So yeah, it’s been a bit and a half. I’ll get to that eventually, but really, I think at the end of the day it’s good to ask if we want to start with explanations or start the way we mean to go. Since my rambling good intentions usually end up taking time and fizzling at certain points, I’m leaning toward the latter this time around. So there ya go.
I want to get back to SJ reads because I think it’s a good way to showcase not just what I like, but titles that people may have forgotten about or titles that aren’t in their comfort zone. So, as a refresher:
- I usually only review mass market titles on my blog so there’s no conflict of interest, but like everything I reserve the right to change my mind
- This is less of a review and more of my fluid thoughts on a title
- 99 percent of the time everything I talk about here I’ve obtained from the public library, and if mine has it, yours likely does too. Use libraries, they’re awesome.
I want to try going by theme a little bit, so this month I’m going to touch on some graphic novel/comic series that are just amazing to me. Seriously, people, if you aren’t exploring this section of your library or bookstores, you’re missing out on some of the most original stories out there today.
So today let’s talk about Finder.
Finder started out as a self-published comic by Carla Speed McNeil and eventually got picked up by Darkhorse and is still going on- that’s the basic schematic. Unlike a lot of titles I’ve read, I don’t know that you honestly have to go in order because she does tend to bop around in time and area within her world. Probably the easiest way to read this is to look for the Dark Horse Finder Library volumes first. I think this collects everything through Talisman, although that’s available in a separate book, as well. Then there’s Voice, and I believe Third World is the latest that’s out. I’ve read here and there in Darkhorse Presents, but honestly, I like volumes because I hate to be kept waiting on the next bits.
It’s extremely hard to put a genre on Finder. It’s honestly all the genres. There are dark bits, there’s drama, there’s some genuinely funny aspects, there’s some coming of age, there’s sci-fi and fantasy…I’ve heard that the author describes it as aboriginal scifi if pressed, and that’s pretty accurate.
Basically, Finder is set in a futuristic place similar to our own world without it being exactly us. A lot of the action takes place in bigger cities, where society has been divided into different castes with different rules and attributes. Outside of the cast system are the Ascians, of which is main character Jaeger. We follow him through the series at different points in his life and through different adventures (though sometimes this deviates and we follow side characters, instead) as he deals with being both the lowest in Ascian society (a sin eater, so he takes on people’s sins before they die) and one of the highest (a Finder, meaning he can find anything, anywhere).
So why bother with something weird and complicated and nontraditional? The characters are amazing. I love Jaeger in a bad way and just love how he’s written. He’s not completely good and not completely bad, he’s very much a dude (and I love that he’s written by a female author, truth be told, especially through arcs that discuss all his various lady friends), and he’s an amazing personality to use to explore different situations. All of the characters do this, but as the main audience porthole into the world, he really makes you put aside your thoughts on race and sex and gender and even species. The setting and society McNeil has built are just astounding. This isn’t just a futuristic city – you have all sorts of lands and cities and towns and places in between with their own rules, not to mention caste rules and religious rites. I like to grumble that it’s completely unfair that this isn’t a movie or TV series yet, but honestly, it would probably get ruined. I don’t think anyone would really have the balls to throw it up on the screen as is, and to change it would be to wreck it.
This is an insanely simple breakdown. Luckily, if you start with the Finder library volumes, they read more like a continuous story. And if you ever are wondering anything, the author has a huge chunk o’ foot notes in the back of each book. Seriously. The amount of knowledge and research and effort that has gone into this series is just mind-boggling and has brought me to my knees more than once. You have a girl going through a beauty show to find her place in society and falling into whole other rituals, you have a girl falling in love with a book, you’ve got archaeological explorations led by creatures, cities that are levels upon levels and tech that puts you into whole other universes to help you leave yourself behind. This series has something to say about everything. It’s insane and amazing and I love it. This is a one of those ideas that makes me moderately jealous, but mostly in awe, because it’s so well done. I wish I drew well enough to pull something like this off. I wish my world building was that good. As it is, I’m more than happy to wait for the next bit and run around in McNeil’s world every chance I get.
I can’t be the only Finder fan out there – who else has read this phenomenal series? Thoughts? Favorite arcs or characters? Let me know in the comments!