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This is an amazing achievement; great noir fiction. Writer and publisher could have done a much better of explaining that it's part one of a series. I didn't realize this and the "ending" is pretty confusing.
Saw this on my Beanstack recommended list and was immediately drawn in by the art style. If you are a person who likes to doodle you'll walk away with some new ideas, which is worth the price of admission alone :-)
In addition to the other comments and reviews about how this is very much a graphic novel for adults despite the age of the protagonist, I highly recommend reading this NPR interview with the author before you pick it up too >> https://www.npr.org/2017/03/30/522034367/in-monsters-graphic-novelist-emil-ferris-embraces-the-darkness-within This completely changed my perspective on the content and added a new dimension to the story.
Before I start the review, I should warn you that if you are triggered by violent sexual content, I strongly recommend researching this comic before you read it. I won't go into details in this review, but be aware that this book is ... intense.
A further, less critical warning: I would not recommend this book as anyone's first foray into graphic novels. It uses the form in a very complicated way, and even veteran comic readers may get confused by the layouts at times. This makes it a tough, although very worthwhile, read.
I am a big fan of mystery comics, specifically the ones that are ACTUAL fleshed-out cozies and whodunits. Outside of Japan, where the genre is quite substantial, a lot of comics call themselves mystery comics without actually embracing the title, and I have often been disappointed because of this. I am therefore extremely happy to have discovered this book, which is one of the best mystery comics I have ever read.
MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS combines the best elements of mystery, horror, and memoir into an incredible tale. The art style is beautiful and perfect for portraying the perspective of Karen, a young, artistic girl growing up around incredible turbulence. Different classic horror monsters are used to represent characters she meets on her journey, deepening our understanding of their individual struggles and inner demons. Racism, sexism, classism, every -ism you can think of is featured in the dark landscape that was Chicago in the 1960's.
The beautiful pages contain ridiculous amounts of detail, which is a big part of why the mystery elements are so good. Comic mysteries have an unfortunate tendency to be thin and simple, but this book is deep and complex, with little clues carefully packed into the pages, waiting for an eager mystery fan to find and piece together. The reader is led to question everything, search for deeper meaning with each page, and fully dive into the complicated game that makes the genre so enthralling.
This is the longest review I've written for some time, so I'll go ahead and wrap it up with this: if you think you can handle the darker side of comics, then I strongly recommend MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS. I'll be pretty surprised if I read a better comic this year.
Dark, sometimes tragic, and incredibly compelling. The art really covers a range, sometimes very cartoonish but easily slipping into beautifully detailed. You can really feel the love Karen and her family share, even when terrible things happen and poor decisions are made; I can't wait to get my hands on the second book!
Fantastic. That's all I can say.
Yes this book was graphic but it used the dark and twisted themes to amplify its meaning and its importance. I was not expecting the interplay between self-identifying as something monstrous as a coping mechanism, prostitution, the Holocaust and life of Jews in Germany just before World War 2, death and sickness, and childhood perspectives. This was masterfully done and I artfully drawn and I would say anyone who can stomach the scenes and intensity of this book should read it. For sure.
This book has a story framed within a story, both of which are compelling with interesting characters. The book touches on many sensitive 'adult' subjects, despite the protagonist being young. The art is done all in crosshatching which is very beautiful. Some things are rendered precisely and lovingly and some things are done more quickly and expressively. This wasn't a negative for me but it should be noted that not every panel is pretty, if art consistency is important to you.
There were two main issues I had with this volume. Mainly, the flow of the panels is not great. There were quite a few places where it wasn't clear to the reader what order the text should be read in. It didn't keep me from understanding the story personally, but it was a bit distracting to have to go back and reread some things in a different order. This is the author's debut graphic novel and you can tell she is inexperienced in this area.
The second thing I'd keep in mind is that this is volume 1 of 2 and it does not stand alone as a story. The novel cuts off in what you might call a cliffhanger but to me it just felt like the story suddenly stopped right before the ending. While this might be okay if the comic was released in many small issues, after reading a large volume like this I would have liked some closure, even if not every plot thread was resolved. Not knowing it wasn't stand-alone when I started reading, the ending left me feeling that I missed something.
Despite those things I still enjoyed reading this and look forward to the conclusion.
Very original. Not quite my cup of tea but an interesting take on the monster story.
An incomplete murder mystery, despite its 400 pages (and I won't be reading book 2). Terrific cross hatch illustrations, most with some colour, but the protagonist is unlikeable, relations between characters cold, and the story is told poorly. Far too ambitious.
This is a story rich graphic novel. It's also huge, and dense. The art style is gorgeous and unique, the writing is complicated and fascinating. The story is intricate. Every page has a ton of information to unpack and will take some time.
This is also a must read and I cannot wait for the sequel.
This is a weighty tome. It is beautifully and lovingly drawn in over-the-top detail. It is about the monsters in our lives, and the monster inside us, told from the point of view of a girl growing up in 1960s Chicago. Thank goodness her older brother, an artist among other more dubious things, takes her to the Art Institute, and teaches her not only to look carefully, but to experience paintings by entering them.
As children, our perspective on the world is different from the ones we have as we age, but if we are wise, we keep the open-eyed/open heart perspective and carry it with us as not to miss the many details of everything around us.
The illustrations in this lush and beautifully illustrated coming of age graphic novel are astounding in their details - for example, the book is meant to be a child's journal and as such, every single page is drawn to look like a sheet of lined paper with spiral binding covered in doodles. The plot of the book touches on some pretty serious themes (Holocaust, child prostitution, breast cancer, racism and homophobia to name a few). The main character is wonderfully unique. Head's up though: this one ends in a cliff-hanger as there is another volume on the way.
There's not another graphic novel like this one - the illustrations are jaw dropping gorgeous. It's a combination diary-mystery-memoir where ten-year old Karen is trying to solve her neighbour's death. It's a dark story, but I cannot wait for the sequel.
The illustration is drop-dead UNREAL. There is no beauty in the world like in this book. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but not by much. The story is fine but wasn't my cup of tea.
There are so many layers to this story and they are each as deep and compelling as the next. Gripping and magical.
Emil Ferris' "My Favorite Thing is Monsters" is a vividly illustrated murder mystery narrated by a precocious, artistic child who inhabits a world populated by monsters.
In her loving but secretive home in the basement of a cheap Chicago apartment building, which she shares will her ill mother and her protective older brother, Karen tries to summons the hidden, misshapen monsters that appear in her comics, her movies, and her dreams. She pictures herself as one of them while also feeling sorely dispossessed of their imagined powers--immortality, the freedom to express dark emotions, and their knowledge of the deeply held secrets hidden at the core of other beings.
In Karen's outside world, the volatile days of the late sixties, there are many monsters who freely roam the streets disguised as humans, though they are sorely lacking in humanity. While Karen draws herself and her protective friend Franklin as a werewolf and Frankenstein respectively, they are the ones who are often left unprotected and are terrorized by vicious kids and adults alike.
Karen is attracted to solving the mystery of her upstairs neighbor Anna's tragic death. As she listens to Anka's previously recorded interviews detailing her own tragic childhood among her own monsters, Karen intuits that solving Anka's murder may provide the key to surviving in her own uncertain world. This reader was as mesmerized by the richly cross hatched drawings rendered in almost psychedelic bic pen colors as she was by the emerging clues Karen gathers from Anka's tragic story to overheard conversations, and greek mythology and classical paintings.
Trigger Warning and Spoiler Alert Below:
(This story includes images and stories of child sexual abuse and prostitution as well as the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany.)
How often can you say a book is unlike anything you've read before? I detest hyperbole, but I can honestly say this the most amazing work I've seen this year. The artwork is incredible and the story captivating. The ending left me frustrated, but it quickly dissolved once I read this was part of a trilogy. There is plenty to fill several more volumes. I hope Emil Ferris becomes a household name before long.
When I describe a graphic novel, especially one as unconventional as My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, I like to use the phrase "non-linear experience." It's wordy but it gets the point across. Narratives such as these certainly have a beginning and an end, but while movies go frame-by-frame, and music goes note-by-note, and books word-by-word, graphic novels have the potential to be somewhat unique in that they allow for a many paths approach. A good artist will direct your eyes across the page, but for the most part you're free to wander. Furthermore, all mediums have their inherent strengths, and the graphic novel excels at causing you to make your own visual connections in the spaces where they don't physically exist. For more on this subject, refer to vastly underappreciated Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud.
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris is 1-part whodunit murder mystery and 4-parts examination of the fallibility of people. The 'Monsters' from the title is a kind of lens through which Emil Ferris' main character, the headstrong 10-year-old Karen Reyes, sees herself and the world around her. You see, not all monsters are evil, according to her. Well, some of them are, but only a small fraction. Those we have to keep an eye on. The rest are merely misunderstood.
This is Ferris' debut graphic novel. Give it a go. I can almost guarantee each reader will take away something different from the experience. **Mild spoilers ahead** Furthermore, I recently learned there's a volume 2 that's soon to be published, which I didn't know about when I started. I mention this because, while the ending seemed to leave a fair amount unresolved, the whole composition has a standalone quality to it.
This is one ginormous graphic novel about a family in a neighborhood in 1960s Chicago. It's got commentary on race, class, sexuality, and even flashes back to Nazi Germany in a subplot. And that leads me to why it didn't get more stars... sooooo much going on... too much going on. My notebooks and diaries circa age 10 were probably just as jumbled and nonsensical at times and that true to life quality here was admirable but personally I found it quite a lot of work!
This graphic novel was absolutely stunning. It's the diary of a young girl whose family is coming unraveled, and who feels surrounded by loss. The story is beautiful and poignant, but the art is absolutely incredible. Some content may not be suitable for some younger readers, but that same content may be just what someone needs to see themselves in a story. So: parents, be advised, but not scared off. On the whole this is highly recommended to fans of arty, mature graphic novels. I was so happy to see it marked "Volume 1."
Amazing, beautiful, shocking, and profound. A memorable book. I was confused by the end until I realized it is a cliffhanger, with volume 2 due later this year.
This book is incredible. Tons of plot twists, great art, story telling... and Monsters!!!! A truly great experience. Balances back and forth between real life and imagination unlike anything I've read. Loaded with content, and a second volume coming soon. I'll expect to see this pop up for numerous awards.