Graphic Novel · review

Mini Reviews: Token by Alisa Kwitney and Joëlle Jones; Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

2660576Paperback, 150 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Minx
Source: Library

All she wants is a token of his affection.

It’s 1987 and fifteen-year-old Shira Spektor lives with her father in a funky apartment building on Miami’s South Beach. More comfortable wearing retro ’40s clothing than the current fashions, Shira doesn’t belong–which is why her best friend is a bawdy, brassy eighty-year-old, and Shira herself has never even been kissed properly.

It would have helped to have a mother to turn to for advice, but Shira and her dad have been doing all right on their own since she was three.

And then her father falls in love with his secretary, and suddenly Shira isn’t his special girl anymore.

Bruised by her father’s constant criticism and the barbed attention from the popular girls at school, Shira finds comfort in a dangerous new hobby–shoplifting. But when she gets caught by a dark-eyed, streetwise boy from Spain, Shira discovers an unexpected friend and ally.

And then friendship grows into something more thrilling…and less safe.

Token moves to graphic form what many YA novels attempt: a look at the coming of age of Shira who lives in a hotel, is bullied at school, has body issues and when her father starts dating his secretary, decides to change herself by taking chances and risks that she wouldn’t otherwise. Most of what Shira does is for attention but she makes some really stupid decisions. The love interest too is strangely pragmatic and I guess, more reflective of real life than some YA novels but because I am so used to the melodrama, I found their resolution a bit anticlimactic. Also, Shira is supposed to be not so pretty but she’s actually beautifully drawn. A bit too beautifully, in my opinion. The novel doesn’t have a solid resolution and in that, it’s more a slice of life than an actual story. I liked it well enough though I did wish the writer had resolved things a bit more completely.

10767466Hardcover, 168 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Drawn and Quarterly
Source: Library


Hark! A Vagrant is an uproarious romp through history and literature seen through the sharp, contemporary lens of New Yorker cartoonist and comics-sensation Kate Beaton. No era or tome emerges unscathed as Beaton rightly skewers the Western world’s revolutionaries, leaders, sycophants, and suffragists while equally honing her wit on the hapless heroes, heroines, and villains of the best-loved fiction.

This book is made of funny. A collection of comics that retell history in the author’s own words, the book is wildly funny. My favourites were the Brontes discussing men and their differing tastes. It did get repetitive at times, especially with the cover comics, but I appreciated the majority of the panels. Gave me a new perspective on history, that’s for sure. History buffs will love this.


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