Graphic Novel · I am Canadian · review · Review Copy

Review: SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

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Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Drawn and Quarterly
Source: Raincoast Books

It took me a while to get into SuperMutant Magic Academy but once it grabbed my interest, I was totally captured by the lives of the kids depicted within the pages. I spent most my high school years in Fiji so my experience of the hallowed halls of adolescent learning are very different. For one thing, we don’t have halls. Haha. But I did do Grade 12 here but that year was spent in painful homesickness and an inability to redefine myself as a creature of new landscapes. Tamaki’s characters are varied, precocious, and vulnerable (despite their abrasiveness).

The panels do not have an overarching plot but work as vignettes to illustrate the vagaries of adolescence from the viewpoints of the “supermutants” at the magic academy. Despite their superpowers, the students of the magic academy still suffer the indignities of adolescence (though not all indignities are limited to adolescence). There’s Marsha with her painful crush on her best friend Wendy who is kind and socially aware. She also has cat ears. Frances makes art in weird ways that are not always socially acceptable. The Everlasting Boy tries and fails continually to die.

What made SuperMutant Magic Academy a success with me is how well the book portrays the shifting moods and horizons that encompass adolescence accompanied with the unintentional profundity that results from a sincere desire to acquire an identity separate from the caretakers and peers around the children. The novel is sharply funny and intellectual. It will appeal to both younger readers as well as adult readers.

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