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ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times

Review

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times

APOCALYPTIGIRL: An Aria for the End Times is the kind of book that absolutely requires two read-throughs to fully appreciate it: the first read to understand what is happening, and the second to enjoy it. Luckily, this book is short and sweet, and chances are you'll want to re-read it the second you hit that back cover anyway.

Andrew MacLean's newest project focuses on Aria and her adopted cat Jelly Beans, who are living after the apocalypse on Earth (which might be the expected setting for a book named APOCALYPTIGIRL). Aria's job is to find the grand photon, a type of pure energy given to Earth to make it a paradise but was instead used as a weapon and brought on the apocalypse. Now there remain only two tribes on Earth --- Aria calls them the Blue Stripes and the Grey Beards --- who fight for a patch of fertile land that is considered “holy.” Aria has just about given up, searching on Earth for six years when she was only supposed to be there for three months, when she has an encounter with a boy from the Blue Stripe clan and his vicious dogs, and she’s finally tossed toward the right path.

"APOCALYPTIGIRL creates a deep, succinct history of this Earth that references issues we deal with today."

MacLean combines worldbuilding with storytelling, so readers learn what is going on in the present at the same time they learn what happened to cause the apocalypse. This does make a second read-through almost necessary, since it’s a lot of information to process at once, but it makes sure you're never bored. Some pages are very text- and history-driven, and a little bogged down with information in the form of myths and legends, but it isn't long before the action starts up again. And there is a lot of action.

Aria is introduced as a non-killer, singing French opera and celebrating her five year “anniversary” with her cat Jelly Beans. But she turns away from that goofy attitude in an instant when she, her home or Jelly Beans is in danger. There's all the blood and blades and guns that would be expected from a post-apocalyptic survival novel, but the motivation behind all of Aria's violence is clear: self-defense and defending what she loves. She herself says that she is not a killer, and it never feels like a contradiction when she starts singing opera again.

APOCALYPTIGIRL isn't afraid to get graphic, either. Not just showing heads getting sliced and bodies disintegrated --- although there's plenty of that, too --- but there are times when Aria's face itself becomes gruesome. It shows in a flash exactly what she's feeling, and how being on Earth alone for so long has probably made her much less restrained in showing her feelings. Her entire face gets red, the shapes of her mouth and yellow, cat-like eyes are totally distorted, and when she cries, the tears pour from her face. It's extreme passion in just one or two panels, but it makes it clear exactly what she feels and why she kills.

By the end of the novel, there are still some questions about how Aria came to be where she was. There's so much information about how the planet got into its current predicament that the lack of information about Aria feels like a giant hole in the story. But even without that, APOCALYPTIGIRL creates a deep, succinct history of this Earth that references issues we deal with today. They're mentioned briefly --- wars over holy lands and energy and freedom --- enough to get the references without being beaten over the head with them. It's a world that feels totally separate from ours and still just close enough to understand that the real Earth could fall apart just like this if violence doesn't stop. This book is pure entertainment and a plea to stop fighting in one quick punch that you'll want to read over and over again.

Reviewed by Jess Costello on April 28, 2015

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times
by Andrew MacLean

  • Publication Date: June 2, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Originals
  • ISBN-10: 1616555661
  • ISBN-13: 9781616555665