Girl Genius – a rolicking fun ride and a must-read!

girl geniusGirl Genius Omnibus Volume One: Agatha Awakens by Phil and Kaja Foglio
Tor Books, 2012 (Graphic Novel / Steampunk / Fantasy / Adventure)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure!

This marks my first graphic novel review (on this blog, but also, ever). I occasionally read graphic novels, and it depends on the artwork, but I generally enjoy them. This one caught my eye because, hello! “Girl” in the title, a woman wearing glasses and holding a wrench on the cover… Graphic novels are so rarely written and designed for, and marketed to women. Not to mention, it’s won an award from School Library Journal and multiple Hugo awards!

Billed as a “steampunk fantasy adventure,” it is all of those things.The story is set during an Industrial Revolution that has driven Europe to war. Scientists (magicians?) gifted with “the Spark” are coveted, trapped, employed, and used to develop weapons. Previously, a ruling family, by the name of Heterodyne, kept the peace – but they are all dead or fled.

Agatha, the heroine, is a young student at Transylvania Polygnostic University, struggling to create and build mechanical objects. She is smart, determined, clumsy, naive, and delightful. One hectic day, she loses the locket her parents insisted she wear all the time. As a direct result, she attracts the attention of the villain, the Baron Wulfenbach who rules the land. She ends up held hostage on the Baron’s castle, an airship flotilla, where she falls into adventures and scrapes, makes friends and enemies, finally realizes her potential as a mechanical maker, discovers her heritage … and agrees to serve the Emperor of All Cats (his name is Krosp).

Witty, fast-paced, weird, and full of interesting characters both dull and bright, good and evil, kind and cruel, this is a hilarious, high-octane, rolicking romp of a story. Pay particular attention to the entertaining, not-so-bright, Jaegermonsters and the “Hero”. I really enjoyed the light romance that builds between Agatha and the Duke’s son, Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh seems to be the only one who sees Agatha clearly, and respects her for her considerable talents. The ending was perfect (in a completely non-romantic way). The artwork is great, veering from grey scale to vibrant as the storyline moves from present to past. The facial expressions are my favorite.

It’s been out for a while, so it should be at your local library. Go check it out!


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