BROXO by Zack Giallongo is a fantastic debut graphic novel and a little bit different from what I normally find myself reading. It's a little bit violent, a little bit gross and a littl ebit creepy. However, it's also frequently funny, occasionally poignant and packed with great characters. It may be a jump, but it actually reminds me a bit of one of my favorite television shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender and the sequel, The Legend of Korra. Like these two shows, BROXO has mythology, history, tragedy, secrets and strong, brave young protagonists who, while annoying to each other, are really quite likable.
BROXO begins with a great map of Peryton Peak, which is where we find Zora, alone in this barren, dire landscape where she wakes to find two weasely creatures raiding her pack. Things go from bad to worse when Zora is almost hunted down by Broxo, chased by a huge, hairy beast then by a skeletal creature she mistakenly disturbs at a watering hole. Fortunately, Broxo realizes that Zora is not a demon (by shaking a welb root at her) and, along with Migo, his bear-beast, they head back to his shelter where she hopes for a decent meal.
What she discovers is a boy living the life of a scavenger, surrounded by the remnants of his royal family, the Peryton Clan, long disappeared. Zora also discovers Ulith, a sorceress, owner of the weasely creatures, who may or may not have an ax to grind with the Peryton clan. Giallongo has great pacing and unfolds the story of the desolate land, why Zora is there and the fate of the Peryton clan with skill. I read eagerly, not sure entirely sure what was going on, what to expect and what the resolution would be. But, what really makes this graphic novel superb are the characters. Zora is cool, tough, a little bit whiny and, when the chips are down, she has a plan. However, this book is called BROXO, not Zora, for a reason. Broxo is a fantastic character, instantly lovable, mildly feral and pretty funny. In fact, Broxo reminds me of a teenage version of another quasi-feral favorite graphic novel guy of mine, Fangbone!, the brilliant series for younger readers by Michael Rex. However, amidst the humor and gross bits, there is a sense of poignancy about him as well. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but Giallongo weaves some tribal mythology and mysticism into his story that drives the plot and leads to some surprising revelations by the end of the book. Giallongo uses a mostly brown palette for BROXO with greys, purples and blues layered in. There are wonderful flashback scenes where the tone is orange and the illustrations style changes a bit to inform the reader. BROXO is an adventure story, a story of survival and battle. Because of this, I think it's better in the hands of an older reader, but I hope that you parents reading will not hesitate to crack the spine on your own and give this amazing book a read...
The author and a fowl.
Source: Review Copy