Monstress Reading Group: A Belated Invitation and Warning

Dear Reader. My heartfelt apologies. I’ve been remiss in posting details for my virtual reading group for Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress graphic novels. I’ve been absolutely dying to find someone to discuss the novels with + I wanted to do a re-read before reading the latest installment because these novels aren’t easy-reads. Not only is the content at times emotionally burdening/scarring, each text is densely packed with visual and verbal information with regards to both the story arcs and world-building. It’s a lot to take in and I want to – need to – talk about! So we’ll be looking at one volume roughly each month and you can confirm your availability for the first meeting here (note: please confirm availability by this Wednesday as I’ll set the date/time of the group on Thursday based on the responses). There are 6 issues in each volume and if you don’t have the time to read all 6, come along anyways as we’ll be discussing each issue in order so there should hopefully be no spoilers.

My invitation also comes with a warning – one that I really should have thought to make sooner. As I started reading issue 1 in preparation for the reading group, I remembered just how graphic Liu and Takeda’s graphic novel could be. Courtesy of Storygraphs (where readers can select from a lengthy list of labels as part of their review) these are the content warnings for Volume 1 Awakening : violence, gore, child death, death, slavery, body horror, blood, torture, child abuse, murder, cannibalism, animal death, physical abuse, trafficking, confinement, cursing, kidnapping, war, religious bigotry, animal cruelty, emotional abuse, genocide, fire/fire injury, gun violence, injury/injury detail, racism, rape, sexual violence, suicidal thoughts, suicide, xenophobia, grief, death of parent, ableism, hate crime, self harm, sexual assault, sexual content, medical content, sexual harassment, colonization, classism, toxic relationship, and abandonment. …. I told you it wasn’t an easy read. As might be obvious from the very first page of the novel this is definitely an R-rated book but not obscenely so.

First page of Issue 1 of Monstress

What is also probably clear from the first page is that the novel is GORGEOUS. Every illustration with its combo of text and typography is a labour of love. But this beauty poses an odd juxtaposition with the content warnings. If this your first time reading it, don’t be surprised if you’re caught between “can’t look away” and “don’t want to look too closely.”

The series is an investment as a result, which is another reason why I wanted to start a reading group for the series; I’m hoping having people to talk with will help me digest the material better. Not to make it sounds like a support group for graphic novel addicts, but hopefully a chance to make friends based off a common passion for the love of a good book. Potentially we might meet up when later issues are released so join the discord server (here) to keep up-to-date with event details along with some pre-and-post-meet-up chats. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, don’t forget to confirm your availability for the first meeting (link here to save you from scrolling up). Hope to see you there!

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