Publisher: First Second Books
Release Date: September 30th, 2014
The extraordinary world introduced in Paul Pope's Battling Boy is rife with monsters and short on heroes... but in this action-driven extension of the Battling Boy universe, we see it through a new pair of eyes: Aurora West, daughter of Arcopolis's last great hero, Haggard West. A prequel toBattling Boy, The Rise of Aurora West follows the young hero as she seeks to uncover the mystery of her mother's death, and to find her place in a world overrun with supernatural monsters and all-too-human corruption. With a taut, fast-paced script from Paul Pope and JT Petty and gorgeous, kinetic art from David Rubin, The Rise of Aurora West (the first of two volumes) is a tour de force in comics storytelling.Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this post.
When Gina, First Second's publicist, emailed to ask me if I would be interested in taking part in this tour, I was thrilled. I love First Second's books, and I've enjoyed interacting with Gina (who is the kindest!). Of course I said yes!
This time around, I wasn't really sure what to expect in terms of the book. I also received a copy of Battling Boy (Aurora West is a companion novel/prequel book), but I had never really taken much interest in the book before. But I decided to give both a shot because I love reading books with awesome, kick-ass female characters, and that's what Aurora West seemed to encompass.
While I wasn't necessarily disappointed in the novel, there was a lot that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book. Firstly, while overall the illustrations were okay (see below for some exclusive art from David Rubin), they're not what appeals to me the most. It's more of a personal preference, but it did take a bit away from my personal enjoyment of the book. Also, I feel conflicted on the black and white and on the size. Sometimes, it felt like there was almost too much going on and in too small of a space. I believe the final copy of the book is a bit bigger. Some of the black and white also bothered me a bit but only when there was a lot going on in a panel or on the page. It felt a bit overwhelming. Additionally, it was just a bit jarring at first to see the difference in illustrations between Battling Boy and Aurora West. While Sadisto's gang pretty much looks the same, some of the characters seem to look a bit different. One thing that especially stuck out to me was the way Aurora, and often her mother's, face was drawn when facing forward. It just looks so...awkward! But perhaps that's Rubin's drawing style. Overall, I enjoyed the illustrations, particularly after the first few pages once I got accustomed to them.
Haggard West also occasionally bothered me for some reason in this book. I enjoyed seeing him outside of the spotlight and to see him as something other than a hero, but sometimes the things he said stuck oddly with me.
But then, one of my favorite aspects of the story is Aurora herself. I love how she's not just kick-ass and awesome; we also see her flaws and her struggles and failures. I believe that makes her more real and more human, something we sometimes forget when we just see the "hero" aspect of someone. We don't see teen heroes and heroines also struggling through school. We don't often see them with their friends, family, and mentors. I love her confidence but also her lack of it at times. I love that she's portrayed as both vulnerable and tough. Because behind every superhero is this duality. You can't be the perfect hero all the time, and both Aurora and Haggard West really embody this idea. As much as Haggard bothered me a bit, I absolutely loved the exploration of the parent-child/daughter relationship. It's really nice because it lends itself to showing Aurora's weakness, but it also shows her determination and spirit. And there's this one scene on a bridge that I can't elaborate on, but that was my favorite scene. It perfectly captures the relationship between a parent and child, and it is SO heartwrenching. I do wish there had been more of a follow-up or a clearer transition or to see its effect more in the rest of the book, but it was amazing nevertheless.
The plot itself was really interesting. The beginning was a bit slow, and it took a lot more time to read the book and get into it than I've experienced with other books in the past. But once Aurora started to piece together the past, it picked up and go very exciting. So do I think Aurora's friend is merely used to lead to important information and discoveries and isn't otherwise needed (beyond the school scenes)? A bit. The connections, though, were cool to put together, and it all came together nicely in the end. Not to say there wasn't a cliffhanger ending that left me like "noooooooooo!" But really, it was the way that the past and present were tied together that made me love this book. It also sets up book 2, as well as explaining some of the monsters and storylines of Battling Boy. (By the way, I should've mentioned this earlier, but you don't need to read Battling Boy in order to read and enjoy The Rise if Aurora West.) Overall, The Rise of Aurora West is a great read!
AND HERE'S SOME EXCLUSIVE ARTWORK (nope, I didn't forget ;))
Follow the rest of the tour:
Wednesday, September 24
Thursday, September 25
Friday, September 26
Saturday, September 27
Sunday, September 28
Monday, September 29
Tuesday, September 30
Wednesday, October 1
Thursday, October 2
Friday, October 3
Saturday, October 4