I think this is probably my first time ever reviewing a graphic novel. In my defense I don’t read nearly enough graphic novels and honestly I want to get more. They are so much fun to read because they are nice and easy to get through.
Anywho! You’re here to see what I have to say about this particular graphic novel so let’s jump right in shall we!!
This story follows a prince (obvi) who enjoys dressing up in what is considered women’s clothing. Now I say considered because if you’re wearing it then it’s just your clothing no matter the gender. Our Prince hires an aspiring Dressmaker to make all of his glorious outfits. This is also the first time he’s ever worn the clothing out of the house before. So the Prince Sebastian goes out in France’s creations. Since no one can know it’s the Prince wearing these clothes Frances isn’t allowed to get the recognition she feels she deserves. Things go down. The people discover the Prince is the one wearing these outfits and well shit hits the fan.
BUT DO NOT FEAR! The best part of this entire story is that Sebastian’s parents accept him in the end. His father even joins the fashion show wearing one of France’s wonderful creations.
The reason I wrote that long description that spoils basically the entire book is because you have to know all that before I can go on a major gush about why I love this book.
One reason is the art. It’s GORGEOUS. The art style in this graphic novel is so cute and wonderful. Not to mention all of it is in color! If you’re familiar with Manga you’ll know that those are usually all in black and white. So of course when I saw this graphic novel was in color I fell in love. Everything is just so vibrant!
This is also the first time I’ve seen drag culture portrayed in YA. If you’re not sure what drag culture is I highly recommend looking it up because it’s an incredible form of self expression! So yes I was excited to see that drag was portrayed in this novel because it is something a lot of people are becoming interested in either to partake or to go to shows etc. I don’t think we talk about it nearly enough.
Also I just enjoyed the fact that the book shows someone who isn’t conforming to normal gender expectations. You would expect a prince to be only that but Sebastian enjoys his clothes and social life. I think my favorite part is that Prince Sebastian shows that he’s not sure how others would feel about what he does and that he worries people would say something is wrong with him. I think it was wonderful that that was included because it makes the story that much more realistic.
Oh! I almost forgot. I’m not 100% sure if the authors intention was to portray drag culture. I should have done some research on that…it’s completely possible that Prince Sebastian is just gender nonconforming or non binary, etc. Maybe it’s interpretation is up to the reader.
~Lets pause here so I can do some research~
Okay! A quick internet search and an article from Forbes got me what I needed! Here’s a quote from that Forbes article about what the author Jen Wang said about Prince Sebastian and his gender identity. They interviewed the author! If you’re interested in the article do look it up but I’ll just insert the one quote I need.
Wang: To me, Sebastian is someone who identifies with different modes of gender expression and is comfortable alternating between both masculine and feminine. Genderqueer is probably the best descriptor. But I’m also open to readers’ interpretations of how they see the character. If a reader feels that this story is just the first step to Sebastian discovering they’re trans, or if they feel Sebastian is a cis male that likes to dress up I’m happy with all of that!
I think I like the book even more now that it’s clear it’s also greatly up to the reader to interpret Prince Sebastian.
As a cis female I just imagined he was into drag or was gender fluid. Of course that’s just my interpretation. Feel free to tell me about yours!
Overall the novel is just incredibly positive as it shows that it’s okay to question things about yourself and what society expects you to be.
I think we need more books like these. Sometimes I feel YA doesn’t explore the gender spectrum nearly enough and it’s something I hope to see more of!