ARC was provided by NetGalley and Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Scene of abduction, mentions of cannibalism, allusions to death
I’m not going to lie, when I saw that Carey Pietsch had a blurb for this graphic novel, I knew I had to read it. I’m so glad that I did! The synopsis alone will have you curious what lurks within the pages of this graphic novel. This was such a cute and creative read that combines space and cooking competitions in one. I have no doubt that many readers will enjoy this story and I’ll be over here, waiting for Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 2 to float my way!
Our story follows Peony, who works in a small cafe, until one day a unique stranger strolls in asking if she’s ever dreamed of being a cooking competition. Suddenly, Peony is whisked away to the set of Space Battle Lunchtime, a competitive cooking competition, where each round in judged and whoever has the lowest score is dismissed. Peony not only gets to experience space, but encounters various alien species as she cooks against the galaxy’s top chefs. But among all of the hustle and bustle of the competition, something strange seems to be happening and Peony is going to find out first hand.
I really liked Peony as our main character. I think she’s very cute, sweet, and creative. I feel like she’s the type of character who makes friends really easily, connects with people through the food she makes, and has a positive energy about her. I also liked that Peony’s skills were put to the test. Even though she’s thrown into a situation where she doesn’t know how everything works, she’s able to think quick of her feet and we see her creative skills put to the test. And I just loved how that didn’t dissuade her from giving it her best effort.
I also have to put in here that I absolutely love Peony and Neptunia together. Neptunia is one of the contestant chefs on the show. Neptunia is very much a lone wolf, has that vibe of being very mysterious, but there are a few moments that kind of give it away that Neptunia is a cinnamon roll. I think they balance each other out really well and I think the slow burn of their connection is fantastic. And we already have a ship name, Petunia! I really hope the next volume will have more of them and maybe we’ll see a little development with them. Seeing them work together in the competition and the subtle way Peony asked Neptunia out to dinner filled my soul with so much warmth. I truly love them so, so much!
The art style is absolutely beautiful. The coloring is vibrant and there are particular moments where those vibrant colors really highlight and emphasize that moment. It reminds me of a few graphic novel series I read and I find that I really enjoy when there’s vibrant colors, but not to the point where it feels too busy. There was a good balance and I think many readers will enjoy the coloring as well.
Despite the things I loved in this graphic novel, I had a few issues. For starters, this graphic novel felt too short and the storyline felt like it rushed everything. I think this graphic novel would have benefited if it went into the 200 page mark. I say this a lot especially with graphic novels, graphic novels benefit really well from extra details. For example, Peony has never seen aliens before or knew they existed, Peony never has never heard of the show and it gets brushed off with a short response, and there’s also gaps of information where it concerns the chef Peony replaced. It that extra page or two with those type of details that can make a difference with the reading experience.
My other struggle with this graphic novel was the villain was made too obvious. I counted close to ten times it was made painfully obvious who the villain was and the connections to the shady things happening in the book. When I read a book that involves shady dealings, sabotage, and characters vanishing, I don’t like the answer to be shove into face right from the beginning. I think the storyline would have done better, not only with extra details, but if we saw more allusions and mystery around who was doing everything. This is incredibly important because there are four to five times stated throughout this book that everyone knows who is responsible for these things happening yet no repercussions happen.
Overall, I truly had a fun time reading this. I think it really would have benefited from extra details, extending the length of the book, and making certain things less obvious. I’m curious to see how volume two will play out. The ending of this graphic novel does end on a cliffhanger and I’m eager to know what Peony will do. I definitely recommend this for those who are just looking for a fun, quick read. This is a graphic novel that’s very much designed to be more entertainment and to be consumed in a short amount of time. So keep that in mind when picking this graphic novel up.