Children of the Whales has an interesting, slightly confusing premise, but, as with most manga, I'm sure we'll find out more about the setting in future volumes. An entire society lives on a floating island called the Mud Whale. Mud Whale floats across a desert, not an ocean. No one aboard Mud Whale knows how they got there. There are two types of people: marked, and unmarked. Marked individuals have a unique marking on their bodies, and they can control Thymia, a magic force that springs from emotions. However, marked individuals have desperately short life spans, where as unmarked can live for quite some time. One day, Mud Whale comes close to another floating island, and scouters, including our main character, Chakuro, find a young woman they refer to as Lykos. She gives little detail about the differences between their two islands, but she is convinced that danger will come to Mud Whale as it did her on Whale. This volume ends in a sudden tragedy that turns the entire narrative from one of mystery to a dark, horrific tale.
The first volume starts of a bit slow and slightly confusing because you are plopped into the middle of this built society on a floating island. However, once the narration started, I was pulled in and didn't realize how quickly I was devouring this book. The characters are interesting, and the author really takes you along on all their adventures. The ending really got to me, and I can't wait to grab the second volume to see what the fall out is. What originally drew me to this series, aside from a recommendation from a student, was the art style. The covers all have these beautiful, textured watercolors that really grabbed me, and the art inside doesn't disappoint. Scenes are full and lush and characters are nuanced.
VIZ rates this for older teen because of violence and death. Both of these elements happen within the last few pages, so it might be something to warn readers about up front if any of them might be lulled into security by the bulk of this story. Older Teen for VIZ usually means 16+, but I would say students as young as 14 who understand death would be fine with this story.
Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability level: Grades 9-12
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Fantasy
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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