Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery REVIEW

ratqueens

I’ve really been getting into graphic novels lately. I’ve always been a reader but its a particular genre that I haven’t really delved into much before. There’s been a few books that I’ve read in the past that I really enjoyed (March, Persepolis), but recently, I’ve more or less, jumped head first into the world of graphic novels, and I’m honestly loving it. It’s a great break from the heavier reading of grad school and I love how easily I can get through a book. I think that after this past semester I felt like I was in a rather deep reading rut and graphic novels have been the perfect way to dig myself out and find my reading groove again!

I wish I could remember how exactly I came across Rat Queens because I’m so happy that I did. I requested it in my library system and picked it up a couple of days ago. Today I finished another book (Bitch Planet – pretty good), and felt like reading something else so I dove into Rat Queens right after. I recently finished a couple other graphic novels, but none has been as pleasurable as Rat Queens has been. I think I’ve fallen for this series hard. I know. I’m only on volume one, but I just have a sense that I’m really going to enjoy this series. Have you ever felt that way about a series? There’s just a vibe that you get!

Rat Queens is the work of Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc UpChurch and chronicles the life of, “a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire” (goodreads). The group of women is comprised of Hannah, Violet, Dee, and Betty. They all have different abilities and unique characteristics that set them apart from each other, while their penchant for parties and adventure is what brings them together.

It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite of the four as they all have qualities I appreciate, but I have to say that Betty is downright adorable. She’s got a carefree attitude despite clearly possessing compassion for those that matter to her. The whole group though, brings something to the table and there’s a lot to like about any of them. They’re a refreshing set of characters – not cliche in anyway, and I appreciate that. They are neither damsels or complete hard-asses and I can tell that there’s a lot more to each woman than is explored in volume one. I like knowing that there is more mystery to unfold. Sometimes characters are “exposed” so quickly that there’s nothing left to the imagination, but Rat Queens keeps the character development well paced.

The story explores a world of fantasy in such a refreshing way. I like the use of different mythological creatures like elves, ogres and trolls and feel like I’m reading a super electrified female version of LOTR in a way. I’ve always sort of enjoyed this sort of fantasy world – I prefer it over more futuristic or space type fantasy usually. So it’s no surprise to me that I would enjoy this story. I also like that while there are so many different creatures in the book, many are working together. There seems to be little discrimination or hate directed solely on the basis of race (perhaps with the exception of the trolls…). I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t appear as the major driver of conflict in the story. I find that refreshing.

The story itself feels well-paced and while I devoured the book quickly, it didn’t feel like the story was rushed in any way. It also was easier to follow than other graphic novels I’ve read. Sometimes I feel like this genre tries to introduce so much information and content to its readers that a lot goes undeveloped and confusion can feel inevitable. That’s not the case with Rat Queens. The characters, the setting, the conflict, all of it feels well-developed and adequately thought out. I feel that this sets this book apart from other graphic novels that might present great ideas and stories, but fail to do so in a well-developed way.

Other aspect which I really enjoyed about Rat Queens is the maturity level. This is not a children’s comic, and I’m not just talking in regard to the violence. There’s adult language and adult themes – we’re talking sex and drug use. I suppose it sounds weird to say that I enjoy that, but it’s true – I do. Perhaps in part because that sets this apart from other books in this genre which might feel too juvenile despite possessing an interesting story. I happen to enjoy YA as a genre quite a bit, but I also need some balance to that and I enjoy books with adult themes because they keep me from feeling like I’m sitting at the kids table too much.

Rat Queens is an excellent graphic novel and I’m only sad that I picked up the first one on its own. I’ve already requested the other four from the library and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. If you’re a graphic novel reader and you haven’t given this series a go yet, you should. Even if graphic novels aren’t your typical genre, I’d suggest checking this one out. It’s refreshing and might even change your mind about graphic novels.

Don’t forget you can always follow my reading on Goodreads! Feel free to add me as a friend on there! If you’ve got any graphic novel suggestions, please do share them – I’m always looking to add to my tbr.

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