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Review: Dystopia

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo

Author/Artist: Judith Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: August 2009

Synopsis: “Dionne is best friends with her older brother, Lyon. Even though things don’t always run smoothly in their family, nothing in the world can shake them as long as they can rely on one another! But one day, an unexpected misfortune brings their seemingly bright world into disarray… and Dionne fears she may never be understood and loved again. When her parents offer their shocking solution, her emotions only become more tangled. Will Dionne ever be able to recover from this tragedy?”

Lyon is Dionne’s whole world, the perfect big brother and her only true escape from the loneliness she feels at the neglect of her parents. When a tragedy strikes that takes him away, both she and her best friend, who just recently began dating Lyon, must deal with the loss. But, on top of that, Dionne must learn to accept something else… Lyon’s never-before-known clone! Dun dun duuuun…

Excuse my hokey dramatics but it seems only suiting for this book, a self-imposed of mine will to find some entertainment in it, because unfortunately the handling of the plot does nothing to save the book from the hokey tedium that the synopsis of the plot itself would suggest.

The idolization of a person with so little of his own personality is hard to swallow and even harder to relate to. Both Dionne and her best friend feel like they’ve both been done a huge in-service as characters, spending the entire book thinking, loving and near-obsessing entirely over their need for one young man. They’re almost as one-dimensional as he is and even the moments intended to flesh them out fall distinctly short of their mark by feeling both superficial and artificial.

The emotional abuse and neglect Dionne receives from her parents feels forced, a fact drilled to the readers through verbal exposition over actual display. The explanation of which is just as shallow with Lyon absorbing his parent’s love because he was ill as a child. They scream-fight that occurs between Dionne and her parents reads probably the most realistic of the book, only because from an outside view their ‘fight’ is so drenched in petty emotion and weak excuses that it could only be the strain a teenager and their parents can create. All of this is played out in a strict linear fashion that tries to juggle too many ‘boo-hoo for me’ moments that only make the book feel even more self-indulgent.

Unfortunately nothing about Dysoptia was as polished as Judith Park’s other works (two of which previously published by Yen Press as well). The art is still fairly attractive though it lacks the finesse and evolved skill that is evident in her newer books. But it is ultimately the story itself that is the book’s greatest failing. Uneven and unsatisfying, it feels like a prologue more than a stand-alone, and regardless of being either, it still fails to leave any impact past disappointment having such a lackluster read come from an artist whose shown such skill in the past. Dysoptia is a poorly executed color-by-numbers piece that is best avoided lest you be persuaded to overlook Judith Park’s more deserving releases.

Review written July 14, 2009 by Lissa Pattillo
Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

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