Advance Review: Olivia Twist #1

Olivia Twist #1

Writers: Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva
Artist: Emma Vieceli
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Publisher: Berger Books

Review by Melissa Prange

In Olivia Twist #1,Olivia joins the ranks of Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, and Ruby Daly as one of the latest dystopian heroines. Born into a refugee prison camp, Olivia Twist holds the secret to her mother and father’s greatest invention. Unfortunately, she’s just an infant when they die (Thomas and Martha Wayne-style) and the invention is lost to the world. Sent to Provis Workhouse for orphans, she and others like her provide child labor until they age out at eighteen.

When her story truly begins, Olivia’s one day away from turning eighteen. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Pip comes into her life that very day. Realizing that this young Pip will never survive the workhouse, Olivia stages a breakout with him in tow. Now on the run, Olivia must adjust to the world outside the factory. Thankfully, she will have Dodger and the Esthers looking out for her.

Olivia Twist #1 reimagines Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist as a futuristic adventure story. You might not think it would work as well as it does, but Olivia Twist #1 takes the bones of the classic novel and resurrects them into something timely and exciting. The adaptation is loose, but  the writers make up for that with Dickens’ references and the creation of a world that echoes that of Dickens’ England.

In this first issue, the plot progression is non-stop, jumping from Olivia’s origin story to her escape from the prison to her introduction to Dodger. There’s not one dull moment, and it is definitely reminiscent of YA Dystopian novels. This works for it in terms of storytelling but could be a turnoff for people who have reached their limit when it comes to stories about special girls saving the day in near-future societies.

The worldbuilding also takes places at breakneck speed, and while that works well for the plot, it becomes a bit of an issue here. There were a lot of “Wait. What?” moments simply because of the amount of information dropped on the reader. Hopefully, all the tidbits develop as the series goes on. Still, it might have been wise to parcel them out a little better throughout the four issues.

Of course, a small part of the worldbuilding problem does come from the art. The contrast of this supposedly ugly future and the softness of the art is jarring. While the art is absolutely lovely and the character design interesting, it doesn’t necessarily fit with how how awful and ugly the world seems to be to our characters. It’s a surprising choice, but I do think the art will appeal to younger readers in particular–even if it is a bit short of grime.

The Verdict: Buy It.

This issue tries to accomplish a lot. While it isn’t all handled perfectly, Olivia Twist #1 remains an enjoyable read. The characters look cool and have plenty of potential. The worldbuilding promises future depth and the story itself is adventure-packed. As for the overall reinvention of Charles Dickens’ classic, the retelling is handled in a very smart way with plenty of Easter eggs for Dickens’ fans. Olivia Twist #1 is definitely worth checking out–especially if you’re a fan of Dystopian YA or science fiction stories about young women.

Available Wednesday, September 19, 2018.

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