24 February 2014

Review: The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica NogorodoffI love finding graphic novels that step outside readers' expectations for the medium. As I've written here before, not all GNs are geared toward teens or involve fantasy. Although I'm huge fan of the Fables series, I like to see what else is happening in the graphic novel world.

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff shows us just how moving a graphic novel can be. From the beauty of the art to the depth of the story, this book dispels the belief that comics are for kids. In fact, I was so taken with Novgorodoff's newest that I chose it for my March selection for the Bloggers Recommend newsletter, which will be sent to your inbox in just a few days.

  • So what's it all about? Deshi Li is obligated to find his late-brother a ghost bride with whom to share the afterlife. Meanwhile Lily Chen decides to escape home before she's forced to marry an elderly businessman, which will turn her family's fortunes. After the two meet, their paths no longer seem clear-cut.
  • copyright Danica Novgorodoff
  • Setting and major theme: Set in modern northern China, The Undertaking of Lily Chen explores what happens when ancient traditions are carried into the twenty-first century. Both Deshi and Lily are bound by filial duty yet cannot shake their strong sense of self or their personal dreams.
  • The art: The theme of blending old with new is carried through to Novgorodoff's beautiful ink and watercolor paintings. The influence of Chinese art styles is seen especially in her landscapes, while the characters have a distinctly modern feel.
  • What I liked: Deshi and Lily grow and change from their experiences. Novgorodoff successfully injected humor into a book that deals with serious themes. The story made me think and transported me to a different place. Although The Undertaking of Lily Chen has firm foundations in China, Deshi's and Lily's struggles have a global appeal. And, finally, I love Novgorodoff's artwork.
  • Overall thoughts: The soft colors, expressive paintings, and sparse text create an otherworldly feel to Deshi and Lily's haunting journey, which leaves us questioning the inevitability of destiny. A don't-miss graphic novel.
  • Note on the scan: The scan is from page 285 and was picked to give you an example of Danica Novgorodoff's work without spoiling the story. All rights remain with the author.
Published by Roaring Brook Press /First Second, 2014 (March 25)
ISBN-13: 9781596435865
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

8 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks 2/24/14, 7:14 AM  

What a cool premise! I too like out of the box stuff. I'm definitely looking for this one. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Beth Hoffman 2/24/14, 8:56 AM  

My brother would love this!

Daryl 2/24/14, 12:23 PM  

sounds good but alas i cannot read a graphic on my iPad mini .. thanks for the review

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf 2/24/14, 5:49 PM  

I read Slow Storm by Danica Novgorodoff a couple of years ago, so definitely intrigued by this one.

bermudaonion 2/24/14, 7:33 PM  

I love a good graphic novel so I'll have to look for this title. It sounds wonderful!

Charlie (The Worm Hole) 2/25/14, 2:54 PM  

I'm hoping to read this as my first graphic novel. I had others in mind but was really taken with the idea of this one and the scans of the different style just grabbed me. It looks a great book.

Vasilly 2/28/14, 10:07 PM  

Now you know, I need to see if my library has copy of this! It looks and sounds amazing.

Cecelia 3/3/14, 12:09 AM  

I've just requested that my local library system purchase this one - can't wait to read/experience it!

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2016. All rights reserved.

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