Monsters Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre

Review copy provided by First Second Books.

Claudette, her brother Gaston, and their pal Marie have been chosen to be their village’s representatives in the Warrior Games. Gaston would rather be making gelato (as indeed who among us would not, in real life), and Marie is more concerned with diplomacy than its failed endgames. But someone has to represent them against all the other kingdoms, and Claudette would really like to win. Really. Really really.

Meanwhile Marie and Gaston are pretty sure that some of the other competitors are not what they seem, and that there are more important things than winning.

And the Warrior Games…keep getting less warlike with every stage of the competition. Except for the unofficial parts, which keep getting more and more alarmingly violent (in cartoon terms of course).

This is a kids’ graphic novel. It’s not a deep one. It’s a lot like an average episode of kids’ TV–not Steven Universe or Gravity Falls or Avatar: the Last Airbender, not one of the really good ones. Just something mildly entertaining I guess. These two authors know how to hit beats that make it story. And yet. And yet.

These are two male authors who are once again doing the thing that the male reviewer says on the front is “the strong female character every book-loving child needs to read about!”…by making sure that she *hates dresses* and *hates girly stuff*. Oh. So that again. Also…this is a “syndicated episode of mediocre kids’ TV” level of consequence-free plot. If you’re looking for emotional heft, maybe look somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some reasonably entertaining moments here. But this is pretty standard fare with cute art, not by any stretch groundbreaking work for feminism, fantasy adventure, or really much of anything else. Even fairly little kids will feel cozy and familiar in this plot line, not startled and challenged.

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