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Koko Be Good

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,913 Ratings  ·  222 Reviews
Koko's always got a new project cooking, even though they usually end in total disaster. This time will be different, Koko promises herself. This time, she's decided to Be Good. But how can a girl whose greatest talent is causing trouble get her act cleaned up? If she's being honest with herself, Koko isn't even sure what "being good" means.

Jon knows what being good means,
Paperback, First Edition, 300 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by First Second
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This graphic novel made me feel like all old curmudgeon. The young people, what a bunch of shallow, boring assholes! They're so dumb, so selfish, their bars are so boring and so is their conversation!

Koko is not Bad in a way that is entertainingly naughty; she's a completely selfish, manipulative, lawless horrible person who gets by taking advantage of the kindness of others and then screwing them over or ruining things not even for some personal advantage but just because she doesn't give a cra
This is the first First Second story that has let me down. Everything else was great.

The art work is 3 colors, black, white, brown. It does help set the tone of overall blah-ness happening. This is a coming of age story.

I'll be honest, I had a hard time following everything that was going on. There wasn't great connections happening and I mostly followed. Koko wants to be good and it makes her angry how difficult that is for her. She ends up giving away all her stuff for charity thinking this is
Holly Lee (Bellas Novella)
From start to finish this graphic novel needs a lot of fine tuning. The beginning was hard to follow, with a lot of jumping around and not a lot of dialogue it was hard to tell what characters were important, and what was even going on. The book settled into itself about two-thirds of the way through and became much easier to follow which was a welcome relief.

The characters seemed very superficial and the story lacked depth. I felt as though the major life decisions that Koko, and Jon were maki
Erlynn (BooksHugBack)
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Koko Be Good is a coming of age graphic novel about two young people Jon and Koko whose paths cross. After recently entering the real world, Jon is about to give up his life to follow his much older girlfriend to Peru for her dreams. The story follows Jon through the process of him giving up all his interests and opportunities for that of another. He runs into a young girl Koko at a party who is just trying to get by in life. Jon's story causes her to struggle with what type of person she should ...more
Aug 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wang's beautiful tonal and expressive watercolors illustrate 3 lives intersecting at turning points for each. Wild child, drop-out, unapologetic Koko literally runs into recent graduate Jon at an afterwork party and shatters his certainty in self-sacrificial romance. While each begins to take a page from the other's life, underage Faron is caught in the lost lives of the adults surrounding him, while dreaming of a future that seems beyond his grasp. Wang beautifully captures the multicultural ne ...more
M Bonet
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it
As usual with anything that posits itself within the world of "indie" and "hipster" sensibilities, I am of two minds about this comic. On the one, admittedly superficial level, I was put off by indie/hipster conceits of people leading impossibly cool lives that, quite frankly, have nothing in common with real life as I've observed it. But the comic surprised me. It actually touches upon how empty such "cool" lives can be. Most importantly, it deals with identity, with indecision, fear, and stand ...more
Matt G.
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Of all the books I've read this quarter so far, this has probably been the most enjoyable. While it didn't have the deep (and terrifying) insight of Alan Moore's From Hell or the beauty and wonder of Shaun Tan's The Arrival, it had something neither of those books had; true enjoyability.

The storyline revolves around two characters trying to find their place in the world. One of them, Jon, is pretty much a goody-two-shoes, who is moving to Peru with his girlfriend to help Orphans. The other is Ko
Lauren Elizabeth
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Nimona
I really liked this one! Review to come.
I cannot help but compare this to Solanin by Inio Asano. I just can't. They're very simliar, but work differently. I feel like this one may've aimed for more complexity (although perhaps I just didn't recognize or now don't remember the social issues touched on in Solanin), but it does so very broadly, and I'm not sure of its resulting success as a story. It definitely had, for me, less emotional impact. A few good moments, but...

Faron was the best character. <3

Throughout the book, I couldn't
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphicnovels
Jen Wang's astonishing debut is an assured and heartfelt story of people searching for their place in their world. The fundamental question of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" doesn't end when you actually have grown up, it only becomes more pronounced and real. Wang's characters have passed the precipice of adulthood, but they are still confused about what they want out of life. Jon has abandoned his dreams of making music to follow his older girlfriend to Peru, where she will work in ...more
Odd little graphic novel about a girl who is trying to be good, and some other people who don't know what they're doing. You'd think I would relate, right? Not really. The story is not particularly interesting or memorable; I wish it had made me feel something.
Black Elephants
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
I remember Jen Wang from almost a decade ago when she worked on an online comic called "Strings of Fate." Based on the Chinese calendar and myth of the zodiac, the story burst with drama, comedy, romance and mystery. Unfortunately, like many online artists, Wang never finished the piece, but I've always remembered it. And so when I saw "Koko Be Good" in Skylight Books, I couldn't help but buy it.

Wang really understands facial expressions. Her characters are so expressive with their features. The
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it and the drawing style was energetic. Although at some times Koko looked to have a receding hairline...
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was into the art more than the story.
Dov Zeller
Pastiche review (quilted of quotes from other GR reviews of the book)
(I captioned the quotes and chose the images)

Existential questions
What do we live for? Beauty? Truth? Making the world a better place? What does it mean to live a good life--making others happy, or ourselves? Is this an either/or proposition?

Who’s who
[Koko Be Good] follows three characters- the titular Koko (an energetic girl who seems to want more), Jon (a 20 something who just wants to move to Peru to be with his girl)
Ken Yuen
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hmmm, how do I put this? I really enjoyed this from a character and slice of life point of view.

The overall narrative and any meaning that the author meant to convey is a little harder to wrap my head around. I think in a talk, Jen Wang said this was one of her first attempts to telling a narrative, so I don't want to be too harsh. I'd like to see how she would have written this story after her experience working on IRL and The Prince and the Dressmaker.

It's a fun read. Koko, Jon, and Faron are
Ottery StCatchpole
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2010 rated it liked it
In Koko Be Good, Jon is preparing to uproot his life in CA to move to Peru and save the world with his much older mentor turned lover, Emily. He meets a girl named Koko who challenges him to reconsider his ideals, and his purpose for making the choices he's made.

Although I read over 200 pages of this book, I struggled throughout to keep everyone, (and the timeline!) straight. The present of the story is Jon waiting for Emily's return and preparing to leave with her, and Koko's life, and her frie
Sep 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, san-francisco
Jen Wang is a top tier cartoonist and her gifts for expressive faces and hands were on full display in this book. She managed to pack in a wide range of physiognomies while keeping things stylistically consistent, which made it a lot of fun to just inspect each page for all the weird smiles, grimaces, squints, etc. It was also fun to see so many places I know from San Francisco in comic form! BART stations, the dreaded Zeitgeist, Sutro Tower, the fog, the vertiginous hills.

All that said, the sto
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphicnovels
After an intensely confusing start (for me), I grew to appreciate the wide and over-the-top facial expressions of the characters in this thickly bound graphic novel about young people's attempts to strive for Good (capital intended.) This is the kind of book where the author isn't going to bother to hold your hand. Except for a few moments of exact emotion (which were a bit of a relief from all the ambiguity), readers follow along with Koko, confirmed "bad" girl, and Jon, who has gotten it into ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it liked it
The art here is just stunning. I LOVE Wang's illustration style, even down to her minimal color.
Unfortunately, I think this work needed more editing. The story is hard to follow. There are places where I feel that certain panels should be large while they are small, and others should be minimized. It made me feel that this is an immature work. It took a long time for me to get into the story, or even get a grip on the themes and characters. I want to see more from this author, but only the stun
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic
A beautiful young adult novel about finding one's path in life. Jen Wang's characters were over-the-top, but still managed to ring true (I have known a few Kokos in my time). And her watercolor illustrations were breathtaking. Her scenes in San Francisco were especially awesome and made me nostalgic for a city I already live in. Funny that.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Robin Helweg-Larsen
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Although the story presents nice little pictures of several young people in the throes of looking for meaning in their lives, it offers neither clarity of options, practical solutions, or resolution of any of the multiple storylines. In this sense it is more of a graphic short story than a graphic novel, with interesting bits to it, but no sense of completion.

It also suffers from a lack of clarity in defining the various characters. (And this may be my fault as an older novel-reader and -writer,
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
An odd comic more than a good one. I was interested by the watercoloured style and almost impressionistic art and, having picked it up off the library shelf, was confronted by a superficial and at many points nonsensical narrative. What kind of selling arrangement is presented in the first, action-packed sequence of events -- and why is it so violent? Is the older woman from Peru just a convenient plot device? What the heck is this anyway? Is it aiming at kids, teens, or...?

Haphazard development
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Jen Wang's abilities with faces and hands, and I love the idea of exploring the theme of feeling lost as a new adult. That said, a lot of this felt fuzzy, perhaps because it was a debut: I was often confused about panel transitions and who was talking, as well as the character development. I was put off of Koko when she at first appeared to be in the role of manic pixie dream girl to Jon's aimless young man in a drudge job. To its credit, the story doesn't fulfill these stereotypes exactl ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
Koko, a girl who lives only for herself, meets Jon, a man who lives mostly for his girlfriend.

Ugh. I really didn't like this. I'm giving it a second star due to the artwork. Jen Wang does amazing expressions and uses the page space really well. But I hated the story. Koko is the type of person who makes me do a U-turn to avoid her. Yeah, I get that she's trying to become a good person but her way of going about it grates.

My biggest gripe is that I do not understand the ending. After hanging in
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Rating: 2,5 stars (rounded up for Goodreads)

This was okay. I loved the art. It is very atmospheric, flows well, page layout and panel composition really enhanced the action and flow of the story. I liked the sepia tones. Really, the art was what made this graphic novel.

The story felt...disjointed.
I didn't really feel like I knew any of the characters, excluding Faron they all came across as incredibly unsympathetic and I just didn't really care about them. Also the timeline of 3 weeks felt reall
Dakota Morgan
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
I've loved Jen Wang's more recent stuff, particularly The Prince and the Dressmaker, which should be read by all. But Koko Be Good is just baffling and, frankly, unenjoyable. The plot is all over the place, the characters are hard to read and impossible to root for. Everyone is making bad decisions for seemingly no reason. Is it a story of mental illness? Maybe I missed that explanation. I'll be honest: I skimmed the later half of the book. It's just too much and too little at the same time.
Aimee Pierce
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Koko Be Good. It's drawn in a beautiful dreary style with a sepia/brown/grey palette, which gives a nostalgic, tired feel. The characters are lovable and diverse: Koko's Maniac Dream Girl-ness and Jon's Boy Next Door-ness make for a cute friendship. I enjoyed how Wang explores each character's sense of "how to be good" and their sentiments of "I don't know what to do with my life," which instilled a hefty serving of existential dread by the end of the book. Overall I thought it ...more
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“If you think you’re good people, and if you are, how would you know? Is it something you always knew? Or was it something you found? Some people are naturally good at it […]. Is it worth trying to be something you’re not? Just because it’s right?” 24 likes
“Settle down and be Good forever. Find the hardest things to accept in me, and reconcile what I am with what I hope to be.” 2 likes
More quotes…