A novelization of the first three graphic novels of the Girl Genius. The comic is available for free online: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php

Publication year: 2011
Format: ebook, Kindle
Publisher: Night Shade Books

The novel is very loyal to the comic. Most of the time it follows the comic panel for panel. I’ve been a fan of the comic for a few years and love it. However, I’m not sure how accessible this novel is if you haven’t read the comic.

Agatha Clay is student at the Beetleburg University and an assistant to one of the professors. However, she’s also absent-minded and clumsy. She lives with her step parents who are constructs. One day, Baron Wulfenbach, who has ruthlessly conquered most of Europa, comes to town with his soldiers. Two of them rob Agatha of her necklace and strange things start to happen to her: her mind feels clearer but she also starts to sleep walk, in her nightclothes. The Baron kidnaps Agatha to his airship and she’s introduced to a wider world, while getting to know herself.

I adore the Girl Genius world. It’s a steampunk alternate world where some people have supernatural powers to construct mechanical things. Unfortunately, these people, called Sparks, tend to ran amok, building weapons and destroying people around them. So, Baron Wulfenbach has taken it upon himself to capture the Sparks, let them work, and, well, contain the destruction. However, the Baron is also interested in knowing just how and why Sparks are born, so he dissects them to learn more.

The Baron has very interesting people on his airship. There’s his son Gilgamesh who is a Spark and almost as ruthless as his father and various constructs, including the Jägermonsters who can be either funny or terrifying, depending on the scene. They talk in a horrible German accent which is pretty much the only thing I don’t care about in the comic. Sadly, it’s even more pronounced in the novel. Then there are the students who are either hostages or future Sparks or both.

On the background, and sometimes the foreground, there are stories of the Heterodyne boys who were the heroes of this world until they vanished. Some people are still waiting for them to return, while some think they’ve never existed at all.

I enjoy the characters as much as the world. Agatha herself is a pretty typical heroine: stubborn but loyal to her friends but she’s also a genius inventor who has a fascination with machines. The Baron turns out to have actual motivations and he’s very funny when he’s trying to do work and is constantly being interrupted by incompetent underlings and/or stuff blowing up. And of course Othar Tryggvassen! He’s the Gentleman Adventurer and he talks like a pulp fiction hero. The Baron has captured him and he’s trying to escape while trying forcibly to take Agatha has his plucky sidekick. On the other hand, Bangladesh DuPree is a through villain: enjoying torture and mayhem. And then there’s the talking cat…

The novel is entertaining, of course, but none of the gadgets are explained and most of the lingo is also unexplained. This works in the comic because you can see the gadgets and get other visual clues but perhaps not to well in the novel, especially if you haven’t read the comic. So, go and read it!

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