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Review: Sugarholic, vol. 1-2

Jae-Gyu is a naïve twenty-year-old whose grandmother is no longer going to tolerate her laziness. When their home in the country is destroyed, her grandmother and mother find a new home in their small town with only room for the two of them. Jae-Gyu is sent to Seoul to live with her older brother. Not only is big city Seoul an overwhelming place for a small town girl, but Jae-Gyu also finds herself in a variety of tricky situations. She keeps running into Hee-Do, a boy she used to torment as a child, her brother is living a lifestyle way above his means, and Whie-Hwan, a mysterious young man with a violent past, keeps getting on the wrong side of Jae-Gyu’s clumsiness and bad temper. With so many bad things happening at once, romance is the last thing on Jae-Gyu’s mind, but that’s not the case for the men around her!

Sugarholic, vol. 1-2
Gong GooGoo
Age Rating: T/Teen
Yen Press
Volume one: August 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7595-3074-4
Volume two: November 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7595-3075-1
Approximately 180 pages each, $10.99

Sugarholic is an interesting title because it features an older main character who acts much younger. But Jae-Gyu’s innocence is adds a lot of humor to the story. It seems to soften the other characters, making them more sympathetic to her even as they wonder how she’s gotten this far in life while still being so clueless. Readers, too, will be intrigued by her as they are caught up in the whirlwind storyline. Even two volumes is not enough to get all of the characters completely introduced and the major plot points outlined. There’s a sort of controlled chaos going on in the story, where the plot is always on the edge of falling apart, but somehow still manages to hold together. There aren’t many answers in these two volumes, but the questions are interesting enough to make readers head for volume three and beyond.

If you or your readers haven’t read a lot of Korean comics, they can look jarringly different at first. The art style for the characters will switch abruptly between fairy-like beauty and crazy chibis and then back again. Dramatic or humorous use of movement lines and screen tones is a common occurrence, so the panels have a rather chaotic look to them. On the whole, though, the characters are easy to tell apart–important for a character heavy work such as this one–and I’ve found that the Korean style is one that can grow on a reader.

Despite the T/Teen rating, Sugarholic is not a title that is very tame. Jae-Gyu’s brother is carrying on some sort of illicit relationship, though it’s not clear exactly how far it goes in these first volumes. Jae-Gyu herself ends up living with Whie-Hwan in his apartment. There is also alcohol use, some violence, mostly on the part of Jae-Gyu and Whie-Hwan, and a subplot about young women selling their bodies. Readers looking for titles that feature characters other than schoolgirls will likely be drawn to this one. It’s a good companion to over-the-top dramas like Peach Girl and the eye-catching covers should help it circulate.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Yen Press.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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