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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Reader's Diary #1950- Sam Sykes (writer), Selina Espiritu (artist): Brave Chef Brianna

It's fascinating sometimes how unrelated books seem to talk to one another, how you can pick up random books for random reasons and still find similarities. Sam Syke's Brave Chef Brianna is a young adult oriented graphic novel about a new chef, which reminded me of Yakitate!! Japan, which I read back in August-- I would consider this an unusual topic for younger readers. While chef Brianna is a human, the story is set in a city of monsters, reminding me me of Grace Ellis's Moonstruck, which I read back in September. And whenever Brianna has self-doubt, these are manifested by small inky demonic blobs around her, unseen by her peers; exactly the same concept as in Mel Tregonning's Little Things, which I read just last week.

It's human nature to compare things anyway, but it's even harder to resist when you find such unusual and coincidental commonalities.

I didn't, for instance, like the art in Brave Chef Brianna as much as in Little Things. Espiritu's art was serviceable, and fit the mostly fun tone of the story, but no where near the same level of craftsmanship.

I did enjoy the story a lot more than Moonstruck. It was definitely more focused. Brianna is competing with her brothers to win their father's cooking empire legacy until finally Brianna realizes that this contest created by her dying father is a pretty shitty thing. And, unlike in Moonstruck, there's a strong supporting cast that remains just that.

I'd probably put it on par with Yakitate!! Japan, as it's not the greatest thing ever, but it's a surprisingly fun take on a rather uncommon career. It also has strong themes about ambition, friendship, and confidence.

One unique theme that could be read into Brave Chef Brianna is cultural sensitivity; the ideas of cultural appropriation, colonialism, and racism. There's a story bubbling under the surface of whether or not this human has the right to intrude upon the world of monsters, especially given how humans have exploited and mistreated monsters in the past.

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