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Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening

(Monstress #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  38,659 ratings  ·  4,530 reviews
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly p ...more
Paperback, 235 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Image Comics
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Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
5/3/18 - ON SALE for $3.99:

Updated review:


*giggle snorts*

Rereading is often a humbling experience . . . I've been forced to admit that my memory isn't what it once was, and never is that more apparent then after a reread. *kicks aluminum can*

I won't bore you with all the things I'd forgotten, but there were a few things that made a biggerrel="nofollow">
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Fant-Punk
If, prior to reading this, someone said to me, Wanna read a comic that's loosely classified as a Steampunk Fantasy?
Well, I would have politely (and slowly) backed away from them while turning the offer down in no uncertain terms. I mean, is Steampunk even still a thing?
I remember it was all the rage there for a while, and then it just seemed to peter out of vogue -kinda like sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves.
For those of you who may love and/or live this genre, please don't take offense by that.
I only have the vBecause....
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Graphic novel fans
Recommended to Petrik by: Melanie
Gorgeous epic steampunk fantasy done in graphic novel form.

I don’t usually post reviews for graphic novels unless I found something special; Monstress is definitely special. Both manga and graphic novel are a form of storytelling materials that required pictures, they may be similar in this regard but they’re actually very distinct from each other. I, as a huge devourer of manga for more than twenty years and counting, rarely impressed by graphic novels or comics, not that they’re inferior, just a mat
Readalong for the BooktubeSFF Awards which is being hosted by Adriana from Perpetual Pages, Chelsea from TheReadingOutlaw, Samantha from Novels and Nonsense, Connor from Connor O'Brien, Elizabeth from Books and Pieces, Kaitlin from Kitty G, Sam from Thoughts on Tomes, Elena from Elena Reads Books, and Thomas from SFF180!

I loved absolutely everything about this graphic novel. To date, it is by far the best graphic novel I have ever read, and even surpasses my love for Saga. I am completely blown away, and will count down the days until Vol. 2 releases (June 6th, 2017).

Readalong for the BooktubeSFF Awards which is being hosted by Adriana from Perpetual Pages, Chelsea from TheReadingOutlaw, Samantha from Novels and Nonsense, Connor from Connor O'Brien, Elizabeth from Books and Pieces, Kaitlin from Kitty G, Sam from Thoughts on Tomes, Elena from Elena Reads Books, and Thomas from SFF180!

I loved absolutely everything about this graphic novel. To date, it is by far the best graphic novel I have ever read, and even surpasses my love for Saga. I am completely blown away, and will count down the days until Vol. 2 releases (June 6th, 2017).

This story follows a seventeen year old girl named Maika, whose story starts out where she is being sold as a slave. The reader will immediately notice that Maika has a very strange tattoo of an eye on her chest, and she is missing an arm. Yet, it becomes very clear very early that Maika is much stronger than what she seems.

Maika is struggling to hold in her monster, while also trying to get answers from her past. With the help of an adorable little half-fox and a poet cat, Maika is on a journey to discover herself, her past, and what's truly inside of her, all while she carries a very mysterious and sought after item.

In this world there are five races:
Humans - Like you and me.
Ancients - Immortal, animal-like rulers with an immense amount of power.
Cats - Much like people, can speak and fight, but much more adorable.
Old Gods - Little to no knowledge of them.
Areanics - Half-breeds.

Also in this world, there are factions at war:
The Federation - Humans, who just hate magic users and refuse to let them live and breed. These humans will take Arcanics and make them slaves to do whatever terrible things they wish.
Arcanics - Magic users, who are sort of hybrids of the Ancients. Also, two powerful courts, the Dawn Court and the Dusk Court, have risen up to defend against the Cumaea.
Cumaea - Witch-like people that use Arcanic's body parts to make Lillium.

People in this world will use a drug like substance called Lillium for power, regeneration, and in some cases, resurrection. Between the war and the use of this magical substance, this world is also now aware of things much bigger than the Federation and Arcanics.

This graphic novel is not only bigger than most bind-ups, but it has significantly more writing than most graphic novels, too! You receive a lot, and I do mean a lot, of information and very quickly. This really worked for me, because it became way more of an immersion, while also reading closer to a book. Yet, I can understand how this would be a different reading experience for some, so I felt the need to bring it up.

The story is so brilliant and impactful. I can already tell I'm going to be thinking about this world for such a long time, because this is the type of story that just sticks with you, while festering in your heart. I truly love everything about this.

The art was so magnificent and I found myself constantly just staring at some pages in disbelief that a human created it. This art also brought very many tears to my eyes very many times, constantly evoking so much pure emotion from me. On top of having an amazing story, it is the best art I've ever seen in a comic, ever.

Trigger warnings for human trafficking, slavery, child brutality, and many other dark themes that are in the violence and gore vein. This is a dark story, and it doesn't shy away from that darkness or its brutality.

I loved everything about this graphic novel: the story, the characters, the art, the representation, everything. I honestly cannot see any graphic work ever beating this. I am in awe and my thoughts probably aren't even coherent, but this is something unique and special. Please give this comic series a try if you haven't already.

I swear to you with my entire soul, this is nothing short of a masterpiece. This is maybe even a once in a lifetime masterpiece. I never put graphic novels on my "best of the year" list, but I think this is the year I make an exception for Monstress.

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Okay I'm only going to put a few pictures because you can all scroll through the other reviewers and see more pictures. I don't like reviewing graphic novels because I never know exactly what to say.

This novel is about Maika Halfwolf and she has been trying to find her way for some time. She lost her mother and friends to a war. She lost one of her arms, but she has some kind of powers and she has a symbol on her chest that may or may not be the cause of this . . .

This novel is very dark but I
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Vol. 1: Awakening ★★★★★
Vol. 2: The Blood ★★★★★
Vol. 3: Haven ★★★★★

When I originally read Monstress, Vol. 1 a couple of years ago, I gave it 3.5 stars. I loved the artwork and the character designs, but had a hard time getting into the story, world-building, mythos, etc., and also really struggled through the tougher triggers (such as child trafficking, child abuse/torture/murder, assault, etc.). That said, this is the perfect example of why I update my reviews when I reread books: because, sometimes, our o
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
The visuals in this comic are great; it’s dark and steam punk themed. It’s all rather cool and the action scenes are illustrated brilliantly. It even has a special race of fighting cats that are so ridiculously bad ass; yet, for all that, I found the whole thing quite confusing.

There’s a lot of history with this comic book, which is fine, but I don’t feel like its very well established. There are brief mentions of past events, but not enough details to establish their significance. I feel like
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARDS 2017 for best Graphic Story

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening was... weird, but dark and pretty good?

There's no hiding that the plot is convoluted... at best, and if there was such thing as a CONFUSING ALERT!, I would raise it instantly. Indeed Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening doesn't burden itself with simple details like chronological order and basic knowledge before throwing you in the meat of the (epic fantasy-like) action.

Keyword being : HUH?!

And then, there are these cat-ish info-dump pages at the en
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Here's something awesome for you. I'm a TOTAL pushover for great art, great nasty story, and MONSTERS INSIDE US.

I mean, I've read the whole Naruto series twice and that whole story arc of the kid with the nine-tailed demon fox living within him was all kinds of awesome. So why do I love Monstress?

The demon living inside her, of course. SOOOO COOL!

Really, though, the artwork is all kinds of amazing and the story kicks me in my bollocks. It's bloody, it's distur
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2016
Beautiful art, a unique world with gods, humans, and something in between, fearsome magic, political intrigue to rival any epic fantasy, a plethora of formidable female characters... oh.. and magical talking cats... what more could one possibly ask for?

This series is setting up to be an epic masterpiece. There is a lot going on in this first volume, so I can't wait to re-read it and discover even more.
Lucy Langford
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this in one sitting. I do not usually read graphic novels but thought I would pick this one up... and it was amazing!
It had a great plot with lots of action and conflict, with a twist at the end (that was unexpected). The drawings of the characters were absolutely superb.

Little Fox (Kippa) was so cute!!! I loved her 💚
Michael Finocchiaro
With great graphics, interesting but somewhat confusing story, and lots of grrrrl power, Monstress packs a big punch. The story is kind of similar to Amulet and the monsters and such reminded me of Saga a bit while the cannibalism was sort of like The Walking Dead. I really enjoyed this volume and look forward to where they will tale the story in Vol 2.
Carol (Bookaria)
This is a graphic novel with elements of fantasy, feminism, violence, and diversity.

The main character is a teenager named Maika searching for a past she doesn't remember. On her path she finds people, some are friends, some are enemies and she doesn't know who to trust. Maika is also struggling with a powerful and mysterious "thing" inside of her which threatens to take control.

The art is beautiful and very detailed, just look at the image below, it's one of my favorites in the book.

In the story, there are wise,
3ish stars.

This is a good volume 1 with a cool, BA heroine (view spoiler) and some of the art, especially the issue covers and full-page panels, is pretty beautiful.

At first the story seems like your typical epic fantasy, race wars, magic, Chosen One. It ends up a lot stranger and creepier than that, which is a good thing. The heroine/monstress, Maika Halfwolf is super cool and not a typical heroine. Other interesting characters i
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The second time around this was even more brilliant. Which is why I have upped the rating.

Original review:
That was pretty brilliant. I really enjoyed this book but it did take me while to find my bearing in the world created (and, to be perfectly honest, I think I will have to re-read this at some point to really get everything). The authors just trust their readers to stay with them and to be patient while the story unfolds, told partly in flashbacks and never com
Trina (Between Chapters)
Sometimes I can have a hard time getting into fantasy comics because they have a short page count to introduce you to big worlds, and that was definitely the case here. My interest was so lukewarm with this one that I do not plan to continue this series. The story and characters are NOT bad by any means, this story in this format just didn't work for me personally. I'd love to see it as a movie or something though!

What I liked:
-The art.

-The main character is fierce and I want to know/>What
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
I would be curious to read this story in novel format. The comic is amazingly beautiful. I didn’t even know someone could make such otherworldly-beautiful illustrations. It’s a true feast to the eyes.

But the reason why I’d wish to read a book adaptation is because there is so much substance in this comic. I’m aware that one is limited in terms of dialog and space when writing for a comic format, so I feel as though the worldbuilding and characters would be even more developed that wa
There's more hunger in the world than love.

4.25 stars.

Monstress is a harsh, gritty story set in a stunning Asian fantasy/steampunk world. It's honestly one of the best graphic novels I've ever read, and has some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen.


I think I've mentioned in previous reviews that I tend to struggle with visual stories, since I find it harder to constars.
Whitney Atkinson
This is probably the most beautiful art I've seen in a graphic novel to date, but beautiful art does not make up for incomprehensible plot. I've officially decided that I can't read sci-fi graphic novels because they don't give you enough time to learn the world or characters, and this was exactly that case. I read on just to see if I would eventually get a grasp of the characters and plot and world, but by the end of this, I still couldn't tell you what the conflict was or who the characters ar ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
congratulations! semifinalist in goodreads' best graphic novels & comics category 2016!

ugh, i still need to review this one! dammit!
3.75 ⭐

"To quote the poets... we're fucked."

Welcome to the world of magic and mayhem with wondrous visuals.

This dark and visually-stunning comics does not hold back on anything in its portrayal of wartime depravity. From slavery and torture to racism, cannibalism and coming to grips with postwar traumatic experiences.

It took me a while to really get into the story but I instantly fell in love with two things - the breathtaking artwork and the sweet and adorable little muffin, Kippa. 😍

Let's get back to the artwork, people! I'll
Dark Lordette Jennymort ♔

Reading this for the second time makes me wish that this was more of a book. I need to know more about this world and the characters in it.

It's driving me nuts not knowing more.


I loved the hell out of this.

I highly recommend this graphic novel. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story line was well done.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Going with 4 STARS on this first volume of Monstress!

The illustrations in Monstress were wonderful and beautiful! The layout of the story was very confusing for me and I struggled in the beginning to understand the plot and circumstances that were going on with Maika Halfwolf.
By the end of this first addition, it made more sense. I still felt this could have been better with a different layout in the beginning in regards to the story and world building.

Maika Halfwolf is a teenage girl that shares a link with a monster. She's trying to surviv
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dear Heaven! Words fail me. I was impressed by many books over the years, but never as completely as I am with this. I'm flabberghasted, I'm in love, I still can't believe this exists.

The only reason I knew about this, was Neil Gaiman. Once again, one of my favourite authors pointed me towards a book I wouldn't want to miss under any circumstances.

The story is set in a fantasy world where there aren't only humans but also Ancients, Arcadians (half human and half Ancient), Old Gods and other creatures. Ma
Book Riot Community
Even if this wasn’t an incredible piece of storytelling, the art alone in this graphic novel would have put it at the top of my list. Takeda’s steampunk art deco graphics are mind-meltingly beautiful and amazing. But Liu’s story of a girl in an alternate 1900s matriarchal Asia is worthy of such beauty. Maika is fighting the forces of darkness and evil (holy cats, such EVIL – this book definitely earns its ‘M’ rating) while also struggling with an actual monster inside her, whose agenda she hasn’ ...more
David Schaafsma
A 2016 Goodreads comic of the year nominee, and much deserved, I would say. A couple of my (possibly more comics-experienced) Goodreads friends (males of our species) had not liked this series, so I held back for awhile. And I’m not a huge fantasy reader, and this looks like historical fantasy, which I have even less experience with, though it does look it comes with a side of something like steampunk, which I like. . . and there’s some horror in it, okay, good, then many many other friends like ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
WrensReads Review:

Recommend by Caleb!


Whole thing...


Like, Sana Takeda.. I tip my hat to you. I found myself lost in the art
Caro the Helmet Lady
3 stars rounded up to 4 for amazing graphics.

Well, this was interesting. This graphic novel seems to be a bit of everything - somewhat manga, but not really, fantasy in general, but with a tad of history, generally YA in tone, but talking about serious issues such as racism, slavery and torture. Graphic side is beautiful and mind blowing - to the point I wasn't just reading the dialogues and getting through the story pretty fast, as it often happens with graphic novels, but I actuall
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, fantasy
Three stars almost entirely for the pretty, pretty art. What you see on the cover is what you get, and it's gorgeously and beautifully detailed. It's a very nice book to look at. The story, on the other hand, is not as pretty. The reader is thrown in the deep end with very little background information. Sometimes that can work, but here, I was mostly just confused. It takes three issues to get a clear definition of what an Arcanic is, for example. It makes the first few issues more difficult to ...more
Sanne | Booksandquills
This one definitely wasn't for me! I was so excited to read it after picking it up a few weeks ago, but besides the gorgeous artwork, it didn't really appeal to me. Quite gory, very busy pages and I found the story and characters difficult to keep up with. About halfway through I realised I basically had no desire to finish it (though I did finish it in the end).
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New York Times bestselling and award-winning writer Marjorie Liu is best known for her fiction and comic books. She teaches comic book writing at MIT, and she leads a class on Popular Fiction at the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) workshop.

Ms. Liu is a highly celebrated comic book writer. Her extensive work with Marvel includes the bestselling Dark Wolverine series, NYX: No Way Home, X-23

Other books in the series

Monstress (4 books)
  • Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood
  • Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven
  • Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen
“To quote the poets... we're fucked.” 46 likes
“There's more hunger in the world than love.” 17 likes
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