Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GN Review -- Morning Glories, v. 1: For a Better Future / Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma, and Rodin Esquejo

I'd heard good things about Morning Glories before I picked up volume 1--basically comparisons to Lost and George Owell's works--but they still didn't prepare me for how thoroughly the story gripped me and simply wouldn't let go.  This suspenseful and character-driven story proved an enjoyable read, and the fact that it's an ongoing from Image means I may have to play catch-up before delving into the current issues.

The story centers around six new students at Morning Glory Academy, a rigorous prep school for gifted students.  They fit a variety of personality types, but the real standout among them is Casey Blevins, who's super-gifted, beautiful, and comes from a loving and supportive family.  When she starts to suspect the faculty of Morning Glory are using their students for more sinister purposes than academic preparation, she gets swift and unmistakable backlash from the school's administrators--in the form of her parents having been killed.  When one of her peers, Jade, is imprisoned, she hatches a plan involving the other students to get her back so they can all escape from the school.

The plan does not go off flawlessly, but Casey impresses one of the faculty with her smarts, resourcefulness, and execution.  After the point is intimidatingly driven home that she must be more obedient at Morning Glory, Casey beats up Ike, one of her co-conspirators who betrayed her, and makes it known that he is to stay away from the rest of them.  In a subsequent, presumably future storyline, we see an administrator at Morning Glory trying to hire a scientist over to their facility.  When she finally agrees to work for them, we see that the administrator is Jade.

I have to say, this was a fun read, and not just for all the pseudo-supernatural, pseudo-Lovecraftian cloak and dagger going on throughout the narrative, though that is pretty involving as well.  The characters themselves are all well detailed and compelling, even as they conform to a wide range of stereotypical labels.  The plot does a lot to pull the reader along without revealing too much, and ensures virtually anyone who reads it will have plenty of questions requiring further exploration of the series.

The interpersonal dynamics in this book are fascinating, though mostly seen through Casey's eyes.  The fireworks between Casey and Miss Daramount, the faculty liaison, are particularly interesting as they engage in a fierce battle of wills over Jade, as well as Casey's level of cooperation with their questioning.  Casey's cautious relationship to Ike, the rich kid who has a knack for getting into and out of trouble, is fraught with both uncertainty and a touch of disgust, as she clearly wants nothing to do with him--he wants to sleep with her--but concedes she needs his expertise on dealing with the faculty at Morning Glory.

Artistically, this book delivers.  The characters, in addition to being well defined in the writing, each have their own unique look and visual personality.  They're all beautiful, young teens with attitudes and great hair, well rendered by Eisma's pencils.  The action scenes are great, and the suspense and supernatural scenes are done in a way that will keep you turning the page to see what happens next.

Overall, this is an extremely good start to what seems to be a very well regarded series.  I'm eager to see more, and think teens especially will get a kick out of reading this series.  It's suspenseful, features plenty of action and defiance of authority figures, and is basically kids against the larger entity of the school.  Highly recommended.

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