The Worst Ronin

HarperAlley. May 2024. 336p. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9780358464945.
Gr 9 Up–Past meets present in a samurai story for a new generation. Chihiro worships a samurai idol, Tatsuo, through social media, and she wants the opportunity to partner with Tatsuo to increase her chances of getting into the prestigious samurai school, Kesi Academy, to follow in her father’s footsteps. What Chihiro doesn’t know is Tatsuo is more interested in being a belligerent drunk who lives on her own terms. But their unlikely pairing becomes advantageous for both, especially in healing Tatsuo’s old wounds. The book’s richness is in the character development, which includes flashbacks to Tatsuo’s childhood and explains her present situation. Her checkered past lends itself to episodes of drunkenness and mild cursing. But their combined strength and drive propels the story forward as devastating news reaches Chihiro and shifts her motivation, and thus, her actions towards revenge and confronting evil. Rising stars Tokuda-Hall and Schaffer partner to create an approachable, surprisingly funny, and female-forward story. Skilled panel layouts and epic action sequences add emotional tension while also creating a solid setting reminiscent of the worldbuilding in Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh’s Squire.
VERDICT Purchase for any graphic novel collection.

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