Crystal Cadets by Anne Toole, Katie O’Neill, & Paulina Ganucheau
Published: January 12th, 2016 by IDW Publishing
Genres: Graphic novels, fantasy, young adult, magical girls
Trigger Warnings: light violence
Pages: 128 pgs.
***I received a copy of this book free from the publisher & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
“Tantalizing” and “lively” – Booklist
Cadets Go! Join this team of darkness-fighting, world-saving, power-packed teen girls from all over the world on their first adventure!
Zoe has always felt out of place; her foster parents are great and all, but she’s long felt like something was missing. That is, of course, until she discovers a mysterious gym left to her by her birth mother and her whole universe gets flipped around! When the crystal grants Zoe mysterious powers of light, she becomes the Diamond Cadet, and she’s not the only one; suddenly she’s meeting new friends who shoot flames and glowing green arrows. It’s all fun at first, but when The Darkness possesses Zoe’s foster parents her only choice is to join this wild group of action-hero girls, traveling the globe to defeat The Darkness and find a cure!
Upon first glance, one would think that Crystal Cadets would have all of the makings of being yet another Sailor Moon rip-off. You’ve got a squadron of girls uniting to fight the forces of evil, all in cutesy school-girl outfits. There’s a faceless, yet ominous Darkness that threatens to take over the world. All we need is a little bit of Moon Tiara Magic to get this crossed over into Sailor Moon territory, right?
Wrong. Crystal Cadets’ strengths lie in many other ways that set it apart from that quintessential magical girl story. O’Neill and Ganucheau’s art is absolutely beautiful, which drew me in from the start. While on first glance, the whole aesthetic feels like a watered-down version of Ganucheau’s other magical girl-themed comic, Zodiac Starforce (also great and highly recommended), however, it’s perfect for the younger, middle-grade audience for which it’s reaching. Furthermore, the story isn’t filled with the most substance and is fairly predictable, yes, but younger readers always could use more feel-good stories promoting positive friendships between girls. And, hey, the Crystal Cadets squad is far, far more diverse and inclusive than the Scouts who started it all.
If you’re looking for a graphic novel series that will challenge your pre-conceived notions of society, then Crystal Cadets probably is not for you. But if you’re wanting a cute story that empowers girls of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, then definitely give this book a try — or at least pass it to your little sister.
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