I give this tie-in novel to one of Nickelodeon's most beloved TV shows...a 94/100!
In 2005, Nickelodeon aired a new cartoon called Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was done deliberately in an animation style similar to anime, and it became extremely popular for its well developed characters, engaging story, sumptuous animation, strong continuity, and its willingness to push boundaries, both in terms of its animation, storytelling, and content. People all over the world absolutely fell in love with it, me included, especially since during that time, Nickelodeon, like many other kids networks at the time, were struggling to just be able to keep themselves afloat. Good cartoons were becoming hard to come by, with many networks either focusing more on gross-out shows, live-action sitcoms, and generic shows that had no effort or substance put into them. Avatar was popular enough to explode into a multimedia franchise. Video games, comics, movies (We're not gonna talk about the shitty Last Airbender rmovie), even a sequel series set into the future. But while the franchise continues to be popular to this day, many people still had questions about the lore of the series and the fates of various characters.
Enter a novel called The Rise of Kyoshi, by F. C. Yee, which promised to tell its own tale of one of the early avatars, a woman named Kyoshi, in great detail. This is especially good because unlike TV shows, where creators are restricted by network regulations in regards to what content it's able to show (Like, say, you're not allowed to show a character getting bloodily killed in a kid's show), a full novel offers writers much more freedom and room to flex their creative muscles, depending on the demographic they're aiming for. Since Rise of Kyoshi is clearly marketed as a young adult novel, more adult themes and violence is depicted in greater detail than the shows and comics were allowed to show. But I know you're not here solely for violence, you want to see if this novel is any good. Well, let me tell you, this is absolutely one of the best YA novels I've ever read, and a great addition to the Avatar story.
The novel takes place several centuries before Aang and his friends were ever born. After the untimely death of an Avatar named Kuruk, the search is on for a new Avatar, and eventually, after many empty leads that go nowhere, they find a promising young man named Yun. For years, he is treated like royalty and trained in the art of politics and element bending...but can't seem to bend any element other than Earth. But after a series of events, it's revealed that he's not the Avatar after all: his humble servant, a girl named Kyoshi, is. Her life changes forever after the revelation, losing friends and mentors alike, and having to go on the run when someone she used to trust goes after her for his own ends. Kyoshi needs to learn how to fight, train hard, and endure many hardships in order to rise to her new role as the Avatar.
(more to come soon)