Sarah's Stars

Aki Shimizu. Qwan: Part 1
TOKYOPOP  $13.99  ISBN 1-595-32534-4  178 pg.
Reviewed by Meghan, Age 14

As the story starts, Chikei (our narrator) is hanging from a tree waiting for the mountain gods to appear and devour him. Enter Qwan, a strange boy with a small flying...companion named Teikou. Unlike other boys, Qwan has no idea who he is other than the fact that he came from 'heaven'. Also unlike other boys he possesses the power to defeat, sense and eat demons. In fact he doesn't eat anything else. When a mysterious woman, who knows all about him, informs him that he should seek out the Scrolls of the Essential Arts of Peace, he obeys without questioning. Suddenly thrown into the mix is Lady Daki, a mysterious girl about Qwan's age who has power over bugs and 'the scent of a demon all over her' but isn't actually a demon, and her father, who has mysterious evil plans of his own. Will Qwan discover the secret of his own existence and save China or will Lady Daki and her father succeed in their evil plans?

Qwan is a fast-paced, exciting story. It's very mysterious and when you stop to think, it's very confusing and doesn't make a lot of sense...but the beautiful thing is while your reading, the story rolls along and you don't need the explanation! It just works out. The artwork is wonderful and mysterious, but clearly shows what is happening. The language doesn't really seem to match its Han Dynasty setting. It (the language) sounds very modern, whereas it's setting takes place a very long time ago. Qwan is a mix of Chinese mythology and mystery, as well as fantasy. Events happen quickly and the action never slows. It's a great story and I really enjoyed it.

I was disappointed, however, by how the story ends. I won't spoil it for you, but I'll warn you that it's a cliffhanger. I advise having book two close at hand when you start reading the first one. You're building up all this marvelous action, you want to know what happens next, you're flipping pages as fast as you can, your eyes are flying, then it just... stops. 'To be continued'. It's very frustrating. I hope that Aki Shimizu writes another one, and writes it fast! I would recommend Qwan for both boys and girls, ages 12 or 13 and up. The graphic novel is actually rated T for Teen (13+) but I can't see why, there are a few characters who aren't very ‘respectable’, but otherwise it's a perfectly okay tale.  

I'd give Qwan five stars out of five.

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