Title: My Riot
Author: Rick Spears and Emmett Helen
Release Date: 20/10/20 (UK)
I received a free eARC copy from Oni Press , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
*Set in the early ’90s, My Riot is about a trio of teen girls team up to form a rock band and shake off society’s expectations of what it means to be a young woman coming of age in the modern world.
1991—Val, a teenager from a conservative family, has grown up dreaming of becoming a ballerina, but recently something has changed. She’s begun feeling pressure to conform to a specific idea of beauty, body type, and a personality that just doesn’t fit.
Val meets Kat, a smart, witty girl that doesn’t take any crap off anyone. Kat introduces Val to punk rock. Along with Rudie, another new friend, the three form an all-girl punk band they ironically name The Proper Ladies.
Soon Val and her friends find themselves caught up in a movement with other girls also starting bands—also finding their voice. Collectively, these “riot grrrls” discover that their songs ring out loud and powerful, and for Val, there’s no going back.*
I really enjoyed this graphic novel. Taking us back to the 90’s and the rise of girl power while grunge and ska were at there peak and it is a great backdrop for the topics of surviving as a teenage girl, finding yourself, body image, sexuality and generally just finding your own space.
There are a lot of trigger warnings for the first few chapters, it does go hard on the imagery of fat shaming, slut shaming and bulimia. It is a graphic novel and doesn’t have the space to be delicate and nuanced about these images. We follow the MC through these and how she takes ownership of her life and steps away from these behaviours as she learns more about what she wants. Due to trying to fit so much into such a small space it does give the book a somewhat rushed feeling at times. There are time skips that may not at first be all that obvious. But in the end it has a really satisfying and normal resolution that really speaks volumes.
The Art is also stunning. It conveys so much of the emotion and movement. The whirlwind that was the rise of the band, the confusion that was the MC’s teenage years. I liked how the two tone colours sort of allowed us to switch perspectives, or reflected the mood. Overall I thought this was a good read with a good message.