“In the history of bad ideas, I am now convinced most of them involve cross-dressing.” So speaks Tae, the heroine of Kill Me, Kiss Me, an entertaining new manhwa (Korean print comic). This title plays on gender stereotypes and teenage romance, poking fun in a way that touches Shakespearean comedy rather than the more pedestrian manga gender slapstick. Tae, our heroine, thinks she’s got the perfect plan: when she learns her idol, teen model and bad boy Kun, goes to her identical cousin’s all boys school, she launches a plan to switch places with her cousin and thus gain the friendship of the man she’s desperate to woo. Never mind her cousin, the very male Jung-Woo, will have to switch over to her all-girls school. Never mind that Jung-Woo is a bullied and isolated outsider who is quite happy to dump his less than perfect life on Tae for a land of beautiful babes. Before Tae begins to understand just what she’s gotten herself into, she manages to end up both the target of gang leader Ga-Woon as well as a focus of the beautiful Kun’s attention. Will she manage to land a date with her ideal boy, or will she discover that the ideal is not what she really wants? The dialogue in this volume is a delight — humorous and full of just the right amount of comradery and hesitant confessions to make any reader laugh and wince right along with the characters. The art shows off the usual pointy chins and elfin grace of that distinguishes Korean comics and is animated enough to lend the fights energy and tender moments pathos. Most happily, the gender switching for Tae and Jung-Woo is more of a learning experience about just what it means to be the opposite sex rather than just an excuse for embarrassed tittering. Tae embraces her fighting side while Jung-Woo admits he dances better as a girl. All in all, a refreshing title full of shaded, human characters caught up in a whirlwind plot that will make you giggle, sigh, and cheer.

Kill Me, Kiss Me Volume 1
ISBN: 9781591825937
By Lee Young Yuu
Tokyopop 2003

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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