Author: Rachel Brown
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: October 2008
Synopsis: “Alien refugees have come to Earth. They call themselves 9-Lives. Humans call them cat-boys, and force to live as collared pets. Conri, a rebellious young 9-Life, ran away to escape this fate. But when a human named Adrian saves him from capture, Conri is torn between his desire for freedom and another desire he can’t quite admit, even to himself…”
I’d honestly never heard of 9Lives before I came across a review for it online. It sounded interesting and looked equally so visually when I picked it up off the store shelf. I’m a big fan of global manga, and have read some fantastic titles, plus both the author and artist of 9Lives have some lengthy credentials. So now it was just a matter of taking the title home and seeing how it played itself out.
9Lives is the story of a 9-Life named Conri. 9Lives are human in appearance except for large cat-like ears that protrude from their heads. They were sent to Earth by their leaders with one rule: they could return once they’ve sacrificed eight of their nine lives to a human. Humans, as selfish and controlling as we are, have taken advantage of these cat-people and now force them into servitude by clamping security enhanced collars onto any 9Life they can find.
Conri is, understandably, very bitter towards humans and as a runaway, can’t imagine that any human exists who doesn’t wish to enslave him and his people. Enter Adrian, a young man who saves Conri from a mob. Intrigued out of skepticism by the man’s aid, Conri follows him to the man’s house only to eat his saviour out of house and home then get stuck in the apartment when 9Life enforcers begin stalking the area looking for him. One short discussion later, Conri agrees to hide out there in Adrian’s apartment and work off his debt racked up by food consumption and whatever he breaks along the way.
I was generally impressed by 9Lives overall. It has some really great pacing and made for a smooth reading experience that you rarely come across in novice creators, so the combined past experience of those behind the project is evident. The story does a nice job of introducing readers to the world in the first couple of pages, plus set up Conri’s hatred towards it before he meets up with Adrian.
Thanks to far too many stories like it before, I feared that I may have picked up a book of doey-eyed cat boys and whimpery affections. Fortunately not! The two leads are entertaining characters whose personality’s clash like, well, two bickering cats. Conri in particular was very entertaining, whether he was stubbornly exclaiming his distrust for Adrian or enthusiastically chasing a cute little mouse around the apartment.
Another interesting aspect of the story are the 9Lives themselves, who have a few tricks up their sleeves than just possessing some fuzzy accessories. I thought it was a neat concept. Not entirely unheard of before but none the less makes for a good premise in its own right. These abilities become relevant during some dramatic, albeit slightly predictable, events that occur near the book’s end.
Bayou’s artwork was also really good. It’s a very tidy style with a great consistent and polished look. There was some creative panel usage, no problems figuring out what was going on, and generally made for a nice visual read. It’s not an exceptionally notable style but it’s one that does a fantastic job at telling the story and is used to great effect.
Overall, this first volume of 9Lives was an enjoyably refreshing book. It’s a very simple story; easy to follow and light on the details, making it a great light read. With a rating of 13+, that’s probably the perfect demographic for this interesting cat-out-of-space series , one which also seems like it’s preparing to cater to the boys’ love fans out there with a touch of fluff and fan service (as evident by the front and back cover art). I liked reading this first volume quite a bit and I’d say it’s off to a very promising start.