A grieving mother wakes in a brutal but fantastic landscape, where the currents of time pull her into the future, lurching forward days, years, and millennia. Her name is Shannon Kind, and her life in our world has vanished without warning. Perhaps she can find peace in her new home. Perhaps she can shape Zojaqan into a better world. But first, she must survive.
Warnings: death of child, violence, depression
Note: Not YA, but can be read by older teens
Zojaqan is a unique take on the ‘fell through a portal’ kinds of low fantasies – in this one, Shannon arrives into another world while grieving the death of her son, and though she initially wants to give up, the world keeps her alive until she is ready to fight whatever comes in her way. Then she meets a species called the Zoja and in a state of motherly affection, starts to shape their destiny, but over and over she finds that trying to change a circumstance would sometimes would result in no change and she accepts her loss.
While the central arc of the story is Shannon coming to terms with the loss of her son, the majority of the plot is devoted to how she shapes the future of the Zojas. See, she has this ability that she can skip or slow down her time in this world, so she skips and it can be two generations when she back with them. She initially helps the Zoja fend off their predators, makes a deal with a menacing forest spirit, and tries to teach the Zoja morality. Her attempts to ‘civilize’ them however, are met with human-like civilizations of the Zoja that worship her and kill in her name. She essentially becomes the icon of a vengeful God for them – one who lives among them, but also who can cast them down for not following her teachings. I particularly felt that if you (the reader) have a problem with faith and religion in our world, this would particularly resonate with you – the idea that God maybe an entity who is just trying to make the future of your species better but keeps getting disappointed over how you use their name to commit atrocities.
While I liked the concept and direction of the plot, I still was not a fan of the artwork. The world is built well enough, a wonderland-like realm with strange creatures and things. But Shannon’s character design was awful – the artists have her in weird and painful looking body postures ALL the time, and rely more on what they think look aesthetically pleasing than realism. Also, I hated the lettering for the narration given by the Zoja – it is in this weird old-timey font, yellow-brown color scheme and is a strain to read, even for someone who doesn’t have vision problems. Also, it suggests it is an adventure fantasy, but that could only be said of the first chapter, maybe. The rest of it is just philosophical musings.
So basically, good concept, and interesting ideas, but terrible artwork and lettering.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Vault Comics, via Netgalley.