While it’s not uncommon for me to read a graphic novel now and again, it is uncommon for me to read manga. I generally don’t like the art and layout style that I associate with manga. But the description of this book appealed to me, so I requested a review copy. And not being much of a reader of Japanese comics, I had forgotten that you read manga from right to left, so for the first few pages I was frustrated with the seemingly disjointed story. Once I remembered how one is supposed to read manga, I started again, and of course it made much more sense.
The story: “Twilight” is a master spy, known among the inner circles as someone willing to go deep undercover to accomplish a mission. His new mission is to infiltrate an elite, private school but in order to do so he’s first going to have to acquire a family – which may be the most difficult bit of spywork he’s ever done.
At an orphanage, Twilight finds a young girl, Anya, who doesn’t quite fit in even with the other orphans, and the director of the orphanage can’t wait to get rid of the little girl. What Twilight doesn’t know, though over the course of time he begins to have suspicions, is that the girl is telepathic. She can read minds and understands that her new, fake, father is actually a spy going undercover. What she isn’t able to do is tell him that she knows. She’s too young to understand that she is different and has a special ability.
At first Twilight thinks this will be enough to get him to access to the school – a child he would like to have enrolled. But he begins to think that perhaps he should have a wife to present a ‘perfect’ family, given the elite nature of the school. He happens to run into a beautiful woman, Yor Briar, who needs a pretend husband to meet her family and they decide they can be mutually helpful to one another. But Yor Briar has a secret … she’s an undercover assassin. Anya knows as she immediately reads Yor Briar’s thoughts.
Now with his fake family, Twilight still has to pass a rigorous interview process at the academy and must train his temporary wife and daughter how to act like the perfect family.
I found this book to be a complete joy. When I finished this volume my reaction was “That’s it? Was this just a 32 page comic?” It read so quickly – I was completely absorbed in the story – and I actually double-checked how many pages I had read and was surprised to see it was more than 200 pages. And as I reflected on all that had happened, it was pretty evident that it couldn’t all happen in a 32 page comic. It’s just that it read so smoothly!
I liked the characters and both Twilight and Yor Briar have intriguing secrets that make me want to keep reading in order to learn more about them. I was not as interested in the little girl, Anya. I felt very unclear as to who and what she is. At times a spoiled brat, at times intelligent beyond her years, and then suddenly as equally unintelligent.
The artwork was fine. It was consistent and flowed well … though again, too often scenes with Anya I didn’t enjoy as they seemed to change the overall appearance of the book.
This is clearly just the set-up for a larger story, but it works well and I am definitely interested in reading the next volume.
Looking for a good book? Spy x Family, Vol. 1 is a manga graphic novel with plenty of action and intrigue. It’s hard to go wrong when a spy, an assassin, and a telepath walk into a private school.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Spy x Family, Vol. 1
author: Tatsuya Endo
translator: Casey Loe
artist: Tatsuya Endo
publisher: VIZ Media LLC
paperback, 220 pages