Graphic Novel Review: This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews. First Second, 2019. 9781626720534. 330pp.

On the night of the Equinox Festival, Ben and four friends make a pact to follow the lanterns down the river. Do they really become stars? They promise to ride their bikes for as long as it takes to find out. But then Nathaniel starts following them (his dad and Ben’s dad are best friends). One by one, Ben’s friends drop out and head for home until only he and Nathaniel are left. (Nathaniel is a bit of an outsider, and Ben’s friends are promise-breaking jerks, so this is clearly for the best.) They meet a bear on his way to catch fish, who thinks the lanterns are fish, and who wishes he could join them as they swim among the stars. They separate at a towering cliff the boys cannot climb. The boys do figure out a way forward, and of course they meet the bear again, but giving more details would be telling.

This graphic novel combines the quiet magic of the best Miyazaki movies with a beautiful visual style all of its own. I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn’t enjoy the quest, and seeing Ben and Nathan’s friendship form is just as magical.



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