128 pages| Boom! Box| Graphic Novel/ Middle Grade/Speculative Fiction
The digest: A remarkably fun and light-hearted graphic novel with a strong presence of speculative fiction elements. If you are after an easily-digested, fast-paced middle-grade series, Lumberjanes might be just what you are after.
From the book’s Goodreads page:
“FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!
At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.”
This graphic novel series basically follows a small group of characters as they come to face the fact that their summer camp is not as peaceful and innocent as they may have imagined.”
What didn’t I like?
- The characters are not the most clearly differentiated. Then again, this is the first volume of a graphic novel series and even then it is only 128 pages long (consisting of four individual issues).
- The story was a bit… less than stellar. It isn’t bad (and is most likely due to the brevity of this particular arc as well as its intentional accessibility), but there just isn’t all that much going on.
- The series is definitely a bit younger than I imagined. Not really the fault of the GN as it is often marketed as YA-ish. It’s definitely closer to MG than I had originally thought.
- In all honesty, these points stem from the marketing of the series and not its actual content. In fairness, I would expect a YA publication of any sort to be more fleshed out than this one – but Lumberjanes Volume 1 is absolutely fine as an MG book.
What did I like?
- Whilst the story isn’t amazing, it is certainly fun whilst it lasts.
- There’s a good sense of mystery throughout. It’s refreshing to see characters that are just as clueless to the world they inhabit as we are.
- There’s a solid amount of diversity here. The main characters are all girls (I think?), but there are not all straight, white, and middle class.
- The main themes explored – teamwork and coming together are definitely something I can get behind. After reading a fair bit of gritty fantasy before starting Lumberjanes, this volume proved to be a welcome break for me.
- The worldbuilding, whilst not very complex or developed, is fun and leaves a lot of space for further exploration. In a normal novel, I’d expect to know exactly why the camp is infested with… certain creatures (and what types are there, what their abilities are etc), but in Lumberjanes Volume 1, the tone is so light-hearted that I didn’t feel as if this sort of discussion was required (at least not yet).
- I am a huge fan of the art style. I know this is perhaps the most subjective part of any graphic novel, so before you buy this you might want to look at examples online. Better yet, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read the whole series there (at least on the UK channel).
4/5. The first volume of Lumberjanes promises a wealth of surprisingly detailed wordbuilding (of which we just scratch the surface) wrapped in a clean and vibrant art style. The characters are fun and the story is entertaining. If you’re on the fence about this series I wholeheartedly recommend you jump in right away!
Further Goodreads info re artists and writers: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Faith Hicks, Brooke A. Allen (Illustrator), Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Brooke Allen (Illustrator), Carolyn Nowak (Illustrator), Various (Illustrator), Carey Pietsch (Illustrator).