Zaya was the first graphic novel e-galley I ever requested on NetGalley, and I believe it was in the Read Now section at the time. This was not long after I had first signed up and had received nothing but rejections, so I was excited to find something I could just download and read. These Read Now books would get me started on having a feedback percentage, one of the things that NetGalley says publishers look at (the current feedback ratio suggested is 80%). What I didn’t foresee was the difficulty I would have with the formatting of the graphic ebook. I could not enlarge the pictures enough to clearly read the speech bubbles and had trouble navigating the pages. So I gave up.
Over a year (okay, three) later, I find that my library has a hardback copy of Zaya and I request it so that I can finally read and review it on NetGalley. The hardback copy, it turns out, is of excellent quality. The paper is a nice, heavy weight with clear printing – even when the artwork itself is not clear. The cover is quite sturdy and a ribbon page marker is attached. It has withstood what looks to be decently heavy library usage quite well.
As for the story itself, I had a little trouble getting into it at first. As previously mentioned, the artwork is not always clear and neither are some of the events. But once it got past the initial setup and then to the double cross of retired Spiral agent Zaya Oblidine as she is recalled for a special assignment and then betrayed, it became quite interesting. Oh, and once I got over the unexpected and, quite frankly, unnecessarily gratuitous and rather unflattering angles and partial nudity that some of the artwork employs.
This is a future world, where there is an understanding of many different types of “space” and when Zaya and her ship’s AI, which she had previously de-programmed, go through “anti-space” the story really becomes interesting. Nothing is as it was before, the universe having reformed around Zaya’s absence. It is this part of the story that left me wanting more, in addition to the scenes between Zaya and her AI. I do love a fun AI character.
I’m so glad I was able to find a library copy Zaya so that I can finally provide feedback on NetGalley, as I do consider each Read Now or approved ebook on my NG shelf to be a book I’ve made a commitment to read and review, whether the review is positive or negative. I’ve since read several graphic novels through NetGalley without the problems I encountered with Zaya. Now, the worst difficulties are when a publisher archives an e-galley that they’ve sent me an approval on before I have a chance to download it, having an e-galley expire off of my kindle before I can read it, and the occasional “no” when I make requests. Most difficult of all, though, is finding time to read the e-galleys I’ve been approved for when I occasionally go a bit request crazy.
I usually manage to keep a good feedback ratio, but I’ve fallen well behind and now have seventeen books (not counting Zaya) on my NG shelf. Sixteen of those are over three months old, and all but one have now been published. I’ve requested print copies of any available in my library system and I’ll be reading and reviewing as many as I can for what I’m calling “NetGalley November” (I can’t recall who I saw do this last year on YouTube, my take on it is having 50% or more of the books I read this month being from my NG shelf) and to reach the new goal I’ve set myself of a 100% feedback ratio by the end of the year. This is the first of the nine that I was able to request, and I’m currently reading another that I found at a library book sale, so I’m off to a decent start.
As to Zaya, it is not one I recommend, due to the relatively small amount of content that I found enjoyable as well as the language, nudity, suggestive content, violence – the unfortunately usual array of “mature content.” What I can recommend is that, if you join NetGalley, check the Read Now section to get started on your feedback percentage. That and having an actual blog seem to have helped me to my first approvals. I’d also recommend avoiding following my example of going on request binges. That way leads to a low feedback ratio and, in my case, self imposed reader-guilt.
I’m doing my best not to make any further requests until I’m caught up, and I’m implementing a new approach to keep my request sprees under control. Now that I am lucky enough to have a few publishers that I can request books from (through their blogger programs – I lack the chutzpah to send out blind requests), I’ll only be using NG as a supplement. Recently, when there were two books offered that I very much wanted copies of, I requested my first choice then checked NG and requested an early e-galley of the other. While I have to wait to receive the print book, I’ve already started reading the early e-galley and may even beat it’s November 7th publication date.
Just for the curious (who didn’t give up reading when I changed tense earlier without warning), and because I often experience compulsions to both overexplain and make lists, here are the books currently on my NetGalley shelves and the form I plan to read them in:
Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano (review)
My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmela’s Quest by Susan Page Davis (review)
The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection from Barbour Books (review)
The Message in a Bottle Collection from Barbour Books (review)
Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection from Barbour Books (review)
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriquez McRobbie (sent to me on NG as a prize for completing Quirk Books’ Quirksgiving challenge in 2015. I do wish they’d sent it in another way!)
Print Copies – owned
Undaunted Hope by Jodi Hedlund (library book sale purchase) (review)
The Custodian of Marvels by Rod Duncan (purchased paperback online)
The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (free finished review copy courtesy of the publisher) (review)
Library Print Copies
Finding Margo by Jen Turano (review)
A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz (review)
The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep (review)
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetch (review)
Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin (review)
Firstborn by Tosca Lee (archived before I could download & so doesn’t effect my ratio, but I’m counting it because I do still want to read it) (review)
Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig (review)
True to You by Becky Wade (review)
Update: I read and/or reviewed 9 of the 17 in November. I’ll be continuing the challenge to catch up on my 2017 NetGalley e-galleys and add links as the remaining books (above in bold) are read and reviewed. That 100% feedback rating, though? Probably not going to happen. I may have requested a 2018 release e-galley or two and I might just be fighting requesting a third…
Zaya by JD Morvan and Huang-Jia Wei. translated by Mike Kennedy | Magnetic Press, July 2014 | hardback, unnumbered (216 per GoodReads)
This review refers to a hardback edition borrowed from my local library. The NetGalley e-book mentioned was partially viewed in 2014, courtesy of the publisher as a NetGalley Read Now e-galley, but not consulted for this review. All opinions expressed are my own, a positive review was not required.