90-coverThe planet Vermonia is no more, destroyed in a battle between two brothers: Uro, bent on darkness and destruction, and Boros, Vermonia’s staunchest defender. At the last moment, Vermonia’s queen sent her four most trusted and powerful ministers on a mission to find the four young heroes of prophecy, help them defeat Uro, and restore Vermonia. Cue four teenaged skateboarding band-mates disappearing from Earth as they are sucked into another world.

Now that Vermonia is gone, Uro’s forces are trying to conquer another planet, called the Turtle Realm, which is where our four young heroes—Mel, Naomi, Doug, and Jim—now find themselves. Each is destined to unlock the magical powers of one of Vermonia’s ministers in order to join forces with the clans of the Turtle Realm and face Uro in battle. If Uro wins, the Turtle Realm will be overcome by death and destruction—and Earth will be next.

This classic fantasy series starts out a little clichéd and simplistic, but Vermonia definitely improves as it goes along. For example, Uro seems to be wholly evil for no discernible reason and Boros wholly good, but as the story continues and the stakes rise, these elements prove more complex than they initially appear. The story’s focus remains on the action even as various emotional subplots arise. All four of our young heroes find romantic interests, though their feelings are mostly expressed via blushing and telling each other to be careful as they go into battle. Although our protagonists’ ages aren’t stated, they seem to be on the young side of their teenage years and they act accordingly.

The artwork is standard shonen fare, featuring active drawings with simple composition. Human characters are slim but not emphatically attractive, and they wear practical (read: non-sexualized) outfits as they go about saving the world. There are also nonhuman characters, from dragons to cute furry creatures. Characters and their outfits are detailed; the backgrounds are slightly less so, but they are varied and interesting. Some action scenes aren’t visually easy to understand, but this doesn’t pose a problem in following the plot overall, and it doesn’t happen often enough to be a major distraction.

Some readers may feel that the Potonawi people—a group of Turtle Realm tribes including several prominent characters—are an appropriation of Native American culture. The Potonawi wear tribal markings on their faces and bodies, the patterns on their clothing are reminiscent of Native art, and they fight with bows. However, they aren’t portrayed negatively or stereotypically: the Potonawi characters include a variety of personalities, many of them heroic. Vermonia also includes characters—like the hero Doug—who have darker skin tones, adding diversity that will be welcomed by readers in our world.

Vermonia is a straightforward heroic fantasy full of bravery, loyalty, friendship, and cool magic powers. Older readers may be unimpressed with its lack of originality, though they might grow to like the story if they keep reading. Younger readers and those who are less critical will likely enjoy the series’ action and characters’ relationships.

In the set I received, the first four books are bound differently from the following four. I strongly recommend the latter type of binding, which seems to be the same as most manga. The first four in my set are a fancier paperback-hardback hybrid with a dust jacket, and the bindings do not hold together well. I should also note that my copy of volume eight is an ARC, so it’s possible that changes have been made to the final version.

Vermonia, vols. 1-8
by YoYo
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9780763645540
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9780763647384
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9780763647858
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9780763649500
Vol. 5 ISBN: 9780763656102
Vol. 6 ISBN: 9780763659172
Vol. 7 ISBN: 9781615336517
Vol. 8 ISBN: 9781477790915
Raitetsu Media LLC, 2009-2015

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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