Hello all, I have crawled out of the grave I buried myself in because I promised months ago to do a review of this graphic novel, Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl, for its blog tour. I thought for sure I would have a lull in my schedule by now, but alas, that has not been the case. So this is going to a guerilla-blog. A blog-and-run. A ninja-post-in-the-night-and-vanish.
You get the picture…
Anyway, on to the review.
Author: Kristin Alexandre
Illustrator: Tim Loepp
Genre: Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel
Where I Got It: ARC in exchange for honest review
Score: 3 out of 5
Intense, passionate, and thrilling Nuncio is a romantic thriller series for anyone wanting a good read (or even perhaps a good television series). Come on this journey filled with drama and mystery. Nuncio is a romantic thriller based on the intense and passionate relationship between Ezra, a composer and the insightful and lustful gypsy girl Neci. This graphic novel series is narrated by the magical African Grey Parrot, Nuncio and takes place at the turn of the Century.
Neci, the young and willful gypsy, is willing to risk everything to fulfill her need to be with Ezra, the object of her affection. She feels a calling to protect Ezra from his love, Marlene, a beautiful pianist. We hear her mental wanderings and feel her pain as she struggles to make a place for herself in his world. She feels no connection to girls her own age and Ezra struggles to resist her allure. This drama and romantic thriller is based on real people and real events that take place between 1912-1960. Ezra interacts with Orville Wright, Charles Kettering and Elbert Hubbard, celebrities from the day.
What I am reviewing is the first volume of the series, in which we are introduced to Neci, Ezra, the many animals, including a dog, a snake, and Nuncio the parrot. Neci is a gypsy girl with a group outside Dayton, Ohio, who has befriended the composer Ezra. They’re friendship is sweet, and Ezra feels great affection for Neci, but Neci wants more and Ezra is afraid she is too young. Instead, he ends his visit with the gypsies to return to Dayton, entertaining the great inventors of the day and also meeting Marlene, a quick-moving, manipulative, and Neci’s rival. I won’t say anything more about the plot, except to say that the volume ends on the Lusitania. Yeah, that Lusitania.
What I Liked:
I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story. Using people like Orville Wright and Charles Kettering as characters was interesting and fun. I also like the illustration for the most part. They take some getting used to: they are very sketchy, almost unfinished-looking, and it’s difficult in the beginning to keep track of the characters because the faces start to look alike. But the understated nature of the illustrations is often attractive as well, and by the end of the volume, I was really started to enjoy the art.
I also liked the idea of Neci, the gypsy girl. She has a passionate, in-touch-with-the-earth kind of outlook on life that I appreciate and I love that she has a snake for a pet. But she is underdeveloped – it’s not really clear why exactly she is in love with Ezra, and she has very few other personality traits other than the fact that she is desperately in love with him and painfully jealous of Marlene. Which leads me to…
What I Didn’t Like:
First of all, all the characters were a little underdeveloped. Obviously, this is the first volume, so there is still room for plenty of development. But you have to be very careful with these kinds of things to get the reader hooked on the first volume, get them to care about the characters quickly, or you run the risk of the reader deciding not to buy anymore. After all, a graphic novel series is a big investment in both time and money, and readers want to know the investment is going to worth right from the get-go. But, back to the characters, both Neci and Ezra had some interest, but definitely could have been stronger faster. Though, actually, Ezra has a little more personality than even Neci does, if you ask me. Where Neci seems to be defined only be her love for Ezra, Ezra has several things going for him: he is affectionate with Neci, but also seems to be in love with Marlene, he’s passionate about his music, loves animals, and is inspired by all the inventors he associated with.
As for Marlene: she was a cypher for me. She is introduced, and its obvious that she’s Neci’s rival and that she moves quickly in her relationship with Ezra. But when Neci learns about Marlene, Neci freaks out and rants about how Ezra can’t see how horrible Marlene is, etc etc etc. Now, jealousy is one thing, but there seemed no reason to me to assume that Marlene was some kind of evil conniving bitch – she just happened to catch Ezra’s interest. Yet both Neci, and the narrative, seemed to want me to think Marlene was up to no good. And when Marlene finally does do something that is “up to no good,” I think the narrative wants me to see it coming – but honestly, I didn’t think anything in her character before that really foreshadowing anything half so horrible.
Lastly, I had a problem with the dialogue. It was often very stilted and awkward. There was a lot of unnatural info-dump with characters saying things to each other that they obviously should and do know, and which is being said merely for the reader’s sake. Things like: “I love that fox TwoBucks. What a devoted creature, and who would have guessed that he would play so well with Theda, my Dog,” when it’s obvious that all the characters know who “TwoBucks” and “Theda” are. This is a problem not only at the very beginning of the story, when readers understandably need some intro. The dialogue is awkward throughout.
As you can see, the things I didn’t like slightly outweigh the things I did like. However, the first volume ended on a cliffhanger, and I do see some potential, so I will probably give the second volume a try. I’m hoping some improvements will be made, and I’m curious enough to see what happens next, so we’ll see how it goes.
In other words, it’s not high on my list of recommendations, but it might be worth a shot if you like historical fiction and graphic novels, and are willing to overlook some problems in order to give a new writer and new story a fair chance.
For those who are interested, you can also check out this book trailer for Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl.
Also, the book is only being released today (April 16th) and I will provide links for purchasing as they are released.