Published: 7 November 2017
Publisher: First Second
Category: Graphic Novel/Childrens/Mystery
Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back?
In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.
Rating: 2 Stars
Cici dreams of being a famous writer someday, a novelist maybe! To start out, though, she’s practicing by journaling like a reporter and finding mysteries in her small town.
The construction of the book was a fun amalgamation of comic book panels, handwritten journal entries, and photographs. Since this was an arc there were some panels that were harder to see than others, such as the photographs, but the general layout gave a good impression of what the book would look like in its final form. Neyret’s artwork was very bright in it’s panels, eye catching and soft around the edges. My favorite scenes were the library panels from the second story. There was a magical quality to the different sections of the library, from the children’s shelves to the history section.
As for the characters, Cici was difficult to like as a main character. As good as a spy as she thought she was, her skills of observation needed a lot of work. She wasn’t trustworthy either, constantly lying to her mother and her friends and never suffering any consequences for those actions (another thing that frustrated me – Cici never got in trouble for anything).
Erica, one of Cici’s best friends, seemed like the voice of reason in their small group. While Cici badmouthed her quite a bit, saying nearly every time she spoke about Erica that all she did was complain, Erica had good reason to say the things she did about Cici. How she kept asking them to lie, how she needed them as cover stories, things like that. I understood why she got angry at Cici and why they finally fought near the end of the book.
Cici doesn’t always have the best decision making skills. Her friendship with Ms. Flores at the onset of the book from Cici’s perspective is a close one, but in her own words she doesn’t know much about Ms. Flores, her mother doesn’t like that she hangs out with her so much, and she has to lie to her mother about the amount of time she spends at the Flores house. That struck me as really strange, especially since this book seems to take place in the present. I think the story as a whole, from the zoo in the first story onward, would have worked better in an earlier time period, perhaps in that of Kit the American Girl or Harriet the Spy. The liberties of their time periods would have melded better
There was something about Cici’s voice that I found hard to really like. The way that she communicated throughout her journal entries, the way she thought, these passages all sounded like the way an adult thought a ten-year-old child would say things or think things rather than the way such a child would actually say or think. Her voice, the writing behind it, wasn’t wholly believable. It wasn’t a painful interpretation, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Cici’s Journal might be suited to a young crowd that won’t pick at the story lines as I have or character building, but I’m not sure they’ll be wholly satisfied with the characters having little to no consequences and disregard for friendships.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.