Book Review: Fray, Joss Whedon et al. (2003)

April 1st, 2013 12:35 pm by Kelly Garbato

Girls & Monsters & Flying Cars

five out of five stars

In a world long without magicks and demons, what’s a Slayer to do?

If you’re 19-year-old Melaka Fray, you put your superhuman strength, dexterity, and resilience to use as a professional thief. Or “grabber,” in future slang. That it just so happens to frustrate your estranged big sister, who was recently promoted to sergeant in “the laws,” to no end? Icing on the cake!

Set in New York City hundreds of years in the future, Fray introduces us to a world (mostly) free of vampires. Locked away in another dimension by an unnamed 21st century Slayer, they’ve gradually and inexplicably been resurfacing in Mel’s neighborhood. Seemingly harmless and commonly mistaken for drug addicts or human mutants (which all too common given the regrettable state of the environment), few have paid these “lurkers” any mind. That is, until they begin to plot to open a gate to hell – and the next Slayer is called. Unfortunately, all the Watchers have since been bored into madness, and Mel’s hapless Watcher sets himself on fire at their first meeting. Standing in as Mel’s trainer and mentor is Urkonn, a goat-like demon with a mean punch and a shady agenda.

Though firmly rooted in the Buffyverse, Fray easily stands on its own. (One need not have prior experience with Buffy or Angel to enjoy Fray – though it’s highly recommended!) While the story is familiar – girl meets vampire, girl kills vampire – here it gets a futuristic makeover. Witty like a certain blonde we all know and love, Mel is nonetheless her own Slayer: brash, short-tempered, sticky-fingered, always willing to throw a punch for a friend or fellow “freak.” Juxtaposed with a dreary, dilapidated city landscape, Mel practically jumps off the page in her vivid blues, purples, and greens. The artwork contained within these pages is simply stunning.

I also appreciate Joss’s care in creating Mel. His main rule: “No cheesecake. No giant silicone hooters, no standing with her butt out in that bizarrely uncomfortable soft-core pose so many artists favor. None of those outfits that casually – and constantly – reveal portions of a thong.” While Mel’s pants sometimes seem to ride a little low, I think Joss and his team mostly succeeded. Mel is lithe and sexy (I covet her biceps!), without being reduced to some cartoonish male fantasy.

Mel’s supporting cast of characters is almost as memorable as the Slayer: Urkonn makes for an imposing Watcher (the biggest “guard dog” ever); boss Gunther is ssssimply captivating; Erin, Mel’s sister, is one BAMF; Harth’s story provides an interesting twist to the Slayer mythology; and Loo. Oh, Loo.

The story ends on a vaguely unfinished note, with paths left open to multiple future storylines. Sequel please?

My only complaint is the casual use of the word rape, i.e., to describe something that most definitely does not constitute rape: “[War is] decency raped to death.” While war is inarguably brutal and destructive, one cannot “rape” an abstract, intangible idea or concept like decency. Decency can be corrupted, twisted, or misused, but “raped”? Let’s save that verb for the sexual violation of live animal bodies, mkay?

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Book Review: Fray, Joss Whedon et al. (2003)”

  1. Book Review: Fever, Lauren DeStefano (2013) » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] Fever introduced three characters of color: Claire, Lilac, and Maddie – Maddie, who calls to mind Fray’s Loo and will alternately steal and break your […]

Leave a Reply