A Tale of the Nepali Civil War (The Complete Graphic Novel - Library Edition)

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Pub Date May 28 2024 | Archive Date Aug 31 2024

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Explore Justice: A Tale of the Nepali Civil War, a poignant graphic novel following a girl's journey to reclaim her life amidst conflict, unveiling deep truths amidst rich settings and diverse characters.


Picture this: "It was a simple life; a peaceful life," muses Tara, the vibrant narrator of Ram Khatri's graphic novel. But hold on, buckle up, because Justice takes you on an emotional roller-coaster through her Nepali farming family, flipping her innocent childhood upside down. We're talking about early 2000s chaos, where Nepal became a battleground between Maoist revolutionaries and government forces. Tara's dad? Pressured to pick a side. Neighbors? Turning on each other. Young folks? Dragged away to fight. Tara's parents? Trying to dodge the drama, until Maoist rebels and government soldiers visit their home one after another, turning their barn into a hiding spot. And when the worst happens, Tara's left blaming herself.

But here's the twist – the storytelling in Justice isn't your typical tearjerker; it's a tense, heartfelt saga casting shadows over what was once a sunny childhood. This isn't just any story; it's a unique tale standing tall in the mainstream book market, rooted in the Nepali Civil War with characters and settings that pop off the page.

Let's talk about Tara's family, living the farm life during the Maoist armed conflict (1996–2006). Her elder brother? Abducted by Maoist rebels and disappeared. Cue the upheaval – threats, blame, and beatings from government soldiers. The family becomes the village outcasts, and they've got no choice but to ditch their cozy village home for a safer spot with relatives. Amidst all this, Tara and her sister, Maya, still hit the books as tensions soar.

But wait, there's more! Tara's parents, hungry for justice, head to Kathmandu, and spoiler alert – it's not a smooth ride. Dad passes away, Mom continues the hunger strike, and Tara spills all the feelings – sentiments, tensions, and worries about what the future holds for her family. Oh, and Tara's brother, Sudeep? He makes a mysterious comeback to their abandoned house, leaving us all on the edge of our seats, wondering what went down.

In Justice, you're not just reading a story; you're diving into a roller-coaster of resilience, complexities, and a few good plot twists. So grab a seat, because this graphic novel isn't just a page-turner; it's a heart-pounder, a tearjerker, and a jaw-dropper all in one.

Fact Behind Fiction
In the tumultuous decade of the ‘People's War’ in Nepal during the 2000s, the toll was devastating – more than 17,000 lives were lost, and thousands of innocent civilians endured abduction and violence at the hands of both government and Maoist forces. Despite the passage of years since the war's conclusion, the fate of nearly 1,400 missing individuals remains unknown. This enduring uncertainty serves as a stark reminder of the unresolved aftermath of the conflict.

The narrative of Justice derives its strength from the grim realities of this post-war era in Nepal. While the characters in the story are fictional, their experiences are grounded in the events that unfolded during and after the Civil War, providing a poignant portrayal of the profound impact on the lives of individuals and the nation as a whole. The narrative thus becomes a powerful conduit for understanding the lasting repercussions of the conflict and the challenges faced by a society attempting to heal from the wounds of war.

Explore Justice: A Tale of the Nepali Civil War, a poignant graphic novel following a girl's journey to reclaim her life amidst conflict, unveiling deep truths amidst rich settings and diverse...

Advance Praise

“An affecting graphic novel about political persecution in the midst of a civil war, Justice captures a perilous period well.” ―Foreword Clarion Reviews

". . . encourages the reader to focus on the human face of the conflict and the effect of war on civilians." ―Kirkus Reviews

"Khatri's poignant graphic novel brings to life, vividly, the journey of a young woman to reclaim the traumatic landscape of her past." ―Samrat Upadhyay, Author of Arresting God in Kathmandu

“The storytelling in Justice is tense and heartfelt, the shadows gathering over a sunny childhood." ―BookLife Reviews

Join Tara on a compelling journey through Nepal's unexpected historical struggle. The impactful blend of words and illustrations powerfully narrates the country's story during this significant period. —Nayan Raj Pandey, Bestselling Author and Screenwriter

"It's a story of Tara who returns to her abandoned home in her remote village and confronts the trauma and suffering caused by the protracted conflict—known as 'The People's War'—that altered the lives of countless families forever." —The Himalayan Times
"An exploration of an exotic land (to Americans, anyway) with all too familiar human challenges. The world keeps getting smaller." —Paul Levitz, Graphic Novel Writer and Former President of DC Comics
"The lively part of the novel begins when the main character wants to exist in the space of her home." —Sushant Thapa, Poet and Literary Critic  
"A gripping tale of one family's struggle to seek justice during a time of uncertainty." —Rachel Slaiman, Freelance Editor

"A real depiction of a window of Nepal's history. A beautiful tale of an ugly war of Nepal." —Tara Sigdel, Associate Professor at University of California
"Justice is based on a teenage girl and her family's fight for justice during the decade long Maoist-government war in Nepal." —The Sahitya Post
Justice is an artistic character-driven way to learn about the recent history of the Nepali civil war." ―Tucker Lieberman, Independent Book Review
"The 'life-like' illustrations in this graphic novel provide the vivid story about everyday struggles to the villagers during the so-called People's War." —Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Human Rights Activist & Chairperson of INSEC, Nepal  
"The People's War is a poignant moment in our history, highlighting the injustices everyday people face during times of war. The story of its victims is one that deserves to be told since so few have received justice for the hardships they've had to suffer." —Blake Hoena, Graphic Novel Writer and Editor
"A heartwarming story of family connection, recollection, and survival. The author has revived the memories of the people affected by the Maoist-government war through the displaced to the working farmers." —Ganess Paudel, Author & Nepali Translator of Of Mice and Men

"A touching graphic novel about a simple family caught up in a civil war. . ." ―Kirkus Reviews

“An affecting graphic novel about political persecution in the midst of a civil war, Justice captures a perilous period well.” ―Foreword Clarion Reviews

". . . encourages the reader to focus on the...

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ISBN 9781737755265
PRICE $35.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Before reading this graphic novel I had never heard of the Nepali Civil War which took place over the span of a decade from 1996-2006 with fighting between the Nepali Government and the Communist Party of Nepal. Caught in the crosshairs were tens of thousands of innocent Nepali people living in rural areas like the family in this story.
This story was a very surface level overview of the war meant to raise a wider awareness. While I appreciated learning about this war, I wanted to dig deeper to understand the motives of the Maoists. I also felt like ending the story when the brother had so much to tell about his time away left me wanting more in that regard as well.

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This is a very important graphic novel.

It brought awarness to me of a civil war in Nepal and how that greatly affected the Nepali people by telling it through the eyes of a fictional family. The story is told through the perspective of Tara, she is the eldest daughter, as she has gone back home to her childhood house which she and her family had to flee during the war after her brother is taken by the rebels. She flashes back to right before he was taken to what lead them to leave the house. As an American, Justice brought to my attention a tradgic war I had never known. I know that I will carry the story of Tara and her family with me always, and I will wonder about the people in real life that had to live through 10 years of brutal attacks and heartache.

I would certain recommend this book, especially to middle grade and teenage kids; as it will share with them a story of other people's lives to help them better understand to be compassionate with the world around them.

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A graphic novel that skims across the Nepalese Civil war to give a background of the 10 year conflict that rocked the country. I do feel the book was trying much more to bring awareness to a conflict and its aftermath, and was not trying to distill the motivations of the two sides to give a deeper understanding. Both are useful tools for graphic novels, but I greatly prefer the latter type.

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Thank you so much to Netgalley for the e-ARC of this graphic novel! This graphic novel sheds light on a part of history that is often overlooked and not talked about. I had never read anything about the Nepali civil war before so this was a good, albeit brief, introduction to how the conflict impacted civilians. I thought the story was good and the characters as well, however, I wish the novel was longer so readers could have more time to get to know the characters and have more background about the war. Additionally, one critique I have is that the character introduction at the beginning of the novel spoiled some of the plot points. I also think that there should have been a trigger warning for suicide, as this was totally unexpected for me and I can imagine some potential readers would want to know about this content beforehand. Overall, though, this is an important novel sharing an important story that is underrepresented in mainstream literature.

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'Justice: A Tale of the Nepali Civil War' becomes provides an extremely important perspective into a long-forgotten tale of war, politics and social unrest during the civil war that took place in Nepal from 1996 to 2006. The tale presented in this book's duration of ten years is divided in three chapters, each one tenser than the other, enabling the reader to experience difficulties that often stretched beyond normal imaginations. This is an absolute must-read, presented in quite the simple form of illustrations, for those who wish to know more about how different factions of dozens of countries across the world have one thing in common - the hunger for their rights and freedom from injustice.

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In a Nutshell: An OwnVoices graphic novel telling us about the Nepali Civil War and its impact on innocent lives. I appreciate the intent and the effort, especially as this is an indie work. However, the book needs finetuning to deliver a greater impact. Informative but to a superficial level.

Plot Preview:
2003. Young Tara lives with her family in a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her father is a farmer, and her mother, elder brother and younger sister help with the multitude of chores typical on a small farm. The “People’s War” instigated by the Maoists had already begun in 1996, but the lives of those in the hinterland was largely untouched by the war until then. However, soon both factions come knocking at their door with various demands, and the lives of all the family members change forever, especially after Sudeep, Tara’s elder brother, is taken by the rebels.
The story is narrated retrospectively in Tara’s perspective from 2009.

Nepal is the immediate neighbour of India, sandwiched between India and China, with the Himalayas passing between the Sino-Nepal border. In my school years, I knew of it only as the country where Mount Everest is situated. I had not been aware of the political situation of Nepal until the year 2001 when the then-King Birendra and his entire family were massacred at the hands of his son Prince Dipendra, who then turned the gun on himself, and was in coma for three days, during which he was still the de-facto king until his death made a surviving uncle inherit the throne. It was a story too crazy to seem real. Even then, I hadn’t heard about a civil war. So when I saw this graphic novel, I knew I had to give it a try.

The book begins with a brief note on Nepal and its geographical and cultural diversity. While I liked the information (So surprised to see this small nation have more than 100 ethnicities and 90 languages!), the introduction could have done much better by informing us of the socio-political situation in Nepal and the events that led to the civil war. There’s no mention of the reasons behind the conflict in this note, in the book, and in the author’s parting note.

Next up comes a comprehensive characters’ list. This is erroneously titled “Major Characters” when it actually compiles every single character from the story with a one-liner caption introducing them. Minor characters such as those who appear only on a single page could have easily been left out from this list. But the biggest issue for me was that the captions reveal major plot spoilers, including character deaths that occur in the final section. So disappointing!

Tara narrates the story from 2009, but she begins her reminiscences from 2003. The civil war started in 1996. So we don’t get any idea about what led to the rebellion and what happened in that period of eight years. The focus stays on Tara’s family, and as she is just a teenager when the incidents affecting her family occurred, we get to see what happened but get no analysis of why it happened. The overall effect is hence very shallow. Simply knowing the whats of history without the whys is useless.

The lack of depth is not just in terms of actual facts but also in terms of plot points. Sudeep is a crucial character as his experience after his kidnapping would have offered more first-hand insight into rebel thinking. But we simply don’t get to hear his side of the story. At one point, Tara’s parents leave their children with some relatives and stay in the capital for an extended period to seek information about their son. How do these poor farmers sustain themselves in a city for such a long time without any source of income? No information.

All this doesn’t deny the sadness of the plot and of what happens to an innocent family because of some misguided rebels. Political upheavals affect everyone, even families that are far away from central locations or, as in this case, a poor farming family whose only material wealth is their transistor radio.

The book ends with a glossary of Nepali words, which, to my exasperation, I discovered only after I completed the whole book. When the list of characters was at the start, the glossary also should have been at the start! It took me ages to realise that “Luri” wasn’t the name of a different character but a form of addressing a thin girl, and hence a pet name for Tara.

The simplistic story flow might have worked well for older middle-graders and young teens, had it not been for one shocking scene where a character attempts to hang themselves to death. This should have come with a trigger warning at the start as it’s quite troubling to see. Then again, we already know the character’s future thanks to the story being narrated in retrospect, so the suspense about whether the character survives the suicide attempt is also spoilt prematurely.

Somehow, a sixth sense told me that the art wouldn’t be to my taste, and sadly, that spidey-radar turned out to be accurate. It is not just that the art style is simplistic, befitting a children’s story than an adult graphic novel. But the nuances that make a graphic novel striking are missing. The colouring style is too straightforward. The captions don’t always match the panels, sometimes coming before or after the particular action occurs in the illustrations. The facial expressions seem a bit off at times, not matching the tone of the lines. Some of the characters are sketched in the same outfits throughout, even though the story takes place over years. That said, art is subjective, so this feedback won’t be applicable to all readers.

This book was originally conceived as a trilogy, and the first volume was released in 2023. However, the author subsequently decided to release this complete version in a single book. I think this is a good call, because the story is too brief to merit three separate volumes, and at just 120-odd pages, can easily be read at a go. The three chapters in this book flow well from each other. However, the QR-code adverts in between the chapters were distracting and annoying. This content should have been at the end of the book.

All in all, I expected to learn a lot more from the story than I actually did. I admire the sincere efforts put into bringing this OwnVoices story about a rebellion that we have barely heard about to the public eye, but perhaps a little tweaking would have helped it deliver a greater impact.

As I have specified before in my nonfiction/semi-fiction reviews, my ratings are always for the content and not for the intent. I find myself torn over this rating as I want to support South-Asian and indie literature, but if I still don’t know what exactly led to and conspired during the Nepali Civil War, the book didn’t meet its purpose.

To readers looking for a simplified narration of a historical event and to those seeking to embrace diverse literature from the smaller nations of the world, this could be a good starting point.

2 stars.

My thanks to Restart Publishing, LLC and NetGalley for the DRC of “Justice: A Tale of the Nepali Civil War”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book. Sorry this didn’t work out better.

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I was very lucky to have been approved to read an ARC by the author through NetGalley for this graphic novel!
I am ashamed to say that I never heard of the Nepali Civil War and I am very thankful for the author for shining light on it and sharing this story with us! It was a very quick read with beautiful artwork! I appreciated the early introduction to Nepal with a few information about this country I knew nothing about as well as introducing the characters and the glossary at the end!
The story is told in three short chapters through the eyes of the eldest daughter Tara and we get an understanding of the injustice this one family faces during the Civil War!
The Civil War lasted from 1996-2006 and the narration starts in 2009 and goes back to 2003.
Not knowing anything about the Nepali Civil War it was great to get my hands on this graphic novel and again I really appreciate the author for bringing us this story, however I would have liked to be given more background information on what the political situation was like back in 1996 and how everything escalated for there to be a Civil War.

I think this read will be perfect for middle graders and young teens!

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Thank you Netgalley for the e-ARC!  
Justice is a heartfelt story about a young girl’s life during Nepal’s Civil War. The story expands as she bravely navigates through it, while highlighting the social injustices she faces.
This book was beautifully written, full of grief and anger. I must admit it left the reader rooting for a moment of happiness for the characters. What I loved about it was the way the chapters were introduced, building suspense for the following events without making it seem dull. The illustrations were also well done, complimentary to the story and what it tries to convey.
However the characters weren’t explored as much as I’d like. The story felt rushed at times, when I would have preferred to understand the inside world of each character rather than a brief mention of it. I would recommend learning about the historical background before diving into the story to understand it better. Either way, the reader earns the opportunity to visit a world that is not really represented nowadays.
I’d recommend Justice to anyone interested in historical fiction. If you’re looking for an informative fast paced read, this is the book for you!

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Justice is good starting point for bringing awareness of the Nepali Civil War to a global audience through the story of Tara and her family. I was not aware of the conflict before reading this graphic novel and was surprised to learn that it happened somewhat recently. The graphic novel format works for a quick read, while the story conveys the people's suffering during the conflict. Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction.

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There are certain elements that I pay attention to when I read a graphic novel - illustrations, lettering and the text itself. I personally enjoy graphic novels and I often use them in my classroom to engage my all of my students, especially my reluctant readers.

One of the first things that I noticed was Sandipan Santra's illustrations. They were vibrant, clear, and really brought the story to life. The characters were drawn in a realistic way and the emotions expressed on their faces makes you sympathise with their plight. Even if I were a child who did not enjoy reading, I could tell what this story was about from the pictures.

The lettering was just right. I have seen some graphic novels where the text boxes take up too much of the panel space or the fonts make it difficult to read. That is not the case in Justice. The captions were well-placed and clear enough that the reader gets the information they need and can continue on with with the story. Shahab Khan does a great job ensuring that the text is easily seen and read and Blake Hoena and Rachel Slaiman edited the text well. As for the story itself, I think it's a great introduction to Nepal's Civil War. I enjoyed the background given at the beginning of the novel including mini descriptions of the characters.

Justice is told from the perspective of a young girl, Tara, who lived a peaceful life in a village with her family until the ugliness of war appeared at her doorstep. Rebel forces took her brother and her parents continually searched for him. The story follows the family through the aftermath of Sudeep's kidnapping. The content of this book could be a bit heavy for children, especially as there is an attempted suicide. However, I think Ram Khatri's choice of writing about it in a graphic novel strikes the right notes to make it a valuable addition to a classroom library and makes it accessible for a wide audience. The conversations that could emerge from this book are important and I believe, beneficial to all students. I could see this book in a middle or high school classroom, but adults would also find it interesting as this war wasn't reported in the US News.

I was given access to this Advanced Reader's Copy by Restart Publishing, LLC and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you and I hope to read Sudeep's story soon!

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Thanks to a random person in my DM, Thanks to NetGalley for this book.

"A Tale of the Nepali Civil War" emerges as a poignant masterpiece, delicately crafted to shed light on a chapter of history often overshadowed. Through the lens of Tara and her family, the graphic novel navigates the tumultuous terrain of the Nepali Civil War with grace and authenticity. It serves as a beacon of awareness, illuminating the experiences of those caught amidst the chaos of conflict. As a reader, I found myself captivated by the narrative's depth and emotional resonance, seamlessly woven into the fabric of each panel.

One of the most commendable aspects of "Justice" is its ability to educate and inspire without sacrificing narrative integrity. Despite being unfamiliar with the Nepali Civil War prior to reading, I was immediately drawn to the world depicted within the pages. The graphic novel format proves to be a masterful tool, allowing for a quick yet immersive exploration of history. Through skillful storytelling and evocative artwork, the plight of Tara and her family becomes a universal tale of resilience and hope in the face of adversity.

Moreover, "Justice" stands as a testament to the power of representation in literature. By centering the narrative around Nepali characters and their experiences, the graphic novel offers a much-needed perspective that is often overlooked in mainstream media. It serves as a reminder of the importance of diverse voices in storytelling, enriching the literary landscape with authenticity and nuance.

The meticulous attention to detail evident throughout "Justice" is truly commendable. From the careful pacing of the narrative to the intricacies of character development, every aspect of the book feels purposeful and deliberate. While some may critique the novel for its brevity, I found that it only served to enhance the impact of the story, leaving a lasting impression that lingers in the mind long after the final page is turned.

In conclusion, "Justice: A Tale of the Nepali Civil War" is a triumph of storytelling and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. With its compelling narrative, evocative artwork, and unwavering commitment to authenticity, it deserves nothing less than the highest praise. This graphic novel is not just a work of fiction; it is a beacon of enlightenment, shining a light on a chapter of history that deserves to be remembered and honored. For readers seeking an immersive and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience, "Justice" is an essential addition to any library.

I am sending a FIVE-star rating for the amazing graphic.

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I'm not sure what to rate this.
I was recommended this graphic novel - and I love graphic novels and manga. Historical fiction or historical non-fiction interests me, so I thought I would love Justice. I'm not very familiar with Nepal and it's politics, but I do know of the Maoists.

The story was interesting, sad and tense. I don't know if this is based on someones own experience, but it could be. Someone has definitely lived through this exact scenario, which makes the conflicts tense and depressing. It's short as well, so it's a novel you can read in one sitting.

The drawings and graphic style was not for me. The proportions being off annoyed me, and the folds and shadows being wrong made it hard to focus on the story. This is obviously a very subjective opinion.

If there was a bigger focus on building relations between the characters, the novel would have been better. Deaths and tragedies don't hit your feelings when you don't care about the characters. A bigger focus on the familiy in that way would've improved the novel and make a greater impact on the reader. The ending was rather abrupt as well, so the novel would've benefited on being longer.

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CW: War, guns, self harm, suicide attempt, abduction, grief

Justice: A Tale of the Nepali Civil War is a heartrending graphic novel of one farming family caught in the middle of the civil war in Nepal (1996-2006) . Told in flashback from the family's eldest daughter, Tara, this book details the harassment the family recieved from both Maoist rebels and government soldiers, as seen from a child's perspective.

its a powerful story that opens with an initial idyllic farming setting, before taking the reader through the appearance of Maoist leaders, the impossible position Punya (Tara's father) is placed in, the abduction of the family's eldest son by the rebels, the obstruction of justice, and the parents quest for justice in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu. Being told from a childs perspective, we are not shown the intricacies of the situation or the bigger, political implications - rather we are shown the immediate effects of the civil war and how these machinations affect everyday folk. How can one stop farming in protest when one has a family to feed?

While the book is listed as "fiction" it is clear the events detailed in it are the lived experience of the real "Tara", and her family, and many, many other Nepali families.

I generally do not care for graphic novels, but this one was recommended to me by another reader. The illustrations are clear and accessible for younger readers (although due to some of the content, I wouldn't recommend it for children younger than 12), with clear, uncluttered text. It is a powerful tale that brings these events into the foreground, and in this current global climate of war and injustice, these stories need to be told so they are not forgotten.

~Many thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~

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I know very little about Nepal, and even less about their civil war. I felt Justice was a great and tragic introduction to Nepali’s Civil War told from an adolescent girl’s perspective as she details how it impacted and tore apart her family.

I would recommend not fully reading the synopsis or description of the characters before diving in as it gives away most the fictionalized part of the plot. Also take a look at the glossary of terms in the back before reading; it’ll help with some of the Nepali words.

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Justice: "A Tale of the Nepali Civil War" stands out as an essential and insightful exploration of a lesser-known chapter in history through the eyes of Tara, a young girl whose family's life is shattered by the Nepali Civil War. This graphic novel, recommended to me by fellow readers and graciously provided by NetGalley, delves into the harrowing experiences of a farming family caught amidst the conflict between Maoist rebels and government forces from 1996 to 2006.

Narrated retrospectively by Tara, the story unfolds with an initial idyllic portrayal of rural life, abruptly disrupted by the intrusion of Maoist leaders and the subsequent abduction of her elder brother. The novel adeptly portrays the relentless harassment faced by the family, portraying their struggle for justice amid the chaos of war-torn Nepal. What stands out is the raw emotional impact conveyed through Tara's perspective, highlighting the personal toll of political upheaval and violence.

The illustrations by Sandipan Santra are a visual testament to the story's depth, capturing both the simplicity of rural landscapes and the complexities of human emotions amidst adversity. While some reviewers noted stylistic preferences, I found the artwork accessible and complementary to the narrative, enhancing rather than distracting from the storytelling.

Critically, "Justice" succeeds in raising awareness about the Nepali Civil War without delving deeply into its political intricacies, focusing instead on the immediate and profound effects on everyday Nepali families. This approach, while simplifying historical context, ensures the story remains accessible to a wide audience, including younger readers interested in historical fiction.

However, there are nuances that could have been further explored, such as deeper character development and a more extended narrative to provide a fuller understanding of the war's complexities. Despite this, the novel's brevity contributes to its accessibility and readability, making it a suitable introduction to the topic for those unfamiliar with Nepali history.

In conclusion, "Justice" serves as both a testament to the resilience of individuals in the face of conflict and a call for broader recognition of Nepali voices in global narratives. It is a compelling addition to the genre of historical graphic novels, offering readers a poignant glimpse into a period often overlooked in mainstream discourse. For anyone seeking a heartfelt and thought-provoking exploration of war's impact on families, "Justice" is a recommended read that resonates long after the final page.

I am grateful to NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this novel, enabling me to share this honest and reflective review.

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