Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 280 (11/10) -- Miki Falls, Vol. 3: Autumn by Mark Crilley

Suspension of disbelief is a fragile thing, easy to break -- and it can sometimes be broken just by attenuation. I read the first two volumes of Miki Falls nearly three years ago, as they were being published, and I'd completely forgotten the Maguffin of the series when I finally got back to the third volume, Autumn, last month.

That Maguffin -- which I don't intend to give away here, even though that may turn this review flabby, nonspecific, and euphemistic, so be warned -- is very appropriate for the manga-inspired storyline and art-style of Miki Falls, and is also the kind of thing that's perfectly designed to torque up this young-lovers-against-the-world story, so it's actually exceptionally well-chosen for the needs of Miki Falls. But it's also the sort of element that requires an industrial-sized suspension of disbelief, and -- given the long time between when I read the first half of the story and now -- my disbelief had slowly worked its way down from the vast heights that I'd winched it up to while reading those books.

Autumn ratchets up the tension, as is appropriate for the third act of a four-act work, and that Maguffin is most of the mechanism for doing so -- our heroine, Miki, and her new boyfriend, Hiro, want to be together, but There Are Reasons why they shouldn't be, and those reasons are much larger and more serious than any teen readers will ever have dealt with in their own lives. (Though, of course, teens are famous for thinking that their relatively minor restrictions and rules are horribly demanding chains that will scar their entire lives -- so readers closer to Miki's age will certainly have an easier time hauling their disbelief to the rafters than I did.) There's no final answer here, as of course there won't be (until the fourth book, Winter), but it does get much more difficult for Miki and Hiro, as of course it must be.

So I find that I can't say much about Autumn -- it is nice seeing Crilley stretch himself and work for a somewhat older audience than his lovely Akiko books, but Miki Falls has a similarly sturdy generic framework and only mildly greater depth than the Akiko stories. And his art is clean and expressive in a nearly animation-cell way -- despite the Japanese setting and themes, the art doesn't owe much to manga influences -- though his characters have only the barest vestige of noses much of the time. Miki Falls is undoubtedly much better if one is still an overdramatic teen, but it's pretty good regardless, as long as you can accept the premise for the length of the story.


Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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