so much great development, action and dialogue that will keep you hooked! Its a brilliant start to a new comic series! (Honestly, there’s tons more I discuss in my full reviews that I can’t fully explain in this wrap-up, but I HIGHLY recommend checking out Fence 💙✨🤺)

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad7.Fence #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #2 is very much build-up to Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic when they begin at King’s Row and introduction to new characters on the fencing team. We definitely see the stakes set for not only the team, but Nicholas too (considering we learn there are a limited # of spots for the main team + upcoming championships). Both Issue #1 & #2 introduce characters of color + trans rep. & it does hint at gay rep.! The tension really builds in this issue and similar to Issue #1, will keep you hooked!

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad8.Fence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #3 is easily my favorite issue in the series so far! There is much more character development/background + is a very plot-driven continuation! This issue very much follows Nicholas & not only his daily campus life on King’s Row, but his determination to prove himself before his first match against a classmate. The characters from Issue #2 are getting better developed as is the gay rep. The perfect pacing, development for plotting, characters, and slight twists + turns make Issue #3, such a brilliant addition to the Fence series!

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano9.Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (W/ Cover art by Mirelle Ortega)

Library | Started January 25 + Finished January 27 | Rating:★★★★★  | Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Easily one of the best middle-grade novels I have ever read! Themes of family and friendship, alongside a delightful writing that delivers a sweet and magical tale, Love Sugar Magic was a truly unforgettable read! The story follows Leo Logroño and she comes from a family of bakers, they run the Amor y Azúcar Panadería. She’s always felt left out of the family business + feels her mother + sisters are hiding something, so a day before the Día de los Muertos festival, she sneaks her way into the bakery to see what really goes on (she soon discovers she comes from a family of brujas, who use their powers within the bakery + their treats). Now that her oldest sister Isabel knows, Leo begins to use the powers within her & experiments with the special family recipe book. However as Leo begins to lie about using her abilities to the rest of her family, she soon gets into trouble & must make very important decisions. The magic system is one of my favorite aspects about this novel, it really builds and you see how unique it is for each member of Leo’s family. The plot is perfectly developed, the writing is beautiful, the characters are spectacular, & so much more!! Such a fantastic novel, I highly recommend it!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Latinx YA Book Releases To Add To Your TBR {2018}

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄✨📚

You may have noticed, I never posted one for December. Well, that was mainly because of vacation, but also because as the months passed nearing the end of 2017 when making my monthly wrap-ups, I noticed that I began to lose my enjoyment for making/posting them because I felt like I had to (being a pretty common post in the book-community). While I do enjoy them I felt it was time to change up the review format a bit to add more to make a bit more personal (adding the format of the book + when I started/finished). And I think doing that really brought back my enjoyment for them~

So similar to this one, I may be trying out this new format for the upcoming monthly wrap-ups, but again I’m really liking how this one turned out! 😄✨📚📚💻~ But, feel free to let me know what you think of the new format in the comments!

Fence Issue #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: January 17, 2018

Pages: 27

Summary: As Nicholas works to become a better fencer, Seiji takes an unexpected interest in his journey.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence #3 delivers on more character development and is very much a plot driven issues! For those who’ve been wanting a bit more development compared to previous issues, readers will not be disappointed in this continuation!

As we’ve know from previous issues, Nicholas has the heart to be a great fencer, but as it turns out his skills need some work. He begins to train earlier & much harder before the big competition.

I loved that for those who don’t have too much knowledge on fencing (like me 😂 ) , the fencing terms are really easy to understand  & overall I loved learning more about the techniques involved with it.

Nicholas shares more of the King’s Row dynamics + daily life in this issue which really helped to give the perfect amount of background to characters introduced in Fence #2.

While it was clear Aiden was the school’s heartthrob (and player), we get a little more development to his character when he denies to having had any connection w/ classmate Jay (who is heartbroken). However, its clear not all the top fencing guys are mean, when Harvard confronts Aiden about his rude behavior.

We also get more tension between Nicholas & Seiji as they continue to be rivals. I also loved getting more from Bobby + seeing him with his roommate/friend Dante!! (Even though Dante hasn’t said a word, I can already tell he will be another one of my favorite characters 😆💕)

Nearing the end, the main arc of this issue was definitely building up to Nicholas’s first match against a classmate. To the class’s surprise, Seiji decides to watch his match.

As it turns out Seiji admits that his first ever match/victory against Nicholas was a fluke. While that definitely was a theory in my mind as I read Fence #1, I was shocked when it was true.

This issue is probably one of my favorites. It had so much development in terms of character & story, while also being perfectly paced.

As with the previous issue, there continues to be diverse representation from black, brown to Japanese & Filipino rep.! And gay rep. is better represented than being hinted at from previous issues.

Fence #3 is definitely the strongest issue in the Fence series so far! More background to the main cast and plot make this issue perfectly paced and developed. There continues to be great character dynamics & tension that build the plot, making Fence #3 a much needed + brilliant addition to the series!

Fence Issue #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: December 20, 2017

Pages: 27

Summary: As Seiji and Nicholas struggle with their living arrangement, the competition heats up.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence Issue #2 is a character-driven continuation of the Fence series! The introduction to new characters & build up to what is at stake for these fencers will keep you hooked!

As we saw in Fence #1, Seiji & Nicholas are now roommates. Their rivalry and tension continues as this issue finally introduces us to more of the King’s Row fencing team!

As Nicholas is on his way to the fencing room on campus, he figures out he’s been tricked by rival fencer, Eugene Labao, into going the wrong direction. Luckily, we get introduced to Bobby Rodruíguez who helps him get to the right room. ( I know Bobby will definitely be one of the fan-favorite characters of the series! B/C he’s one of my favorites for sure!)

Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic is so interesting and I feel that the breaks in between their rivalry make each moment in this issue so entertaining & funny (Bobby vision vs. Nicholas vision is a perfect example!)

We get introduced to members on the current team: Tanner, Kally, & the captain!

I felt the introduction to the new members was pretty good for this issue & I’m hoping for more development in the next few issues.

As it turns out, with Nicholas’s scholarship on the line, he can’t afford to mess up (being late,  etc.) so the stakes for him as raising quite a bit as we figure that he has to make the team and reach the Championships against Exton (However only 3 spots are available!).

It was great to get even more diversity in Fence #2! This issue not only introduces more black + brown characters, but also Filipino-American rep. (Eugene), and trans rep (Bobby), and it hints at gay rep.!

This issue felt very much like build up and introduction to what will come in the next issues. Although it was great, I felt there could have been a bit more to develop the characters introduced, because it is clear there will be more from them in the future. Though I did feel there was much more development from Nicholas and Bobby in this issue.

Fence #2 is a well-developed continuation to the Fence series! With short introductions to who will obviously be more central and unique characters, this series continued to build tension and raise the stakes for the fencing team at King’s Row!

Fence Issue #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: November 15, 2017

Pages: 27

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama…and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him-if he can make the cut!

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence Issue 1 is a brilliant start to a new comic series! The genius direction of the plot and introduction to the rivalry between the dynamic duo protagonists made Fence #1 such a page-turner! 

Okay I don’t usually buy comics issue by issue, but when I first heard about this series, I immediately knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for a complete volume!

If you’ve never heard of this series or just haven’t gotten reading it yet, please do! Its SO GOOD! I actually just marathoned all 3 issues because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put them down, so definitely keep an eye on the blog for reviews of Fence Issue #2 & #3 💙✨🤺

Fence #1 gets into the story right away as we are introduced to Nicholas Cox, 16-year old who is new to the world of fencing, but eager to compete and win in the Connecticut Regional Circuit.

As it turns out, his father, Robert Coste was an Olympic fencing champion in the 80’s. Ever since Nicholas was young and his father was out of the picture, he’d been drawn to fencing, but it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he was given the opportunity to learn.

He’s worked hard (starting at the basics, keeping up with school, work & earning just enough money to make it in) and while he is no champion, he does have a lot of heart and is determined to win. He’s told by his coach that if he wins a local tournament (Connecticut Regionals) he may have a shot at getting a scholarship if he is serious about fencing.

Now presently, he is about to enter his first match against Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy who is incredibly skilled and on his way to the championships and possibly getting a scholarship from Exton (the best fencing school in the country).

Fellow competitors give him a hard time and believe he isn’t good enough to beat Seiji, but Nicholas isn’t giving in so easily.

This first issue of Fence really introduces a lot of threads to the story that will certainly become more complex as it continues. From Nicholas’s past, his dream to compete in fencing, to understanding fencing prodigy Seiji, the plot itself has you turning the pages and when you reach the end, eager to start the next issue right away!

I also loved that this series introduced characters of color( black, brown) & Japanese rep.!

What I felt really stuck with me about Fence (aside from the amazing + unique plot), was the characters! They are phenomenally developed! I adored the main characters Nicholas & Seiji so much!! Its clear there is so much more to them and this issue just gives you an introduction.

Their rivalry is what kept the plot of this first issue going, wondering who would win!

By the tournaments end, Seiji wins 15-0, however Nicholas vows he will beat him someday.

Six months later, Nicholas makes it to King’s Row (an all-boy’s school) on scholarship to continue with his fencing and has not forgotten his promise to beat Seiji in another tournament. As he makes his way to his dorm, he is quite surprised as to who his new roommate is!

While I personally think that the art-style could have been a bit more detailed on the backgrounds + expansion & detail on the action scenes, I felt it went perfectly with the story! It was vibrant, evenly colored and I loved the character designs! ❤

Fence #1 is a great introduction with the perfect mix of rivalry, character development, action, and dialogue to keep you hooked till the last page! Seiji & Nicholas are such incredible main characters that you will definitely be rooting for! If your looking for a new comic series I highly recommend Fence, it will not disappoint!