The teen librarian gave me volume two of this series for adult, saying she didn’t think it was going out so well in teen. I thought it looked fun, and bought the remaining three volumes second-hand so people can read the complete series.
Meridian. Volumes 1-4 by Barbara Kesel. Pencils by Joshua Middleton and Steve McNiven.
Sephie is the carefree and adventuresome daughter of the Minister of the floating city Meridian, on the planet of Demetria. As our story opens, her Uncle Ilahn, Minister of the (also floating) city of Cadador comes for a visit. As Ilahn and Sephie’s father are sharing a cup of wine, the brothers each suddenly acquire a glowing sigil on their skin. Sephie’s father soon falls down dead, and the sigil moves to Sephie, who is frantically trying to revive him. Ilahn initially persuades Sephie to leave Meridian and come with him to Cadador, to stay safe from whatever nefarious villains plotted her father’s murder. However, Sephie soon learns that Ilahn is the nefarious villain, with plans to control the whole planet. The sigils have given both of them power – Ilahn the power to destroy and Sephie the power to create. Determined not to let her uncle use her as a tool, she runs away and starts making plans to bring him DOWN – er, make sure that Demetria is controlled by forces who care about all the people, not just Ilahn’s personal power. As the story goes on, both Sephie and Ilahn gain allies. There are physical conflicts, but the story stays focused on the characters. There are shades in the prologue of this being more than a simple good vs. evil story, but what we see playing out is just that, though Sephie does uncover deeper motivations in her uncle over time.
The world of Demetria is beautiful, with large city-islands floating over the surface. People travel from one island to the next via large sailboats – two details that could (and have been) described in text, but are just lovely to see drawn out. The pictures, done by Joshua Middleton in the first volume and Steve McNiven in subsequent volumes, are just beautiful, with flowing lines and glossy, blended full color. I love that Sephie, while admittedly well-endowed for a teen, is neither unrealistically so nor given to wearing deliberately skimpy clothing. (There is some wearing of skimpy clothing by other people, but their characters justify it.) This is a graphic novel somewhat heavier on the text than many. My son was so fascinated by it as I was reading it to myself that I found myself wishing that Sephie’s narration, a constant through the book, had been written in plain type rather than the scrolly, cursive writing they used, and which I think would give him difficulty. He has really enjoyed what we’ve read to him, however. As soon as I take it back to the library, I’ll suggest that we move it to youth. This series was originally published by Crossgen, which my brief research tells me was a short-lived publishing house that specifically aimed to make stories that would be appealing across multiple age ranges. So far, that seems to be the case, but I’ve found that kids are more open to reading books they haven’t heard about before. I’m hoping that moving this sweet fantasy adventure series one more time will help it find the audience it so richly deserves.