Guest Review: Dystopia, Vol. 1
By Judith Park
Published by Yen Press
Review by Megan M.
Seventeen-year-old Dionne has always been extremely close to (and even emotionally dependent upon) her older brother Lyon. Lyon is their parents’ favorite, while Dionne herself has never gotten along with them. When Dionne’s best friend, Shikku, confesses to a crush on Lyon, Dionne is happy to play matchmaker. Everything seems perfect for the trio until tragedy strikes and Dionne learns of a secret about her family that her parents have kept hidden since Lyon was two.
This is a very rough book and in the end I’m not entirely certain if it’s intended to be a complete story or the start of one. The first two-thirds are devoted to a rather awkward teen drama, and things only really pick up when some minor science fiction elements and a character named Gabriel are introduced in the last third. Emotionally, the series is very difficult to track. Dionne’s conflict with her parents reads as typical, but exaggerated to a point where the natural conflict feels forced and its eventual explanation makes little sense. In addition, I couldn’t tell what precisely attracted Shikku and Lyon to each other beyond hormones and I was never certain whether or not I was meant to view the relationship between the three leads as a (potentially incestuous) triangle. It’s only Gabriel, who seeks an identity of his own rather than that which was forced upon him, who really makes much sense to me as a character.
The art is rough but competent. The layouts are easy to follow and the designs are decent, but they’re also fairly uninspired and more styled to character types than individual characters. It also seems to be trying to blend several styles into one, something that I don’t think quite works. In addition, there’s an unfinished feeling to it, as if someone forgot to apply the finishing touches that would give it a needed crispness.
Park has some interesting ideas here, but I don’t think they ever really come off. The story might benefit from a creator who would wallow in the melodrama of it or take various elements to the extreme. Park chooses to instead focus on things like the serious nature of humanity and identity, but her characters and their relationships lack the “oomph” needed to really pull that off. Given more time to develop, it could work, but as executed here, it really doesn’t. While I cannot truly recommend this, I also can’t condemn it, as the potential is there, if unfulfilled. Unfortunately, though this volume is not bad, it is not good enough to stand out either, and I can’t help but think about what a more experienced creator might have done with the same material.
Review copy provided by the publisher.