Book review

Review: Seeking the Truth (Through Lya’s Eyes #1) – Carbone, illustrated by Justine Cunha, trans. by M.B. Valente

64 pages| Europe Comics| Graphic Novel, Mystery, Drama, Fiction

I received an electronic copy of Seeking the Truth in exchange for a review. The publisher has not in any way influenced my thoughts on the graphic novel and did not have access to the review before general publication.

The digest: a highly stylized graphic novel which follows Lya’s attempt to uncover the reckless driver who put her in a wheelchair the day before her seventeenth birthday. The story is good, the setting believable, and the artwork simply amazing. If you like lowkey revenge/investigative plots and/or diverse casts then this is for you.

 

From the book’s Goodreads page:

“The day before her seventeenth birthday, Lya’s life changed forever. Hit by a speeding car and left for dead, she lost the use of her legs as well as some of her faith in the world… Lya learned to live again with the support of her parents. But having discovered that someone bought their silence, Lya is determined to unmask the perpetrator and obtain justice. Her search for the truth takes her to a famous law firm… and down a dangerous path. With the help of her friend Antoine, she’ll stop at nothing to get to the bottom of it all…”

 

Seeking the Truth is only 64 pages long and in order to provide a spoiler-free opinion, this review will be similarly short. By now followers of my blog my know that if I enjoyed a book I put the negatives first (to get them out of the way). Here goes:

What was less than ideal in Seeking the Truth?

  • As is often the cases with first issues of graphic novels, this one did feel a bit slow, a bit like it was setting the scene for future instalments. The more graphic novels I read the more I realize that this is a necessity, but I do think that Seeking the Truth just missed the right balance between current events and what’s going to happen in the future.
  • I had a bit of trouble working out the order I was meant to be reading the text boxes in on occasion. I think this could have been easily rectified by simplifying the formatting a little (for example, condensing five or six boxes into two or three as found in other graphic novels). Not a huge issue but worth mentioning all the same.
  • Sometimes the dialogue is a bit… meh. This isn’t a constant issue, but there were certainly points where I thought that the characters were explaining things I little too clearly/obviously.
  • Character development is a little mediocre. Again, for a 64-page volume, one has to make allowances. However, I think that there were a couple of odd actions or decisions (particularly in the middle third of the book) which I don’t really understand (yet). Maybe the characters always act in these ways, but from the first volume, I was left thinking that certain character-led plot points didn’t make sense with the information we know about the characters.
  • A minor-ish plot point: part of the story revolves around the fact that the law firm Lya is interning at hasn’t taken her ID or bank details – an idea which I found problematic as from my experience such firms are very meticulous about ensuring that they aren’t hiring a criminal mastermind or someone on the run. The firm definitely would have made Lya provide ID at some stage, and this part of the plot was perhaps the most obviously flawed. It was also, for my money, the only real issue with it.

 

What about the positives?

  • I cannot stress how much I loved the artwork here. It’s clean and colourful and… yeah. Although I often write about how I enjoy the artwork in graphic novels, the design here is some of the best I can remember. The characters look great, the changes in mood are handled excellently, and the backgrounds are highly detailed. Check out Justine Cunha’s Instagram here (a couple of the images are NSFW-lite) and give her a follow.
    • Each character is clearly defined and noticeably different from the rest of the cast – there is never any confusion about who is who.
  • The translation (by M.B. Valente) is clear and without issue as far as I can tell – the mark of a good translation is that you don’t know it was translated and Valente has succeeded here.
  • Representation matters, which is why it’s wonderful to see that Seeking the Truth’s protagonist is a strong-willed female lead who needs to use a wheelchair at all times. Rarely do I read books about disabled characters (a mixture of my own fault for not seeking these out and their general lack of visibility in the market), but I think Lya’s interactions with other characters here (both retelling how she was paralysed and how she goes about daily life) prove once again that characters don’t have to comply with reality’s unfair biases to be realistic and believable.
    • Furthermore, at least half of the cast (and the majority of people we spend time with) are female, with one from a BAME background (please forgive me if that is the wrong terminology), too. Much effort has clearly gone into creating a diverse cast, and this is much appreciated.
  • The plot moves along at quite a pace. Above I said that I think there is a bit of a misbalance between set-up and current events, but when the latter are discussed they are handled very well and at no point was I left wanting. There’s no let-up in the story. Lya has a clear aim and she doesn’t plan on hanging about waiting for it to happen for her. The story is also genuinely interesting, and the end of this volume was very much like reaching the leaping off point in any Poirot story. We the readers don’t yet know who’s behind the plot, but soon enough we will surely learn that there is a whole conspiracy going on in the background. And I am flipping well excited to see how it develops.
  • There is real tension in some scenes, which had me a little taken aback considering how short this volume is. This tension is built by a combination of ensuring that we care about the character(s) concerned, understand the risk involved, and want the endeavour to succeed. Some reviewers have said that there is no real tension in Seeking the Truth, but for the life of me, I cannot see where they are coming from.

 

 

Conclusion: 4/5 – highly recommended to fans of all mystery graphic novels or lovers of great artwork. I will definitely be reading the next volume in the series when it is published – especially after that cliff-hanger of an ending! Although there are a few annoyances in this volume, I was definitely nit-picking, and wholeheartedly recommend this!

 

 

If you liked my review of Seeking the Truth (Through Lya’s Eyes #1), then you may also be interested in reviews for other Europe Comics publications. I’ve recently read and enjoyed the first two issues of Alcyon, Harmony’s Necklace and The Temptation of King Midas. Check them out if you enjoy Greek mythology!

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