Friday, May 9, 2014

Fiji Random by Justin Raimey

Title: Fiji Random
Author: Justin Raimey
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Rating: Worthy!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review.

I tend to allow more latitude in my reviews when it comes to graphic novels and children's stories than I do for other books that I review. Not that I will let them get away with being poor or sloppy, but that I tend to hold them to a different, and perhaps more relaxed standard. In this I've been lucky because most of the books that I've reviewed in these categories are great. In fact, I don’t think I've ever reviewed a graphic novel poorly. This is because I get to choose what I review and I seem to have been able to pick really good ones; however, in this case, I can’t recommend this one at all.

It’s not that it’s god-awfully bad by any means, it's just that it really didn’t go anywhere. It felt more like I was paging through an artist's portfolio than reading an actual story. There seemed to be nothing of serious interest going on, and at one point I realized that I had no idea what this was about, what it was trying to do, or why I was continuing to read it! I simply could not see it going anywhere I wanted to follow, and so I quit about halfway through.

This is done very much in manga style, but the color cover is a bit misleading because the interior is not in color: it's all line-drawings with some gray-scale shading. The artwork isn't at all bad. It’s rather good, in fact, but it’s very uneven; on most pages it looks professional, but on others it looks like something my kid did. I don’t know if this was intentional, but it didn’t work for me. The writing is hilarious sometimes, but for the most part it's unremarkable.

The biggest problem with the artwork, however, was the page presentation. As you can see from the image samples, some pages had images that almost filled the page, but on many other pages, the images were reproduced so small that the entire group of panels occupied only some four-fifths (or less) of the entire page. Not only would this be a shameful and tragic waste of paper in a print version, it just made it look scrappy, and worse, it was all but impossible to read the text. Maybe this will be fixed in the final version, but in this era of electronic imagery and word processing, it’s really inexcusable to turn out a novel like this, even as a galley copy, and to have poor text and/or graphics. There are instances where white space can be dramatic and contribute the work, but this was not such a case.

So overall, the artwork was mostly good, but the presentation was uncomfortably uneven, and there was no story and nothing to hold my interest, so I cannot recommend this graphic novel.

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