A part of me wanted to laugh a lot while reading Betrothed by Sean Lewis, Steve Uly, and Simon Bowland and I’m not entirely sure if that was their intention. To a certain extent, I did really enjoy reading the story. It was entertaining, had decent characters, and definitely left me intrigued on occasion. However, I would never say that this was a well-thought-out graphic novel, at least as far as the plot goes. The basic premise of the tale lies in the fact that the two main characters are the king (Kieron) and queen (Tamara) of warring tribes who have, for some reason that is never made clear, been promised to each other in order to make peace. But, apparently, the only way to make peace is for them to “consummate,” which will apparently create some sort of magic that resolves all the fighting? Yeah, that bit confused me, too. And, admittedly, made me slightly uncomfortable at times. This notion of two teenagers being forced to decide whether they would prefer to sleep with someone or die instead is just…not okay. And while the novel did not go in that particular direction, Betrothed did hint it at times and I had a hard time with that. Anyway, Keiron and Tamara were sent to Earth and either they have their memories erased or they’re reincarnated or they were promised to each other at birth and then sent to Earth to stay safe until they can be together. They go to the same school and yet, for some reason I can’t fathom, they’re never introduced to each other at all.
So, as you can see, the plot has a lot of holes and none of them ever really get explained in any concrete way that makes sense. In fact, for the most part, a lot seemed to get left out in the interest of quick pacing which I really feel hurt the novel as a whole. To an extent though, I was alright with this because I did enjoy the story and the characters. I recognize that it can be a little harder to explain everything in a graphic novel. However, Betrothed seems purposefully vague on a lot of important details which was frustrating at times. The reader is left with far too many questions by the end of the book with no reason to expect that any of them will be answered in further volumes to come. Betrothed basically relies on this vagueness and I have little belief that it will cease to do so in the future.
I think the piece that was most frustrating to me, however, was the absolutely ridiculous and unrealistic reactions that Tamara has to Kieron on a nearly constant basis. The first time we even meet our heroes, she’s punching him in the face because he tapped her on the shoulder. Overreaction much? Not to mention the fact that literally everyone seems shocked by this behavior from her, as though it doesn’t match her personality at all. And this makes me wonder if that personality she’s said to have even existed at all because she acts nothing like it for the entirety of the book. While I appreciated the internal struggle she had once she learned of the expectations their tribes had for them, never once did the novel actually show her work through that struggle. Instead, she does a 180 regarding her thoughts on the matter for the most ludicrous of reasons. And I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that I didn’t enjoy the novel. I had a lot of fun reading it. There were several moments throughout where I found myself giggling (though admittedly some of that was at the ridiculousness of the apparently necessary act of the main characters getting laid). The artwork was pretty phenomenal. And I definitely would be willing to pick up the next volume in the series. But I do think that it could have been a lot better than it was. Betrothed had quite a large opportunity to be amazing and just didn’t quite live up to that potential.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.