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The Rise of Aurora West

Review

The Rise of Aurora West

Beware the things that go bump in the night.

Thankfully for us, we don't live in a world where monsters threaten our sleep and our lives. But the characters in THE RISE OF AURORA WEST cannot say the same.

THE RISE OF AURORA WEST takes place in the same universe as Paul Pope's hit graphic novel, BATTLING BOY, although the latter is not necessarily required reading.  If it was as enjoyable as this was, though, there's little reason not to check it out.

"If you're into story-driven sci-fi action, then THE RISE OF AURORA WEST is a great choice. Just don't shut the lights immediately after finishing it; you never know when the monsters could strike."

The titular character is an up-and-coming monster hunter under the tutelage of her father, Haggard West. Haggard is Acropolis's greatest "science hero," a title he used to share with his wife until her untimely passing. Coming from such a strong legacy leaves Aurora with big footsteps to fill, but she's taking to it like a champ. Good thing, too, because she's about to be faced with the greatest test of her young life.

Paul Pope and J.T. Petty do a good job splitting the narrative to give the reader an idea of what has been and will be going on. While readers enter the story's world rather suddenly, they are also given a good idea of what has led Aurora to the point she's at today via flashbacks, as well as what her training consists of and just how effective it is. There's rarely a scene where it's unclear what's going on, Pope tends to exclude those aspects of the story that don’t become important later. Consistency is a major strong point of the narrative.

If there's any issue with the writing, it might be the pacing. The book has an odd way of starting quickly, but also starting slowly. The reader is tossed into Aurora's situation very quickly and with only a bit of explanation as to exactly what's going on. At the same time, once the first battle scene is over, it seems to move somewhat slowly for a bit. Some readers might find themselves not terribly invested for a little while, but the story does a good job of drawing the reader back in as the story progresses. By the end --- the book is the first of a two-volume story --- the story really forces the reader to care about Aurora and Haggard's battle against the threats they face, both externally and internally.

The writing of JT Petty and Paul Pope is great and consistent, but it's made even better by the artwork of David Rubín. His visuals, from the emotions portrayed by the main characters to the cartoonish ugliness of the monsters that they face, helps draw readers into the story and immerse them in the world they're reading about. There are times, however, that it seems like some pages are just a bit too busy to know exactly what's going on. This tends to happen here and there in the action scenes, but considering that said action scenes involve monstrous beings with bizarre physical structures that the reader isn't used to seeing, such a thing can be forgiven.

The choice to go with a black and white style might have been a good one. While coloration may have helped to avoid the issue above, the book does just fine without. In a way, it even enhances it a bit. Leaving the color of the abominations that Aurora and Haggard face out leaves it open to the reader's interpretation.

THE RISE OF AURORA WEST is an intriguing tale with relatable characters in a less-than-relatable environment. Despite a few minor hiccups towards the beginning of the book, it feels like a satisfying read, and leaves the reader wanting more. Thankfully, Pope's other book, BATTLING BOY, takes place within the same universe and may prove to be a good choice for readers who are left waiting for the second part of this two-parter. If you're into story-driven sci-fi action, then THE RISE OF AURORA WEST is a great choice. Just don't shut the lights immediately after finishing it; you never know when the monsters could strike.

Reviewed by Erik Dickash on September 30, 2014

The Rise of Aurora West
by Paul Pope

  • Publication Date: September 30, 2014
  • Genres: Comic Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: First Second
  • ISBN-10: 1626720096
  • ISBN-13: 9781626720091