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Saga Compendium One - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published October 11th 2019
This massive book is too big to contain this epic Saga
Saga Compendium One, Image Comics, Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Image Comics.

On 25 July 2018 the 54th issue of Saga was published concluding the first half of the series and leaving fans waiting on a cliff hanger for issue 55 after Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples announced that they would be taking an extended break to recharge their creative batteries before returning to finish the series.

In April 2019 Brian K. Vaughan told Entertainment Weekly that the first 54 issues of Saga was going to be released in a single, massive paperback compendium. Saga tells the story of Hazel, a young child born into war, to a pair of star-crossed lovers. Saga is narrated by Hazel who tells the story of her life in a series of flashbacks, starting from the moment of her birth.

Saga Compendium One contains the first 54 issues of the Eisner award-winning and New York Times bestselling graphic novel series. It was originally due to be released in October 2019 but instead dropped into stores early on 21 August 2019. Saga is my favourite graphic novel series. I have re-read it about three to four times. I can't praise it enough. The end of issue 54 devastated me and the extra-long wait for issue 55 is killing me.

When it was announced that the first half of the series was going to be coming out as a single compendium, I knew I had to have it. I am such a big fan of Saga, I have an Alana and Marko action figure set and all nine paperback editions and the three hardback deluxe collections at home. When news hit that the compendium had been released early, I was excited at the thought of being able to re-read my favourite series in one ultimate binge read.

Saga Compendium One contains an amazing story, but it arrived in terrible condition. The corner of the front page was bent and I was surprised to find the book was paperback and not hardback. Granted, it was announced as a paperback, so I should've paid more attention to the media release. I'd just assumed that the book would come out as a hardback, because it was a big release, and I just thought it would come with a nice, hardcover and firm spine. I wanted something that could sit proudly on my bookshelf and last for a long time, instead I got a badly printed edition with a soft cover and spine that I don't expect will last very long.

The compendium is 1328 pages long, which makes it extremely heavy, and difficult to read and carry around. I brought it with me recently on a week-long trip and spent days carrying it around in a small bag, it weighed so much it hurt my arm and it felt like I was carrying around a shopping bag filled with potatoes. I love Saga dearly, but reading this book has been an immense pain. You can't even hold it in on one hand comfortably. I am convinced it would have been better as a hardback.

To make matters worse, when I first received the book, I noticed that it had cheap binding and that some of the pages were not glued in and were falling out. I was able to receive a replacement copy, only to find out that copy had the exact same problem. It also had cheap binding and pages falling out in the exact same spot as the last book did. I had to glue the pages back in.

Other issues with the book include it being printed on very cheap, thin paper. I would have loved to have seen the book printed on high quality, glossy paper, that would have made Fiona Staple's illustrations really pop and come alive. Instead, we got incredibly poor paper, that didn't even include page numbers.

Saga is an amazing series that is well worth reading. The compendium contains over 1,000 pages of full-colour artwork and an excellent story, but I can't get past its poor manufacturing. It was printed cheaply and quickly with poor materials and little care was put into packaging the book so that it would get to consumers without being damaged. The reviews of this book on Amazon are all the same: it arrived damaged and in poor condition and was poorly made.

If you want to start reading Saga, take my advice and pick up the paperback volumes or deluxe hardback editions, which are better quality and more worth your money. I've never had any problems with them. If you are a fan of Saga who has been thinking about purchasing the compendium to keep in mint condition, take my advice and skip this collection. It's not worth it.
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Why? Saga Compendium One is the ultimate binge read of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s award-winning comic, but it has some problems.
Where: Available from your local bookstore or as a digital download
Cost: $60 - $123
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