Does anybody ever like being the new kid? Is it even possible to like such a thing? The Circle revolves around a teenage boy named Christian who is dealing with this issue, and handling it like I probably would if I were a moody teenage boy.
We first meet him as he’s driving into town (without a seat belt! For shame!) with his father, and he’s not exactly happy about it. After a family tragedy, Christian finds himself in a new town and a new school with a bad attitude that is pretty deserved, though if I were his parent, I’d probably tell him to cut it a bit. But it seems his father does not possess the sparkling perspective I do, which is probably a good thing.
School isn’t a cupcake circus for him either, but he makes acquaintances with a group of kids that give him some relief from the bullies that quickly make him a target. The set up is one we’ve seen before, but it isn’t a bad thing. It’s a pretty standard intro to a variety of storyline paths, and with this just being issue number one, we don’t quite know where we’ll find ourselves.
Damon Clark’s writing is similar to one of a young adult novel writer’s, and everything is laid out clearly and easy to follow along. This is not one of those “setting up the rest of the series” issues where nobody knows what the hell is going on. I hate those, just tell me a tiny bit of what this damn book is about, you know? There is none of that here, the reader has no struggle with the story, and it’s engaging enough to keep you easily interested.
Though I will say what truly makes this book stand out its artwork by Alyzia Zherno. Her style has memories of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, which is especially present in her thin lines and the large eyes of the characters. It is all saturated beautifully with color, which I find a lot of people stay away from when doing a “creepy” or “weird” book. Though it can be beneficial, I feel in this case going full on color with deep hues across the spectrum is a wise choice. Alyzia has a way of making a character reminiscent of a doll that is still somehow buzzing with life, and having her illustrations really make the story what it is. It helps the reader understand what direction the series is going. A good pairing between writer and illustrator is obviously of utmost importance to a book, and I feel that both Damon and Alyzia compliment and work off of each others’ talent to the utmost extent. I didn’t really see any variety in skin tone or ethnicities in the story so far, so I hope to see some variety in that aspect later in the series. Nevertheless, the cover is just as beautiful as the interiors, and is whimsical and beckoning.
I do wish there was a bit less swearing, which is pretty strange of me to say because I use four letter words in pretty much every sentence. Except here, in which I put on my good behavior hat and hope that the Comic Crusader gods will give me a sticker. I just feel that adding words, especially swear words, just for the sake of having them there does nothing for the book. In this issue, it doesn’t do the story any harm, but it doesn’t do it any good either. I feel that we would all still be immersed in this world without having to show that this book is not for children, and the characters are somewhat aggressive with their language. Toned down just a teeny tiny bit, and it would be spot on.
Overall, I like this story and I do hope to read more of it. It’s interesting and unique, and the world Damon has written for us is one I hope to be able to live in for a good while.
Story: 4 Stars
Illustrations: 5 Stars
Cover: 5 Stars
Color: 5 Stars
Writer: Damon Clark
Artist: Alyzia Zherno
Cover Artist: Alyzia Zherno
Publisher: Action Lab Danger