Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu was actually quite a bit darker than I expected it to be simply based off of the artwork and cover. Which, admittedly, is kind of funny because the synopsis does introduce this book as one in which the main characters fight a dark and deadly force. A very magical story, Mooncakes follows Nova Huang and Tam Lang as they reconnect after years apart and something sinister blows in to shroud their small town.
I both loved this book and I didn’t. It was a very cute story, for the most part, and had some action filled moments but I never felt as though I had enough time to get to know the characters well enough. I didn’t connect with a single one and I feel that if this had been a novel as opposed to fully a graphic novel, I would have had that connection. The plot was good, but everything moved far too quickly for me. And, to be fair, pacing is something that I’ve noticed can often be a huge problem with graphic novels. To date, there have actually been only a few that I was really excited about the pacing of. Unfortunately, for me, Mooncakes falls into the category of having just okay pacing. And it took a lot away from the story.
Moving away from that, however, the characters were brilliant in so many ways. I loved Tam the most; a character with a dark past and something to run from, Tam is the one who held the whole story together. Tam is also the one who moved it along the most. Everything about them was wonderful. I felt a little less connected to Nova, who seemed somewhat flat in comparison. And Nova’s friend, whose name I have forgotten, was actually kind of annoying. I did love the grandmothers, though.
The artwork, though, is what really did the best work for this story. It was beautiful through and through. As a reader, you definitely feel more engaged with these characters because of how well they were portrayed by the artist. That cover alone is enough to pull you in and make you want to know more. I have to admit, though, I was rather thrown by the title; the mooncakes barely had any place in the story at all.
Ultimately, this was a cute and well-done story. I enjoyed many aspects about it from the plot to the characters. The pacing was way off and made it difficult to connect, but I think this is partially due to the form of novel this is rather than the story. Often, graphic novels run into this problem when they don’t treat their story like something episodic or have a long, full story. At least, in my experience.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.