Rummanah Aasi
 I had a great opportunity to attend a lecture/panel with critically acclaimed Jane Yolen, who talked about creating her first graphic novel. I always love hearing about a writer's writing process, but I never heard what the process of creating a graphic novel. For some graphic novel collaborations, the story is first written and then passed on to the artist who creates the images. The writer and artist then discuss revisions, etc. After hearing Jane speak, I immediately put Foiled on my to be read pile and I'm so glad that I did.

Description: Aliera Carstairs doesn't fit in any of the cliques in her high school. The only place that makes her feel special and important is her fencing class, however, she seems to be in the spotlight for the handsome, new student Avery Castle. Aliera knows something is not right. Her ordinary and used fencing foil with a large ruby on the hilt that her mother found at a sale is trying to tell her something about Avery and the world around her. What is Aliera's weapon trying to tell her? Who is Avery and why is he so interested in Aliera?

Review: In Foiled, Yolen has fabulously blended the trivial times of high school with fantasy. Aliera is a strong heroine who minds her own business. She sticks to her routine of fencing practice, homework, and role-playing games. Her main goal is working her way to the National Fencing Championship as she wins her way at defeating those in her class.  Aliera seems to be safe in her own skin until she is sidetracked by the cute, new boy at school named Avery Castle. Avery takes interest in Aliera which immediately makes our heroine suspicious because she's not the type guys fall for. Initially she keeps her distance from Avery and abides her fencing coach's rule, "Protect your heart", but Avery's charms slowly holds her interest.
 I kept flipping the pages as Yolen keeps us in suspense about Avery and the uniqueness of Aliera's weapon. We are given little hints that are sprinkled in the graphic novel. Before reading this graphic novel, I knew next to nothing about fencing and found myself intrigued with learning about the sport, which complimented the banter between Avery and Aliera.
 Cavallaro’s artwork demonstrates Aliera’s monochrome existence, both literally and metaphorically. I was pleasantly surprised when the graphic novel bursts to life in color when she finally sees the hidden faerie world. The explanation and importance of Aliera's status of the faerie world isn't defined, but it sets up wonderfully for the next installments of future volumes. I can't wait to find out more! Foiled is a must read for fantasy lovers and those who are big fans of Tamora Pierce's works.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is minor language and some fantasy violence. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Fray or Buffy the Vampire Slayer series by Joss Whedon, Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce
4 Responses
  1. MZMollyTL Says:

    My Shakespeare character read and reviewed this book on his Goodreads page. My student graphic novel club read it as well, and they only pointed out two instances where it might be "sketchy" (one word, and one juvenile act). It is nicely written.

  2. Jenny Says:

    I don't know anything about fencing either, but I always love when a book takes a subject I'm not familiar with and presents it an entertaining way and I walk away having learned something new:) I also like that the images go from monochromatic to color, very cool1 Fantastic review Rummanah:)

  3. Wow, this sounds really interesting. Very different than typical Jane Yolen (although I haven't read her a lot). I've never read a book with a YA character who fences.

  4. MzMolly: I agree there are some "sketchy" parts, but I think mature and avid middle grade readers should have no problem with this graphic novel. It's quite tame compared to what else is released for that audience.

    Jenny: My neither, but I loved how the fencing incorporates so well in this story.

    Alison: It's a really fun book and definitely different from the serious books that Yolen has written before. I do hope to read more from this series!

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