Fencing! Fighting! Friendships!
Fence Volume 1 was one of my favorite fresh and fun reads of 2018, so I was beyond excited to pick up this new volume. If volume 1 of Fence was all about set up and character introductions, volume 2 concentrates on moving our story forward and giving us a lot more insight into the characters personalities.
Volume 1 covers Nicolas Cox, our main character and underdog, a lot as it should! It’s setting us up to identify with him and giving us someone to root for throughout the journey. Volume 2 now steps back from Nicolas, although he still has a big part to play, and shows us more about the other students trying out for the fencing team. In volume 2, we continue where we left volume 1, with the tryouts at King’s Row for a place on the team. Nicolas lost is last match, and at the beginning of this volume, has a heart to heart with the coach who is one of the best characters in the story. Her insights narrate the tournament and show the weaknesses and strengths of Nicolas, Seiji and the other students without making it feel like too much exposition. The art shows the movement and the plot, but her commentary to the other students and coaches is what gives the reader insight into why certain athletes excel more than others. As someone who has never really played sports or watched it (aside from the Olympics because of course!) I found it really helpful to share in her knowledge.
I also looooved all the development of character we got in this volume. Sure, Nicolas still has the overarching story that we follow, but building up these smaller side characters makes for a more powerful narrative overall. I loved learning more about Aiden, the school playboy, who is constantly underestimated because everyone writes him off as a spoiled rich kid. I loved the moments with Seiji fencing Aiden and Harvard and discovering how you can be the best athlete in the world but if your head isn’t in the right spot, it can be exploited. I really loved learning a bit about Harvard, the team captain, and his understanding about his place in the team and also his friendship with Aiden.
Volume 2 of Fence is odd because in some respects it feels like filler. We get a lot of set up to the finals of the tournament, a lot of build in the rivalry of Seiji and Nicolas, and some pining on Nicolas’ part thinking about the father he never had. That being said I think the point of this volume wasn’t to necessarily further the story as it was to make the characters more well rounded in a way that we as readers identity with and continue to seek out. I’m only sad I have to wait so long for volume 3!
Author: C.S. Pacat
Three Descriptors: Diverse, Engaging, Coming of Age