When I first started this, I have to say I was pretty iffy. There's a bit to get through to get to the 'current' story, and I don't know that I've ever read info-dumping in graphic novel form. It was...odd. It made me feel really disconnected, and I wasn't sure I was going to like this. But once Rapunzel is banished to her high, um, tower of sorts, it started to pick up, and it took off when Jack entered the story -- it was enjoyable from that point on.
There was great humor in unexpected moments, silly little things popping up like easter eggs, both in the text (and the sort of 'background' text, if that makes sense. If you don't read graphic novels, I'm talking about the bits of text that pop up, not in a speech bubble or a box of text, but as quiet little background moments, going on behind whatever the text-box/bubble says.) and in the illustrations that accompanied the text. I got the feeling that Shannon and Dean Hale (married) and Nathan Hale (no relation) worked well to layer things and inject cute little quirks. It made for an enjoyable reading experience.
Rapunzel was interesting and fun (even if her braid lassos look like sausages), and she and Jack played nicely off of each other. Jack is absolutely ridiculous and shameless, and I loved him. He was a great foil for Rapunzel, and together with the Old West feel of the book, it all worked nicely. The one thing that I wished different was Mother Gothel. Rapunzel is such a fascinating story because it's hard to decide who the villain is. Rapunzel's parents trade her away for some stolen lettuce, so it's hard to buy them as the suffering heroes, but what exactly does the old lady/owner of the lettuce want with a baby, anyhow? And why does she keep her in a tower? There are questions in Rapunzel that interest me, and it's fun seeing how authors will answer them.
I didn't completely love how Hale answered them. Sure, some of the answers were really interesting, and certainly unique. But Mother Gothel had great potential to be a sympathetic character to me - albeit a much-flawed one - but that potential was ignored in favor of making her seem completely black-hearted, even when there was clearly much more to the story. It took away all of the fine little nuances and made me feel like this great opportunity was passed by; the story could have been dynamic and colorful where Gothel was concerned, and instead it was flat, black and white. I wanted to explore her character, her motivations, and what I can only guess was her vast loneliness, and maybe paranoia.
But that being said, I still enjoyed this and will read Calamity Jack, and would recommend it to fans of graphic novels and fairy tales, and those looking for something a little different. I think this one will be a great choice for boys and reluctant readers, too. And moms, apparently, because mine was flipping through this, and having never read a graphic novel before, she was immediately interested, and I had to keep her from taking it until after I'd written my review and gotten pictures of the frames I wanted to share, which never happened anyway, cause GUESS WHOSE SCANNER IS BROKEN...
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
Reading Rapunzel's Revenge, I was put in mind of another of Hale's fiesty, strong heroines, Miri. Miri breaks the mold and helps the other girls in the "princess academy" do so, too. This is a very cute and sweet little book, and I don't want to get all Spice Girls on you, but it's got great girl power. It's encouraging and warm, and I think a lot of adolescent girls will connect with it in a really good way. There are great bits of culture woven through out as well, and the story has a great sense of place to it. The romance is wholesome, as is the message, and I would highly recommend that you share this with a teen/tween girl in your life.