Ten minutes in the future, the world runs on an economy of job shares and apps, while crowdfunding has evolved into Reapr: a platform for assassination that's trickled down from politicians, celebrities and CEOs to everyday life and all its petty resentments. A world where anyone with enough backers and the money they contribute can kill anyone else.
Like Charlie Ellison, who up until now has lead a quiet, normal life, until she wakes up to find herself the target of a Reapr campaign with a million dollars on her head. Hunted by all of Los Angeles, Charlie hires Vita, the lowest rated bodyguard on the Dfend app. As the campaign picks up speed and Vita takes out incompetent civilians and aspirational assassins on their tail, she and Charlie will have to figure out who wants Charlie dead and why before the campaign's 30 days or their lives are over.
In the near future, everyone works as part of the gig economy. In addition, there's a crowdfunding app for assassination. When the main character, Charlie, has a million dollar crowdsourced hit put on her, she hires Vita to keep her alive for the next month until the campaign ends.
There's some neat world building here and while it starts out as a social satire, it just evolves into the same bad guys are after us, have a shoot out and hide thing again and again. There's lots of promises that there is more going on but we never get any further in this first volume. I found the main character, Charlie, exhausting and this book quickly became just as exhausting.
People have been telling me to read this since it came out, and I have not been reading it. Story of my life. Carmen's life: people recommend books to her, and she never (very slowly?) gets around to them.
But I finally picked it up and I'm very glad I did. It's excellent.
The premise is that, in the future, you can crowdsource (gofundme?) killings. You can put up money publicly on the Internet to have someone killed. If it gets two backers at minimum, it's live and anyone who kills the target gets the pot. Almost everyone kills in this universe. It's a fucked-up fake thing like THE PURGE. IRL I don't think this kind of thing would happen, it's a fantasy like The Hunger Games. But as per usual, Sebela is using this premise to make some statements about our society and where it's going.
That's what sucks about growing up. You end up being all kinds of things you don't want to be.
The hits (on society by the author) start right at the beginning. The target, Charlie (Charlotte) 'works' about twelve different gig-jobs. She gets paid to allow other people to live in her home temporarily (AirBNB), she picks up fares (Uber), she loans her car to strangers that need cars on an app called Wheelsy, she lends out her clothes for money on an app called Kloset, she walks dogs from clients she gets on Dogstroll, she babysits for kids she finds on Citysitter, tutors online (VIPkids?), hangs out with a lonely old man for money (platonic) whom she found on an app called Palrent. She lends money to people on Moneyfriender at a 12% interest rate.
It's a future where there's an app for LITERALLY everything, people have no job security, all cars are self-driving and all fast food is ordered through computers - no humans actually work in McDonald's. At one point a killer promises an Uber driver health insurance if he can get her someplace in ten minutes. The look on his face says it all. Health insurance is what everyone dreams of and no one can get.
People might try and kill the target for a number of reasons, mainly money. But also psychopaths and people with anger issues like to kill people. One particularly interesting scene shows a bride pulling a gun on Charlie because she can't afford the wedding she's dreamed of. She's going to shoot someone to death in order to get money to have a lavish wedding. It's this kind of thing that makes me roll my eyes. It's the same problem with THE PURGE. Most people are not murderers. Murdering people is not a simple or easy thing, even when you're getting paid, say, one million dollars to do it.
ANYWAY, Charlie hires a bodyguard on the app Dfender. This is how she meets Vita, a tall, thin, badass woman who is a super-skilled fighter and driver. She tries to avoid killing people - which she claims accounts for her low-rating on Dfender - instead wounding them or incapacitating them while keeping her client alive.
The campaign only lasts a month, so if Charlie can survive thirty days she is free and after that it will not be legal to murder her. But who wants to kill her and why? Both of our MCs are a bit mysterious.
Since Vita is so sexy, in the bodyguard badass way, there's some sexual tension between her and the shallow, selfish, airheaded Charlie, which I was not buying NOR did I appreciate by the way. I don't understand why everything has to be sexual nowadays. It seems two characters in a fiction can't simply be friends anymore, there must always be an undercurrent of fucking for some reason. Oftentimes it's QUITE unnecessary. Charlie is very difficult and purposefully a moron, a determined moron, one might say, and I did NOT find a sexual attraction between her and badass Vita to be plausible. NOT PLAUSIBLE.
Reapr became a thing about 3 years ago, when the Secretary of State and two other members of the Cabinet were assassinated. The Feds caught the gunman, tracked his money back to a crowdfunding platform. Five thousand people gave over four million to have them killed. They busted a few backers, but most were anonymous. Burner email addresses. The toothpaste was out of the tube, too late to stop it. ... Everything moved to deep web servers, rebuilt, campaigns went up left and right. People finally had the charge to strike back against the jerks in power. Like, imagine it, those buttholes who make decisions that affect us all and they don't ever worry. Then Reapr comes along and puts a scope right on them. Suddenly government changes. Our representatives start representing us, our president makes decisions that help and don't hurt. REAL democracy. Of course, then it, like, filtered down. A campaign against that director they say wrecked the TREK WARS franchise. Some lady tweets something stupid that goes viral, gets off the plane to a price on her head. CARMEN'S NOTE: Justine Sacco Anyone can collect on a campaign at any time. Soon as they kill the goal, they get whatever money's been raised up 'til then. No one could stop it. Cops tried. FBI tried. They even shut off the Internet for a week, had all those riots. Then it went PUBLIC. ... You notice how people are so NICE to each other these days? All it took was arming the whole country and giving them an outlet. Law enforcement has Reapr loopholes a mile wide. They can't stop it, so now they just penalize with paperwork and red tape. Anyone can start a campaign. Totally anonymous. As long as you get one other person to kick in some money, it's live. Of course, most of them go nowhere. But if they DO and you stay alive? You're free. No one can start one on you again. They had their shot. After that if someone kills you? It's plain old murder. And there's no paperwork gets you out of that. ... That's what you're up against. Everyone looking for a lottery ticket on the street. You're it. All it takes is a weapon and a dream.
TL;DR Like I said, I have problems with books that operate on a premise that everyone is fine with casually murdering other people. I just find it too fantastical. But if you look at the book as a biting social commentary, I think you'll be pleased. Sebela has a lot to say. It's certainly gripping and it's not dumb.
Because I'm trying to say when there's diversity in stories: we've got a POC MC, F/F romance.
I love Vita and will probably continue this story just for her. I did NOT like Snotgirl 2.0 or whatever her name is. She was an obnoxious character (and is supposed to be). But ugh, she's just the fucking worst.
This was so fun! I don't know what everyone's problem is, honestly. It's like The Professional meets The Heat starring queer women in a futuristic mess we're 10 minutes away from.
I sped through the whole volume in one night. I couldn't stop reading it. I kept laughing and reacting out loud, much to the annoyance and chagrin of my daughter.
It's unique, doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's not pretentious on the nose satire.
Charlie is annoying. But she's not all bad. She's going through a lot. She's how a manic pixie dream girl would BE as a person, not just a propped up trope. She's the definition of a hot mess having fun until someone crashes her party trying to kill her....
I LOVE that scene in the strip club bathroom. And Dog in the purse *crying laughing*
I'm dying to find out what started Charlie's reaper campaign, what's with the super assassin, and what are they going to do next. Is there hope for Charlie and Vita? What about Vita and her cop ex?
Also, I desperately want a Bi-Furious t-shirt and the courage to wear it out.
Too crazy, too over the top, and not all that interesting. Another one I dropped a little bit more than half way. It's different, I'll give it that, but the rest? Meh. Sorry for short reviews but I can't be bothered to post full review on something I'm not passionate enough to even hate. It's just eh....2 out of 5.
Fun and suave, this action-packed murder-spree of an adventure was a fantastically good read. The futuristic concept was clever and not so far-fetched that I couldn’t see it happening within the next 20 or so years. It was chaotically exciting and a thrilling chase throughout.
Following the most unlikely pairing, the character dynamics were played up for laughs and the complexity of the duo’s characterisations were one of the comic’s greatest strengths. It was fast-paced yet somehow not rushed and still managed to fit in that ever-important character exploration in between all the timing and shooting. The mystery and intrigue sprinkled throughout was just enough to make me want to come back for more and so I can’t wait to see how the adventure continues in Crowded, Vol. 2: Glitter Dystopia!
What an interesting idea. I liked the drawing style too.
In the near future, they invent an app where you can raise funds to kill a person: Reapr. Who gets the target gets the money. Originally it has been used in politicians and celebrities, or managers of corporations, people with weight that influences lives and who many want revenge, but one day the protagonist Charlotte 'Charlie' Ellison finds herself running away because everyone in Los Angeles wants to kill her for the Reward for your life.
Now she must survive for 30 days, because after that everything is void and they cannot choose her again.
Before everything falls into chaos that continues to chase the million dollar girl, she hires a bodyguard using another app (Dfend), the one with the lowest ranking: Vita Slatter. For whom her work will not be easy, especially with Charlie.
With irony and commentary of our society, and with features of a cyberpunk beginning, the story takes us through a crazy chase full of bullets, amateur murderers, the inevitable killer linked to reality TV, as well as one professional assassin that is more efficient and that is taking her time (the money is rising).
But everybody question is: Who wants to kill Charlie and Why?
She is hiding something and no talking that's clear.
So a wild readhead with a ditzy act. A bodyguard with a cop ex. A dog. A ton of paperwork for every damage and body count. Thousands of bounty hunters. A few teen hackers.
- if I explain this concept to you, you’ll want to read it straight away: this is set in the future and there’s an app where people post hits against people and donors can crowdfund it. The person who kills the target gets all the money that was funded. The main character gets a hit on her head and becomes one of the sought after victims, with millions to her name. She hires a bodyguard on another app called “Defend” who has the lowest rating (but with the highest success rate) to protect her and they form a hate/love relationship alongside a cute, little dog. If they manage to survive, no one can put a hit on her ever again and she gets all the money. - the f/f romance hasn’t developed yet but the mc (the bodyguard) has an ex girlfriend who appears a few times throughout - I loved the banter with Vita and Charlie!!!! It was perfect, hilarious and so entertaining!!! - The concept was so interesting and well-explained. I definitely think this could actually happen in our current society and that’s terrifying - There’s so many cool takes on the futuristic elements. For example, the homeless in this world live in libraries now etc. - Just a solid graphic novel with a concept that seems so likely to happen now that it’s scary
I received an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss
I absolutely loved this! The world-building is interesting and entertaining, the art is colorful and gorgeous, the character designs are visually interesting, Charlie is hilariously annoying most of the time, and Vita is just absolutely amazing ALL of the time. If I was going to have one criticism it would probably be that the text is a bit dense [it took me way longer than I thought it would to read this], but also there's plenty of action so it doesn't feel slow at all either. A future with an app that basically allows everyone to be an amateur assassin + a bisexual disaster woman with a 2 million dollar hit on her head + an awesome lesbian bodyguard who is just so absolutely done with everyone's crap = a dream series for me. I can't wait to read the next volume!
SUPER FAST REVIEW: So the story’s fun, there’s some good action scenes and I really like the cartoony art!
Unfortunately while occasionally humorous, most of the attempts at humor didn’t work for me. I also found it extremely predictable and I don’t like any of the non-dog characters TBH. I do like the dog a lot! Overall not bad, I had some fun with it but it’s nothing I’d consider myself a fan of and I’m not so sure I wanna come back for volume 2. Maybe I will...
I really love the premise here, it's quite diverse and the wlw are actually portrayed well! I loved the artwork, the colors work really well, the plot line is interesting and I was never bored.
Set in the future (I didn't get the exact year), the world has changed to allow for "Reapr" campaigns in which one person puts out a hit and others can back it to up the bounty. Due to the way the website operates, the police cannot stop the campaigns because they can't figure out who put in the bids. There's a counter app, Defendr, in which people take on work to protect others who have campaigns put out on them. Charlie, one million dollar girl, has a hit put out on her and hires Vita, the lowest rated on Defendr, because she's the only one that will take the case.
An interesting thing to note: I checked this book out from the library and they put a sticker over the year of publication: 2019. This is interesting because Reapr made it into public consciousness after several people contributed to a bid to kill high ranking members of the government because they were harming their constituents... just saying. I'm shocked that was allowed to be published. Not complaining, though.
Anyway, it's simple: the mystery is what Charlie did that was so bad that people want her dead. Vita's your typical badass, highly skilled bodyguard who's past we learn about in tiny bits and pieces. She was clearly my favorite. There's an unknown, badass black assassin after them, an annoying youtuber assassin with a high fan following and a few poorly trained assassins that come in and out of the story. There's also Vita's ex girlfriend who's a cop and trying to protect Vita as everyone's trying to kill her to get to Charlie.
Charlie was the kind of lead character I tend to find really bland. This story was no exception. She's quirky and considered cute and likable... in that the book says she is. I never got that impression as I was reading the book. I didn't find her annoying, save for the fact that she's the only one not taking the campaign on her life seriously. I just didn't really care for her character. She has a cute look, though.
Vita was the clear stand out here. I loved the story behind why she stays in that vintage, old house. I loved her loyalty to the libraries. There's a lot about Vita's attachments and how she tries to hang on to what really matters to her: the house, her ex GF's cat, Dog, her car, the libraries. She has a clear code and believes that those are necessary for humanity ot function, which is honorable. I loved that she took the job as a way of proving life is sacred.
A few things that I didn't love: Charlie being the reason Vita loses her house. She decides she knows better than Vita about using her SIM card and is directly the reason assassins come and destroy Vita's home. There's a point where it looks like she and Vita are about to kiss and it comes out of nowhere, to be honest. Like there was a bit of the flirty type thing at the very start of the story when she's making Vita spaghetti and teasing ehr about her old fashioned house, but that takes a backseat for about 90% of the book so when it comes up again near the end, it just seemed really, really rushed and unnecessary.
However, I will say I thought there was kind of something cool to be said when Charlie's trying to keep the bride assassin from killing her. She admits that she could've been a better friend, but she will never get the chance to fix that if she's dead. Kind of like the new thing people are saying about cancel culture (within reason, of course). Those people who are deep down good people will never have the chance to grow and right their wrongs if they are given the chance.
It's a pretty cool message... but this book ends and we still don't know what Charlie did that led someone to put out a hit on her. So, it's a recommend. I'll definitely be checking out the next volume. I just wish Charlie stood out to me as a character nearly as much as Vita does.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
That title above was the series name they originally played with, and I like it. I also liked the first issue of the series, and am keen for the first volume, (comprising the first few issues and the full original story arc), to come out in March of 2019. I'm posting this review now, even though we only have the first issue available, because I liked this series enough to want to encourage interest in it.
This was sort of a three way hit. The idea of crowd funding assassinations, and of a defender app, is a brutal parody of where we are at the moment. The authors underplay it and that deadpan approach actually makes it sharper and edgier. On top of that it's clear that our heroine Charlie is not the innocent nobody she claims to be, so there's a mystery there to be uncovered. Finally, Charlie and her defender, Vita, who's a low rated Dfend bodyguard for an as of yet undisclosed reason, have a very funny love/hate relationship, so the banter and crosstalk is clever and fast paced.
The art supports this nicely, being a little impressionistic, with big color and sharp edges. The pacing is fast, the inking is just right, and a variety of lettering approaches keep the comic looking modern and sharp.
All in all an entertaining and promising find. (Please note that I had a chance to read a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Its the near future and there's an App that's similar to Go Fund Me. Except its to put assassination hits on people you don't like. When some nobody makes it to the millions, shes willing to hire anyone who can protect her. This story is great, the characters are even better. The dynamic between the two girls is a perfect balance of cute and frustrating. There are times when I'd like to take out the million dollar girl. Then in other moments, I can relate with her and its scary. The body guard she hires (Veta) is just a complete badass.
The art is fun, the story is funny, and Rebel Wilson is already trying to make it into a tv show/movie. So pick this book up before it takes off!
The art in Crowded is gorgeous and kinetic, but the story is a chore to read. Dialogue is endless and not as clever as it thinks it is. The plot is pointlessly circular, with the main duo running from killers here and there and back again. Like, just get to the twist already! But the twist never comes. Maybe Crowded really is just a social satire about a future where you can hire killers via a crowdsourcing app. That would be disappointing if true - and this first volume gives no hints that I'm wrong. Worth skimming for the art, but nothing more.
This first volume of Crowded is fantastic and action packed, combining a dystopian future and a comedic, unlikely partnership. Crowded feels like a combination of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and the female cop comedy Heat – and it also feels destined to become a TV spinoff or film trilogy.
Quick summary: in a technology-ridden future Los Angeles, a crowdfunding platform for assassination called Reapr has a new target – Charlie, and the price on her head starts at a million dollars! The only bodyguard willing to take her case is Vita Slatter (whom Charlie also found on an app), as they face not only high profile assassins eager for the bounty, but also the thousands of Charlie’s backers who would be very happy seeing her dead – and why is that, exactly?
First, the creative team do an excellent job of creating a dystopian but altogether very likely (depressing) future in which technology, apps and crowdsourcing make all the rules. Los Angeles feels gritty but familiar – and its obsession with entertainment and appearances makes LA the perfect city for Crowded. The world feels very believable and immersive, and Sebela and team do a great job of ‘show don’t tell’ with very little exposition aside from explaining Charlie’s situation, and even then they wait a few issues in. The role of libraries is depressing but also kind of hilarious, and feels very Bradbury but in a good way. I also appreciated that Sebela didn’t create made up future slang, which always feels really forced and distracting (unless it’s Batman Beyond, I will fight you on this).
Even though Charlie and Vita are at the core of Crowded’s story (more on them in a moment), its world is a fantastic commentary about technology, mob mentality, what it would take for people to approve of violence, and gun control, while also still bringing us a bunch of humor and character work. Said commentary is never explicitly stated which makes it all the more powerful and natural – it’s just there for the reader to pick up and interpret as they wish. Accomplishing all this in six issues is, I’m sure, a big reason why Crowded was nominated for an Eisner for Best New Series.
Charlie and Vita are very different characters in the true spirit of a buddy comedy. It seems from a lot of Goodreads reviews that a lot of folks didn’t like Charlie and that influenced their opinion of the book. Charlie is not supposed to be likable – that’s the point! Creating a sympathetic but dislikable character is a hard line to walk, but possible – most of the characters on Veep and Arrested Development succeed at it.
Vita, on the other hand, is your no-nonsense bodyguard and I live for her awesome haircut and consistently enraged/exasperated expressions. Both Charlie and Vita have secrets and reasons to be dislikable, but I have to say that between the two, Vita is true star of the story – we have seen just enough heart and grit from her to be invested.
Stein and Brandt’s line art is absolutely fantastic, particularly Charlie and Vita’s expressions, as well as one tiny bug-eyed dog – the art delivers so much of the humor in the book – the strip club bathroom scene is an absolute highlight. The art reminded me a lot of Dave Baldeon’s expressive, flexible style from Domino but the colors have less of a glossy finish. The violence isn’t overly gory, but there’s a sense of danger and grittiness in the gunshots, blood and at one point charred corpses. This being Los Angeles, everyone is very fashionable and there is a strong sense of design that adds to the tight world building going on. Farrell’s colors really pop and I liked the soft gradients used for blushing, though I thought Charlie’s pink skin tone was a bit weird. Also sometimes the lettering was difficult to read, but after a few pages I adjusted to it.
Volume one ends with a bang and sets things up well for the next arc – I appreciate that we’re going to learn why Charlie is being targeted, since the mystery aspect is starting to run out of air. What isn’t running out is my joy towards this series and my excitement to read more.
Set in Los Angeles in the very near future, this fast-paced hilarious comic shows the logical absurdity of apps, job shares and crowdfunding campaigns taken to the extreme. Charlie Ellison, who works 12 part time jobs, wakes up one morning to discover someone has started a REAPR campaign on her and people have raised over 1 million dollars to see her killed. Naturally she turns to the DFEND app, but only the lowest rated bodyguard, Vita Slatter, is willing to take on her case. Everyone from random grandmas with guns to full-time professional assassins are after Charlie, hoping to scoop up that prize money. Vita and Charlie have to figure out who started the REAPR campaign and why, on the run and trying to stay alive for 30 days until the campaign is over. The art of this comic is fantastic, with expressive body language and wonderful visual humor. Vita is shown to still have feelings for her ex-girlfriend, a police detective, but some sexual tension is building between Charlie and Vita as well. Very interested to see what messes these two get into in book 2!
Well that was disappointing. The series started strong, then began spinning wheels in part 4, and ended on a wet fart.
Too much is left unresolved, eventhough there is the promise of an upcoming new story arc. The revelation that , feels like something that should've been revealed earlier in the story, not at the very end.
The silent assassin lady feels like a cliched character that never really went anywhere, and too much was made out of Trotter, the streamer guy. He felt like a slightly distracting side character who suddenly was shoved unto the main stage.
It quickly became obvious the creative team was much more interested in Vita, as she's the only character that has been properly fleshed out (and she is a great character, I feel). I still have almost no idea who Charlie is, beyond infinitely annoying.
I am not a fan of the Awful White Girl We Have to Sympathize With Because She Is Going To Die subgenre of horror that has cropped up.
I would say, though, outside of this - which is kinda the main plot - I really liked the world and the characters.
Although I haven't researched the creators, so probably not #ownvoices, Vita is Black, her ex-lover is also a Black woman and there are lots of Black girls in particular sprinkled about. I really enjoyed this.
The world is really a stone's throw away from being The Purge - people can create gofundme type campaigns but for assasination attempts. The female lead has a 2 million bounty on her head so basically everyone is trying to kill her.
Perhaps more action/comedy than straight up horror but maybe the comic will become darker in subsequent volumes.
I really liked the art, but especially the colors. This is a really pretty comic!