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The Pretenders

The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, The Cemetery Girl Trilogy #1

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill—names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead—and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave—and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself—or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help...

Graphic novels have always been of interest of me and I have recently been started reading a couple from Titan Books, but with the ever developing market, more and more publishers are taking a share in this ever popular market. And so is Jo Fletcher books as well. Being a fairly new publishing imprint, with this venture into the graphic novels they once again show that they mean business. The Pretenders is their first graphic title written by Charlaine Harris, whom we of course all know for the best-selling Sookie Stackhouse series and Christopher Golden who is well known for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelizations. Quality guaranteed!

The Pretenders doesn't let you sit around and wait till the action takes place, you are thrown just as literally into the story as the main protagonist, Calexa is on the Dunhill graveyard, by a mysterious man in black. Calexa doesn't know where she is, who she is, and was pretty convinced that she had died that day. The great thing about this introduction into the story and where the graphic novel already comes to it's right is the part of the first flashback, when you glimpse as to what might have happened to Calexa. But even now with that flashback you are only allowed to speculate about this all, as it all remains very obscure, which actually works for the better as this gives a nice pacing to the whole graphic novel.  
I really liked the story build up The Pretenders, like I mentioned above you are thrown right there in the depths of the story and as you get reading along and follow the main protagonist Calexa, a lot of things remain in the dark, but you do see a clear development of Calexa's character for the definite better. She has memory loss and not being able to retell what exactly happened but she is making the best of it, stealing food out of neccesity and creating new "street smarts"skills or should I say graveyard smarts, the Dunhill cemetery where she now recedes has become her new home. In the story itself there is one major storyline that follows Calexa's character, she witnesses a brutal murder from a set a teenagers, but in this part also the supernatural element of Calexa comes to show and if you look at the picture above you might have a stab in the dark as to what it might entail. It was great to see that Calexa's character wasn't just acting on superficial levels, maybe I am thinking to far ahead but in my opinion Calexa wants justice for every crime. Since she can't recall what might have happened to herself, she want to get things right for every other crime committed. Calexa makes up for an very interesting protagonist with already a clear development trajectory, even though she has amnesia she doesn't sit around a mope about it but goes on and is drawn in a adventure, one where she herself is also confronted with powers that she hadn't thought of. 

As you can make up from the above text the story and the characters in The Pretenders are more than solid but what definitly makes this graphic novel one to be reckoned with are the illustrations and the usage of colors. now I don't have that much experience with graphic novels but I can safely say that I am very impressed with the level of detail that was used in creating the illustrations. To the left is the part of the flashback of Calexa that I described earlier, here you have a perfect display of the light (sepia) kinda flashback area and the dark side of the cemetery. You see that the colors just contrast each other perfectly and help to make each and every illustration leap out of the pages. The colors used aren't bright and fleshy but are more darker/shaded tones that fit spot on in the style of this graphic novel. The illustrations and storyline follow up each other seemingly, there is now over focus on either one individually they work together pretty, pretty well.

Jo Fletcher knows how to kick off a new line of books. The Pretenders is a highly enjoyable and fast paces graphic novel that really raises the bar for future works, many readers of the Sookie Stackhouse series are bound to enjoy The Pretenders as you can clearly see that Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden have tight reigns on the story itself, (just a note: Calexa isn't a copy of Sookie, nor Buffy but just as great to read about, determined and fair.) The illustrations and usage of colors really work wonders to highlight events of the story, it's like the pages leap out to you. For a first graphic novel in a trilogy, The Pretenders starts of with a lot of unanswered question that remain mostly unanswered at the end, but this isn't a problem at all as you have a great establishment of the idea behind The Pretenders, you have been introduced to Calexa and know a bit more about her past a characters. It's now up to Charlaine Harris and Christopher Goldento show how to take this interesting concept further, which I for one am eager to explore, maybe, just maybe will this turn into another big screen tv series!? But with their combined forces this will turn into something great I sure of that. The Pretenders is highly recommended.


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