Monday 23 November 2015

Reviewing the Evidence Time! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - The Hockey Saint by Shapiro, Inoue, and Mossa

Title: The Hockey Saint. (US Link.)
Author: Howard Shapiro, Marica Inoue, Andres Mossa.
Genre: Graphic Novel.
Series: Forever Friends Trilogy (#2.)

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
The Hockey Saint graphic novel cover I approached this graphic novel with a little hesitation. I know nothing about ice hockey. Like seriously, nothing. It's just not a popular sport in the UK in general - and Wales is more about the rugby than anything else.
You'll be happy to hear that, despite my hockey ignorance, I enjoyed this book a lot.
This is apparently #2 in a trilogy - but I read it as standalone and had no difficulty with reading it as such.

Jeremiah Jacobson, or 'Jake,' is a 21-year-old hockey star. Tom Leonard is a 19-year-old college hockey player whose life is going through a rough patch - he also idolises Jake.
The two somehow form a fledgling friendship, but can it survive the demands of the sport, the press, and life?

Best bits:
I really did enjoy this - it was very readable, and the characters were actually a lot more involving than you would think on first glance. To such an extent that I basically zipped through reading this.
The art is perhaps a touch on the unusual side, but while a lot of artists make the mistake of becoming too radical in their attempt to bring a fresh style to their work, the artwork here keeps the balance well. I'd even go as far as to say it's charming (in a mature way, of course.)
The social issues touched on here are dealt with carefully and sensitively - and it gives the book a real heart that shines through excellently.
I also love the questions raised about the role of sports stars/athletes, and their glorification by a media that would just as soon tear them to shreds if it'll mean more viewers, readers, listeners, whatever.
Not so great bits:
Some of the issues dealt with might upset some people - notably that of alcoholism and drink-driving. Also mentioned are poverty, illness/cancer, the treatment of veterans, parental death, and suicide. All are dealt with sensitively, and, in my view, with great skill and balance - but this may still be upsetting to readers dealing with similar issues.
I think this book was set in Canada - but I'm not 100% on that. Enough places in the USA were mentioned to give me some doubt. On balance, it was probably Canada... probably. The names of the leagues etc. would probably tell most North Americans where it was, but as a British girl with no interest in hockey, I was left just a little confused.
Occasionally, the dialogue is a touch stilted and/or naïve, but really, this is barely noticeable, and the vast majority of the speech flows well.

This is a readable and eloquent graphic novel, absorbing and charming, and accessible to people outside the world of hockey, this has some stuff to say in style.

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