Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: A Distant Soil, Books 1-4

I first reviewed A Distant Soil in 2005 here on this blog. I recently noticed that the library had books 1-4, and hoping that the story had since been finished, I checked the books out of the library and read them all.

The books were particularly slow going for me, and I realized after a bit why: while many pundits are contented to talk about how you should have graphic novels appeal to girls, Colleen Doran actually went out and did it. The books are full of talking heads, and heavy on text balloons. While there's a "saving the world" plot going on, characters take the time out to worry about their hair. The character oriented pacing essentially led to long sections where characters were flirting, bantering, or teasing each other, rather than the usual sequence of action event after action event.

The book revolves around a brother-sister pair who escaped from a lab where they were confined, only to discover their origins. They're separated and kidnapped by two factions of an alien race, and they learn about the alien race and the power structure from two different directions, neither of which are telling the complete truth, and neither of which have the complete picture.

The result is a plot and story that's slow, long and drawn out, and action that drags. But the artwork is gorgeous. The men are beautiful, the women a good diverse lot, not all of whom served as love interests for the male characters, and the aliens unfortunately all too human (which given the nature of the story, makes sense). There's no science at all in this story, so it's not properly science fiction, but rather fantasy. There's a significant amount of sex in this story, so this isn't something you would hand to your 12 year old. (If you're looking for something for that 12-year old, please try Jeff Smith's delightful Bone)

I was wondering why the story line hadn't been completed yet, so I checked on Colleen Doran's web-site: it seems that she's still trying to finish the story. I'm not sure I can recommend this book to everyone: it's hyper-targeted towards girls, and I had to make myself read it. Check the first book out of your local library and if it grabs you read the rest of it and be prepared for a long wait to the finish. That's one of the problems with the independent artists, with no commercial pressure to push to finish the story, there's no way to tell when it'll finish, if ever. (I'm looking at you, Mark Oakley)
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