Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise - Gurihiru, Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino, Gene Luen Yang, Dave Marshall *4.7 Stars*

Scorecard: (Out of 10)
* Quality of Writing - 9
* Pace - 9
* Plot development - 10
* Characters - 10
* Enjoyability -10
* Insightfulness - 10
* Ease of Reading - 9 – low because this is a BIG, heavy book, otherwise excellent
* Photos/Illustrations - 10
Final Score: 77/80 = 96%

*WARNING: this review will contain spoilers for the complete Avatar TV series. Since this book picks up right after the last episode, I’m assuming people interested in this book have at least finished the series. If not, let me just say: finish it and then read this. You need to read this.

*The Gush*

I have only recently become a fan of Avatar the Last Airbender, having done a marathon watching of it on Netflix. I was surprised at how…deep this animated show was. At times I felt there should be a test after an episode because I had learned so much about Asian society, culture, etc. The characters were amazing, deep and very human with all the good and bad that entails. My favorite was Zuko, who was such a dynamic character with so much potential and watching his choices both good and bad made this show for me. Iroh was the other one; I have never laughed so hard or loved a humorous character more. All were great but those were my favorite. However, three seasons no matter how awesome the last episodes were, just didn’t cut it for me. I had to know what happened next. I never really cared for the curtain dropping at the moment of triumph. That is an important moment but equally important and much more interesting are the countless and often slighted moments were the ‘victors’ pick up the pieces and try to rebuild after such devastation. This book does that. It does that amazingly well.

I bought this book because of the author’s name. I loved his American Born Chinese graphic novel (if you haven’t read it – stop reading this and go find a copy. Seriously.) and knew he would do an excellent job. He exceeded my expectations completely. Yang drew on history from the Asian region and worked it into this world that is not our own and yet looks remarkably similar at times. The major plot of this story is directly connected to historical events, which lends this story the same richness as the series. I wish to point out here that I believe if you are a fan, you should shell out the money for this hardcover compilation of the three novels. Not necessarily because you get the whole story in one binding but for the commentary from the author and the group of artists. These not only help the reader understand the history that formed the ideas for the plot but they also help bring the process of drawing graphic novels to where you can understand it a bit. These were almost like a commentary track on a movie and were superb. If you don’t like the idea, you can ignore them but I found them very helpful and fascinating.

The characters were expertly handled. Each had their voice, clearly heard as you read and brought laughter and heartache as you read. Again, Zuko’s story was amazing to read as you watch him struggle with the position he’s found himself in. He wants to do what is right but history, his people, society, and his family itself seems to be against him. Aang has his own struggle in this book, not just with The Promise the book is named for but trying to understand this new world he finds himself in and the place the Airbenders still have since he is the last holder of their power and their society. The struggle is personal for him but he does not see that at first. Both boys struggle with the past, Zuko in the form of his father and Aang in the form of Avatar Roku. They are young and want advice but should they listen to people who do not see the world they young boys do?

Toph in particular is giving a chance to shine. That was a great section, which makes since as the author himself says she is one of his favorite characters.
The illustrations cannot be praise enough. This is not like some media tie-in graphic novels where you have to play guess the character; the figures look as if they have jumped straight from the screen onto the page. I am sure it was not nearly that easy but their hard work shows and pairs perfectly with the text and dialogue. The fight scenes are some of the best frames of the book and each element is shown being bended. Each look as if they might come off the page or began moving at any moment.

All in all, an exceptional continuation for an amazing show.

*The Rant*

They leave you hanging and now I have to buy the next set of novels!


This is not for someone who is wanting to see if they will find Avatar the Last Airbender interesting. Not only with it completely spoil the entire series, but the reader would be completely lost. Instead, this is for the fan of the show who wants to know what happened after that brief moment of victory.