Since the demise of humanity, the remaining animal life on the planet have become intelligent. The sudden spark of rational thought creates an internal struggle for these creatures; instinct versus reason. Animals of all species find themselves creating tribes and societies–each with their own beliefs, leaders, laws, and even armies. Some are working to be civilized while others embrace the barbaric ways of their ancestors.
When I saw this volume facing out on a Powell’s display, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Redwall for adults!” And then it was so much more.
In this first volume, it is not yet revealed what happened to the human race, however the flashback sections gripped me. It leaves you with an ominous feeling. The decision to show what eventually happened to the human race rather than just telling us is, I believe, a great decision. It creates an extra air of mystery without taking away from the main plot. I have always been a fan of this type of storytelling, and this graphic novel does it very well.
As far as the main plot, we are thrown into the middle of a time of turmoil for these creatures. Clans begin to clash as old friends betray one another and families are torn apart by illness and death. Rather quickly, we become attached to these creatures. I’m quite partial to Tree Jump and Eli. Mazcko and Witter do such a fantastic job humanizing these creatures that you sometimes forget that they aren’t human.The story and dialogue are incredibly well-written. Each character has their own distinct personality which makes it easy to connect and empathize with them. Mazcko expertly balances necessary exposition with dialogue that allows us a basic understanding of past events. We are not bombarded with information, and because of this, we are able to learn what we need to know when we need to know it instead of all at once. It makes for an easier and more enticing read.
Not only does the writing do a magnificent job of this, but the art as well. Ashley Witter is an incredible artist. In fact, her artwork was the deciding factor for me when I was debating buying this book. I sometimes find myself just admiring the art and one of my favorite things about writing this review is having an excuse to do so. It is seriously stunning. Witter’s art amplifies the story and the characters in her attention to detail. Through posture and facial features, Witter gives these characters that Mazcko has created, life. Meo crying out at the end of “Fragile” broke my freaking heart, and this is greatly do to the incredible Ashley Witter.
Ash Maczko and Ashley Witter make an amazing team. With Maczko’s considerable skill as a writer combined with Witter’s beautiful and often heart-wrenching artwork, Squarriors is a must read. I don’t give perfect scores lightly, but this first volume has definitely earned it.