Book Review: Last Man: The Stranger by Balak, Michael Sanlaville, and Bastien Vives

Monday, March 30, 2015
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Stranger
Author: Balak, Sanlaville & Vives.
Series: Last Man trilogy, book 1.
Publication Date: March 31st 2015

Synopsis: "Adrian Velba is excited to compete in the annual Games, a gladiatorial contest, but his hopes are crushed when his combat partner falls ill. His luck changes when the mysterious Richard Aldana appears as his new teammate. Nobody knows what to make of Aldana - a cigarette-smoking, tough guy - in this medieval realm where fighting magic reigns supreme. Eschewing spells for physical prowess, Aldana helps Adrian as they become the Games' top contenders. But who is Richard Aldana? And what is the ultimate purpose behind the games?"

My thoughts: This book arrived for me on a day when I was tackling a few different things, and so I may have been a little biased towards it from that, but, to be honest, I tend to be biased towards First Second books quite naturally - they tend to be of a high standard!

This book starts in a great place, with Adrian - a blonde boy whose skills in the fighting ring are still a little lacking, according to his relatively judgmental trainer. Adrian is trying his hardest so that he can compete in the upcoming Games, and his fire and drive for the fight are somehow sweet.

I wasn't sure about the art style of this for some time - it felt unfinished to me and a little sketchy, like it was a couple of stages away from the finished product. But as I read I realised that this art style translates quite well for a book with such a large focus on martial arts and fighting as it flows very well and shows the movement without harsh lines getting in the way.

The book definitely finishes on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and the way you get to know the characters within the book definitely leaves you eager for the next volume. There is a surprising amount of emotional content in this volume, and I did experience times while reading this where I wanted to look away from everything that was happening but just couldn't - I needed to know what happened!

I have to say that, although the art style did grow on me, it was still a bit of a drawback at times, but I think that was personal preference. Very occasionally the storyline was a little predictable, too, but this wasn't a huge problem either.

I know I will be trying to get my hands on a copy of the next volume, and I will probably try to get my partner to read the first one, as I think it is a good read.

I received a review copy of this book from First Second Books. (Thank you!)

You would like this book if: You like seeing styles of martial arts in picture form; you enjoy a good annual Games tournament, perhaps with a side of emotional scenes.

Rating:  8/10

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  1. Sounds interesting! Were there strong characters to temper out the predictable plot? I'm curious about whether you were fond of or attached to them by the end of it!

    1. I was fairly fond of the characters by the end, but it was more of a fascination than any sort of attachment. I am more intrigued by the fighting style and what might happen next :)


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